on the Possible Relationship
of the Burghs of Westmorland, England
and the Broughs of Staffordshire, England
by Michael H. McMichael
BFO Research Committee Member
In 1538 Robert Burgh was described as "a
forester of the forest of Leek" in Staffordshire (1).
This Robert Burgh is listed in the BFO Global Brough Database as being
born about 1488 in Chapel House, Meerbrook, Leek, Staffordshire in England
and dying after 13 May 1547. The dissolution of the monasteries in England
took place under Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541, and Robert Burgh had
been the forester on behalf of the owner of the forest of Leek, Dieulacres
abbey, which was itself "surrendered" in 1538 (2).
By the date of the abbey's dissolution the
Burgh family had been recorded as present in Staffordshire for some centuries,
as documented in the BFO
Global Brough Database. Anne Brough Hind and David Bethell have carried
out extensive research into the Staffordshire Burgh/Brough lineage, including
noting a Star Chamber case involving Robert Brough/Burgh and the taking
of a stag to the considerable irritation of the Earl of Derby, the favourable
resolution of which is attributed by those authors as being possibly due
to Robert's kinship with "Lord Brough of Gainsborough".
As noted in this writer's research
report dated April 2015 on the Burghs of Gainsborough, it is now apparent
that the Gainsborough line descended from the Gernet family of Westmorland.
For reasons that will be set out below, it appears very probable that
Robert Burgh also descended from that family, the Gernets of Westmorland,
and is correctly described as having kinship with the Gainsborough line.
But this raises questions as to the attribution of descent
from Ralph de Limesi currently proposed for the Staffordshire Brough
To return to the Star Chamber case involving
Robert Burgh, the contention of this research report is that it was far
more likely that the Earl of Derby's ire was mollified as the result of
Robert's kinship with one Sir John Burgh, the son of Hugh Burgh of Salop
and through his mother's line, a descendent of the Welsh kings of old.
For further details on this lineage, please see the April 2015 research
report on the Burghs of Gainsborough referred to above.
But not only John Burgh's Welsh lineage
is relevant here; so too is that from Westmorland. In addition to the
materials referred to in the April 2015 research report referred to above,
this researcher has recently come across evidence that appears to tie
this Burgh lineage to Middleton in Westmorland (3).
The great grandfather of John is listed as one Sir Hugh Burgh of Middleton,
and the history of Middleton makes it clear that a William de Burgh had
been present in that place in 1259 and another in 1346 (4).
In the context it is very likely that these de Burghs were part of the
Gernet de Burgh line, as Middleton is just some 8 or 9 miles from Burrow
with Burrow which, as noted in the BFO Global Brough Database, is a point
of origin for the Catterick, Yorkshire, de Burgh/Burgh/Brough line, which
in turn is connected to the Gainsborough line through the Cowthorpe, Yorkshire,
However, it should be noted in passing that
there appears to be nothing to support the references in Collections Historical
and Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire to a Hugh Burgh being the
Lord of Burgh upon Sands or of a Guy Burgh selling the barony to Lord
Darcy; in fact, it seems that the barony devolved upon the Darcy family
through marriage and the failure of the male line of the previous holders
(not the Burghs).
The reference in Collections to a John Burgh
as the brother of Hugh Burgh of Salop, MP, does, however, appear to have
John was associated with one Roger Leche, MP, who was the Treasurer of
at the same time that Hugh Burgh, MP, was the Treasurer of Ireland (1416
and 1414 to 1420, respectively). In fact John was himself the Under-Treasurer
of the Exchequer from 1413 (7),
which only serves to reinforce the influence of this family at that time.
We do know that Hugh Burgh of Salop, MP,
died in 1430, having married by 1413 and having a 16 year old son (John)
at his death, so Hugh was possibly born in or about 1390, putting his
father's birth in about 1365 and his grandfather, Hugh of Middleton, in
about 1340. The coincidence of dates suggests that William de Burgh of
Middleton was the father, cousin or brother of Hugh of Middleton. As Hugh
Burgh the MP is noted as being "landless" it may be that William
was an older brother of Hugh of Middleton, who was required to seek his
fortune (successfully, it seems) elsewhere.
The British History Online(BHO) reference
to Middleton also contains a representation of the arms of a family named
Rigmaiden. As noted in the April 2015 research report (see footnote 2
thereof), the Gressingham de Burgh family bore the "swan" arms
also subsequently claimed by the Catterick branch, as well as the Staffordshire
line. It is recorded in the BHO material that there was no connection
between the Gressingham Burghs and the Hubert de Burgh (Irish Burke) line,
and in BHO footnote 15 there is a reference to a John Gernet and there
are further footnote references to Gernets and Burghs, especially in BHO
footnote 26 where the lineage Thomas son of Adam son of Richard de Burgh
is given. The connection with the Burrow line of de Burgh/Burgh, and hence
the Catterick branch, via the Gernet family, seems unquestionable.
However, research carried out for the BFO
some thirty years ago by David Bethel and others (8)
on the Brough coat of arms clearly states that the "ancient"
Brough coat of arms was the so-called "buck's shield" of, inter
alia, three bucks' heads and that the Knightley family corrected their
arms in the 17th Century from the "swan" arms to also incorporate
the "buck's shield" arms. What, if any, connection there may
be between the earlier de Burghs/Burghs/Broughs of Staffordshire and the
Rigmaidens of Westmorland is uncertain, but it is unusual for two apparently
unrelated families to claim the same or similar arms, as can be seen from
the famous Scrope -v- Grosvenor case of 1389 (9).
This is clearly a matter for further research.
What appears to be certain is that neither
the Gainsborough nor Salop lines of the Burgh family bore the "swan"
In fact, a substantial case can be made that the "swan" arms
were restricted to the Catterick (then Lincolnshire at Saltfleetby (11)
and beyond) and Staffordshire lines.
The Gernet family is ancient and in the
reign of Henry I one Vivian Gernet was appointed Hereditary Forester of
the royal forest in Lancashire (12).
From there descend the later Gernets and, for our purposes, de Burghs
and Burghs. What is of note is the position of "forester" that
was held by Robert Burgh in Staffordshire some centuries later.
Anne Brough Hind posits that the early Staffordshire
Burghs and Broughs held positions under Church institutions and that it
was for that reason that they found themselves in and around Brewood and
then Leek. The purpose of the report is to raise for consideration whether
a more important driver might have been that a de Burgh/Burgh family,
such as that from Gressingham, that is unrecorded in that district after
the late 13th Century, found haven with close relatives, and ultimately
positions of note, through patronage from successful members of that other
line, i.e. the Burghs of Salop. In this regard it is worth noting that
each of John Burgh's four daughters married into landed families, some
of which continued to hold estates in and about Staffordshire (13).
In conclusion, the proposition posed by
this report is that the Staffordshire Broughs descend from the same ancestors
in Westmorland as the
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire
branches of the family, the earlier separate de
Burgh line, descended from Ralph de Limesi, having either been extinguished
or absorbed by such as the Knightleys and/or the Westmorland line at some
stage prior to the 15th or 16th Centuries.
British History Online, Pp 191-202, under the heading "Forest and
Collections Historical and Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire,
Pp 94ff, issued by the Powys-Land Club, London 1868.
British History Online, Pp 72-74, under the heading "Manor"
and fn (7).
Henry V: New Interpretations, Gwilym Dodd, Boydell& Brewer Ltd, 2013,
The History of Parliament,, 1386-1421.
The History of Parliament, 1386-1421, Research: Appendix C7. See "Office
The Ancestors of Richard Brough and Mary Horleston, by D. Bethell, R.
Brough and M. Nielson, P.43ff, BFO 1981.
England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, by David Bates, London, 1994,
Lincolnshire Pedigrees, Harlein Society, London 1902, P.205.
The Garnetts of Essex County and Their Homes, The Virginia Magazine of
History and Biography, Vol. 42, No. 1, (Jan. 1934), by William Garnett
Chisholm, P. 72.