Brough Family Organization

Thomas Burgh of Windygates,
Leekfrith, Staffordshire: 1480-1550

by Catharine Ann Brough Hind, April 2003
from earlier material she provided for the 1988 RBFO book:
The Ancestors and Descendants of the Broughs of Staffordshire, England

Pedigrees of the Later Broughs of Staffordshire, England: 1450-2004

     Thomas Burgh of Wynyate's elder son Richard was born about 1510 and the family names of Thomas, Robert, Edmund and Ralph appended to the younger sons, as they did confusingly to other men of the family, for generations to come. Thomas was initially "a leaseholder of land" at Winyates, and whilst sons or serving men worked his fields Thomas, as a literate and able man well able to undertake the work of administration and government, achieved the position of Gentleman with the right to use and display the Brough coat-of-arms. [The 1988 RBFO book states: "In the early 1500's, Thomas Burgh (born about 1480) of Brewood, Staffordshire, moved to the area of Leek, Staffordshire. ...Although Thomas Burgh apparently never took upon himself the title of knighthood-possible because he was reluctant to incur the expenses involved-he" was "known as a 'Gentleman' and did" use "the 'Brough' Coat of Arms of 'Argent, on a saltire sable, five swans of the first'."]
     [Footnotes to above paragraph:
     The 1988 RBFO book stated: Earlier and at this time in English legal theory, no land was owned-except by the Crown; it was held, either directly from the Crown, or from a tenant or sub-tenant of the Crown. This is known as the "Feudal system of tenure." The lands at Windygates (anciently Windyyates) were held in the early 1500's by the Abby of Dieulacreese near Leek, before the Dissolution of the Monasteries; therefore, they were "leasehold" lands. During this period of time, a "leaseholder" usually held a small or particular piece of land and was usually a farmer or agricultural laborer.
     The 1988 RBFO book stated: A "Gentleman" was a man who ranked above a Yeoman (who was a man who held a small amount of land--similar to a Freeholder or Commoner) and below the nobility. In other words, being a "Gentleman" often placed you in the "upper-middle-class" of society at this period of time.
     The 1988 RBFO book stated: The word "knight" comes from the Old English word "cnight," which means a "household retainer." Englishmen used the word to describe French mounted soldiers who first came to England after the Norman conquest of 1066. Between 1100 and 1300, knights became independent, and most of them held some land. As the cost of armor and a war horse increased, only wealthy men could equip themselves to fight as knights. In early English history, a knight was a man who also held a knight's fee. Part of the feudal tenure system was the arbitrary fixing of knights' fee from each of the tenants in chief-the tenants who held land directly from the Crown. Their sub-tenants had this responsibility divided among them accordingly, the basic reason being the need to provide fighting men for the large groups of estates. In later times, as the feudal system disintegrated, the rule was for a person with more than 40 pounds per annum of land to be obligated to knighthood or be fined a certain fee if they refused to be so knighted. Often, many men refused to be knighted, since the annual costs of being a knight usually exceeded the fines for not being one, plus they could avoid the expenses involved in entertaining the heralds at the Visitations. Knighthood did not really become a deserving honor based on valour and abilities of performance until about the 1600's.
     In addition, Catharine Ann Brough Hind has stated: "From the 11th Century, knighthood was obligatory on land held 'as a Knight's Fee' and also expected of men with land and money of that value, as a duty and service to country and for protection of lesser men. Those who tried to evade the burden on their expense and time were chased up. From the 16th Century avoiding taking your knighthood led to a large fine in lieu of service. By the 19th Century the title was a coveted honour awarded for civic works, public munificence, and to captains of industry as well as of the military."]

     Thomas Burgh, his sons and some of his cousins from the Fryth, their serving men right behind them, had gone in 1529, at the instigation of the Abbott and others to invade, when armed, the manor house at Cheddleton. This and other violence into which the Broughs let themselves be led does not make pretty reading; but other families were as enthusiastic in pursuing the rights or the prejudices of their relatives and allies. The religious emotions, materialistic possibilities and changes in authority locally, following the removal of the former leadership before the Reformation, made the keeping of the peace still more sensitive and a muster to arms was called in 1539, when John Brough of ye Roachegrange was issued with a jacke (armour-plated jacket), Jamys with a sword and buckler, whilst Richard of Windyate and Thomas of Mydelholme each had a bow and arrows, a pair of splentes (leg armour) and a sallett (head armour with a hinged visor) "All above writton be archers havyng such harness as expressyt, the numbre cliii." [The 1988 RBFO book states: "...On September 19-21, 1529," Thomas Burgh "and several other men were accused of being among the rioters who attacked the manor house of Cheddleton under the procurement of Philip Dracote esq. However, this was not an unusual event during this period of time, since all the earliest mentions of the Brugh's at Leek represent them as tenants of the Abbey of Dieulacresse who were actively engaged in the various violent disputes between local factions and who, like th Abbot and the Monks, regularly invaded the adjoining Forest of Macclesfield (a Royal Preserve) in Cheshire in pursuit of deer. Thomas Burgh appears to have died sometime prior to 1551."]
     [Footnote to the above paragraph:
     The 1988 RBFO book states: A "manor" was a large estate, controlled by a Lord and worked by laborers (i.e.: peasants). Most manors usually included a "manor house, gardens, orchards, fields, a church, a mill, and a press for making wine," plus some "buildings and protective structures for the laborers." In addition, the "manor" held a specific legal meaning: it involved the holding of the manor courts in which both local and general jurisdiction (court baron and court leet) were administered.]

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