Chapter Seven – The Creation of an English Estate
The new era described as ‘modern times’ was heralded in England by the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The Lancastrians gained the victory. Henry Tudor became king. Men were indeed entering modern times. A money economy was being developed. An economy and a religion based on the individual were replacing the old order of community and commitment. The whole medieval order, economic, social and religious were being rudely dismantled. The great families of Maltby’s history – the de Buslis, di Viponts, Cliffords were no longer of account. New, very different people were gaining the ascendancy.
The old gilds and manors decayed. Within less than a hundred years of Bosworth Field, what had been the Church of the English people and part of the Universal Church, became the Church of England with the King as its Supreme Head! Even to this day clergy of the Church of England have to make an oath of obedience and loyalty to the Crown, as well as to the Bishop! “The claims of self-interest were being asserted. Co-operation gave way before competition. Commercialism replaced custom”. (Southgate, Economic History of England). This great change is illustrated well by Maltby’s next hundred years history.
The old aristocracy was wedded to its ancient order. But it had become enfeebled. The old grandee kept open house for the community. The new men did not afford the wealth for this. They were mercantilists who had capital to invest in land, woods and sheep instead of in lavish parties for all and sundry. They were businessmen determined by their instincts to exploit their estates, newly acquired from manorial and monastic properties. They were ruthless with their tenants who were often deprived of their new homes. Some joined the growing stream of homeless vagabonds, the ‘sturdy beggars’, who by the time of Henry VIII, (1509 – 1457), had become a major social problem. Their ranks were increased by the deprived monks and conversi of Roche Abbey and other Monastic Houses.
A vast social, economic and cultural revolution was taking place. Land was changing hands two or three times in as many years. It had been estimated that in the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, one sixth of the lands of England changed hands. The new merchant class was beginning to make its way into the ranks of the aristocracy. During the early Tudor period, the gulf between the wealthy merchant and old fashioned country gentleman was disappearing. The most striking example was Ann Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife.
She was a highly cultured and educated lady and was great-granddaughter of a London merchant. Marriage to one of Maltby’s de Buslis, never mind a King, would in earlier times have been inconceivable. During this period the old Saxon and Norman names largely disappeared. In Maltby, Saunderson took the place of de Busli. Very few of our present peerages date back further than the early Tudor period. So it was in Maltby when in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries the Saundersons and then the Lumleys dominated the district. The monasteries had for a thousand years been a powerful force in English life.. Now as Maltbys story shows, they were swiftly reduce to ruins and a memory.
The Country house replaced the Church as the centre of cultural and social life for three centuries and more. Maltby came to be well-represented with such houses – Sandbeck Park, Maltby Manor House, Maltby Hall, Hooton Levitt Hall, and Hellaby Hall. For the new mercantile class living standards were rising. Peace after the Wars of the Roses meant there could be an emphasis on comfort instead of defense. The condition of the lower orders changed little, except perhaps for the worse.
The fate of Maltby Manor, belonging to the Duke of Cumberland, the Manor of Sandbeck and the Monastic lands of Roche make a classic example of the vast revolution from feudal to modern times.
With the peace that came after the defeat of Richard III in 1485 the old order must still have appeared secure. The shepherd Earl of Cumberland came into his own again! He had been a loyal Lancastian. Henry VII restored him to all his lands, Manors, Baronies and Castles. The Earl died in 1523. The King expressed his continued favor to his family. He created the Shepherd Earl’s son Duke of Cumberland.
In the new individualistic climate, the trading classes came to power. Speculators itching for rich pickings from the monastic lands were quickly to the fore! After reports to the King on each monastery, the closures began in earnest. Henry appointed a Court of Augmentation to deal with the lands and possessions which were now at the disposal of the Crown. The Court was an instrument designed to increase the wealth of the Crown at the expense of the Church and the people of England. The Court sold off the lands and possessions to entrepreneurs quaintly named ‘consolidators’. It was all a sort of ‘privatisation’.