Lords of the Manor of Castle Bromwich

 

But first - What is a lord of the manor?

 

In the United Kingdom there is a system of titles which are given to people by the monarch (the king or queen). The holders of these titles are usually called lords and ladies, but there are actually five different ranks of nobility:

  • duke and duchess (male/female),
  • marquess and marchioness,
  • earl and countess,
  • viscount and viscountess,
  • baron and baroness.
  • and there are also baronets.

Titles are hereditary and passed down usually to the eldest son. 

 

Manors existed in Anglo-Saxon times, but the system was developed by William the Conqueror to keep control of his Norman subjects. He rewarded people by giving them a manor; he could also take manors away from people. And he made the lords holding manors pay him rent or send him soldiers when he needed them. In turn the people who lived in the manor had to pay the lord of the manor rent for living there. They also had to work on the lord's land. 

 

But - the title of lord of the manor is not hereditary. It is regarded as a property and can be given or sold by the lord of the manor to whomsoever he wishes. Almost all the lords of Castle Bromwich passed the manor down to someone in the family when they died. However, in 1657 Anne Devereux sold the manor to Orlando Bridgeman, someone who was not related to her at all. And that was not unusual.

 

The correct way of referring to the lord of the manor is: "Ralph, Lord of the Manor of Castle Bromwich". He is not entitled to be referred to as Sir Ralph or Lord Ralph unless the king has also made him a knight or a lord.

 

The Anglo-Saxon Lord of the Manor

Brictwin is named in the Domesday Book of 1086 as the last Anglo-Saxon lord of Castle Bromwich. Nothing is known about him except that he had his manor taken off him by the invading Normans very soon after 1066.

 

Bromwich, de la Roche, Ferrers and Devereux

The manor was passed down through the family for 600 years

The Bromwich coat of arms
The Bromwich coat of arms

 

Ralph is named in the Domesday Book as the Norman lord of Bromwich in 1086. He was probably a landowner in Normandy in France who came across the English Channel with William and supplied some of the 11,000 fighting men who were victorious at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The manor of Castle Bromwich was Ralph's reward.

 

Wido de Bromwich was the lord during the reign of Henry II about 1169 and was probably a descendant of Ralph. Surnames were not in use at this time, but lords used the name of their manor to describe who they were. So Wido de Bromich simply means Wido of Bromwich or Wido from Bromwich. In time this became the family’s surname.

 

Alan Bromwich is mentioned in documents in 1185 in Henry II's time.

 

Thomas Bromwich was the son of Alan.

 

Henry Bromwich, also a son of Alan (probably?) is named as Henry de Chastel de Bromwych during Henry III’s reign about 1270.

 

Robert de Brumwyk, Henry Bromwich’s son, was lord in 1265 during the reign of Henry III.

 

Anselm Bromwich was the son of Robert about 1287 when Edward I was king.

 

Henry Bromwich, son of Anselm, was lord of the manor about 1323 in the time of Edward II.

 

Isabel de Bromwich was Henry’s daughter who married Sir John de la Roche of Pembrokeshire in Wales. She became lord of the manor in 1345 when Edward III was king.

 

Thomas de la Roche, the son of Isabel and Thomas, was born in Castle Bromwich. He inherited land and titles in Wales and in Scotland. He married Elizabeth de Birmingham, the daughter of the lord of the manor of Birmingham. He is recorded in 1386 during the reign of Richard II.

 

Ellen de la Roche, daughter of Thomas, inherited Castle Bromwich. She married Edmund Ferrers, 6th Baron Ferrers of Chartley in Staffordshire about 1435 during the reign of Henry VI.

 

William Ferrers, 7th Baron Ferrers inherited from his parents in 1435. Henry VI was still king. He passed the manor to his wife, Elizabeth on his death.

 

Elizabeth Ferrers, William’s widow gave the rights of the manor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Thomas Bourchier in 1455 - the king was still Henry VI.

 

Anne Ferrers Devereux, the 8th Baroness Ferrers inherited from her father in 1450 - Henry VI was still the king. Her husband was Sir Walter Devereux who had been born in Herefordshire. At the time of their marriage, Walter was 13 years old and Anne was aged 7.

Sir Walter became a Member of Parliament for Herefordshire during the time of Edward IV.

 

Walter Devereux, 1st Lord Ferrers confirmed that the manor still belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury 1513. This was during Henry VIII’s time.

(At some point one of the Devereux family must have bought the manor back or have been given it, because it was in the hands of Sir Edward Devereux by 1599.)

Sir Walter Devereux fought with the Yorkist King Edward IV and was knighted by him at the Battle at Towton in 1461. Sir Walter was killed fighting for the Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. All his titles and lands, including Castle Bromwich, were taken off him by the victorious King Henry VII.

 

John Devereux, Sir Walter’s son was a boyhood friend of Henry VII and was given back his father’s titles and lands by the King in 1488. He took the title 2nd Lord Ferrers and was the lord of Castle Bromwich manor.

 

Walter Devereux, his son was born about 1491 and became 3rd Lord Ferrers of Chartley in 1501. He was knighted by Henry VIII in 1523 and was one of the King’s Privy Counsellors in 1549. That same year the King made him 1st Viscount Hereford. He died in 1558, the year that Elizabeth I came to the throne.

 

Edward Devereux was the third son of the Viscount of Hereford. His father gave him the manor of Castle Bromwich when he married Catherine Arden of Park Hall. Sir Edward built or rebuilt Castle Bromwich Hall in 1599; it is therefore originally an Elizabethan building. He was the Member of Parliament for Tamworth, and later the High Sheriff of Warwickshire. Sir Edward was created 1st Baronet Devereux of Castle Bromwich by King James I in 1611. He is buried with his wife in a fine tomb at Aston church.

 

Q. So how did Edward Devereux become Sir Edward Devereux of Castle Bromwich?

A. Quite simple - he bought the title. James I was fighting rebels in Ireland (He was the King of Ireland.) But he did not have enough soldiers. So in 1611 he offered for 200 gentlemen of good birth with an income of £1000 a year to become baronets. £1000 paid for thirty soldiers for three years. The title was hereditary and baronets could pass the title down through the eldest sons in their family.

 

 

Walter Devereux, son of Sir Edward was born in 1578; he was 2nd Baronet Devereux of Castle Bromwich. He was the Member of Parliament for Stafford, Marlborough and Worcester at different times and Sheriff of Worcestershire. Sir Walter became the Viscount of Hereford in 1646 during the reign of Charles I. By his second wife, Elizabeth Knightley he had two sons, Essex Devereux and Leicester Devereux. He died about 1657 during the Commonwealth.

 

Essex Devereux, who was born in 1616, was given Castle Bromwich manor as a wedding present by his father in 1634, but in 1639 Sir Essex had the manor taken off him by King Charles I. That same year Sir Essex drowned in a boating accident on the River Teme near his father’s home in Worcestershire. 

 

In 1640 the manor was given by the King to Robert Arden of Park Hall, but in 1641 given back to jointly to Sir Walter Devereux, Leicester Devereux his younger son, and Anne Devereux, the widow of Sir Essex. In 1646 Sir Walter became Viscount Hereford.

 

Anne Devereux in 1647 leased the manor to Richard Knightley of Fawsley, Northamptonshire, her 2nd husband, but ten years later she sold it to Sir Orlando Bridgeman who gave it as a as a wedding present for for his son, Sir John Bridgeman I.

 

Members of the Devereux family continued to hold land in Castle Bromwich until 1712, when George Devereux, a bankrupt cloth seller from London, sold the last of his property here.

 

However, the title given by James I to Edward Devereux still exists. Viscount Hereford, Sir Charles Robin De Bohun Devereux is the 16th Baronet of Castle Bromwich. However, because Anne Devereux sold the manor in 1657, Viscount Hereford is not the lord of the manor.

 

              1                        2                       3                         4                         5

 

These coats of arms used to be in the old church at Castle Bromwich; they no longer exist.

 

1  de la Roche   2  Ferrers  

3  Ferrers with de Birmingham (This is William Ferrers recognising his grandmother,

    Elizabeth de Birmingham)  

4  Ferrers with Devereux (for Anne Ferrers and Sir Walter Devereux)

5  Devereux

 

The Bridgemans have been Lords of the Manor for over 350 years.

The Bridgeman coat of arms in Castle Bromwich church
The Bridgeman coat of arms in Castle Bromwich church

Sir Orlando Bridgeman bought the manor in 1657 as a wedding present for his son. Sir Orlando was an very successful government lawyer. He was a Royalist who not only survived the terrors of the Civil War but was the judge at the court that tried those who had signed King Charles I's death warrant. After the Great Fire of London Orlando was one of the judges who sorted out property disputes. Among other posts he held were: Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England.

 

His son, John Bridgeman I was also a lawyer like his father, although he probably never practised law. He married Mary Cradock in 1663 and began making alterations to Castle Bromwich Hall. He died at the hall at the age of 79 in 1710 during the reign of Queen Anne and is commemorated with a large stone tablet in Aston church where he lies buried with his wife.

 

John Bridgeman II, his son, was born at Castle Bromwich in 1667; he too trained as a lawyer but never actually worked at the job. Sir John II made considerable alterations to the hall and gardens, both of which still look much as they did in his time. He died aged 79 in 1747 during George II’s reign.

 

Orlando Bridgeman, his son, was also a lawyer. In 1723 became the Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury. He married Anne Newport, a daughter of Richard Newport, Earl of Bradford whose family home was at Weston Park in Staffordshire, a mansion very much larger than Castle Bromwich Hall. At this time the Bridgeman family left for Weston Park and Castle Bromwich Hall was rented out to wealthy Birmingham business people.

 

Sir Henry Bridgeman, his son, another lawyer, was a Member of Parliament for Ludlow. In 1794 he was created Baron Bradford by King George III for whom he worked looking after his accounts. Although he was lord of Castle Bromwich manor, he did not live here.

 

Orlando Bridgeman, 2nd Baron Bradford, his son, was the Member of Parliament for Wigan. In 1815 George III created him Viscount Newport and 1st Earl of Bradford, ranks in the peerage higher than that of baron. Afterwards the title of Viscount Newport was always given to the oldest son of the Earl.

 

George Bridgeman, 2nd Earl of Bradford, his son, lived at Weston Park, although the family also spent their between Castle Bromwich and their London home.

 

Orlando Bridgeman, 3rd Earl of Bradford, his son, was born in 1819. He married Selina Forester. After the death of his wife, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli became close friends with her and visited her at Weston Park and at Castle Bromwich. Lord Bradford was a keen horseman and was involved in breeding and training racehorses; he became the Master of Horse to Queen Victoria. He served in the Conservative government of Lord Derby.

 

George Bridgeman, 4th Earl of Bradford, his son, was born in 1845. He married Lady Ida Lumley in 1869 and the couple lived at Castle Bromwich Hall and brought up their eight children here. Lord Bradford had a career in the Army. He lived at Castle Bromwich until his death 1915.

Lady Ida was the last of the Bridgeman family to live at Castle Bromwich Hall where she died in 1936.

 

Orlando Bridgeman, 5th Earl of Bradford, his son was born in at Castle Bromwich in 1873. He too had a career in the Army and later served in a number of Conservative governments until 1924. He lived at Weston Park, and died there at the age of 83.

 

Gerald Bridgeman, 6th Earl of Bradford, his son, was born in 1911. He served in the Army and later became an expert on trees and forestry.  

 

The Bridgeman Dynasty

The Bridgeman lords of the manor are here in order. Can you work out who is who?

 

 

 

Richard Bridgeman (left), 7th Earl of Bradford, Gerald Bridgeman's son, was born in 1947. He now lives in London and is a restaurateur. He continues to be the lord of the manor of Castle Bromwich and is the patron of Castle Bromwich church.

 

The heir apparent is the present Lord Bradford's son, Viscount Newport, Alexander Bridgeman, who was born in 1980.

'A History of Castle Bromwich for Young People' written by William Dargue 2016 for the Castle Bromwich Bellringers.

We’ve been ringing here for 500 years and are keen to involve local people in our ancient art. Contact us via our Castle Bromwich Bell Ringers website if you want learn to ring or visit the tower or have one of us talk to your group about the history of Castle Bromwich, our church or bellringing.  Material on this site may be reused only for non-commercial purposes providing appropriate attribution is given (Creative Commons Licence Attribution NonCommercial 4.0) - details on the Contact page.