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Francis Rodes (abt. 1530 - abt. 1589)

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Sir Francis Rodes
Born about in Stavely, Woodthrope, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Husband of — married before [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died about in Barlborough, Derbyshire, Englandmap
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Rodes-24 created 20 Apr 2011 | Last modified
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Died 17 January 1589.


  • J. H. Baker, ‘Rodes, Francis (1524/5–1589)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 26 April 2017. This is a subscription site but access is free to readers of British libraries whose library subscribes.


This person was created through the import of Wilson and Steele.ged.GED on 20 April 2011.



Type: Misc.
Type: Misc.
Place: One of the founders of Netherthorpe School
Type: Misc.
Place: Took Part in Trial of Mary Queen of Scots
Type: Misc.
Date: 1582
Place: Purchased 1/3 of the Manor of Balborough from the Selioke Family
Type: Appointments
Date: 1585
Place: Justice of Common Pleas


Place: St. John's College in England-didn't graduate


Date: 1578
Place: Serjeant of Arms
Place: English Judge


Date: 31 DEC 1584
Place: Completion of Barlborough Hall


Date: 7 JUN 1587
Place: Dated
Date: 28 APR 1591
Place: Proved


Note: #NI3066


Note NI3066The Rodes Family
, Barlborough
The Rodes Family as extracted from The Story of Barlborough Hall by Peter McArdle S.J.
It is difficult to include every detail of 400 years in the life of a family in a short article but first we will deal with the family as its members passed
through Elizabethan, Jacobean, Carolean, Commonwealth and Restoration periods. They supported the Royalist cause for most of this latter period. The
Rodes were still there in the Victorian period and modern times.
The Rodes family is an ancient one coming originally from Lincolnshire, later moving to Yorkshire. In consequence of a marriage to the heiress of the
Cachehorse family in the 13th century, Staveley Woodthorpe became their seat. Five generations of them lived there before the acquisition of
Barlborough land. Francis Rodes, the builder of Barlborough Hall in 1583, never actually lived there himself. He died at Staveley Woodthorpe in 1589.
Barlborough Hall became the family seat in 1599 when Staveley Woodthorpe was sold to the Countess of Shrewsbury. At what period the family changed
their allegiance to the Catholic Faith to the new religion of the state is difficult to ascertain but I imagine it was a generation before Francis' time.
Francis, the founder of Barlborough, was the son of John Rodes, Esq. of Staveley Woodthorpe. Like many of the 'new men' of the Tudor period, he
rose to affluence and distinction through the Law. He entered Gray's Inn in 1549 and was called to the bar in 1552, becoming a Queen's Sergeant in 1582.
At about that time he bought a third of the manor of Barlborough from the Selioke family, where he began the building of Barlborough Hall. This was
completed in 1584. On 29th June 1585, he was made a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
From the Catholic viewpoint he is not an attractive figure. He was one of the judges who condemned Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringay and in 1586 he
condemned to death at York two martyrs of the Catholic faith: the Venerable Robert Bickerdike who was hanged, drawn and quartered, and St. Margaret
Clitherow. The latter, a simple housewife and married to a York butcher (a non-Catholic) had harboured and given shelter to priests who were hunted
men. For this she was arrested and tried. But in her trial before Judge Rodes and Judge Clench, she refused to plead; this as a matter of conscience, since
she knew that if she pleaded, then her own children would be compelled to witness against her, and secondly she knew the jury would be 'rigged' and
become guilty of perjury, an offence she wished to have no part in. The period was a cruel one and according to the statute books of the time a person
refusing to plead was made to suffer the penalty of being crushed to death under heavy rocks. This is what happened to Margaret. Judge Clench was for freeing
her but Rodes won the case against her and Margaret was sentenced by him to her dreadful fate. The executioner refused to carry it out, so the authorities ordered
it to be accomplished by vagabonds. She is now among the Forty English martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Fr. R. Baines, S.J., the
Rector of Mount St. Mary's, who purchased Barlborough as a Jesuit school in 1938, had written: 'It will be one of the strangest revenges of time, when the
picture of Margaret Clitherow, whose name and fame have reached the ends of the Catholic world, hangs athwart the proud escutcheon of the 'Justice of the
Common Pleas' in the great chamber of Barlborough Hall'. His strange prophecy has in fact materialised for to-day in the boys' chapel (the great
chamber) her picture is hanging, and not many feet from the 'proud escutcheon' over the fireplace. The picture is a composite one of the Forty
English and Welsh martyrs, with St. Margaret Clitherow portrayed kneeling in the foreground.
Francis Rodes regarded the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, the Lieutenant of the County, as his patron. The judge became his seneschal or majordomo.
Shrewsbury was a noted pursuivant or priest hunter and had also held Mary, Queen of Scots, prisoner in Derbyshire and Sheffield Castle. We have already
noted the coat-of-arms of the Shrewsburys on the south front of Barlborough immediately above that of Rodes.
The Hiding Hole: a possible explanation
Francis was twice married, first to Elizabeth Sandford of Thorpe Salvin and, on her death, to Maria Charlton of Shropshire. Here we might include an
extract from an article by Granville Squires, an expert on hiding holes.
"It is known that Francis Rodes, founder of the hall, never actually lived at the hall. This fact (and the possibility of the older small manor building at the west end having once been in use as a chapel) have led to the theory that the first wife of the judge was a Catholic recusant. If this were so, then it would account for the existence of the hiding hole within the hall. She could have used her husband as an excellent piece of camouflage."
This is, of course, conjecture, since no written documentary evidence would ever have been put on paper concerning such matters. Alan Fea thinks the hide was constructed and used later in the Jesuit-hunting period of Charles II's reign. But by this time the Rodes families had become Quakers so he could scarcely be correct in his surmise. There is no surviving evidence whatsoever that the Jesuits had any contact with Barlborough Hall in its early days, yet at the same time they were in very close proximity. In 1580 Fr. Robert Persons, a famous Jesuit, was resident in Spinkhill, and St. Edmund Campion was in Derbyshire and visited Barlborough village or parish in the same year. Among the buildings at Spinkhill, part of the college, were some old farm buildings recently demolished. There were discovered two items of great historical interest about 100 years ago; an ancient pewter chalice cemented within a wall and also a second edition of Campion's 'Decem Rationes' written in defence of the ancient Faith.
Again, as the Jesuits'began to organise themselves, in their work of preserving the ancient Faith, they divided England into 'Spiritual Districts'
with priests appointed to each. Derbyshire was within the district of the Immaculate Conception (hence the present title of Spinkhill Parish Church and
former title of the college). Also one of the first properties ever purchased by the Society in England was a house in Barlborough village, and at one time the
Jesuit Superior of the Derbyshire mission resided there. That house, long since demolished, was on the land opposite the Barlborough water tower and near
Clifton Avenue. So, although at least one architect has put forward other possible theories regarding the use of this small hiding-space with its entrance
on the top floor, it is at least a possibility that the Barlborough hiding hole was a priest's hide, but that is the most that can be said about it.
Of the three landed families in the area, the Poles of Spinkhill, their cousins the Poles of Park Hall, and the Rodes of Barlborough, the first
mentioned were the only true recusants who adhered to the Catholic faith throughout the whole of their existence. The Poles of Park Hall changed their
allegiance to that of the 'new religion' in 1686. The last of these Poles, Margaret and Mary, performed an act of great charity before their death: they
erected and endowed in 1752 the almshouse in Barlborough village to house the aged and the infirm. It still exists under its new title of 'The Hospital'.
Judge Francis' Successors
After the death of Francis in 1589, his son John by his first marriage succeeded to his father's estates. He abandoned the old family seat of Staveley
Woodthorpe, selling it in 1599 to the Countess of Shrewsbury. Henceforth, Barlborough was the seat of the Rodes.
It is unfortunate that this John Rodes, the first male occupier of Barlborough Hall, was a man very different in character to the many
subsequent members of his family who succeeded him as heads of the family. They were the country squire type who married into respectable families, the
Lascelles, Thornton, and Heathcote. But the first John at Barlborough turned out to be a reprobate. In one of his books, J. Tilley describes him as 'more
adapted for the sty than the drawing-room'. The treatment meted out by him to his own flesh and blood was quite inhuman. He was knighted in the Tower
of London in 1603, only nine days before the death of Queen Elizabeth.
For some reason, possibly because he had become a convert to Catholicism, John's eldest son, John (who was born blind but whose sight
returned in later life) was disinherited by his father and the estate was entailed on his second son Francis and his heirs. Sir John, having married three times,
died in 1639 and Francis succeeded him.
Sir Francis Rodes II further advanced the family fortunes. Not only was he knighted like his father, in 1641 at Whitehall, but five days later was made a
baronet. This fact is recorded by the red hand which was added to the Rodes Lascelles achievement (Chapel and top parlour). He had disagreements with
his king, Charles I, yet when war broke out he took up arms on his Sovereign's behalf. He died in Ireland fighting for the King in 1646. It is interesting to note
that one of Francis' sisters, Lennox, married Marmaduke Langdale and that from this union sprang a fine Catholic line including the Duke of Norfolk.
Francis' second son. Sir Francis Rodes III, succeeded his father. An elder brother had died in infancy. Though he took no active part in the Civil Wars
he was a Cavalier and fell a victim to the Commonwealth's policy of squeezing ex-Cavaliers and was sentenced to a fine of a considerable sum. With regard to.
this Francis Rodes III, it is difficult to follow completely his political movements. It would seem that he was a Royalist at heart, but that on
Cromwell's victory, he supported the Parliamentarian Roundheads for a time.
At his death in 1651 he left a three year old son. Sir Francis Rodes IV, to succeed him. He eventually married a Quaker, Martha Thornton, who brought
up their only son, John Rodes, in her own religion. Francis died aged 28 in 1675. He had been High Sheriff of Nottingham for four years.
John Rodes II (Sir John Rodes) was only five years old when he became Lord of Barlborough. He grew up a shy, reserved, pious young man. He never
married and by his will of 1731, left his estate to the male issue of his half-sister, Anne Thornton, and her husband, Francis Heathcote, who were
both Quakers. Because of his religion Sir John was involved in a legal dispute with Mr. Francis Pole of Park Hall, who claimed the patronage of
Barlborough Church should devolve upon him, as a member of the established church and holder of a third of the manor. In 1773 the Bishop of Lichfield
issued an 'ius patronatus' or order for an inquiry into the right of patronageand the jury found for Sir John. He died in 1743 when the baronetcy became
'A Quaker Postbag' edited by Mrs. G. Locker Lampson contains many of Sir John's letters especially those between himself and William Penn, the
founder and first governor of Pennsylvania U.S.A. Penn was the most romantic figure in the whole of Quaker history. His father. Admiral Sir
William Penn, was a man in great favour at court, but whose conversion to Quaker ideals meant breaking with his old friends and old life.
The writer of this brief history at one time believed that it was from this period that the American connections with the family began. Within the last
twenty years we have had visits by American relatives of the family who come to visit the ancestral home. Some have changed the spelling of the name
to Rhodes, Roades, etc. However, it is more likely, and with good evidence to support the fact, that the American branches of the Rodes family stem from an
earlier period.
Sir Francis Rodes II, baronet, grandson of the judge had married Elizabeth Lascelles of Sturton, near Gainsborough, Nottinghamshire. Their
eldest son. Sir Francis III inherited the Barlborough estate, while the youngest son, John, inherited the Sturton property, marrying Elizabeth Jessop. This great grandson of Judge Francis emigrated to America in 1687, as did his two sons Francis and Charles. So it would appear that through the Sturton Branch, John a great grandson of Judge Francis, the founder of Barlborough Hall, was the progenitor of the American Rodes's. Much of the informationconcerning this side of the family was presented to the writer by Mrs. J. E. Bellatti of Jacksonville, Illinois, whose great aunt Emma Walters (1884) had completed a deep research into the family genealogy. Both ladies are themselves descendants from the Rodes.
In accordance with Sir John's will, the estate passed to his sister's grandson, Gilbert Heathcote, who assumed the name of Rodes. He too died unmarried in 1768. It was in 1763 that the Quaker connection with the Barlborough estate, which had lasted nearly 100 years, came to an end, for it was in that year that Gilbert was disowned by the Chesterfield Society of Friends at their monthly meeting 'for worldliness' He was succeeded by his nephew, Cornelius Heathcote, who likewise assumed the name of Rodes. He was only 13 years old when his uncle died. He himself died a bachelor at the age of 70 in 1825 and the estate passed to his nephew, the Reverend Cornelius Heathcote Reaston, who also took the name of Rodes. In later life he developed into something of a 'character'. Washington Irving stayed with him on more than one occasion, and described him and his household in 'Old Christmas and Bracebridge Hall' (1832). Bracebridge* he used as a pseudonym for Barlborough. 'The squire is in fact', wrote Irving, 'a lingering specimen of the old English country gentleman; rusticated a little by living almost entirely on his estate, and something of a humorist, as Englishmen are apt to become when they have an opportunity of living in their own way.' One could compare him to Mr. Pickwick; in fact, Irving's description of Christmas at the hall could well have matched the pen of Dickens.
(Bracebridge Hall: The honours of Washington Irving's book must, in fact, be shared by two country houses. One is Aston Hall, Newhall Hill near Birmingham, where he wrote 'Rip Van Winkle', the other, Barlborough Hall, Derbyshire. It becomes obvious from his letters to his sister, Mrs. Paris, that although Aston Hall was used in his description of the family manor it was at Barlborough Hall that the Christmas festivities,
which he describes, took place.
In a recent article in 'The Lady' (2.12.76), Maleen Mathews makes a lively comparison betweenWashington Irving's book and Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'. One may reasonably conclude that Dickens was much influenced by Irving.)
Cornelius had a reputation for eccentricity. When in the Scottish Highlands, for instance, he abandoned his clerical black for a resplendent suit of tartan in which he certainly startled his neighbours, the Sitwells of Renishaw Hall near Sheffield. He died in 1844. Although married, he left no children. By his will the estate was devised to his wife's nephew, William Hatfield Gossip, who inherited Barlborough at the age of 20. He too assumed the name Rodes, but added the prefix 'de', presumably to give it a more aristocratic ring. There had been some five generations of 'de' Rodes in Plantagenet times. He died in 1856 leaving a son, William Hatfield de Rodes, to succeed him. This was the first time that the Barlborough estate had passed from father to son since 1675.
It was during this period, approximately in 1850, that a rather famous cricket match took place in the park at the invitation of the squire. An
all-England XI played against members of various teams in the locality. The players wore top-hats, the all-England team calling themselves 'The Clowns'.
The pitch was roughly in the area at the top of the drive where, at present, there are two Rugby pitches.
William married Sophy Felicity Curzon (sister of Lord Scarsdale). Upon her death in 1869, her husband erected the stone and mosaic archway in Barlborough village to perpetuate her memory, a Victorian monument, which to-day contrasts sombrely with the developing village. It stands near the Rose and Crown at the bus stop in front of the village school. There are three inscriptions, in Latin, in Greek and in Hebrew. The Greek letters read: Sophia Makaria literally 'dearest wisdom' a pun on the Christian name of Sophy. The Hebrew word at the top: MIZPAH is of course the 'stone of memory' from the book of Genesis. The Latin: Felix Olim Felicitatis Memor, another pun on Sophy's second name. Felicity. Unfortunatley, recent repairs to the mosaic have added a second 'S' to Felicitatis, in error. The date 1869 features on the front of the archway in Roman numerals. This is the date of Sophy's death. There also used to be a First World War cannon beneath the arch. It was removed to be used as metal for munitions in World War 2.
This archway featured in an ITV Calendar programme in February 1976. It has recently undergone a face-lift renovation at a cost of about £1,000. The lady to whom the arch was erected, Sophy Felicity de Rodes, towards the end of her life followed, on a small scale, the building traits of a 16th century 'neighbour', Bess of Hardwick. Sophy built about ten cottages in the village of Barlborough, some opposite the church and two in the park, South Lodge and the walled garden cottage.
The de Rodes had built the first village school in the park near Gretton's Farm. In 1798 they built a new school, the present village library building, and finally in 1870, they built the north part of the present village school, which in 1907 became a church school and ultimately a county school. It has leased a soccer.pitch, at the south end of the park, from the Jesuits.William Hatfield de Rodes died in 1883. A daughter of his, another Sophy Felicity, married a member of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Godfrey Locker-Lampson, who came from the large estate at Great Rowfant, Crawley, Sussex. He was M.P. for Wood Green and Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1925-1929. He was connected with the Earls of Elgin and Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate. He was also a member of the Privy Council. During the occupancy of this family. King Edward VII visited the hall in 1908 his visit is described in the Derbyshire Times and in 'Life in theCountry' by G. Locker-Lampson. It was Godfrey and his wife who held, in 1933, a famous garden party on midsummer day for over 300 children. The occasion was to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the hall. It was a grand sports day. Each child received a brown mug inscribed, 'Barlborough Hall 1583-1933'. Mr. Locker-Lampson expressed the hope that his grandson, Reginald Rimington-Wilson, who was still to retain the de Rodes family name, would see the 400th anniversary in 1983. Godfrey's eldest daughter, Felicity, had married Captain Henry Rimington-Wilson of Broomhead Hall (the 'Top Mill Snuff family). Felicity's two younger sisters, Stella and Betty, their parents, Godfrey and Sophy Felicity Locker-Lampson were the last of the family to live at the hall. It was about the time of her mother's death in 1935 that Felicity Rimington-Wilson, the 'senior member' of the de Rodes descendents, sold Barlborough Hall and the park to Mr. T. J. Garlick of Park Hall. Some ten years later, the rest of the large estate, in addition to the Butler-Bowden land at Southgate, near Clowne, was purchased by Sir Osbert Sitwell of Renishaw Hall. In 1938 the hall and the 300 acre park were purchased by the Jesuits of Mount St. Mary's College, Spinkhill, for use as their preparatory school.It is worth remembering that, although Barlborough Hall remained the family seat and permanent residence of the de Rodes family from the 16th century, shortly after the turn of the present 20th century, it became a summer residence only. The Locker-Lampsons had a house at Cromer and their principal seat on their estate at Great Rowfant in Sussex. Mrs. White, of Barlborough village, who for the past eight years has been with the school in charge of the boys' refectory, has returned to the hall after an absence of some 40 years. In her teens, as Miss Eileen Sharpe, she was a housemaid to the Locker-Lampsons and remembers how the family would spend most of the year at Rowfant,* taking part of the domestic staff with them, along with the governess. Miss Seidler. Some of the members of this commuter domestic staff are still living in the area in Harthill.The hall was left in the hands of a caretaker staff under Mr. Reynolds. The family would return to Barlborough for 'the season' only. During thewinter months, the mansion rooms remained unoccupied, their furniture covered by drapes, and only the west wing and kitchen were used by thedomestic caretakers. Their dining quarters were warmed by a blazing fire in the huge grate in the present boys' refectory, (the spit above, remaining an inactiverelic of the past). Surely a tribute to the Locker-Lampsons is the fact that Mrs. White remembers, particularly, how proud the staff were to work for the family, and how happy they were in their service at the hall.
(The family is no longer in residence at Great Rowfant, the house and estate having been sold. Most of the contents of the fine library at Rowfant are now in American libraries. In Cleveland, Ohio, there is a library called 'The Rowfant Book Club'. The Rodes house in Cromer, Norfolk 'Newhaven Court' was the property of Sir Curlis Lampson, who emigrated from Newhaven, Vermont, U.S.A., to England early in the 19th century. The house is no longer standing. It has been replaced by modern tenements.)
by Peter McArdle, S.J.
Name: Francis Rodes
College: ST JOHN'S
Born: 1530
Died: 1589
More Information: ‘Educated at ST JOHN'S College, Cambridge.’ S. of John, of Staveley Woodthorpe, Derbs. B. c. 1530. Adm. at Gray's Inn, 1549. Barrister, 1552; raised to the degree of Coif, 1578. Queen's serjeant, 1582. Justice of C.P., 1585-9. Took part in the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1586. Married (1) Elizabeth, dau. of Brian Sandford, of Thorpe-Salwin, Esq.; (2) Mary, dau. of Francis Charlton, of Apley, Salop. Died 1589. Will, P.C.C. Benefactor to St John's, and to the Grammar School at Staveley Netherthorpe. Father of John (1576), Francis (1576), Peter (1576) and Godfrey (1586). (D.N.B.; F.M.G., 583.)

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