History | Lords of the Manor
Read all about the Lords of the Manor beginning with Sir William de Mere ...
The De Mere family roots were firmly established in high status English houses and could trace there lineage back to the early Saxon Kings of England.
Doomsday records show the Lordship of the Manor of ‘Northune’ (Norton le Moors) being in the possession of Ulviet de Meiri, or to quote his Saxon name Wulfgeat, the name de Meiri being an adopted name after 1066 to show allegiance to his new Norman Barons.
Wealthy & High Ranking
The Mere family were a very wealthy and high ranking English family who were connected to the Norton in the Moors area for many centuries, having residencies at Norton, Norton Green and Spragg House.
Although many members of the Mere family held titles and high positions in society our research so far shows that the most prominent member of the family connected to Norton Green was "Sir William de Mere or de Norton III" as he was also known.
First Knight of Nortone
The most noted member of the de Mere family to live at the Hall in Norton Green was Sir William (1264-1324) son of Nicholas, a man of great power and wealth within the county of Staffordshire.
William lived under the reign of the ruthless King Edward I Longshanks) and it was probably King Edward who knighted William and granted him the right to ‘Bear Arms’.
First MP for Staffordshire, Burton & Hulton Abbey
William’s wealth continued to grow and by 1290 he had become the first MP for Staffordshire, by 1305 he was Bailiff to Burton Abbey and in 1314 High Sheriff of Staffordshire.
The de Mere’s association with Burton Abbey can be traced back to it’s formation 1004, as it was a blood relative and former Lord of Norton, ‘Wulfric Spot’ Earl of Mercia and Chief councillor to King Ethelred (the Unready) who founded the Abbey.
William also owned land in Maer, Normacot and by 1282 records show that he owned a manor house in Maer, Maer Hall.
The present Maer Hall must have been built around 1680 as it appears on a 1682 map of Staffordshire, but not on the one drawn in 1679.
After a succession of owners, it was bought by Josiah Wedgwood II in 1807 and his family lived there until his death in 1843. William also had connections with St Mary’s in Abbey Hulton, granting the Abbey lands at Maer near Normacot in 1300.
But Sir William's status is marred and overlooked by being remembered as the father whose son was brutally murdered at Norton Green for his inheritance.
We can imagine the Hall (Norton Green Old Hall Farm) at this time being a grand and fortified stronghold with William’s high positions and wealth, with his family enjoying all the pleasures befitting their status, but all that would change one dreadful night in the year 1315/1317.
Sir Robert Dutton de Dutton of Cheshire
Notable families married their children off to families of the same rank or status during the 13th century and Sir Williams’s daughter Agnes being no exception marrying Sir Robert Dutton de Dutton, Cheshire.
An interesting link about the Dutton family can be seen here ... view more
The Dutton’s being a notorious family who took the law into their own hands on many occasions to get what they wanted.
Members of the Dutton family were never brought to account for many of their deeds as Cheshire at this time was not subject to the general policing and laws of the land.
Although an interesting record has recently come to light that the Sheriff of Cheshire at that time was no other than Robert Duttons father, Sir Thomas Dutton.
Sir Williams de Meres Estate
Upon his marriage in 1284 to Agnes, Sir Robert was given grants of land by his mother Phillippa within the close proximity of Norton and soon the Manor held by his wife’s father became a very interesting prospect to expand Sir Robert’s considerable holdings.
There was of course one major obstacle that stood in the way of Sir Robert inheriting the Norton Manor through his marriage, Agnes his wife had a brother, John de Mere, the sole benefactor of the Norton Estate upon Sir Williams death.
For the estate to come into Sir Robert’s hands, William’s son would have to be taken out of the equation either by natural causes or heinous means.
This prospect soon manifested itself into murderous intent and members of the Dutton family raised a mob to ride to Norton Green Hall to slay the father and son that stood in Sir Roberts’s way.
Mayhem at the Hall!
On their arrival at the Hall a fight ensued between the mob from Cheshire and the defenders of the Hall. Amidst the mayhem Sir William was able to flee from the battle but sadly his son was butchered by the attackers.
Returning to Cheshire Sir Robert thought himself soon to become Lord of Norton upon Sir Williams’s death.
Whether or not the Dutton’s were held accountable for this horrific crime only further research will reveal but we can conclude this story with some small satisfaction on Sir Williams part.
Having no intention of granting his lands and title to his daughter and her murderer husband, Sir William ‘Enfeoffed’ (to legally give his land title upon his death) to the Lords of Stafford and Audley.
Research has uncovered two ancient records relating to that fateful night:
1. Entry in the Staffordshire Plea Rolls Of Felonies presented Coram Rege in co.Stafford. … Read more
2. Deposition on record respecting the ancient ownership of the Manor of Norton, is the actual account/text involving the 14 elders of Norton who recorded the events on that fateful night … Read more
Hackers / Ackers Lane
The above account of this murder at the Hall may account for a local story relating to the lane that runs to the rear of the Old Hall. This lane is locally known as ‘Hacker’s’ or ‘Akers Lane’ We have been informed on numerous occasions whilst interviewing residents for this publication, that it got it’s name from the fact that a member of the household at the Hall was butchered there or in the Hall with an axe!
Was this then where Sir William’s son met his horrific and untimely death? We will let you make your own conclusions on this matter.
The following points give a brief insight into the life of Sir William de Mere;
- • Born 1269, died 1324
- • Son of Nicholas de Mere
- • Was Lord of the Manor of Norton in the Moors also known at this time as Norton le Moores/Norton Super le Moors/Norton under Kermond / kevermond (a reference to the original name of Carmountside, the site of St Mary's Abbey which gave rise to the area known as Abbey Hulton.)
- • Had the rite to bear arms
- • Was the last Knight of his name in Staffordshire
- • Could trace his bloodline back to the first King of England - Egbert 828-839 and even further back to the early Saxon Kings of this Isle
- • 1305 was Bailiff of Burton
- • 1314 was High Sheriff of Staffordshire
- • Lived under the reign of the notable King Edward I (Longshanks) 1272-1307 and was probably the one who knighted Sir William
- • 1300 Sir William gifted lands at Meir near Normacot to the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary's at Carmountside
- • Had a son John (who was murdered) and daughter Agnes
- • Formed the 14 elders of Norton, most probably a council made up of yeomen/gentry within the manor
14 Elders of Norton le Moors
We know that the practise of the 14 elders continued for at least 150 years after Sir Williams death, as in the reign of King Henry VII they gave witness of the account of the murder of the son of Sir William.
The original text can be viewed here … Read more
The elders names at this time who signed the deposition included;
- Hugh Forde
- Thomas Roule
- Thomas Sherard
- John Trussefeld
- Roberto Grene
- Stevyn Cartelage
- John Ball
- John Mare the younger
- Thomas Baddeley
- William Burne
- John Mare the elder
- Henre Baddeley
- Hugh Sherarde
The fourteenth elder presumably being the Lord of the Manor.
For further reading relating to the death of Sir Williams son please follow the link … Death of John de Mere