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Breakup Of The Old Estates

The Tikhull line ran out in the early 16th century. In 1513 the last of the family, Thomas Tikhull of Aston, gentleman, sold his manor of Shardlow and all his property in Shardlow, Aston on Trent and Wilne (Great Wilne) to John Hunt of Overton in Ashover, gentleman for £60 passing over the property in Aston on Trent and Wilne immediately but retaining for himself and his wife, Elizabeth, for life the manor of Shardlow and all his lands there. Unfortunately, the conveyance described the estate only in general terms but two later documents throw more light on its possible extent. A deed of John Hunt’s son, Christopher, referred in 1532 to the manor of capital vessuage of Aston upon Trent, which was almost certainly Tikhulls old home, for which the Hunts were claiming the status of a manor. Christopher Hunt’s inquisition post mortem in 1538, by which time the Hunts had obviously acquired Tikhulls Shardlow property, reported Hunt to hold at his death a capital messuage (Aston Hall), two cottages, 100 acres of arable, 10 acres of meadow and 120 acres of pasture in Aston, as well as a messuage one fifteenth part of a knights fee, the latter probably the remains of the old Ferrers manor. Hunt also held the manor of Shardlow, a manor which was late in origin, with a cottage, three tofts, 100 acres of pasture, all held of the king as of his manor of Weston, and until recently held of the Abbey of St Werburgh. Though the Hunts may well have bought other parcels the bulk of this property was very likely the old Tikhull estate, unlike the lands in Chellaston which the Hunts had acquired before 1538, and which were listed in the inquisition. 

The Hunts activities seem to have overstretched them financially and they began to sell off property. The manor of Shardlow and probably all or the bulk of their Shardlow property was sold in the late sixteenth century. By 1617, their estate in Aston on Trent consisted of the capital messuage called Aston Hall with dovecote, gardens, and two orchards. Malt mill, ‘cunnygrey’ (rabbit warren), eight cottages, eight closes, 5½ yard lane of arable land containing 140 acres in the several fields of Aston on Trent and 20 acres of meadow and pasture, all in Aston on Trent and in Robert Hunt’s tenure – that in, he farmed his property himself. The family’s financial difficulties continued and parcels of land in Aston on Trent were sold off. At last in 1630 John Hunt, the last of his family, sold the Aston on Trent Hall estate to John Gregorie of Nottingham, gentleman, for £350 although John and his wife Anne were to remain as tenants for life. By the time the Hunts financial difficulties had reduced, the property to Aston on Trent Hall, its garden, two orchards, malt mill, cunnygrey, six cottages, two closes, 3½ yardlands (said in 1665 to contain 100 acres) and the 20 acres of meadow and pasture. Gregorie in his turn sold the property three years later in 1633 to trustees of Anthony Roper of Eltham esq., already the owner, in right of his first wife of the manor of Weston upon Trent and the extensive lands in Weston, Aston, Shardlow and (Great) Wilne which went with the manor. 

The Abbey of St Werburgh owned the manor of Weston with its lands in Weston, Aston, Shardlow, and Wilne at the beginning of the sixteenth century, which was the greatest landowner in Aston. At the dissolution of the monasteries, the manor with the advowsons of Weston on Trent and Aston on Trent fell into the hands of the King, only to be given about 1541 to the newly created Bishopric of Chester as part of its endowment. Five or six years later, the bishop was forced to give the manor and advowsons up, so that Henry VIII could sell them to Sir William Paget, his secretary for £5.70s 18s 5½d, an indication of the size and richness of the manor. Sir William settled the property on a younger son, Charles who probably came into his inheritance in 1569. He was a fervent Catholic whose involvement in the religious politics of the day drove him into exile in France where he became a prominent member of the English ‘émigré’ Catholic group. 

In consequence, he was attainted of High Treason and his lands reverted to the Crown, in whose hands they remained (though leased out) until 1603, when James I pardoned Charles and restored his lands to him. From Charles Paget they descended to his great niece Mary Gerard, who married Anthony Roper of Eltham in Kent, esq., in 1612. Mary died ten years later leaving an only child, another Mary, her heir, but Anthony remained in possession of his first wife’s lands until his death, when he left all his Derbyshire lands to be sold. By then, he was also the owner of the Aston on Trent Hall property, which he was free to sell, but his daughter Mary stepped in to claim the Weston inheritance. On 1st October 1647, she sold to Nicholas Wilmot (or Willymot) of Grays Inn, esq., most of the lands belonging to Weston manor, 18 messuages (houses), over 40 and 10 cottages in Weston, four messuages, 73 yardlines and a cottage in Wilne and Shardlow, and seven messuages, 11 yardlands and three cottages in Aston. It cost him £3,150. 

In February 1648 Roper’s trustees sold the Aston on Trent property bought from Gregorie to Nicholas Wilmot’s cousin, Robert Holden, of Shardlow, gentleman. He was the son of Henry Holden, husbandman who had settled in Great Wilne from Findern in or before 1569, had prospered and died styling himself Yeoman. Robert seems to have made his money out of rearing beef cattle. He paid £400 for the Aston on Trent property, which was to remain in his and his descendants possession for 250 years. On 6th March following he paid Rogers trustees £3,436. 5s. 4d for Weston Hall, the manor, well over 200 acres of meadow and pasture, some of it in Aston, and three messuages with yardlands in Shardlow and Wilne. In June of the same year, he bought the advowsons of the church of Aston on Trent and Weston on Trent, for £300, and bought out Anne Hunts surviving rights in Aston on Trent for £320. 

It is difficult to say exactly what the acreage of a yardland was, but in Aston, it seems to have been no more than 24 or 25 acres, including the meadowland belonging to each yardland. The ten Aston on Trent farms with their 15½ yardlands of the old Weston manor therefore contained probably between 350 and 400 acres, in addition to which the Weston estate owned within Aston on Trent a number of meadows; including the 20 acre Lockholm or Lackeholme, and a part of the six yardlands said to lie in Aston on Trent and Weston on Trent. There was then probably over 400 acres of Aston on Trent Township in the ownership of the Weston estate split to disintegrated further, as Wilmot sold his Aston on Trent properties chiefly to the sitting tenants, Whilst Holden sold one of his Aston on Trent farms likewise. Holden also settled Weston Hall, with some Weston land, on his son, Samuel, his principal heir. The 1651 settlement and the overwhelming predominance of the Wilmot holding in Weston ensured that the future Holden estate should centre on Aston on Trent Hall, rather than Weston Hall. 

A dispute between William and Robert Holden, finally settled in 1681, left Samuel Holden with two farms containing two messuages and three yardlands between them, a number of meadows, two yardlands (40 acres) in the common fields and some lands in Weston (including five acres of New Close there), Wilne and Shardlow, and the advowson of Aston. The lands within Aston on Trent probably represented an accession of the Aston on Trent Hall property of less than two hundred acres. The advowson was chiefly used to provide for younger sons, or in one case a nephew, and between 1681 and 1916, a period of 235 years, members of the Holden family (including the eighteenth century Rector, John Rolleston, a Holden through his mother) were Rectors of Aston on Trent for 170 years. 

A further development of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was a growth in the number of owner-occupiers, partly occasioned by the sale of the Sacheverelle of Hopwell property there in 1595, but chiefly by the break up of the Weston estate within Aston on Trent after the sales to Wilmot and Holden. The Sacheverelle had interests in Aston on Trent even in the fourteenth century, the 1595 sales consisted of two farms, one a messuage and three yardlands etc., the other a messuage and one yardland, perhaps about 100 acres in all. If the Sacheverelles had other property in Aston on Trent it too must have been disposed of, for the family seems to have disappeared from the township.