Middleton


 

Here are some Middleton stories
and
accounts over the years:

 

The Myddeltons of Chirk Castle and Their Red Bloody Hand

Chirk castle was built in
the late 13th century by Roger Mortimer, the Justice of North Wales for
Edward
1.  The castle was sold for 5,000 UK
pounds to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1595 and his descendants have
continued to live
in a part of the castle today.

The iron
gates of the castle are dated 1719 and bear the coat of arms of the
Myddelton
family.  These
incorporate the red
“bloody” hand, three wolves’ heads, and an eagle’s head.

There are many accounts about the origin of
this red “bloody” hand.  One story tells
of a dispute which arose between two youths of the family over the
inheritance of the castle.  To settle the
dispute it was agreed that the two youths should run a race.  The winner would be the first to return and
touch the castle gates.  It was said that
the first youth to reach out to the gate at the finishing line was
deprived of
victory by a supporter of his adversary who drew his sword and cut off
the
youth’s outstretched hand – thus the “bloody” hand.
An alternative version of this story tells that they
swam across the castle lake and the first hand to touch the far shore
was cut
off.

Another legend has it that the red
hand was a curse on the Myddelton family.
It was said that the curse would only be removed if a prisoner
succeeded
in surviving imprisonment for ten years in Chirk castle’s notorious
dungeon.  No prisoner did in fact survive.

Then there is the story of a Myddelton
dressed in a white tunic who was badly injured in battle.
He placed his blood-covered hand on his tunic
and left the imprint of the bloody hand which then became the heraldic
symbol.

 

Middletons in Warwickshire


Middleton
is
a small village in north Warwickshire mentioned in the Domesday Book.  The manor of Middleton was held by the de
Frevilles
until 1493 when it passed to the Willoughbys.
In the 17th century Middleton Hall was home to Francis
Willoughby, the
famed mathematician, and he and his descendants were granted the title
of Baron Middleton.

 

Middleton Lodge in
Ilkley

High
above
Ilkley, to the west of Middleton village, stands the impressive
building most
local people call “The Monastery.”
The Lodge was built on the site of a medieval hamlet called
Scalewray
which came into the hands of Anne Meddilton, wife of Sir Peter
Middilton, in
1490.  The main features of the building
that can be seen today date from 1620.

From
a very early date the Lodge was a centre of the Catholic religion.
During the
days of persecution the recusant population of the county was to be
found in
small groups, at the centre of each of which was to be found “a
gentleman’s household.”  Jane
Middelton was listed as a recusant in 1580 and the Middelton family
remained
true to the “ancient faith” despite heavy fines and
imprisonment.  Even today there are still
Catholic residents of Middleton village whose ancestors have been part
of this
local recusant tradition.

Throughout
the
17th and 18th centuries the Lodge seemed to have served either as a
hunting
lodge or as a family second home with a Catholic priest in residence.  The Middelton’s main residence was at
Stockeld Park near Wetherby.

Much
of the
Middelton family’s estate in Ilkley was sold off to raise money during
the 19th
century and the Lodge itself went in 1912.

 

Sir Hugh Myddelton and London’s Water Supply

Sir
Hugh
Myddelton is chiefly remembered as the man who brought fresh water to
London.
This is how residents of Myddelton Square, in the London Borough of
Islington,
tend to think of him, and perhaps to associate him with the statue at
Islington
Green.

In
1576, he followed his older
brothers to London and apprenticed himself to Thomas Hartopp of the
Goldsmiths’
Company.  His name first appears as a
liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1592.
His goldsmith’s shop was to be found in Basinghall Street.  He supplied jewellery to Queen Elizabeth I
and two entries in state papers show sums of £250
paid
to Hugh Myddelton for jewels bestowed by King James I on his wife,
Queen Anne.

In 1605 he
served on a House of
Commons Committee to look into the possibility of bringing fresh water
from the
River Lea into central London.  Hugh
gradually became obsessed with the dream of improving London’s water
supply.  The villagers of Islington
complained that there
was not enough water.  Some of it was
drawn from wells and delivered by water carriers.  Quite
often it was contaminated. Hugh’s idea
was to find a way to bring water from the springs of Amwell and
Chadwell in
Hertfordshire, partly by means of an open channel and partly through
underground
pipes, to a reservoir near his own city house – a distance of 38 miles.

What
he planned duly happened.  On September
29th, 1613, water was permitted to flow into the large reservoir at
what is now
the New River Head, the very day that his brother Thomas took office as
Lord
Mayor of London. 

Sir
Hugh’s fame was
commemorated by the erection of many memorials.  In
1845 a statue of him was placed in a niche
on the north side of the newly rebuilt Royal Exchange and in 1862 a
marble
statue of him in Elizabethan costume was erected on Islington Green.

 

Middletons in Scotland

The
name
of Middleton in Scotland is derived from the lands of Middletoun in
Kincardineshire, of which the Middleton family were in possession for
over four
hundred years.  Malcolm assumes the
Middleton name, having been granted these lands by the Scottish king in
1094.  Early Middletons were not always
respectable.  Gilbert Middleton was
recorded as an outlaw in 1317 for heading a band that attacked and
robbed
dignitaries of the church.

Laurence de
Middleton was sheriff of Forfar in 1481 and his son Gilbert assumed the
same
post in 1516.

In 1646 Robert Middleton
was stabbed to death by Montrose’s soldiers while sitting in his chair.  His grandson John distinguished himself during
the Civil War, initially ironically in the service of Montrose and then
in the
Royalist cause.  After the Restoration he
was made the Earl of Middleton.

Arthur and Henry Middleton of South Carolina

Arthur
Middleton,
born at the family Oaks plantation in South Carolina in 1681, became
active in
the early public life of the province.
He was President of the Convention that overthrew the Lords
Proprietors
in 1719 and served as acting Governor of the Colony from 1725 to 1730.

His son Henry was ranked as one of the
wealthiest, most influential and politically active men in the
province.
He began construction of Middleton Place in 1741, a home that would
become both
an intellectual and emotional focus for successive generations of
Middletons.  He owned approximately 20 plantations that embraced
over
50,000 acres and about 800 slaves.

Henry
was Speaker of the Commons, Commissioner for Indian Affairs, and a
member of
the Governor’s Council until 1770 when he resigned the seat to become a
leader
of opposition to British policy.  Henry was chosen to represent
South
Carolina in the first Continental Congress and was elected its
President in
1774.  He served for a year but, when asked to serve for another
term,
declined due to reasons of health.

He
wanted to return to his home in Carolina and spend his remaining years
at the
Oaks with the knowledge that his son Arthur would succeed him in the
Continental Congress.

 

 


Return to Middleton Main Page

 

Leave a Reply