Saturday, 7 July 2007

Marwood Notley of Combe Sydenham Hall & Chillington House, Somerset, is mentioned in old editions Burke’s Landed Gentry. His ancestry is given, his arms are described and his principal seat is confirmed as Combe Sydenham.

The most thorough book on the history of the Notleys of Somerset and Dorset is the book by Eustace H Pearson, "Do Not Lie! The Notleys of Somerset & Dorset" published in 1991 with 10 digit ISBN 0951853600.
Mr Pearson did a great deal of research and traced the Notley family back to the 15th century; and in the first part of the book traces the landed branch in Somerset.

Marwood Notley (1833 - 1903) was not the eldest son. In fact, he was the third son - and therefore his chances of being the squire were not promising. However, his eldest brother George, the 6th first-born Notley to bear that name, had been sent abroad to Belgium [see Pearson for more information!]; while the second son, James Thomas Benedictus Notley had died relatively young, without any children.

Marwood Notley & Matilda Ann Poole had 7 children, all baptised in Monksilver:

Arthur Harry (bapt.1865), Clara (bapt.1865), Maida (bapt.1870), Minnie (bapt.1872), Milo Marwood (bapt.1875), Montague (bapt.1878) & Marwood (bapt.1880).
When the old squire died in 1903, his obituary appeared in the local newspaper, "The West Somerset Free Press".


His will comprised many pages and included vast properties.

The principal beneficiaries were the two youngest sons Montague and Marwood. They inherited equally all his manors, cottages, farms & lands in the parishes of Stogumber (including Combe Sydenham), Monksilver, St. Decumans & Sampford Brett [in Somerset], together with some land in Devon. The Notleys had acquired Combe Sydenham in 1796 and the parish of Monksilver in 1800.

One of Marwood's sons, Marmion, acquired the manors, cottages, farms & lands in Chillington, Cudworth & Dowlish in south Somerset. By then much of this land had been held by the family for 150 years. It did not remain in the family for very much longer, as Marmion died on New Year’s Day 1904. He had been married only a few weeks - and was on his way to Stogumber Station to fetch his wife, when his horse fell on a sheet of ice. He was rendered unconscious and died a few days later. The property then passed, with the lordship, to his widow Anne, who in 1905 married C F Sweet of Monksilver.

Mejiah inherited land in Devon.

The eldest son, Arthur Harry, believed to be an alcoholic, was not excluded. From his father he received an annuity of 78 Pounds a year, to be paid in weekly instalments.

The will however failed to mention his son Milo Marwood Notley - who had gone to South Africa ca. 1900.

Marwood's daughters were also well provided for: Each received £5,000 and land. [One can multiply this amount by at least 60 or 70 times to calculate the current value.]

Monksilver lies on the eastern slopes of the Brendon Hills, just west of Stogumber - and part of the parish, including the village, is within Exmoor National Park. Until the 14th century the parish was called simply Silver, but its ownership by Godcliff priory led to its renaming. In 1441 the priory and its lands were given to Tewkesbury Abbey; and in 1474 Tewkesbury exchanged the manor with the canons of Windsor. - who retained it until 1800. It was normally let on long leases from 1567 to 1716 to the Sydenhams of Combe Sydenham. Combe Sydenham was sold to the Revd George Notley in 1800, and on his death in 1831, it passed to his son James Thomas Benedictus Notley (d. 1851).

James was followed by his son James Thomas Benedictus Notley.

This James, who died in 1872, was followed by his brother Marwood (d. 1903), then jointly by Montague & Marwood.

The pub was renamed the Notley Arms in the 1860’s - and shows the coat-of-arms of the Notleys, or more accurately the Marwood-Notleys. The pub is still there - and hasn't been renamed The Slug and Lettuce (or worse!). It's still called The Notley Arms and serves very good food:

The Church of All Saints was dedicated by 1449, but is older: much of it is 12th century, with later additions.

Combe Sydenham is in fact not in Monksilver, but in the neighbouring parish of Stogumber. The Notleys owned Combe Sydenham for about 150 years. An estate called Combe is described in 1066. From the 14th century it has been known as Combe Sydenham, It passed through many generations of the Sydenhams; and in 1693 it was sold to George Musgrave. In 1796 George Notley bought the estate from Juliana, sister of Thomas Musgrave. In 1800 part of Combe Sydenham was settled on Mary Marwood before her marriage to George Notley. She died in 1829 leaving her share to her husband. The estate descended with the neighbouring manor of Monksilver in the Notley family until the death of Marwood in 1903 when it passed to the youngest son Marwood. His daughter sold the estate to a family friend Mr E C Campbell-Voullaire c. 1958. The current owner is Mr W A C Theed. Many of the documents relating to the conveyance of the estate survive. In 1964 the estate extended to 626 acres, including a small deer park, agricultural land and plantations. The hall is mentioned in many guide books. It is of red washed stone, and even after much work lavished on it in recent years, in need of much further repair. An atmospheric account of Combe Sydenham from the end of the 19th century survives: See the chapter “A Manor House in Deer Land” in Richard Jefferies’ “Red Deer” published in 1884.

I shall ignore the story of Sir Francis Drake, Elizabeth Sydenham and the cannonball. The ball can be seen in the hall.

As lords of the manor of Stogumber, the Notleys had their own chapel in the church in Stogumber. There are memorials to three members of the family, along with monuments to the Musgraves and a very beautiful one to the Sydenhams. The Monksilver church was closer to Combe Sydenham than the Stogumber church, but in different parishes - and there were several battles with the Monksilver church about seats.

Eustace Pearson has suggested in a monograph that Marwood’s brother James had a very close relationship with his cousin Charles Elton. James was in failing health and died at the age of 42 - just two years after Charles shot himself.

George, James & Marwood were the 3 sons of yet another James Thomas Benedictus Notley. Portraits of several of these Notleys survive. Even Marwood's sisters’ portraits have survived. The first James Thomas Benedictus Notley was named in honour of his mother’s three uncles and also her brother. His mother was the wealthy heiress Mary Marwood, who married the Revd. George Notley.

If you look at the Notley pedigree you will see that Marwood Notley's ancestry can be traced back in the direct line to Anthony Notley (born circa 1592). There is then some uncertainty but it might be possible to go back another century. Mr Pearson in his book looks in detail at the Notleys’ Dorset roots.

By 1709 George Notley held the Elizabethan manorhouse of Cricket St Thomas - on lease. Circa 1766 his grandson, Rev. George Notley (husband of Mary Notley), bought the manor of Chillington from the trustees of George Speke. Not long after this Combe Sydenham & Monksilver were added. In the church at Chillington is the Notley plaque (with crest) setting out the early family history.

It is worth mentioning that Rev. George Notley & Mary’s elder son, George, was committed to an asylum for gentlemen - Brislington near Bristol. He went there at the age of 24, and remained there until his death in December 1857 (of disease of the bladder & prostate gland), when the family drew lots to divide some of the considerable estate. As Mary’s brother James was a lunatic it is likely that there is a link here. Unfortunately no records of George’s insanity survive. Mary Marwood was entitled to use the Marwood coat-of-arms on her brother’s death - and when she died, her children were entitled to use her arms together with their paternal coat, and this is the form which appears on the pub sign in Monsilver.

The Marwoods

Mary Marwood had three sisters and a brother, but the brother was insane. A very charming portrait of the brother James Thomas Benedictus Marwood has come down to us.

James is aged about 10. The Marwoods were at the height of their wealth when insanity intervened. James was immensely wealthy, as extant tax records show - but as an insane person he could not write a will. There is a touching monument to James in the church at Widworthy in Devon. The very simple church of St Cuthbert’s is dominated by monuments to the Marwood family, including also James’ father, also James & his mother Sarah (Sealey). At present the church is raising £16,000 to restore these monuments. Outside there is a memorial to Marwood's sister, Mary Notley, who had married one of the Marwood-Eltons. On the lunatic James’ death, the property passed to the daughters, and the Notleys were important beneficiaries.

The Marwoods probably started out from the parish of Marwood in North Devon. Thomas Marwood was the earliest known physician practising in Devon; and he was born at Blamphayne, close to Widworthy. In 1540 he went to Italy and was educated at Padua, then the most celebrated medical school in Europe. On his return to England he practised in Honiton - and was eventually summoned to Court as physician to the Queen, possibly to treat the Earl Of Essex, then still in favour. Thomas lived to be 105 - and there is a monument to him in St Michael’s Church, Honiton. Elizabeth I is supposed to have given him land in Devon. Thomas’s great-grandfather, William Marwood, had married Jane Courtenay. Jane was the grand-daughter of Sir Philip Courtenay of Powederham Castle, Devon - a descendant of King Edward I. Thus the later Marwoods and many of the Notleys can claim to be descended from Edward I.

In 1709 the Marwoods purchased Widworthy manor from the Chichester family. Mary Marwood’s sister Frances married Edward Elton (with property in Gloucestershire & Somerset), and the Marwood-Eltons continued as Lords of the Manor of Widworthy well into the 20th century. By 1873 only one person not related to the squire owned property in the parish: The Eltons owned nearly 4000 acres - and Mr Pavey owned 15 acres! In 1830 the house was rebuilt, 8 years before Edward Marwood Elton was made a baronet - and Widworthy Court has only recently been turned into large flats. (In addition to the fine Georgian house there are the stables, coach house and other outbuildings, which have also been converted.) The pub, the Marwood Arms, disappeared early in the 20th century. The last of the direct line, Nigel Wm David Marwood-Elton DFC, died in 1995 - and there is a small tribute to him in the church there. Three of the remaining Marwood-Eltons are believed to be in Zimbabwe: Simon Marwood, Anthony & Sarah. Nigel was a grandson of Mary Notley (Marwood’s sister); and Nigel’s father was William Marwood Elton (1865-1931). From Trinity College Oxford he joined the Welsh Regiment, and was a Captain in the 3rd Battalion during the Anglo-Boer War, and Lieutenant-Colonel in World War I.

Intriguing that some members of the family in Southern Africa retain the Marwood name, including Graham Marwood Cross and Milo Marwood Notley, the son of Marwood Milo Notley.

Milo Marwood Notley married Jane Ellen Williams [Routley?] and emigrated to South Africa ca.1900. They had 10 children - Francis Vivian (1903-1965), Matilda Venn (1903-1977), Dorothy (1905-1995), Maida (1906-1964), Mildred Madeline (1907-1995), Marwood Milo (1909-1985), Hector Alexander (b.1911), Cora (1913 - ??), Stella Marwood (1917 - 2005), and Geoffrey Milo (1919-1980). Milo Marwood & Jane Ellen had 25 grandchildren. The Notley name flourishes in South Africa.

For more on Milo Marwood Notley, visit


Inge Notley said...

I was just googling the Notley coat of arms when I happened upon your blog. My great grandfather was Milo Marwood Notley who went to SA in 1900.
Really fasinating to read the family history and all the old information. Makes you wish you could go back and meet everyone, doesn't it...?

Thanks for the info, really enjoyed it!

Inge Notley

Sharon and Jock on tour said...

Hi we are Notleys from Nottingham and have one copy of your book but would like another one, is the book still in print. Sharon.