Hallamshire. The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York/Chapter IV

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Sheffield under the Barons Furnival.[edit]

The marriage of Maud de Lovetot with Gerard de Furnival transferred Sheffield and her other great estates in the counties of York and Nottingham to another family, who continued to enjoy them till it ended in a female heiress named Joan de Furnival in the time of Richard II. During the term of their possession from the grant of full livery of her lands to Gerard de Furnival, by King John, in the fifth year of his reign, they were lords of Hallamshire a hundred and eighty years.

The name of FURNIVAL was derived from a place in Normandy called Fernefal[1]. This was their hereditary seat; but it seems to have been deserted by them when they acquired the houses and lands of the De Lovetots. Indeed not only at the Conquest, but for the first century and half after their dukes became kings of England, the Normans showed a great willingness to abandon their hereditary seats and to settle in this island.

The arms of Furnival appear without any variation in many places where their estates lay; Argent a bend between six martlets gules: and are so described in that best authority for the hereditary insignia of the ancient baronage of England, the Roll of Caerlaverok, anno 1300. These arms with a border of gules are used by the society of Furnival's Inn. For the crest our only authority is a tricking in one of Dodsworth's manuscripts[2], which appears to be intended for a copy from some original remaining in his time in the church of Sheffield. Brooke has introduced it among the embellishments of his superb pedigree of the lords of Worksop, and in the accompanying description he calls it, what perhaps the reader would not easily have discovered it to be, a horse's helmet. The engraver has well succeeded in representing the rude tricking by the hand of Dodsworth, who unfortunately was no draftsman.

The shield in the lower part of the opposite page contains the arms of Sir Thomas Nevil knight, as they appear on the monument of his lady in the church of Barlborough;—Gules a saltier argent, charged with a martlet sable, impaling Furnival. The escutcheon of pretence is a modern artifice. The martlet which he adopted as the peculiar distinction of his branch of the great family of Nevil was obviously borrowed from the arms of the heiress whom he married.

Several members of the house of Furnival were summoned to parliament among the barons of the realm. The genealogy and history of this family have employed the pens of several eminent antiquaries. Sir William Dugdale has of course entered upon the subject in his general view of the Baronage of England[3], a work abounding in the most valuable information, and far less inaccurate than a first attempt of the kind might reasonably be expected, where one object was to recall many half-perished names, and to arrange them in exact genealogical order, a work of which none can comprehend the nicety and difficulty but those who have actually made the experiment. Dodsworth and Vincent, Dugdale's great masters, have left in manuscript, sketches of the genealogy of this house[4];but like Dugdale they seem to have been led into error by paying too implicit deference to the rhyming chronicles of Worksop. Thoroton[5] has shown an independence upon them, and, having the use of records which had not fallen inder the inspection of Dugdale, has approached much more nearly to the truth than his learned contemporary. Of more modern antiquaries, Mr. Gough has illustrated his description of the remains of the Furnival monuments at Worksop with a pedigree[6]; and Dr. Pegge has given another in which he differs from preceding genealogists in his 'Historical Account of the Abbey of Beauchief[7],' to which there were valuable benefactors. I venture to offer the following as the true genealogy of this great house. It is compiled on an attentive consideration of the authorities on which several writers before mentioned have proceeded, and of a few charters and incidental notices of the family which had not presented themselves to former genealogists. Still, however, there is much to be done before the pedigree, in all its ramifications, can be said to be complete, and established on indisputable evidence. The evidence for each step in the pedigree, as it is here given, will be found either explicitly or implicitly stated in the annexed commentary. I would gladly have added the name of one of our earliest poets, Richard de Furnival. It may be here observed, that there are fewer early charters than might be expected in the archives of the present noble lord of Hallamshire, relating to his grace's Yorkshire possessions.


  1. Pigot's Metrical Chronicle.
  2. Dods. MSS. in Bibl. Bodl. vol. cxxxcii. f. 1.
  3. Vol. i. p. 725–728.
  4. Dods. MSS. in Bibl. Bodl. vol. xxiii. and Vincent's MSS. in Col. Arm.
  5. Nottinghamshire, vol. iii. p. 387, &c. 4th edit.
  6. Sepulchral Monuments, vol. i. p. 184.
  7. p. 153, &c.