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Morley of Holme Hall, Bottesford (members mentioned in visitation pedigree)

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no known test candidates
Theorised origin
Family tradition and circumstantial evidence suggest a descent from the barons Morley (via Philip, a younger son of the second baron?)
Forename patterns
Marmaduke, Edmund
External resources
First recorded
Bottesford, Lincolnshire
Longest association
339 years
Bottesford, Lincolnshire
Last recorded
Scotter, Lincolnshire
Marker Count
Possible offshoots
Markers last changed
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Reputed baronial origins

The Internet is awash with unsubstantiated and chronologically-questionable claims about the origins of this family.


Claims about this family's origins date back several centuries. The treatment of this family in Lincolnshire Pedigrees (Morley of Holme in Bottesford, page 690) claims (quoting the Heralds' College manuscript verbatim?) that the Morleys of Holme Hall, Bottesford, Lincs. descended from "Thomas, 3rd son of William, Lord Morley". A modern Windsor Herald pointed out, in 1960, that this was claimed in the Lincolnshire Visitation of 1634 and that "[t]his descent is nowhere detailed" [Six hundred years with the Morleys, page 32].


There were two Williams that fit this description: the first and third barons. This William must be the first baron, because the Thomas that was the son of the third baron ended up becoming the fourth baron [Complete Peerage (1936), vol. IX, pp. 209ff].


If the first baron indeed had a third son named Thomas, who then was the second son? CP is silent on this matter; only the first son (the second baron, Robert) is mentioned by name, although there is a reference on p. 215(f) (citing [Feudal Aids, vol. iii, p. 445]) to William's "heirs" -- plural. Does this refer to "wife and child" or "wife and children"?


If the Bottesford Morleys’ claimed ancestry is correct, then several generations of the ancestry are lacking documentation. This would hardly be the first unsubstantiated claim made in these visitations. It is therefore curious and disappointing, although not altogether surprising, that, in the words (1960) of the Windsor Herald, “The College [of Arms] accepts the statement[...], as it occurs in the Visitation Pedigrees.” [Six hundred years with the Morleys, page 37] without any question as to how these Morleys ended up in Lincolnshire.


Subsequent pedigrees have attempted to make up for the gaps in the Morley of Holme Hall ascent. For instance, this high-profile tree has Henry Morley (the earliest Morley mentioned in the visitation pedigree) as the grandson of a centenarian (born two years before his mother!) and the great-great grandson of Richard de Morley (from Family 0) and Margaret de Wennington. The marriage of Richard and Margaret is likely a reflection of one of three nineteenth-century secondary sources: Foster's Morley of Beamsley and Marrick pedigree, Burke's 1853 pedigree or Berry's 1830 pedigree (although the WikiTree pedigree says that Richard's son married both Anne Booth and Anne "Redcliffe", and that these Morleys lived in Norfolk rather than Lancashire, and that Richard died in 1416 in France, and that Richard was the son of the third baron Morley...). In fact, neither account is correct, and the three aforementioned pedigrees are shown in the more "evidence-conscious" Victoria County History: Lancashire articles (in particular, the Mearley and Wennington articles) to be generally unreliable prior to 1500. For instance, the Richard de Morley "of Winnington" was actually dead by 1322, and Wennington didn't actually enter into the family until Richard's grandson's marriage; for details, see the project administrator's booklet The Morleys of Amounderness and Lonsdale. In summary: do not trust any pedigree suggesting that the Morley family of Holme's descent from the Barons Morley is through Morleys from Lancashire.


This lack of documentation concerning the connection to the baronial family would seem to undermine the claim. Yet there may be some truth to it after all...


Earliest trace of this family in Lincolnshire

In 1428 it is mentioned that one Robert Morley formerly held land in Messingham: all of a half knight's fee, except for one twentieth part [Feudal Aids, vol. iii, p. 308]. One Philip Morley ("Morlay") held the same properties in 1346 (and the remaining twentieth part was then held by the abbot of Louth Park) [ibid., p. 227]. The land was held directly from the king. This same land was held in 1302, under the same arrangement, by one William (le) Mareschal(l) [William (the) Marshall] [ibid., p. 173].


It is reasonable to conclude from this information that Robert and Philip Morley were relatives, although there is uncertainty as to when Robert held Messingham. Also uncertain from this evidence is the relationship between these Morleys and the former owner, William le Mareschall. Here we turn to the antiquary William Farrer (the co-editor of the aforementioned Victoria County History: Lancashire articles), who places this William as the father of Hawise Marshal, wife of Robert de Morley, 2nd Lord Morley [Early Yorkshire Charters, vol. 10, p. 88]. Douglas Richardson agrees [Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Ed., p. 500]. CP's coverage of the Marshal family does not mention Messingham, Bottesford or any other Lincolnshire locations connected with the Morleys of Bottesford. The inquisition post mortem of Joh'es le Mareschale (11 Edward I) mentions, amongst his many other holdings: "Messingham 2 partes maner'", Aslackby and "Donesby villa" in Lincolnshire; Roydon Morley, Depham Morley, Swanton in Norfolk; "Botelesford" in Leicestershire [Cal. Inq. P.M. sive Escaetarum, vol. I, p. 79].


Neither Farrer nor Richardson comment on the possibility of a connection between Philip Morley and the progenitor of the Morleys of Holme, Bottesford. There is still almost a century -- perhaps three or more generations -- still unaccounted for. Still, given the proximity of Bottesford and Messingham, this fourteenth-century Marshall/Morley connection to Messingham moves the Bottesford family's claimed origins from the realm of myth into the realm of plausibility.


This new evidence is still incompatible with the details presented in the Lincolnshire visitation; we still lack proof of an alleged ancestor Thomas Morley being the third son of Lord William. It seems most likely that the Morleys of Bottesford descend from Philip Morley, fl. 1346 Messingham, and that this Philip was a younger son of the second baron (by his first wife, Hawise Marshal). Further investigation is needed in order confirm this and to fill in the missing generations between Philip and Henry (the first Morley at Holme; see below), but The Complete Peerage offers two additional circumstantial pieces of evidence:

  • The arms recorded for the Morleys of Holme Hall, Bottesford, in the heraldic visitation are similar to those recorded for the baronial family. The Bottesford Morleys had "a mullet for difference", and traditionally this is the third son's mark of cadency. CP notes, quoting Blomefield's Norfolk, that the baronial Morley arms were "the arms of de Cressi, descending to Morley through Rye and Marshal" [Complete Peerage (1936), vol. IX, p. 211(n)]. As stated above, the connection as stated in the visitation pedigree would imply a descent from the first baron, yet it was the second baron who married the Marshal heiress.

    (CP's interpretation of Blomefield may not be accurate. The Blomefield reference in question says that, after the Morley-Marshal marriage, the de Cressi arms "came to be quartered, and often born, by the Morleys" [Blomefield, Norfolk, vol. i, p. 45]. Yet in the same article and elsewhere [Blomefield, Norfolk, vol. ii, Hingham article] it is suggested that the Morley arms featured a crowned lion rampant, while the de Cressi arms featured a double-tailed lion rampant.)

  • Elsewhere it is noted that, at death (1359/60), the second baron held land in Lincolnshire [ibid., p. 214(l)]. This might be the land in Messingham. Or it might be the manor of Aslackby, which was part of the barony of Rye (obtained in the Morley-Marshal marriage) [] and was still with the family in 1402 [Blomefield, Norfolk, vol. ii, Hingham article].


This theory, although far from proven, raises the likelihood of Y-DNA matches between Morleys with Lincolnshire origins and Morleys with Norfolk origins. No such matches have been uncovered to date, because neither population is very well sampled.

Aside: Other landholders in Messingham

For the sake of completeness we document the other landholders in Messingham.

A half knight's fee of land in Messingham, distinct from the Marshal/Morley holding, was held in 1302 and 1346 by the heir (1346: heirs) of Roger de Sancto Martino [Saint Martin] [Feudal Aids, vol. iii, pp. 140, 216]. Lady Johanna Sothill (wife of Sir Gerard Sothill) held these lands in 1428 [ibid., pp. 267, 281]. In all of these instances the land was held of the bishop of Lincoln. in 1431 Johanna was seized of the manor of Messingham. It is not clear whether this implies that the Morleys had unwound their Messingham holdings before 1431.

The baron de Roos held land in Messingham circa 1402 [ibid., pp. 247].

There were also some early Morleys associated with Winterton. William son of John de Morlay, and William's wife Joan were parties in a 1364 transaction [Feet of Fines, CP 25/1/141/127, number 28]. For what it's worth, there is overlap in the names and dates with the Wennington Morleys. And the probatio aetatis of Wennington heir Francis Morley says he was born 1493 at "Colby" and baptised at "Hulton" in Lincolnshire -- are these Coleby and West Halton near Winterton?

John Morley, esquire was defendant in a 1518-1529 suit concerning Coleby, Lincolnshire [C 1/593/29]. The Francis Morley mentioned above was son of a John Morley, but that John was dead by 1511.

There were numerous other early Morleys in Lincolnshire, and we should not assume that they were all related.

First appearance of this family in Holme

Henry Morley held land in Holme as early as 1396 [CP 40/541f803; abstract]. Either this Henry or a relative held land in Holme in 1428 [Feudal Aids, vol. III, pp. 267, 286]. These lands were once owned by one John (de) la Grave, and the feudal lord seems to have been the abbot of Peterborough. In 1431 we find Henry Morley seised of the manor of Holme for one eighth of a knight's fee [ibid., p. 363].


There is also a reference to a(nother?) John de la Grave holding 3 parts of land in Holme in 1346 -- land formerly held by William of Holm [ibid, p. 236]. Three parts of land in Holme (probably the same) were in 1303 held by the heir of William of Holme [ibid., p. 147].


From this limited information one cannot infer the relationship (if any) between the Morleys, the de la Graves and the one or two Williams of Holme. The visitation pedigree says that Holme was acquired by the Morleys through Henry Morley's marriage into the Holme family. It is possible that the Morleys instead acquired Holme from the (de) la Graves, who in turn had acquired Holme (by descent, purchase or marriage) a century earlier from the family of that ilk.


Edward Peacock's coverage of this line starts in 1492 [Edward Peacock, English Church Furniture, at the Period of the Reformation, p. 242].


Morleys in Winterton, Lincolnshire

A William Morley was vicar of Winterton from 1541 until 1567. His 1556 will names some of his family.  A John Morley, probably William's brother or other relative, held land in Winterton, Lincolnshire, and his will [PROB 11/60/118] was proved in 1578. Combining this with the 1552 will of Richard Gering and Gering pedigree from the the 1592 Visitation of Lincolnshire suggests the following family group:

-- Morley
+ --

   William, vicar of Winterton; d. abt. 1567

   Robert, named as a brother in William's 1556 will.

   --, named as a sister in William's 1556 will.
   + Thomas Holden, named as a brother[-in-law] in William's 1556 will.

       ?Anthony Holden, one of William's legatees.

   --, named as a sister in William's 1556 will.
   + -- Crowther, named as a brother[-in-law] in William's 1556 will. Possibly Sir Thomas Crowther, 
            vicar of Bonby, who was also mentioned in William's will

       ?John Crowther, one of William's legatees.

   John, named as a brother in William's 1556 will. Same as below?

   ?Richard "Morley of Morley", named in William's will, but relationship not stated
   + --

      Alice,  one of William's legatees.


   John Morley, of Winterton; will dated 7 October 1577
   + Anne Gering (d/o Richard Gering and Joan Thacker. Richard was notary of Winterton, 
          whose will dated 6 April 1552 names John Morley as son-in-law and supervisor. 
          Witnessed by William Morley, vicar of Winterton.)

     Jane Morley,  b. bef. 1552; one of William's legatees?
     + William Suandon [Swanson?]

     Anne Morley, b. bef. 1552
     + John Holland

     Elizabeth Morley, b. bef. 1552
     + Henry Ashwyn

     Peter Morley, b. bef. 1552; 1578: inherited lands in Winterton

     Richard Morley, b. bef. 1552; 1578: inherited lands in Barton-upon-Humber



Edward Peacock has worked out a pedigree of later Morleys at Winterton [Edward Peacock, English Church Furniture, at the Period of the Reformation, p. 164]. Tradition [ibid.] says that the Morleys of Winterton were connected to the Morleys from Holme Hall, Bottesford, but "the point where they branch off has not been ascertained", and, given the 1364 Winterton reference (above), the divergence may have been very early. Consequently, the Winterton Morleys have been given their own marker code.

Peacock's transcription of John Morley's 1642 will appears in the January 1865 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine.

The Richard Morley heading Peacock's pedigree could be one of the Richard Morleys mentioned above.


Some of the Winterton Morleys mentioned in Peacock's pedigree and the above pedigree were parties in various Winterton land transactions.


There were later Morleys in Barton-upon-Humber; see here and here and here. There are living male-line descendants of John Morley b.c. 1815 at Barton-upon-Humber.


Many of these Winterton Morleys have entries in the LDS Baptism, Marriage and Burial collections. The LDS indices are good as a finding aid, but we really need to look at the original Winterton records before proceeding further. There is some coverage on the Winterton parish website. For one reason or another, there are no eighteenth-century Winterton Morleys in the LDS indices. Winterton Morleys appear on the 1841 census, but we await further evidence before linking them to the earlier Morleys living there.

Other remarks

Not meaning to further criticise the former Windsor Herald, but his assertion that the Bottesford line never retained Catholic sympathies [Six hundred years with the Morleys, pp. 44-45] is incorrect. Edmond Morley of Holme, gent. (indexed as "Edward") was fined (1630, at Lincoln) £20 to compound for his recusancy [Cath. Rec. Soc., vol. 53, p. 353].


A Henry Morley (not necessarily the same as the first Morley in Holme) was in 1429 and 1433 formerly escheator in Lincolnshire [Cal. Fine Rolls, vol. 15, p. 265; Cal. Fine Rolls, vol. 16, p. 137]. He was appointed in 1426 [Cal. Fine Rolls, vol. 15, p. 157]. Henry de Morley -- perhaps not the same person -- was escheator for Lincolnshire in 1408 (appointed 1407) [Cal. Fine Rolls, vol. 13, pp. 96,112]. There was a Henry Morley, clerk, in Lincolnshire in 1396 [CP40/541d568; abstract]. There are also three 1399-1400 references to a Henry Morley of Lincolnshire [Cal. Fine Rolls, vol. 12, p. 406], and another reference to a Henry Morley associated with Hull [I.S. Rogers, Morley, Henry, King's Esquire, (fl. 1401)].

A grandchild of Marmaduke Morley (Peter Metcalfe) apparently married a descendant of Sir Thomas More (Bridget More) [The Family and Descendants of Sir Thomas More].


A Marmaduke Morley was a creditor of Jonathan Bacon of Stafford in 1748 [Staffordshire Record Office, Abstracts for Q/SBe/39/46-51].


Edward Peacock, whose work is referenced above, also wrote a novel featuring "Marmaduke Morley, the exile" as a character [Edward Peacock, Ralf Skirlaugh: The Lincolnshire Squire,].


Surname: Morley
Title Start Year End Year Added Updated
Bottesford, Lincolnshire
1428 1767 2013-04-21 2013-04-21
Barnoldby le Beck, Lincolnshire
1575 1575 2013-04-21 2013-04-21
Messingham, Lincolnshire
1713 1715 2013-04-21 2013-04-21
Scotter, Lincolnshire
1794 1794 2013-04-21 2013-04-21


The following forum may contain discussion relevant to this family group:

Forum: Lincolnshire

Title Post date Replies Last comment time
Reuben Marley/Marlow family, southern Lincolnshire, 1770s-1829 Sun, 01/03/2020 - 1:16am 0 Sun, 01/03/2020 - 1:16am
Pending moderation Thu, 13/02/2014 - 3:34am 11 Thu, 13/03/2014 - 4:21am
Pending moderation Thu, 29/08/2013 - 2:02pm 3 Tue, 10/09/2013 - 10:40pm