Treasure 27: Ockbrook glebe terriers

A glebe terrier is a formal record of the property and assets of an ecclesiastical parish. They vary a lot in their format and contents, and often mention intangible assets such as tithes on wool, corn and (in some parts of the county) lead ore.

These particular terriers have been selected by the historian Richard Clark and relate to the parish of Ockbrook.  The vicar who drew them up was a Huguenot by the name of Stephen Grongnet, who had been educated at Montaubon and left France for England some time after the Edict of Nantes was revoked, in 1685. The Edict had afforded French Protestants certain rights and protections, and its revocation prompted many other Huguenots to take the same decision. After taking up his post as vicar of Ockbrook, Grongnet worked for almost four decades in the same parish, before his death in 1733. We hold a copy of Stephen Grongnet’s will and probate inventory dating from that year.

The terriers date from 1698, 1701, 1719, 1722 and 1726. Looking through the series, it is possible to detect changes reflecting the passage of years, in particular the deterioration of Grongnet’s eyesight, which caused his writing to grow ever smaller.

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Richard had his first encounter with the terriers shortly after their arrival at Derbyshire Record Office. He writes:

When I used the glebe terriers in the late 1970s, they had just come in from the Diocese of Southwell and had not been formally listed. A very brave archives assistant produced a temporary list, providing the date of each terrier under the parish heading, and for his pains got very dirty handling all those pieces of parchment. They weren’t much cleaner when I had the privilege of handling them in the office for a second time, but I was very grateful for his list. What attracted me to these Ockbrook terriers was seeing the process of aging, something apparent from the real documents and which cannot be conveyed by transcript. They capture the physical burdens of his position in an age before universal retirement pensions better than any historian’s description.

We can confirm that they are lovely and clean these days!

A note on the spelling of this surname: researchers find that until some point in the later 19th century, surnames were spelled according to the whim of the moment – people were not even consistent in the spelling of their own name. Our catalogue (drawing on the original documents) renders this surname as Grognet/Grongnet, whereas The Clergy Database (an invaluable resource for anyone researching a particular clergyman) spells it Grougmett or Gronginet. However, he signs himself Grongnet on these terriers, so we will stick with that. It’s also the spelling favoured by the author of a biography of the man, “A French parson at Ockbrook”, by Marion Johnson. The Derbyshire Libraries catalogue indicates that we have fifteen copies of it across our various branches, including our own local studies section.

Tracing the path of a religious dissenter

We get some interesting enquiries at Derbyshire Record Office, and it’s nice to share them sometimes – especially where there is an element of mystery.  I wonder if anyone can help with this one?

We were contacted recently by a genealogist who was working through some family history papers compiled by a relation, and hit upon this reference:

  • 11 July 1710. SAMUEL SKIDMORE, of Monsal Dale in Ashford, listed as a Religious Dissenter.

However, the source of this reference is unknown.  What could it be? Continue reading