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The Sitwell family

The Sitwell family traced itself back to the fourteenth century and numbered kings of France, the English Plantagenets, Robert Bruce, and the Macbeths among its forebears.

The Sitwell connection within the immediate neighbourhood of Whiston stems from the marriage of William Sitwell to Mary Reresby in 1693, which made the Sitwells sole representatives of the ancient family of Reresby of Thrybergh, which is 5 miles north-east of Whiston.

The village was sold to Sir George Sitwell in about 1823.

As well as Whiston other local villages were part of the Sitwell Estate: Brampton-en-le-Morthen, Morthen, Ulley and Wickersley

The archives contain a plan of workings of Sir G. Sitwell's colliery at Whiston, 1833-36, with recommendation to sink a new pit, 1845.

Pedigree of Sitwell

Sitwell Pedigree
Sitwell Pedigree
Sitwell Pedigree

The Sitwells - or Cytewelles, as they were spelt in the fourteenth century, had been landowners in Derbyshire for over six hundred years. In the seventeenth century they ventured into industry, set up a large iron-works at Eckington, became one of the world's pre-eminent manufacturers of nails, and built Renishaw Hall . George Sitwell (16011667) being the dominant figure in the north-east Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire iron industry.

George Sitwell (16011667) of Renishaw Hall

George Sitwell, landowner and ironmaster, was born at Eckington, Derbyshire, where he was baptized on 15 March 1601, the eldest son of George Sitwell (15691607) and Mary, daughter of Thomas Walker of Derby, who later married Henry Wigfall, also of Eckington.

The Sitwells rose steadily during the sixteenth century from freeholders to gentry through the acquisition of land in Eckington and neighbouring parishes, a transition completed by George Sitwell, who was a JP, served as high sheriff of Derbyshire in 1653, and received a grant of arms in 1660, which he produced, together with a pedigree, at Dugdale's visitation of the county two years later. The family's rise was confirmed by the building of Renishaw Hall at Eckington, in 1625, which became the centre of their estate and remains their home today.

Sitwell, in common with many landowners of his day, supplemented his income from land through the exploitation of minerals beneath his estate, in his case chiefly iron. His involvement in the industry probably began with the building of a blast furnace at Plumbley, near Eckington, in the 1630s, jointly with his stepfather, Henry Wigfall. This partnership came to an end in 1649 and three years later Sitwell alone built a new furnace at Foxbrooke, close to Renishaw, which by the 1660s was the nucleus of the most extensive group of ironworks anywhere in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire, including two other furnaces (at Staveley and North Wingfield) and forges at Staveley, Pleasley, Clipstone, and Cuckney. Sitwell also made saws at Pleasley and in 1656 installed near Renishaw the first rolling and slitting mill in the East Midlands, the rod iron from which supplied a large number of local nailmakers.

Sitwell remained in personal control of his works until his death and a letter-book covering the last few years of his career shows that he was in business on a large scale, producing pig and bar iron, castings, saws, nails, and other finished goods for sale both locally and in London, where a cousin acted as his factor. Some products, including rolling mills for the West Indies sugar plantations, went abroad. Sitwell sent iron to London both by water, via the River Idle at Bawtry, and by road, employing his own private carrier as well as using public stage wagons. His correspondence also shows how closely a country landowner could keep in touch with public affairs in the capital through his commercial contacts; in addition, although by this date in his sixties, Sitwell visited London regularly. At home, he made extensive purchases of wood from both the crown and private owners in Sherwood and elsewhere, and was an important figure in an extensive regional credit network. He was also much involved in administrative business as a JP at parish and hundred level and to a lesser extent in the county as a whole.

Sitwell, who married Margaret, the daughter of Hugh Childers of Carr House, near Doncaster, was buried at Eckington on 2 August 1667; his wife died in 1658 and was also buried at Eckington. Of their five sons and two daughters who survived into adult life the eldest son continued his father's iron-making activities from his seat at Renishaw and two others became London iron merchants. In the 1690s, however, the works were leased and, although they retained direct management of their collieries until the mid-eighteenth century, the family were principally landowners. Wealth accumulated from both land and industry would later enable Sir G. R. Sitwell (18601943) and his children, Osbert, Sacheverell, and Edith to pursue their various literary careers.

George Sitwell had a daughter Mary, who married William Revell, nephew of John Revell late of Higham; they lived at Ogston Hall.

Notes re Revell connection: Will of John Revell of Ogston esq date 1699 : to wife 200
George Sitwell of Renishaw esq, John Copley of Doncaster (Yorkshire) esq and William Sitwell gent (George's uncle) to stand seised of 2/3 of Revell's property until his son and heir William is 21, paying out of the rents (or by sale if necessary) 1200 each to daughters Mary and Katherine or 2400 between all younger children if more are born
Further bequests to wife, niece Anne Gardiner daughter of Samuel Gardiner rector of Eckington, sister Smart widow, servant Esther Briddon and to executors (the trustees above-named) with further detail of arrangements on payment of legacies, death of executors etc (11 Aug)

Will of Elizabeth Sitwell, late of Renishaw, par. Eckington, Derbys., and now of Pontefract, Yorks, spinster

(i) to her god-daughter, Elizabeth Hill, daughter of John Hill, of Newark, Notts, bookseller, 500 when aged 21. Until then, an annuity of 20 for her maintenance and education.

(ii) to her servant, Hannah Marshall, an annuity of 100 for life, plus 1,000.

(iii) to Gervas Morsley, late servant of her brother Francis an annuity of 5 for life.

(iv) the manor of Morton, Derbys., and all lands belonging, her share of lands in Tibshelf, Pilsley, and Hucknall, Derbys, to her cousin Richard Stannton Wilmot, and then in tail male, in trust to preserve contingent remainders. Proviso that heirs must take the name Sitwell.

(v) to god-daughter Mary Gell, 100 plus her gold watch, jewels, rings, gold and other medals, all plate, except for a silver jug given to Hannah Marshall; furniture of the bed chamber over the kitchen in her house at Renishaw.

(vi) to cousin, Richard Stanton Wilmot, all the lands conveyed to her by mortgage from Master Brailsford.

(vii) to cousins Sacheverell, Robert, Simon and Harvey Wilmot 1,500 when aged 21.

(viii) to the poor of Eckington, 40.

(ix) to servant Hannah Marshall, all her clothes and all her furniture in the house at Renishaw not already disposed of.

(x) to all servants in her employ at her death, a suit of mourning and 10 each.

John Spencer is appointed executor 20 May 1767.

Codicil: that John Spencer has since died, therefore, his widow Barbara is appointed executor. 8 Sep 1769.

Probate granted 27 Oct 1769.

Reference: SpSt/169/3

Scanned Extract from Old Halls of Derbyshire

In the reign of Elizabeth, or in the last half of the sixteenth century, Francis Sitwell was living at Eckington, with his wife, Ellen Bright, of Dore. The issue of this union were George, born 1569, Francis William, Grace, Frances, Alice.

George married Mary Walker, of Derby, and died in 1607, leaving George, of Renishaw, whose wife Margaret Childers, of Doncaster, bore him Francis, together with a numerous family. Francis was born in 1631 ; was Sheriff in 1671 - the year he died having married Catherine Sacheverell, of Barton and Morley, by his wife he had George and William of Sheffield, among other sons and daughters. George was father of ?, by his wife Anne Kent, of Pove), (Sheriff in 1740s), who died without issue in 1753 ; George, of London, who died in 1745 Thomas of Povey, who died in 1737 ; Alice who mated with William Sacheverell, and died without issue and Elizabeth, who died unmarried in 1769, having made Stanton Wilmot her heir (hence the Wilmot Sitwells). We go back to William, of Sheffield, who married , Reresby, of Ecclesfield. The sons of this gentleman (Francis, of Sheffield ; William, of London ; Henry, of Sheffield who evidently died without issue, for his daughter, Catherine, wife of Jonathan Hurt, of Sheffield-eventually became his heiress. This lady was mother Francis Hurt, in 1728, Who took the name of (Hurt) Sitwell in 1777, and died 1793, leaving, by his wife Mary ward of three sons, who need separate mention:

Sitwell, of Renishaw, of whom:
Francis who married Anne Campbell, from whom the Barmoor Castle Sitwells and Hurt, founder of the Ferney Hall branch.
Sitwell Sitwell, of Renishaw, was J.P. for Derbyshire, M.P. for Westlow, and created a baronet in 1808. The baronet was married twice:

His first wife was Alice Parke, of Hiolifield, sister of Lord Wensleydale, by whom he had Sir George, second baronet, together with two daughters - Mary, wife of Sir Charles Wake, and Anne, wife of General Sir Frederick Stovin, K.C.B.

The second wife of Sir Sitwell Sitwell was Sarah Catherine Stovin.

Sir George was born in 1797, was Sheriff in 1828, and died in 1853. His lady was Susan M. Tait, sister of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and mother of Sir Sitwell

Reresby Sitwell, third baronet, born 1820, and died 1862 who, by his wife Louisa Hutchinson, of Weston Hall, Northamptonshire, was father of Sir George Reresby Sitwell, baronet, whose wife was Ida Augusta Denison, daughter of the Earl of Londesborough.

George Sitwell's Letterbook 1662-66

The 500 letters copied into the letterbook provide a wealth of information on the operations of a country ironmaster, his products, consumption of charcoal and other raw materials, sales locally and nationally. There is also detail on money-lending, credit, internal transport, the postal service and the activities of a gentry family generally.

Probate Copy Will And Codicils of Hurt Sitwell

Hurt Sitwell of Wilford House, Notts., Esq. but now residing in City of Bath, dated 11 Dec 1802, 11 Dec 1802, and 28 Jan 1803, proved in P.C.C. Bequests: 1. To wife Ann Sitwell 200. 2. To wife Ann Sitwell use of all Plate linen china household goods and furniture at Wilford. 3. To brother Sitwell Sitwell Esq. 100. 4. To brother Francis Sitwell 100. 5. To friend John Makepeace 100. 6. To Rev. James Moore of Wimbledon Surrey Clerk 100. 7. Manor of Bolton-iuxta-Bolland, Capital messuage and lands, in parish of Giggleswick, Yorks, to which entitled under a Mortgage from Pudsey Dawson of Liverpool, 20 Aug 1802 plus Personal Estate, to James Moore and John Makepeace upon trust, to provide Annuity of 600 for Ann Sitwell for life; residue for son, Francis Hurt Sitwell at 21 yrs; After death of widow, all to son, but if he dies under 21, then to brother of testor. Francis Sitwell. 8. Guardian of son Francis Hurt Sitwell during minority: wife Ann Sitwell. 9. Exors: James Moore and John Makepeace. 10. (1st Codicil) Annuity of 600 changed to 800 plus 200 p.a. 11. (1st Codicil) Guardians: James Moore and Ann Sitwell. 12. (2nd Codicil)Brother Sitwell Sitwell of Renishaw, Derbys, Esq, Guardian and Exor. in place of John Makepeace. 13. (2nd Codicil) mourning to be provided for servants, and wearing apparel divided among them.

Francis Hurt Sitwell - resided in Sheffield for many years. Mount Pleasant , situated at Highfield was built by him and was for some time his residence. He donated 500 to the building of Shefield Infirmary.

Sitwell's Charity - Mr. Francis Sitwell of Sheffield, an attorney, in 1740 gave 400 to the Company of Cutlers, which he directed should be lent to poor cutlers in sums of 5 each without interest, for six months, on a deposit of goods exceeding 5 in value.

Sir George Reresby Sitwell

Sir George Reresby Sitwell(18601943), antiquarian, was born in Green Street, Mayfair, 27 January 1860, the only son of Sir Sitwell Reresby Sitwell, third baronet, by his wife, Louisa Lucy, daughter of Colonel the Hon. Henry Hely-Hutchinson. He succeeded his father in 1862, thereby enjoying a long minority during which he was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford. He next contested Scarborough seven times as a Conservative and was a member of Parliament from 1885 to 1886 and from 1892 to 1895. By 1908 he had become a Liberal, but by then he had abandoned politics despite a talent for addressing large audiences.

Whilst at his preparatory school Sitwell had taught himself to read black-letter English from family documents, and in 1889, having bought the Scarborough Post and a private printing-press, he produced on this his first book, The Barons of Pulford in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries and their Descendants'. The Sacheverell papers which he inherited led to the writing in 1894 of 'The First Whig', an account of the parliamentary career of William Sacheverell, to whom he was related. He also published 'The Letters of the Sitwells and Sacheverells' in1900. His researches among family papers resulted in the clarification of many disputed points in the pedigrees of the older English families and he frequently worked in close co-operation with J. H. Round, never relying on popularly accepted pedigrees but tracing them to their documented origins. He allowed himself the relaxation of writing a book in the form of fiction when he published in 1933, 'Tales of My Native Village', studies of medieval life, manners, art, and religion. In addition to his studies of genealogical details, he paid considerable attention to heraldry on which he contributed articles to the Ancestor.

Sitwell spent much of his time at Renishaw Hall, the family seat in Derbyshire, where he filled seven sitting-rooms with memoranda on numerous subjects. To his researches in genealogy and heraldry he added in particular the study of the construction and planning of formal gardens which was of genuine value and led to the publication in 1909 of 'On the Making of Gardens'. He redesigned the gardens at Renishaw on a formal plan, at the same time ornamenting the park with a large expanse of landscaped water, and to gain further information on the subject of garden planning he travelled extensively in Italy, a country to which he became progressively devoted.

In the twentieth century the Sitwell family became famous through the writings of Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell, the three gifted children of the eccentric Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell. The youngest, known as 'Sachie', was the only one of his generation to marry, and Renishaw now belongs to his elder son, Sir Reresby Sitwell, seventh baronet.

Edith Sitwell (18871964), poet and critic, was born at Scarborough 7 September 1887

Sir (Francis) Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, (18921969), writer, was born at 3 Arlington St., London, in December 1892. Although spending much time at Londesborough Lodge, Wood End, and Hay Brow in Scarborough, houses which belonged to his grandmothers, Osbert Sitwell always considered the ancestral seat, Renishaw Hall near Chesterfield, to which the family regularly moved in summer, as his true and well-loved home. Sitwell succeeded his father in the baronetcy in 1943, and was appointed CBE in 1956and was made an honorary LLD of St. Andrews in 1946 and an honorary D. Litt. of Sheffield University in 1951.

Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, sixth baronet (18971988), writer, was born on 15 November 1897 in his parents' house, Belvoir Terrace, in The Crescent, Scarborough, the third child of Sir George and Lady Ida. In 1925 he married Georgia, younger daughter of Arthur Doble, banker, of Montreal. Their first son, Reresby, was born in 1927 and his younger brother, Francis, in 1935.

Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell was a JP from 1943 and high sheriff of Northamptonshire from 19489.

Georgia died in 1980. Two years later, Sacheverell published his final volume of poetry, An Indian Summer. He was made a Companion of Honor in 1984 and died in 1988. He was succeeded by his elder son, (Sacheverell) Reresby.

Renishaw Hall c1955
Eckington, Renishaw Hall c1955.  (Neg. E226007)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008.
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

Renishaw Hall is three-storied, grey and battlemented, dominating a deep valley to the north-east of Chesterfield in Derbyshire. It dates from the seventeenth century, with later additions carried out on a grand scale by Sir Sitwell Sitwell around 1800.

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