The Smyth(e) family - click here - The History of Yorkshire by General George Henry de Strabolgie Neville PLANTAGENET-HARRISON, 1885

After he had located the Layton pedigree, Barry Reid states - "I decided to take a look at P-H's Preface on the off-chance that it might turn up something interesting. And that it surely did! It explains his attitude ... and probably the attitude of others to him ...others who were, in his words, "mere mushrooms, of the most obscure and doubtful lineage." Among the many damning comments made by Harrison is this one:

"I have not been allowed access to the public library at the British Museum since the year 1850, - the reason for which according to Sir Henry Ellis, the then chief librarian, being because I claimed to be the Duke of Lancaster, as heir of the whole blood of King Henry VI.; and he therefore adopted the fine old English custom of locking the stable door after the horse was stolen."

The History of Yorkshire by General George Henry de Strabolgie Neville PLANTAGENET-HARRISON, 1885


THIS History of the County of York was compiled exclusively from the Public Records, and no part of it has hitherto been printed. In order that this History may be properly understood by everybody, it is written entirely in the English language, translated from the abbreviated Latin, in which all the ancient Records are written. I considered it useless to print copies of records in a language which so very few, even of the highest educated people, can either read or understand.

Under each village or manor will be found everything relating to it which is upon record, arranged in chronological order from the earliest times - thus giving to each place its own chronicles and separate history.

Especial attention has been paid to the genealogical part of this work, which is of the highest importance, inasmuch as the pedigrees of families constitute the history of manors, the same as the pedigrees of kings constitute the history of countries. In this behalf I have carefully abstained from copying out of any of the fictitious pedigrees hitherto published; and I have also repudiated the genealogical MSS. in the British Museum, and all the Heralds' Visitations as worthless, being either fictitious inventions, or the erroneous result of tradition.

The Records which have supplied all this information, from which the public will be able to judge of their value, are - first, Domesday Book, which was compiled in or about the fifteenth year of the reign of William the Conqueror.

This ancient Record is simply a schedule of the lands of the King's geld, and does not mention any of the lands held by the people at large in their own right. The collectors of the King's geld in those days were, like a great many collectors of more recent times, always ready to put other people's money into their own pockets, either honestly or otherwise; and it was on account of the numerous complaints made to the King of the frauds committed by these collectors in the collecting of this revenue that the King ordered this schedule to be made, so that all the tenants of those lands might know exactly the amount which they ought to pay. This was the doomsday for these collectors, and it was thus that this survey was called the "Doomsday Book."*

Some information contained in this work is derived from Ancient Charters, made before the Norman Conquest, all of which have been at different times enrolled in the Pleas Rolls for safe keeping. The following records have also rendered up their secrets: viz., the Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, Subsidy Rolls, Coroners' Rolls, Memorandum Rolls, Judgment Rolls, Decree Rolls, Fine Rolls, the Ladies' Roll, Escheators' Rolls, Charter Rolls, Pipe Rolls, Recovery Rolls, Military Rolls, Hundred Rolls, Originalia RolIs, Norman, French, Scottish and Irish Rolls, Black and Red Books of the Exchequer, Books of Aids, Templars' Books, Coucher Books, Special Commissions, Inquisitions post mortem, Inquisitions ad quod damnum, Testa de Nevill, Kirkby's Inquest, Humberton's Survey, Ministers' Accounts, Receipts of the Treasury, Chancery and Exchequer Bills, and other law proceedings, and many other records the names of which at the present moment I do not remember, - all of which are invaluable, but fall into utter insignificance when I mention the Pleas Rolls, which are worth all the other records put together a thousand times told. These glorious and unique records, called the Coram Rege, De Banco, Quo Warranto, Assize and Exchequer Rolls, contain the History of every family, estate and church in England, and are as little known as the archives of Babylon, they having hitherto lain as pearls before swine; and it was from the contents of these priceless rolls, the examination of which occupied me daily for more than a dozen years, that I extracted the hitherto unknown facts which will be found in this HISTORY OF YORKSHIRE.

These Pleas Rolls begin in the 5th Rich. I., and are continued ever since that period, and contain millions of membranes, each one of which is numbered as a separate roll, and which, from their immensity and being unindexed have hitherto remained as a sealed book.

An attempt was made some years ago to publish some of the early Coram Rege Rolls, but the transcribers could neither read them correctly, nor understand their contents; and the consequence was, they left out all the most important entries upon the records, and thus only created a vast amount of waste paper at a very great cost to the public.

I have not been able to make the recent history of some of the manors as complete as I had desired to do, because of the hostile attitude of the clergy and modern landowners; who would not render me any assistance with respect to the information I required. I have not been allowed access to the public library at the British Museum since the year 1850, - the reason for which according to Sir Henry Ellis, the then chief librarian, being because I claimed to be the Duke of Lancaster, as heir of the whole blood of King Henry VI.; and he therefore adopted the fine old English custom of locking the stable door after the horse was stolen.

Every obstacle has been placed in my way with a view to prevent my compiling this work; which has ever been the grand object of my life, and which by the providence of Almighty God I have now accomplished; and the contents of this book I trust will teach my readers that "tempus omnia revelat."

With respect to the Charities, considering that their insertion into this work would fill up too much space, and that they have all been given in full in the reports of the Commission appointed by Parliament, which can be easily obtained at the price of waste paper, I have omitted the whole of them - my object being to print nothing but such matter as has been lying dormant for so many generations.

My readers must not look for the blood of the ancient nobility and gentry of Yorkshire amongst the present landowners, but amongst the farmers and agricultural labourers, many of whose ancient names are the sole remnant of the many long lines of ancestry which will be found recorded in these pages.

My own thanks, and the thanks of all future generations which may be interested in the history of Yorkshire, are due only to two illustrious men, who, resisting all the evil combinations of my contemptible enemies, in their attempt to exclude me from the Public Records, did, by their courtesy and kind consideration afford me every facility to obtain that information which has enabled me to compile this work. The names of those two illustrious men are, The Right Honourable Sir George Jessel, Master of the Rolls, and his predecessor, the Right Honourable Lord Romilly.

"Deus laus et gloriam."

* Hitherto Domesday Book has been erroneously supposed to contain particulars of all the lands in England, and immense sums of public money have been at various times, at the suggestion of senseless people, expended upon it through sheer ignorance - lately including a facsimile by the process of Photozincography, which cost the public 17,000, and was simply useless, as scarcely anybody could read or understand the meaning of it.

I applied to the authorities for the use of these plates, in order that I might republish them with a verbatim translation, for the public benefit; but I was informed that those costly plates have been destroyed - a true edition of the "Dog in the Manger."

The new Domesday Book which has been devised, and which is now in progress, is simply a public swindle: if Parliament require a new Domesday Book, they must first of all abolish the Statute of Limitations, and reverse all the attainders since the time of Henry VI., calling upon all the present landholders to show their titles to their estates; then we should have a real Domesday Book; but the present attempt to waste vast sums of the public money, set about by the late Radical Government as one of their acts of retrenchment, ought not to be allowed by the present Ministry. Better give the money to the starving poor than thus throw it away amongst useless people for a useless purpose. Why should the people be taxed for the purpose of compiling a book full of errors, supposed to contain a list of the present landholders, most of whom are mere mushrooms, of the most obscure and doubtful lineage?"

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