From the 16th to the 18th centuries, three Kingswinford families appear regularly in the historical records – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. As often as not the Corbyns were represented by a Thomas, whilst without exception the Bendys were Williams and the Hodgetts were named John. In this series of three posts, based on the material in Kingswinford Manor and Parish (KMAP), I will set out what we know about these families and their interactions. This first post looks at the Corbyns of Corbyn’s Hall. Parts 2 and 3 can be found here and here.
The Corbyn family tree shown above is a long one, and the direct succession can be traced back, with some confidence, to the 12th century. The name of Corbyn is French and in the earliest days was written as Corbin or de Corbin. The earliest family members in the tree seem, from various deeds and other documents, to have been based around Kingswinford and Sedgley. They mostly married within the local community of gentry / minor aristocracy – for example Thomas (1260 -) married Felicia de Lulley – the daughter of John Lulley from the manor of the same name near Halesowen. Perhaps the most significant marriage in the early period was the marriage of William (1332-1360) to Felicia de Sutton – the kinswomen (and probably daughter) of John de Sutton II, the first Baron Sutton of Dudley and the Lord of a number of manors in the area, including Kingswinford, and possibly William’s feudal Lord. It seems possible that at that stage the Corbyns settled in what was to become the Corbyn’s Hall estate in Kingswinford, perhaps given as Felicia’s dowry to cement John de Sutton’s position in the newly acquired manor. Certainly there is a record that John de Sutton granted to William a moor at Kingswinford known as the “Byrchen” and a parcel of land between the New Park in Pensnett (now the Old Park!) and the road leading to Kingswinford. The early extent of the estate is not known, and the first estate maps do not appear until after the estate has been sold in the early 1700s. At that time however it encompassed a large swathe of land bounded by the Dudley-Kingswinford turnpike road, Commonside and Tiled House Lane, stretching as far west as the Standhills area (see the map below – from the 1822 Fowler map of Kingswinford). In the thirteenth and fourteenth century however the land under cultivation in Kingswinford manor was only a small proportion of the whole, lying in the vicinity of Kingswinford village and the Wolverhampton to Stourbridge road, with the rest being part of Pensnett chase. The Corbyn’s Hall estate seems to have been effectively an early enclosure of part of the Chase.
For a hundred years after William’s marriage, the family are referred to as being from Kingswinford or Corbyn’s Hall, with further marriages between the Corbyn male heirs and the daughters of local gentry. For example, Thomas Corbyn (1425-1510) married Joan, the heir of Holbach – the Holbeach House estate at the northern side of the manor. In the time of Nicholas (around 1500) the situation changed somewhat. By his marriage to Joan Sturmey he inherited the estate of Hall End in Polesworth in Warwickshire, although this became a matter of a lawsuit with one Robert Carlile, the cousin of Joan, which was finally settled in favour of the Corbyns in 1506. After that, the Corbyn family is usually referred to as being from Hall End, although continue in Kingswinford (for example, Jane in 1632) and there are monuments in the church to George (1543 – 1636) and Thomas (1594-1637). George Corbyn (1543-1636) seems to have been the first to use the coat of arms with the three ravens of the Corbyns on his memorial in Kingswinford church.
The Hall was perhaps let out to others. In 1597 there is a record of one Walter James, Gent., of Corbyn’s Hall, and later Lieutenant H. Baggeley of the Royalist forces in the Civil War, who fought at the battle of Naseby in 1645, is referred to as being from Corbyn’s Hall.
During the Civil War, it is likely that the Corbyn family were Royalists. The mid-17th century must thus have been difficult for them and they seem to have moved into a number of trades and professions. Records show that, in 1650, George Corbyn (1632- 1720) was a salter in London and was later to become a merchant in the East Indies. His brother Henry (1629-1675) was also in London, working as a draper, and, in 1655, he emigrated to Virginia and became owner of a number of slave plantations. The oldest member of that generation, Thomas (1624-1688), continued to live at Hall End in Polesworth, although he is still recorded as being active at Corbyn’s Hall. In 1650 he was involved in a legal dispute concerning the building of a wall at Corbyn’s Hall that was said to encroach on the land of others. He and his wife Margaret had a number of children, but only one, a daughter Margaret, survived. She married well, to William Lygon of Madresfield in Worcestershire, and the Corbyn estates eventually passed to the Lygons. Both Thomas and his wife died at Madresfield rather than at Hall End. Margaret was to be the great grandmother of William 1st Earl of Beauchamp. Around that time Corbyn’s Hall was sold to John Hodgetts, who we will hear more about in the following posts, and the Corbyns play no further role in the history of Kingswinford Manor.