Middleton


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Here are some Middleton stories and accounts over the years:

The Myddeltons of Chirk Castle and Their Red Bloody Hand


Chirk castle was built in the late 13th century by Roger Mortimer, the Justice of North Wales for Edward 1.  The castle was sold for 5,000 UK pounds to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1595 and his descendants have continued to live in a part of the castle today. 

The iron gates of the castle are dated 1719 and bear the coat of arms of the Myddelton family.
  T
hese incorporate the red "bloody" hand, three wolves’ heads, and an eagle’s head. 

There are many accounts about the origin of this red “bloody” hand.  One story tells of a dispute which arose between two youths of the family over the inheritance of the castle.  To settle the dispute it was agreed that the two youths should run a race.  The winner would be the first to return and touch the castle gates.  It was said that the first youth to reach out to the gate at the finishing line was deprived of victory by a supporter of his adversary who drew his sword and cut off the youth's outstretched hand - thus the "bloody" hand.  An alternative version of this story tells that they swam across the castle lake and the first hand to touch the far shore was cut off. 

Another legend has it that the red hand was a curse on the Myddelton family.  It was said that the curse would only be removed if a prisoner succeeded in surviving imprisonment for ten years in Chirk castle’s notorious dungeon.  No prisoner did in fact survive. 

Then there is the story of a Myddelton dressed in a white tunic who was badly injured in battle.  He placed his blood-covered hand on his tunic and left the imprint of the bloody hand which then became the heraldic symbol. 



Middletons in Warwickshire

Middleton is a small village in north Warwickshire mentioned in the Domesday Book.  The manor of Middleton was held by the de Frevilles until 1493 when it passed to the Willoughbys.  In the 17th century Middleton Hall was home to Francis Willoughby, the famed mathematician, and he and his descendants were granted the title of Baron Middleton.


Middleton Lodge in Ilkley

High above Ilkley, to the west of Middleton village, stands the impressive building most local people call "The Monastery."  The Lodge was built on the site of a medieval hamlet called Scalewray which came into the hands of Anne Meddilton, wife of Sir Peter Middilton, in 1490.  The main features of the building that can be seen today date from 1620. 

From a very early date the Lodge was a centre of the Catholic religion. During the days of persecution the recusant population of the county was to be found in small groups, at the centre of each of which was to be found "a gentleman's household."  Jane Middelton was listed as a recusant in 1580 and the Middelton family remained true to the "ancient faith" despite heavy fines and imprisonment.  Even today there are still Catholic residents of Middleton village whose ancestors have been part of this local recusant tradition. 

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the Lodge seemed to have served either as a hunting lodge or as a family second home with a Catholic priest in residence.  The Middelton's main residence was at Stockeld Park near Wetherby. 

Much of the Middelton family's estate in Ilkley was sold off to raise money during the 19th century and the Lodge itself went in 1912.


Sir Hugh Myddelton and London's Water Supply

Sir Hugh Myddelton is chiefly remembered as the man who brought fresh water to London. This is how residents of Myddelton Square, in the London Borough of Islington, tend to think of him, and perhaps to associate him with the statue at Islington Green. 

In 1576, he followed his older brothers to London and apprenticed himself to Thomas Hartopp of the Goldsmiths’ Company.  His name first appears as a liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1592.  His goldsmith’s shop was to be found in Basinghall Street.  He supplied jewellery to Queen Elizabeth I and two entries in state papers show sums of £250 paid to Hugh Myddelton for jewels bestowed by King James I on his wife, Queen Anne. 

In 1605 he served on a House of Commons Committee to look into the possibility of bringing fresh water from the River Lea into central London.  Hugh gradually became obsessed with the dream of improving London’s water supply.  The villagers of Islington complained that there was not enough water.  Some of it was drawn from wells and delivered by water carriers.  Quite often it was contaminated. Hugh’s idea was to find a way to bring water from the springs of Amwell and Chadwell in Hertfordshire, partly by means of an open channel and partly through underground pipes, to a reservoir near his own city house – a distance of 38 miles. 

What he planned duly happened.  On September 29th, 1613, water was permitted to flow into the large reservoir at what is now the New River Head, the very day that his brother Thomas took office as Lord Mayor of London. 

Sir Hugh’s fame was commemorated by the erection of many memorials.  In 1845 a statue of him was placed in a niche on the north side of the newly rebuilt Royal Exchange and in 1862 a marble statue of him in Elizabethan costume was erected on Islington Green.



Middletons in Scotland


The name of Middleton in Scotland is derived from the lands of Middletoun in Kincardineshire, of which the Middleton family were in possession for over four hundred years.  Malcolm assumes the Middleton name, having been granted these lands by the Scottish king in 1094.  Early Middletons were not always respectable.  Gilbert Middleton was recorded as an outlaw in 1317 for heading a band that attacked and robbed dignitaries of the church. 

Laurence de Middleton was sheriff of Forfar in 1481 and his son Gilbert assumed the same post in 1516. 

In 1646 Robert Middleton was stabbed to death by Montrose's soldiers while sitting in his chair.  His grandson John distinguished himself during the Civil War, initially ironically in the service of Montrose and then in the Royalist cause.  After the Restoration he was made the Earl of Middleton.



Arthur and Henry Middleton of South Carolina

Arthur Middleton, born at the family Oaks plantation in South Carolina in 1681, became active in the early public life of the province.  He was President of the Convention that overthrew the Lords Proprietors in 1719 and served as acting Governor of the Colony from 1725 to 1730. 

His son Henry was ranked as one of the wealthiest, most influential and politically active men in the province.  He began construction of Middleton Place in 1741, a home that would become both an intellectual and emotional focus for successive generations of Middletons.  He owned approximately 20 plantations that embraced over 50,000 acres and about 800 slaves. 

Henry was Speaker of the Commons, Commissioner for Indian Affairs, and a member of the Governor’s Council until 1770 when he resigned the seat to become a leader of opposition to British policy.  Henry was chosen to represent South Carolina in the first Continental Congress and was elected its President in 1774.  He served for a year but, when asked to serve for another term, declined due to reasons of health. 

He wanted to return to his home in Carolina and spend his remaining years at the Oaks with the knowledge that his son Arthur would succeed him in the Continental Congress.



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