Sir John MANNERS, Knight

Born: ABT 1534

Acceded: 20 Apr 1603, Worsop, Nottinghamshire, England

Died: 4 Jun 1611, Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, England

Buried: Bakewell

Father: Thomas MANNERS (1 E. Rutland)

Mother: Eleanor PASTON (C. Rutland)

Married: Dorothy VERNON

Children:

1. George MANNERS of Haddon (Sir Knight)

2. Grace MANNERS

3. John MANNERS (b. 1576 - d. 3 Jul 1590)

4. Roger MANNERS of Whitwell (Sir Knight)



Born BEF 1535, second son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland, by his second wife Eleanor, dau. of Sir William Paston of Paston, Norf.; bro. of Henry, 2nd Earl of Rutland, Roger Manners, Esq., of Uffington and Sir Thomas. educ. St. John's, Camb. 1549; I. Temple 1554. Married Dorothy, dau. and coheiress of Sir George Vernon of Haddon, Kntd. 20 Apr 1603. J.p. Notts. from c.1559-c.74, 1583-c.92, Derbys. from c.1574, custos rot. from 1580, sheriff 1575-6, 1588-9, 1597-8, dep. lt. from 1585; c.j. Sherwood forest by 1591.

During his early years Manners lived first with his family at Belvoir Castle, and later at Shelford. His Nottinghamshire estates were not large, but his social position was sufficient to ensure his election as knight of the shire. He was probably the Mr. Manners who was appointed to the succession committee 31 Oct 1566 and the Mr. Manners who was put in charge of the committee concerning armour 3 Dec 1566.

Dorothy Vernon was the daughter of Sir George Vernon, known as "King of the Peak," because of his immense wealth. His eldest dau., Margaret, was betrothed to Lord Stanley's youngest son. The Stanleys owned much land in Lancashire and should the two families unite their wealth would have been considerable. Dorothy was five years younger than her sister; she was supposed to be the "most beautiful of all beautiful women". John Manners had been trying to gain Dorothy's hand, but her father refused his suit, calling John "that nobody, the second son of a mushroom earl". Sir George thought that the Earl of Rutland, who had recently been raised to the peerage, was an upstart who had married money in the form of the De Roos heiress. Furthermore, the Manners were Protestants, whereas the Vernons were Catholics. Dorothy had no wish to be sacrificed to her father's ambitions; she wanted John Manners and must have pleaded often with her father, but Sir George had her put under close surveillance and she was refused any communication with the world outside the Hall. However, legend tells us that John Manners dressed up as a forester and hunted the woods around Haddon. Dorothy must have eluded her guardians on occasions, to meet him and plan their future development. One night at Haddon Hall, a festive evening was held in honour of Margaret's forthcoming marriage. There was music, dancing and singing, plenty of food and wine. Some time during the general confusion and merrymaking Dorothy was able to slip away, unobserved, to the side of the ballroom, going out of a small door, ever afterwards known as 'Dorothy's Door', outside and down the balustraded steps, along the Lower Garden to the little bridge over the River Wye, where John Manners was waiting with swift horses to take them to Aylestone, in Leicestershire, where they could be married. That is the story legend gives us and often legend is so different from the truth, but in this case the facts seem just as romantic. Dorothy, it seems, after much pleading, weeping and argument, was able to wear down her father's resistance to the Manners family and John in particular. Sir George told her she could marry John but only on condition she went as far away from Haddon as possible, he would not allow her to disgrace the name of the Hall; she could go to Aylestone, a small Manor owned by the Vernons, here no one would know her. He told her he would not attend the wedding neither would he have anything to do with the pair of them. So John and Dorothy went to Aylestone where they were married by the priest, William Heathcott, without ceremony or any big reception, but it seems these things were unimportant, for Dorothy and her husband lived very happily together.

There is a Dorothy Vernon's pew in Aylestone Church, which probably means that they lived at Aylestone for a time. Dorothy's father must have relented for she inherited most of the Vernon lands and they went to live at Haddon Hall, the tenants now calling Sir John "King of the Peak".
The ancient castellated mansion of Haddon Hall, exhibits the architecture of various periods, having been built at several times by the families of Vernon and Manners. About the year 1760, the house was entirely stripped of its furniture, which was removed to Belvoir Castle, but the building is still kept in good repair. Manners was living there by 1571, and for the remaining 40 years of his life he was one of the most prominent, active and wealthy gentlemen of the county, though he never represented it in Parliament.

Manners was supported in the county by his brother-in-law and close friend, George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, who appointed Manners a deputy when he became lord lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1585. The other deputy lieutenant was Sir John Zouche. Manners, the Earl explained, was appointed for trusting, Zouche to please others. When, in the following year, Zouche died and Shrewsbury's attention was distracted by illness and family feuds, Manners controlled the county administration. He acted as collector of the 1589 loan, for which he was excused his own payment. On Shrewsbury's death in 1590, Manners lost his pre-eminence, and his relations with Gilbert, the 7th Earl, who succeeded as lord lieutenant, were cooler, though the two men continued to work together.

In the later years of his life Manners rarely left Haddon, almost out of the world, where I hear little and see less. He controlled profitable lead mining operations which involved him in the usual friction over patents, and finally in lawsuits brought by Sir John Zouche, Richard Wennesley and others. I fear your over-travail, his brother Roger wrote in 1590, and you fear my idleness ... Mend you the one, and by God's grace I will mend the other. In 1599, illness and advancing age persuaded him to ask Shrewsbury to appoint more deputy lieutenants to share the burden of county administration.

Sir John Manners and his brother Roger founded the hospital of St. John at Bakewell, for six poor men who were made a body corporate, and endowed in 1602, at the expence of 600 pounds with anuities or rent-charges to the amout of 40 pounds per annnum. The poor men have pensions of 6 pounds per annum each, the remaining four pounds are appropriated to a laundress: Sir John Manners left by will (1611) the sum of 30 pounds to purchase pewter, brass, and linen, for the use of the hospital.

Manners died at Haddon on 4 Jun 1611 and was buried with his wife in Bakewell church, in the chapel where are also various monuments, as of of Sir Thomas Wendesley, mortally wounded, whilst fighting on the side of the House of Lancaster, at the battle of Shrewsbury; Sir John Vernon, Knt. (son and heir of Henry) 1477; Sir George Vernon of Haddon, who died in 1561, and his two wives, Margaret daughter of Sir Gilbert Talbois, and Maud, daughter of Sir Ralph Longford. His will, drawn up in Feb 1609, made bequests to the poor, including 30 to provide six beds in the almshouses at Bakewell and an annuity of 22 to the governors and poor of St. John's hospital in the same village. Gifts of money and ornaments were made to his daughter, her husband and son, and to the Earl of Rutland. Whitwell manor, which he had acquired from the Whalley family in 1592, he bequeathed to his second son Roger, together with furniture and 500. Haddon went to the heir, George.

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