The Tener Family

This is a journal kept by Dennis Holmes and friends concerning the Tener Family.
The links below will take you to the "Tener Blue Book" - "TENER: A History of the Family in France, Ireland and America"; and to a Finding Aid.

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Friday, September 30, 2005

St Giles Church, Great Longstone, England

Using the Tener Blue Book as a basis for all research, and reviewing subsequent acquisitions, one becomes interested in the Tener family connection to the Eyre family. The first mention of the “Evans Eyre Line” appears on page 38, and is continuied on page 39, of the Tener Blue Book. (*All of this is located under the heading, “On the Distaff Side.")

Mary Francis Tener, NEE Evans, is the great great grand daughter of an Eyre – Jane Eyre of Eyre Court Castle, County Galway.

In a travelogue made available some time ago, ‘Uncle Hampden’ Tener described an Eyre family history written by “Hartigan”. Via the internet, a search revealed the complete text of Hartigan’s family study – which was completed in 1894.
( ) Hartigan was at that time noted as “Rev.” and being associated with the University in Dublin.

The Reverend Hartigan wrote,
“I had a hazy idea that all Eyres came from Derbyshire originally, and I had never heard of the Eyres, of Wiltshire. Well, in 1896, my clerical duties took me to Whiteparish, and there a surprise awaited me. In the vestry over my head there hung suspended an ancient helmet, and over it a large leg cut off at the thigh, that was surprise number one. But a further surprise awaited me as looking round the church I came to the memorial of old Giles Eyre, of Brickworth, close by the west door of the church. Now I knew that Giles was a name of the Irish Eyres, for had I not read Charles O’Malley, and I had heard also that the Irish Eyres had come over in Cromwell’s army of invasion. So here before me was a memorial to an old Roundhead Eyre named Giles; surely he had some connection with the Galway family.” (More on the Eyre’s of Wiltshire later)

The family ‘lore’ goes back to the belief that, according to Hartigan --
“The family came into England with William the Conqueror. Tradition tells us that William was flung from his horse at the battle of Hastings, and that his helmet was beaten into his face, which a Norman soldier, named Truelove, pulled off, and horsed him again.
The Duke, in return for this service, told him, "Thou shalt hereafter from Truelove be called Eyre, because thou hast given me the Air I breathe." After the battle, the Duke, on enquiry respecting him, found him sorely wounded, his leg and thigh struck off.
He ordered him the utmost care, and on his recovery gave him lands in Derbyshire for his services, and leg and thigh in armour cut off, for his crest.
Now it strikes one at once as a strange thing that a Norman soldier should bear the purely Saxon name of Truelove.

The name Eyre*, under one form or the other, still exists in Normandy, and though the incident may be true, I doubt very much as to Truelove being the name of the ancestor of the Eyre race.
The Eyres are found in the Parish of Hope and Hassop in Derbyshire before the time the name appears in the History of Wilts; perhaps some unrecorded member of the family may have migrated from Derbyshire to the South of England, and so have been the origin of the Wilts family. I think, however, that it is probable that there was more than one Eyre present on the field of Hastings, and that Eyre, of Wilts, starts from a perfectly independent source from that of Derbyshire, if it had started from a cadet of the Derbyshire family, surely before now the connection would have been found.”

This account of the Eyre family history places (?) related Eyre’s in Derbyshire, England. Also in Derbyshire, we can locate the Eyre family who at one time owned a large manor, called Hassop Hall – currently (September 2005) a “private hotel”. Not far up the road, from Hassop Hall is the little, very old town of Great Longstone. Great Longstone is a very old settlement. It is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086), and is mentioned several times in 12th century documents.

Located there in Great Longstone is St Giles Church. We do not know when the first church was built, but the lower parts of some of the external walls of this building are at least as old as the 13th century.

From a web site, we locate a sketch of the floor plan of this church (copied here with permission):


Recently we were able to visit this church. Photographs follow:

This is the sign on the road
entering the little town:

As you can tell from the photo, the grass around was very green: almost unrealistic. The road to this little town was very narrow – which is how we found most of the roads in England. And, here like much of the country we saw, in times past, farmers had taken great pains to remove large amounts of rocks from the fields and used them to make fencing: the remains of which you see behind this sign.

As we continued into the town, or even village(?), of Great Longstone, practically the first building we came across was St. Giles Church. (Parking here was challenging – we simply took the lead of the Royal Postal Truck, and parked on the sidewalk not far from the church.

At the entrance to St. Giles Church:

I think it is apparent that the grounds are well maintained and practically manicured. Most of the head stones were largely legible.

As we approached the Church grounds, entering through a street facing gate, we were very impressed by the beauty of the property. And, barely a few meters into the grounds, right next to the walkway, we spotted a headstone with the name Eyre - - - - which read:

In Loving Memory
Of Thomas Eyre
Who died Dec. 30, 1893, aged 80 years
Also Mary his beloved wife,
Died April 2nd, 1861, aged 42 years
Also Ann their daughter
Died June 14, 1873, aged 27 years
And Ellen their daughter
Died Sept. 15 1894 Aged 53 years
? gone but not ????????

There were a number of legible head stones that predated our own Revolutionary War!
We had learned a few days earlier, when we visited the church at Whiteparish in Wiltshire, that these old churches are likely ‘open’. So we approached the covered entry door, and did find it to be unlocked! We opened and entered. Now, I am not a student of architecture by any means, but it did appear to be a very old church. We would later discover that it was renovated in 1872.

I wanted to visit this church because I had learned from internet research prior to the trip that there was some memorial to the Eyre family – “distaff” relatives! We were not disappointed by any means.

As you look at the sketch, above, of the interior of the church, you will see the “Hassop Pew” at the east end of the “South Aisle”: this is also known as “The Lady Chapel”.

Interestingly, part of the armoral crest of the Eyre family - specifically the severed leg in armor (noted center bottom of the above), is repeated on this framed notice inside the Hassop Pew.

“This was originally the family pew of the Eyre family of Hassop and until 1953, and is still referred to, as the Hassop Pew or the Hassop Chantry. It is shut off by a fine oak screen of uncertain date, probably not later than the 17th century. Above the west door is the crest of the Eyre family, an armed leg, and over the north door the arms of Eyre impaling Stafford”

This picture depicts the carving of the noted leg in armour. The whole carving, or relief, is maybe 8” across.

“On the north wall of the (Lady) Chapel is a copper memorial set on black marble to Rowland Eyre and his wife Gertrude, dated 1624.” This memorial was repositioned in 1873, but the question rises: where was it before that? “…in 1824 the copper plate was in a wooden frame against a pillar between the nave and the north aisle.”

The inscription – described as more of a testimonial than a memorial, reads:

“Heere Lyeth Rowland Eyre of Hassoppe Esqr
and Gartrede his wife, one of the daughters
and coheires of Humphrey Stafford of Eyme Esqr,
by whoe hee had twelve children, eight sonnes
and fower daughters; whoe hath given unto the
chapel of Greate Longsden for the maintenance
of divine service there XXs yearely and to the
chappel of Baslowe for the maintenance of
divine service there XLs yearely to be paid by
equall portions at the feasts of the Annuncia
tion of the blessed virgin St Marie and
St. Michaell ye archangel and alsoe hath given
Unto the poore of the towne of Great Longsden
XXs yearely and to the poore of Hassoppe and
Rowland XXs yearely, and to the poor of Calver
XXs yearely to be paied three daies before Easter for
Ever. All which said severall sumes atre to bee
Paied by Thomas Eyre his sonne and heire
Apparent and his heires for ever to whom I have
given all my landes and rents in Tadington and
Greate Longsden for ever for ye true payment
And performance of ye same.

Soe leaving the miseries and trobles of this world with desire they all may
Cease, I desire all good Christians that reade this, will (pray for their souls)
Anno Domi 1624

Some of the “miseries and trobles” may have been caused by his second wife, Elizabeth, a rich widow, whom he married purely for gain and who turned out to be very troublesome to him. The names of ten of the twelve children are known: Thomas, Gervase who is buried at Dronfield, Adam who is buried at Norton, Robert, Rowland, Roger, George, Peter, Jane and Frances.

Inside the church, on the south side, there are two more Eyre memorials. First, to the right of the altar:

the memory of
Anne Eyre
Daughter of
Francis Eyre, Esq.
of Hassop,
And Dorothy his wife,
Who died 28 March
aged 6 years."

The second, is located on the south wall; it reads –

To the memory of
Mary Eyre,
Daughter of
Francis Eyre, Esq., of Hassop
And Dorothy his wife,
Who departed this life
at Hammersmith,
In the County of Middlesex,
5 October 1813, aged 23 years,
and was buried at St. Giles
in London.

Also inside the church there are three “hatchments” painted on canvas that are from the Eyre families. A hatchment is described as a “large and usually diamond shaped panel with the armorial bearings of a deceased person” displayed as part of the funeral ceremonies of members of families who bore arms. According to the St. Giles booklet, this custom gained popularity in the reign of Charles II, about 1680, and continued in a few cases even up to the early years o the twentieth century.

One hatchment is that for Thomas Eyre, Esq. of Eastwell, Co. Leicester, and Hassop, who also died in 1729. He was married to Mary, the daughter of George Holman, of Warkworth Castle, Northants. This hatchment shows the Eyre arms with those of Holman superimposed. . . . . .

Another Eyre hatchment commemorates Rowland Eyre of Hassop who died March 12, 1728 or 1729, and he was buried in Preston. He was married to Lady Elizabeth Plunkett, the daughter of the Earl of Fingal. This, too, combines parts of the armoral bearings of both the families of Eyre and Plunkett.

The third hatchment of the Eyre’s is that of Thomas Eyre of Hassop, who died at Nice in Savoy on March 26, 1792, s.p. He was married to Lady Mary Bellasis, daughter of Thomas, Lord Falconberg. She died at Pisa on January 27th, 1804. Here too it is noted the hatchment contains elements from both the Eyre arms and those of Bellasis.

After walking the cemetery, and viewing all of the headstones in the old cemetery surrounding the church, we departed.

On the road out of Great Longstone, we had passed a large manor which had a sign posted outside, Hassop a private hotel. After visiting the church, and noting the Eyre family connection to Hassop – we had to drive in, and see what we could see.

First, I must say, after returning home I researched the location on the internet and discovered that they had a web site, with good photographs of the rooms. I refer you to the site in the event you have any interest:

I picked up a little bit of “20 – 20 hindsight”! Had I known about this hotel, and the Eyre family connection – I suspect I would have tried to stay here. There is a big range in room rates – some I suspect for every taste?

We did not enter.

After leaving Great Longstone and St. Giles Church, and seeing Hassop Hall Hotel, we drove over to a lovely manor house belonging to the family of the Duke of Derbyshire – Chatsworth. But, alas, that is subject of another story!