John Claye (Clay) - Lord of the Manor

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The John Claye Memorial Tablet The Tomb of John Claye Image of German Pole and his wife Margaret. She was to become John Claye's second wife.

Please 'click' on each small image to view a larger picture. Image 1 is the 'Clay tablet' on the north wall of the Chancel (the transcribed inscription). Image 2 shows the altar tomb, which prior to the restoration of 1861 seemingly occupied a position in the chancel nearer the congegational area (the tomb and its inscription). Image 3, just above the tomb depicts Claye's second wife Margaret and her first husband German Pole (see text below

The following extract is from Ch. 2 of Tale of Crich by Geoffrey Dawes. There numerous mentions of  John Claye (Clay) throughout the site, either use the 'find' function in your browser tool bar, or use the site search facility on the homepage.

"A descendant of William de Wakebridge's heir, Sir John Pole, was German Pole. He married Margaret, daughter of Edward de Ferrars (a member of the same family as the Earls of Derby). German Pole died in 1588 and Margaret married John Claye whose first wife Mary had died 1583 and whose father had been ' Chief Cock Matcher and Servant of the Hawks' to Henry Vlll. Nevertheless, when Margaret died she was buried in Crich Church in the same tomb as German. A plaque showing both German and Margaret dressed in Tudor gowns and ruffs is fixed to the north wall of the chancel at the east end: it was originally part of their tomb.

John Claye (whose grandfather John came from Chapel-en-le Frith and had also lived in Crich) built a Manor house next to the Northwest corner of the churchyard. In 1597, John Claye (then said to be ' of Wakebridge') was one of the gentleman of Derbyshire who was 'requested' to make a 'loan' to the Crown. These loans were requested from Counties by the Privy Council acting on behalf of Elizabeth. The Earl of Shrewsbury delegated the job of collecting the money from Derbyshire to John Manners and on an earlier occasion in 1589 he had written to John Manners (his brother-in-law) to say that he was "troubled to hear of slackness of those gentleman who ought to be most favoured to do the Queen's pleasure" - and he recommended that new 'privy seals' be delivered to those in arrear and warning them of the need to make payment by an early date. The 'privy seal' was the official document demanding the particular share of the 'loan' assigned to a particular person, sealed with the royal privy-seal, and sent down to their local agent in the provinces by the Council. John Manners was beset with requests from many of those to whom privy-seals had been addressed - one such being John Claye. Later that year (1589) the Earl of Shrewsbury was informed from the Court that "sums of 50 imposed under a Privy Seal on John Claye of Crich be reduced to 25 - as they have large families and are in debt". Building the Manor House and buying the tithes from Anthony Babington must have upset Clayes 'cash-flow'.

In 1606 there is, in the Talbot Papers, a record of an examination of one John Dakin concerning a report that John Claye of Crich, Gentleman, had made certain slanderous speeches accusing the Earl of Shrewsbury of being forewarned of the Gunpowder Plot and of absenting himself from Parliament "under cover of his happy gout".

Claye had three daughters Susanna, Mary and Elizabeth on whom, in 1612, he settled his estates: he lived until 1632. He was a man of great local reputation: about 30 years later a building used to house a party of 41 'Friends' (Quakers) from Eyam being taken to Derby jail was referred to as Squire Claye's barn: it could have been the barn to the north of the early 20th-century graveyard.

Each of Claye's daughters married. Susannah married Robert Clark of Mansfield, and Mary, Timothy Pusey of Selston. The third daughter Elizabeth married Sir William Willoughby of Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. (An earlier Sir William Willoughby had married Alice, the daughter of Richard Curzon of Kedleston in the mid-15th Century)."

The Claye tablet

I am not sure who transcribed it, but here is what is written on this memorial tablet, situated on the northern wall of the Chancel in St. Mary's Church, Crich:

"Soules they are made of Heavenly spirit: From whence they come ye heavens inherite:
But know the bodyes made of claye: Death will denounce by night or day:
Yett is he, as hee was I lay: Ye livinge and dead remaineth Claye:
His very name that nature gave: Is now as shall be in his grave:
Tymes doth teach experience tryes: That Claye to dust the wind up dryes:
Then this a wonder corrupt we must: That want of winde should make Claye dust."

The Claye tomb

A. B. Done in his brief history of St. Mary's Church, dated 1912, makes the following comment:

"Previous to the restoration of 1861, this altar tomb .............. was moved, as was also the alabaster tomb of John Claye, which previous to that date occupied a place in the chancel nearer the body of the Church."

Geoffery Dawes in 'Tale of Crich' also states that "A major memorial of interest is the alabaster tomb of John Claye who died in 1632. It is now in the sanctuary and commemorates not only John and his two wives (Mary and Margaret) but also shows five kneeling figures representing John's five children. A name is given over each, but the inscriptions are almost obliterated. This occured during the early 1700's when Joseph Mather, who was permitted by the Churchwardens to hold school in the chancel, allowed his scholars to climb on the tomb - "which infamous practice was continued till about 1732" in Reynold's phrase."

It appears that the historian Reynolds transcribed the inscription on the tomb, which reads as follows:

"Here lieth John Claye, Gentleman and Mary whom he first did wive,
With her he lived near eight years space, in which God gave them children five.

Daughter of William Caulton Esq. who was unto that King of fame,
Henry 8th, Chief Cock Matcher and servent of his Hawkes by name.

And as she had a former match, Charnell of Swarkestone in Leicestershire,
So she deceast, this Claye did take the widow of German Pole Esq.

Daughter of Edward who was son to Sir J. Ferrers of Tamworth, Kt.
She lies entombed in this Church with her by whom he first was plight.

So now this Claye is closed in Claye, the fairest flesh doth fade like grass:
He had one sister who unto Stuffyn of Shirebrook married was.

For death doth give an end to all, and now this Claye shall rest therein.
All claye to claye shall come at last, by death the due reward of sinne.

Thou death, his death, Thy death is he whose soul doth rest with Christ for aye.
The sting of death can no one flee, the greatest Monarchs are but claye."

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