Homepage of Ancient Scholey History

Homepage for Ancient Scholey History

How The Scholeys Began

I have placed this under the folklore section as; although the historical facts are genuine the connection between Skuli and the Scholeys is not supported by historical evidence. I hope to rectify that shortly

Out of ancient Wessex towards the end of the first millennium came a man who was to have an astonishing effect on the future of England.

Around about 950AD a man called Wulfnoth was born who was to become a Thane or Thegn of Wessex. A Thane was a minor noble, equivalent in modern times to a Baron in other words one step up from a knight.

He had a son born in 976AD called Godwin. We can gather some idea as to the ambitions of this family with the knowledge that in 1009 Wulfnoth led part of the Royal Fleet into piracy and in 1016 Godwin arranged the murder of Edmund Ironside the great great grandson of Alfred the Great.

This murder in due course led to Canute the Dane taking the crown of England, which had been the prize the Vikings, had sought for over 200 years.

Godwin's reward was to be Canute's right hand man, in fact his power over England approached that of the King himself and over the next few years he found lands and titles for his sons creating a dynasty of family power throughout England as had never before been seen.

Godwin was not content with being advisor to the King he promptly cast his first wife aside and married Gytha Sprakalegg the sister of Estrith who was married to Canute’s brother Ulf of Denmark

One of Ulf & Estrith’s sons Beorn became Earl of Herefordshire and held lands in Yorkshire where he created Beornslei (Barnsley)

Meanwhile Godwins sons became: Harold, Earl of the Middle Angles, Sveyn (Swein) Earl of Mercia, Oxford, Gloucester Berkshire and Somerset and Tostig became Earl of Northumbria.

On Canute’s death in 1035 a bitter battle broke out over who should be the next King. His two sons each sat on the throne for short periods and in 1042 the throne was once again vacant. Godwin, still the most powerful man in the land chose Edward the Confessor to be the next King and with the might of the various Earl Godwinssons around the country who was to oppose him?

Edward had been a refugee from the age of 6 having been taken from England to Normandy by his mother to flee the battling following the death of his father Ethelred II. He had therefore grown up more Norman than either Saxon or Viking He had good cause to be wary of Godwin, as Edmund Ironside had been Edward's brother. Godwin clearly saw him as a puppet King who he could control by intimidation

Edwards mother however had remarried to Canute and so it was this remarriage, which gave him an acceptable claim to the throne rather than his descent from Alfred

No sooner was he on the throne than Godwin selected a bride for him and who in Godwin’s eyes could be a more suitable Queen of England than his own daughter Edith Godwinnsdottir? In this way he planned to see Godwin blood as king of England yet.

Edward however might agree to the pressure to marry in order to appease his hated ally but he refused to sleep with Edith thus ensuring that no child could result from the unhappy union.

Gradually Edward began introducing Norman nobles into positions of power in England, in 1051 felt confident enough to take a stand against Godwin and his sons, and forced them into exile. Unfortunately for him he had overlooked the fact that Godwin did not only have power in England but in Europe too. Tostig was married to Judith Fausta sister of Count Baldwin of Flanders and sister in law of William of Normandy Godwin himself by marriage was related to the Danish and Norwegian royalty and so in 1052 the family sailed back as a battle fleet and Edward had no option but to re-admit his hated in laws and restore their titles.

Curiously two of the family died shortly afterwards: Swein who had a history of rape of an abbess, the murder of Beorn and sundry other pleasantries died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1052 and Godwin himself died the following year of a stroke while dining with Edward.

If Edward thought that things may become more peaceful now he could not have been more wrong, Harold immediately stepped into his fathers shoes as the principal adviser to the King and Tostig continued his war of tyranny in Northumbria with excessive tax demands and the stripping bare of the abbeys and monasteries in his domain.

Tostig’s greed ultimately led to the downfall of the House of Godwin.

In the beginning of the 1060’s however it seemed that Godwins dream of a descendant on the throne of England would come true, Harold held power, land, riches, charisma an aristocratic wife and the support of his brothers but in 1064 he led a mystery voyage to Normandy. English writers at the time asserted it was a mission to free his brother Wulfnoth who was held prisoner by the Normans while the Normans claim it was a mission to pledge the throne of England to William on the death of Edward as apparently Edward had privately promised it already to William.

Whatever the cause Harold and his men were taken prisoner and taken to William as the Bayeaux Tapestry shows. After a short interment Harold was made to fight a minor skirmish alongside William and saved 2 Norman knights. William made him one of his knights and in so doing William promised to look after him, in return Harold will have sworn allegiance to William.

Meanwhile Tostig’s behaviour was causing grave problems in Northumbria and the local Nobles had outlawed him and made Morcar their Earl. On Harold’s return Edward sent him to resolve the problem, Tostig expected Harold’s support but Harold having an eye on securing the Northern Nobles support when the time came for him to seize the crown gave his support to the people against Tostig and Tostig sailed to Flanders along with his wife Judith and their sons Skuli and Kapel.

Edwards’s health was deteriorating rapidly, on January 6th 1066 Edward was buried in the morning, and Harold crowned in the afternoon.

On hearing this William called his generals but they opposed the idea of a war with England so William broached the concept of a war with the Pope telling him that while he William built and supported churches that Harold and his family had a habit of plundering them. The Pope agreed and gave the war his Papal blessing and his Papal standards to fly making it more of a crusade than a war. He set to building war boats to carry his army and horses. His army was to be 2000 knights with 3 horses each

Meanwhile Harold too was getting on a war footing with 3000 professional soldiers, 5000 Thanes (minor nobles) and 13000 part time soldiers each committed to giving the King 2 months service in each year.

William waited for the wind to allow him to sail across the channel while Harold waited on the coast with his army awaiting William

2 months and more passed and reluctantly Harold had to release his part time soldiers.

11 days later word reached him that Harald Hardrada and Tostig with Skuli and Kapel had landed with an army of Vikings on the Northumbrian coast

Quickly the invaders took control of York and Tostig, Harald Hardrada, Skuli and Kapel set off for Stamford Bridge where they were to take 500 hostages

To their amazement Harold and his hastily remobilised army were awaiting them. He had collected his scattered army and marched them 187 miles in just 4 days

Harold won the battle of Stamford Bridge killing Tostig and Harald Hardrada and as an act of brotherly love had Tostig buried at York Minster and banished his nephews Skuli and Kapel back to Scandinavia

The battle of Stamford Bridge took place on 25th September, on the 26th the wind in the English Channel changed and William set sail

Harold and his battered army raced back to the south coast

On 14th October 1066 Harold and William met at Hastings, Harold was killed and William became king so ending the rule of the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings in England. From now on only Norman aristocracy mattered

However the Godwin family still had interests in England as did the Danish king particularly the parcel of land around Beornslei so Skuli took over management of this land travelling frequently from Scandinavia to the Lincolnshire coast and across country to Yorkshire.

His sons while in England did not use the Viking title of Skulisson, which they used in Scandinavia, Being a Viking no longer commanded the respect, and instant obedience, which it had in pre-Norman days, instead they referred to themselves as De Scolei having more of a Normanic sound. By 1244 an historian was recording the activities involving land in and around Hemsworth in Yorkshire of Osbert De Scolei and his son Alan De Scolei and later in 1298 it is recorded that Godfrey De Scolei was a witness to deeds in Hemsworth

In 1379 records in the old West Riding of Yorkshire refer to Johannes De Scolay and Ricardus De Scolay In 1440 William Scoley of Horncastle in Lincolnshire in his will directed that he was to be interred in the Chantry at Hemsworth so there was clearly a close family link between Horncastle and Hemsworth at that time.

In 1470 Thomas Scoley a husbandman is mentioned in Deeds relating to property in Barnsley owned by the church in Hemsworth

In 1506 John Scoley was involved with the same Church

From then on the history of the English Scholeys is continuous from the Hemsworth Scholeys and while all American Schooleys trace their ancestry back to Richard Scholey of Cadwell in Bedfordshire it should not be assumed that this is a distinctly different branch of the family, quite the reverse his sons were born in and around Hemsworth. When he obtained his Coat of arms as a member of the gentry in 1582 it was awarded not as you may expect by the King of arms for the South of England, which would include Bedfordshire, but instead by the Norray King of arms whose responsibility would have started some distance north of Bedfordshire and included Hemsworth. Indeed the records refer to his family 2 or3 generations back having resided at Gorber (Gawber) Hall. Barnsley and the Hemsworth Scholeys have the same historical legend as can be seen by referring to the history of George Scholey Lord Mayor of London in 1812/13. He was born in Sandal Magna close to Hemsworth and was the son of the Landlord of the Cock and Bottle Inn there and in his will left £10,000 to Sandal Magna half to 50 poor church goers of the area and half to the public school there.

I have not yet discovered the reason for Richard the American ancestor being so far from Hemsworth but it may be connected to what was happening to the Church at that time. Henry VIII had broken with the Church of Rome and declared himself Head of the Church of England and religious persecution was rife. Bear in mind too, those of his descendants who emigrated to America did so hot on the heels of the Puritans aboard the Mayflower and think too the popularity among many subsequent Scholey/Schooleys with the Quaker movement.

Another point to bear in mind is that 1500 records at Oxford University refer to a Ricardus Scoley

I hope that this potted biography of us all as a one family descended from tyrants will help and encourage us all in research on both sides of the Atlantic. Lets not forget too, the Scholeys of Horncastle, Lincolnshire many of whom emigrated to Australia, At least one as a convict and one who became an Australian mayor and named a township after his daughter May: Mayfield

In addition some Scholeys immigrated to America in the 1800s some from Ireland and some from England and they have retained the single O. The Irish Scholeys from Cork are a bit of a mystery not that there is any doubt as to their connection but rather the reason they travelled to Cork in the first place but Stephen and I hope to solve that conundrum sometime soon.

Please share what ever you have with the rest of us you may have the one piece of the jigsaw, which one of the rest of us is seeking

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