According to Miss Erma Darley of California, Sir Edmond d'Erle was the founder of the family, being born in Normandy in 1033 and, as a follower of Neville, created Earl of Westmorland, came to England in 1066. After the Northern Rebellion of about 1087 he was seised of a knight's fee at Wistow, near Selby, Yorkshire. The family pedigree in the Darley family papers deposited in the North Yorkshire Record Office, begins with Sir John Darley, probably grandson of Sir Edmond, resident at Wistow in 1099. He married Armetrude Brailsforth and had a family of two sons and five daughters. From then on the pedigree remains unbroken in the direct line of descent until 1720, but there are many younger sons missing from it which is unfortunate as some of the more notable members of the family were descended from the younger sons and their place in the pedigree is not clear. It is therefore impossible to say which of the English Darleys was the founder of the Irish family or which of the Cornish branch was the first American Darley.
From the beginning the Darleys were connected with Derbyshire families. Thomas (1117) married the daughter of Edmond Linacre; John (1139) married Maud Sacheverell; Edmond married Jane Fitzherbert. Other well-known Derbyshire families such as Bradbourne, Radbourfle, Babington of Dethick, Cockayne of Ashbourne, Columbell of Derby and Lowe of Alderwasley are all represented in the pedigree, the opening section of which is shown below:
The note in the pedigree about Edmond Darley (1191) is clearly incorrect. This reads: 'This Edmond Darley was the first founder of a house of religion called Darley Abbey and gave 53 oxgangs of lande, 12 carotts and 24 messuages near Derby where this house of religion was built.' There is a further note on the subject in the Darley papers by Simon Dragg (1677): 'They were canons of St. Augustine. It was founded tempore H 2. It was of yearly value of £258 14s5d tempore H 8. This is the end of the parson's counsellor written by Simon Dragg.' The note on Edmond contradicts the cartulary of Darley Abbey, which states that the founder was Hugh, Dean of Derby, in around 1160. He was not a member of this family and probably took his name from his lands at Little Darley (Darley Abbey), part of which he granted to the canons to build the abbey, replacing the earlier oratory of St. Helens, Derby. The first Hugh de Darley mentioned in the pedigree was a grandson of William de Darley (1230). He was not a priest, he married Julia Buckmaster and the abbey was founded long before he was born.
The family remained at Wistow until about 1600, but younger sons were constantly leaving home to find their own fortunes. In spite of their long residence however, the Darleys have left no memorials, unless the tomb in the north aisle at Wistow church to 'Dame Margery' and her children, which dates from about 1300, is that of a Darley.
Andrew de Darley, son of William, was appointed a Lord of the Kings Peak under de Ferrars in 1249. He was Lord of the Manor of both Darley and Bakewell, and his headquarters were at Peak Castle. His hall was a wooden Manor House standing half a mile north of St. Helen's church, Darley Dale. There is a memorial stone to one of his foresters in the church porch. He died in 1272 and was succeeded by his son Hugh. His brother James acquired land at Eckington by marrying the daughter of Randall of Leegh, a relative of the Babingtons of Dethick.
The next member of the family on whom there is any real information is Sir John de Darley, great-grandson of Andrew, who Dakeyne, the 19th century antiquarian who lived in Darley Dale, tells us rebuilt Darley Old Hall in 1321. Sir John may have been a Templar. There is a boss of medieval glass in the window of the north transept of Darley Dale Church which shows the Lamb and Flag, the emblem of the Order, and it has been suggested many times that he was a Crusader, even though the Crusades were over by his time. Whatever his past, he spent more time in his manor than his predecessors and in 1321 he hired William de Kelstede, a master mason, to rebuild the wooden hall in stone, the original contract for which still survives. He also rebuilt the church, leaving only the Saxon Sacristy untouched and gave the church its fine tower which is still much as he built it, though it had to be strengthened on the north side in 1854. There was only one serious fault in the work - the pillars on the south side of the nave had to be replaced about 1380, which accounts for their octagonal shape. Those in the north aisle are round.
Sir John died in about 1350, the time of the Black Death, 'his heart coming out of his mouth whilst hunting on the Sabbath day'. Sir John's effigy survives although his tomb has long since disappeared. At least from the 17th century, the figure occupied a niche under the window of the south transept, but now it lies on a plinth in the south aisle. Sir John left an heir, Edmond, Lord of Darley and Alderwasley, who died soon after him, and another son Ralph who died in 1370. Ralph held half of the manor of Darley from the king at an annual rent of 13s, 4d. The other half of the manor, mortgaged and forfeited, was disputed by the Plumptons and Foljambes, each of whom claimed it. The Foljambes won.
Ralph's heir was his daughter Agnes, who married Thomas Columbell of Sandiacre. She inherited the Nether hail manor and a lawsuit. In 1393 Columbell was seised of the manor after the court at Derby had decided in his favour and against Norman Charnolls who had married Agnes Foljambe. By the Columbell marriage the Derbyshire Darleys ceased to exist in name, but the family ties were unbroken. In later years Thomas Columbell of Darley married Ann Darley of Wistow (d. 1540), and John Lowe of Alderwasley married her sister Margaret.
In 1557 William Darley moved from Wistow to Buttercrambe where the lands belonging to St. Mary's Abbey, York, had been purchased from the Countess of Westmorland, who had received them at the dissolution of the Abbey. She probably made a handsome profit out of the sale. The wooden manor house was by the side of the Derwent above Stamford Bridge near the place where King Harold defeated Harold Hardrada of Norway and Earl Tostig in 1066. The mound on which Harold planted his standard is in the grounds of Aldby Park. According to Bede, this same mound, as a fort, was the site of the attempted assassination of Edwin of Northumbria, which preceded his conversion to Christianity in 626. It was at the Council that followed that an old nobleman made the celebrated speech comparing our life to the brief flight of a bird through the hall out of the darkness and into it again.
At Buttercrambe the Darleys farmed and traded. Their monuments in the church are to solid landed gentry and as their wealth increased they obtained in 1584 confirmation of their family crest, a horse's head, mailed. The grant is preserved in the family papers at the North Yorkshire County Record Office. The arms of Richard Dailey of Wistow, the brother of the last-mentioned William, were six silver lilies arranged 3 - 2 - 1 on a blood-red shield. Why these arms were given to the Darleys is not known, but they are strongly reminiscent of the lilies of France.
William Darley of Buttercrambe had at least two sons. One, John Darley of Kilnhurst, near Rotherham, an ironmaster, purchased the manor of Kilnhurst and his memorial is in Rawmarsh church. John's four sons predeceased him and he left the manor to Lancelot Mountfort, his wife' brother, on his death in 1616. William's other son, name unknown, moved to Ipswich in Suffolk, where his grandson John married the daughter of a shipbuilder and took over the shipyard about 1605. Family tradition has it that the Pilgrim Fathers' Mayflower was built in 1606 by this John Darley, but, as the Director of the National Maritime Museum points out, there were many ships so named. Certainly a Mayflower and her sister ship the Seaflower were colliers based on Ipswich in 1632 and 1644. The Seaflower later carried a party of English Settlers to Santa Clara, an island in the Caribbean Sea about 300 miles from Panama. The colony lasted for about ten years (c.1650-1660) and three forts were built, one of which was Fort Darley. In a recent letter L.J. Darley of Tennessee who visited the island a year or two ago, added 'one can walk along the cliffs near the site of the Fort and observe rusting cannon in the water below.' The island later became the Caribbean headquarters of Henry Morgan, but after three attempts the Spaniards captured it and removed the inhabitants' to Louisiana,
In 1600, the Rev. John Darley son of Nathan Darley of Beccles and great-grandson of William Darley of Buttercrambe, married the daughter of the Rev. John Featley of Bodmin Moor. By 1650 these Darleys had a shipyard on Plymouth Sound from which ships traded with America. They ran things in their own way and were occasionally at variance with the Commonwealth government. Many of the Darleys had this independent streak and some became Dissenters.
For instance, during the period of reform forced upon the Church of England by Charles I and Archbishop Laud, Sir Richard Darley of Buttercrambe and his family gave shelter to a Nonconforming minister, Thomas Shepard, who was hurriedly shipped from Ipswich to the Humber. Shepard describes in his autobiography how he avoided imprisonment by escaping from Essex. The Darleys had offered him £20 a year and accommodation and after an adventurous journey by sea which he describes with venom, and the feeling that he was under special protection of the almighty, he came to Buttercrambe, and was not impressed:
'Now as soon as I was come into the house I found diverse of them at dice and tables... I do remember that I was never so low sunke in my spirits as about this time for I was now far from all freends I was I saw in a prophane house not any sincerely good I was in a vile wicked town and country I was unknown and exposed to all wrongs I was unsufficient to do any worke and my sins were upon me, and here upon I was very low and sunke deep yet the Lord did not leave me comfortless for tho the lady was churlish yet Sir Richard was ingenious and I found in the house three servants viz Tho. Fugill, Miss Margaret Touteville, the knight's kinswoman that later was my wife and Ruth Bushell very careful of me which somewhat refreshed me.'After some months Shepard left Buttercrambe for Hull, Rotterdam and Boston.
Sir Richard's son and heir, Henry, was M.P. for Malton for both the Short and Long Parliaments of 1640. When the Civil War began, Henry Darley, Thomas Raikes, Mayor of Hull, Sir Matthew Boynton and Sir William St. Quentin seized Hull for Parliament. Subsequently, Darley was a commissioner of Parliament to the Scots, and he was involved in the negotiations for the King's person following his surrender to the Scots at Newark.
Despite the Parliamentary sympathies of at least part of the family, the Darleys gained by the Restoration. Capt. John Darley, probably an Ipswich man, commanded one of five barges in the Royal fleet in 1661. This was the barge 'Fubs', named by the King after his mistress Louis de la Kerouaille, on the grounds that it looked as broad in the beam. The future Duchess of Portsmouth had been abandoned at Dieppe in the rush to get back to England, and Darley was sent to fetch her in 'Fubs' and landed her at Chichester. For these services Darley was rewarded with an estate and royal hunting lodge, held at a peppercorn rent until the beginning of this century.
Even the Yorkshire Darleys found their path smoother than they expected. More land at Buttercrambe passed into their sole ownership and there were further acquisitions at North Duffield, Aldby, Easingwold and Little Claxton. This prosperity led to thoughts of improvements and Richard Darley, son of Henry the M.P., was one of a consortium which obtained an Act of Parliament in 1702 to canalise the Derwent as far as Malton. Another branch of the Yorkshire Darleys owned a prosperous shipping business in Hull. Their first recorded ship was the 'Rose' in 1584, whose captain was another Richard Darley, and the business lasted until about 1750.
After the canalisation venture, Richard Darley moved into an entirely different field. He decided to improve his horses by importing an Arab stallion. His son Thomas was a 'Turkey Trader' - a merchant trading in the Eastern Mediterranean, a member of the Levant Company and British Consul at Aleppo, and he supplied the horse in 1703. A letter from Thomas to his brother Henry describing the horse and the method by which it was to be transported to England has survived among the family papers. The Arabian arrived safely but Thomas Darley was less lucky - he died on his way home to his wedding, allegedly of poison. The letter is dated 21 December 1703:
Dear Brother,On arrival in England the Arabian was taken to Aldby where from 1704 he stood for a fee, which seems to have been standardised at £5 7s 6d. There is very little on the stallion in the notebooks of Henry Darley, who succeeded his father in 1707, beyond the names of people, such as Mr. Childers, who sent mares and the dates of covering. Whistlejacket, one of the first foals sired by the Arabian to run, won at York in 1712 and was bought by Childers for £120. Childers then sent his best mare, Betty Leedes to Aldby. The second mating in 1714 produced Flying Childers, later bought by the Duke of Devonshire, on 28 September 1719 according to the entry in the Chatsworth records. The Arabian was painted by a local artist in 1709, the picture 9'4" by 7'0" still dominating the hall at Aldby Park, and showing the stallion exactly as Thomas Darley had described him. Late in his life the stallion went on loan to the Duke of Leeds in exchange for a pedigree bull, but returned to Aldby.
Your obleeging favour of the 7 Aprill came to my hands the 16 October per our convoy & by whom I design These wch hope will have a better success in arriving safe than the many others wrote to you find has done besides I have never been favoured with any hers from you but that I immediately answered per letters first conveyance that succeeded after receipt thereof being very desirous of maintaining a punctual correspondence, for nothing is more grateful to me than to hear the welfare of my relations and friends and more particularly your good self. I take notice what discourse you have had with my father and it is very true he has ordered my returning which I would gladly obey would my affairs permit, therefore I hope he will be pleased to excuse my delay until a more proper season, for I assuer you I am not in love with thisplace to stay an hour longer than is absolutely necessary.
Since my father expects I should send him a stallion I esteem myself happy in a colt I bought about a year and a half ago with a design indeed to send him at the first good opportunity. He comes four at the latter end of March or the beginning of Aprill next. His colour is bay and his near foot before with both his hind feet have white upon them. He has a blaze down his face something of the largest. He is about 15 hands high, of the most esteemed race among the Arabs both by sire & dam and the name of the said race is called Mannicka. The only fear I have about him at present is that I shall not be able to get him aboard this wartime, though I have the promise of a very good and intimate friend the Honble & Revd Henry Bridges, son of Lord Chandos, who embarks in the Ipswich, Captain Wm Waklin, who presume will not refuse taking in a horse for him since his brother is one of the Lords of the Admiralty; besides I intend to go to Scanda to assist in getting him off, which, if I can accomplish, and he arrives safe I believe he will not be disliked for he is esteemed here where I could have sold him at a considerable price if I had not designed him for England.
I have desired Bridges to deliver him to my brother John or Cousin Charles whoever he can find first and they are to follow my father's orders in sending him into the country. For the freight and all charges to his landing I will order payment of though am not certain what it may amount to. Am told by a friend who sent home a horse last year it cost him inclusive a £100 stg.
When you see cousin Peirson pray tender him my humble salutes and since his daughter is ready I shall endeavour with all speed to prepare myself. I have given my friend Mr. Bridges 2 chequens to drink with you (in case you are in Town) and brother John and Coz Charles which I wd call to mind is a present worth your notice.
I heartily wish you health & prosperity (and as the season invites) a Merry Xmas with many succeeding.
I respectfully remain dear brother
Your most affec. brother
When Henry Darley died in 1720 the estate passed to his daughter Jane as all her four bachelor brothers were dead: two died in the Middle East, two died at Aldby. Jane Darley married Henry Brewster from Hertfordshire, who soon after the marriage changed his name to Henry Brewster-Darley. He was an astute businessman and by purchase, lending and fore-closure created the park at Aldby. He lent £200 to the Mayor and Burgess of York on the security of the Mayor's house and was promptly repaid with at least 10% interest. He was Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire, a J.P. and an 18th century gentleman, and the Darleys of Aldby Park trace their descent from him. He built a new Georgian house on a river-side site in 1725, replacing an earlier timber-framed Tudor house and this is still the home of the Yorkshire Darleys.
There is evidence of other Darleys in Yorkshire apart from the Aldby and Hull Darleys but no link is yet known. These were Darleys at Darley near Harrogate in the 17th and 18th centuries and Darley is an honoured name in the Bradford woollen industry.
Another unrelated Darley, John Darley, possibly of Plymouth, benefitted from the interest shown in the navy by Charles II as had the Yorkshire and lpswich Darleys. He had been trained as a shipwright at Portsmouth dockyard and in 1744 he launched out as a shipbuilder at Gosport. In the next two years he built the 'Tavistock' and the 'Kingfisher' for the navy, both of them 24 gun sloops. He then moved to Buckler's Hard as a master builder and secured the contract for the 'Woolwich' of 44 guns. In so doing he took a tremendous risk for he was not rich. In fact, the risk was too great for in 1746 he went bankrupt and the Woolwich was completed by another local builder, Moody Janverin, at the request of the Admiralty. He was physically as well as financially accident prone, breaking his leg 'whilst casting a piece of keel-son' during the building of the 'Tavistock', so that the ship had to be completed by his brother Samuel. Darley stayed at Buckler's Hard until the Woolwich was launched in 1749, then, snowed under by bills, he faded into obscurity.
Captain John Darley, who had brought the barge 'Fubs' into Chichester, where she had been deserted by her crew who had not been paid for two years, settled at Itchenor and the family ran a line of coastal coal boats until the middle of the 19th century. The loaded ships were run up on to the foreshore, unloaded into farmcarts and wagons for distribution, and refloated on the next tide. After this business failed due to competition from the railways, they turned to farming when the head of the family married a wealthy farming heiress, but the farming slump of the 1930's caused them to turn back to sea. At first they were yacht repairers and maintainers, but now they run a yacht chandlery.
The Darleys of Hull had a prosperous shipping business until the mid 18th century when unwise speculation in land and the effect of Louis XIV's wars on Low Countries shipping caused a crash. By 1771 the only property remaining in their possession was at Thorne where they had farms and a brewery. In the enclosure award of 1823 for Thorne, Hatfield and Fishlake, Robert and William Darley are named as landowners and in Baines Directory of 1822 William is entered as a shipowner and bone merchant of Thorne. The brewery passed to his son Charles in 1825 and in 1827 won a prize 'for brewing very good beer'. The brewery is still operated by his descendants - W.M. Darley Ltd., Thorne.
There is a strong tradition that the Irish Darley family is closely related to the Yorkshire Darleys, but so far the first known member of the family, Henry Darley of Newtownards cannot be traced in the pedigree. Henry was in William III's forces at the Battle of the Boyne in 1688 and it has been suggested that he came from the Glasgow area. In Newtownards his family were stone merchants, but later they moved to Dublin where they became brewers, architects and solicitors. Notable members of the family were Alderman Frederick Darley, Lord Mayor and Chief Magistrate of Dublin in the 1820's, George Darley (1795-1846), a bachelor poet, Henry Darley who had a brewery at Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, and John Richard Darley (1799-1844) who became Bishop of Armagh. The family silver bears both the English crest of a mailed horse's head and the Irish one of a plain horse's head.
The Irish family is represented in Australia and New Zealand by the descendants of Alderman Frederick Darley. One of these, Frederick Darley, left England in 1862 after qualifying as a barrister and was so successful in the New South Wales legislature that he took silk in 1878, was knighted in 1877 and became Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales in 1891. His brother, Cecil West Darley, who emigrated with him, became Chief Engineer of New South Wales and supervised the construction of Sydney Harbour Docks. He was also an authority on artesian wells. His son, Cdr. F.C. Darley R.N., was killed in a gunboat incident up the Yangtse Kiang in 1926 - the Wanshein incident.
The American Darleys whom I have contacted trace their descent back to William Darley, one of the Cornish Darleys, and Thomas Darley whose origin is obscure. William sailed with his 'cousin', Cornet (later Lt. Gen. Sir) Banastre (Bloody) Tarleton to New York at the outbreak of the American War of Independance. After the War he settled in America and one of his descendants was F.O.C. Barley (1822-1888) who provided some of the most successful illustrations for the early American editions of Dickens. Thomas Darley was captain in 1780 of 'an outbound sea going vessel loaded with rice and indigo apprehended at the mouth of Fort Royal Sound'. The captain and crew were held as prisoners of war until verification of their credentials was received from England. Darley was then released on parole as a Dragoon Officer replacement in the British Legion and was pressed into active service under Tarleton following heavy officer losses against Sumter at the battle of Blackstock in November 1780. We know this from a record of 'provincials' who fought for the king in the War of Independence kept in the Public Record Office. Darley was captured at the battle of Cowpens on 17 January 1781 after about 38 days of active service and passed the rest of the war as a prisoner. After his release he settled in South Carolina and in about 1810 purchased a property at Vidalia, Georgia. His descendants live in South Carolina and Tennessee.
There are several curious points about the above. All the members of Tarleton's Black Legion were said to be 'provincials' or native Americans loyal to the Crown. J.H. Bass in the full biography of Banastre Tarleton The Green Dragoon (pub. Redman 1958) states this explicitly. Furthermore, Thomas Darley was master of a ship loaded with tropical products. Was he English or was he a descendant of the colonists of Santa Clara who were transported to Louisiana by the Spaniards in the 17th century?
This may be called an interim summary of the history of the Darley family - the search continues and new material is constantly coming to light. One thing has become very clear, however, the success and consistency of the family. It has been able to parallel old achievements with new ones: the 13th century Lord of the Kings Peak and the Parliamentary Commissioner of 1643 with the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire: the Norman soldier who founded the family has been followed by many officers in the Army and Navy, whilst the brewery at Thorne finds counterparts at Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Stillorgan, Savannah and possibly elsewhere. Wherever the Darleys have gone, they have been successful and remarkably true to their family traditions.