The first visit was by Miss Martha J. Maltby, of Columbus, Ohio, who visited Maltby in 1895. The second visit was in a from Miss Marion Davenport Maltbie of Syracuse, a cousin of the late Dr. Maltbie Davenport Babcock, and a lineal descendant from Ormud de Davenport, who was born in 1086. Miss Maltbie visited Maltby in the summer of 1909. The third record was written from Rotherham, Yorkshire, by Mrs. Neavando A. Eldvado. to her mother, Mrs. James T. Hoblit. Mrs. Eldorado had resided abroad for some years. In 1909 she returned to London after having made an extended trip to South Africa and through Northern Europe. When the above letter was written she was touring England with her husband.
A Day at Maltbyby Miss Martha J. Maltby
When in York, in 1885, a gentleman remarked upon introduction. "There is a parish in Yorkshire by your name.' I was at once all attention, but succeeded only in learning that it was an ordinary English hamlet which he had once visited in the West Riding.
In 1895 a chance meeting with an English bishop brought the second bit of information, for he remarked, upon learning my name, "My first living was the parish of Maltby and I remember it with pleasure." But our ways parted before I could learn much more, or more helpful knowledge as to how to find the place, for no guide book I have seen has it mentioned and I knew of no railway guide with its name on it. So when a fortunate chance found me in Durham and with the opportunity of questioning the learned archaeologist, Canon Greenwell, the president of the British Archaeological Society, and he too referred to the parish in connection with my name, then I learned what I had long wished to ascertain; i.e., how could Maltby be found?
He had visited the hamlet on an archaeological excursion and remembered it had an old church tower and he gave the much desired information concerning the way. A few days later my friend and traveling companion and I broke our journey southward at Doncaster, took a train westward for a few miles, leaving it at Conisboro for a seven mile drive southward from that station for Maltby.
Let me note in passing that Conisboro is known for its well preserved Norman tower of the castle which Sir Walter Scott makes the scene of the tournament in "Ivanhoe." which Rebecca reports to the knight. The short way for our trap and driver gave us the opportunity to look at the tower.
Unfortunately a drizzling rain set in as we started for Maltby which is situated up a valley from Conisboro and the mist shut from sight some of what must have been a charming view in the heart of north English country, could we have seen it in the distance. The road wound along between stone walks and English hedges and fertile farms, growing wheat, barley and turnips and with pasturage for cattle and sheep, lay on both sides of the way. The farmhouses had the appearance of comfortable prosperity and from their scattered positions we judged the farms were large in acreage. Two or three hamlets lay on the way and one had an ancient stone cross to testify of its age.
The village school had just closed for the day as we drove through Maltby village to the church whose spire we had seen in the distance. To our driver's question of "Where he should take us?" we had responded, "To the church, of course." Our trip had excited sufficient interest in the school children for some of them to follow us and gather about the two American women, who had left the carriage and were admiring the oaken Lychgate, built in the ancient style and forming a beautiful entrance to the churchyard. They were as ready to answer questions as we to ask them. The sexton was mowing the churchyard and we knew the church was open as we could hear the organ and we soon found our time of visit was auspicious for the organist and some of the leading parishioners were in the church and they too were willing to give information to the strangers.
The church itself is only some fifty years of age and is neat and pleasing in appearance, but the tower onto which it is built, is very interesting and well worth seeing. It shows some four stages in building and must be very old. The lowest part is doubtless Saxon, having the heron-bone stone work about three feet from the ground. Bits of what look like Roman bricks are scattered along promiscuously in the stone wall. High up from the foundation are small windows. A large modern window has been placed in the western side of the tower. The walls are very thick and are strong and well built.
The sexton told us that when removing the old church, they found its walls so firm that the workmen used powder to blow them up. The tower's first story is some thirty or forty feet in height. The second one is only some over a third as high, and has small, narrow windows on three sides. The third is dififerent and its double windows look like Norman work. This story ends with a paneled battlement. A fourteenth century looking stone spire has been built above this. I can give no authority for my opinion that this tower was some centuries in building but judge this is true from illustrations in books on English architecture.
I have often wished I might have seen Canon Greenwell again after the visit to Maltby for I am sure he would have refreshed his memory of his visit there and given me valuable information. The sexton opened the old chest in the vestry room to allow us to see the old records. The very oldest were written on parchment and were mildewed with age. I thought I could decipher one date as 1609 but I am not sure.
We could not learn that anyone of the name of Maltby was resting - in the churchyard, or lived in the parish, within the sexton's memory, nor had he ever heard of the name in the records. On the last subject he would hardly be authority. He showed us some very old carved stones, one of which is supposed to have been the cross of the bishop who consecrated the first of the three churches to stand on the site of the present one. The headstones in the churchyard did not look old and their dates were not such, while the names they bore were ordinary English names.
We were told that in digging for the foundations of a new house in the south of the village, the workmen found graves and it was thought that the ground belonged to an ancient burial place. The old market cross testifies to the age of the hamlet. It was surrounded by flower beds and occupied a small plot of ground in the heart of the town.
The houses of the village are simple and plain but comfortable, with the cleanly air so common in England. The streets were narrow but clean. The whole town looked like a conservative old English place, as it is, wnth trees about its boundaries and in the lawns of the larger houses.
Maltby Hall is an old place with some fine trees about it. We did not enter it as the hour was growing late and we had a train to catch in Conisboro for our return and our journey on to Lincoln that night.
Some weeks later, in the Library of the British Museum I found what I copied there and give with this for your information. It was nearly dark when we were set down at the railway station and the hour was decidedly late when I finished writing in my diary and turned - a tired, happy woman - to retire. I had seen Maltby parish. Whether there is any connection between it and the Maltby name, who can tell us.
Five days at MaltbyOctober 20th, 1909.
My dear Mrs. Verrill:
How I wish you might have been with me this summer while I spent five days in the charming little English village which bears our name. They call it in Yorkshire the "Queen of Villages." It deserves the title! So quaint and interesting, preserving all the characteristics of a typical old-time English story-book town.
First I must tell you that when I was in Chester, the people in the hotel on hearing my name at once said, "There is a Maltby in our long-distance 'phone book,' and I had them call them for me, just for fun, at Rhye, down on the west coast of England. Such astonished people as they were to know that a Maltbie from America was on her way to Maltby in England. They were evidently plain people; the man, who is a butcher was not there, but his wife, with whom I spoke was as pleasant as could be but knew very little about the family. They were the only people of the name I heard of in England.
From Chester I went to York and from York back to Rotherham. In the book shops there I found beautiful postcards of Maltby and its surroundings. From there, while I waited for the quaint old lumbering bus, which runs on certain days to my dear little town, I took trams, first to huge and dirty Sheffield. It is like Pittsburgh. Then to Masboro, a pretty little suburb of Rotherham.
Rotherham itself has an interesting history. All the country thereabouts has, from Chester and York with their old walls and gates and cathedrals and towers to Scrooby, ten miles or so the other side of Maltby where Elder Brewster was born and the first Pilgrim church organized.
I left my friends in York and went to Maltby alone. It was quite an adventure. If you could have seen that old stage (looked like a "prairie schooner") with seats along the sides and old ladies and baskets and boxes and bundles all crowded in together. One had to go to an old inn yard in Rotherham to wait for the stage driver to "poot oot the horses." I heard real Yorkshire dialect there, driving out. There were five old ladies, one small boy, the driver, piles of luggage and myself. It was so funny when we rattled up the queer old-fashioned street, out of the inn yard where hung the old lamp and the arms - everything seemed unreal - and far from the busy world. The old ladies wore silk mantillas ( I think that is it) and bonnets.
They all had volumes to say about Maltby. but had never heard of a person of the name. They wanted to know all about America. When we stopped at other little villages along the seven-mile drive to Maltby, out came from this inn or that, a pretty barmaid (just like Dickens) to take your order for a "wee glass ma'am." The old ladies took something as a matter of course, but I went thirsty, though I did have two or three glasses of English ale in Maltby.
The small boy told me all about his home and the chickens he was raising and about the queer piece of American money - a cent - he owned. He and I sat on the box seat and "Jawhnny." the driver, told us about the country places as we went along, in such a broad dialect, I had to listen with all my mind as well as my ears to understand. Fancy how entertained I was with it all and especially when "Jawhnny" informed me that the "American chilled ploo (plough) ware na goot—toorned te ert opp taw mooch."
Note:"Turned the earth up too much." We believe that the English do not plough as deep as we do in the States, as the climate is not so, severe and it is not necessary.
You see the "chilled plough" is made here in Syracuse by an old friend of my mother's. I told my Yorkshire friend I'd tell Mr. Chase he didn't like the ploughs.
When we reached Maltby the old ladies vied with one another in suggesting what I should do for a boarding place. Wanted me to stay with them, but I went to the "White Swan Inn." It has been there five hundred years. Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, the landlord and his wife, were so nice and did everything to make my stay pleasant and interesting. Mr. Bishop is an ex-English soldier, invalided home from the Boer War, but pretty well now.
A huge fire in the diningroom fireplace cheered and warmed me, for I was cold that August evening. It was all just a picture. Mrs. Bishop just took care of me. She has Irish blood and consequently the delightful and winning ways that come with it. Though they have a gas plant which lights the larger rooms down stairs, I went to my room with its pretty fireplace by candle light - much nicer.
It was a strange sensation and seemed almost like getting home. You see I am doubly Maltbie, because both my father and mother were Maltbies; so if there is anything in the call of the blood I ought to have felt it there - and I did.
If you have ever gone rapidly from place to place for almost three months, seeing daily the most wonderful sights, historical and artistic as well as Nature's own marvelous pictures of peoples and countries, you know how welcome is a halt. I cannot tell you how glad I was to be far away from trams and trains and busy crowds and just rest and do nothing some of the time there in peaceful little Maltby.
Sunday morning I went to the historic church and listened to a sermon given to a small handful of people. But what I most enjoyed was wandering about the church and churchyard by myself. The sexton, of course, got out all the records in the little tin box Miss Martha Maltby speaks of, and we could make out Latin records back of 1600. However, at that time most of the people were simply spoken of as John de Maltby or Jane de Maltby. no surnames given. It cannot be proved who were Maltby by name or who just so and so of Maltby. After the records began to be in English it was easy to read but in the memory of the oldest inhabitant no Maltby has lived there or been buried there. The church was burned once and many records destroyed, and these old parchment books are not being carefully preserved. In the city of York, duplicates would possibly be found.
Mr. and Mrs. Bishop owned five "blue ribbon" English carts and ponies and they drove me miles (one day twenty-five) over those perfect pavement-like English country roads to Old Cote and Scrooby, where we lunched, then on to Bawtry, two miles from Scrooby. It was Johnathan Maltby of Bawtry whose name I remember seeing in our large Genealogy. It is an attractive town and so near to Scrooby where Elder Brewster lived and preached that no doubt our ancestors knew those old Scrooby Pilgrimites. They were repairing the old Scrooby Manor, where Elder Brewster was born, and the woman who lives there now gave me a piece of the old oak beam. I treasure it, I assure you.
Back of this very old building ( It was originally some five hundred years ago, a Catholic monastery; think of the irony of fate which made it the home of the Pilgrim church) is a little creek which flows into the River Trent, and down that creek and river floated the Pilgrims and thence across the English Channel to Leyden and so to America. We had not time in Bawtry to look up church records for the Maltby name, but the Bishops have promised me they will go and do it some time. Then we went to Conisboro and Tickhill - where are the old castles - and Stone, another village.
Another day I walked over to Roche Abbey, over the stone and wooden stiles, along Maltby Crags, through the beautiful Norwoods and back around by the road. A five mile tramp. Some people I met got the "History of Roche Abbey" from the Rotherham safe for me to read. It tells in that, that all that land was held by the Earl of Morton. brother of William the Conqueror; he also held much land in Lincolnshire and there, is a town of Maltby there. Do you suppose there is any connection in these facts?
Maltby is on the direct road from London to York. Dozens of automobiles fly through and scores of cycles, motor and otherwise. Most of them stop at the White Swan for rest or refreshment. Roche Abbey, which Lord Scarborough keeps open on certain days, is an objective point for many parties from Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster. Several wealthy people from these cities have summer homes in Maltby. You know, of course, that the stone for the Houses of Parhament in London, was brought from one of the many fine quarries at Maltby. Now they are mining coal on Lord Scarborough's estate and speculators plan to remodel the cunning place.
It is a shame, but the "love of money is the root of all evil." Two railroads are near to Maltby now. One station two miles and another a mile and a half. No passenger trains yet, but there will be in time and our quaint little place will all be changed. You have no idea how strange it seemed to see my name on the mile posts all over the county of Yorkshire. Just see the length of this letter - and still I could tell you more.
If any of the Maltby family want to see our quaint little Maltby town still unspoiled, let them hurry over to England, for in a year or two many changes are going to take place there and much of the charm will be gone.
I forgot to tell you - I went to the grammar school and the
children recited for me. The first hour of the day is given to the
study of the catechism. Isn't that English?
Yours most sincerely, Marion Davenport Maltbie
A Drive to Maltby17 June, 1910.
Rotherham is indeed a dull place, but I found that not eight miles distant was the village of Maltby, and a mile further on, Roche Abbey . . .
We arrived in Rotherham Sunday, and after dinner Neavar suggested a drive, it being a beautiful day. So he rented a horse and trap and we drove to Daltan Village. Here we stopped at a farmhouse and drank some fresh milk and ate some tea cakes. Then, returning to town by a different route, I noticed a signboard which read, "7 miles to Maltby." That settled it ! We must go to Maltby; but it was too late to go so far, so we set Thursday for our "excursion" into the past.
Yesterday being the appointed day (and a lovely June day, too) we set out for Maltby with the same horse and trap; and what a fine drive, up hill and down, past green meadows with buttercups and through tiny old-fashioned villages. At last we came to Maltby - the prettiest old village of all, the Parish church nestling down in the valley, just like the picture postcard I sent you. I wanted to see the church register and records but the clerk was not in the village, so I left, disappointed in that respect. When you come we shall go together, mother, and hunt it all up. We next went to Maltby Hall, where now resides Lady Violet Smithe. The Smithes, however, were not "in residence," so I saw only the exterior of the Hall - a charming place, in whose gardens I tried to picture Maltbys strolling about.
But, as interested as I was in Maltby, we "tore ourselves away," to drive on a mile further to Roche Abbey. A steep, winding roadway leads down into a valley in which stand the ruins of Roche Abbey.
This is the most beautiful spot in England. It simply beggars description. Such a vale, with rocky, shaded, fern covered banks, and broad green pastures; such myriads of wild flowers, brackens, springs, and waterfalls, shade and sunlight, and in the midst of it all, those grand, gray ruins.
Lucky Abbot and monks who discovered such a secluded garden of Eden in which to build their home. Near at hand are a few dear old cottages and in one of these, you and I are going to spend a week, when you come to me, mother.
Enclosed is a bit of ivy I plucked from the abbey walls. Oh, that lovely ravine, with the cattle and sheep grazing peacefully in the meadows and within a few yards, the old abbey mill and stone quarry.
The drive back was a quiet one, as we could think of nothing save the beauties we had seen ... I wonder why the Maltbys ever left so lovely a place ...
Source: Maltby-Maltbie Family History, Compiled and Edited by DOROTHY MALTBY VERRILL, 1916
Read details of the Maltby Pit Disaster of 1923