The Bella Aquas


bella aqua coat of armsWhilst Cresacre is the most important name in the story of Barnburgh, there was another great Norman family connected with the Parish in those early days.

This was the Bella Aqua family (or as they later became known, the Bellews). They owned a considerable amount of land in Barnburgh and a Sir Thomas de Bellew is mentioned as having possessions in Barnburgh in 1242.

At that time he was probably a sub-tenant of the Newmarsh family, but in 1316 Stephen de Bella Aqua and John de Cresacre were returned as joint Lords of the Manor.

In addition to their Barnburgh estates there are charters existing which record the Bella Aquas as having lands in Bolton, Swinton, Rawmarsh and Wildthorpe. This latter village, which was mentioned in Domesday Book, once stood on the cliffs overlooking Cadeby Colliery, but has now vanished entirely.

The Bella Aqua arms are to be seen on the East wall of the Church Tower and although now in an advanced state of decay, it could be seen some years ago to be of lozenge form with a mantle and a crest. The family had a Chantry Chapel in Barnburgh Church which may be still seen in the South Aisle.

An interesting theory  was that the family had their residence on the high ground which lies between the Barnburgh-Goldthorpe road and Hickleton, known to this day as " Bella Wood." A careful examination of the place has brought nothing to light, but if an aerial picture could be taken of the site any covered foundations would most likely be shown up.

Bella Wood is certainly very ancient, for a deed of nearly 700 years ago proves that the wood was in existence then and had the same name. I give the following translated extract from the deed :

" Thomas Fitzwilliam grants to Randolf son of Thomas de Thorpe, Gunnelscroft in the territory of Barnburgh, lying between the lands of Walter de Harlington on the South, and the lands which Hugh Paulmer holds of me in the North, the East end abutting on a pasture of mine and on a wood of Thomas de Bella Aqua, and the west end upon Gilbersyke, as is the course of water which divides Barnburghe and Goldthorpe and between Barnburghe and Hickleton."

This clearly shows that Bella Wood must have stood where it is today, the land to which this refers being that which lies between Barnburgh Colliery and Bella Wood, and terminating near the railway bridge in Barnburgh Lane.

Hunter, the South Yorkshire historian, thought the Bella Aqua family resided at Bolton, but there is no evidence to support this, apart from the fact that they held lands in Bolton and had a Chantry Chapel in Bolton Church. Furthermore if they had their mansion in Bella Wood, Bolton is comparatively near, across country, it being remembered that in those days there would be no such things as railways and the like to impede a cross country passage to Bolton.

The records of the family are very meagre and I believe their connection with Barnburgh was severed shortly after the above record was made.

Read more here and see the supposed family connections, Check the relation between Prime Minister Cameron and the Royals and then remember ' We are all in it together'..... his election campaign strap line!

Bella Aqua Early origins

Anglo - Norman  names tend to have a lot of spelling variations due to the fact that in medieval times we had few rules on spelling until the Norman French  was introduced in the 11th century even after then most people, who could, wrote how they heard spoken words. Legal documents were either Latin or French, both are 'Double Dutch' to me!, so depending on where the document is found this families name could be Bella Aqua, Belliew, Beualie, Beaulieu.

The name was probably French Norman  'Bel Eau' meaning good water or Latin Bella Aqua meaning fair water.