The Cresacres were Norman Barons who came over with William of Normandy, but history is silent concerning the family from that time until about 1260 when we find John d'Eyville and John de Cresacre mentioned in a deed in which Cresacre became possessed of lands in Darfield and Wombwell.
The first written evidence of the Cresacres occupying the Manor of Barnburgh is to be found in the Harlean manuscripts in which a document is preserved which gives a John Cresacre as Lord of Barnburgh in 1281.
Hunter must have missed this, for in his "Deanery of Doncaster" he states that the first notice he could find of the family was in 1316, when a John de Cresacre and Stephen de Bella Aqua were returned as joint Lords of Barnburgh. More of the Bella Aquas later.
From that time, the Cresacres can be traced without interruption, and in the reign of Henry the Sixth, we find Percival Cresacre as Lord. He married Alice, daughter of Thomas Mounteney, a family who were for a long period wealthy lords of a great part of Derbyshire. It is this Percival Cresacre around whom the most romance is cast and he it is who is named in connection with the famous " Cat and Man " Legend.
Both Percival and Alice are buried in Barnburgh Church. The tomb of Sir Percival has a magnificent oak effigy (one of the finest in the land) set in a beautiful canopy of stone. No date appears among the many Latin inscriptions, but it makes up for this deficiency by the elaborateness of the canopy. In addition to the numerous inscriptions, the tomb contains the arms of several notable families to whom the Cresacres had been joined in marriage, including Bosville, Wombwell, Fitzwilliam, Wortley and others.
The last Cresacre of the male line was Edward who was born in 1485 and came into possession of the estate at the age of 16 in 1501 on the death of his father, John, who died on February 3rd of that year. At that time the estate was worth £100 per annum, which in those days was a considerable sum.
In addition to his Barnburgh property he held lands in Harlington, Bilham, Hellaby near Maltby, Brampton in Worthing, Thorpe in Balne, Bolton-on-Dearne, Burghwallis, Moseley and Bramwith.
Edward Cresacre married Jane, the daughter of Sir Richard Bassett, of Fletborough, Notts, and they had a daughter Annie who was born in 1510, becoming heiress to the estate in 1512 at the age of two years.
Although the name of Cresacre died out as a surname with Annie, the name was not to be allowed to die out entirely, for a son of the Mores, born at Barnburgh on July 6th, 1572, was named Cresacre More, and the name was twice used in the succeeding century as a Christian name.
The arms of the Cresacres were three purple lions rampant on a golden shield, with a cat-a-mountain used as a crest. The arms may still be seen just under the battlements on the South wall of the Church Tower, although I am afraid they are now so much weathered as to be practically undecipherable.
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