The Baron Scropes of Bolton

The Scropes were a family of Norman origin who settled in the north of England, whose head in the late thirteenth century was a William le Scrope who was born in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, sometime in the years between 1245 and 1255. William who was knighted at the battle of Falkirk in 1298, held land at Bolton in Wensleydale and died in 1312 leaving two sons. The elder of these two sons was Henry le Scrope, who later served as Chief Justice of the King's Bench and as Chief Justice of The Common Pleas and was a leading supporter of Edward II.

Henry's eldest son Richard, born around the year 1327, fought at the battle of Crecy and participated in much of the fighting thereafter, and is probable that the origin of the Scrope wealth lies in the loot that Richard brought home with him from France. Having become an active adherent of John of Gaunt, he represented Yorkshire in the parliament of 1364, and in 1371 was appointed Treasurer of England and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and summoned to the House of Lords as a baron by writ, thus becoming the first Baron Scrope of Bolton. (So named in order to distinguish his barony from that of his Masham cousins, descendants of the younger son of William le Scrope - See Baron Scrope of Masham.)

In 1378 Richard became Lord Chancellor and attempted to curb the perceived extravagance of Richard II but was later deprived of that office in 1382 when the king began to take personal control of the government. Thereafter he retired to his estates in Wensleydale and devoted his time to the building of Bolton Castle. Richard le Scope's eldest son William became an active supporter of the government of Richard II, was created Earl of Wiltshire in 1397 and appointed Treasurer of England in 1398. He was therefore one of first targets of Henry Bolingbroke's revenge and was executed at Bristol in 1399. The rest of the family managed to escape inclusion in the attainder applied to the former Earl and thus on the death of Richard le Scrope on the 30th May 1403 he was succeeded by his second son Roger. Roger however died before the end of the year on the 3rd December and so the barony passed to his eldest son Richard le Scrope.

Richard the 3rd Baron was only ten at the time of his father's death and so became the ward of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland. Married in 1413 to one of the Earls' daughters, Margaret Neville, Richard was later killed at the siege of Rouen on the 29th August 1420, at which time his eldest son Henry was only two years old. Once again the Nevilles took charge during the minority although this time Henry married his distant relation Elizabeth le Scrope, daughter of John le Scrope, 4th Baron Scrope of Masham.

Their son John le Scrope the 5th Baron became a committed Yorkist and was seriously wounded fighting on behalf of Edward IV at the battle of Towton. John later supported Richard III for which offence he was pardoned and later Lambert Simnel for which he was heavily fined. He was succeeded by his son Henry the 6th Baron of whom little is known other than he married a daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, had six children, and died in 1506.

Henry the 7th Baron was created a knight of the Bath at the coronation of Henry VIII. He later fought at the battle of Flodden in 1513, when he led a company of Wensleydale Archers and attracted a martial reputation sufficient to inspire a contemporary poem of praise to the "Lord Scroop of Bolton, stern and stout". His son John Scrope, 8th Baron was reluctantly drawn into the Pilgrimage of Grace but without any particular enthusiasm and appears to have escaped any specific punishment.

He was succeeded by his son Henry, 9th Baron who held the offices of Warden of the West Marches and Governor of Carlisle and most notably took took charge of Mary, Queen of Scots when she fled Scotland and first crossed the border in 1568. Henry entertained the former queen at his home of Bolton Castle for a short while until January 1569. Thomas Scrope, 10th Baron was like his father Warden of the West Marches and most notable for the major diplomatic incident he caused when he raided Scotland and burnt the towns of Annan and Dumfries to the ground whilst in pursuit of an escaped fugitive.

Thomas was followed by his son Emmanuel Scrope, the 11th Baron who was created Earl of Sunderland in 1627, but died in 1630 with no surviving legitimate issue. Hence the earldom became extinct, whilst the barony of Scope of Bolton fell into abeyance and became dormant. Although it has been suggested that "the title might ... be claimed through the female line by the representative of Charles Jones of Caton, Lancashire", to date no such claimants have appeared.

Bolton after the Scropes

Although Emmanuel had no legitimate issue he had an entire alternative family by his mistress who all shared in the division of his estates. One of these children was a Mary Scrope who took for her second husband in 1655 a gentleman by the name of Charles Paulet or Powlett, the 6th Marquess of Winchester. Mary's share of her father's wealth included the old ancestral home at Bolton Castle and so when her husband was offered a dukedom in 1689 he chose to become the Duke of Bolton.

The Paulet/Powlett line of the Dukes of Bolton ended with the death of the 6th Duke in 1794. A certain Thomas Orde had earlier married Jean Mary Powlett, an illegitimate daughter of the 5th Duke of Bolton; he adopted the surname of Orde-Powlett and inherited through his wife a significant portion of the late Duke's estates including Bolton Castle. Advanced to the peerage on the 20th October 1797 Thomas became the 1st Baron Bolton.

The old Scrope Barony therefore lives on in some measure with the Barons Bolton, who continue to this day in the form of Harry Algar Nigel Orde-Powlett, 8th Baron Bolton who retain ownership of Bolton Castle.




  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for SCROPE
  • Scrope at
  • The history of Bolton and family at
  • Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)
  • Stirnet Genealogy at

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