THIS parish lies in the hundred of Berkeley, two miles distant north-westward from Wotton-underedge, three south-westward from Dursley, and eighteen south from Gloucester.

It is sometimes called North-Nibley, to distinguith it from Nibley, a hamlet in Westerleigh. Some part of it shoots up eastward over the hills between Wotton-underedge and Dursley, to the distance of near three miles from the church ; and between those hills there is a long and narrow dingle, gradually opening towards the west, called Waterley-Bottom, from a rivulet running down it. The steep sides of the hills in this part of the country are covered with beautiful hanging woods, in which the beech predominates ; and the little combs between them, of which there are many,are richly cultivated in small inclosures of pasture grounds, interspersed with here and there a cottage or a little dairy farm. This variety of objects and of situation is very picturesque, and the different lights and shades they produce have a most agreeable effect.

The other part of the parish lies in the vale, and consists of rich pasture ground, with very little arable. The lands are in dairy farms, and produce excellent cheese, The dairy busness is unfavourable to population, yet the inhabitants are pretty numerous, and are chiefly employ'd in rug-making, and in the clothing business.

Leland speaks of a camp here, but I apprehend that which he meant lies in the parish of Wotton-underedge.

But what more particularly distingishes this village in history, is the engagement that happened between William lord Berkeley and Thomas viscount Lisle. The quarrel arose in the following manner: Thomas fourth lord Berkeley, left Elizabeth, an only daughter and heiress, married to Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick. but by a special entail and fine settled the castle and lordship of Berkeley, with its appurtenances on his nephew James, the next heir male of His family This settlement produced a law-suit between James fifth lord Berkeley, and Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, who, in right of his wife claimed the Berkeley estate, and violently seized Nibley and several other manors into his own hands. He and his posterity kept possession of this manor one hundred and ninety-two years, for which space of time the law-suit was carried on with unprecedented violence. During the continuance of this suit, Thomas Talbot, viscount Lisle, descended from the before mentioned Elizabeth, sent a letter with a chalengep to William sixth lord Berkeley, wherein he desired him to fix a time and place for deciding their title by the sword. The lord Berkeley, by his answerq, appointed the next morning for the time, and Nibley-green for the place of action, and both parties meeting on the 20th March, 1470 10 E.4. with their respective followers, amounting in the whole to about 1000 men, a furious engagement ensued, wherein about 150 men were slain, in which number was lord Lisle himself, being shot in the mouth with an arrow by one James Hiatte, of the forest of Dean. Lord Berkeley, after his victory, hastened to Wotton, where he lady Lisle resided, who being then big with her first child, miscarried through the fright. His lordship rifled the house, and carried away some of the furniture, and many deeds and evidences which concerned the lord Lisle’s own estate, and they remain to this day preserved in Berkeley castle. Government was at that time prevented from taking cognizance of this violent outrage, by the civil wars which raged in the kingdom during great part of the turbulent reign of Edward the fourth.

Nicholas Smyth, esq; has a large estate here, and a very handsome seat, built about the year 1763, by his father, George Smyth, esq; upon the scite of an old mansion house, which had been long in his family. His arms are, Sable, on a chevron engrailed between six crosses patty fitchy Or, three fleurs de lis argent, each charged on the top with a plate.

John Smyth of Nibley, ancestor to the present proprietor, was very eminent for his great assiduity in collecting every kind of information respecting this county and its inhabitants. He wrote the genealogical history of the Berkeley family, in three folio manuscripts, which sir William Dugdale abridged, and published in his Baronage of England. In three other folio manuscripts, he has registered, with great exactness, the names of the lords of manors in the county, in the year 1608, the number of men in each parish able to bear arms, with their names, age, stature, professions, armour, and weapons. The sums each land-holder paid to subsidies granted in a certain year are set down in another manuscript. He likewise committed to writing a very particular account of the customs of the several manors in the hundred of Berkeley, and the pedigrees of their respective lords. These, and some other manuscripts which cost him forty years in compiling, are now in the possession of Nicholas Smyth, esq; the fifth from him in lineal descent.

Of the Manor and other Estates.

As this place is not mentioned by name in Domesday-book, it was probably included, at the time of the general survey, in the accounts of the manors of Wotton and Dursley; and part of the parish is now within the manor of Woodmancot, in the parish of Dursley. King Henry the Second gave this manor to Robert Fitz-Harding, ancestor of the earls of Berkeley, in whose family it continued ’till they were violently dispossessed of it, as before related. Lord Lisle was lord of this manor in 1608. But the great law-suit concerning the Berkeley estate being determined 7 Jac. after 192 years continuance, the earl of Berkeley obtained possession, and the present earl of Berkeley is lord of the manor.

The prior of Lanthony’s claim to free warren in Nebele was allowed in the proceedings on a writ of Quo warranto 15 E.1. Roger Bavent was seized of lands in Nebele 47 E. 3. William lord Berkeley, earl marshal and earl of Nottingham, levied a fine of lands in Nibley 3 H.7. John Stanshaw and Humphry his brother joined in levying a fine of lands in North Nibley 12 H.7. Lands in Nibley, formerly belonging to the abbey of Kingswood, were granted to Drew Drewry and Edward Downing 16 Eliz. and Edward Downing and John Walker had a grant of lands belonging to the same abbey 21 Eliz. The knights hospitallers had formerly lands in Nibley, which were granted to Edward Sallus and William Blake, scrivener, 3 Jac.

HAMLETS, and places of distinct names

in this parish, are, 1.Church-end. 2.Fortoy. 3. Mill-end. 4.Whor-end 5.Smart’s Green. 6. Waterleigh. 7. Ridemisse. 8. Swinny. 9.Wooderlin. 10. Great and Little Green. 11. South-end.

of the Church, G&c.

The church is an impropriation, in the deanery of Dursley, worth about 50l. a year. Christ Church college, Oxford, has the patronage and impropriation ; Mr. Hayward is the present incumbent. The vicar receives 20l. a year out of the impropriation, and the living has been augmented with the queen’s bounty. This was formerly a chapel united to Wotton-underedge, and belonged to the abbey of Tewkesbury. The church, dedicated to St. Martin, or as some say, to St. Andrew, has an aile on the south side, a low embattled tower at the west end, with five bells, and a small spire for a saint’s bell, between the chancel and the body of the church. Here was formerly a chantry, dedicated to the virgin Mary.

Pentecostals - - - 10d.


Thomas Pearce of Gloucester, by will, Sep. 25, 1685, gave 30 s. per ann. out of a tenement in Nibley to be thus distributed; 12 s. for a sermon on Jan. 10, 3s. to the clerk for ringing the bell, the remainder to the poor. There have been several other donations to the poor in money, which are now lost.

{ The Royal Aid in 1692, £.127 14 8
{ Poll-tax ------ 1694,-- 50 1 0
{ Land-tax ------ 1694,-- 197 9 4
{ The same, at 3s. 1770,-- 154 15 9

At the beginning of this century, according to sir Robert Atkyns, there were 200 houses, and about 1000 inhabitants in this parish, whereof 34 were freeholders ; yearly births 26, burials 24, The people are now increased to upwards of 1700.

Engraving of Nibley Hoouse

Nibley House


p Lord Lisle’s challenge was as follows -

William, called Lord Berkeley, 1I marveill ye come not forth with all yout Carts of Gunnes, Bowes, with oder Ordinance that ye set forward to come to my Mannor of Wotton, to bete it down upon my head. I let you witt, ye shall not nede to come so nye, I trust to God to mete you nere home, with English Men of my own Nation, and Neighbours, Whereas ye by subtle Craft have blowin about in divers Places of England, That I should entend to bring in Welchmen to destroy and hurt my own Nation and Cuntry. I let the wit, I never was so disposed, nere never will be. And to the Proof hereof I requyre thee of Knighthood and of Manhood, to appoint a Day to mete me half way, there to try between God and our two Hands, all our Quarrel and Title of Right, for to eschew the sheddinge of Christian Mannis Bloud, or else at the same Day bring the uttermost of thy Power, and I shall mete thee. An Answer of this by Writing, as ye will abide by, according to the Honor and Ordre of Knighthood.

' Thomas Tabet the Vicount Lisle.'

q To this challenge, Lord Berkeley returned the following answer:

Thomas Talbot, otherwise called Vicount Lisle, not long contenued in that Name, but a new found thing brought out of strang Countrys; I marveil greatly of thy strange and lewd Wrytinge, made I suppose by the false untrue Counsel, that thou hast with thee, Hugh Mull and Holt; as for Hugh Mull,

it is unknown to all the worshipful learned Men of this Realm how he is attaynt of falsenes, and raisinge of the King's Records; and as for the falsene mischevous Holt, what his Rull hath be to the Distruction of the King’s lege Pepull in my Lordship of Berkeley, as well to the Hurt of their Bodies as the Loss of their Goods, against God’s Law, Conscience and all Reason; it is openly known, so that every worshipful Man should refuse to have them in his fellowship. And also of his own free Will, undesired of me, before worshipful and sufficient Witnes, was sworne ona Masse-Booke, that he should never be against me in no matter that I had adoe, and especially in that untrue Title that ye clayme, which ye hold my Lyvelode with wrong. And where thou requirest me of Knighthood that I should appoint a Day, and mete thee in the myd way between my Mannor of Wooton and my Castle of Berkeley, there to try betwixt God and our two Hands all our Quarrels and Title of Right, for to eschew the shedings of Christen Mens Blood or els the same Day to bring the utermost of my Powere, and thou would mete mee. As for the determining betwixt our two Hands, of thy untrue Claime, and my Title and Right of my Land and true Inheritance, thou wottest right well there is no such Determination of Land in this Relme used. And I ascertayne thee, that my Lyvelode, as well my Mannor of Wotton, as my Castle of Berkeley, be entayled to me by Fyne of Record in the King's Courts, by the Advise of all the Judges of this Lond in that Days beinge, And if it were so, that this matter might be determined by thy Hands and myne, the King our Soveraigne Lord and his Laws not offended, thou shouldest not soe soone desire, but I would as soon answere thee in every Point that belongeth to a Knight ; for thou art, God I take to record, in a false Quarrel, and I in a true Deffence and Title. And where thou desirest and requirest me of Knighthood and of Manhood to appoint a Day, and that i should be there with all the Power I could make, and that thou would mete me half way, I will thou understand: I will not bring the tenth part that I can make, and I will appoint a short Day to ease thy malicious Heart, and thy false Counsel that is with thee: fail not tommorow to be at Nibly Green at eight or nyne of the Clock, and I will not fail, with God’s Might and Grace, to meet thee at the same Place, the which standeth in the Borders of the Lyvelods that thou keepest untruly, redy to answere thee in all things, that I trust to God it shall be shewed on thee and thine to great Shame and Disworship. And remember thy self and thy false Counsel have refused to abide the Rule of the grete Lords of this Lond, which by my Will should have determined this Matter, by thy Evidences and myne. And therefore I vouch God to record, and all the Company of Heaven, that this Fact and the shedding of Christen Mens Bloud, which shall be betwixt us two and our fellowships, if any hap to be, doth grow of thy Quarrel and not of me; but in my Defence, and in escheweing of Reproache, and only through thy malicious and mischevous Purpose, and of thy salse Counsel, and of thy own simple Discretion; and keep thy Day, and the Truth shall be shewed by the Mercy of God.

‘William Lord of Berkeley,’

* There is often confusion over dates before 1752 when the official start of year changed from 25 March (Lady Day) to 1st January thereby changing January, February and March from the end of the year (in this case 1469) to the start of the next year. So the date of the Battle of Nibley Green is usually written 20 March 1469/70. 1762 is also the time when England changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian 'losing' eleven days in September.