Francis Rolleston of Lea and Mathfield was born circa 1508 in England to Thomas Rolleston (-1529) and Elizabeth Turville (c1487-) and died 3 August 1587 Suffolk, England of unspecified causes. He married Mary Vernon (c1485-) .

The Notts and Derbyshire Notes and Queries ..., Volume 6 by John Potter Briscoe, John Ward, Frank Murray, 1898

"James Rolleston who married Anne Babington (time of Henry VII.), had a grandson, Francis, husband of Mary Vernon of Harleston. This gentleman held that the captivity of Mary Queen of Scots was unjust, and devised a plan by which that unfortunate lady might have escaped, but he was betrayed by his own son, flung into the Tower, and beheaded. This statement goes further than any others which have come under my notice, by additional words, 'flung into the tower and beheaded'.

That Francis Rolleston was implicated in the conspiracies of his time to release the Queen of Scots, and that he underwent imprisonment, seems to be beyond questioning; bu as to the alleged betrayal by his own son, that seems to rest of tradition only, and of his beheadal there is no evidence whatever, but very strong evidence that he was not beheaded.

In the chancel of Ashover Church is a well preserved brass to the memory of James Rolleston, of Lea, and Anne, his wife. The latter died 1505, but the death of the husband is not given. James and Anne has issue nine girls and four boys. Thomas was one of them, and he married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Turville of New Hall. Thomas had five sons - Francis, James, John, George and Christopher - and four daughters - Ann, wife of Thomas Dethich; Dorothy, wife of Richard Colley; Ursula, wife of Adam Beresford, of Bentley; and Mabel, wife of Richard Persall (or Pershall) of Horsley.

The two manors of Lea and Old Hall, in Ashover, remained in the Rolleston family till the later end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, then they passed by marriage to the Pershalls, of Horsley, Staffordshire.

The will of Thomas Rolleston, of Mathfelde (now called Mayfield), near Ashbourne, was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1529. James Rolleston, his son, was also of Matheffeld, and his will, dated 2nd November, 1553, was proved at Lichfield, 11th September, 1555, in which his brother Francis is mentioned, and appointed overseer. James also mentions in his will his nephew, Thomas Persall, then at Cambridge. Francis Rolleston was then afterwards of Lea and Mathfield.

....... (see the book for more information on his connection with the plot to fee Mary, Queen of Scots)

From a monumental inscription on a large alabaster stone bearing the portriature of a man and his wife, which was in Ashover Church, we learn Francis Rolleston died the 3rd August, 1587, and he was buried there.

Frandis Rolleston made his will on 20th July, 1586. He described himself as 'ffrauncis Rolleston, of the Ley, in Hirste, in the com. of Darbye, Esquier'. He directed his 'bodye to be buried where yt shall please allmightye god as becometh a christian man the order of whereof I referr to my wyfe and my executors willinge yf yt do please almightie god to lye in our Ladies quier in Ashover churche yf I depte this life wth in 14 myles thereof.' The will recites that he had full power to demise and bequeath so much of his messuages, etc at Ashover as were of the yearly value of L10 by indentures of 20 December 16 Elizabeth made between Francis Anthony Gell and Thomas Persull, Esquires, of the one part and the Right Honorable George, Earl of Shrewsbury, and divers others (not named in the will), of the other part. The testator gave to his loving servents Philip Ablet and Thomas Alsbroke, messuages, etc of the yearly value of L10, in the occupation of Thomas Robotham (of the Buts), John Alsbroke, Gyles Cowley, Gofrey Marshall, Henry Tage, Thomas Barker (of Hardwick), Leanard Bore, and others, to hold to Ablet and Alsebroke for twenty-ones years, if the said Philip and Thomas should so long live-the reversion in his well-beloved wife and 'trustye friende and kynsman,' John Talbot, of Grafton. The testator mentions his capital messuage, called Mathfelde, in the county of Stafford, and directs his wife and executors to pay yearly L20 in London or elsewhere 'as the most neede' amongst the prisoners during his unexpired term of years of Mathfelde. He enjoins his wife not to expel certain tenants. 'Thomas Coupr, or Grace, his wyfe', for lives in occupation of tenements in 'overholwaye', and if she did, to pay L30, as should answer it before the dreadful day of judgment. Residue to wife, Marie. The testator reserved power to alter by schedule thereunto annexed, or by 'word withes'. He gave legacies to servants. He gave to his nephew, Adam Beresforde, XX marks; to his nephew Humphrey Beresford, L5, during his imprisonment. Executors: Wife Marie and John Talbot. John Vernon (of Sudbury), Thomas Persull (of Horsley), Esquires, and Martin Marshall, yeoman, overseers, and gave them four marks apiece. By a codicil annexed, but which is undated, he gave to his loving kinsman, Chrisopher ROlston, L4; to Giles Grenhall (?Geneoughe), his servant, L6 13s. 4d.; to John Hensor, of Ashburn, 20s.; increased legacies to Philip Ablet and Thomas Alsebrock, L8 apiece; to Elinor Dethick, his niece, L5; to Mr. Beresford, his sister, L8; to his wife, Marie, all his lands in Alveton and Herley. Witnesses of this codicil for Alvton and Herley: Giles Greneboughe, Philip Ablet, Thomas Alsebrock. Withnesses for Mrs. Berrisford (L8); Thomas Alesbrock, Leonard Colely. Inventory of Frauncis Rolleston's of Mathefield, co. Stafford, Esquire, made 10 Aug. 29 Elizabeth, and appraised by George Lea, John Ellott, James Duken, and Thomas Hill (no sum total shown) is on paper about twenty feet in length. Probate at Lichfield, 6 December, 1587."


Offspring of Mary Vernon and Francis Rolleston (-1587)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Isabella Rolleston (c1501-) 9999 England 9999 (England) Richard Pershall (-c1550)


#g1: Offspring of Thomas Rolleston (-1529) and Elizabeth Turville (c1487-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Francis Rolleston (-1587) 1508, England 3 August 1587, Suffolk, England Mary Vernon (c1485-)
James Rolleston (-c1555) , ,
John Rolleston , ,
George Rolleston , ,
Christopher Rolleston , ,
Ann Rolleston , ,
Dorothy Rolleston , ,
Ursula Rolleston , ,
Mabel Rolleston , ,


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
  • The old halls, manors and families of Derbyshire, Volume 4 by Joseph Tilley