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Bolle Hall in Swineshead Parish

Back to The Bolles of Swineshead or The Bolles of Bolle Hall


The Herald's Visitation in 1563 records the ancestor of the Bolles line in Haugh as 'Alaine Bolle, Lord of Swineshead and three several manors within the same called Bole Hall'.  However, the name Bolle Hall does not appear in any of the early Bolle source references.  The various early Bolle references were ‘of Swineshead’, ‘of Wigtofte’, ‘of Gosberkirk’ etc. but I can’t find any early reference for them actually being ‘of Bolle Hall’.  The Bolle family home of many generations seems to have been given that name only after the Bolles moved on.  The earliest references that I can find for that name are in two post mortem inventories on the Lincs2thepast web site.  One is for Roger Roots of Bolle Hall in Swineshead in 1539 and the other is for Robert Marchand of Boll Hall in 1547.  


Bolle Hall was located near a crossroads leading north to Swineshead, west to Bicker, south to Wigtoft and almost right across the road from Hoffleet Stow.  The hall itself was right on the civil parish border between Swineshead and Wigtoft as shown on this modern map on familysearch.org.  The Bicker civil parish was part of the Swineshead district so Bolle Hall could be considered as being in either Bicker or Swineshead.

The earliest document I can find that referred to them directly is in the National Library of Wales.  It is a lease from John la Warre, knight, Lord of Swynesheued to Ralph Bolle of Swynesheued (Ranulph Bolle) for 5 years of a plot of ground called Le Ouxpasture (the Ox Pasture) in BeKir (Bicker parish) at a yearly rent of 100s.  Dated 12th mos 10th day 1382 (that Julian date would be Feb. 10, 1383 by the modern calendar) at Swynesheued with Armorial seal of Ralph Bolle.  That clearly places them in the Manor of Swineshead and near Bicker but has no mention of them as 'of Bolle Hall'.  As a side note, this also clearly shows that the Bolles were not the Lords of Swineshead but instead were only tenants of Sir John la Warre, the actual Lord of Swineshead.  The seal mentioned on the document clearly shows the three cupped swine's heads and is the earliest use that I can find of the Bolles of Swineshead coat of arms.


When William Bolle died in 1326 his heir was his only daughter Cecily aged 1 ½.  As William owned one parcel of land directly from the king and had no adult male heir, an inquisition post mortem inquisition was held to prove his land holdings and how those assets should be distributed.  See William Bolle’s IPMs for a full account of those proceedings.  The interesting part relevant to Bolle Hall is the description of the Bolle’s home in Swineshead parish, which almost certainly would have to be their building which would later be known as Bolle Hall.  It was a classic Old English ‘hall house’ inside a walled enclosure with a great hall on the main floor, a kitchen and bakery at one end of the hall, a cellar below and a solar on the second floor which was the family’s private living and sleeping area.


It would have looked something like this, probably most like the middle one:



The location of the Bolle's Hall



The next resident of their hall was William’s brother John who successfully appealed to the King to hold the Bolle estate upon Cecilia’s death in 1332.  His heir was his son William (2).


William Bolle (2) left the property to a younger brother, John, and his wife Katherine Goddard in 1348.


John’s son Randolph Bolle was ‘of Gosberkirke’ by 1360 but was ‘of Swineshead’ from 1378.  That probably means that Randolph took over the family home (Bolle Hall although it was probably not called that yet) in Swineshead parish.  Randulph’s son John took over the property by 1396.  I haven’t found any indication that the Bolles ever lived in the actual community of Swineshead.


The hall probably passed out of the family after John Bolle of Wigtofte and his wife Katherine Haugh moved to Haugh after her father, Richard Haugh’s, death in 1461. Katherine had inherited a 1/3 share in the estate and bought out her other two sisters, Agnes, wife of William Harletoft and an unmarried sister Joan’s shares.  See The Bolles of Haugh.


The Earlier History of This Area

There is one reference which hints at the possibility that the Bolle family may have been in the Swineshead area since the 900’s.  Swineshead or Svine-heda is a very old name which means ‘landing place on the Swine River’ in Old English.  The Svine River was possibly named Svein’s River back in Viking times when it flowed into the sea near there when the sea came inland in a bay called the Bicker Bight almost right up to Swineshead. 

The Swineshead region has been identified, by Harald Lindqvist of Upsala University in 1912 as one of the four most concentrated Scandinavian settlements in Lincolnshire.  He found a number of properties in Swineshead in records from the 1300’s with names which indicated they were originally owned by Vikings including Albritstoft (Albrikt’s toft, a house or farm), Eyrichstoftis (Eric’s toft), Girthetoft (Gird’s toft), Gunnetoft (Gunni’s toft) and many more including a Boletoft.  Following the previous examples, Boletoft could have been the toft of a man named Bole during the Viking period.  The Vikings in England were Christians and one of their main areas of settlement was in Lincolnshire.  After his conquest in 1066 King William made peace with them, with the occasional break out of local rebellions and a heroic last hold out against William based out of the Lincolnshire fens.  Generally he allowed them to continue to occupy their land but as his own tenants or as tenants of Norman Lords whom he appointed. 

This map in “The Early History of Swineshead” is an artist’s rendition of what the Swineshead/Bicker Haven may have looked like before the haven (harbor) silted up and became fen and meadowlands.  The harbor must have been much smaller than that but it does show how Swineshead,  Drayton, Bolle Halle and Hoffleet Stow were all close to the harbor at one time.  Where you would expect the Anglo-Scandinavian tofts to be.


In ‘Middle-English Place Names of Scandinavian Origin’ (Upsala University Press, 1912) Harald Lindkvist analyzed the property names in England in the 14th and 15th centuries to identify concentrations which would indicate early Viking settlements. He particularly looked for names which included the old Scandinavian terms ‘deill’, ‘heimr’, ‘pveit’, ‘skali’, ‘wra’, ‘myrr’ and ‘toft’. 

In 877 the Vikings occupied a section of Mercia in Lincolnshire and later expanded into Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.  Based in the place names he found Lindkvist identified four concentrations in the former Mercia where local names were 50% or more Scandinavian based.  The southern concentration was in the area of “the wapentakes of Beltisloe, Aswardhurn, Aveland and part of Kirton, more exactly Swineshead and the surrounding region”.  Lincolnshire is mentioned throughout the book as having Scandinavian place names such as Smalemede (small meadow) and a ‘gaira’ (an old Scandinavian name for a wedge-shaped piece of land) in Dreitun (later Drayton) hundred but for me the most interesting section is the one on ‘toft’.  In various Old and Middle English dictionaries toft meant ‘a piece of ground, a slightly elevated exposed site’ or ‘a piece of ground, messuage, homestead, a place marked out for a house or building’ and was an adoption of the old Danish ‘toft’ for ‘an enclosed home-field’. 

Lindkvist found the following properties in Swineshead in the 1300’s, each with a person’s name appended: Acketoft (Accha of Swinesheved appears in the same record), Albritstoft (old Scandinavian name Albrikt), Boletoft (Lindkvist’s note is that this could be from a person’s name or from the Scandinavian word ‘boli’ a bull, ‘bol’ the trunk of a tree or ‘ból’ a farm), Burtoft (from Old Scandinavian ‘a storehouse’), Eyrichtoftis (from the Danish name Erik), Germaynetoft (from the Middle English person’s name Germayne), Gippetoft (a landholder of Swineshead called Gippe Sterre is mentioned in the same passage), Girthetoft (an Old Danish name Gyrd), Gunnetoft (in Wigtoft) (an old Scandinavian name Gunni), Herwardtoft (in Wigtoft) (from Old Scandinavian Hervardr; Hereward son of Osmund of Holfleet is mentioned in the same charter), Hunlouetoft (an Old English name Hunlaf), Raventoft (Middle English person’s name Rauen; Raven of Holflet is mentioned in the same charter), Smythetoft (from Danish smidie or Old English smithy) and Wiketoft (now Wigtoft).

So who named his home Boletoft, some Viking bull keeper or a man named Bole?  If so, could he have been the ancestor of the Bolles?  Likely we will never know.  DNA will not likely tell us much as the Normans and the Vikings shared the same DNA roots.


As I mentioned I can’t find any mention of Bolle Hall until the 1500’s but there are earlier references to Boletoft which would place it in the same general area as Bolle Hall, south of Swineshead near Hoffleet Stow.

Charter Rolls of 4 Edward II

Sept. 20, 1316 York


This is King Edward II’s confirmation in 1316 of all the land grants made by parishioners to the Church of St Mary Swineshead since its founding in 1135. 

Donations were often made after a death to have prayers made for the souls of the departed.  In this grant which could be from anytime between 1135 and 1316 it looks like a William of Swineshead (possibly but likely not a William Bolle) had recently died and his heir, Hugh the priest, had given some of his father’s land to the church.  The land included a toft called Boletoft in Westenges which is adjacent to Hoffleet.


This would be quite close to the Bolle’s home later called Bolle Hall and may be indicative of an extensive Bolle presence in this area.




In 1427 Bolletofte was ‘lying in Wigtoft’ and was in the tenure of John Josson of Asperton  ref.


Demise for life, for good service to Thomas, late Lord la Warre, of a piece of meadow (11/2 a.) in Westeynges, [p. Swineshead, Lincolnshire], in the tenure of Alan Illary, lying between the land of 1 on the east and west and abutting on the land of the abbey and convent of Swynesheuede towards the north, and on lez Whynnydayles towards the south, a piece of meadow in Westeynges (11/2 a.) in the tenure of Ralph Maufey lying between the land of 1 on the east and the land of the said abbey and convent on the west, north and south, a piece of meadow (1 a.) in Haltoftes, [p. Wigtoft], in the tenure of Thomas Thaker of Fenhowse, lying between the land of Thomas Grantham on the north and west, the land of 1 on the south and a certain road which goes from Fenhowse to Wyggetofte on the east, three parcels of land in the tenure of Thomas Gerrard of Swynesheuede comprising three butts near Milnehogh', two butts near lez Acrelondes, and the third parcel in Scoleholme, [? p. Swineshead], 1 a. of land in the tenure of John Josson of Asperton called Bolletofte lying in Wyggetofte, between the land of Richard Catour of Swynesheuede on the west and the common sewer there on the east, and abutting on the land of John Bernard towards the north and on le Foldeway towards the south. Rent: 1 red rose if demanded for all services and dues. Dated at Swynesheuede. Latin. Armorial seal. Endorsed: 'A Lease for lyfe ... 16 Novr. 1428'.

This site was last updated 02/14/21