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In the 15th century, the parish greatly benefited from the efforts of the great Bothe (pronounced Booth) family, which was destined to leave its mark on Sawley for all time. Probably no other family in English history has contributed to the higher offices of the church, so many of its members. Among the many positions held, we find two Archbishops, two Bishops, and two Archdeacons during the space of four generations.
The Bothes, reputed to be a family of great wealth, came originally from Dunham Massey, near the forest of Delamere in Cheshire. At about the beginning of the 14th century, young John de Bothe married the heiress of the great Lancashire family of Barton, named Loretta, daughter of Sir Gilbert de Barton. This act of uniting the two families strengthened them both financially and socially.
It was in 1403, about a century later, that Thomas Barton was to grant the official Barton arms to John de Bothe. These arms consisted of "three boars heads eraised and erect", and can be found on the Bothe family tombs contained in Sawley All Saints Church.
Sir John Bothe, now rightfully assuming the Barton arms, married Maud, the daughter of Sir John Savage of Clifton, and she bore him a son, Lawrence. She did not live long enough to witness her child's great career in the church; she died a young woman, and it was her son who became Bishop of Durham, and later in 1476, Archbishop of York. John Bothe remarried after the death of Maud, and his second wife bore him 12 children, seven sons and five daughters. It was the fifth son Roger who was to settle at Sawley, obtaining a three life lease of the estate from William Radcliffe, Prebendary of Sawley.What of John's other sons? We know that the third son Williams was Archbishop of York from 1452-1464, thus making John the father of two Archbishops of York.
Sir Roger and his wife Katherine, now Squire and his Lady at Sawley, raised a large family, five boys and six girls, living to the age of maturity, several other children died at an early age, Katherine giving birth to seven sons and ten daughters in all.
As Sir Roger and his family settled down in their new home, their attachment to the parish and offices became stronger. The church building itself had not been the subject of any great structural changes since the time of John Gauselinus a century and a half before. But during the three life lease period enjoyed by the Bothe family, a great many additions and alterations were made to the fabric.
Robert, the son and heir, together with his brother John, and later in the next generation, Robert's son Charles, were responsible for this work which commenced in 1467, on the death of Roger. Robert became Lord of the Manor, and seven years later, his brother John succeeded Vincent Clement as Prebendary of Sawley, an office he was to grace for 16 years. It is interesting to note that he would not resign until he had the Bishops promise to confer upon his nephew Charles, the Prebend. As Bishop Smythe was a great friend of the Bothes, and in particular of Charles himself, the latter was duly collated.
Both Roger and Robert Bothe are buried at Sawley Church.