Medieval Morden: Landscape and Landholding

by Peter Hopkins

Peter Hopkins presents another painstaking analysis of medieval legal documents, found in a remarkable array of archives, his research buttressed by delving into an impressive array of scholarly books and articles.
Peter shows us which areas of Morden were in which medieval manor. He explains the different types of land-holding, traces landholdings through the successive ownership of parcels of land, large and small, details their expansion (through purchase or lease) and contraction (by sale, or alienation of a small parcel, perhaps to support a relative). This has meant locating many of the medieval fields, their names and changes, not to mention documenting family relationships (for almost the entire village!), including the successive marriages of some often-widowed ladies. Peter also discusses the individuals who bought and lost land, their changing importance in the local peasant community and their misdeeds, laid out in the manorial court. He explores mortgages, and even identifies part of a small medieval park (perhaps for rabbits, perhaps for hunting).
There are huge difficulties in this sort of vertical analysis – there are many gaps in the records, often of several years together, while the records are in medieval Latin (a far cry from classical Latin, containing many terms for which there was no equivalent in the past). Peter has consulted many experts in the language, and lays out much of his evidence in modern English translation, a major benefit for future scholars. As you will have seen from the article above, this series is itself a work of immense scholarship.

Review by David Haunton in Merton Historical Society Bulletin 221 (March 2022)

CONTENTS
1:   A STROLL THROUGH MEDIEVAL MORDEN
2:    VARIETIES OF TENURE, VARIETIES OF SOURCE MATERIALS
3:    THE MANOR OF RAVENSBURY
4:   THE DOMESDAY SETTLEMENTS IN MORDEN
5:   EXPANSION ONTO THE WASTE
6:   A MEDIEVAL GAME PRESERVE?
7:   THE BLACK DEATH AND ITS EFFECTS
8:   TREASURE IN HEAVEN?
9:   KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
10: THE MEDIEVAL PROPERTY MARKET
11: ACCUMULATION OF HOLDINGS
12: THE TUDOR LANDSCAPE
13: DREDGING UP THE EVIDENCE: THE LOCATION OF HOLDINGS
NOTES AND REFERENCES
INDEX

Transcripts and translations of most of the medieval record relating to Morden may be seen on our website, under morden-manorial-records. The present volume is the second of three.

A BRIEF GLOSSARY Boonwork: a labour service over and above the weekly services, usually at harvest or ploughing, required of both free and customary tenants but considered to be a gift to the manorial lord. Food and drink were often supplied to the workers (see page 3). Copyhold tenure: a late form of customary tenure whereby the tenant received a copy of the entry in the manorial court roll recording his or her admission to the property (see page 27) Cottar: a tenant of a cottage plot, especially one noted in Domesday Book (see page 93) Customary tenure: property granted by the manorial lord in exchange for weekly labour services and rents in cash or in kind, and which could be transferred to another tenant only by inheritance or by surrender to the lord, who in both cases admitted the new tenant on payment of an entry fine and swearing an oath of fealty or fidelity to the lord (see pages 22–23) Demesne: land managed by appointees of the manorial lord to produce income, in cash or in kind (see page 19) Enfeoff to use: to appoint trustees to administer a freehold property on behalf of the owner to avoid inheritance liabilities (see page 173) Farm [firma]: a leasehold where both the length of the lease and the rent payable were fixed in advance and could not be changed (see pages 19, 34) Free tenants: the holder of a freehold or, in Morden’s records, a customary tenant who did not owe labour services to the abbey (see pages 20, 22) Freehold tenure: property granted by charter, with legal rights that could be pursued in the king’s courts (see page 20) Heriot: a payment to the manorial lord, usually the most valuable animal, due on the death of a tenant or on the surrender of a customary holding to the use of a person outside the family (see page 23) Hide: a unit of assessment for tax purposes, traditionally considered to be the amount of land sufficient to support a free family (see page 19) Knight’s fee: a feudal holding granted by a baron in return for providing military service to the king on the baron’s behalf, later commuted to money payments (see page 53) Moiety: a fraction of an estate or property, often one half Quitclaim: to surrender one’s rights in a property, usually by an heir Remainder: the right to the tenure of a property once the current tenant dies or leaves, sometimes as part of a maintenance agreement or a loan (see page 32) Tenant land: manorial land held by tenants in return for fixed rents in cash (rents of assize) or in kind, or both, as well as services, particularly agricultural services (see page 19) Villein/serf: a tenant of a substantial customary holding but who was tied to the manor on which he or she was born and who owed various additional customary dues (see page 87) Virgate: a quarter of a hide, in medieval Morden assessed as 20 acres for customary holdings, though the acreage of virgates in free holdings might vary (see page 18) A STROLL THROUGH MEDIEVAL MORDEN Extent of the manor of Morden made in the presence of Brother John de Wyterleye and John de Neuport, clerk, on 17th day of the month of October in the 6th year of King Edward [II] son of King Edward [1312] by Robert Fabian, Henry Guldene, Walter Atte Wode, William Antorneys, Henry Attehengg, John Godesone, Henry de Hose, Thomas Attechirche, John Hubert, Adam Est, Roger Attechirche and Thomas Belle, jurors,
who say on their oath that there is there a capital messuage with a certain place within the court of which the easement of the cattle sheds are worth per annum 3s.
Likewise they say that there is there a certain garden with curtilage containing half an acre and it is worth per annum 3s.
Likewise they say that there is there near the church a certain enclosure called Neuburygardyne, whereof pasturage is worth per annum 6d.
Likewise they say that there are there of profitable land, by the perch of 16½ feet, 307½ acres, of which:- in the field of Buttesattehacche 4 acres 1½ roods, in Hethcroftes 4 acres 3 roods, in Comstrod 13 acres 1 rood, worth 6d per acre; in Northbereworth 7 acres 1½ roods, in Southbereworth 23¾ acres, in Rotforlonges 19 acres, in Longelond 21 acres 1 rood, worth 5d per acre; in Thistelcroftes 22 acres, in Dodemanforlonges 13 acres 3 roods, in Wowerith 6 acres 3 roods, in Northschote 24 acres, in Tweyacr’ 1 acre 3 roods, in Waterden 16 acres, worth 4d per acre; in Chircheforlong 6 acres, in Durandesfeld 9 acres 1½ roods, in Neuburycroftes 9½ acres, in Gilleneheld 17 acres, in les Buttes super le Gretyngg 5½ acres, in Westbutte 4 acres, in Wulfardes Croftes 5 acres 1 rood, worth 3d per acre; in helde Attehacche 36 acres 3 roods, in Westshote 10 acres 1½ roods,
40r in Langehull 19 acres 3 roods, in Snakehull 6 acres, worth 2d per acre.
Total value of the aforesaid lands £4 15s 1¾d.
Meadow: Likewise they say that there are there of meadow for mowing, by the same perch, 2 acres and a half, and it is common pasture between Michaelmas and the feast of the Purification of Blessed Mary, namely in Croft next to the Court 1 acre worth 2s. In Eylond 1½ acres, worth 18d.
Total value of the aforesaid meadow:- 4s 3d.
Pasture:
Likewise they say that there are there of pasture, by the same perch, 35 acres ½ rood, which is common between Michaelmas and the feast of the Purification of Blessed Mary, namely in Croft next to the Court 2 acres 3 roods, in Comstrod 1 acres 3 roods, worth 8d per acre; in Gillenmede 3 roods, in Litlemersche 6½ acres, in Magna mersche 15 acres, worth 6d per acre; in Bereworth 1 acre 2½ roods worth 10d per acre; in Swynesmede 6 acres 3 roods, worth 8d per acre.
Total value of the aforesaid pasture 20s 1¼d.
FREE TENANTS:
Now Sir Robert fitz Neel knight holds the tenement formerly belonging to Richard de Gildeford, at a rent
Ewardby per annum of 11s at the four annual principal terms, namely at each term 2s 9d. And he shall give 1d for medsilver at the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist and he shall find at 3 boonworks in Autumn at each boonwork 5 men at 2 meals per day, namely at midday and supper and the work of each man per day is worth, without deductions, ½d. And he shall give at Christmas 1 cock worth 1½d and 1 hen worth 2d. And he owes suit of court. Also the same Robert shall find 1 man at two dry boonworks
40v at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn with food provided by the lord once a day. And the value of work without deductions is 1d. [Z]
Codyngton Thomas de St Michael holds the tenement formerly belonging to Geoffrey le Cras, at a rent per annum of 8s at the 4 principal terms equally and he shall give ½d for medsilver at the feast of St John the Baptist. And he shall find 4 men at 3 boonworks at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn on the same conditions as the aforesaid lord Robert. And he shall give at Christmas 2 cocks worth as above and 3 hens worth as above. And he shall find 1 man at 2 dry boonworks as the aforesaid lord Robert. And the value of work is as above. And he owes suit of court. [Q1]
The same Thomas holds the tenement formerly belonging to Walter Snel at a rent per annum of 3s 6d at the four terms equally. And he shall give ½d at the feast of St John the Baptist for medsilver. And he shall find 2 men at 3 boonworks at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn with food provided by the lord as above. And the value of works is as above. And he shall give at Christmas 1 hen worth as above. And he shall find 1 man at 2 dry boonworks in Autumn as the aforesaid lord Robert. And he owes suit of court. [Q2]
1: A STROLL THROUGH MEDIEVAL MORDEN 3
It is the year 1312, the sixth year of King Edward II. On 17 October this year twelve tenants of the manor of Morden have been summoned before Brother John de Wyterleye, a senior monk of Westminster Abbey, to give a detailed description and valuation of the lands belonging to the abbey’s manor, which occupied the greater part of the parish of Morden, and of the rents and services owed to the abbey by its tenants. Brother John’s clerk, John de Neuport, made a written record of what was said, and this was later added to similar records for the abbey’s manors in other parts of the country to form an ‘extent’ or valuation of the abbey’s holdings (see translation opposite and on succeeding even pages).1 With this and other manorial records to guide us, we can follow in the footsteps of Brother John and his informants, and make our own tour of the manor.
Morden Hall
We begin at the manorial centre, known in later centuries as Morden Hall. It was here that the regular manorial courts were held, to ensure the smooth running of the manor and of the community. At these courts property transfers were recorded and manorial dues were paid, complaints were heard and offences were punished, instructions were given to maintain buildings and scour ditches, and notification was made of stray animals.2 No doubt it was here that Brother John and his clerk met the 12 representatives of the manor to draw up the extent. But the manorial centre was more than a legal court; it was the headquarters of a substantial economic unit, run at this time by an employee of the abbey, Robert Fabian, who held the post of serviens (sometimes translated as serjeant). At other periods the estate was managed by local men, customary tenants of the manor, appointed by the abbey to serve as reeve [praepositus] in return for a rent rebate on their family holdings.3 The manorial centre consisted of a hall, where courts were held and staff would receive a daily meal of pottage; barns and granaries for storing produce and equipment; stables, byres, pigsties and henhouses for the livestock that supplied labour or produce; and the dairy and ‘workhouse’ for processing the produce.4 The estate employed ploughmen, carters, stockmen and shepherds, and a dairy worker who also kept the poultry and prepared meals for staff and visitors.5 It is unlikely that any staff lived- in at this time, though visitors from the abbey may have stayed overnight. (From 1359 the manor will be leased ‘at farm’ (for a fixed term and rent) to a tenant ‘farmer’ and the manorial centre will become the farmhouse, known by the 16th century as Mounkton or Monken Farm.6) Until the mid-14th century much of the work on the estate was done by tenants, who were required to work one day a week during harvest and for half a day each week throughout the rest of the year. They also provided extra services – ploughing and harrowing an acre of land at the winter and spring sowings; reaping at five days of harvest ‘boonworks’, when they were provided with food at the manor’s expense; and assisting with haymaking, shearing, and cleaning the mill pond.7 The manorial mill was probably in the vicinity of one of the later snuff mills near the manorial centre, powered by a leat from the River Wandle. It was out of action in 1312, a new mill being under construction at the abbey’s manor of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, to be transported to Morden in 45 cartloads, and erected during the winter of 1312/13.8 The riverside meadows were also along the banks of the Wandle.
The road that passed the manorial centre (now Morden Hall Road) had been created in 1225. Before then it had crossed the ‘abbot’s courtyard’, but in November 1225 an agreement was made with local landowners Merton Priory and Sir William de Mara, lord of what was to become Ravensbury manor (see chapter 3), to reroute the road. Westminster Abbey agreed to provide a new ‘common way for all riders and pedestrians and for carts direct from the north-west corner of their court of Morden to the south corner of their tenement in the same vill [i.e manor], next to the house of William son of Sweyn, on the west side’.9 No reason is given, but it is likely that it had been decided to moat the manorial centre to increase its security and its status. (The north-western corner of the present moated enclosure lies just within the parish of Merton.) The new road was to be 10 feet wide, or 12 feet if it were to be ditched each side. Later evidence reveals that the road was ditched, as were most of the main roads in the manor, tenants frequently being instructed at manorial courts to scour ditches that were causing a public nuisance. (In 1512 the lord of the manor or his farmer was required ‘to scour his ditch in Monkynslane namely from Monkynsgate as far as the tenement called Growtes on both sides of the said lane’.10 ‘Monkynsgate’ was probably the entrance to the manorial centre, while Growtes [N0] was on the site of the present Morden Lodge.)
John Cuppyng holds the tenement formerly belonging to Nicholas his father at a rent per annum of 7s 7d at the four principal terms. And he shall give 1d for medesilver at the feast of St John the Baptist. And he shall give 1 cock and 1 hen at Christmas worth as above. And he shall do in all things as the aforesaid lord Robert. And he owes suit of court. [K]
Gerard de Staundon holds the tenement formerly belonging to Nicholas Gurdeler at a rent whereof per annum of 7s at the aforesaid four terms equally. And he shall find 2 men at 3 great boonworks at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn with food provided by the lord as above. And the value of works is as above. And he shall plough twice in a year. [W]
William Antorneys holds on behalf of his wife the tenement which formerly belonged to Walter Clerk at a rent per annum of 2s at the four principal terms
41r equally and he shall do all things as the said Gerard. And he owes suit of court. [U]
now Alan John le Heyter holds the tenement formerly belonging to John Snoter for a rent per annum of 6d
Hayter at the 4 principal terms. And he shall find 1 man at 1 great boonwork at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn as above, worth as above. And he shall find 1 man at 1 dry boonwork at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn as above, worth as above. [P]
Geoffrey le Sweyne holds the tenement formerly belonging to Robert le Sweyne at a rent per annum of 12d at the four principal terms equally. And he shall give as medsilver 1d at the feast of St John the Baptist. And he shall find at each of the three boonworks of the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn 2 men with food provided by the lord as above, a work worth as above, and at 2 dry boonworks for the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn, namely at each boonwork 1 man as above, worth as above. And he shall go with a rod over the reapers. And he shall find 1 man at haymaking for 1 day in the lord’s meadow with food provided by the lord twice a day at the lord’s will. And he shall find 1 man at the cleaning of the millpond as often as it needs to be done with food provided by the lord twice a day. And the value of the work without deductions is ¼d. And they say that there are 15 who are assigned to this, and that it is not necessary to clean the aforesaid pond if it is well cleaned for the space of 10 years. And the total value of the work without deductions is 2s 11d. And so it is valued annually at 3½d. Also he shall find 1 man at the shearing of the sheep of the lord and he shall receive of the lord after dinner bread and cheese. And the value of the work is ½d. And he shall plough twice in a year with food provided by the lord twice a day if he has a plough [team] or with as many as he can yoke, at the will of the lord. [Y]
Henry Gulden holds a moiety of the tenement formerly belonging to Alice wife of Matthew at a rent per annum of 2s at the four principal terms equally. And he shall give 1d for medsilver at the feast of St John the Baptist And he shall find 1 man at 3 boonworks in Autumn with food provided by the lord twice a day as above, worth as above, and 1 man at 1 dry boonwork with food provided by the lord once a day and the value of the work without deductions is ½d. as above. And he shall find 1 man at the cleaning of the
41v millpond as above. And the value of works as above and he shall plough twice a year with food provided by the lord twice a day if he shall have a plough [team] as above. And he shall do two carrying services to Westminster in a year and when he arrives there he shall have bread and beer, namely 1 loaf of meynebred and 1½ gallons of nun’s ale and the value of the work without deductions is ½d. [G]
Robert Fabian & Walter Atte Wode hold a moiety of the aforementioned tenement. And they owe rent equally to the lord and make returns in all things as the aforesaid Henry le Gulden except that the whole tenement shall carry dung once in a year with food provided by the lord once a day and the value of the work without deductions is ½d. And they shall find 1 man at the lord’s sheep shearing with bread and cheese after dinner. And the value of the work without deductions is ½d. [F]
CUSTOMARY TENANTS:
farm William Attechirche holds [30 acres] formerly belonging to John de Marreys at a rent of 3s at the four principal terms equally. And he shall give 2d as medsilver at the aforesaid time. And he shall do between Michaelmas and 1st August 60 works at ½d per work. And between 1st August and Michaelmas he shall do 12 works and the value of the works is 1½d. And he shall do 4 carrying services by horse per year to Westminster. And he shall have 1 loaf of meynebred and 1½ gallons of nun’s ale. The value of the work without deductions is ¾d. And he shall find 1 man at the shearing of the lord’s sheep with bread and cheese after dinner and the value of the works is ½d. And he shall find 1 man at haymaking in the lord’s meadow until the lord completes it. And he shall have on the last day bread and cheese once in the day, and the value of the work without deductions is nothing. And he shall find at each of 5 boonworks 1 man and the value is ½d. And he shall plough twice a year. And he shall harrow the same number of times with food provided by the lord if he has animals and if not he shall give nothing. And he shall carry dung for 3 days with one meal a day. And the value of the work is ½d for each day without deductions.
The lands to the west of ‘Monkynslane’ formed part of the demesne lands of the abbey’s manor – Northbereworth, of 7 acres 1½ roods, and Southbereworth, of 23¾ acres. Most of the demesne land – that part of the estate managed on behalf of the abbey as opposed to that occupied by its tenants – lay in the north- western section of the parish, bounded by the roads known in modern times as Morden Hall Road and Central Road on the east and south, and the boundary with Merton on its north. The western boundary seems to have been an arbitrary one dividing the demesne land from tenant land, following a former channel of the East Pyl brook between the present Epsom Road and Bow Lane, and then zigzagging to meet the parish boundary to the east of Cherry Wood, itself a product of arable contraction in the later 14th century.11 There was also some demesne land to the south of Epsom Road and west of Green Lane. The evidence of field names suggests that some of the demesne lands had formerly been tenant land, as they incorporate personal names as in Durandesfeld and Wulfardes Croftes. The demesne lands all seem to have occupied the north-facing slopes of the clay hills which characterise most of Morden, sloping gently up from the alluvium and gravel terraces of the river valleys to the 35-metre contour around St Lawrence church and Morden Park (see contours on map on back cover).
As we move south from the manorial centre along the new road, we reach the site of the two properties mentioned in the 1225 agreement. Westminster Abbey agreed that the new road was to run ‘direct from the north-west corner of their court of Morden to the south corner of their tenement in the same vill, next to the house of William son of Sweyn, on the west side’.12 The landmarks would have been clear to those who drew up the agreement, but they are not so easy for us to interpret. Was William’s house on the west side of the road or of the abbey’s tenement, or was it the road that was on the west side of William’s house? Later evidence suggests that William’s house and lands lay to the east of the road, and were ultimately included in the grounds of the present Morden Lodge, along with other tenant holdings (see chapter 13 page 300). A custumal of c.1225 , which lists the rents and services owed by the abbey’s tenants, informs us that ‘William Swein’ paid 1 shilling for 3 acres of customary land in Morden (see transcript 2.2, page 18).13 And he shall find 1 man at the cleaning of the mill pond as above. And he shall plough 1 rood without food and the value of the work is 1½d. And he shall give 1 hurdle at the lord’s sheepfold per year and the annual value is ½d. And he shall weed for 1 day with food provided by the lord at the will of the lord. [M]
42 r Thomas Belle holds 20 acres of land formerly belonging to Durand Godesone at a rent per annum of 2s at the four principal terms. And he shall do 40 works from Michaelmas until 1st August at ½d per work. And from 1st August until Michaelmas he shall do 8 works at per work 1½d. And he shall do in all other things as the aforesaid William Attechirche. [B]
farm Roger Attecherche holds 20 acres formerly belonging to Isabell Attecherche rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas Belle. [C]
farm Adam Est holds 20 acres formerly belonging to Simon son of Thomas rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas. [A]
John Hubert holds 20 acres formerly belonging to Hugh Hubert rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas. [S]
Henry Attehengg holds a tenement rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas. [H]
Agnes widow of John Edward holds a tenement rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas. [E]
farm Hawenild la Bosser holds a tenement rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid aforesaid Thomas. Lodekinys & J Carpenter [L]
farm Johanna la Godesone holds a tenement rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas. [O]
farm Henry Attecherche holds a tenement rendering and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas. [J]
farm Thomas Attecherche holds 10 acres land at a rent per annum of 12d. And he shall do in all things as the aforesaid Thomas except that he shall give only half a hurdle. [X]
Alice Attecherche holds 10 acres land rendering rent and doing in all things as the aforesaid Thomas Attecherche. [T]
farm Henry Attecherche holds 10 acres land at a rent therefor per annum of 12d. And he shall do per annum 20 works, a work worth as above, and 4 other works worth as above per work. And he shall do in all other things as the aforesaid Thomas Belle except that he shall give only half a hurdle. [R]
42v RENT INCREMENTS:
• Robert Fabian holds 6 acres land of the demesne by a lease of Brother Philip of Sutton by roll of court at a rent per annum of 2s at the four principal terms. [D]
Thomas the miller holds a curtilage and 6 acres land rendering the rent at Michaelmas of 7d. And he shall find at 3 boonworks in Autumn, at each 1 man, and the value of the work of each man per day is ½d. [B2]
Robert le Webbe holds 1 messuage and 7 acres land at a rent of 5d at Michaelmas. And he shall find at 3 boonworks in Autumn at each of 2 boonworks 1 man and at the third boonwork 2 men. And the value of the work is as above. And he owes suit of court. [B3]
Thomas Belle holds 1 curtilage at a rent of 1d at Michaelmas. [I1]
Henry Tracy holds 1 cottage at a rent of 1½d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn, at each 1 man, a work worth per day as above. [I2]
William le Fflessch holds 2 cottages at a rent of 2½d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn, at each 2 men. And the value of the works is as above. [I3]
Robert le Fflessche holds 1 cottage rendering a rent of 2½d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks, at each 1 man. And the value of the works is as above. [I4]
John Juel holds 1 cottage at a rent of ½d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks, at each 1 man. And the value of the works is as above. [Q3]
John Godewyn holds 1 cottage and 2 acres land at a rent of 1½d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn, at each 1 man. And the value of the works is as above. [B6]
William le Taverner holds 1 curtilage at the rent of 1d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn, at each 1 man. And the value of the works is as above. [I5]
William Paternoster holds 1 acre land at the rent of 1d at Michaelmas and he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn at each 1 man. And the value of the works is as above. [I6]
43r Thomas de St Michael holds 1 cottage and 2 acres land at a rent of 2d at Michaelmas. [Q4]
He does not know but says that it is assized in Ewell.
farm Roger Attecherche holds 1 cottage at a rent of 1d at Michaelmas. [I7]
in lord’s hands Walter Atte Wode holds 1 tenement 1 cottage and ½ acre land at a rent of 1½d per annum. And he shall owe
and at farm at 3 1 boonwork 1 man. And the value of the works is as above. [A2]
In 1312 Geoffrey le Sweyne was paying 1 shilling in rent for the tenement formerly belonging to Robert le Sweyne [Y], but he was described as a ‘free tenant’. He was not required to perform the weekly labour services demanded of customary tenants, but he was responsible for providing labourers to perform other tasks. It will be suggested later that the Sweyne family may have been descendants of the slave recorded at Morden in the Domesday survey (see chapter 4 page 95).
Geoffrey le Sweyne also paid a rent increment for ‘1 messuage at a rent per annum of 2½d at Michaelmas. And he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn, namely at each of 2 boonworks 1 man and at the third boonwork 2 men’ [I9]. A marginal entry states that this ‘messuage’ – a house with its outbuildings – later came into the tenure of William Webbe, who held lands in Central Road, so it is unlikely to have been part of the Sweyne family holding.
There are references to a lane [venella] known as Sweyns Lane in the 1430s, probably the same that is called Adam Tracys Lane in 1437 and Growtes Lane in the 1520s. These are probably alternative names for Monkynslane, but might identify a lane that led from the main road to these tenant holdings, which were set back from the road.14
Central Road
The present Morden Road to Mitcham was created in the mid-18th century, the old road having passed close to the manor house of Ravensbury, then within modern Ravensbury Park.15 All the land south of Central Road between the River Wandle and Farm Road belonged to the manor later known as Ravensbury, and not to the abbey’s manor of Morden, though it lies within the parish of Morden. The origins of the manor, and particularly of its Morden lands, are examined in chapter 3.
The land between Farm Road and Green Lane was also outside the manor of Morden by 1312, being held by Merton Priory as its Spital estate. It is not clear if a hospital of some kind existed within the grounds, or if the income from this estate supported a hospital elsewhere, or merely helped pay for the hospitality that the priory offered to its visitors. It seems likely that the priory already held some of the Spital estate by the end of the 12th century (see chapter 8 page 143), but the earliest extant reference is to ‘Le Spitellondegrove’, in the Morden manorial account roll for 1302/03.16 Merton Priory also held an estate at Lower Morden, as we shall see later.
To the west of Green Lane was another property that lay within the parish but outside the manor of Morden. It formed part of the Kynnersley estate, a ‘manor’ within neighbouring Carshalton parish. Between 1283 and 1450 the abbey paid 4 shillings a year for a virgate holding at Gilden Hill, and some 8 acres here were still part of the Kynnersley estate in the 19th century.17 The arrangement probably originated in grants of c.1195×1215 and c.1217×1221 (see chapter 8 page 144), but it is not known when the land had been alienated from the abbey’s manor.18 The rest of the land to the west of Green Lane was a mixture of demesne land and freehold land perhaps held of Kynnersley manor. Some of the land here might have been encroachments upon the nearby Sutton Common (see chapter 5 page 108).
Having taken note of the land south of Central Road and Epsom Road, we will now focus on the northern side of Central Road, known in the late 14th century as Stoyle Street and in the 15th as East Morden Lane.19 The road was much wider before the late 13th century, with plenty of grazing along the roadside for flocks and herds heading towards Westminster and the London markets. The manorial beadle, an assistant to the reeve, continued to enjoy the right to pasture his livestock on some of the roadside ditches of the manor into the early 14th century.20 However, by 1280 the abbey was allowing small plots of the ‘roadside waste’ here to be developed, and the 1312 extent lists several cottages and curtilages [curtilagium – a cottage plot], for each of which a tenant paid an ‘increment’ [incrementum] of 1d or ½d a year, and worked a day’s harvest boonwork. Although some of these relate to additional cottage plots on existing customary land, many refer to plots on former roadside waste (see chapter 2 page 29).21 This development coincided with the break-up of a customary holding in Central Road, held in 1312 by Thomas Belle and his wife Emma [B]. This holding was a virgate, which in Morden was of 20 acres, and its break-up released several 1-acre plots of land to be held by rent increment and boonwork (see
farm John Godesone holds 1 cottage at a rent at Michaelmas of 1d. And he shall owe at 1 boonwork in Autumn 1 man. And the value of the work is as above. [O2]
farm Thomas Attecherche holds 1 messuage and 1 curtilage at a rent of 2d at Michaelmas. [X3]
Henry le Hose holds 1 curtilage at a rent of ½d at Michaelmas. [I8]
Henry Guldene holds 1 curtilage at a rent of 1d at Michaelmas. And he shall owe at 1 boonwork in Autumn 1 man, a work worth as above. [A3]
Ralph Brounynges holds 1 cottage at a rent of 2d at the four terms equally. And he shall owe at 3 boonworks
in Autumn 1 man, a work worth as above. [E3]
Matilda Attehegh holds 1 cottage at a rent of ½d at Michaelmas. And she shall owe at 1 boonwork in Autumn
1 man, a work worth as above. [H2]
Alice Atterithe holds ½ acre land at a rent of ½d at Michaelmas. [T2]
Agnes Edward holds 4 acres land at the rent of 4d at Michaelmas. [E2]
now Alain John le Hayter holds 1½ acres land at a rent of 7d at Michaelmas. And he shall owe at 3 boonworks
Hayter in Autumn at each 1 man and at 1 dry boonwork 1 man. And the value of the work is as above. [F2]
Gilbert le Shutte holds 1 messuage and 3 acres land at a rent of ½d at Michaelmas. And he shall owe at 3 boonworks in Autumn at each 1 man, and the value of the work is as above. [B4]
now Geoffrey le Sweyne holds 1 messuage at a rent per annum of 2½d at Michaelmas. And he shall owe at 3
William boonworks in Autumn, namely at each of 2 boonworks 1 man and at the third boonwork 2 men. And
Webbe the value of the work is as above. [I9]
John Brounygges shall give during his lifetime at view of frankpledge each year 1 ploughfoot worth 2½d.
Total value of this manor as in rents and customs by estimation £7 6s 2½d. Total Farm: 43s 6d. Total tallage: 5s.
43v They also say that the customary tenants among themselves shall lift all the hay from the meadows of Swynesmed, Bereworthmed, Comstrodemed and they shall have from the lord bread and cheese sufficient for one meal. And they shall wash and shear among themselves all the sheep of the manor with food provided by the lord, namely bread and cheese at one meal as above. And also they must clean the mill pond among themselves as often as is necessary with food and drink provided by the lord sufficient for one meal. And if the aforesaid lord does not want to have the aforesaid works they shall give for them nothing. Therefore they will not be valued.
Fixed Rents: Total rents of assize, both free and customary, per annum 74s 8½d
namely at Christmas 17s 1¾d.
At Easter 17s 1¾d.
At the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist 17s 1¾d.
And at Michaelmas 23s 3¼d.
Total customary rents of medsilver at the feast of St John the Baptist 2s 8d
Total rent in ploughfeet: 1 which is valued at 2½d
Total cocks 4 and hens 6 valued at 18d
Total hurdles rendered at the lord’s sheepfold: 11½ which are valued at 5¾d
Total ploughing work by custom of Mederth: 3 acres 1 rood which are valued at 19½d
Total customary works carrying dung: 15 which are valued at 7½d
Total manual works between Michaelmas and 1st August: 540 which are valued at 22s 6d
Total works manual between 1st August and Michaelmas: 108 which are valued at 13s 6d
Total great boonworks at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn: 166 which are valued at 13s 10d
Total dry boonworks at the lord’s corn reaping in Autumn: 36 boonworks valued at 3s
Total carrying services to Westminster: 56 carrying services which are valued at 3s 6d
Lawday: Likewise they say that there are at the same place from a fixed fine at Lawday of Hokeday 6s 8d
Tallage: Likewise they say that there are at the same place from common tallage at Michaelmas 5s
Pertinents Likewise they say that the pertinents and profits of court with fines, heriots, and
& Profits: reliefs are valued per year 21s
Sum total of the Extent of the aforesaid manor £17 17s 9¾d
chapter 10 page 199 and table 10.6 on page 200).22 Later records show that the lands and cottages held in 1312 by Thomas the miller [B2], Robert le Webbe [B3], William and Robert le Fflesshe or Fflessher [I3] [I4], John Godewyn [B6], William le Taverner [I5] and William Paternoster [I6] were all in this area, as were the cottages held by Thomas Belle [I1] and Roger Attecherche [I7]. Geoffrey le Sweyne’s messuage [I9] and Gilbert le Shutte’s 3 acres [B4] are likely to have been here as well. Henry Tracy’s cottage [I2] was probably nearer the manorial centre.
Large-scale maps from the 19th century reveal the piecemeal arrangement of the cottages and crofts (small enclosed plots of land) created in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, with the boundaries of cottage-plots and their crofts on different alignments.23 (A narrow field parallel to the road at the eastern end of Central Road was known as Long Orchard in the 18th century but as the Lord’s Orchard in the late 16th century, perhaps indicating that the abbey had retained a strip of roadside waste in its own possession, though it is just as likely that it was named after George and Alice Lord, who held several small properties in the area in the early 16th century (see chapter 13 page 295).24 The 1838 tithe apportionment map shows that, on the Ravensbury side of Central Road, a property known from the mid-16th century as Ducket’s Farm and an adjoining property each included a similar long strip of land parallel to the road, and it is tempting to assume that this land had also been taken from roadside waste towards the end of the 13th century.25)
Adjoining the customary virgate tenement held in 1312 by Thomas and Emma Belle [B] was a freehold tenement, probably that held by William Antorneys by right of his wife [U].26 By the end of the 14th century it had come into the possession of William Bunt, who sold it in small parcels.27 One of these parcels was an 8-acre enclosed warren, later known as le Parklond [U2].28 A further 24-acre close of demesne land was called Parkelands by the late 16th century, so it seems that some sort of park or enclosure had existed in this area.29 It was not big enough to have been a deer park and may have been a reserve for game birds or just a rabbit warren (see chapter 6).
Maps from the 19th century show two fields of glebe, belonging to the incumbent of the parish church, between Central Road and London Road, totalling 11¼ acres, but these were given from former demesne land in the 1630s, in exchange for the earlier glebelands which seem to have been in strips in the open fields of Lower Morden (see page 130).30 A further 1½-acre glebe meadow was in Lower Morden (see page 13).31 A grant to the vicar of Morden in 1331 mentioned 13½ acres of glebe, possibly a remnant of an earlier glebe holding from before the abbey took over the rights previously belonging to the rector (see next page).32
The demesne land seems to have been in large blocks, and the arable lands belonging to both Belles and Bunts tenements seem to have been consolidated in one area – though Bunts was in two large blocks – rather than scattered like the tenant holdings in Lower Morden.
At the junction of Central Road and London Road, opposite the parish church, was a 9½-acre plot of demesne land called Neuburycroftes. Adjoining it was ‘a certain enclosure called Neuburygardyne, whereof pasturage is worth per annum 6d’.33 The place-name element ‘bury’, derived from byrig, the dative form of Old English burh, is usually interpreted as ‘a stronghold’, though it was later used of a manor house.34 It has recently been suggested that the word referred specifically to ‘the enclosure around a noble person’s house’ rather than a strongly fortified place.35 There is no evidence that a new manorial centre was ever built on this site, though the possibility that there were enclosures or earthworks associated with a medieval game preserve is considered in chapter 6. The ‘new’ element was perhaps used to distinguish it from the ‘old’ enclosure at Ravensbury (see page 43).
London Road
The London Road, in 1512 described as ‘the king’s highway called London Waye, namely from the church of Morden as far as Monkyns Marshe’, winds its way north and east between the demesne fields towards the border with Merton parish and the north-west corner of the manorial centre where we began our journey.36 Occasionally it briefly coincides with the alignment of the Roman road later known as Stane Street, though it is not known when this route replaced the Roman road. There is no evidence of any buildings along London Road in the medieval period, other than the church and adjoining priest’s house. (In the late 16th century tenant farms were created out of the demesne lands, with one new farmstead adjoining the church, and another on the Morden House site overlooking ‘Monkyns Marshe’, which in 1312 was valuable pastureland – Litlemersche of 6½ acres and Magna mersche of 15 acres, worth 6d per acre.37 A couple of smallholdings existed at the western end of the road by the mid-18th century, but the cottages that once lined the road here seem to have been a development of the late 18th century, at about the same time as the creation of the Morden Park estate.38)
The church, occupying one of the highest ridges within the parish, is dedicated to St Lawrence, a dedication common in churches of Saxon origin.39 However, there is no mention in Domesday Book of a church here, the earliest record being dated 1 June 1157 when Pope Adrian IV confirmed to Westminster Abbey various rights and possessions including ‘the church of Morden with all its pertinents [rights]’.40 The next reference is from 23 November 1230, when Pope Gregory IX confirmed a pension of 6s 8d from the tithe of the church of Morden to the precentor of Westminster Abbey.41 This pension was described in an undated document as ‘ancient’ [antiqua] when the first recorded rector of Morden, Master Thomas de Senesfeld, was admitted ‘to the church of St Laurence of Morden’, at the presentation of the abbey, by Peter de Roches, who was bishop of Winchester 1205–38.42 At the time the extent was drawn up the church seems to have had a thatch and shingle roof, as repairs in 1320/21 involved the purchase of 1000 wooden shingles, the old shingles and thatch being sold for 6d.43 (A major rebuilding programme will be undertaken in the 1350s, with £4 being spent in 1356 ‘in stipend of a mason for the front of the chancel and for making 1 window by agreement’, and 9000 new roof tiles being purchased and fixed over the chancel in 1358.44 Only chancel costs are recorded in the account rolls as the abbey was only responsible for the chancel, the rest of the church being the responsibility of the parishioners, but the building and roofing work must have involved the whole church. A few vestiges can still be seen from this rebuilding, but the medieval structure was faced with brick in the 17th century, though the old walls still carry the weight of the roof.45)
The tithes of Morden parish were appropriated to the abbey in 1301, the last rector resigning and a vicar being appointed to undertake parochial duties.46 The vicar took over the ‘mansion house with a curtilage and garden, adjacent to the same church, which the priest of the parish was accustomed to live in from ancient times, freely pertaining to his vicarage forever’, though in 1331 new arrangements for the vicar’s financial support will be agreed with the abbey, whereby ‘a more suitable [house] or at least one of equal value’ is to be provided.47 (Certainly, the vicar was living in one of the cottages in Central Road by 1416, when he took over an adjoining croft known as Empcote Acre [B61], though it was not permanently added to the vicarage grounds until 1436.48 In a dispute of 1583 it was shown that ‘Emcotes Acre’ was not part of the vicar’s glebe but was held by copyhold tenure from the manor at 4d a year.49 The vicarage became the rectory in 1634, when the tithes were restored and a rector appointed once more,50 and it continued to serve as the rectory until the mid-20th century, when the present rectory was built behind the church. In June 1386 the vicar was instructed ‘to repair a certain bridge at his gate and from want of repair the water overflows the king’s highway to the nuisance of those passing’.51 This entry in the manorial court roll is just one of many that remind us that ditches separated dwellings from the road, but one cannot help wondering how the vicar was able to get out and exercise his pastoral ministry in the parish if the bridge at his gate was in such poor repair that it completely blocked the ditch. No doubt this bridge was just a board or plank, similar to one in Bow Lane described in 1627.52)
Adjoining the southern edge of the churchyard in 1312 was a 1-acre croft [X1] belonging to a half- virgate tenement in Lower Morden held by Thomas ate Cherche [X]. (Today this croft is occupied by a residential home misnamed Manor House, the core of which was built in the late 18th century. The half-acre of land on which it was built was known in the 18th century as Boxwells, a corruption of Bexwells. In the 15th century John Bekeswell was tenant of Thomas ate Cherche’s tenement.53 In 1513 this croft was described as ‘one acre of land now Holtes lying on the west of the church of Morden called Bexwells, namely between land of John Holt on the east and west’ [X1].54 Many exchanges were made during the 17th century, and the northern section of the plot, which did lie to the west of the church, was incorporated into the adjoining property, the original acre being reduced to half an acre, which included some former roadside waste (see chapter 4, page 92).)
Epsom Road
Adjoining this croft was a freehold close of 2 acres [W1], probably a detached part of Gerard de Staunden’s 1312 freehold tenement in Lower Morden, later known as Wynteworthes [W] (see
page 14). (This close was the property referred to in 1513 as held by John Holt and in 1486 by John Spyke. It lost some land to its western neighbour in the 17th century, but was compensated by land taken from Bexwells. By the late 16th century this close had been added to the grounds of the alehouse that had been built on an adjoining plot.) Henry le Hose, who appears in manorial court rolls in 1298 and 1299,55 is listed as tenant of a curtilage paying ½d as rent increment in the 1312 extent [I8] and this plot had been taken from the roadside waste.56 (Part was probably occupied as an alehouse by the 1460s, and certainly so from 1515, and continues as the George inn in the 21st century.57)
To the west of the later inn site and its close lay more crofts detached from their parent holdings in Lower Morden, amalgamated by 1536 to form an 8-acre close called Gyrmans (later Girmans or Garmans) [C1].58 Another virgate holding known as Lotekyns [L], also in Lower Morden, had a detached croft known as Netherlotkyns [L1], and another 2-acre holding [E1] belonging to Edwards tenement [E] is also mentioned in the records.59 It would appear that, like Bexwells and Wynteworthes, these tenements in Lower Morden each had detached crofts along the road west of the church. It will be suggested later that this was the location of the Domesday settlement, and that the Lower Morden settlement replaced it from the 12th century, as part of a reorganisation of the arable land in which the demesne lands were consolidated (see chapter 4, page 91).
Netherlotkyns [L1] and Edwards croft [E1] probably lay to the west of Gyrmans on the far side of the East Pyl brook, in a close known in later centuries as Stonebridge Close.60 (In the 17th century the bridge in the Epsom Road, crossing the brook, is described as ‘the bridge [pontus] which is called in English Stone bridge’.63 In early times the term ‘stone bridge’ referred to a causeway, and that could well be the meaning of references in 1480 to a stone bridge or Stonybreg at ‘Stony Lane’, though its location is not clear.61 In 1380 there was also a stone bridge [pons lapidens] at ‘Waterdones Corner’, in the vicinity of the present Civic Centre.62) Having crossed the East Pyl by whatever means in 1312, we reach one of the areas of arable land occupied by tenants of the manor. (The 1838 tithe apportionment calls the 13-acre field at the corner of Epsom Road and Lower Morden Lane (plot 91) ‘Stonebridge and Old Mordens’ and the 7½-acre field adjoining to the north-west (plot 92) ‘New Mordens’, but in 1579 a close called ‘Stonebridge Close joining on a close called Girmans’ contained 4 acres, a ‘close called Ould Morden’ contained 16 acres and another ‘close called Old Morden Furzes’ contained 4 acres.65 Does the name ‘Old Morden’ indicate that it was the remnant of the earliest open field, before the development of the Southfield on the opposite side of Lower Morden Lane (see chapter 5 page 102)?)
We could continue along Epsom Road to the border with Cheam to cross the Pyl brook, where an earlier ford had been replaced by ‘Pylford[es] Brydge’ by 1553, when the earliest maps of our area were produced as part of a court case to settle a dispute between tenants of Morden and Cheam over pasture rights (see image on front cover and chapter 5 pages 98–101).64 However, crossing Lower Morden Lane towards Pylford Bridge would take us out of Morden into Sutton along the edge of Sutton Common. The parish boundary lies a few metres north-west of the road, following the alignment of the old Roman road, but the old and new roads only converge at the bridge. The parish boundary forms the south-eastern edge of the Southfield, an open field of tenant land, comprising some 160 acres of arable divided into strips distributed among different furlongs of which some early 16th-century names are known.66 These include Longfurlong, Shortfurlong, Strecchefurlong, Hunger Hyll (now known as Stonecot Hill) and Suttonarsshe. The latter is an example of the fieldname element ersh, which is thought to be evidence of occasional cultivation of the earliest Saxon period, on relatively light soil within an area of heavy clay.67
The road continues through Cheam to Ewell, where Westminster Abbey had held 2 hides of land since the 10th century. By 1312 this land was administered as part of the manor of Morden, becoming known as Morden Fee.68 There were four ‘free’ tenements in Morden Fee, one in the tenure of Sir Robert fitz Neel [Z], who was also lord of the sub-manor of Fitznells in Ewell, two in the tenure of Thomas de St Michael, soon to be lord of the neighbouring manor of Cuddington [Q1] [Q2], and one in the tenure of John Cuppyng or Kypping [K]. Their rents and obligations are fully detailed in the extent.
Thomas de St Michael also held a cottage and 2 acres land for which he paid a rent increment of 2d in 1312 [Q4]. A later marginal note explains ‘He does not know but says that it is assized in Ewell’. This would be the messuage and 2 acres surrendered in 1297 by Thomas’s predecessor William Snel to his brother John Snel at a rent increment of 2d per year.69 It is possible that another cottage, owing ½d rent increment and held in 1312 by ‘John Yuel’, was also in Ewell [Q3]. Neither of these cottages can be traced with any certainty in later records, but one is likely to be the ‘messuage of Mordons fee, which John le Herner atte Welle holds, near to Cakeswell’, mentioned in a Ewell survey of 1408, and the other perhaps that purchased in 1403 by Robert and Alice atte Nassh.70
Lower Morden
Instead of entering Sutton Common to cross the Pyl brook, we will turn right to follow the north-eastern edge of the Southfield along what is now Lower Morden Lane towards the main settlement in Morden, called in the 14th century West Morden. The settlement was grouped around a green – in fact the tenements north of the road and east of Bow Lane seem to have been built on the green itself. Some of the tenements recorded in 1312 were amalgamated in the mid- 15th century, and their houses became redundant. But most of the sites continued in occupation into the 19th century and beyond, and in chapter 13 we will look at the evidence that helps us to identify them. Here we will merely point out each tenement and name the likely tenant in 1312.
The easternmost tenement on the south side of the road [R], at the junction with the back lane called Townesende Lane in the late 15th and early 16th centuries,71 belongs to a half-virgate in the tenure of Henry Attechurche. He is probably the Henry Attecherche who held another tenement in 1312 and inherited a third in 1327.72 Henry retained this tenement until his death in 1342, but by 1392 it was known as Rykedens, sometimes shortened to Rydons.73 Rydons/Rydens Lane, mentioned in 1482, is probably another name for Townesende Lane, which met Lower Morden Lane approximately where the footpath to Cardinal Avenue and Cardinal Close now starts.74
To the west of Rykedens was a plot of glebe meadow [F5] which probably included some land that had been granted to the last medieval rector of Morden between 1273 and 1301 by Isabel de Poybele (see chapter 8 page 146).75 It is likely that Isabel’s family had held two tenements here, and had disposed of a redundant house-plot and croft, the former to the church, the latter to John Snoter, who in 1297 surrendered ‘a messuage and 1½ acres land’ to Peter Schutte, who in turn surrendered it to John le Heyter in 1304, for which he was recorded as paying 7d as rent increment in 1312 [F2].76 The arable lands belonging to the two tenements were probably those divided in 1312 between Henry Gulden [G], who paid 2 shillings rent, and Robert Fabian and Walter Attewode [F], who jointly paid a further 2 shillings. Gulden’s share included the surviving house-plot, though he also held an additional curtilage, at 1d rent increment [A3], probably obtained from a neighbouring tenement, while Attewode paid a 1½d rent increment for ‘1 tenement, 1 cottage and ½ acre of land’ [A2], probably also obtained from his neighbour. Robert Fabian, who was the serviens or estate manager, may have held a cottage on the opposite side of the road, to the west of Bow Lane [F3], as did some of his successors (see below).77
The neighbouring tenement [A] was the virgate held in 1312 by Adam Est, who seems to have been also known as Adam Ingulf. He had leased his tenement to Walter Attewode for four years from 1297, though Walter had been admitted to part of his cottage plot as early as 1292/93, paying ½d rent increment.78 Adam’s son seems to have been known as both John Ingulf and John Adam, and the tenement was thereafter called Adams.79 A Thomas Ingulf had held a virgate holding here c.1225.80
Continuing westward we come to Agnes Edward’s virgate tenement [E]. Robert Edward had held a virgate here c.1225 and it remained in the family until 1465 (see table 13.3 on page 284).81 An Agnes Edward also paid a rent increment of 4d for 4 acres of land in 1312 [E2], possibly a plot set aside from the family holding to provide support for a widow. It is possible that another property held by rent increment in 1312 might also have originated in the Edward family holding. Ralph Brounynges’s cottage [E3], for which he paid 2d increment, later came into the tenure of Randolph Edward, according to a marginal entry. Ralph might have been related to John Brounygges who, the extent records, ‘shall give during his lifetime at view of frankpledge each year 1 ploughfoot worth 2½d’. This was presumably as chevage, a manorial payment for licence to live outside the manor. As John paid a ploughfoot it is likely that he was a blacksmith, and it is possible that Ralph was also a blacksmith, perhaps obtaining his cottage after marrying into the Edward family. (In 1419 John Edward will surrender Brounynges’s cottage, and it will then pass through several hands. By 1486 it was said to be ‘ruinous’ and the following year it was taken into the lord’s hand. The last extant record of it is in a manorial account roll of 1494, when it was still said to be ‘in hand’.82)
Next door was Thomas Attecherche’s half-virgate that we have already considered under the name of Bexwells [X]. Thomas also paid 2d as rent increment for a messuage and curtilage [X2], which might have originated within the family holding as a home for a parent or an adult child.
Beyond that was the freehold property [W] held by the former rector of Morden, Gerard de Staundon, who had resigned in 1301 to enable the abbey to appropriate the tithes and appoint a vicar in his stead (see above, page 11). The extent does not give the size of Staundon’s holding, but he paid the large sum of 7 shillings in rent to the abbey, equivalent to that paid for 3½ virgates or 70 acres of customary land, and there is evidence that his holding had indeed been about 70 acres originally.83 Later records mention 50 and 60 acres for this holding, then known as Wynteworthes, indicating that portions had been sold over the years (see chapter 10 page 219).84 It is likely that the adjoining freehold property had been created out of this one before 1312.
The latter was probably the freehold property for which John le Hayter paid 6d in 1312, another property that had formerly been held by John Snoter, and which was known as Plommers or Plummershawe [P] from the late 15th century. With some 4 or 5 acres of arable and meadow in the open fields, it probably occupied the western corner of Staundon’s tenement, at the junction with the lane leading to the back lane and the Southfield. In the 19th century this was known as Hawkins’s Lane, but in the 15th and 16th centuries as Wenteworthys Lane, Wentworth Lane or Wynters Lane, after a successor to Staundon, William Wynteworthe.85
There is some uncertainty over the site of a toft – a former building plot – in this area. In 1512 Andrewes toft [H33] is described as ‘lying on the east of a close called Wentworthes and at the north end of Plummers’.86 However, later evidence suggests it was on the northern side of Lower Morden Lane opposite Edwards and Adams (see chapter 13 page 289). We will return to Andrewes toft in a moment.
Immediately opposite Staundon’s tenement was a virgate tenement known by 1384 as Lotekynes [L].87 A marginal annotation to the extent identifies ‘Lodekinys’ as a later tenant of the tenement
held in 1312 by Hawenild la Bosser, presumably widow or daughter of John le Bosere who had served as manorial beadle in 1294/95, 1295/96 and again in 1307/08.88 ‘Lotekyng Lane’, mentioned in 1470, is probably another name for Mede Lane, which led past the tenement towards the Common Mead, where plots of meadowland were appurtenant to each of these tenements (see map 12.3 on page 276).89 Tenants similarly enjoyed appurtenant rights in the common pasture of Sparrowfeld (see below and chapter 5 page 101).
To the east of Mede Lane was probably the virgate tenement held in 1312 by Henry Attehengg [H], more commonly known as ate Hegge and ultimately just Hegge (see table 11.4 on page 244). It is no longer possible to identify the exact locations of the house-sites belonging to the ate Rithe half-virgate tenement [T] , or Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J] virgate tenements, as Roger ate Hegge will add them to his family holding between 1417 and 1442. In 1312 Alice Attecherche is listed as holding the half-virgate [T], but this was probably in error for Alice Atterithe (see chapter 10 page 212) as it was later held by the ate Rithe family. Johana la Godesone held Godesones virgate [O] in 1312 while c.1225 it had been held by John son of Gode.90 Henry Attechurche of Rykedons also held Jocyes virgate [J] in 1312. (Both came into the abbey’s hands following the death of their tenants during the Black Death in the summer of 1349, and were apparently leased at farm thereafter (see chapter 7).91 Unusually, the Hegges seem to have rationalised the scattered strips belonging to these four holdings, creating two compact units each of 30 acres, and another of 10 acres. The latter seems to have become the elusive Andrewes holding, also known as Hawkes [H33]. Following the death of Roger’s son John in 1475, his widow retained one 30-acre holding adjoining the farmstead [H31], presumably based on the ancestral home.92 Another compact 30-acre block of land known as Westhawes [H32] first appears in records in 1495, and probably represents the remainder of the Hegges’ holdings.93 This probably occupied the land between Wynters Lane and the Pyl brook (see chapter 11 page 243)). The lost house-sites are likely to have adjoined Hegges tenement to the east, where orchards are depicted on 19th-century maps – Hawkes Pightle, another name for Andrewes toft, certainly seems to have been located here.94 However, a site to the west of Wynters Lane, within Westhawes, is a possible alternative site for one or more of them.
In 1312 Matilda Attehegh, perhaps Henry Attehengg’s mother or stepmother, paid ½d rent increment for a cottage which, a marginal entry on the extent explains, later came into the tenure of William Carpenter, and can be traced through later records until 1403 [H2].95 It was in West Morden, and was probably within the family holding. Similarly, John Godesone, presumably a dependant of Johana la Godesone, paid 1d for a cottage [O2], probably set aside within the family holding, and Alice Atterithe was paying ½d as rent increment for a ½-acre of land [T2], again probably within the family holding. It is possible that this was the property to be surrendered by Ralph atte Rithe to the use of his daughter and her husband in May 1389, described as ‘one cottage with curtilage adjoining, parcel of his tenement which he holds of the lord by roll of court, namely on the east of his tenement aforesaid as enclosed with hedge and ditch’.96 The description ‘enclosed with hedge and ditch’ was not often mentioned, but all the messuage plots would have been surrounded by ditches accompanied by banks with hedges on top, with a gate as the only access. Excavations in various parts of the country give the impression that ‘walking down the main village street it would have been difficult to see into the individual tofts, for most of the banks, walls or hedges would have been at head height’.97 However, the entrances to the tenements in Lower Morden are unlikely to have been as substantial as that belonging to a Morden Fee tenement in Ewell described in the reign of Henry VII as a ‘gate with a chamber on each side of the aforesaid gate’.98
Beyond the later orchard sites was the house-plot of William Attechirche’s 30-acre tenement, (later called Makernays [M], but in the 19th century Lower Morden Farm and now Hatfeild School). It had probably been formed by the early amalgamation of a virgate and a half-virgate tenement. Between 1353 and 1358 Makernays house-plot was described as a 5-acre toft, or empty building- plot, its late tenant having occupied another tenement nearby.99 Part of this toft might have been occupied as a separate property in later years. We have already observed that a cottage adjoining Bow Lane is likely to have been that occupied by various estate managers employed by the abbey as serviens [F3]. (This cottage will come into the possession of the Lightfoot family before 1439,
probably as part of an inheritance from John Wylot’s family.100 In 1393 a plot located ‘between the tenement called Makerneys and the tenement of John Wylot’ was occupied as the messuage [F4] for the ’18 acres land with pertinents formerly Walter atte Wode’, as atte Wode’s former house-plot [A2] on the opposite side of the road had been reunited with Adams tenement [A].101 It is tempting to see this new site as part of the former toft belonging to Makerneys.)
Bow or Bowe Lane was the main thoroughfare between Lower Morden and the settlement in Merton around St Mary’s church. The lane followed its present path from Lower Morden Lane, but continued roughly on the line of modern Camborne Road to the boundary with Merton parish and then followed Cannon Hill Lane as far as the Kingston Road. Its name, recorded from 1469, probably reflects the fact that it changes direction, heading north-north-east from Lower Morden Lane, then north-north-west to the Merton boundary, before turning north-north-east again to reach the Kingston Road.102 Its route through Morden took it to the west of a 50-acre block of tenant arable land called Bowhyll, presumably from the name of the lane.103
To the east of Bow Lane was John Hubert’s tenement (on the Old Library site). John ‘Huberd’ served as manorial beadle from 1308 to 1323, then as reeve from 1323 to 1341, and as granger for 1341/42, dying in the plague year, 1349.104 A Hubert had held a virgate holding here c.1225.105 In the 15th century it came into the possession of Richard Swan, and was thereafter known as Swans [S].
The final tenement on the north side of the road (where the 19th-century Peacock Farm house still stands within a garden centre) was occupied by Roger Attecherche or ate Cherche in 1312. It was probably through a later marriage of his widow, Isabel Coxxe, that the property acquired the name Cokecyes [C]. As we have seen, their son, Henry Attecherche, already held two tenements in West Morden in 1312, before inheriting this property from his mother, so it was necessary to distinguish his holdings by other names. Roger Attecherche had also paid 1d rent increment for a cottage in 1312, but this can be traced in later records and lay in Central Road [I7].
It is no longer possible to follow the back lane, Townesende Lane, which divided the house- plots and their crofts from the higher land of the open arable field, the Southfield. Nor can we walk along Wynters Lane, which once crossed the back lane near the junction of modern- day Kingsbridge Road and Seymour Avenue. Both were lost during 20th-century development. Wynters Lane left Lower Morden Lane in the vicinity of the present Beverley roundabout, and ran south into the Southfield. Between Wynters Lane and the Pyl brook was a 30-acre block of land, parts of which retained the West Haws name into the 18th century.106 The back lane crossed Westhawes towards a wooden bridge across the Pyl brook which gave access to Morden Common, part of a large area of common grazing known as Sparrowfeld (see chapter 5).107 The brook is still crossed at this point, by a footpath between Garth Close and Lynmouth Avenue.
The main bridge over the Pyl brook, to the west of Westhawes, was called Hobbolls Brydge in 1524, after a nearby property held by Merton Priory since the 1230s – the name is first encountered in 1481, when the prior of Merton was presented for enclosing ‘a certain meadow called Hoboldes Mede with ditches and hedges’.108 The priory’s estate here included a block of 100 acres of arable and meadow in Morden, a 30-acre block of arable in Merton and a similar 30- acre block of arable in Malden, though it lay on the east of the Beverley brook, which elsewhere forms the eastern boundary of Malden parish. Various interpretations of the origins of these properties are considered in chapter 5 (see pages 103–8). The ‘king’s way at Hobboldes leading from Morden to Kingston’, mentioned in 1515, is now Green Lane, a bridle way to Worcester Park, between two cemeteries, that on the north having replaced Hobalds Farm in the 1890s, that on the south occupying part of the former common of Sparrowfeld.109
We complete our stroll through medieval Morden by following what was described in a map of 1553 as ‘the procession waye of Murdon’ – referring to the route taken by parishioners when ‘beating the bounds’.110 What was usually a very muddy footpath (now replaced by a cycle track) branches south from Green Lane along the parish boundary towards Pylford Bridge and the Epsom Road – a boundary regularly disputed with the inhabitants of Cheam over many centuries.111
VARIETIES OF TENURE, VARIETIES OF SOURCE MATERIALS
OF MORDEN. FREE TENANTS.
These are the free tenants in the vill of Morden:
John Ducet bet for 1½ virgates 3s & nothing other but he is used to being tallaged
Richard de Winnelendune for 2½ virgates 6s 4d & nothing other
William de Wattune for 1 virgate 2s freely
CUSTOMARY TENANTS:
Hugh West holds one virgate of land 20 acres for which he owes 2s at the 4 terms and each week one work. In harvest to reap in a week ½ acre and at five boonworks to provide one man. Likewise to do carrying services 4 times in a year. He must plough two acres per year with food and 1 without food. And to weed, with food, and to harrow twice in a year. They must clean the pond, with food. They must mow the meadow, with food, and lift, without food, and carry, with food. They must carry corn once, with food. They must for three days carry hay and the third day to have food.
Relict Lane for 1 virgate 2s
John son of Gode for 1 virgate 2s
Thomas Ingulf for 1 virgate 2s
Gunnild for a half 12d & service as for a half-virgate
Avicia for 1 virgate 2s
Robert Edward for 1 virgate 2s
Henry de Brus for 1½ virgates 3s
Walter Wig for 1½ virgates 3s & so much tallage, unless he does communal works
Hubert for 1 virgate 28d
Reginald miles for 1 virgate 2s
William the clerk for ½ virgate 2s
William Palmer for 1 virgate 2s
John son of Gilbert for a half virgate 1s
Hugh Aunger for a half virgate 2s & he ought to be the same
William the oxherd’s son for 1 virgate 2s & he holds a plough
Mabel for 1 virgate 2s & so much tallage
William Swein for 3 acres 12d
from Ewell 30s at the 4 terms and they must come to 5 boonworks in Harvest and they owe 10 hens and 1 cock and owe 3d for mowing.
2: VARIETIES OF TENURE, VARIETIES OF SOURCE MATERIALS 19
Varieties of tenure
In the previous chapter, reference has frequently been made to freehold properties, customary tenements, copyholds and leaseholds, without any explanation of the terms. This chapter examines the wide variety in forms of tenure over the medieval period, a period which saw many changes in the way that property was held.
Ultimately, all land belonged to the king. But kings were expected to grant land to their chief supporters, usually in return for military service, but also for other kinds of service, not least of which was the service of prayer. This is particularly evident in the pages of Domesday Book where, of the 41 landowners in Surrey in 1086, 13 were bishops, abbots or other religious bodies.1 Westminster Abbey held estates in Battersea, Claygate, Tooting, and Pyrford as well as Morden. Most of these estates had only come into the abbey’s possession after the Norman Conquest, either by grant of the king, as in the case of Pyrford, or in exchange for another estate, as with Battersea, given by the king in exchange for Windsor, or by grant from a subject, as Tooting, which had been assigned to the abbey by Alnoth of London, ‘for his soul’s sake’, after obtaining it as a pledge for a debt of two gold marks from Earl Waltheof (see chapter 3 page 53).
However, Morden and Claygate were already in the abbey’s hands long before the Conquest. The original charters do not survive, and documents purporting to be copies of early royal confirmations of the grant are considered 12th-century forgeries. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the forging of many charters at Westminster and elsewhere. Although some were deliberate fabrications intended to secure rights and privileges that were not included in the originals, others were merely attempts to recreate originals damaged by fire, water or rodents.2
One such document claimed that in 969 King Edgar confirmed an earlier grant to the abbey of ‘liberties and land’ including 10 hides at Morden.3 A hide was primarily a unit of assessment for tax purposes, but was considered to be the amount of land sufficient to support a free family. Edgar had ‘given’ the church at Westminster to Dunstan, bishop of London, in 959, with permission to establish a Benedictine monastery there,4 and another forged charter records Dunstan’s endowment of the abbey that year with various estates, including 2 hides in Ewell which came to be administered from Morden.5 Known as ‘Morden Fee’, it brought the Morden estate up to the 12 hides of Domesday (see chapter 4 page 87).
It has been alleged that the abbey obtained its Morden estate under the will of Prince Athelstan, eldest son of King Ethelred, who predeceased his father in 1015.6 In his will he granted ‘to Christ and St Peter, at the place where I shall be buried’ three estates, including ‘the estate at Morden which my father let to me’.7 However, this was Steeple Morden in Cambridgeshire, and the church of St Peter was not that at Westminster, but the Old Minster at Winchester. Steeple Morden was presumably the estate later exchanged by Bishop Henry de Blois for Bishops Sutton, in Hampshire, belonging to his brother, King Stephen, which is also sometimes confused with our Morden.8
The abbey’s estate consisted of demesne lands – managed by appointees of the abbey to produce income, in cash or in kind, towards the support of the monks – and tenant land, held by tenants in return for fixed rents, again in cash (rents of assize) or in kind, as well as services, particularly agricultural services. Barbara Harvey, the historian of the administration of the abbey and its estates, points out that in 1086 the Morden estate was leased at farm, as it ‘rendered to the monks a sum (or perhaps the equivalent in kind) in excess of its Domesday value’.9 The term ‘farm’ [firma] refers to the fact that both the length of the lease and the rent payable were fixed in advance and could not be changed. The identity of this lessee is not known, nor the length of time that the estate was leased. However, a custumal of c.1225, listing the rents and services owed by the tenants, makes no mention of a lessee of the manor, and by the time of the first extant account roll in 1280 the demesne land was being worked by staff appointed by and responsible to the abbey for the proceeds of the estate.10 This situation continued until 1359, when the demesne was again leased at farm to a series of tenants.11 The final lease, which included every aspect of the abbey’s jurisdiction in Morden apart from the appointment of clergy, was surrendered to the
abbey’s successors in 1568.12 These changes to the administration of the manor and its demesne land would obviously have affected the tenants of the manor in many ways, but they made no difference to their tenurial status or obligations, and it is to these that we now turn our attention.
The c.1225 custumal and the extent of 1312 both list the tenants who held land within the manor, together with details of the rents and services due from each, as set out on page 18 and on pages 2, 4, 6 and 8.13 Each document distinguishes ‘free tenants’ [libere tenentes] from ‘customary tenants’ [Consuetudinarum or Custumar’]. However, the distinction seems to vary between the two documents.
Free tenants
The custumal lists three free tenants in the ‘vill’, or manor, of Morden:
John Ducet for 1½ virgates, 3s and nothing other, but he is used to being tallaged
Richard de Winnelendune for 2½ virgates, 6s 4d and nothing other
William de Wattune for 1 virgate, 2s freely
Richard de Winnelendune was probably the ‘Richard of Wymbeldon’ who served as sheriff of London 1219/20.14 In a document relating to the collection of the 1220 carucage – a tax of 2 shillings on each plough-team – Richard de Wimbeldon was assessed in Surrey at 2 shillings ‘of the fee of the abbot of Westminster’, but it is not known whether his Morden holding was the only property in the county that he held from the abbey.15 In 1219 Richard and his wife Cristina had come to an agreement at the Curia Regis with Mary, widow of Nicholas Duket, concerning properties leased by Nicholas from Richard and Cristina, and bequeathed to Mary in his will. These included properties in London, Morden and Havering in Essex. There is a reference to a mill, which seems to be part of the Morden property, all her rights to which Mary remitted to Richard and Cristina, in return for an annuity of 12 marks (£8) ‘in the name of dower’.16
We know from other records that Nicholas Duket, probably the sheriff of London in 1191/92 and 1196/97, had purchased 2¼ virgates in Morden from Richard Sakespeye, of which Richard’s widow claimed ¾-virgate as dower.17 In 1220 Alina Sakespeye granted and quitclaimed her rights in this land to the prior of Westminster who in return ‘faithfully permitted counsel and aid and all reasonable expenses towards the winning of her right, and … promised to the aforesaid Alina six marks of silver when her right is acquired’ (see chapter 9 page 153).18 As John Ducet only held 1½ virgates c.1225 it would seem that Alina’s claim was successful.
We have a similar claim for dower from the widow of William de Wattune or Walton, who had given to Merton Priory ‘the service and the whole land with appurtances in Westmorden … except twelve acres of land with appurtances which Nicholas of Purley and Joan his wife held there towards the free marriage of the same Joan’, which William held from Westminster Abbey ‘by the free service of two shillings a year for all service, just as by the charter of the said William to the said canons, fair and full witness is made thereof’.19 The nature of William’s gift is not entirely clear, as the priory only held it for a term of years, of which four years still remained in 1231. Matilda de Walton was successful in her claim against Merton Priory at the Curia Regis in that year, the priory subsequently holding the land from her for the duration of the term, paying her ‘2 marcs and 5 quarters of wheat’ a year.20 In the same court in 1237 Joan and Nicholas ‘de Pyrle’ confirmed their grant of the remaining 12 acres to the priory ‘forever’, at an annual payment of 10 shillings (see chapter 8 page 141).21 Thereafter the priory was in possession of the whole estate.
At first glance it seems strange that annual payment had to be made to the abbey for a freehold property. The various charters explain this as ‘for all secular services and charges’, ‘for all services and exactions’ or ‘rendering the service due to the chief lords of the fee’.22 In the same way that the magnates rendered services to the king in the form of military or financial support in return for the estates that they held from him, so the lesser landowners owed services to the magnates (we will come across knights’ fees in the next chapter), and their free tenants in turn owed services to them. In the case of monastic houses these services were sometimes remitted, as in a grant to Merton Priory in 1196 where the grant was ‘in perpetual alms, free and quit from all secular exaction’ (see chapter 8 page 143).23
Another freehold property (not otherwise identified), is mentioned in a case from 1235 when Matilda, daughter of Baldric, reached a final concord with the abbot of Westminster over a virgate of land in Morden for which she paid 4 shillings a year,24 which she had sold by charter to Richard de Cornevill.25 In 1231 de Cornevill had summoned John and Matilda Duket to warrant him for ‘a messuage with pertinents in Morden [Morduna]’, which he claimed to hold from them by charter, a claim which Matilda Duket denied. He seems to have been confused as to which Matilda of Morden it was from whom he held the property!26
It is clear from these documents that the properties held by the free tenants in the early 13th century were true freeholds, granted by charter, and with legal rights that could be pursued in the king’s courts.
Three of the Ewell properties, those held in 1312 by Robert fitz Neel [Z] and Thomas de St Michael [Q1] [Q2], were also true freeholds by charter, with rights under common law. In fact the abbey was often involved in legal hearings against the tenants of these properties.27 All four Ewell tenants owed ‘medsilver’ (a payment in lieu of assisting at haymaking) in addition to their annual rents, and they also provided poultry at Christmas. They owed suit at the manorial court at Morden, and were required to send labourers to assist at all five harvest boonworks. John Cuppyng [K] had the same obligations as the other Ewell tenants, but in 1385 his descendant’s right to sell by charter was challenged and rejected, perhaps because he was not of the same status as the other three tenants.28
However, only a couple of Morden’s ‘free tenants’ in 1312 enjoyed these rights. The property [W] held by Gerard de Staundon in 1312 later came into the possession of William Wynteworth, and in May 1402 it was reported at the manorial court ‘that John Colcok and [blank] Pertonale purchased within the lord’s fee one messuage and 60 acres land and 2 acres meadow formerly William Wynteworth, free land by charter, of John Hed etc. And the order is given to distrain them to do the lord fine and fealty against the next [court] etc’. By the next court the property had been sold again: ‘Likewise they present that Richard Godfrey and others purchased within the lord’s fee one messuage with pertinents called Wyntworthis of John Pertenale and John Colcok, free land by charter. And the order is given to distrain him against the next [court] to do the lord fine and fealty against the next [court] etc’.29 The charter by which this property was sold in 1458 still survives at Surrey History Centre, the earliest of a series of extant charters for the property (see chapter 9 page 172).30 It begins:
Know all men present and future that I William Lovelace have given, granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to John Playstowe of Merstham [Mestham] in the county of Surrey, Richard Best of the same and John Bristow junior of Horley [Horle] in the county aforesaid, all that my tenement with messuages, cottages, lands, rents, services and all its pertinents whatsoever called Wynterworthes situate and lying in West Morden [Westmordon] in the said county of Surrey which [quod et que] I the aforementioned William together with Richard Pulton and Margaret his wife, John Chynnore and William Andrewe, now deceased, lately had by gift and feoffment of Thomas Herst. …
We also have the official record of a case relating to this tenement heard before the royal justices at Westminster in 1602.31 So Staundon’s tenement was clearly a true freehold, granted by charter, and with rights that could be pursued in the highest courts. In addition to his rent he was required to supply two men to assist at each of three harvest boonworks and one man at the spring and the winter plough boons. The extent does not say that he owed suit of court, though he had made essoin (apologies for absence) in the 1290s, and his successors were sometimes amerced for non-attendance. Perhaps he had come to a special agreement with the abbey. He had been the rector until 1301, and his retirement seems to have been negotiated so that the abbey could appropriate the parish tithes towards its own expenses.
Later owners of Wynteworthes also held by charter le Parkelond [U2] in Central Road, which we have identified in chapter 1 with the warren sold by William Bunt by charter in 1384 (see also chapter 6).32 Other freehold lands were sold by Bunt in the 1390s, though none of the references to these specifically mention sale by charter. It was suggested in the previous
chapter that his tenement was that held in 1312 by William Antorneys [U] (see also chapter 6 page 130). Antorneys owed the same obligations as Staundon, plus suit of court. John le Hayter’s free smallholding, for which he paid 6d a year and supplied one man at each of two boonworks, is probably the property adjoining Staundon’s, later called Plummers or Plummershawe [P], and is likely to have been carved out of Staundon’s tenement. Various odd plots of freehold land were sold by charter over the centuries, and they too had probably originated within Antorneys’s [U] or Staundon’s [W] tenements (see chapter 10 page 219).
None of the other tenements held by ‘free tenants’ in 1312 were sold by charter, but were surrendered at the manorial courts in the same way as customary tenements. Why then are they described as free? The one thing that they had in common, and that differentiated them from the customary tenements, was that they were not liable to weekly labour services, though they did owe the same occasional services as the customary tenants. Gulden [G] and Fabian and Atte Wode [F] held moieties of the tenement formerly belonging to Alice wife of Matthew, and shared the obligations, which included harvest and ploughing boonworks, carrying services to Westminster, carting dung once a year, helping to clean the millpond every 10 years, and assisting with sheepshearing. They also owed medsilver, though no mention is made of suit of court. Sweyne [Y] similarly owed medsilver, but again suit of court is not specified. He too had to provide men to assist at harvest and ploughing boonworks, but in addition was to ‘go with a rod over the reapers’, as one of the harvest supervisors. He was also to supply men to assist with haymaking, sheepshearing and cleaning the millpond.
Before we move on to examine customary tenure in 1312, we need to consider why some tenements were held as freeholds. Three factors seem to be involved. First, we have seen that the 13th-century free tenants were men of status – two are likely to have served as sheriffs of London, while William de Walton also held land in Mitcham through the influence of the Mauduit family, five generations of which held the post of chamberlain of the exchequer.33 Three of the Ewell freeholds in 1312 were held by men who were lords of manors in their own right. Gerard de Staundon was rector of Morden from 1273 to 1301. Second, Barbara Harvey suggests that most of the abbey’s early free tenants held land that had been assarted (privatised) from former manorial waste (uncultivated land), and that seems to have been the case with Merton Priory’s Hobalds estate on the boundaries of Morden, Merton and Malden (see chapter 5 page 103).34 William de Walton’s virgate was almost certainly part of this estate, and it is possible that the other freeholds c.1225 were also in this area, though one or more may have become incorporated into William Antorneys’s holding in Central Road. The third factor was the size of the holding. Barbara Harvey points out that ‘the tenants of larger holdings had a better than average chance of winning their way through to freedom … the larger the holding, the greater the economic security that it afforded’.35 They also had more chance of raising the money to purchase the privileges of freedom. Furthermore it was difficult to assess a large holding for the performance of labour services – there was a limit on the amount of labour a single tenant could perform on the demesne in one week. If Staundon held 3½ virgates, would he have owed 3½ times the work of the holder of a single virgate? Similarly, the property held jointly by Gulden, Fabian and Atte Wode seems to have been a 2-virgate holding, as each moiety had about 20 acres of arable. Conversely, size probably also determined the status of the 3 acres held by the Sweyne family in the 13th and 14th centuries, as it was probably too small to assess for weekly labour services. The suggestion that the family was descended from the Domesday slave will be considered in chapter 4 (page 95).
Customary tenants
We have seen that the defining mark of customary tenure was the obligation to do weekly labour services. The c.1225 custumal sets these out in its entry for the first listed holder of a virgate, Hugh West, and then refers back to these requirements for subsequent tenants:36
Hugh West holds one virgate of land 20 acres for which he owes 2s at the 4 terms and each week one work. In harvest to reap in a week ½ acre and at five boonworks to provide one man. Likewise to do carrying services 4 times in a year. He must plough two37 acres per year with food and 1 without food. And to weed, with food, and to harrow twice in a year. They must clean the pond, with food. They must mow the meadow, with food, and lift, without food, and carry, with food. They must carry corn once, with food. They must for three days carry hay and the third day to have food.
By 1312 the obligation to mow the demesne meadows had been commuted to a cash payment, known by 1288 as ‘medsilver’, calculated at the rate of 2d per virgate holding, but the tedding, turning and lifting of the hay remained a requirement, in return for a meal of rye bread and cheese.38 Shearing had not been included in the custumal, but was added by 1312. The requirement to carry dung does not appear c.1225, unless the repeated instruction to carry ‘hay’ [fenum], which appears in both extant copies of the custumal, should in fact be ‘dung’ [fimus]. Each labour service was given a cash value, and the abbey, as lord of the manor, or rather its estate manager, could accept a cash payment in lieu of any labour service if he wanted to, but it was his choice, not the tenant’s.
There is no mention of suit of court, probably because it was obligatory on all customary tenants, though not on free tenants unless it was a specific condition of their tenure. An 18th-century treatise explains that ‘Every copyholder is bound to do suit of court, that is to say, to attend the lord’s court and to be of the homage, &c. … A freeman may do suit at the lord’s court, but by statute 52 Hen 3.9. [1267/68] a freeman shall not be distrained to do suit, if he is not bound to do it by feoffment or prescription’.39
The other essential aspect of customary tenure was that property could only be transferred by surrender into the hand of the lord of the manor or his steward, ‘to the use of’ another person. Thus, although money no doubt changed hands when property passed out of the family, one cannot strictly speak of vendors and purchasers of customary holdings, as the transfer itself was the act of the lord of the manor, who received a surrender from one tenant and admitted another to the holding. The only financial transaction recorded in the manorial court roll was the ‘entry fine’ paid to the lord of the manor by the incoming tenant, who also did fealty to him. A heriot was also payable by the one surrendering the property or, in the case of inheritance, by the heir. The heriot was usually the ‘best beast’ of the outgoing tenant, though its cash value was sometimes paid instead. The court rolls recorded every surrender and admittance, and these records could be consulted if any question arose as to the legitimacy of the tenure.
The only admission to a complete customary tenement recorded in the earliest extant court rolls for Morden (1296–1300, 1327–28) is the following from October 1298:40
Robert son of Robert le Sweyn comes and gives the lord 4s for having entry to one messuage and 4 acres land and it is admitted by the whole court that the aforesaid Robert should have entry to the aforesaid land and he provides pledges to maintain the aforesaid house and land in as very good condition as now or better and does fealty to the lord; pledges Robert le Webbe, John Schutte. [Y]
This is presumably the holding held by William Swein c.1225 and by Geoffrey le Sweyne in 1312, with an additional acre, Robert having inherited it from his father, also Robert.
These early rolls do include admissions to fragments of customary tenements and to enclosures from roadside waste, for which a rent increment was due, and these will be considered below. The wording of these entries is similar to Sweyn’s.
The next series of court rolls starts in 1378, long after the manor had been leased at farm. The first two entries recording surrenders of virgate holdings are not typical, one being an absolute surrender to the lord of the manor, without a successor being nominated, the other an arrangement for a life grant to the surrendering tenant. Thus our first typical example dates from 4 November 1398:41
At this court comes Ralph Edward, the lord’s serf, and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, the whole of that tenement and the whole of that land pertaining to the same and all its pertinents formerly John Huberd, whence heriot 1 mare worth [blank]. And later the lord grants the said tenement with its pertinents to John Edward, son of the aforesaid Ralph, to have and to hold the said tenement with its pertinents to the aforementioned John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service paying 12 shillings per year at the usual four terms. And suit of court and heriot when it falls due. And fealty for all other services. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty. [S]
We note first the increase in rent since 1312, when John Huberd had paid 2 shillings for his virgate holding [S]. No doubt this was as a result of an agreement to commute to a cash payment the labour services and other dues customarily owed from this tenement. The custom of inheritance within the manor of Morden was ‘Borough English’, whereby the youngest son of the family was the legal heir, not the eldest as under common law. Ralph Edward was probably the elder brother of the John Edward who had died in 1393, the family holding [E] then passing to John’s son-in- law, John Spyk.42
The formula for the admittance of Ralph’s son John states the essential conditions of customary tenure, and was used almost unchanged into the 19th century. The tenement was held ‘of the lord’ of the manor, to whom the tenant had to ‘do fealty’. It was held ‘at the lord’s will’, though custom imposed some restrictions on the way that the lord could exercise his will. It was held ‘in bondage’, Ralph being ‘the lord’s serf [nativus]’. (The term ‘in bondage’ applied to any property once part of a servile tenement, whatever the status of the current tenant, though it seems to have also been applied to cottage plots on former roadside waste. Its final occurrence in our records was in 1450, shortly after the last mention of an individual as being a serf, referring to John Hegge, from an ancient villein family, in an account roll of 1446.43) Ralph’s tenement was held ‘by roll of court’, the entry in the court roll being his only proof of title. It was also held ‘by service’ (later expanded to ‘the rent, customs and services due and accustomed’), John owing rent, heriot ‘when it falls due’, suit of court and the act of fealty. It was a heritable property, being granted to John and his heirs, though the heir could only enter into his inheritance on admission by the lord’s steward after he had done fealty to the lord and paid his entry fine, in John’s case 3s 4d. And it was assignable – John could surrender it to the use of whoever he chose, as Ralph had done when he surrendered it to John’s use within his own lifetime. Another phrase normally used at this time, but omitted on this occasion, was ‘saving the lord’s rights’, a catch-all condition included as insurance. We note also that the grant was of ‘the whole of that tenement and the whole of that land pertaining to the same and all its pertinents’, the ‘pertinents’ being the rights associated with the tenement, including a share in the common meadow, rights to common pasture, and the right to collect undergrowth, loppings and dead wood (but not timber) for fuel and the repair of hedges, buildings and equipment.
Mortgages
Not all surrenders were necessarily permanent. In later centuries ‘conditional surrenders’ were made to provide security for loans, and it is possible that some surrenders recorded in Morden’s medieval court rolls were also in the nature of a mortgage. Thus in June 1391:44
At this court it is witnessed by the whole homage that Simon Wylot surrenders into the serviens’ hand five acres of free land which the same Simon lately purchased, and later it was granted to him at a rent increment of 2 capons a year etc as appears in the court held here 14 November in the present king’s 13th year. And later the lord grants the said five acres land with pertinents to Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife to hold to the same Alan and Agnes and Alan’s heirs by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And a similar rent increment of 2 capons as appears. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do the lord fealty. [U5]
At this court it is witnessed by the serviens that the aforesaid Simon Wylot and Anicia his wife surrender into the lord’s hand by the hand of the said serviens, for themselves and their heirs forever, one cottage with croft adjoining in Stoyle. And later the lord grants the said cottage and croft with pertinents to the aforementioned Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife, to hold to the same Alan and Agnes and to Alan’s heirs, in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 horse. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do fealty. [N6]
However, in November 1394, the cottage is surrendered back to Simon and Anicia:45
At this court come Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand one cottage with croft adjoining whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 hog [hoggaster] worth [blank]. And later the lord grants the said cottage and croft with pertinents to Simon Wylot and Anicia his wife, to hold to the same Simon and Anicia, their heirs and assigns, in bondage at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc, to whom is granted seisin thereof, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for entry fine as shown and they do the lord fealty etc. [N6]
By July 1397 the 5 acres were also back in Simon’s possession:46
Whereas the order was given at the last court to distrain Simon Wylot to do the lord fealty for 5 acres free land with pertinents as appears in the last court, now it is found [compertu’] that William Mulseye purchased within the lord’s fee the said land with pertinents of the aforementioned Simon, which William, being present in court, gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And he does the lord fealty. [U5]
There were special circumstances surrounding this freehold property (see chapter 10 page 222), which account for it being surrendered, rather than sold by charter, in 1391, but the brief tenure by the Berengers could possibly reflect a period of mortgage.
Another possible mortgage might be discernible in the surrender of a moiety, or half, of a messuage, also in June 1391:47
At this court come Robert Berenger and Matilda his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs forever, the moiety [medietatem] of one messuage and one curtilage formerly Adam Tracy in Stoyle, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot as appears. And later the lord in open court grants the said moiety to Henry Milleward and Matilda his wife, to hold to the same Henry and Matilda and their heirs, of the lord in bondage by roll of court by service etc saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do fealty. [I2]
In November 1395 Robert and Matilda surrendered what appears to be the same property to their son, but no mention is made of Henry Milleward’s moiety, so again the earlier surrender might only have been short-term:48
At this court come Robert Berenger and Matilda his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one cottage with pertinents formerly Tracyes, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot as appears. And later the lord grants the said cottage with pertinents to William Berynger and Margery his wife to have and to hold the said cottage with pertinents to the aforementioned William and Margery, the heirs and assigns of the same William, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do the lord fealty etc. [I2]
Another possible mortgage is noted on page 202.
Farms and New rents
The manorial account rolls had always had a section headed ‘Rents of assize’, sometimes translated as ‘Fixed rents’ as they remained unchanged for centuries unless new circumstances enabled the abbey to renegotiate them. However, the roll for 1399/1400 followed this with a new section headed ‘farms’, which purports to list properties leased at farm. Among the eight entries is: ‘From John Edward for farm of 20 acres land, formerly Hugh Huberd and afterwards John Huberd, leased to him and his heirs per year 4 terms, 12s’ [S].49 This is repeated until 1411/12. No manorial account rolls survive for the period 1412 to 1441, but when the series starts again in 1441/42 another new section has been inserted before ‘farms’, headed ‘new rent’:50
For new rent of the vicar of the same place for a certain parcel of land of Wyllot’ tenement leased to him and his heirs, this year 34th, for the year 2d. [N61]
For new rent of William Thorne for the year 1d.
For 20 acres land formerly J Huberd formerly leased to J Edward for 12s, leased to R Swan and his heirs for the year 10s. [S]
For 10 acres land formerly T Atte Cherche late leased to Alice Fowler for 5s, leased to J Bekeswell and his heirs for the year 3s 4d. [X]
For ½ acre demesne land at Tracyslane leased to W Lyghtfoot and his heirs for 8d per year nothing here because it pertains to the farmer of the demesne during his farm. [N0]
For 20 acres land formerly J Huberd formerly leased to J Edward for 12s leased to J Spyk and his heirs for the year 10s. [E]
For 1 messuage and 1 virgate land formerly Walter atte Hegge leased to Roger atte Hegge and Alianore his wife, his heirs and assigns for 5s per year nothing here for the aforesaid reason. [H] Sum 23s 7d. approved
The first two entries had been included under ‘rents of assize’ for decades, but the rest seem to refer to lands that had been leased for some years but were now granted under a new arrangement. (It would appear that ‘the aforesaid reason’ why the atte Hegge virgate no longer paid new rent was the same as that given for Lightfoot’s Tracylane land, though it is not clear why the farmer, Ralph atte Rithe, was entitled to the rent for this property, which was a customary holding, not demesne land like Lightfoot’s.) The word ‘leased’ [dimissit, abbreviated to di] is used to describe both the former and the new arrangements, but examination of the relevant entries in the court rolls shows that these properties had not been leased, but were held by a form of customary tenure.
For example, in September 1437 the following entry appeared in the court roll:51
At this court the lord grants to Richard Swan 1 messuage with 20 acres land lying within the vill and field of Morden, to have and to hold the said messuage and land with its pertinents to the aforementioned Richard, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly the rent in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty. [S]
This was Huberd’s former customary tenement, recently held by Ralph and John Edward [S]. It would appear that the ‘New rent’ section was an attempt to clarify a confusion introduced around 1400. We have seen that John Edward was paying 12 shillings for Huberd’s tenement, whereas Huberd himself had paid just 2 shillings a year. John’s rent included a cash payment in lieu of labour services. When the accounts were prepared in 1400 these newly-negotiated rents were included among the income from properties leased at farm. Perhaps it was when Richard Swan managed in 1437 to agree a reduced rent of 10 shillings a year that it was realised that these new rents should have a separate entry. Unfortunately a further confusion was added, in that John Huberd’s former virgate holding was now listed twice, as being held by both Richard Swan and John Spyk. No doubt the latter referred to the Edward family holding, which had been inherited by Spyk [E]. However, John Spyk had died in 1420, his customary holdings having been inherited by his son Thomas.52 Not all labour services were fully commuted in the 14th and 15th centuries. As late as 1570 John Smith acknowledged that the various properties he held in Morden at a rent of 18s 8d were held ‘according to the custom of the manor’, and were still liable to medsilver and all the services listed for a virgate holder in 1312. In order to be ‘wholly exonerated and acquitted from’ these obligations he surrendered the properties and was readmitted at a rent of 38s 8d ‘yet saving always and reserving to the lord of this manor in every way all and entirely heriot, fealty and suit of court and any other customs and services to the lord of this manor from of old due and customary besides the aforesaid works, carrying services, boonworks and other services by the present [document] exonerated and acquitted’.53
Copyhold tenure
Although surrenders of and admissions to customary tenements had been recorded in manorial court rolls from the start, the earliest mention in the Morden rolls of tenants having a copy of the entry dates from 1385, when ‘the order was given to distrain Robert Berenger against the next [court] to answer the lord for trespass, making destruction upon land which the same Robert holds of the lord by copy, felling trees, namely ash and elm, etc’.54 More detail is provided in the following entry from February 1386, relating to a dispute over a small plot of land probably taken from roadside waste:55
Henry Melleward appears against William Webbe in a plea of land – pledges for prosecuting John Edward and Thomas Carpenter – namely because the said William dispossessed him of 1 piece of land containing 17 perches and 5 feet in length and 7 perches and 4 feet in width at one end and 6 perches and 5 feet at the other end lying between the way leading towards/against [versus] Morden church and land formerly of Walter Webbe. And he says that on the Saturday in the feast of St Faith [Fides] the virgin 34 Edward III [6 Oct 1360] the said W Henry purchased the same tenement for himself and Alice his wife and the heirs of Henry himself from a certain William le Bunt, which Alice now has died, and he produces here in court a certain copy testifying to the things aforementioned. And he seeks that the court rolls be searched. And he gives the lord for search of the said rolls as appears. And the order is given to summon the tenants against the next [court]. [U7]
Unfortunately only one court roll survives from the reign of Edward III, for 1327/28, so we cannot follow up the reference. It would appear that in the 14th century the copy did not have any authority in itself, but was only a guide to finding the original entry.
In spite of these two early occurrences, it is not until the 1480s that we find frequent references to tenants coming to the manorial court armed with copies of entries from earlier court rolls recording their admittance to properties, hence the description ‘copyhold tenure’. A few of these copies survive, the most useful dating from April 1521. The court roll entry merely states:56
At this court come Hugh Mannynge and Johanna his wife, daughter and heir of John Wether and Anne his wife, Johanna herself in open court examined alone by the steward, and surrender into the lord’s hand, to the use of John Hyller and his heirs, one messuage, one cottage and 23½ acres land formerly John Goldwyre, lying divided in the vill and fields of Morden as appears in the copy of this roll, by which surrender nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because they had no animals. The which John Hyller being present in court, seeks his admittance to the premises, to whom the lord by his steward delivers seisin thereof by the rod, to have to the same John Hiller and his heirs at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor by service in respect thereof previously due and by right customary. And to have such title he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And he does the lord fealty. And he is admitted tenant. [G] [G2]
However, the copy also includes a schedule of each parcel of land included in the grant:57
2: VARIETIES OF TENURE 27
References to the steward delivering ‘seisin thereof by the rod’ appear from the late 15th century. The 18th-century treatise referred to above gives the following description:58
When a tenant is admitted, the steward holds in his hand a rod or wand, glove or other symbol, and then says, ‘I, as steward of this Manor, admit you tenant (either as heir on a descent or tenant on a purchase, &c. as the case may be) to hold to you, your heirs and assigns for ever (if in fee or otherwise, as the grant may be) at the will of the lord, according to the custom of the manor, by the rents, duties, and services therefore due, and of right accustomed. And in token thereof, I deliver you seisin and possession by the rod.’ And then he delivers the tenant the rod, or other symbol – The oath of fealty should then be administered by the steward, if the tenant hath not before taken it: and the steward should then inform the homage of the admission of the tenant, and of the nature of his interest in the estate.
Rent increments
We noted in chapter 1 that in the last decades of the 13th century a number of small properties were created, for which their new tenants paid an ‘increment’ to the lord of the manor. These seem to have originated either through the creation of small plots on former roadside waste (see chapter 5 page 117) or through the alienation of parcels of land from existing customary tenements. Most were occupied as cottage-plots or as small crofts, though some of the 1-acre crofts were combined to create smallholdings. Large-scale maps produced in the 19th century show the piecemeal assemblages created centuries before. Some of the fields had been formed in the late 14th century when a freehold tenement in the Central Road area [U] was divided into small units and sold by William Bunt, the largest being the 8-acre warren that became the property known as le Parkelond [U2] (see chapter 6 page 121). But most of the cottage-plots along the northern edge of Central Road occupy the former roadside waste. Many of these cottages had crofts adjoining them, but on different alignments. A few of these crofts were narrow strips alongside and parallel to the road and had been taken from the waste, but most were at the rear of the cottages, and had been created by the fragmentation of a former customary tenement held by Thomas and Emma Belle in 1312 [B]. At the same time, other customary tenants created cottage plots on their own tenements, mostly to provide additional homes for family members, perhaps an adult son, a married daughter, or an elderly parent.
The earliest record of rent increments can be found in the manorial account rolls. At first the only information is the total cash received as increments in the accounting year: ‘And for increment of rent 4d’ in the first extant account roll, for the year 1280/81.59 In 1290/91 the rent paid at Michaelmas had been increased by ½d as ‘increment of rent of Thomas the miller [molend]’, and a further ½d was added the following year as ‘rent increment of John Godwyne at the same term’.60
The account rolls continue to list the further increments over the years, and from 1297 the manorial court rolls begin to record the transfer from one tenant to another of existing plots, some complete with buildings:61
John le Svein surrenders into the lord’s hands one messuage to the use of Thomas the miller and Isabelle his wife to have for themselves and the heirs of the body of the same Isabelle for ever and to hold of the lord by doing customs and services thereof due and accustomed and they give for admittance 6d and ½d rent increment a year; at Michaelmas pledges John Svein and John the beadle. [B21]
William Snel comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one messuage and 2 acres land to the use of John Snel his brother and the same John comes and gives the lord 5s for having entry to the aforesaid land and doing in respect thereof per year all services due and accustomed and does fealty to the lord and gives further for rent increment 2d per year; pledges John Cuppyng and John the beadle. [Q4]
John Snoter comes in open court and surrenders into the lord’s hands one messuage and 1½ acres land to the use of Peter Shutte and the same Peter comes and gives the lord 2s for having entry to the aforesaid land and does fealty to the lord and doing in respect thereof per year all services due and accustomed and gives further for rent increment 1d per year; pledges William atte Ryth and John Shutte. [F2]
Robert Codebrid comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one messuage to the use of Henry Tracy and the same Henry comes and gives the lord 12d for having entry to the aforesaid messuage and does fealty to the lord and doing in respect thereof per year all services due and accustomed and gives further per year for rent increment one halfpenny per year; pledges Robert le Webbe and John the beadle. [I2]
The Snels held freehold land of Morden Fee in Ewell [Q2], and John Snoter also held a freehold property in Lower Morden [P], but Thomas the miller was acquiring several plots in Central Road [B2], while Henry Tracy’s property was near the manorial centre in Morden Hall Road (see chapter 13 page 300).
In 1303/04 the manorial account roll records ‘And for ½d of rent increment of John le Haytere at the same term for what was Peter Schutte’s’.62 We have seen in the court roll extracts above that Peter Schutte had been admitted to 1 messuage and 1½ acres land surrendered by John Snoter in 1297, for which Peter paid 1d a year as rent increment [F2]. When he in turn surrenders to John le Haytere, Haytere pays a further ½d of rent increment a year. No doubt John Snoter had paid a rent increment when he first obtained the land, and so the total rent for this single property gradually increased, each transfer causing an additional increment. The final record of a new increment was in the 1335/36 accounts but referring to the previous year, and thereafter the rents seemed to have remained constant.63 Each account roll only recorded new increments incurred during the current accounting year, the previous year’s increments being added to the total for Michaelmas rents.
The first extant mention of the Belles surrendering land is in the following two entries from October 1298, but other surrenders soon followed, some of which include Emma as well as Thomas:64
Thomas Belle comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one acre of land to the use of John Godwyn and the same John comes and gives the lord 12d for having entry to the aforesaid land and does fealty to the lord and gives the lord for rent increment 1d; pledge William Atterith. [B6]
The same Thomas comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one acre of land to the use of Robert le Webbe and the same Robert comes and gives the lord 18d for having entry to the aforesaid land and gives the lord for rent increment 1d; pledge John Chutte. [B3]
In 1312 the extent lists 26 tenants under the heading ‘Rent increments’, of which one was a payment for leasing a few acres of demesne land and another was a payment of chevage for licence to dwell outside the manor.65 Thus 24 were paying rent increments for cottages, messuages, curtilages and plots of land. The largest holding was Robert le Webbe’s messuage and 7 acres [B3], and soon after 1312 he seems to have taken on the obligations pertaining to the Belles’ customary tenement [B]. In 1312 Belle himself held a curtilage by 1d rent increment [I1], and still owed the full 2 shillings for his dismembered tenement [B]. Several of the tenants listed also held customary virgates and ½-virgates, and some were free tenants. But all the properties held by rent increments were later held by customary tenure and most eventually became copyholds, the rest being leased at farm.
Further rent increments accrued over the years as these various small cottage plots and crofts continued to change hands in an active property market (see chapter 10 page 196).
A ‘new rent’ that appears for the first time in 1329/30 was never added to the Michaelmas total, but was repeated in accounts until 1445/46: ‘And for 1d of new rent of William atte Thorne for 1 parcel of land near to the tenement of Roger de Bouclond’.66 Three members of the atte Thorne family were each assessed as head of a household for the 1332 taxation, at a combined sum of 5s 3d, but no indication is given as to which freehold properties they occupied.67 They might have been tenants of Morden property belonging to Ravensbury manor, or possibly tenants of Merton Priory at Spital or Hobalds, paying this 1d for an encroachment upon the abbey’s lands.
Another 1d ‘new rent’ was mentioned in 1336, and in 1339/40 the total rents recorded in the account roll had increased by 2d, though the cause was not explained.68 No further rent increments appear in the remaining run of extant accounts ending in 1359, and the charging of increments on property transactions had ceased by the time the next batch of account rolls began in 1388.
Joint customary tenure
From the end of the 14th century it became increasingly common for a husband and wife to be admitted to a customary tenement as joint tenants or tenants in common. Widows’ rights will be considered in chapter 9, but it seems that many tenants wanted to take steps to ensure that their widow would continue in occupation. Thus in May 1417 the court roll records:69
At this court comes John atte Ryth, the lord’s serf, and seeks his admittance to one messuage and 10 acres land with pertinents after the death of Ralph atte Ryth, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot nothing because he had no animals etc; and he is admitted to hold to himself and his, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty. And later, in this and the same court it is witnessed by John Whyte and Baldwyn Popsent, tenants, that the same John atte Ryth, the lord’s serf, and Matilda his wife, examined alone, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, the said messuage and land with pertinents to Roger atte Hegg’ and Alianore his wife, to have and to hold the said messuage and land with pertinents to the aforementioned Roger and Alianore, and Roger’s heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc. And they give the lord for both heriot and for fine as appears. And they do fealty. [T]
Although only John ate Ryth was admitted to the half-virgate holding as the legal heir, his wife was deemed to have rights in the property, and she was involved in the surrender to the new tenants. In fact, Matilda’s agreement to the surrender was considered so important that she was ‘examined alone’ to ensure that she was not being coerced. This was a normal procedure when husband and wife surrendered a property. But both Roger and Alianore ate Hegg were admitted to their new holding. Roger already held a virgate that he had inherited from his father Walter in 1403 [H].70 In 1437 he surrendered this family holding so that both he and Alianore could be admitted:71
At this court comes Roger atte Hege and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, 1 messuage and 1 virgate of land with its pertinents formerly Walter atte Hege. And later at this same court the lord grants the aforesaid messuage and land to the aforementioned Roger atte Hegge and Alianor his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid messuage and land to the aforementioned Roger and Alianor, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual feasts rent and service in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give nothing for fine. And they do fealty. [H]
One cannot but wonder why they had taken 20 years to bring both tenements to the same standing, but they clearly felt it was important. In the event it seems that Alianore died first, for when Roger died 20 years later, having been a tenant for 54 years, his son inherited all his properties:72
Likewise they present that Roger atte Hegge, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will various lands and tenements died in February year 35 [1457], whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 2 bullocks worth 12s. And that John atte Hegge is his son and nearest heir. In open court he seeks his admittance and is admitted, to have and to hold the aforesaid lands and tenements with their pertinents to the aforementioned John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty. [H] [T] [J] [O]
The manorial account rolls were still recording Roger and Alianore as joint lessees as late as 1502, 45 years after Roger’s death!73 It would seem that John in turn surrendered the property so that he and his wife could be joint tenants, although there is no record of such a surrender. However, when John died in 1475 the court roll recorded:74
Likewise they present that John atte Hegge, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will 1 tenement and 30 acres land, died in June 15 Edward IV, whence there falls due to the lord for 2 heriots etc. And that Elena his wife has joint title with the aforesaid John late her husband etc. [H31]
Customary tenure for a set number of lives
A variation in joint tenure is tenure for two or three lives, rather than the normal grant ‘to heirs and assigns’. Thus in November 1388 we read:75
At this court the lord grants to Richard Fowler and Alice his wife and William their son 1 toft and 10 acres land with pertinents formerly Walter atte Cherche, to hold to the same Richard, Alice and William for their whole lives by service 5s a year and common suit of court just as the other customary tenants do by custom. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty. [X]
Alice was the daughter of Ralph Edward, tenant of Huberds [S] until 1398 (see above) and a villein of the manor of Morden. She had married Richard Fowler without licence from the lord of the manor, for which Richard was fined 2s 6d in 1378.76 When Richard died in 1394 the court roll recorded:77
fealty
Likewise they present that Richard Fouler’ who of the lord held by roll of court one toft and 10 acres land with pertinents formerly Walter atte Cherche by service, 5s a year and common suit of court died in April last etc. And that Alice, late wife of the said Richard, and William, their son, are jointly enfeoffed [communatim feoffi] etc. Therefore nothing for heriot until etc. And they do fealty. [X]
By July 1398 Alice had married again, to Thomas Gaston or Garston, again without the licence required as a widow within the jurisdiction of the manor.78 From 1400 Alice appears in the list of tenants holding at farm: ‘From Alice Fouler for farm of 10 acres land formerly Thomas atte Cherche leased to her per year 4 terms 5s’.79 Alice had married again by 1409, to Thomas Attemere.80 Nothing more is heard of her son William Fowler. From 1441/42 her half-virgate was held by John Bekeswell ‘and his heirs’ at 3s 4d a year ‘new rent’, as we saw in chapter 1.81
It is not obvious what benefit a customary grant for three lives could have for the tenant, as customary holdings were normally heritable and assignable. One possibility is that it was an attempt to free son William from his villein-status. Or perhaps it was merely a stipulation by the abbey or its farmer, in order to tighten control over a holding.
Customary tenure for life with ‘remainder’ to another
Another form of customary tenure for life or lives had more obvious benefits for the tenants. In October 1393 the court roll records:82
At this court come Thomas Carpenter and Cristine his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs forever, one messuage and 18 acres land with pertinents formerly Walter atte Wode between the tenement called Makerneys and the tenement of John Wylot, whence there falls due to the lord as heriot 1 ox worth 10s. And later the lord grants the said messuage and land with its pertinents to the same Thomas and Cristine, to hold for the whole of their lives, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc, so that after the death of Thomas and Cristine the said messuage and land with its pertinents wholly remain to Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife to have and to hold the said messuage and land with its pertinents to the same Alan, and Agnes their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for entry fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty. And fine and fealty of the same Alan is respited until etc. [F] [F4]
This was the moiety of the tenement held in 1312 jointly by Robert Fabian and Walter Atte Wode as so-called ‘free tenants’.83 Clearly, Thomas and Cristine were beginning to feel their age. Although Thomas was probably related to John Carpenter, for whom he had acted as pledge in 1391 when John was admitted to the nearby Lotekynes tenement [L], they decided to leave their property to the Berengers.84 It is possible that they were also related to them, though it might
have been a purely financial arrangement. (Similar arrangements were made in 1390, when William and Letitia Granger surrendered a cottage [I5] and 1 acre [I6] to themselves for life with remainder to William and Agnes Mulseye, and in 1413, when Alice Willot widow surrendered a cottage, curtilage and ‘Goodwynys acre’ [B62] to herself with remainder to Walter and Agnes Payn, possibly her daughter.85)
Five years later, in November 1398, when Thomas could no longer maintain the tenement, probably after Cristine’s death, he handed it over to Alan in return for an annuity of 13s 4d, having made sure that the annuity was fully protected by law:86
At this court comes Thomas Carpenter and surrenders into the lord’s hand for himself etc, a moiety of one tenement formerly Robert Fabyan to the use of Alan Berneger, to have and to hold the aforesaid tenement with pertinents to the aforementioned Alan, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] rights etc, rendering therefor in future to the aforementioned Thomas for the whole of his life 13s 4d paid at the usual 4 terms. And the aforesaid Alan grants for himself and his heirs and assigns that if payment of the aforesaid rent at any term in arrears happens not to be paid, thereafter truly the aforementioned Thomas and his attorneys shall be allowed, for the whole of his life, to enter into the aforesaid tenement and by means of his goods and chattels found in the aforesaid tenement, distrain such distraints, take, carry off, drive away and retain until the aforesaid rent of 13s 4d is fully satisfied and paid in full. And for heriot nothing because [he has] no animals. And he gives the lord for fine to have this enrolled as appears. And he does fealty. [F] [F4]
Alan held other properties in Morden, and appears in the manor records until 1421, but by 20 October 1433 this tenement had passed to William Yerde, whose death on that day was not presented at the manorial court until May 1436.87
It is possible that Thomas had continued to live on the property as there is no record of him holding another dwelling, though he did hold a toft and an acre of land which he surrendered to the Berengers in May 1402:88
At this court comes Thomas Carpenter and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one toft and 1 acre land with pertinents, parcel of the tenement formerly Lottekynes, and nothing for heriot because no animals. And later the lord grants the said toft and land with pertinents to Alan Bernger and Agnes his wife, to have and to hold the said toft and land with pertinents to the aforementioned Alan and Agnes and the heirs and assigns of the same Alan, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And the aforesaid Alan and Agnes by licence of court grant to the aforementioned Thomas the aforesaid toft for the whole life of the said Thomas on condition that, after the death of the same Thomas, the aforesaid toft shall remain to the aforementioned Alan and Agnes, their heirs and assigns, to hold in the aforesaid form etc. And they give the lord for fine to have this enrolled as appears. And they do fealty etc. [L1]
Once again, he was able to retain this land for his lifetime, but this time by grant by the Berengers. As we have seen, Thomas had acted as pledge when John Carpenter and his wife Cristine were admitted to Lotekynes virgate [L] in 1391, and it is likely that Thomas received his toft and acre from John. It is probably the 2-acre Netherlotkyns [L1] mentioned in 1536, which might have been the detached former house-plot of the tenement in the 11th century (see chapter 4 page 92), before the creation of the Lower Morden settlement.89
Customary tenure for a single life
In May 1406 it was presented at court that John Carpenter junior ‘withdrew out of the lordship and allowed the said tenement and land [to be] vacant and uncultivated’.90 At the next court, in November 1406, we read:91
Whereas the order was given to seize into the lord’s hand one servile messuage and 20 acres land with pertinents called Lotekynes because John Carpenter junior, who of the lord holds the said messuage and land with pertinents by roll of court, withdrew out of the lordship and allowed the said tenement and land [to be] vacant and uncultivated. And to answer for the issues etc until etc as appears in the Court with View next preceding. Now at this court the lord grants the said messuage and land with pertinents to Ralph atte Rythe for the term of his life only, to have and to hold the said messuage and land with pertinents to the aforementioned Ralph for his life only, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service rendering thereof to the lord yearly at the usual terms equally 2s 8¼d for all other works and customary services on condition that he is not charged for works and customary services by order of the lord Prior and by the assent of the whole Convent.during the aforesaid term And if it happens that after the said land has been sown the said Ralph dies then the heirs or executors of the said Ralph are allowed to hold the said messuage and land until the corn upon the said sown land shall be housed and stored [hospitat’ & morreat’ fuerint], rendering and doing annually as the said Ralph customarily renders and does, returning [reverto’e] truly the said messuage and land after the aforesaid term is complete to the lord to have charge of [spectante]. And the aforesaid Ralph gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty. [L]
No reason is given for John’s ‘withdrawal’, or for Ralph only having a life-grant of the customary tenement. This extract reveals that some labour services were still required of customary tenants at this period. Ralph had leased the demesne of the manor from before 1388 until 1406, and from 1400 leased two virgate tenements, Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J], and held the family ½-virgate ‘by roll of court’ [T].92 Perhaps the abbey authorities felt that his family would not be able to cope with a 70-acre holding. Godesones and Jocyes were leased to Simon Lightfote in 1411/12,93 and when Ralph died in 1417 his family immediately disposed of the rest of his properties.94
Leaseholds
In the 1312 extent the estate manager or serviens, Robert Fabian, was listed at the beginning of the Rent increments, as follows: ‘Robert Fabian holds 6 acres land of the demesne by a lease of Brother Philip of Sutton by roll of court at a rent per annum of 2s at the four principal terms’.95 This lease had started in 1311/12, the year after Robert became serviens, but he moved away in 1314, and the lease was surrendered.96 From 1332 to 1342 the 5¼-acre demesne field Wolfardescroft was leased at farm on a yearly basis to the vicar at 3s 4d a year, but in 1342/43 the manorial account roll records ‘For farm of land called Wolfarduscroft nothing this year because in the lord’s hand and fallow and also [the reeve] has no authority to demise’.97 Other demesne plots were leased over the years, but no details are given. It is likely that all the leases were on an annual basis or for a short term. Some might merely have been for the period that the plot lay fallow, as between 1351 and 1358 there are occasional references in the account rolls to the ‘sale’ of pasturage.98
The manor also leased at farm its dairy between 1310 and 1352, except during the plague year of 1348/49,99 its poultry from 1317 to 1358,100 and its mill from 1351 to 1358.101 From 1359 the entire demesne was leased at farm to a series of tenants.102
The Black Death struck Morden in the spring of 1349, wiping out whole families and leaving few households unscathed (see chapter 7).103 Of the 15 customary virgate and ½-virgate holdings in Morden only two heads of households survived the pestilence – atte Rythe [T] and the heir of Henry atte Cherche, who had died in 1342 [R]. Seven died leaving heirs, but six left no heirs and their tenements reverted to the abbey as lord of the manor. Other properties came into the lord’s hand in later years. At first it proved difficult to find tenants willing to take on these holdings, though small portions might be leased on a short-term basis.
Thus the manorial account roll for 1352/53 has the following entry:104
farm
The same answers for 30s from the farm of the watermill payable at Easter and 1st August for a term of 5 years, this year the 2nd.
And for 2s 7½d for the farm of 1 messuage, 10 acres land, late Walter ate Cherche leased to John Godwyne for the terms of Christmas, Easter and Nativity of St John for which he answers in the next year 3s 4d6d which he leases for a term of 20 years, this year the 1st. [X]
And for 2s 3d of Robert ate Rith and Agnes his wife for the farm of 1 toft containing 5 acres of the tenement late William Makernays at the aforesaid 3 terms which answers in the next year 3s the same leased for a term of 20 years, this year the 1st. [M]
And for 2s 6d 3s of Richard ate Diche for the farm of 1 messuage late John Adam and 8 acres of demesne land at Smalehull at the aforesaid 3 terms which answers in the next year 4s for a term for a term of 20 years, this year the 1st. [A]
And for 18d of Baldwin vicar of Morden for the farm of 1 messuage and 2 acres land of the tenement of Henry ate Ryth at the aforesaid 3 terms which answers in the next year 2s, leased to him for a term of 20 years, this year the 1st. [T]
Sum 39s 4½d.
By the beginning of the 15th century, however, most of these holdings appear to have been leased in their entirety, either for a specified term of 7 or 10 years, or on a yearly basis, and at a fixed annual rent, though it often proved necessary to reduce the rent to attract new lessees. Rents were paid at the usual four ‘terms’ or quarterdays – Christmas, Ladyday, Midsummer and Michaelmas. Thus in 1400/01 the following are listed as being at farm:105
farms
From Alan Berenger for farm of 30 acres land which was John de Marreys afterwards William atte Cherch leased to him per year 4 terms 13s 4d. [M]
From Simon Lightfoot and Thomas Gaston for farm of 20 acres land formerly Simon son of Thomas afterwards Adam Est and 1 tenement and ½ acre land formerly Walter Attewode leased to him for a term of 7 years, this year 1st per year 4 terms 12s. [A] [A2]
From John Edward for farm of 20 acres land formerly Hugh Huberd afterwards John Huberd leased to him and his heirs per year 4 terms 12s. [S]
From John atte Rithe for farm of 20 acres land formerly John le Godesone and 20 acres land formerly Henry atte Rithe called Jocyes leased to him for a term of 10 years, this year 1st per year 4 terms 14s. [O] [J]
From Alice Fouler for farm of 10 acres land formerly Thomas atte Cherche leased to her per year 4 terms 5s. [X]
From Ralph atte Rithe for farm of 10 acres land formerly Alice atte Rithe leased to him per year 4 terms 5s. [T]
From John Andrew for farm of 10 acres land formerly Henry atte Rithe [for atte Cherche] leased to him per year 4 terms 5s 6d. [R]
From Baldewyne Popsent for farm of 2 cottages formerly William Flessh and 1 acre demesne land leased to him per year 4 terms 20d. [I3]
However, we have noted above that John Edward held Huberd’s former virgate by customary tenure as a ‘new rent’, and Alice Fouler by a customary tenure for three lives. When Ralph atte Rythe died in 1417 his half-virgate was held ‘by roll of court’.106
The advantage of a lease was that there was no obligation to perform the labour services required of customary tenants. The plague had reduced the working population, and landlords were anxious to reclaim the labour services that had often been neglected in recent years. Those who already held land by customary tenure were unwilling to take on further burdens of this kind. However, with the introduction at the end of the 14th century of a new form of customary tenure without these obligations – the ‘new rents’ – there was a viable alternative to leasing.
In 1400, at the same court that Ralph ate Rythe leased his additional two virgate tenements, Simon Lyghtfote and Thomas Garston leased Adams virgate:107
Again the order is given to retain in the lord’s hand 3 tofts and 3 virgates of land which John Spyk allowed to be vacant and uncultivated as appears in the third court preceding etc and nothing for issues etc because worth nothing beyond service owed to the lord as is witnessed by the whole homage, sworn, etc. And later the lord in this court grants one toft and one virgate of land with pertinents, the aforesaid toft and virgate called Adames, to Simon Lyghtfote and Thomas Garston, to have and to hold the said toft and land with pertinents to the aforesaid Simon and Thomas from Michaelmas Eve last past until the end and term of 7 years thereafter next following full and complete, of the lord at farm etc, rendering thence to the lord for the year at the usual terms 12s for all other service during the aforesaid term etc. [A] [A2]
At this court the lord grants 2 tofts and 2 virgates of land aforesaid, of which 1 is called Goodsonnes and the other called Josyes, to Ralph atte Ryth and John his son at farm etc, to have and to hold the said tofts and land with pertinents to the aforesaid Ralph and John and their assigns from Michaelmas Eve last past until the end and term of 10 years thereafter next following and full and complete, rendering thence to the lord for the year 14s for all other service during the aforesaid term etc. [O] [J]
However, Lightfoot and Gaston had given up their lease by November 1406 when John Bayly was granted the property ‘by roll of court’, and a John Bayly still held it in this way until he ‘fled’ in 1442.108 Alan Berenger ‘surrendered’ his 30 acres [M] 1 May 1409, but it was leased to John Spyk for 10 years at 10 shillings a year from 16 April 1410. By 1437 it was again held ‘by roll of court’, and remained so into the 16th century.109 John Andrew had taken on a 10-year lease in 1392, but his half-virgate was being held ‘by roll of court’ by 1453 [R].110 By 1442 the atte Hegge family were leasing the two virgate holdings previously leased to the atte Ryths [O] [J], having also taken over their customary ½-virgate [T], but they reorganised the land, creating new units which were later held ‘by roll of court’ (see chapter 11 page 243).111
It would seem, then, that of the properties listed as being at farm in 1401, only Baldwyn Popsent’s lease continued. He also held a toft and curtilage leased in November 1397:112
At this court the lord grants and leases at farm to Baldwyn Popsent one toft with curtilage called Gerdelers, lying next to the tenement of the aforesaid Baldwyn on one side and the tenement of Peter Popsent on the other side, to have and to hold the aforesaid toft with curtilage with pertinents to the aforementioned Baldwyn and his assigns from the vigil of Michaelmas last past until the end and term of 20 years next following, full and complete, of the lord etc by service rent of 8d per year at the usual terms, to whom is granted thereof seisin to hold etc saving [the lord’s] rights etc. [N1]
This was identified in 1400 as a cottage held for the previous 42 years by William Brodeye:113
Whereas the order was given to retain in the lord’s hand one cottage with curtilage formerly John Huberd and late William Broodwey it is leased to Baldwyn Popseynt by the name of one toft with curtilage and its pertinents etc at farm for a term of years as appears in the court held here the Wednesday next before the feast of St Martin 21st year of Richard late king of the English. Therefore discharge him of the issues etc. [N1]
Baldwyn also held a customary cottage [I7] from 1378 to 1422.114
Yet the account rolls continued to record the properties leased at farm into the 16th century, repeating the names of farmers who had died half a century or more before (see table 11.6 on page 256). As long as the rents continued to be paid, the accountants were content. The last extant account roll, for 1502/03, has the following entry but, with the possible exception of the cottages which are not otherwise mentioned in the records, all the properties seem to have been held ‘by roll of court’ (Atte Wode’s ½-acre had been recorded as a ½-virgate in every account roll since 1467/68!): 115
farms
And for 30 acres land and meadow formerly J Marres afterwards John at Chirch, formerly leased for 13s 4d, leased to R Pulton per year 10s. [M]
And for 20 acres land formerly T Este and 1 tenement and ½ virgate [sic] land formerly W att Woode late S Lyghtfote, leased to Thomas Bylly per year 12s. [A] [A2]
And for 20 acres land formerly Goodeson’ and 20 acres land formerly Attryth called Jocyes late rented for 14s, leased to R att Hegge per year 10s. [O] [J]
And for 10 acres land formerly Alice att Rith leased to the same R per year 5s. [T]
And for 10 acres land formerly Henry Ryth called Rykdons formerly leased for 5s 6d, afterwards for 4s, leased to J Michell 3s. [R]
And for 3 cottages J Flessh and 1 cottage and 1 acre demesne land formerly Thomas Popsent and William Brounen per year 8d. [I3] [I4] [N1]
And for 1 toft parcel of the Rectory leased to Simon Lyghtfote per year 6d. [N0]
And for a toft and 20 acres land called Lytkyns late leased for 8s, leased to the same S per year 7s. [L] Sum 48s 2d.
Sub-letting customary tenements
Although leaseholds were giving way to new forms of customary tenure, many of the properties held ‘by roll of court’ were then leased to sub-tenants.
As early as 1297 such arrangements were being made at the manorial courts:116 Adam Inggolf comes and demises to Walter atte Wode 20 acres land at farm for a term of four years and the same Walter gives the lord 12d for licence &c and does fealty and doing in respect thereof the services due and accustomed for the aforesaid term and after the aforesaid term all the aforesaid land shall revert entirely to the aforesaid Adam without contradiction of the aforesaid Walter &c; pledge William atte Ryth. [A]
Adam Inggolf comes and gives the lord 6d for the aforesaid Walter atte Wode during his term of possession for his making suit of court &c. And the aforesaid Walter goes bail for the aforesaid Adam that the same Adam will acknowledge and repair his house within [before?] Michaelmas next; pledge John the beadle. [A]
Customary tenants could not sublet their tenements without the lord’s licence, as we discover from this entry in February 1378:117
Likewise they present that Alan Hayter demised 1 acre servile land to William Northwic’ without licence. Therefore the order is given to seize the said acre of land into [the lord’s] hand and to answer for the issues. [F2]
Similar forfeitures for unlicensed actions continued into the 15th and 16th centuries, even in the case of wealthy and influential tenants, such as the London merchant John Coweper, whose two tenements, Adams [A] and Cokecyes [C], were seized in April 1488, to be granted to two other London merchants the following year, with permission to sub-let for 10 years (see extract on page 194):118
At this court the homage, sworn, present that John Coweper, late of London, hewer, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will, various land and tenements within the lordship of Morden handed over [traditit] and demised [dimis’] all his land and tenements with pertinents at farm to John Dunnyng by indenture without the lord’s licence for a term of years. Therefore the order is given to John atte Well bailiff at the same place, to seize and take into the lord’s hand all the land and tenements aforesaid and to answer for the issues and profits arising from the same because he did not have the lord’s licence to demise the aforesaid land and tenements at farm. Therefore they are seized.
Both these forfeitures took place after the death of the customary tenants. In April 1512, the site of the present George inn was also seized, though the alehouse plot itself was immediately granted to the sub-tenant to hold in his own right. The unlicensed sub-letting was only one reason for forfeiture:119
Likewise they present that John Kyrkeby without the lord’s licence leased to Richard Cosyn his tenement for a term of ten years, and the same John is in arrears of quit rent and service for the space of eight years. And also the aforesaid tenement for not being repaired is nearly decayed. Therefore the order is given to the bailiff to seize the tenement aforesaid aforesaid into the lord’s hand and to answer the lord for issues of the same. [I8]
At this comes Richard Cosyn and takes from the lord’s hand by the rod, according to the custom of the manor, part of one house [domus] standing against the cemetery of the church of Morden, namely all that part of the same house standing and built upon the king’s highway there, to hold to himself and his heirs at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor, rendering in respect thereof yearly at the customary feasts 2d, suit of court and other services according to the custom of the manor. And he is admitted tenant thereof. [I81]
Very few licences to sub-let are recorded in the extant court rolls.120 Yet it is difficult to imagine that all other customary tenements were owner-occupied throughout the whole of the medieval period. By the late 15th and early 16th centuries wealthy tenants, from within the manor and from outside, had taken over many of the customary tenements, among them London merchants, minor royal officials and others who were described as esquires or gentlemen. They held both substantial virgate holdings and the small cottage-properties, often holding several at a time (see chapter 11 page 233 and table 10.4 on page 190). Few of them played any part in the local community, whether as officeholders (chief pledge, aletaster, constable) or as jurors or members of the homage. Equally, many of those who did serve in these various ways were not tenants in their own right. It seems almost certain that ‘absentee landlords’ were buying up properties in the vicinity of the capital as an investment, leasing the agricultural units to tenant-farmers and the cottages to whoever would pay. The 18th-century treatise mentioned above explains that ‘By the general custom of Manors, Copyholders are allowed to lease for one year only … he cannot make another lease in reversion, or any other lease which may continue for more than one year immediately, and not to commence at a day to come without a forfeiture’.121 No doubt there were ways around such restrictions but such sharp practices would not be recorded.
There were always ways to circumvent legal obstacles, and there are hints of these in our records. The names ‘John Doe and Richard Roe’ often appear in later litigation as imaginary plaintiffs and defendants to overcome a legal problem. In 1483 they appear as ‘John Doo and William Roo’, pledges in a dispute over land in Morden, no doubt a legal fiction to enable a transfer between neighbours that would be difficult to arrange by normal procedures.122 Perhaps the 1602 document, where Thomas Jones appears from nowhere to claim land that had always been part of Wynteworthes [W], is a similar legal fiction (see chapter 9 page 179), unless he had been a trustee of the estate.123 In the following chapters there will be occasions that appear to modern eyes to involve excessive litigation between family members or neighbours, but which were attempts to establish legitimate property rights as the medieval legal system developed.
Trusts
Until the Statute of Wills of 1540, only citizens of London had acquired the right to bequeath freehold lands and tenements by will.124 ‘Over the course of the fourteenth century, however, the development of feoffment to uses enabled freeholders to circumvent the strictures regarding transfer of real property. A tenant could enfeoff another to hold land according to the wishes of the transferor, expressed either by inter vivos directions or by will.’125 Examples of trusts of this kind are to be found in the case of Ravensbury manor (see chapter 3 page 60), and in the Morden freehold of Wynteworthes [W] (see chapter 9 page 172). Surprisingly, deathbed transfers of customary land had long been allowed in Morden (see chapter 9 page 171), while for centuries it had been possible to bequeath leases of land (see above, page 20).
Varieties of source material
This variety in the forms of tenure gave rise to a wide range of documentation, and it seems appropriate at this point to attempt an overview of the kinds of documents that have been used in these studies. (In the notes at the end of this volume, I have listed references to both original manuscripts and published transcripts or summaries, separated by a colon. In some cases I felt it appropriate to include also a brief note describing the nature of the document.)
We have already noted that a few charters survive from the Anglo-Saxon period, though those for our area are later copies entered into monastic cartularies, mostly in book form but in later periods sometimes copied onto rolls, or onto unbound membranes of parchment. The 10th- century description of the bounds of the neighbouring manor of Merton, whose southern border formed the northern boundary of Morden, survives in two cartularies from Glastonbury Abbey,126 and are considered to be authentic, unlike the Westminster Abbey charters for Morden and Ewell (see above, page 19).127 Charters were only used for the transfer of freehold properties, though they were not the only means of such transfers. Grants of freehold properties in the control of the monarch, together with associated rights such as the custody of orphaned heirs or the grant of free warren or hunting rights, were recorded in royal records, such as letters patent (open for anyone to read) and letters close (sealed so that only the recipient could read it). These were copied onto rolls, most of which have been ‘calendared’ or summarised in printed format, as has the vast array of Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII: preserved in the Public Record Office, the British Museum, and elsewhere in England, and most of the older volumes of all these publications are available online in one format or another.
As we have seen, rights in freehold property could also be the subject of litigation in the royal courts, and we have noted a number of records arising from such legal processes. The records of the court of King’s Bench form the series KB at The National Archives, while those of Chancery are series C, Exchequer series E and Common Pleas series CP. Cases before the court of Common Pleas often ended in an agreement or ‘final concord’ between the litigants, and these took the form of ‘chirographs’ – identical copies written on a single membrane and cut in a wavy line so that they could be fitted together to prove authenticity. The litigants would each receive a copy cut from the top of the membrane, while the ‘foot’ was retained by the court. These ‘feet of fines’ form a very useful archive and are cited frequently in chapter 3. Occasionally all three sections of the chirograph survive, as in two 16th-century concords relating to the manor of Ravensbury – both top copies of each are in the British Library, while the feet of fines are filed at The National Archives.128 An index of medieval Surrey feet of fines has been published by Surrey Archaeological Society and another, of Tudor ones, by Surrey Record Society. These are indispensable guides to identifying the originals.129 Surrey Record Society has also published editions of some Surrey eyre rolls – the records of the itinerant justices – and selections from other judicial records have also been published. These are cited in the endnotes as appropriate. Chancery records regarding mercantile debts have proved informative for 14th-century Ravensbury (see chapter 3 page 55), while the records of the Tudor court of Star Chamber and the Court of Requests have been essential in the unravelling of disputes over the status of Ravensbury properties (see chapter 3 pages 72–9). An excellent series of handlists to Surrey cases has been published by West Surrey Family History Society, enabling records relating to Morden and Ravensbury to be identified and investigated,130 and the classic county histories also identify many such sources.
On the death of a feudal tenant in chief – one who held an estate directly from the Crown – an inquisition post mortem (IPM) would be held by local juries to establish what lands were held of the Crown, what of other lords, and who should succeed to them. (Published calendars are available online.) Their greatest value to the local historian is the extent or valuation of each estate (see chapter 3 page 44), though they are not as detailed as the 1312 extent of the Westminster Abbey estate of Morden (see chapter 1). Extents were also undertaken in debt cases (see chapter 3 page 56 and chapter 10 page 218).
Feudal estates were often held by knight service, and records relating to knights’ fee obligations and other royal demands have also proved useful, especially with regard to Ravensbury and neighbouring estates, studied in the next chapter. The Domesday survey of 1086 is the most famous and most wide-ranging assessment of the holdings of the tenants in chief, and the entries for estates in Morden, Wicford and Mitcham are examined in the next two chapters. Taxation lists have also been consulted, especially that of 1332, the Surrey section of which has been published by Surrey Record Society.131
Copyhold and other customary properties were not within the jurisdiction of the royal courts but of the manorial court, and reference has already been made to the plethora of information in the manorial court rolls, manorial accounts, the custumal c.1225 and the 1312 extent. These are the main sources used throughout this study, supplemented by surviving copies of court roll entries and extracts from court rolls copied into later court books and arranged by property or topic.132 Sadly a 16th-century court book relating to the manor of Morden, still extant in 1928, can no longer be traced. It was then described as:133
Extracts of Courts, I Edw. III.–31 Hen VIII. These extracts are in a paper book, bound in parchment, entitled (in a later hand than the contents), ‘Ancient Record Book of the Manor of Morden and ‘Ravensbury’, transcripts of Charters, Rentals and Customaries, lists of tenants, the Charges for the jury of a Court Leet and Court Baron, and notes of various Deeds concerning tithes’. From internal evidence it would appear to have been the work of Richard Garth, the lord of the manor in the later 16th century. It forms an interesting record of over 200 pp.
Another lost item mentioned in 1928 was an ‘Ancient Quit-rent Book, Morden’ (24 fols.), 1521– 50. Several pages from a 16th-century paper book or books survive at Surrey History Centre among the records deposited by the Garth family’s successors, the Hatfeilds, but these mostly deal with a dispute with the vicar over glebe lands and tithes, the descent of the manor, and disputes over common pasture.134 It is to be hoped that these missing records will one day be rediscovered. Such things do happen – my investigation of the Ravensbury estate was greatly helped in 2014, when Merton Historical Society was given a collection of documents relating to the Bucks Head in Mitcham. On examining them, I discovered that they also included attested copies of several 18th-century documents relating to the Mitcham Grove estate, which provided hitherto unknown evidence concerning the former Ravensbury copyhold land now occupied by the National Trust’s Watermeads and the adjoining sports ground (see chapter 3 page 67). These documents have since been deposited at Surrey History Centre.135
For the closing decades of our study period, some information regarding landed property – though mostly concerning personal possessions – can be gleaned from surviving wills, administered by ecclesiastical courts, especially those few that include probate inventories.136
Two local sketch maps survive from 1553, produced as evidence in a dispute over common pasture rights (see front cover and chapter 5).137 A series of 18th-century county maps give increasing detail,138 but it is not until the 1838 tithe map and schedule of lands,139 and the later Ordnance Survey maps, that we have accurate large-scale depictions of the parish of Morden. These can be supplemented by estate plans and schedules, especially those included in 19th-century sales particulars for Morden, Ravensbury, and adjoining estates.140 Many property boundaries shown on these maps are centuries old and, together with the evidence in later leases and other records, enable us to trace the outlines of the medieval holdings.
Photographs of a range of important documents have been selected to illustrate the title pages of each chapter of this study. Images, translations and transcriptions of most of the documents relating to properties within the medieval manor of Morden can be accessed on the Merton Historical Society website, and it is hoped that Ravensbury documents will be added in due course.141 3: THE MANOR OF RAVENSBURY 43
The 1838 Morden tithe apportionment schedule and map reveal that 215½ acres in Morden, including buildings, yards and gardens, were owned by Charles Hallowell Carew, lord of the manor of Ravensbury, in a compact block of land bounded by the present Bishopsford Road, Middleton Road, Faversham Road, Farm Road, Central Road and the River Wandle.1 A survey of Mitcham carried out in the same year shows that Carew also owned 241¼ acres in Mitcham, including houses, gardens, yards, industrial sites and 94¼ acres in a ‘New Inclosure’ (plots 814– 6, not shown on map on facing page) taken from Mitcham Common in 1535/36.2 Within his Mitcham estate, 86¼ acres lay in an almost continuous swathe of land between the Wandle and the modern tramline, from Ravensbury Park to Morden Hall Park, plus New Close across the tram track. Only a few strips here, in what had been open field, but now part of Morden Hall Park, were in other ownership (see map on facing page). In addition to these lands owned by the lord of the manor, there were several copyhold properties held of Ravensbury manor, scattered across Mitcham, including strips adjoining Carew strips, and a document of 1825 includes maps and schedules of these.3 In the mid-16th century two groups of Ravensbury copyhold properties in Morden are recorded, probably totalling some 40 acres if disputed demesne land is excluded [V1–V6, V7–V9] (see below, pages 67–80).
The spelling ‘Ravensbury’ is just one of many variations, the first known occurrence in that exact form being in an Inquisition post mortem (IPM) of 1488, where it appears as ‘Ravesbury also called Ravensbury’,4 though it had appeared as ‘Ravenesbury’ in IPMs of 1391 and 1424,5 and as ‘Ravenesbury alias Ravesbury’ in a fine of 1472.6 Another variation is ‘Ravysbury also called Ravesbury’ in the Patent Roll of 1488,7 and both Ravensbury and Ravynesbury are found in a document of 1515,8 while Ravysbury, Ravisbury, Ravisburye, Ravesburye and Ravonsburye appear in 16th-century manorial court and account rolls and other documents.9 The variant spelling ‘Ravesbury’, which continued to be used into the mid- 16th century,10 also appears in the Morden manorial court roll of 29 April 1488 (see page 61).11
According to the classic county historians the estate was called ‘Ravesbury’ in the early 13th century, citing a memo at the foot of a document dated 30 November 1225 and copied into the cartulary of Merton Priory (see page 3), which reads: ‘Morden: the same William de Mara was lord of Ravesbury [Mordon Iste Willno de Mara fuit domino de Ravesbury]’ .12 However, although the document itself appears to have been copied into the cartulary in the 13th century, the handwriting of this footnote appears to date from the late 14th or early 15th century.13
Another variant, ‘Rasebery’, is first attested in 1347, in a fine associated with Mitcham and Morden.14 It is used again in a fine of 1378 and a fine and a deed of 1382.15
The estate was called ‘Ersbourye’ in 1313.16 This name is similar to that used in a Westminster Abbey account roll relating to the collection of tithes in Morden in 1319/20, which refers to the estate as ‘the manor of Arsbury’, though it appears as ‘Estbury’ in these accounts between 1352 and 1358, when the abbey’s Morden estate was sometimes called Westbury.17
The place-name element bury is probably from the Old English word burg ‘fortified place’, the dative case byrig being the actual source, referring to an ancient earthwork, though the Middle English bury, burgh in the sense of ‘manor, landed property’ is an alternative possibility.18 A glance at the Morden tithe map of 1838 (see page 42) reveals a 100-acre block of fields dominating Carew’s Morden lands (plots 291, 310–322), of which 70 acres lie in an ‘oval’ or horseshoe- shaped enclosure, where the internal field divisions are on a completely different alignment to the fields surrounding it. The curving strip of woodland that marked its eastern edge (plot 291) still survives as Moreton Green. Was this the bury that gave Ersbury/Arsbury its name? (This enclosure is discussed further on page 51.)
But what of the first element of the name? The suggestion in EPNS Surrey that it ‘may be a late burh-name with the continental personal name Raf (Ralf, Radulfus) as first element’ is based on the misconception that the original 1225 agreement mentioned above used the name ‘Ravesbury’, whereas the earliest known form of the name is ‘Ersbourye’, first attested in 1313.19 This seems very similar to the Old English place-name ‘Erbourwe’, also used in 1313 of the late Bronze Age or Iron Age hillfort called Arbury Banks in Ashwell parish, Hertfordshire – which EPNS Hertfordshire derives from eorð-burh ‘earthwork’.20 Other Arburys in Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire are also associated with possible Iron Age enclosures, though none compare in size with the Morden enclosure. However, the similarity in names might be misleading because of the ‘s’ in our Ersbury/Arsbury and in all its successors. Apparently the only candidate word in the Middle English Dictionary for the first element is ars/ers, with the anatomical meaning of ‘buttocks’. Could the shape and contours of the Ravensbury enclosure have been responsible for such a name? It would certainly explain the later change to Rasebury/ Ravesbury/ Ravensbury and Estbury. Could the ‘s’ have been inserted deliberately as derogatory wordplay? It might be significant that our only known uses of the name were both by people living outside the manor – the jurors in 1313 and a Westminster Abbey official in 1319. The suggestion is tempting but cautious place-name specialists would say that the meaning is still obscure.21
The origins of Ravensbury manor
The Mitcham holdings of Ravensbury manor can be traced back to the 11th century, but the origins of its Morden holdings are less clear. The (unnamed) estate included lands in both Mitcham and Morden in 1260 when Matthew de la Mare was provisionally granted free warren in all his demesne lands here (see below, page 48).22 ‘Arsbury’ included land in Morden parish according to records relating to tithes collected by Westminster Abbey as impropriators of Morden parish church from 1301. Among the harvest costs in the earliest extant rectory account roll, for 1319/20, is an entry: ‘In 2lb wax bought for candles burning at boonworks of the manor of Arsbury and the manor of the Convent of Westminster by custom 10d’.23
Not surprisingly, there is no mention of the Morden Ravensbury lands in the extent or valuation of Westminster Abbey’s Morden estate undertaken in October 1312,24 but an extent of the manor of ‘Ersbourye in Miccham, Surrey’, drawn up a year later, on 22 November 1313 (7 Edward II) as part of the IPM of John de le Mare of Bradewell, only specifies lands in Mitcham, though additional lands ‘outside the said manor’ are also mentioned (see figure 3.1 on page 41). The following is a summary of the Ersbourye extent:25
John died between June and November 1313,26 leaving as his heir to all his estates his 30-year-old daughter, Florence, though this Mitcham manor was already her property, as John only held a life interest ‘of Florence de la Mare by doing to Peter de Montefort and his heirs yearly for the said Florence a pair of gilt spurs or 6d; which manor the said Florence quietly held for six years during the life of Petronilla her mother’.27 Petronilla and John are both named in a royal charter of June 1283 granting free warren in all their demesne lands including Mitcham, which indicates that she had equal rights with John in the estate,28 though John’s father had previously held the estate.29 However, Petronilla, sometimes called Pernell, was the widow of Robert de Montfort, probably the great-uncle of the Peter de Montfort from whom Florence held the estate – Petronilla’s two sons by Robert received other estates that she had inherited in 1270 from her father, Walter de Dunstanvil.30 It would seem that Florence had been granted the Ersbourye estate in infancy, as John had married again before her 10th birthday in 1293 and she had held the estate for six years before the death of her mother.31
John’s second wife, Eleanor le Botiller, neé Beauchamp, had already been widowed before her 12th birthday in 1287.32 She is called Alianora in 1318.33 In 1321 reference was made to a lease of ‘two parts’ of the Mitcham estate (see below), so it is likely that Eleanor/Alianora continued to hold one-third in dower until her death before August 1324.34
John de la Mare is described in the IPM as ‘of Bradewell’, as he held the manors of Bradwell-on-Sea [Bradewell] and Dengie [Dangeye] in Essex, which were the subject of a separate IPM extent taken on 2 November 1313. He also held the manor of East Bergholt [Berwholt] in Suffolk, for which an extent was taken on 14 November 1313.35 As the additional lands ‘outside the manor’ are included on his Surrey IPM, it would appear that they were also in the locality of ‘Ersbourye’, though not within the manor. These additional lands were held of ‘Henry Pas, lord of Bernak’, to whom we will return later.
The Morden lands noted in 1260 are not mentioned again until 1328, when Florence and her second husband, Nicholas le Fraunceys, conveyed to Alan le Fraunceys of Wrydelyngton and John Seman of Berton:36
9 messuages, 3 tofts, 2 carucates and 56 acres of land, 46 acres of meadow and 60 shillings rent in Mitcham [Micham] and Morden [Mordon] which William de Herle held for life.
As this agreement allowed for Nicholas’ heirs to inherit, it was probably an arrangement to break an entail on the estate, whereby only Florence’s heirs had been stipulated. Such a settlement would ensure that Nicholas would inherit the property if he outlived his wife, but would also enable the couple to sell the property. When Florence died on 11 March 1344 her heir was her 25-year-old son,37 John de Orreby, born in November or December 1318,38 recorded as a minor between 1328 and 1336, and knighted in 1340.39 Florence was married to John’s father, Philip de Orreby, by November 1313, though she is called Florence de la Mare in her father’s IPM of that month, so it is possible that she married Philip soon after her father’s death.40 Philip was probably dead by May 1326,41 and certainly by January 1327 when Nicholas and Florence received the king’s pardon for having married without his licence.42
The first extant evidence of the life-grant to William de Herle, a professional lawyer who was appointed a justice of the Common Pleas in October 1320,43 dates from January 1321, when Florence and Philip had granted:44
two parts of: a messuage, a mill, a carucate and 55 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture, and 100 shillings rent in Mitcham [Miccheham] to William de Herle for life, to hold of Philip and Florence and Florence’s heirs, doing to the chief lords of that fee the services which pertain to the aforesaid two parts.
The foot of the fine is endorsed ‘Walter son of Arnold de Wykford lays his claim &c’. We will return to the de Wykford family later.
Although the size of the Mitcham virgate, and hence the 4-virgate carucate or hide, is not recorded, a typical 30-acre virgate would make this estate 215 acres, exactly the size of John de la Mare’s estate in 1313. If the land then described as ‘outside the manor’ is excluded, the estate would have been 143 acres plus the site of the house and gardens, surprisingly close to the 147 acres that Carew held in Mitcham in 1838, deducting the Tudor enclosure from the common. This would suggest that Florence’s other estate was entirely within the parish of Morden.
William de Herle already held land in the vicinity before this grant, as a reference from another Mitcham estate in 1318/19 mentions 1½d being spent on ale for six of de Herle’s men who had brought two cartloads of hay.45 As the 1321 grant only refers to land in Mitcham, but by 1328 he was holding land in both Mitcham and Morden, it seems likely that Florence had already granted the Morden lands to de Herle before 1318/19, perhaps even before the death of her father five years earlier, though no record remains.
In June 1332 a new grant was made to de Herle and his wife Margaret, for both their lives, and this included all the land in both Mitcham and Morden, and not just the two-thirds interest, Alianora de la Mare having died by August 1324:46
one messuage, one mill, two carucates and fifty-two acres of land, ten acres of meadow and a hundred shillings of rent, with pertinents, in Mitcham [Micheham] and Morden [Mordon], in respect whereof a plea of covenant has been summoned between them in the same court …
In 1338 Florence and Nicholas Fraunceis ‘of Wrydelyngton’ remitted and quitclaimed to William de Herle all right in these two estates, described in the same terms as in 1328:47
9 messuages, 3 tofts, 2 carucates and 56 acres of land, 46 acres of meadow and 60 shillings rents with pertinents in Mitcham [Miccham] and Morden [Mordon]
Two years later they also granted to him their messuage in Southwark.48
The size of the arable holding in 1328 and 1338 is very similar to that given in 1332, though the latter only lists 10 acres of meadow, and no pasture (perhaps in error for the 10 acres of pasture noted in 1321), whereas 46 acres of meadow, and no pasture, were listed in 1328 and 1338. The 46 acres of meadow might represent the 30 acres of meadow plus the 10 acres of pasture in Mitcham in 1321, leaving some 6 acres meadow in Morden, or the pasture might have been omitted from the total, leaving about 16 acres of meadow in Morden.
The above evidence suggests that de Herle’s arable lands within his Morden estate were about one carucate in extent and his meadow there perhaps 6 or 16 acres. If the 30-acre Mitcham virgate was used to define this Morden carucate, rather than the 20-acre customary virgate of the Westminster Abbey estate, his Morden property would have been about 126 or 136 acres, some 90 or 80 acres less than Carew’s Morden estate in 1838. Perhaps we should also look within Morden for the 72 acres described in 1313 as being ‘outside the manor’.
Of course, the suggestion that Carew’s estate in 1838 reflected the tenurial situation of 500 years earlier is open to question. Final concords of 1378 and 1382 record the transfer ‘of the manor of Rasebery with pertinents and of one messuage, one mill, 124 acres land, 20 acres meadow, 100 acres moor/marsh [more] and 40 shillings rents with pertinents in Mitcham [Micham] and Morden [Moredon]’, a total of 244 acres.49 An IPM of 1488 describes the manor as 200 acres arable, 20 acres meadow and 80 acres pasture, together with 6 tenements, 1 mill and 20 shillings in rents, these holdings extending into Merton as well as Mitcham and Morden.50 These figures are similar to the 230–270 acres within the manor held 1328–1332 by de Herle, the 1488 figures perhaps having been neatly rounded. The additional tenements and tofts mentioned in 1328, 1338 and 1488 probably indicate that some copyhold properties were temporarily in hand, which could explain the additional acres noted in those years. Other descriptions of the estate give the total as c.600–740 acres,51 but these included lands purchased or leased from neighbouring estates by 14th- and 15th-century lords of Ravensbury (in 1372 two separate units of arable are listed, indicating separate estates). These were probably not included in the sale of the manor to Sir Nicholas Carew in 1531/32, which totalled a neatly-rounded 520 acres, of which the 200 acres of pasture perhaps reflected his rights within Mitcham Common.52 Many of the field names listed in the earliest extant court rolls, beginning in 1488, and in 16th- and 17th- century leases of the manorial demesne, were still current in the 19th century, confirming that the extent of the demesne remained virtually unchanged over the intervening centuries, apart from piecemeal enclosures of roadside waste and other ‘common’ land (see below, page 62).53
The de la Mare inheritance
Florence held her Mitcham estate from Peter de Montfort, as an adjunct of his manor in Ashtead, Surrey. He had inherited these on the death of his brother John at Bannockburn in June 1314, which raises a question, as it was from Peter that Florence de la Mare held the ‘Ersbourye’ manor in Mitcham in November 7 Edward II, which should be 1313.68
Peter’s grandfather, also Peter de Montfort (probably the brother of Petronilla de la Mare’s first husband Robert de Montfort) had obtained these and other estates in marriage to Maud de la Mare,69 and we are fortunate that two charters survive tracing the grant of these estates to Maud’s ancestors (see family tree on page 49). Maud’s great-great-great-grandfather, Laurence of Rouen, already held Ashtead by 1129, when William Gifford, bishop of Winchester 1107–29, confirmed Laurence’s endowment of a chapel there.70
The first charter, of Henry II, dates from around 1180 to 1183:71
Henry, by the grace of God King of the English and Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and Count of Anjou, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, counts, barons, justiciars, sheriffs, and all his bailiffs and faithful men, French and English, in the whole of England, greetings.
Know that I, at the petition of William the chamberlain of Tancarville, have granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to William de Mara and Lettice [Lecia] his wife, Ashtead [Estedam], which he himself rendered and granted to them, to hold to themselves and their hereditary heirs in fee-farm, of himself and his heirs, thus freely and honourably and peaceably just as Laurence of the Holy Sepulchre [a church in Rouen] held it of William the chamberlain, grandfather of the aforementioned William the chamberlain, and just as Ralph, son of Robert, and Mary his wife, daughter of the aforesaid Laurence, best held it of the father of the abovesaid William the chamberlain, by the service of rendering in respect thereof £6 each year for all services, just as the abovesaid held it, and according to what the charter of the aforementioned William the chamberlain witnesses.
Moreover, at the petition of the same chamberlain, I grant and confirm to the same William de Mara and Lettice his wife and their heirs Mitcham [Mucheham], which the father of the same chamberlain gave to Ralph, son of Robert, and Mary his wife for his service, which the same chamberlain rendered and granted to them, to hold of the same and of his heirs, rightly and peaceably and freely and honourably, by that same service which the aforesaid Ralph did in respect thereof to the father of the chamberlain himself, just as his charter witnesses.
Also I grant and confirm, at the petition of the same chamberlain, his land of Grantham [Graham (in Lincolnshire)], namely Harlaxton [Herlavestona] and Londonthorpe [Londenetorp], which the same chamberlain rendered to them as their hereditary right and granted to them and their heirs, to hold freely and quietly of himself and his heirs, just as Laurence of the Holy Sepulchre and Ralph, son of Robert and Mary his wife, daughter of the aforesaid Laurence, held it, by doing that same service that they did to the aforesaid ancestors of the chamberlain, just as that chamberlain confirmed to them by his charter.
Wherefore I wish and firmly order that William de Mara and Lettice his wife and their heirs shall have and hold all the aforesaid of the abovesaid William the chamberlain and his heirs, rightly and peaceably, and freely and quietly, wholly and fully and honourably, with all their pertinents and liberties and free customs, just as the oft-mentioned chamberlain granted to them and confirmed by his charter.
Witnesses: Bishops G of Ely, B of Exeter, Henry of Bayeux; William de Humez, constable; Saer de Quincy; William son of Ralph; Richard Giffard; Gilbert Pipard. At Caen.
Although this document does not explain William and Lettice de Mara’s relationship to Ralph and Mary, in a charter also from the time of Henry II confirming a grant to Southwark Priory by her ‘mother, Mary daughter of Laurence’, of rent in Bedfont, Middlesex, Lettice describes herself as ‘daughter of Ralph of Rouen [Rotomagensis]’.72
William and Lettice’s son, Sir William de Mara, seems to have inherited all these properties during the lifetime of the younger William de Tancarville, as William’s son Ralph confirmed them to him c.1191×1200:73
Ralph the chamberlain, son of William the chamberlain of Tancarville, to all his men, Norman and English, and all to whom the present writing shall come, greetings. Know, all of you, that I, Ralph the chamberlain, have granted to William de Mara and his heirs all the land which the same William held of William my father at Ashtead and at Mitcham and at Harlaxton and at Londonthorpe, of me and of my heirs wholly and freely and honourably to be held at fee-farm by 4 marks of silver to be paid to me and my heirs, namely 2 marks at Easter and 2 at Michaelmas. Truly the aforesaid William de Mara has given me £10 sterling for this grant. Moreover, so that this might be considered right and irremovable, I have been pleased to confirm it to this same William by the protection of my charter, impressed with my seal.
Witness: William son of Ralph then seneschal of Normandy, Robert de Harcourt, Richard Bereuel, William de Calid, William de Sancta Maria, Alexander de Vilers, Jordan de Lidebue, Nicholas Bordet, William de Vilers, Aleisi clerk of John de Mara, Eustace clerk, Richard clerk, and many others.
Sir William served as deputy sheriff to William de Warrene, earl of Surrey, between 1217 and 1226, and it was at this time that he was party to the 1225 convention to reroute the road that had passed through the abbot’s court at Morden (see chapter 1 page 3).74 He died in 1235, leaving as heir his son Henry, a justice of the Common Pleas who worked alongside the famous Bracton. In 1237 Henry ‘de la Mar’ was recorded as holding £10 land in the family’s Lincolnshire properties, Harlaxton and Londonthorpe.75
Was Henry the ‘Henry de Mares’ who in 1255 with his brothers William, Richard and John allocated among themselves various freehold properties in Tatsfield [Tetlesfeld], Orpington [Orpenden], Chelsfield [Chelefeud] and elsewhere which they had inherited from their father, William de Mares, a third of which his widow, Mabil, held in dower?76
There has long been confusion over the heirs of Henry, who died in 1256. In 1260 Peter de Montfort, who as we have seen married Maud de la Mare, was accused of forcibly ejecting from the manor at Ashtead the guardians of Maud, described as Henry de la Mare’s daughter and heir.77 She is similarly described in May 1265.78 However, Surrey historian H E Malden followed records from 230 years later which said that she was the daughter of Matthew de la Mare and granddaughter of Henry.79 This later tradition seems to have been unfounded, as Matthew was alive and active as sheriff of Essex and Hertford in June 1262 (though he had been replaced in this role by October 1266), so any daughter he had would not have needed guardians in 1260.80
Matthew’s relationship to Henry is unclear. The Merton Priory cartulary includes a grant, during the priorate of Robert de Heyham (1238–48), of 9½ acres land in Mitcham ‘held of the fee of Sir Matthew de la Mare’, so it seems that Matthew held the Mitcham lands during Henry’s lifetime.81 On 20 February 1260 Matthew was provisionally granted free warren in all his demesne lands in Mitcham and Morden and in Bradwell, though, as the latter lay within the royal forest, the grant could not be confirmed until the king returned from Normandy.82 He had gained the Bradwell estates by 1246 through marriage to Florence d’Akeni, daughter and co-heiress of Roger d’Akeni and widow of John de Leyburn.83 Her younger sister Isabel (a ward in 1242)84 married Pain de la Mare son of another Henry de la Mare, half-brother of Sir William, and some modern genealogists assume that Matthew was Pain’s otherwise unknown brother.85 It was probably to Matthew (the source says Mazio de la Mar) that Isabel was delivered in 1245, prior to her marriage to Pain.86 Matthew appears to have been older than Pain, as it was at the instance of
3.4: The de Mara / de la Mare family
Matthew that Pain was exempted from being put on juries, assizes or recognitions in 1254.87 Matthew had secured a similar exemption in 1243, at the same time as a Henry de la Mare.88 However, it was Pain who became responsible for his father’s debts in 1246, which seems strange if Matthew were his elder brother.89 An alternative solution might be descent from one of Henry of Ashtead’s brothers, if the 1254 case mentioned above does refer to him. Matthew, who was one of Henry’s executors,90 established a chantry at Ashtead in 1261 ‘for the souls of Henry de Mara, his ancestors and heirs forever’.91 It is possible that Henry had designated Matthew as his heir before the birth of his daughter. Matthew had died by August 1270,92 so it is unlikely that he was the Matthew de la Mare recorded in the Wimbledon manorial accounts in 1273 as paying a shilling ‘for making a watercourse to the mill’ later known as Merton mill in Wimbledon.93 (The suggestion that Henry of Ashtead had a son Henry is due to a confusion with Henry de la Mare of Alvescote, Oxfordshire.94)
John de la Mare was described in 1285 as grandson and joint-heir of Roger d’Akeni,95 proving that John had inherited his estates in Bradwell from Matthew and Florence, and presumably his Mitcham properties from Matthew, though Petronilla’s previous marriage to Maud’s brother- in-law might have led Maud and Peter de Montfort to encourage John to grant Petronilla joint rights in the latter estates. It is likely that the manor of Ersbourye was settled on young Florence as a potential marriage portion to attract an influential husband. As she was 30 at her father’s death, she may well have already been a widow when she married Philip de Orreby.
The Domesday estates
We have seen that the de Mara/de la Mare family held their Mitcham and Morden properties of the de Tancarvilles, hereditary chamberlains to the Norman ruling house, in charge of the ducal bedchamber and also of the treasure kept within it.96 Ralph II de Tancarville had been chamberlain to the Conqueror when duke of Normandy, and continued to serve him in this role in both Normandy and England. His son, William I de Tancarville, had succeeded him by 1082, and is recorded in Domesday Book as holding several estates in 1086 though, of those listed in the 12th-century charters, only ‘Mitcham’ was then in his tenure.97 Ashtead was then one of three estates held by the canons of Bayeux of the bishop of Bayeux, who was also tenant-in-chief of estates in Mitcham and Whitford (see below), as well as the Tatsfield and Chelsfield estates held by the ‘de Mares’ brothers, and many more. The Lincolnshire estates were held of the king by various tenants.98
In fact William the chamberlain seems to have held two estates in the Mitcham area, both from William fitzAnsculf, one called ‘Mitcham’, the other ‘Whitford’:99
William fitzAnsculf holds ‘WHITFORD’ [WITFORD] and William the chamberlain [holds] of him. Lang held held [sic] it of King Edward. It was then assessed at 2 hides; now at one hide. There is land [blank]. In demesne is 1 plough; and 2 villans with 1 plough, and a mill rendering 20s, and 24 acres of meadow. TRE [in the time of king Edward] it was worth 50s; and afterwards 22s; now 60s.
The same William holds MITCHAM. Lemar held it of King Edward. Then, as now, it was assessed at 2 hides and 1 virgate. There are 2 villans and 6 cottars, and half a mill rendering 20s. TRE, as now, worth 40s; when received 13s 4d.
(Some editions of Domesday translate ‘Lang’ as ‘Lank’ and ‘Lemar’ as ‘Ledmer’.)
The second entry is not entirely clear, as ‘the same William’ could refer to William fitzAnsculf or to William the chamberlain but, as Domesday entries for estates held by the tenant-in-chief usually begin ‘William himself holds …’, it probably indicates that William the chamberlain held this estate as well as the Whitford one from fitzAnsculf, son of the late sheriff of Surrey and Buckinghamshire, Ansculf of Picquigny.100 This is borne out by the fact that the chamberlains later held a Mitcham estate. ‘Whitford’ is more correctly ‘Wicford’, a name that appears in later records in relation to the area around Mitcham bridge, which had replaced the eponymous ford.
We know that Florence held a de Mara estate in Mitcham and another in Morden, each of which passed to William de Herle, and the logical conclusion is that these were the two estates held
in 1086 by William the chamberlain of William fitzAnsculf. The Mitcham demesne lands of the later Ravensbury manor, as shown on estate maps and the tithe map, were well away from Mitcham bridge (see map 3.2 on page 42). As these seem to match so perfectly the Mitcham demesne lands held in 1313 by John de la Mare it would appear that it comprised only the fitzAnsculf estate described in Domesday as being in Mitcham and formerly held by Lemar. But where was their Wicford estate?
Wicford
Because the stretch of the London Road between Mitcham bridge and the Upper or Fair Green was called Whitford Lane in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Lower or Cricket Green was sometimes referred to as Wicford/Whitford Green into the 19th century, it is always assumed that Wicford was located entirely within the ancient parish of Mitcham.101 But the fact that it was named after a ford across the Wandle – a river that formed the boundary between the ancient parishes of Mitcham, Morden and Carshalton – probably indicates that Wicford was a wider area spanning the river within all three parishes. Whitford Lane was merely the road leading to the ford.
The place-name element wic is associated with the Latin word vicus, translated as ‘village’, ‘hamlet’, or settlement of some kind, especially when used as the first element. Thus Wicford is usually identified as the ford across the Wandle near a Romano-British settlement.102 Margaret Gelling was led to believe that this settlement was ‘the supposed site of a posting station on Stane Street which has produced late Roman material’ and is less than a mile away.103 This site, in the Lombard Road area of Merton, is in fact just over a mile away as the crow flies, but 1¾ miles along the present course of the river. Much nearer was a crossing at Merton bridge, where the location of a ford or crossing point from the Roman period onwards was found during excavations in 1997 – presumably the ‘north bradenforde’ mentioned in the Merton charter of 967 – so it seems likely that Wicford relates to a site much nearer to the Mitcham bridge ford.104 Richard Coates, who does not rule out Margaret Gelling’s identification of our Wicford, has explored in depth the origins of the wic element and has identified the core meaning as a dependent economic unit – a place where specialised (i.e. non-subsistence) agriculture or non-agricultural commercial activity is carried out. Although such sites might have Roman archaeological significance, this is not always the case.105 However, such names would normally have had the wic element preceded by a descriptive element denoting its function, as in Gatwick: goats, and Chiswick: cheese. Could the Wandle wic have been a similar place of specialised food or stock production or trade? Professor Coates kindly considered this possibility for me and concluded that, although by the 11th century, when our Wicford name is first attested, it could be used to mean ‘ford by the ‘wick’ or by the place called ‘the Wick”, he is not aware of the use of wic as a standalone word, meaning ‘dairy farm’, before the Norman Conquest. Sadly, we do not have any earlier records that might reveal whether a fuller compound name denoting its function had been used previously. However, the Domesday data seems to indicate that the estate was under arable cultivation in 1086 and probably in 1066 as well, as it was in later centuries according to surviving leases and other documents.
We saw on page 43 that there was a large ‘oval’ enclosure dominating the Morden section of the Ravensbury estate. It has been suggested that this is a fossilised ancient stock enclosure, created long before the surrounding landscape came under cultivation.106 Was this perhaps associated with the original wic by the ford?
The fitzAnsculf estate in ‘Whitford’ held by William the chamberlain was not the only property of that name listed in Domesday Book, another being held by the canons of Bayeux of the bishop of Bayeux:107
The canons themselves hold of the bishop ‘WHITFORD’. Eadmær held it of King Edward. Then, as now, it was assessed at 3 hides. There is land for 2 ploughs. In demesne is 1 plough; and 2 villans and 6 cottars with 2 ploughs, and 4 acres of meadow. TRE, as now, worth 30s; when received, 10s.
This Bayeux estate in Wicford might well have been predominantly on the Mitcham side of the Wandle, but the evidence suggests that the 130 or so acres in Morden that later passed from Florence and Nicholas Fraunceys to William de Herle lay within, and probably comprised, the fitzAnsculf Domesday estate at Wicford held by the chamberlains of Tancarville.
The Bayeux estates
The canons also held other estates of the bishop, in Mitcham:108
The canons of Bayeux hold of the bishop [of Bayeux] MITCHAM for 5 hides. Beorhtric held it of King Edward. He himself had 6½ hides, but Odbert [Otbert] holds 1, which his predecessor [antecessor] held in pledge of Beorhtric for half a mark of gold. In the land of the canons there are 4 villans and 1 cottar with 2 ploughs and 1 slave, and 40 acres of meadow. There is land for 2 ploughs. It is and was worth 40s. In Odbert’s land are 4 acres of meadow. They are worth 7s. [There is] nothing more. Ansgot holds half a hide from the bishop. It is worth 5s.
In this manor the canons themselves hold of the bishop 2½ hides, which 2 men held of King Edward. There is 1 plough in demesne; with 1 villan and 2 bordars and 1 slave, and half a plough, and 12 acres of meadow. [It has] always [been worth] 20s.
Odo, bishop of Bayeux, was half-brother to the Conqueror and received many estates across the country. However, in the final years of William’s reign he was imprisoned. Released from prison by the dying king, he supported William’s eldest son Robert of Normandy against younger son William Rufus, and was banished, forfeiting his estates to Rufus.109 In his A History of Surrey H E Malden cites an entry relating to royal revenues from Surrey in the first year of Henry II concerning payment of 20 shillings ‘from four men at Wetham, perhaps Mitcham, which had been land of the Bishop of Bayeux and had been forfeited to the Crown’, but examination of his source document reveals that it merely states ‘Of 4 men of Wetham, 20s’ and makes no mention of the bishop or his forfeiture!110 In Victoria County History Malden says ‘It is possible that the tenure of the canons did not outlast the disgrace and forfeiture of the bishop in 1088. Several grants of land at Mitcham were made by Henry I …’, though only two such grants are cited. One of these was in fact at Witeham in Somerset, but the other records that Robert and Mathew de Micheham held a hide of land in Mitcham [Michham] by gift of Henry I, rendering 10 shillings a year to the sheriff of Surrey for farm.111
It appears that the three estates with which Odo had enfeoffed the canons of Bayeux cathedral were forfeited at the same time or soon after – those at Mitcham and Wicford above, plus the manor of Ashtead where, as we have seen, the de Tancarville chamberlains later held an estate, apparently from the earls of Surrey, as an IPM of John de Montfort in 1296 stated that he held the manor of the earl of Warenne in socage.112 Although two estates in Mitcham held of the honor of Gloucester were probably created out of former Bayeux holdings – one became part of Merton Priory’s manor of Biggin and Tamworth and another, a 2-hide holding, was given to Southwark Priory113 – there is evidence that at least one of Odo’s Mitcham properties passed to the chamberlains’ Mitcham overlords, William fitzAnsculf and his descendants.
The Barnack connection
As we have seen, in addition to the house, garden and 143 acres in Mitcham held of Ashtead manor by John de la Mare in 1313, he held a further 72 acres, ‘outside the manor’, of ‘Henry Pas, lord of Bernak’. This was in fact Henry Paas, who exercised lordship of the manor of Barnack in Northamptonshire during the minority of his grandson, Geoffrey de Barnack. Where were these 72 acres, and what was the link between Mitcham and Barnack?
The de Mara manors in Mitcham and Wicford were just two of the many estates across England held in 1086 by William fitzAnsculf, centred on his castle at Dudley, then in Worcestershire but now the West Midlands.114 These included other estates in Surrey – in Wandsworth, Milton near Dorking, Abinger and its neighbour Paddington.115 It also included estates in Northamptonshire, one of which was the manor of Barnack.116
In 1086 fitzAnsculf’s tenant in Barnack, and in two estates in Buckinghamshire, was named Otbert, sometimes transcribed as Odbert.117 We have already encountered Otbert in connection with the Bayeux estate in Mitcham:118
The canons of Bayeux hold of the bishop [of Bayeux] MITCHAM for 5 hides. Beorhtric held it of King Edward. He himself had 6½ hides, but Odbert [Otbert] holds 1, which his predecessor [antecessor] held in pledge of Beorhtric for half a mark of gold … In Odbert’s land are 4 acres of meadow. They are worth 7s. [There is] nothing more …
This description of Otbert’s Mitcham holding is probably misleading, as another translation reads ‘On Odbert’s land, meadow, 4 acres. Value 7s; nothing more’, suggesting that the whole 1-hide estate was worth just 7 shillings, not that it only consisted of 4 acres of meadow worth 7 shillings.119
Otbert also held an estate in Tooting:120
The abbey [of Westminster] itself holds UPPER TOOTING [Totinges]. Swein held it of king Edward, and it was assessed at 4 hides. There is land for 1½ ploughs. There are 2 villans with half a plough, and 3 acres of meadow. TRE, as now, worth 40s; when received, 20s. Earl Waltheof received this land of Swein after the death of King Edward, and pledged it for 2 marks of gold to Alnoth of London, who granted it to St Peter’s for his soul’s sake; namely, what he had there. Odbert [Otbert] holds it of St Peter’s, and has paid nothing for geld.
Otbert’s Tooting holding disappears from Westminster Abbey records after the reign of Henry I (1100–1135) and it is generally assumed that it became part of the abbey’s estate in neighbouring Battersea and Wandsworth.121 William fitzAnsculf held 12 hides in Wandsworth in 1086, though the legality of his tenure was disputed:122
William himself holds WANDSWORTH. 6 sokemen held it of King Edward, and they could go where they would. There were 2 halls. Then, as now, it was assessed at 12 hides. There is land for 4 ploughs. Ansculf had this land after he received the sheriffdom; but the men of the hundred say that they have not seen the [king’s] seal nor livery officer …
As Westminster Abbey was to hold almost all of Wandsworth in later years, it is thought likely that fitzAnsculf lost these 12 hides. (The statement in VCH Surrey that the abbey’s manor of Downe in Wandsworth continued to be held of the honor of Dudley for ⅓ [terciam partem] of a knight’s fee is an error – this is one of several unconnected Surrey estates listed after the Dudley estates in 1242/43.123) However, Otbert’s holding survived in association with his Mitcham property, which continues to be described as being ‘in Mitcham and Wandsworth’ into the 15th century as part of ‘the fee of Barnack’, and we will see in chapter 8 (page 150) that in 1380 a substantial property holding ‘in Battersea, Wandsworth, and Hayford’ included 12 acres held of the ‘manor of Wykford’.
In 1166, in reply to a royal questionnaire, Gervase Paynell [Gervasius Paganellus], who had inherited the fitzAnsculf honor of Dudley, named 22 knights enfeoffed with 50 fees owing service to the king on his behalf, including Gervase of Barnack [Bernake] who held four knights’ fees.124 These four fees can be traced through later records, though military service was soon commuted to money payment. Thus, in the 1428 subsidy rolls it is recorded that John Vincent owed 3s 4d for a half-fee in Barnack [Bernake], formerly Geoffrey Bernak, held of the honor of Dudley [Dudle],125 while John Burgh owed 6s 8d for ‘one fee in Mitcham and Wandsworth [Miccham et Wandelesworth], which William de Mareys had formerly held of the fee of Barnack [Bernak]’, and Thomas Grene owed 5 shillings ‘for three parts [pro tribus partibus i.e. ¾] of one fee in Carshalton [Kersalton] which Bartholomew de Burgherssh formerly held of the same fee’.126 (This is the only occasion that a Dudley holding is mentioned in Carshalton, earlier records linking holdings here to the Bohun honor of Mandeville.)127 In the 1302/03 subsidy rolls another knight’s fee was held by John de Bernak ‘of the honor of Dudley’ in Great Hamden, Buckinghamshire.128 As well as his Bayeux holding in Mitcham and his Westminster Abbey property in Tooting/Wandsworth, Otbert had held fitzAnsculf estates in both Barnack (3 hides) and Great Hamden (3 hides) in 1086. He also held one of fitzAnsculf’s two Domesday estates in Ellesborough (1½ hides), also in Buckinghamshire, and in 1302/03 a ½-fee in Ellesborough was held by William de Cantilupe ‘of the honor of Dudley’, though no mention was made of Barnack here, or in similar lists of 1284/86 and 1323.129
It is clear that the Barnack-fee lands in Surrey belonging to the fitzAnsculf honor of Dudley originated in the estates formerly held by Otbert in Mitcham of the bishop of Bayeux and in Tooting of the abbot of Westminster. FitzAnsculf’s other Surrey estates in Milton, Abinger
and Paddington were separately assessed at 3½ fees in 1166 and at 2½ fees in 1323.130 The distinction in the 1313 IPM, between the fitzAnsculf lands held of Ashtead manor and those held of Barnack, indicates that these two groups of estates also remained distinct. The grants by the chamberlains state that their estates were to be held for cash in lieu of other services, so they would not have been liable for any knights’ fee obligations.
The de Wicford family holdings
The earliest mention of this knight’s fee in the Mitcham area is from 1210×1212 when, according to The Red Book of the Exchequer, Alexander de Wicford held half a knight’s fee in Surrey of the honor of Dudley.131 The only Dudley knights’ fees within northern Surrey known from later records are the Barnack ones. It was probably a one-third part of that fee in Mitcham that Alexander conveyed to Henry and Alicia Gresley in February 1219, under a plea of mort d’ancestor, probably relating to Alicia’s dower rights as widow of Alexander’s unnamed ‘ancestor’.132
The de Wicford family was already holding land in Wicford by the early 12th century, as is shown by recorded grants to Southwark Priory, which included their ‘tithes of Wichford’.133 This was presumably the former Bayeux estate at Wicford and, although it is not entirely clear, it would seem that this was a different holding from their Barnack fee holding in Mitcham formerly held by Otbert, as it included land in Carshalton held from the Beseville family of the honor of Mandeville. Thus on 29 January 1198/99 Alexander de Wicford successfully claimed 40 acres arable land in Carshalton, owing a quit rent of 5 shillings a year, from Hugh de Beseville under a plea of mort d’ancestor.134 (In 1217/18 Alexander and his wife Isabell sold her dower rights in landholdings in Burgh and Sutton from her previous marriage to Simon de Berg and in the following year Alexander sold rights to a hide of land in Polesdon.135 Neither of these transactions seems to have been related to his Wicford estates.)
In 1242/43 an Alexander de Wycford is recorded as holding a full knight’s fee in Mitcham of the honor of Dudley and the barony of Roger de Sumeri (a descendant of fitzAnsculf and Paynell), during the reign of Henry III (not Henry I as stated by Lysons).136 Later in the 13th century an Arnold de Wykeford received a messuage and 17 acres land in Mitcham from William de Marisco:137
Know present and future that I William de Marisco have given, granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to Arnald de Wykeford one messuage with all its pertinents in Mitcham [Mich’m] and seventeen acres land with pertinents, of which the said messuage is situated between the messuage of John Saleman on one side and the common pasture on the other; and two and a half acres land lie behind the aforesaid messuage, and fifteen acres land lie in a place which is called Amerithe. To have and to hold the aforesaid messuage and the aforesaid land as is aforesaid to the aforesaid Arnald, his heirs and assigns, of the chief lords of that fee by the services due and customary. And I the aforesaid William, my heirs and assigns, will warrant and defend against all people forever the aforesaid messuage together with the aforesaid lands to the aforesaid Arnald, his heirs and assigns. In witness of which I have put my seal to this present charter. Witnesses: Richard de Chelesham, Hugh de Molendino, John Saleman, Peter de Wykeford, Thomas Wyndout, Thomas Snaylwelle[?], William Bray, Peter Knit, John Wyndout and others.
We have already noted that Arnold de Wykford’s son Walter claimed some right in the Mitcham estate that Florence and Philip de Orreby granted to William de Herle in 1321, which included the 72 acres held of Barnack.138
However, by 1314 Thomas de Lodelawe held, among many estates from various lords, 32 acres land and 5 shillings rent of assize in Mitcham [Michham] ‘of the heirs of William de Marisco tenant in chief by service of a 20th-part of a knight’s fee’.139 It would seem that the de Wicfords had transferred their Barnack-fee obligations, and presumably the lands to which these obligations pertained, to William de Marisco, though no documentary evidence has yet been found. Perhaps the 13th-century charter was part of that process, de Marisco returning part of the former de Wicford estate to Arnold. Eric Montague suggested that the de Wicford family home might have been on the moated site of the later Mitcham Hall, which was in separate ownership from the Wicford estate until 1544, though archaeological evidence for continuous
occupation at what became the Mitcham Grove site from at least the 10th/11th century to the 19th supports the view that this had been the original manorial centre of Wicford, not Mitcham Hall, which perhaps was created after this transfer.140
William de Marisco had further added to the holding by buying a messuage in Mitcham in 1288/9 from Richard and Isabel Dikes and 10½ acres of land there in 1291/2 from Richard le Frankeleyn and his wife Sabina, who also had an interest in the Dikeses’ messuage.141 In the same year he had also purchased 4 acres in Carshalton from John le Cornmangere and his wife Edith.142 It is likely that Frankeleyn was related to Hugh and Alice le Franklein who in 1229 had, under a plea of mort d’ancestor, received from Gilbert Textor and William de Monasterio 8½ acres of freehold land and 3 acres of meadow in ‘Wikford’ in exchange for 3 acres land in acre and half-acre strips and an acre strip of meadow, Hugh and Alice paying 2 shillings a year to the chief lords of that fee (Alexander, Hugh, John and Saloman de Wickford are all named as owners of adjoining strips of land).143 Gilbert, presumably a weaver or tailor, may have been the Gilbert de Teler who in 1219 had quitclaimed a freehold messuage and an acre of land in ‘Wikeford’ to Reginald Clerk and Simon le Wessere.144 It is possible that the 1288/9 and 1291/2 transactions involved these same properties, perhaps restoring to the Wicford estate properties alienated by Alexander or his forebears.
William de Marisco was probably father to the William Mareys mentioned in 1428 as the former holder of John Burgh’s Barnack-fee land in Mitcham and Wandsworth. In 1361 he granted, for a £5 annuity, an extensive though undefined estate in ‘Wykeford in the parish of Mitcham’ to the vicars of Mitcham and Morden, possibly in trust for Merton Priory (see chapter 8 page 147).145 It included mills above Mitcham bridge and the description of its ‘capital messuage’ would certainly fit the site of Mitcham Grove, though its pasturelands extended towards ‘Beneytesfeld’, which later records identify as the 23 acres in Morden within the loop of the Wandle south and east of Mitcham Bridge, now occupied by the National Trust’s Watermeads and The Hub sports ground (see below, page 75).146
Mareys had been the eighth-wealthiest taxpayer in Mitcham in 1332, being assessed on his goods (excluding land) at 3s 4d, in comparison with his Ravensbury neighbour William de Herle at 3 shillings.147 However, his fortunes were declining – he owed a London cloth- maker £15 in 1337 and 1341, perhaps for wool paid for in advance but not delivered.148 In January 1349 he acknowledged a debt of £100 to Henry le Strete, a London vintner who had purchased the ‘Rasebury’ estate from William de Herle in January 1347 and a further 60 acres from Mareys in the following October.149 In February 1349 Mareys granted Strete a 25-year lease of his lands and tenements in Mitcham, Wicford, Wandsworth and Carshalton, enabling Strete to take the profits of the estate to recoup his losses150 – an arrangement on which he apparently reneged in 1361 when he granted his Wicford estate to the vicars. Mareys had still not repaid his debt by September 1362, which seems to have brought Strete to ruin – a debt of £186 incurred by Strete in 1357, and still outstanding 15 years later after Strete’s death, was bought up by the prior of Merton in 1373, the prior thereby acquiring a further interest in Mareys’s estate, while the manor of Ravensbury was sold (see chapter 8 page 150 and page 60 below).151
This disintegration of Mareys’s estate is reflected in a 1402 assessment for levying an aid towards the marriage of Henry IV’s daughter, which reveals that at that time William Mareys’s knight’s fee obligation had been divided among the prior of Merton, John Werbeltone, John Dymmok (heir to Thomas de Lodelawe), and John Grenvyle who through his wife had inherited the manor of Ravensbury in 1391, no doubt including the 60 acres that Strete had purchased from Mareys in 1347.152 But by 1428 Mareys’s former holding in Mitcham and Wandsworth had passed into the hands of John Burgh, the priory only retaining the Wicford and Carshalton lands that became Mareslond.153
The estate leased by Mareys to Strete included Otbert’s Barnack-fee properties described in 1428 as being ‘in Mitcham and Wandsworth’ as well as the de Wicford family holdings in Wicford
and Carshalton. An extent or valuation of Strete’s Surrey holdings in 1357, when he still held the lease of Mareys’s lands, puts his entire holding at 620 acres – Mareys had been one of the local jurors responsible for making this valuation.154
We have seen that the demesne lands of Ravensbury manor were about 230–270 acres, so the land that Strete held from Mareys could have been about 350–390 acres. The original Wicford estate held by the Bayeux canons in 1086 had been assessed at 3 hides plus 4 acres of meadow, while Otbert’s estate had been of 1 hide plus 4 acres meadow – some 480 acres arable and 8 acres meadow if the 30-acre virgate applied here, as it apparently did in the adjoining estate that formed Ravensbury manor (see above, page 45). Although Marisco seems to have added to the estate, he had sold 17 acres to de Wicford, while Thomas de Lodelowe held 32 acres of the Barnack fee estate, and Mareys sold 102 acres in the 1330s and 1340s, presumably in attempts to solve his mounting debt problems, so his estate would formerly have been comparable to that suggested by the Domesday figures.
Thus, in November 1336 he had sold 12 acres of meadowland to a neighbour, the chaplain to Sir Thomas Huscarle of Beddington:155
Know present and future that I, William Mareys of Mitcham [Mych’m], have given, give, and by this my present charter confirm to William de Carreu, son of Sir Nicholas de Carreu knight, 12 acres meadow in the parish of Mitcham which lie between the meadow of lord William Herle on the east, and meadow of the abbot of Westminster on the west, and a certain field which is called Nortfeld on the north, and the water which is called Lotebourn on the south; to have and to hold the aforesaid 12 acres meadow with pertinents to the aforesaid William de Carreu, his heirs and assigns, freely, quietly, well and peaceably forever. And I the aforesaid William Marreys [sic] and my heirs will warrant the aforesaid 12 acres meadow with pertinents to the aforesaid William de Carreu, his heirs and assigns, against all men and women forever.In witness to which my seal is appended to this my present charter. Dated at Beddington [Bedyngton] the Thursday next after the feast of St Katherine 10 Edward III []. Witnesses: Reginald Forester, John Waleton, William Charlwode, Robert Daudre, Thomas Child, Richard Alman, William Fyge and others. [Endorsed: Mitcham [Micham], Surrey]
The Lotebourn is presumably an earlier name for the Wandle, a name that was not used until the 16th century. It is recorded as the Hlidaburna in a charter of 693, with variations such as the Hydebourne (967), Ledebourne (1230) and Lovebourn (1349). ‘The meaning is either the ‘loud stream’ (from hlyde) or ‘sloping stream’ (from hlid), either being appropriate to a river with the steep fall of 14 feet per mile.’156 The only part of the river that could be described as ‘on the south’ is the stretch that flows south-east to north-west below Mitcham Bridge, through Ravensbury, then held by Herle. But the bounds are difficult to reconcile with the topography – reference to a ‘Nortfeld’ in this area seems strange, as Herle’s Mitcham lands were in the southern part of the parish, and the abbot of Westminster is not known to have held any lands within Mitcham. However, late 15th- and early 16th-century references to Growtes [N0], on the site of the present Morden Lodge adjoining Morden Hall, describe it as ‘one cottage with garden adjoining in the North field of Morden’.157 ‘Le Northefeld’ is also referred to in 1473 in the description of John Parker’s Morden copyhold, Scottes Hawe [N7], in Central Road.158 It is perhaps possible that these 12 acres ‘in Mitcham’ were in fact on the Morden bank of the river. Confusion about the location of land was not unknown – as late as 1546/47 a tenant of Ravensbury, giving witness in a case heard before the court of Star Chamber regarding another piece of land, ‘saithe that he knoweth the said parcelles of grounde mencyoned … but whether the parcell of grounde … be in the parishe of Mich’m or in the parishe of Murdon he knoweth nott …’ (see below, page 78).159 Carew’s heir married Huscarle’s widow, thus founding the Carew dynasty at Beddington,160 and their descendants were lords of Ravensbury from the 16th to 19th centuries, so it is likely that this meadowland remained in the family. (It is also likely that these 12 acres were the same 12 acres ‘in Wycford … in a meadow called Nortmede’ that had been the subject of a life-lease in 1256, together with ‘8 acres in a meadow called Sutmede’, to Walter de Merton, founder of Merton College Oxford, by Arnold de Wycford.)161
In April 1347 Mareys and his wife Alice sold to the former sheriff of Surrey and Sussex (1344–7), Reginald le Forester of Bandon, 30 acres land in Mitcham162 – perhaps the Barnack holding held in 1402 by John Werbeltone, as in 1351/2 a John le Forester was associated with the Werbelton lords of Tandridge. However, a freehold property sold in 1413/14 by John Warberton/Warbulton and his wife Isabella was described as ‘5 messuages, 90 acres land and 9 acres meadow with pertinents in Mitcham’, so it would appear that any former Mareys land had been augmented over the years.163
Then in October 1347 Marey sold 60 acres of his land ‘in Mitcham’ to Henry ‘del’ Strete.164 These could well have been the 60 acres of arable held of Barnack fee by John de la Mare in 1313, though no details are given. Another document of 1347 probably refers to this transaction:165
Know everyone by these presents that I Nicholas Rous of Mitcham [Mycch’m] in the county of Surrey remit, grant, release and in every way forever quitclaim to Henry de Strete, citizen and vintner of London and his heirs or his assigns, all right and claim that I had, have or in any way am now able to have in all the lands and tenements with all their pertinents which [que et quas] the aforesaid Henry has lately purchased by charter of enfeoffment of William Mareys of Mitcham in the vill and parish of Mitcham aforesaid. Thus truly that neither I the aforesaid Nicholas Rous nor my heirs nor anyone else on our behalf or in our name shall be able to derive, claim [clamare] or lay claim to [vendicare] any right or claim in all the lands and tenements aforesaid with all their pertinents in the future but from all rights arising I am forever excluded by these presents. …
Rous might have been the step-brother of Mareys, as the widow of William de Marisco had married Hillary ‘Roce’, and continued in possession of lands in dower, some held from John de la Mare. In October 1319 Margaret and Hillary quitclaimed to John’s daughter Florence and her first husband, Philip de Orreby, their interest in a third-part of 10 acres land in Mitcham which Margaret had held in dower.166 At the same time they also returned to Florence and Philip their interest in a third-part of 17 acres of land and 3 acres of meadow in Mitcham, presumably also held in dower.167 No doubt William had also endowed her with property within his own estate, and Strete wanted to ensure that Nicholas would make no claim to his mother’s former dower lands.
Eric Montague, whose 14-volume Mitcham Histories has proved indispensable to this study, suggested that the 72 acres ‘outside the manor’, held by John de la Mare in 1313 of Barnack fee, was the Colliers Wood estate held by 1487 as copyhold of Ravensbury, but copyhold properties would have been the source of the rents of assize listed in the IPM extent, and would not have been listed among de la Mare’s personal holdings.168 In 1488 the tenant of Jenkyngranger, the predecessor to Colliers Wood House, did hold about 70 acres in several blocks of land in various parts of Mitcham, but under different copies of court roll entries, so it is unlikely that they had ever formed a single holding such as these Barnack-fee lands.169
It seems more likely that the 12 acres of meadow held of Barnack fee in 1313 by John de la Mare were those that Mareys sold to Carew, which we have suggested were possibly located within Morden parish. The 60 acres of arable land sold by Mareys to Strete could similarly be those mentioned in 1313. Were these arable lands also within Morden, rather than Mitcham? It was suggested above that the Mitcham demesne lands held by Carew in 1838 were probably those within the manor held by John de la Mare in 1313, and that some 130 acres of his Morden demesne represent the de Mara estate in Wicford. This would leave some 80 acres in Morden to account for, and the 72 acres that John held ‘outside the manor’ would appear to be the most likely option. It does not seem too unreasonable to suggest that Otbert’s estate might have extended across the Wandle to include 72 acres in Morden. It is even possible that the 1313 attribution of these lands might not have been entirely accurate, the jurors perhaps not distinguishing between the two estates held by the de Wicford family – their Barnack holding and their former Bayeux Wicford estate – the latter being even more likely to have extended into Morden. It is almost certainly a coincidence that the ‘oval’ enclosure already mentioned in connection with Wicford contained some 70 acres, mostly arable in 1838 (tithe plots 291, 318–322). The land to the east of this enclosure (tithe plots 289, 290, 292, 308, 309), which extended south from the river and
east to the road which formed the parish boundary with Carshalton – some 76 acres probably including ancient intakes from roadside waste – is perhaps a better candidate. The placing of Mareys’s estates in both Mitcham and Morden would also help to explain why he appointed the vicars of both parishes as his trustees in his 1361 grant.
Individual estates often extended across parish boundaries, and this continued to be the case in this area into modern times. The 19th-century tithe apportionments and other surveys reveal that Sir John Lubbock, who owned extensive lands in Mitcham and Morden belonging to his Mitcham Grove estate, also held 109 acres in Morden leased from Ravensbury manor, including the greater part of the land just mentioned, and the north-eastern quadrant of the ‘oval’ enclosure. These had also formed part of Henry Hoare’s Mitcham Grove estate at his death in 1828, much of which had been within Merton Priory’s former Mareslond (see map 5.7 on page 116).170 Another nearby estate of 30-acres included the Watermeads area within Morden parish as well as adjoining lands in Mitcham and Carshalton (see below, page 80).171
Domesday Mitcham and Wicford
It is only since the advent of online databases that the complexities of Domesday tenantries across county boundaries can be explored with ease. This has enabled us to solve the mystery of the Barnack connection, which can be traced unquestionably to Otbert, and has thus opened up possibilities not available to previous local historians. Although there are still many details which are obscure, this interpretation of the evidence provides a plausible explanation for the demesne lands in both Mitcham and Morden known to have belonged to Ravensbury manor in later centuries. Furthermore, a tentative link has been made between Morden’s ‘oval’ enclosure with the bury of Ravensbury and perhaps the wic of Wicford.
It might also help to explain a problem arising from the Domesday record. Although the hide was primarily used within Domesday Book as a unit of assessment, it is normally thought to have borne some relation to the size of the estate, at least in as far as the pre-Conquest figures are concerned. The reassessment of the fitzAnsculf estate in Wicford in 1086 might reflect a reduction in the size of the estate or merely a reduction in its tax burden (compare chapter 4 page 87). The reassessment of the count of Mortain’s estate in table 3.5 below was clearly in the latter category – he was the Conqueror’s half-brother – but could the halving of the assessment of the fitzAnsculf estate in Wicford have come about because the 1066 assessment had been based on the Morden hide of 80 acres, rather than the Mitcham hide of 120 acres?
If one adds together the 1066 hidations for the estates traditionally thought to have been within Mitcham, the total would be 20½ hides, as shown in table 3.5 below:
If we assume the 120-acre hide suggested by the Ravensbury data, we would have 2460 acres arable in 1066, plus 109 acres meadow. According to the 1846 tithe apportionment, the total acreage of the parish of Mitcham, including roads, rivers and buildings, was 2893¼ acres, of which 532 acres were in Mitcham Common. Many enclosures from the common had taken place in the 760 years between these two surveys, not the least of which was the 94¼-acre ‘New Inclosure’ of 1535/36. The proposal that Domesday estates in Wicford extended into Morden, and perhaps also into Carshalton, would certainly make the figures more realistic.
But perhaps such calculations based on Domesday data are inappropriate. After all, neighbouring Merton was assessed at 20 hides in 1066 and 1086, as it had been in 949 [20 mansae] and in 967 [20 cassati],172 yet the total acreage of that parish was only 1764¾ acres according to the first edition Ordnance Survey maps of the 1860s. However, Merton was well-endowed with ploughlands, with 20 ploughs/ploughteams on the estate in 1086, 2 in demesne and 18 in the hands of tenants. In fact, Domesday Book records that ‘there is land for 21 ploughs’, as well as 10 acres meadow and woodland for 80 pigs. In comparison, the Mitcham/Whitford estates listed above only record 12.5 ploughs/teams, and Westminster Abbey’s estate in Morden 7 ploughs/teams.
Studies of Domesday estates in Essex, for which more detailed data survive, indicate that post-Conquest assessments were based on a wider range of resources than just arable land, concluding: ‘It can be argued that in earlier Anglo-Saxon times, when population was small, land was abundant, and when production was of a subsistence nature resulting in similar mixes of inputs and outputs, a simple measure of arable land (such as the number of ploughlands required by a family for subsistence i.e. the hide of 120 acres) would have sufficed as a measure of capacity to pay. As population grew, settlements expanded, less favourable land was brought into economic use, production became more specialized with varying output and input mixes, and trade became more common, a simple measure of arable land would not have reflected capacity to pay. Accordingly it would have been necessary to adopt a more general measure of capacity to pay, such as manorial revenue or manorial resource endowments. The evidence suggests that this had been achieved by 1086.’173 On this basis, the TRE assessments reflect the contemporary local landscape more closely than earlier scholars had believed.
The Ravensbury demesne lands in Morden
Lords, bailiffs and farmers
In the centuries immediately following the Norman Conquest it was common for manorial lords to travel around their manors, consuming the produce from the demesne lands of one estate before moving on to another. Meanwhile, they would appoint managers responsible for individual manors or groups of manors. Thus we read in 1263 of Matthew de la Mare’s bailiff unjustly claiming a freehold smallholding in Mitcham as being copyhold of Matthew’s manor.174
It is likely that bailiffs had been running the Mitcham and Morden demesnes since the Conquest, if not before, though the alternative of leasing out demesnes was increasingly popular – Westminster Abbey’s demesne at Morden was already leased at farm by 1086 (see chapter 4 page 96). The de Tancarvilles were absentee landlords from 1087 to 1106 when, with England and Normandy no longer under a common rule, William the chamberlain continued to serve the duke of Normandy. It was probably at this time that he granted the manors to Laurence, the ancestor of the de Maras (see above, page 47). Following Henry I’s victory over duke Robert, and the restoration of a single sovereignty, William again became chamberlain in both realms, as did his son until 1133 when the office was permanently divided and Henry I appointed a separate chamberlain in England, Rabel de Tancarville remaining as his chamberlain in Normandy.175 The de Maras seem to have based themselves in Ashtead, some 9 miles away, as apparently did their de Montfort heirs. Rather than regularly decamping to Mitcham and Morden, they would probably have had the produce of their demesne lands here delivered to Ashtead. Matthew and John de la Mare were based in Essex, Matthew serving as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire,176 while Florence’s first husband, Philip de Orreby, was justice of Chester around 1300.177
The description in John de la Mare’s IPM of the ‘capital messuage’ or manor house at ‘Ersbourye’ as being ‘of no value after expenses’ probably indicates that it was occupied by a bailiff in 1313 and not leased out.178 However, we have seen above that the Morden lands seem to have already been leased to William de Herle, and the Mitcham portion was leased to him from 1321. As was noted above of William Mareys, an estate might be leased by a debtor to a creditor, either as security for the loan or, as in Mareys’s case, as a way of repaying the loan by instalments from the issues of the estate (see above, page 55). This was a method favoured by royal officials who often found ‘moneylending an attractive and lucrative pursuit’.179 Herle was a serjeant-at-law under Edward II, becoming a justice of the Common Pleas in 1320, and chief justice of that court in 1327 at an annual salary of 240 marks (£160).180 However, ‘it was no uncommon thing for a Judge to have to wait three or four years for his salary, during which time he was left to get on as best he could’, which included accepting ‘pensions’ from those seeking preferential treatment in their courts – chief justice Herle being recorded as receiving £40 a year from the Knights Hospitaller.181 In 1321 he paid £10 a year for the lease of two-thirds of the Orrebys’ Mitcham estate but when a new lease was agreed in 1332 he only paid ‘one rose’ each year for both estates, perhaps a further indication that the lease was in settlement of a loan, especially as he purchased the entire property in 1338, apparently for £160.182 Although it is possible that he used these estates as a ‘country retreat’ from the rigours of his life at court, he is unlikely to have taken a hands-on approach to their management, so a bailiff was probably still employed – unless the property was sublet. In 1347 Herle sold the two estates, described as ‘the manor of Rasebery with pertinents in Mitcham and Morden’, to the London vintner, Henry de Strete, whose bailiff is named in the court rolls of the neighbouring manor of Vauxhall in 1348 and 1349, in what appears to have been a dispute over conflicting manorial jurisdictions – Henry’s name has not been found among the tenants listed in the surviving Vauxhall records, though a Nicholas atte Strete is mentioned as a defaulting tenant in October 1365 and Henry’s heir James in November 1373, which perhaps gives some support to the tradition that Henry was resident at the Vauxhall copyhold of Hall Place in March 1349 when he obtained the bishop’s licence to have an oratory in ‘his house in Mitcham’.183 By 1357, when Henry’s debts caught up with him, the local jury who valued his estate declared that he had ‘no chattels in the county [of Surrey] that they are able to appraise’, indicating that he was no longer resident here – their valuation of his messuage at 10 shillings over and above expenses also suggests that it was being leased – and this statement was repeated at hearings in 1372, by which time Henry was dead.184
In 1378 James de Strete sold Rasebery to trustees for Sir John Nevill de Raby,185 who sold it to Sir Robert de Plesyngton four years later, in February 1382,186 Plesyngton selling it by June that same year to Sir John Burgherssh.187 Such rapid turnovers suggest short-term investments rather than personal involvement, and it is likely that the demesne was now leased at farm by its ever- changing owners, a practice becoming increasingly common in the decades following the Black Death. At his death in 1391 Burgherssh held estates in Essex, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire as well as ‘Ravenesbury’ and other properties in Mitcham. The Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire properties were recorded in his IPMs there as leased, and it is likely that, although not specified, similar arrangements operated in Mitcham. Ravensbury was valued by the jurors at £10 a year over and above expenses, and his other Mitcham lands at £1.188 His estates were inherited jointly by his two teenage daughters, the elder, 15-year-old Margaret, then married to Sir John Grenville and later to John Arundel of Bideford, and the younger, Matilda, aged 12 when her father died. Arundel died in 1424, leaving as his heir a 3-year-old son John,189 who became a ward of his uncle, Thomas Chaucer the king’s butler and son of the poet, married to Matilda Burghersh. Later the wardship was awarded to Chaucer’s son-in-law, William de la Pole, earl, later 1st duke, of Suffolk, third husband of Alice Chaucer. Ravensbury was now a small part of a huge estate, in the hands of powerful magnates.
Perhaps the most influential of the advisors of Henry VI, Suffolk fell from power and was banished in 1450, only to be murdered en route to the Low Countries.190 Alice duchess of Suffolk, who died in 1475, briefly held the manor of Ravensbury in her own right, and undated manorial court rolls from her lordship are cited in 16th-century sources.191 This was presumably the result of a concord
of 1472 whereby John Arundel junior (died 1473) and his second wife Katherine conveyed the manor to Thomas Stonor esq, Humfrey Forster esq, Thomas Hampden esq, Thomas Ramsey esq and William Weston clerk192 – Stonor was married to Joan de la Pole, Suffolk’s daughter, and their daughter married Forster. Forster and another Stonor relative, Richard Harcourt, were among trustees who held Ravensbury and other manors for Alice’s son, John de la Pole, who became 2nd duke of Suffolk in 1463, and who was married to Elizabeth of York, sister to Edward IV.193
At an unknown date, but probably after his mother’s death, duke John enfeoffed Ravensbury, and other manors elsewhere in England, upon Henry Heydon knight, William Dudley (bishop of Durham 1476–1483), Thomas Chaundeler clerk, Richard Harecourt, Edmund Rede knight, Humphrey Forster, James Bloundell, Robert Restwold esquire, William Davers and William Dagard, to the use of duke John and his heirs, and on 24 June 1480 these estates, still held by the feoffees, were settled on John and Elizabeth de la Pole’s son, John earl of Lincoln, on his marriage to Margaret Fitzalan, granddaughter of the 16th earl of Arundel. On 16 June 1487 Lincoln was killed in the battle of Stoke fighting against Henry VII. Four surviving feoffees continued to hold the manors to the use of his widow Margaret, but on 9 November 1487 an act of attainder was passed against the late earl, and all his properties were forfeited to the Crown.194 Although the rights of his father (and by implication those of his widow) were protected in the lands which had been settled on Lincoln at his marriage,195 Henry VII granted Ravensbury to Simon Digby on 25 March 1488 in fee-tail, with reversion to the king.196 It is from Digby’s time that the first manorial court rolls for Ravensbury have survived.197
On 17 February 1488 an IPM of the late earl’s Surrey estates was held at Dorking. It was found that he had held in fee 6 tenements, 200 acres of land, 20 acres meadow, 80 acres pasture, one mill and 20 shillings rent with pertinents in ‘Ravesbury’, Mitcham [Myccham], Merton [Marteyn], and Morden [Merdon], which the jurors valued at £16 a year – ‘And further they say on their said oath that a certain Robert Stanton esquire and John Standon, groom of the crown [valett’ corone] of the said lord king have taken the issues and profits with all pertinents of the said manor and tenements belonging, from the day of the death of the said John late earl of Lincoln until the day of this inquisition’.198 It is not entirely clear if the Standons took over the manor following the earl’s death, or were already leasing the demesne from his trustees but kept the proceeds when the earl died. The court roll of Westminster Abbey’s manor of Morden refers to ‘William Staunton’ as farmer of Ravesbury on 29 April 1488 when he was presented for having branches of trees growing over East Morden Lane and a ditch there not scoured.19
We will come across the Standon family many times in the following pages, as they held copyhold, freehold and leasehold properties in the area in addition to the Ravensbury demesne. In fact it would appear that they converted some of the demesne land into copyholds, giving rise to decades of disputes in manorial and royal courts.
William Standon is the first farmer of the Ravensbury demesne to be named in extant documents and he still held land at Ravensbury in November 1512, though Richard Knappe or Kneppe is described as ‘farmer of the manor of Ravysbury’, paying £13 6s 8d (though a marginal annotation says ‘now £16’, the value assigned at the 1488 IPM).200 Only one court roll survives between 1513 and 1531, dated 5 June 1527, and no lord or farmer is named in that roll, but court rolls continue to name Richard Kneppe as farmer to 1541, though he has been replaced by his son Henry by November 1542.201
In a memorandum in the court roll of November 1579 relating to some disputed land (see below, page 74), Henry Kneppe, then ‘eighty years old or thereabouts’, claimed on oath that ‘his said father held the said premises among other demesne lands there by lease of the duke of Suffolk and afterwards by lease of Sir Nicholas Carewe. And that the aforesaid Richard Kneppe died before the expiry of the said lease made by the aforementioned Nicholas Carewe, and that he, on examination of the same, occupied [the disputed land] after the decease of his aforesaid father until the termination of the said lease by the aforementioned Nicholas Carewe just as he previously had done, which lease was made for a term of twenty-one years.’ In total he claimed to have occupied demesne land there ‘for a space of sixty years or thereabouts’.202 This 21-year lease was dated 22 March 1531 but was effective from the previous Michaelmas, according to
the record in the extant account roll for 1539/40.203 However, in 1536 Richard Kneppe had claimed ‘that he knew well for 40 years now past a certain Richard Cosyn, then farmer of the said demesne lands of the aforesaid manor’ was holding some disputed land (see below, page 68),204 which would insert him as farmer between Standon and Kneppe, though there is no other evidence to corroborate this statement. Cosyn was probably leasing from Kneppe – he held these plots in 1512 when Kneppe was described as ‘farmer of the manor of Ravysbury’.
The duke of Suffolk referred to by Henry Kneppe was Charles Brandon, a favourite of Henry VIII who gave him the title in February 1514. A year later, when Brandon married Henry’s sister, widow of Louis XII of France, the king granted him what remained of the confiscated estates of the de la Poles, and he began to purchase those manors that Henry VII and Henry VIII had alienated.205 It is not known when he obtained Ravensbury, but there are references in a document of 1546/47 to ‘rolls of dyvers courts holden there by the Duk of Suff 5 May 19 Hen VIII [1527]’ and to ‘the rolls of courts hollden ther by Charles duke of Suff late lord of the said manor 5 June 19 Hen VIII [1527]’.206 On 3 February 1530 Reginald Digby, presumably heir to Simon Digby, remitted and quitclaimed his rights in the manor of Ravensbury to Antony Wyngfeld knight, John Audeley knight, John Glemham knight, Humfrey Wyngfeld esq, Francis Hall and Lewis Wyndwod gents.207 The Wyngfields were relatives and neighbours of Brandon and were presumably representing his interests.208 On 20 May 1530 the duke bargained and sold the manor to Sir Nicholas Carew for £800, covenanting to clear any outstanding encumbrances on the estate within two years,209 and in Easter term 1532 ‘Charles duke of Suffolk and Mary queen of France his wife’ remitted and quitclaimed the manor of Ravensbury, described as two hundred acres land, one hundred acres meadow, two hundred acres pasture and twenty acres wood with pertinents in Mitcham and Morden, to the Wyngfelds, Glemham and Hall, presumably as part of this process.210 Carew, a fellow courtier who had inherited the nearby manor of Beddington in 1520, held his first court at Ravensbury in April 1531.211 Eight years later he was executed and the manor came into the king’s hands. On 2 December 1542 a 40- year lease of Ravensbury manor was granted to Anthony Toto or Totto, an Italian painter at the Tudor court,212 but Kneppe held a sub-lease from Toto dated 13 July 1543, and he was accordingly described by Toto in 1546/47 as ‘beyng tenant and fermor unto yor said Orator’.213 Toto assigned his main lease to John Hopkins in May 1552, and it passed to his son Richard Hopkins.214
Field name evidence from leases and other sources
The manor was restored to Sir Nicholas’s son and heir, Francis Carew, in 1554 and he granted a further 25-year lease to Richard Hopkins in 1579. This is still extant, allowing us for the first time to identify the individual parcels of land comprising the Ravensbury demesne, a total of 290¾ acres plus the house and grounds:215
All that the scite, sete or dwellinge howse or mannor howse of Ravisburye in the parishe of Mitcham and in the countye of Surrie aforesaide, with all edifices and buildings, orchardes, pondes and gardens as theie be nowe inclosed within the compas and precincte of the saide dwellinge howse or mannor howse of Ravisburye aforesaide, and allso all those the landes, meadowes, fieldes and pastures as are hereafter sevrallie named and declared, that is to saie:
The Hundred Acres and Sheephouse Close are mentioned as early as 1489, among copyhold properties held by William Standon, for which he showed his copies in court on 19 October. As well as the manorial centre itself and properties in Mitcham, he held six closes in Morden:219
At this court comes William Standon and shows a copy by which the lord granted the manor of Ravysbury with gardens and orchards and also one meadow called Indmede, another meadow called Northmede, one small close next to le Fyldgate and 28 acres meadow lying in Bygrave and Holme in various parcels, for a rent of 53s 4d.
Also he shows other copies by which the lord granted him one close called Horseclos and 23 acres land lying in Blaklond for a rent of 30s.
Also he shows other copies by which the lord granted him six closes lying in the parish of Morden whereof one close is called le Schephousesclos, another called Buscheclos, another called le Hunderacrys, another called Mylforlond, another called le Wyneard, another called the Thirty Acres, by service of £5 19s 6d.
Also he acknowledges that he holds of the lord two other parcels of land by two copies but these are not shown, by yearly rent 7s.
Also he acknowledges that he holds of the lord meadow of Flemymed by copy but this is not shown, by yearly rent 12s.
The substantial rent indicates that the names of the six Morden closes are realistic, and this is confirmed from the previous court roll, for 20 October 1488, which includes a hardly-legible
entry giving their estimated total acreage as 200 acres ‘more or less’.220 Although listed as ‘copyhold’ in 1489, they clearly included most if not all of the former demesne land south of the Wandle, and were ultimately to be restored to the demesne. However, Standon’s cavalier handling of these properties gave rise to much confusion in following years, causing friction between the demesne farmers and the copyhold tenants, as we will see below.
The later leases enable us to identify le Hunderacrys as the ‘oval’ enclosure suggested above as possibly being the bury that gave its name to Arsbury/Ravensbury, linked to the wic of Wicford (see pages 43 and 51). The total acreage of tithe plots 310–322 plus the adjoining ‘grove’ (plot 291) is 95½ acres. By 1579 le Hunderacrys had been split into Greate Hundred Acres at 35 acres (tithe plots 318–320), Littell Hundred Acres at 30 acres (plots 321–322) and Ketchin Fielde at 19 acres (plots 310–317), the grove being divided between the first two sections and forming an access route.221
The two Furze Fields totalling 21¾ acres in 1855 (tithe plots 289–290) retained the 1629 name of ye Fursey Closes and are likely to have been the 23-acre Thistley Field of 1579 and probably the Buscheclos in Morden of 1489, though a 9-acre Bushie Close, apparently in Mitcham, is mentioned in the 1579 lease.
Le Wyneard is presumably the same as the ‘garden land formerly called Vynyerde now called Longclose’ mentioned in October 1533 and as ‘the Vyne yard’ in 1546/47, as being claimed along with ‘Great Stenhowsse, Lyttyll Stenhowsse, Long Close and the Gore’ as copyhold by members of the Parker family (see below).222 It will be suggested below that the Stenhawes or Stonhawes lands are probably those called Steel Hawes in the later documents, while the Gore is likely to have been the adjoining odd-shaped field known in 1579 as Coppice Close. By 1579 Long Close was within what became Ducket’s Farm to the west of Steelhawes/Stonhawes, on Central Road (see below),223 much of which appears to have been enclosed from former roadside waste (tithe plots 327–334), but which incorporates some 3 acres of land likely to have originated within the demesne (plots 326 and part of 333).
In 1579 Shepehowse Close contained 25 acres, so the 200 acres of the six 1488/89 closes would have been calculated roughly as follows:
Mylforlond was thus likely to be the 21-acre Depe Conduit Leaze of 1579. Neither this nor Shepehowse Close appears in the 1629 lease, but the order in which the Morden fields are named seems to indicate a clockwise direction, starting from the north-eastern section of the estate, which would place Shepehowse Close near the Wandle, with Deep Conduit Leaze to the south between Shepehowse Close and Thistley Field. In 1828 Henry Hoare’s sales particulars and map of 1828 identify two fields, totalling 46¾ acres, to the east of The Grove – (plots 12a and 13a), the curving strip of woodland forming the boundary of the ‘oval’ enclosure – as The Park Meadow (plot 14a at 34 acres) and The Fifteen Acres (plot 15a at 12¾ acres).224 In 1838 these were called Park (plot 309 about 30 acres) and Sutton Field (plot 292 about 13 acres),225 and in 1855 Lower Park (plot 32 about 16 acres), Upper Park (plot 38 about 18 acres) and Fourteen Acres (plot 40 shown as about 18 acres, probably a misprint for 13 acres).226
So where were The Thirty Acres? The most likely location would be the two closes more commonly called Stenhawes/Stelehawes, of some 27 acres. These were granted to John Parker in 1490, but had presumably been held previously by Standon (see below).227 The adjoining 14-acre plot then called le Gore and later Coppice Close, listed with the two Stenhawes closes in later disputes, was not part of the Parker holding, nor was it among those listed by Standon. The right to trees, timber and growing wood was normally reserved to the lord of the manor so, if it was already used as coppice ground in the 1480s, even Standon might have drawn the line at converting it to copyhold.
Another plot that does not seem to have been included among Standon’s 200 acres or in the later leases was the 12-acre field to the east of The Park Meadow, called Ladies Meadow in 1828 (plot 116), unnamed in 1838 (plot 308) and called Park in 1855 (plot 36). It was Ladyfield in 1755, when leased by William Myers.228 An indenture of Myers dated 24 March 1764 recites a 99-year lease of 20 September 1683 between Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington and George Smith of Mitcham, of ‘All those two Closes of Pasture Ground with the appurtenances situate, lying and being in the said Parish of Morden commonly called by the name of Ladys Close containing by estimation fourteen acres, be the same more or less, adjoining to the brink of the River there and a little close of the said William Myers next the Highway North East, The Highway leading from Mitcham to Sutton South East, The land of Sir Nicholas Carew North West and South West, late or heretofore in the Tenure or Occupation of Richard Ferrand Esquire deceased and formerly in the Tenure or Occupation of the said George Smith, his assignee or assigns’.229 Richard Ferrand/ Farrant was active in Mitcham between 1615 and 1666, and an earlier George Smith, who died in 1638 at the age of 67, had succeeded to what became the Mitcham Grove estate on the death of his father in 1575 and of his mother in 1594.230 Thus it is possible that Ladies Meadow was already being leased separately at the time of Hopkins’ 1579 lease, and maybe as early as 1488. Alternatively, it might be one of the other copyhold closes held by Standon in 1488/89 which are not described as being in Morden, but might well have been.
It is tempting to identify these 12 acres of meadow with those sold to William de Carreu by Mareys in 1336,231 and with those held of Barnack fee by John de la Mare until 1313,232 and to match the remaining 60 or so acres in this eastern section of the estate with John de la Mare’s 60 acres arable ‘outside the manor’ and with those Mareys sold to Strete in 1347, as suggested above (page 57).233 This section of the estate was probably leased separately in 1629, as it certainly was later in the 17th century, the 1680s rent roll listing Henry Hampson as holding ‘the mansion howse called Ravensbury’ plus 90 acres of land (including ‘The Sheepe Howse Closes’ at 15 acres), while Peter Batt held ‘a messuage or dwelling howse’ and outbuildings with the same lands held by Newington in 1629 – the division across the ‘oval’ enclosure shown on 19th- century maps dates from an agreement of 1755.234
Ravensbury copyholds in Morden
No manorial court rolls or account rolls survive for Ravensbury from before 1488, and the compiler of a late 17th-century book of extracts from court rolls similarly had no access to any earlier rolls.235 Thus there is no information available about the early history of copyhold properties here. It is possible that Alicia de Morden, whose goods were assessed in the 1332 taxation returns for Mitcham at 8d, was a tenant of a Morden property of Ravensbury manor.236 The extant manorial records reveal that there were two groups of apparent copyhold properties, each subject to claims as demesne land during the 16th century, one on the site now occupied by the National Trust’s Watermeads by Mitcham bridge and the adjoining The Hub sports ground, which included encroachments from former common land (see below, page 75), and the other in Central Road, held by members of the Parker family.
Copyholds in Central Road
The earliest Ravensbury court rolls include an undated (and badly worn) membrane which is probably a continuation of the court roll for 20 October 1488, listing the various tenants of the manor and their acknowledgement of the terms of their holdings before the new lord of the manor, Simon Digby, who had been granted Ravensbury by Henry VII in 1487.237 John Parker claimed properties in Morden at a yearly rent of 1s 8d or 6s 8d (the right hand edge of the membrane is difficult to read and both these figures appear in later references) under three copies of entries in the court roll, only one of which is dated, with a date for which no court roll now exists:238
John Parker acknowledges that he holds of the lady by copy one cottage lately contained in three cottages, lying in Morden [Mordon] called … Lyghtfotys lying between the tenement now Henry Felowe formerly the priory on the east and a certain toft late … Malynshawe on the west and land in the tenure of the said John Parker on the south and the king’s highway on the north. And he does 2 boonworks in harvest and 2 men at haymaking in Flemyemedowe and suit of court, rendering in respect thereof yearly. [V1]
The same John Parker acknowledges that he holds by copy one cottage, 3½ acres land, late William Goodson in right of Isabelle his wife and previously wife of Nicholas Shure, the said cottage lying between a certain toft called Malynshawes on the east and a lane called Spittellane on the west, the said 3½ acres lying between the said cottage late Lightefotes on the north and land of the lord of Ravesbury on the south, and rendering yearly 2 boonworks in harvest and 2 men at haymaking in Flemyemedowe and other customary services. [V2]
The same John holds of the lord one garden and ½ acre land lying in Morden for which he renders 7d yearly lately granted as appears by roll of court held the morrow of St Matthew the apostle 2 Ric III …… []. [V3]
The description of the location of these properties places them south of Central Road, and east of ‘Spittellane’, presumably the present Farm Road which then led to Merton Priory’s Spital estate (see chapter 8 page 143), though the first entry states that a tenement of the priory was ‘on the east’ not the west. Several cottages are mentioned as lining the road, though three had been combined, and a fourth was also in Parker’s tenure. It was observed in chapter 1 that, like those on the opposite side of the road, these Ravensbury house plots had probably been taken from former roadside waste (see page 9). In 1838 6¾ acres here – a 3½-acre paddock and garden (tithe plots 326–7) adjoining a 1¼-acre house and garden plot (333) and a 1¾-acre paddock (334) – formed the remnant of a small estate known from other records as Duckets Farm, which had been described when sold by Sir Francis Carew in February 1584/5 as ‘sometime copyhold land of the manor of Ravensbury’ (see below and map on page 42).239 Three cottages in the grounds (tithe plots 330–332) occupied a further ¼ acre.
Parker, whose will survives (see chapter 9 page 165), was a London scrivener or professional document writer, so it is interesting to note that he was willing to hold property still subject to occasional labour services at haymaking and harvest. He also held copyhold cottages and tofts on the opposite side of Central Road within Westminster Abbey’s manor of Morden, which no longer owed such services. According to a Westminster rental of 1450, John was already a tenant of that manor [B62],240 and he and his wife Margerie were admitted to further Westminster copyhold properties in 1473 [N7], 1477 [B63] and 1482 [I5] [I6] (see chapter 9 page 164).241
The reference to ‘the lady’ [dna’=domina] of the manor is to Alice duchess of Suffolk (named in the previous entry on the court roll), who exercised joint lordship of the manor with her cousin, John Arundel of Bideford, after the death in 1449 of her third husband, William de la Pole, 1st duke of Suffolk, probably until her own death in 1475 (see above, page 60). A later document (see below) mentions her courts held in 1467, 1469 and 1472, and it is likely that the first of Parker’s Ravensbury copyholds [V1] was acquired around that time.242 This later document also traces the grant by the Goodsons to John and Margerie [V2] to the reign of Henry VI (1422–1461), probably towards the end of the reign, or possibly during his brief restoration from autumn 1470 to April 1471, a period from which no court rolls survive.243 This document also informs us that on 12 May 1490 (5 Henry VII) the Parkers were granted two other Ravensbury closes in Morden, later named as Great and Little Stenhawes [V4] which, together with a field called le Gore, were to be subject to disputes for several decades, but the extant roll does not include a court of this date.244
Morden court rolls reveal that John died in 1494, his Westminster Abbey copyholds passing to his youngest son William, just 6 years old (see chapter 9 page 164).245 During William’s minority, his Ravensbury holdings were granted to Richard Cosyn, who also held an alehouse on the site of the present George inn in the Epsom Road [I81].246 This entry from the court roll of 8 November 1512 records Cosyn’s claim to these Ravensbury lands:247
At this court comes Richard Cosyn and acknowledges that he holds at the lord’s will one messuage with garden adjoining, one field [campus] called Great [magnum] Stenhaws, one field called Little [parva] Stenhaws and another field called le Gore, with their pertinents, and renders yearly 40s.
As we have seen, a later farmer of the Ravensbury demesne, Richard Kneppe, in evidence presented to the manorial court in 1536, claimed that Cosyn had farmed the demesne some 40 years earlier, but Kneppe does not appear to be a very reliable witness.248 Cosyn had died by 1529,249 but it would seem that William had already regained the property as he passed it to his 9-month-old son, also William, at his death in 1520.250 William’s widow Johanna then married Ralph Baylis, or Bayly, who held the messuage, garden, barn and 3 acres [V1] [V2] [V3] on young William’s behalf, as revealed in the court roll for April 1531:251
At this court comes Ralph Bayly in his proper person and acknowledges that he holds of the lord, by copy of court at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor as in right of Johanna his wife late wife of William Parker, one tenement with garden and three acres together lying in Mitcham [Micham] by yearly rent of 6s 8d, suit of court and other services in respect thereof due and customary, and he is recognised as tenant thereof and he does fealty and has a day to show copy thereof before the next court &c.
The 17th-century Ravensbury court book corrects ‘Mitcham’ to ‘Mitcham Close’:252 Ralph Baylis acknowledged the tenement held by copy and the garden and 3 acres in Micham Close he had by his wife the widdow of William Parker 6s 8d
On 13 October 1533 Ralph and Johanna complained about the dubious dealings of Kneppe, who had helped himself to their rents and had turned them out of another property which he claimed to be demesne land but which the Baylys considered to have been part of John Parker’s former copyhold estate:253
At this court come Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife, and allege the court and say that they rendered and paid Richard Knepp, farmer of the site of the manor, 6s 8d yearly for rent of their customary lands when the same farmer ought not to have the same rents. And the same farmer being questioned in respect thereof says that he is accustomed to have the said rent as parcel of his farm and on that account shows an indenture of his farm thereof in which certain indenture it appears that no rents from tenants of the manor ought to be taken. And therefore the order is given to the said Ralph and Johanna that they no longer pay the said 6s 8d into the hand of the said farmer but to the manor rent-collector to the use of the lord there. And further the said Ralph and Johanna say that the said farmer unjustly deforced them from garden land formerly called Vynyerde now called Longclose which was parcel of the tenement and lands formerly John Parker who held of the lord by copy of court according to the customs of the manor, the estate and title of which John Parker the said Ralph Balys and Johanna now have in the premises as they say. And the said Richard being present in court, being questioned likewise in respect thereof, says that the lands which the said Ralph Balys and Johanna in the form aforesaid claim are parcel of the demesne lands of this manor and parcel of his farm and thus he holds and occupies them and the lord thus recognises it to be. And the said Ralph and Johanna say that it is parcel of the tenement of the said John Parker and not of the demesne lands. And they seek inquiry by the homage &c. And nevertheless the said Ralph and Johanna show no copy to prove their title and claim in the premises as alleged above. And therefore a day is given them to search and show their copies in respect thereof and maintain their said claim before the next court. And likewise the said farmer &c.
They failed to produce their copies in April 1534, and so in October 1534 a survey was ordered:254
And Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife have still shown nothing as proof of their claim and title of those lands which they claim and which Richard Knepp the lord’s farmer says that are parcel of the demesne lands. And now it is decided by the court that the said lands be surveyed by the steward and tenants of the court for greater knowledge of the truth thereof before the next court, &c.
In April 1535 Johanna obtained an adjournment of the survey when Ralph failed to appear:255
And Ralph Balys has not come at this court to survey the lands which he and Johanna his wife previously claimed as at the last court was decided but makes default. And nevertheless his wife Johanna comes at this court and seeks that the aforesaid Ralph and she be able to have a further day to view the lands aforesaid before the next court. And she has that day &c.
And in the following October, it was the lord of the manor, having promised to be present at the survey, who sought an adjournment:256
At this court Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife seek that the customary land which they previously claimed now be surveyed by the tenants of the homage and upon this view thereof to inquire of their right and title in respect thereof &c. And because Sir Nicholas Carewe lord of this manor grants and promises to be at the view of the abovesaid land in his proper person together with the tenants aforesaid and now, by virtue of causes of the lord king concerning this interest, he is not able as purposed to fulfil that previous gift, the view of the aforesaid lands is adjourned until the next court. And the same day is given to the aforesaid Ralph and Johanna to be there at that view &c.
At last, in April 1536, the survey took place:257
Memorandum: At this day Sir Nicholas Carewe, now acknowledged [acceptis] lord of this manor, together with various tenants of this manor, entered [accessit] into a certain parcel of land now called Longclose which Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife previously claimed and alleged to be parcel of their tenement formerly John Parker. And to have view thereof on all sides, the aforesaid Ralph and Johanna being then present. And on that account it was alleged by Richard Knepp, the lord’s farmer of the demesne lands of the said manor, that he knew well for 40 years now past a certain Richard Cosyn, then farmer of the said demesne lands of the aforesaid manor, had tenure and occupation of the said land called Longclose as parcel of the said demesne lands and nothing was thereof interrupted &c. And that he the same Richard Knepp the whole time which he has farmed the said demesne lands of the manor aforesaid has held and occupied the said land called Longclose as parcel of the same demesne lands without interruption &c. And further the same Richard Knepp says that the aforesaid Ralph and Johanna by great desire and intercession took the land called Longclose of the same Richard at farm year by year rendering to him in respect thereof 6s 8d yearly and as long as they paid him the aforesaid rent he allowed them to hold and occupy in form aforesaid. And afterwards through non-payment of the said rent he expelled them thence and held it in his hands &c. And it is questioned of the aforesaid Ralph and Johanna if what they have or say they know as proof that the said land is parcel of their said tenement formerly John Parker. And they show nothing more in respect thereof at present but say the said Richard Kneppe unjustly drove them thence &c. And so it is adjourned further and nothing now in respect thereof is judged &c. And so it remains &c.
Further adjournments followed,258 until on 14 March 1539, following the execution of Sir Nicholas Carew and the forfeiture of the estate to the Crown, Ralph and Johanna joined other copyhold tenants in formally acknowledging their tenure of the family holding [V1] [V2] [V3] ‘and certain other lands’:259
At this court come Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife, late wife of William Parker deceased, and acknowledge that they hold of the lord king, in the right of William Parker, son and heir of the said William and Johanna, by copy of court according to the customs of the manor, one messuage with curtilage, garden and barn and 3 acres land adjoining the same messuage and certain other lands formerly John Parker by yearly rent of 6s 8d a year and other services due and customary in respect thereof. However, they do not show the copy thereof. Therefore they have a day to show the copy at the next court.
Later in the same court these ‘other lands’ were defined more precisely, and are shown to be the lands granted to John and Margerie Parker in 1490 [V4], together with other land also claimed by Kneppe as demesne land not copyhold – Long Croft, presumably the same as Longclose formerly Vynyerde [V5] first mentioned in 1533, and Steelhawes [V6]:260
And the matter touching title and claim of Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife, in the name of William Parker son of the said Johanna to certain parcels of land called Steellhagh, Longcroft, Grete Steenhawys, Litill Steenhawys and one field [campus] called le Goore which are of the demesne lands in the tenure of Richard Knepp farmer of the same, is adjourned until the next court for survey and inquiry of the truth thereof, and the aforesaid Ralph and Johanna and the aforesaid William Parker have a day before the next court to show in respect thereof copies and evidence &c.
By July 1539 these other lands had been surveyed, and Kneppe was given custody of them until Ralph and Johanna could prove their title:261
The matter touching title and claim of Ralph Balys and Johanna his wife in the name of William Parker, son and heir of William Parker deceased, inhabitant of London, Skryvener, for certain parcels of land called Steell Haghis, Long Croft, Grete Stenehaghis, Litill Stenehaghis and le Goore which, as said by the lord’s farmer, are and always were parcel of the demesne lands of this manor. Now, upon view thereof here by the steward and the homage of this court, and nothing in respect thereof by the aforementioned Ralph and Johanna nor by the said William Parker being shown proving his right and title thereof, it is judged by the court that Richard Knep, farmer of the demesne lands of the manor aforesaid, shall have and hold the said parcels of land until the next court and Ralph and Johanna and William Parker shall have a day to search [scrutand] and show copies and evidence to further prove and maintain their title and claim thereto until the aforesaid next court, etc.
This formula was repeated at subsequent courts until April 1540:262
And whereas Richard Knepp and Henry Knepp his son now have, hold and occupy certain parcels of land called Steell Haghis, le Longcroft, Grete Stenhaghis, Litill Stenhaghis and le Goore as parcels of their farm of the demesne lands of this manor as was judged, nevertheless again come Ralph and Johanna his wife and claim the premises in the name of William Parker, son of the said Johanna and say that the parcels of land are customary land held by copy and are the right and inheritance of the same William. Nevertheless they show nothing in respect thereof nor any evidence proving his right or title thereof, but humbly seek a further day before the next court to show in respect thereof copies of court and to prove his claim thereto. And by the grace of the court they have the same day &c. Nevertheless it is judged that the aforesaid Richard and Henry in the meantime shall hold and occupy their possession thereof until another has [illegible] thereof on behalf of the said lord king &c.
The final sentence probably indicates that the Kneppes’ lease was shortly to expire, and on 2 December 1542 a 40-year lease of Ravensbury manor was granted to the Italian painter Anthony Toto, though in 1546/47 Henry Kneppe claimed that ‘terme of yeres [was] yet contynueng’.263 At Toto’s first manor court held in March 1543, it was reported that Ralph still held a copyhold property, presumably the messuage, curtilage, garden and barn and 3 acres land adjoining [V1] [V2] [V3]:264 And that Ralph Bayles holds at the lord’s will one tenement and certain lands rendering in respect thereof yearly 6s 8d
Young William Parker was now in his early twenties and claimed the properties in his own right. However, in November 1546 his entitlement to this property was also challenged:265
And whereas at the court of the most excellent prince Henry VIII by grace of God king of England and France &c held here at Ravysbury 23 October 31 Henry VIII [] it was agreed and presented by the homage there, namely John Hegge, William Colcoke, Robert Bever, John Mullynge, Richard Wynton, Thomas Come, Ralph Bayllys & John Wodde, that a certain Richard Cosyn occupied for forty years past before the said court certain lands at Ravynsbury in the parish of Morden [Mordon] as if demesne land which now Ralph Baylly claims to hold by copy of court in right of Johanna his wife, namely one tenement with garden, three acres land and certain parcels of land called Stelhawes, Longecrofte, Great Stenhawes, Lyttell Stenehawes and le Gooer, and that Richard Nepe leased the aforesaid parcel of land called le Longecrofte to Ralph Bayllys by the year rendering 6s 8d, and for non-payment of the said rent expelled the said Ralph; now the homage of this court named above, sworn and charged upon their oath affirm and say upon oath aforesaid the presentment [veredictum] is true and further say upon their oath that the aforesaid tenement with garden and three acres land with pertinents claimed by William Parker came into the lord’s hands by forfeiture made by a certain John
Parker, grandfather of the said William Parker, and so in respect thereof the said tenement with garden and other premises were demised by Symon Dygby then lord of this manor to the said Richard Cosyn for yearly rent of 40s. And that the aforesaid Ralph Baylly and Johanna his wife took from the lord the said tenement and three acres land to hold from year to year for yearly rent of 20s. And now again the aforesaid tenement and other premises remain in the hands of the lord king &c.
Toto managed to upset many of his tenants, who reacted strongly against his heavy-handed tactics. In 1546/47 Toto appealed to the court of Star Chamber, ostensibly on behalf of the king who had granted him the lease. We are fortunate that records of the case still survive to shed more light on the information gathered from the manorial court rolls.266 Among many pages of accusation and counter accusation between Toto and his tenants and neighbours is one headed ‘The answer of Wyllyam Parker to th’iniuste informacyon of Anthoney Totto’ in which young William claimed that he and his mother had been unjustly evicted by Toto a year or so previously.267
Toto had complained that:268
Willyam Parker uniustly vexith and disturbythe the possesshon and occupacon of yor said Orator in the said manor of Ravesbury without any iust ground or title claymyng to be a copyhollder of a messuage, three acres of land and one closse callyd Stonhawsse, one felld callyd Great Stonhawsse and one felld callyd the Gore for the yerely rent of &c whiche be parcell of the demeanys of the said manor of Ravesbury and so have allways ben d’myssed and letten as by court rolls and rentalls here redy to be shewyd may appeyr’ whiche messuage and other the premisses wer sometyme letten to one Richard Cosyn for 40s rent yerely who enioyd the same by the spac of 22 yeres or more. And after the dethe of the said Cosyn the said howsse & the said three acres were letten to ferme to one Ralph Baylys for 20s rent yerely. And the said felld callyd Lyttle Stornhowsse [sic] & the felld callyd Great Stornhowsse & the Gore hathe eyver ben takyn & occupyyd for and as parcell of the demesne lands of the said manor by the fermors of the said manor as apperythe by &c as well before the said leas made unto the said Cosyns as at all tymes sythens the said leasse &c.
To which Parker replied:
The saide Wyllyam Parker for a brief answer unto the said feyned & untrue surmyse sayeth that as to the said feld called the Gore in the said byll of compleynte specyfied he hathe not nor claymeth to have any interest or title nor any tyme syns the saide byll of compleynte in this honorable courte agaynst hym exibited any thing had in the said feld called the Gore but unterlye disclaymethe therin. And as to the resydue he sayethe that the same residue is and of the tyme wherof there is no memorye of man to the contrarye hath ben landes & tenementes custumarye holden of the lordes of the said manour of Ravesburye for the tyme being as of the said manor by copye of courte roule and of parcell wherof, that is to say of oon meese three acres & half. And Wyllyam Godeson & Isabell his wife were seased in their demeane as of fee according to the custom of the said manor and so being therof seased the same Wyllyam Godeson and Isabell at a courte holden at the said manour in the tyme of kyng Henry the sixth, progenitor of the kynges maiestie that now is, surrendered the same into the lordes handes then being to th’use of oon John Parker & Margerye his wife & of the heyres of the saide John Parker. To whom the lorde by his stewarde then graunted seasen of the premisses, to have & holde to them & to th’eires of the said Parker at the wyll of the lorde according to the custom of the said manor & payde their fyne & were admytted therof tenants, by vertue wherof the said John Parker & Margerye were therof seased in their demeane, that is to saye the said John as of fee & the saide Margerie for terme of her lyfe. And of all the residue of the saide landes he also sayeth that oon Symonde Dygbye being sumtyme lorde of the said manor of Ravesburye, of which manor the said residue was also tyme oute of mynde holden by copye of courte roule, at a courte there holden the 12th day of May in the 5th yere of the reign of the late kyng of famous memorye kyng Henrye VII [1490] did gyve & graunte to the saide John Parker & Margerye his wyfe the same residue by the name of two parcells of lande or two closes lyeng in Morden, to have & holde to them & to th’eires of the said John Parker at the wyll of the lorde according to the custome of the said manor, and paide theyr fyne & were admytted therof tenantes, by vertue wherof they were of the same residue seased in their demeane, that is to saye the said John as of fee & the saide Margerie for the terme of her lyfe. And after, the saide John Parker & Margerie died of suche estate of and in all & singler
the premisses seased, after whose deceas the premysses lefully descended unto oon William Parker as soone & heyre of the saide John Parker, and from the said Willyam to this defendant as soone & heyre of the said Wyllyam Parker, and was therof also admytted tenant & the same he & his mother did holde and occupy untill about a yere or more paste that the said compleynant withoute any right or title having to the premisses did therof wrongfully expell & putt oute the said defendant & his mother for the which iniuste expulsyon the said Wyllyam Parker aboute a yere past exibited a byll of compleynt to the kynges maiestie agaynste the saide Anthonye in the courte of [blank], to which byll the saide Anthonye hathe made answer & the said Wyllyam Parker hathe replyed and ben at an issue[?] & witnesse every bothe partes examyned, which mater yet there dependeth undiscussed. …
Another document from the case sets out the two ‘Artycles to be examyned by the Commyssyoners … Agenst Wyllyam Parker’:269
Item whether the closse callyd Great Stenhowsse, Lyttyll Stenhowsse, the Vyne yard, Long Close and the Gore ben parcell of the demeayn lands of the said manor of Ravesbury
Item whether John Parker dyd forfett his estat of the howsse and gardeyn in Moreton with all suche lands and tenements as he helld by copy of court roll of the said manor in the tyme of the late famous kyng Henry VII, and whether upon the same forfetur’ one Symon Dygby Esquyer then lord of the said manor of Ravesbury seased and tok the said lands and tenements in to his own hands by reason of the said forfetur’, and after lett the same to ferme together with other lands unto one Richard Cosyn for the yerely rent of 40s. And afterward whether one Ralph Balys and Johan his wyff wer tenants to the lord of the said manor at wyll onely from yer’ to yer’ of the said howsse or tenement withe gardeyn in Moredon and three acres of land parcell of the premisses for the yerely rent of 20s. And so contynuyng tenant onely at wyll and pleasur’ of the said manor from yer’ to yer’ untyll suche tyme as for nonpayment of the rent the late kyng of famous memory Henry VII by his fermors and assignes enteryd and expellyd the said Baylys and his wyff.
The outcome of this litigation between William and Toto is not recorded, but a presentment to the manorial court on 8 April 1549 suggests that William had been unsuccessful in his claim, and vented his anger in some anti-social behaviour:270
And that William Parker and Johanna Bayly his mother after the last court entered into one tenement of the lord king lying in Morden and broke the doors, walls and windows of the said tenement to damage valued at 20d. Therefore the bailiff is ordered that he distrain &c.
The 17th-century Ravensbury court book mentions a Richard Parker in 1594 and a Nicholas Parker in 1611, but in relation to a different property in Mitcham,271 but there is no indication that either of them were related to this family. However, in 1593 or 1594 a John Parker surrendered ‘one cottage, one garden, one orchard and one acre meadow next to Emcott Haughe now in the occupation of Henry Baker with all its pertinents’ – clearly the property adjoining the vicarage in Central Road that the family had long held of Westminster Abbey (see chapter 9 page 164) – while a William Parker leased a substantial farm in Lower Morden in the 1570s and 1580s (see chapter 11 page 246).272
Some of the Ravensbury lands in question came into the hands of the first lay-lords of the manor of Morden, Lionel Ducket and Edward Whitchurch, whose purchase of the former Westminster Abbey estate was finalised in June 1553.273 The court rolls reveal that Whitchurch was already a tenant of Ravensbury, having been admitted to ‘Litle Stenehawes’, as well as some land in Mitcham, at the court held on 7 October 1550:274
At this court comes Edward Whitchurche and takes of the lord one croft of customary land called Litle Stenehawes lying in the parish of Morden [Mordon] next to the river of Ravysburie formerly in the tenure of William Standen by copy of court and afterwards in the tenure of John Parker by copy of court, which the lord by Michael Barkely his steward grants to him seisin thereof by the rod to have and to hold to himself, his heirs and assigns forever at will according to custom by yearly rent of 2s and other services in respect thereof previously due and lawfully customary. And he gives the lord for fine &c and does the lord fealty, and so is admitted tenant.
Although Whitchurch’s Ravensbury land in Morden was copyhold it was included in the sale of the manor of Morden to Richard Garth in March 1553/4, when it was called Stelehawes,275 and it was not until 1 April 1556 that he attended the Ravensbury manorial court and formally surrendered to Garth:
one croft of customary land called Litle Stevenhawes, containing three acres and a half of meadow and lying in the parish of Morden [Mordon] next to the river of Ravensbury on the east and north and land called Greate Stenhawes and the queen’s highway there on the south and west …
The court roll is no longer extant but this surrender was cited by Sir Francis Carew in February 1581, when Garth purchased the freehold of ‘Stevenhawes’, to be held from Carew at 2 shillings a year.276 However, when Garth registered this purchase at the Ravensbury manorial court in October 1581, the croft was called Lytle Steelehawes:277
At this court comes Richard Garth esq and gives this court information that he since the last court purchased freely, for himself and his heirs, of Sir Francis Carewe, lord of this manor, one croft formerly parcel of customary land of this manor called Lytle Steelehawes as by charter of the said lord in respect thereof bestowed [confert’] and bearing the date 6 February 23 Elizabeth [1581] is fully apparent …
The summary in the 17th-century court book similarly calls it Little Steelehawes:278
Richard Garth Esq purchased of Sir Francis Carew lord of this manor A Croft called Little Steelehawes which was heretofore copyhold of this manor – his deed dated 6 Feb Eliz 23 [1581]. He comes into court and prays his feoffment aforesaid may be recorded, lest he should be looked upon as a copyholder. No rent here mentioned.
The name Little Steelehawes had been used in entries in a very worn court roll of November 1579:279
And moreover they say upon their oath that a certain piece of land lying in Morden called Little [Steelehawes?] formerly was in the occupation of Richard Kneppe and Henry Kneppe son of the same Richard as [farmers of] Sir [Nicholas] Carewe by lease for a term of years. The which Nicholas was […] lord of the manor of Ravisbury aforesaid And that after the death of the said Nicholas lordship of the manor went to […] Anthony Toto who held the same manor by lease of the late king Henry VIII. And that the said Anthony granted the said piece of land by copy of court roll to a certain [blank] Whytechurche who later surrendered it to the use of Richard Garthe esq, now tenant thereof.
And now, namely at this court, the homage aforesaid certify upon their corporal oath that the aforesaid Richard Garthe gent since the last preceding court caused to be decapitated, in English to be lopped, twenty elms growing in a certain piece of land there called Steelehawes. Therefore the homage there is newly charged to inquire further in respect thereof. And it is adjourned for better judgement whether the said Richard is legally able to lop the aforesaid elms or not without first having and obtaining the lord’s licence
Memorandum that a certain Henry Kneppe eighty years old or thereabouts being a tenant examined in this open court, upon his corporal oath by William Hughse gent steward there, of what he knows concerning the leasing or occupation of one close called Lyttle Steelehawes lying in Morden [Moorden] and now being in the tenure of Richard Garthe esq, and also concerning the leasing and occupation of a further close in Morden aforesaid called Longeclose now in the tenure of Sir Lionel Duckette, he says and affirms that Richard Kneppe his father and the same Henry occupied the aforesaid closes as parcel of the demesne lands there for a space of sixty years or thereabouts. And that his said father held the said premises among other demesne lands there by lease of the duke of Suffolk and afterwards by lease of Sir Nicholas Carewe. And that the aforesaid Richard Kneppe died before the expiry of the said lease made by the aforementioned Nicholas Carewe, and that he, on examination of the same, occupied the said two closes after the decease of his aforesaid father until the termination of the said lease by the aforementioned Nicholas Carewe just as he previously had done, which lease was made for a term of twenty-one years. And he further affirms that after the said lease was ended that a certain [blank] Toto, then being farmer of the late king Henry VIII of the said manor of Ravisbury, leased the aforesaid close called Steelehawes to the same [blank] Whitchurche by copy. Witness all mentioned in this memorandum, namely William Hughse, Edmund Ledermister, Thomas Connigesby, John Bonde clerk, John Palmer and Robert Margettes.
In 1588, when Garth was granted pardon for acquiring this property from Carew without royal licence, it was described as ‘a croft of land called Letle Stevenhawes containing 3½ acres of meadow in the parish of Morden in the manor of Ravysbury’.280 In 1838 Steelhaws is identified on the tithe map as the 4-acre plot 353 (see map on page 42), a piece of grassland dominated by a large – ¾-acre – rectangular pond. Could this be a former manorial fish pond – a stell or stiell in Old English?281 It is probably the 5-acre parcel of meadow adjoining the river ‘bounded on west by public High Road to Mitcham, on north, south and east by river or cuts from Wandle’ listed in a 1770 lease of Ducket’s Farm in Central Road, which was centred on the former Ravensbury copyhold property acquired by Sir Lionel Ducket (tithe plots 326–7, 330–4), and purchased by the Garth family in 1606.282 Ducket was listed among the free tenants of Ravensbury manor in 1580,283 but no record of the enfranchisement of his properties has been found in the extant court rolls.
In 1583 a list of tithe payers in Morden parish included ‘tithe for lands in Morden in the tenure of Mr Dockettes tenant there – 10 acres’.284 When Carew alienated the freehold property in 1584 it was described as ‘a messuage and 4 acres land and 8 acres pasture in Morden’,285 and on 20 February 1584/5 as ‘Messuage or tenement and 12 acres in Morden, in the occupation of Sir Lyonell Duckett, alderman of the city of London; sometime copyhold land of the manor of Ravensbury’.286 It is tempting to identify Longcroft/Long Close with tithe plot 334, a 1¾-acre paddock occupying a long strip probably enclosed from roadside waste centuries before (see map on page 42), but from its claimed origin within the demesne it is more likely to have been plot 326 and part of 333 (see above, page 70).
Another narrow strip of land alongside Central Road adjoined to the east, between the road and the two closes named in the 1855 sales particulars for Ravensbury manor as the 11½-acre Upper Steel Hawes (tithe plot 335) and the 9¾-acre House Meadow or Steel Hawes (tithe plot 351), the remnant of Lower or Great Steel Hawes.287 These other Steel Hawes properties were probably the closes known as Little and Great Stenhaws or Stonhaws when held by the Parker family (see above), the similarity with the neighbouring Steelhawes leading to the confusion apparent in the contemporary court rolls. The ‘mansion house’ (tithe plot 350) which had been built within Lower or Little Steelhawes eventually took the name Steel Hawes as well. Until the 1820s this was the farmhouse of Ravensbury Farm, and incorporated a timber-framed building probably dating from the late 17th century with 18th-century extensions – presumably the house occupied by Peter Batt in the 1680s.288 By 1980, when the house, then known as The Grange, was purchased by Courts the furnishing company for use as their headquarters, the house had suffered years of neglect and vandalism, and only the shell of the 17th-century north block could be saved. However, Courts rebuilt it in replica, reusing suitable material from the old building where possible. In recent years it has served as the administrative centre for a succession of housing associations, including Merton Priory Homes, and currently Clarion Housing. Coincidentally Merton Priory had held a property by the roadside here, as in 1488 one of John Parker’s copyhold properties adjoined ‘the tenement now Henry Felowe formerly the priory on the east’, with the lane to the priory’s Spital estate on the west (see above, page 67). It would seem that the priory had claimed some of the roadside waste here, though by the 19th century this land was all within the manor of Ravensbury.
Copyholds near Mitcham Bridge
The other large copyhold property in the Morden section of Ravensbury manor was Bennetsfield [V7]. The earliest record in the extant court rolls is from October 1488, a very worn and faint membrane listing copyhold properties held by Oliver Knyght.289 A similar list appears in the roll for November 1512, with a marginal note that it was later held by ‘Forman’.290 William Forman, a London alderman and later lord mayor, and his wife Elizabeth had taken over Knyght’s former copyholds, and many others besides, by October 1535, when we first have a description of this property: ‘… one close or one parcel of land called Benettesfeld containing by estimation 23 acres land lying in the vills and parishes of Mitcham [Miccham] and Morden [Moordon], namely between the common river or watercourse there on the east and north sides and the king’s highway there called Claymondes Lane on the west side, and land of the prior of Merton on the south side; …’.291 The adjoining Merton Priory property would have been in Carshalton, part of its Mareslond estate (see chapter 8 page 147). Benettesfeld was in fact entirely within Morden
parish, being on the south bank of the Wandle – the 23½ acres of plots 294–305 on the 1838 tithe map292 – and this was correctly recorded in February 1547 when Forman’s death was presented at the manorial court. He left a 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth, but his widow Blanche successfully claimed dower and Elizabeth’s admittance to the properties was adjourned.293 Nothing more is heard of Elizabeth, and by July 1585 Forman’s copyholds had been inherited by William Morgan, ‘kinsman and heir to Sir William Forman deceased’.294 It seems that the properties had been sub- let, as this entry for 13 October 1581 reveals:295
Also the aforesaid jury, charged to present their knowledge [noticia] concerning certain parcels of demesne land of this manor, present as follows, namely [in English:] That Bennetes fylde withe one meade ioyninge to it is nowe in the occupation of Mr Muscha[mp], and whether it be parcell of the lordes demeane or not they knowe not, but have daye till the next courte to enquyer farther.
The question of whether this and other parcels of land had originally been demesne land was raised at later courts, but no decision seems to have been reached.296 The late-17th-century Ravensbury court book traces the descent of Bennetsfield right through to the then current tenant:297
12 Aug 1667
George Smith upon the death of his mother, Eliz. Jones, was admitted to …
Several parcels of land purchased of Michael Stanhop formerly Formans viz:
Bennettsfield 23 acres formerly in one close now in 4 closes in Mitcham and Morden …
Bennetts Field was still listed among copyhold properties in March 1764 in indentures whereby Smith’s descendant, William Myers II, sold the southern section, together with a substantial freehold estate in Mitcham centred on Mitcham Grove, to Alexander Stewart, and the northern section to Robert Cochran, together with the mills in Mitcham (see below, page 80), though the sale was not registered at the manorial court and the full 23-acre Bennetts Field was still listed among William Myers III’s many copyholds in 1776.298
We have already seen that the ‘field [campus] called Beneytesfeld’ was a landmark for the estate that William Mareys entrusted to the vicars of Mitcham and Morden in 1361, and the location detailed in 1638 seems to fit his properties, which included the mills on the opposite bank, above Mitcham Bridge (see map on page 42 and chapter 8 page 148).299 So 16th-century references to William Bennet’s house (see below) might refer to a tenant of the distant past, though a William Bennet was a member of the homage at the Ravensbury manorial courts in the first decade of the 16th century,300 and is mentioned in connection with a different property in 1512:301
At this court comes William Bennet and acknowledges that he holds at the lord’s will one close lying at the end of the lane [venella] that is called Tracys Lane with two acres arable land there in le Southfeld and he renders yearly 2s 8d
There had also been encroachment on common land [V8] adjoining Bennetsfield, as noted in the 1546/47 Star Chamber case mentioned above, where Anthony Toto complained against many of his tenants and neighbours, one of whom was Thomas Webbe, the miller. Toto’s complaint against him begins:302
Thomas Webbe of Mich’m beyng assemleyd at the said riott intrudithe uppon certeyn medow lands belong[ing] to the said manor, that is to whitt one parcell of land lyyng in the parisshe of Mordon conteynyng by estimacon hallf an acre wheruppon is buylldyd a warrhowsse. Also one other parcell of land lyyng in the said parisshe betwen’ the Ryver and Bennetts Felld conteynyng by estimacon hallf an acre. Also one parcell of land lyyng in the parisshe of Mich’m conteynyng by estimacon one acre wher’ now is buylldyd one barne and one bere howsse. Also one other parcell of land lyyng in the same parisshe betwen’ the kyngs high way on the west parte and the howse late William Bennet on the northe conteynyng by estimacon one acre as apperith by the rolls of courts hollden ther’ by Charles [Brandon] duke of Suff[olk] late lord of the said manor 5 June 19 Hen VIII [1527]. And then and there it was presented and found by the homage of the said court as here is redy to be shewyd that the said parcells of land enclosed by William Stondon who intrudyd theruppon without any title or right was parte and parcell of the said manor. And so it was as well there orderyd
that the said landes shulld be seased to th’use of the said duke the lord herof which was so done by the balye and stuward then of the said manor. As allso at the court of Sir Nicholas Carew knyght hollden there 27 April 28 Hen VIII [1536] and at an other court hollden there 6 May 30 Hen VIII [1538]. Then and there the said verodit was confirmyd by homage there as by the said copyes dothe and allso may appeer. And the said lands & howsse were found belongyng to the said manor and so reseaseid to th’use of the said Sir Nicholas. And yet notwithstondyng that the kynges maiestie was seased as well of the said landes as of the rest of the land belongyng to the said manor, and that the bayly accordyng to the orders taken in the courts at the said manor hath seased the said landes to th’use of our Soveraign lord and warnyd the said Webbe to Surcesse from th’occup’con therof, yet notwithstondyng this the said Thomas Webbe and late Richard Webbe his father have intrudyd uppon the said howssis and lands and occupyyd the same wrongfully by the space of 7 yeres.
And beyng confederatyd with the other Inhabytans of Mych’m to vex yor said Orator dyd not onely manace and thretten your Orators servants that went to sow the same landes beyng seased to the kyngs use but allso the said Webb with force caryyd away fyve loodes of hay growyng uppon the said landes & will not yet suffer your said Orator to enyoye the same.
Thus the first of the ‘Articles to be examynyd before the kyngs maiestys commissioners concernyng certayn intrudors and mysdoers in his gracis lands of his highenes manor of Ravesbury in the county of Surrey Against Thomas Web myller’ is:303
In primis whether a parcell of land lyyng in the parisshe of Mordon betwen Benetts Feld and the Ryver wheruppon is buylldyd a barn, and a certeyn parcell of land in the parisshe of Mycham wher’ is now buylldyd a bruhowsse, and a certeyn parcell of medow ther lyyng betwen the kyngs highe way on the west and the howsse of late Wyllyam Bennet on the north, wer’ and ought to be parcell of the said manor of Ravesbury and wherin the lords tenants have common and by whom wer’ they inclosed and who hathe occupied theym and taken the proffitts therof, and how long tyme have they so used the same, and of what yerely value they be &c
The 1527 court roll cited in the complaint is worn at the edges and difficult to decipher, and this extract is not included in the Ravensbury court book, so it is fortunate that it was quoted in evidence:304
… the aforesaid William Stondon has enclosed parcels of Common of the lord of this manor, viz one parcel lying in the parish of Morden on which is built le Werehouse, another parcel in Mich’m near & next to the water there & has built one barn [horreum] and another house called [a berehouse]. And also another parcel lying between the river & Bennettes Felde in Mordon, also another parcel lying in Micham between the highway on the west and the mansion of William Bennett on the north ….
The second entry cited here survives in the original court roll of 27 April 1536:305
Whereas at the court held here at Ravysbury 5 June 19 Henry VIII [1527] it was agreed and presented by the homage then there being, namely by Henry Hegge, Symon Winton, Robert Bevir, Richard Knepp, James Laurence, Thomas Combe and Richard Gyles, that a certain William Standon then enclosed various parcels of common of the lord of the said manor, namely one parcel of land lying in the parish of Morden upon which he built le Berehousse; and another parcel of land in Mitcham near and next to the water there and he built there one barn and another building [domus] called a Berehousse; and another parcel of land lying between the River and land called Benettes felde in Morden; and also another parcel of land in Mitcham between the king’s highway on the west side and the mansion of the said William Benett on the north side. Now this homage, namely the abovenamed John Muschamp, Richard Gyles, Robert Bevir, Ralph Balys, John Mullyng and John Hegge, sworn, affirm and say that the aforesaid presentment of the premises is true. And they say that the aforesaid William Standon has enclosed the abovesaid parcels of common land as the aforesaid tenants above presented and showed. And therefore the bailiff is ordered that he make seizure of the premises into the lord’s hand before the next court &c.
It was also summarised in the Ravensbury court book:306
William Standon presented for enclosing divers parcels of the Common, viz:
1 parcel in Morden where he built a berehouse
1 parcel in Micham near the water where he built a barn and another house called a berehouse
1 parcel between the river and Bennetsfield in Morden
1 parcel in Micham between highway west and William Bennet’s house north
These are all ordered to be seized.
The third entry cited was this brief note in the court roll for 6 May 1538:307
make seizure
Again the bailiff is ordered that he make seizure into the lord’s hand of certain parcels of land in Mitcham which William Standon deceased unjustly enclosed and built thereupon various buildings as appears in the court next preceding &c.
Various witnesses were called, and their evidence is recorded in the records of the court of Star Chamber:308
William Plaistowe of th’age of 64 yeres before sworn & examyned upon his othe to all the articles [deletion] agaynst Webbe [deletion] sayth in every thing as he before hath sayd. And also saith that when Maister Yaxly made a seyser & sticked upp a white rode in the face of the Bruehouse the same rode Stondon dyd breake downe agayne and further saith that after he herde the old Stonden to rede a certen sealed writing in the presence of this dep[onent] & dyvers others & thereby declared that he shulde have the milles hassockes tassockes morys & bankes & other grounde to the quantite of ten acres of grounde & ever syns that tyme the said old Stondon hath occupied the same Bruehouse & other parcelles abovesaid.
Robert Fount of th’age of 60 yeres before sworn & examyned upon his othe to every of the said articles saith as he hath before said.
Roger Ote Way of Mich’m of th’age of 38 yeres sworn & examyned on his othe to the first article saithe that he knoweth the said parcelles of grounde mencyoned in the said article & that it lay open & in common & neither hedge nor diche upon the same from the mill to Stondons gate. And also saith that it was inclosed by one William Stondon but whether the parcell of grounde wherin the barne stondeth be in the parishe of Mich’m or in the parishe of Murdon he knoweth nott nor whether it be any parcell of the manor of Ravysbury and after saith that William Stondon hath occupied the said parcell ever syns the Inclosyng therof and as to all the residue he can say nothing.
Thomas Sturmy of Mich’m of th’age of 70 yeres sworn & examyned on his othe to all the articles agaynst Webbe saith in every thing as Playstowe hath before said, saying to the said sealed wryttynge he can say nothyng.
Toto also complained against Thomas Biston over another alleged encroachment from common land in Morden. Although this complaint is not extant, it is referred to in his second article against Biston:309
Item whether than certeyn parcell of medow lyyng in the parisshe of Mordon betwen the Ryver and Dorlyche haw now severall by inclosur’ [i.e in a private enclosure] was and ought to be parcell of the said manor and wherin the tenants have had common, and what value it is of by the yere, & how long it hathe ben inclosed, and by whom it hath ben occupyed & what estate he claymyth therin &c
No documentary evidence was cited regarding this article, but once again the witnesses reported:310
William Plaistowe of th’age of 64 yeres before sworn upon his oth … Also to the second article he saith that he knowith the said parcell of meadow and that the water dyd rune over the same and also saith that the most parte therof was bare gravell without grasse & further saith that the said parcell of meadow lay open & was common for every man and that he hath taken fisshe upon the same, which said parcell of meadow was after about 30 yeres past inclosed by William Stondon th’elder and that the said Thomas Byston nowe occupieth the same, by what title he can not say, and is worth by the yere 16d.
Michell Bartley of th’age of 49 yeres sworn & examyned upon his othe … Also to the second he saith that he knowith the said parcell of meadow mencyoned in the said article and that it lay all ways open & nott inclosed but used as common for the tenants which said parcell of meadow of late was inclosed by Stondon & a litle parte therof inclosed by Byston who was for the inclosyng therof presented by the homage.
Robert Fount of th’age of 60 yeres before sworn & examyned … Also to the second article he saith that he knowith the said parcell of meadow mencyoned in the said article which lay open & in common untyll it was inclosed by William Stondon & further saith & deposith therin as Plaistowe hath before said.
This plot was probably the ‘parcel of meadow called le Whitinge yard containing one acre and one rood in Mordon’ [V9] listed among the copyhold properties which Lodvic Wylliams and Elianora his wife surrendered to Thomas Smith on 30 December 1559, as presented at the Ravensbury manorial court of 24 February 1561:311
one tenement, one barn, one orchard, one garden in Micham, one small close containing 2 acres land next to Feldgate, one close next to le brewhowse of Ravisbury containing 4 acres meadow, one other parcel formerly a mere now a meadow, one parcel of meadow called le Whitinge yard containing one acre and one rood in Mordon, one parcel of meadow called Dorlechhaw now a dovehouse, one croft of land called Bulfinches, 3 mills in Micham and 2 acres land pertaining to the said mills with water covered, one parcel of meadow in Micham with a certain building [domo] called le brewhowse, one other parcel of meadow containing one rood between the king’s highway and the tenement formerly William Bennet now Formans, one parcel located in Mordon with barn, one croft called Mylcroft and 2 acres meadow abutting upon Mylcroft and one croft abutting upon the watermill called the myllers dwellinge house, which all and singular premises the aforesaid Elianora by the name Elianora Toto had to herself and her heirs of the lord of the manor aforesaid according to the custom of the manor aforesaid by surrender of William Glassyer gent.
When Elianora had been admitted on 8 April 1549, this piece of meadowland was described as ‘one parcel of meadow called le Whytynge yard containing by estimation one acre and one rood lying in the parish of Morden [Moordon] between meadow called Dorlechawe late in the tenure of William Forman on the south side, the common course of the River there on the north side, and abutting towards the east upon the common bridge, formerly William Standon senior and afterwards William Standon junior …’,312 so it was on the opposite side of the road to Bennetsfield and its adjoining enclosures from the common land (see map on page 42). Le Whytynge yard would therefore appear to be tithe plot 307a of 1¼ acres, and Dorlechawe and its dovehouse perhaps within the roadside shrubbery of plot 306a, also of 1¼ acres, or maybe the 2-acre section of shrubbery south of the river (plot 307), or even comprising both sections of the later shrubbery, though Dorlechawe is never specifically stated to have been in Morden. In 1838 these were all in the ownership of Sir John William Lubbock, who had purchased the Mitcham Grove estate in 1828.
Dorlechawe and the Standons’ other enclosures in Mitcham and Morden were included in the properties that Elianora received from Glassier. Elianora was the daughter of Anthony Toto, farmer of the Ravensbury demesne, and had been admitted to the properties in anticipation of her marriage to Lewes Williams, who was probably the artist of that name who worked with Toto in the service of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Toto sold his interest in the remaining term of his 40-year lease of the manor of Ravensbury on 28 May 1552 to settle debts incurred in his royal duties, a sum of £235 3s still remaining unpaid to him when he died in 1554 ‘due by Henry VIII for colours and the painting of certain ships’.313
Glassier had been granted all these properties on 5 December 1547 by Toto and his wife Ellen in trust ‘to the intent it should be … surrendered and conveyed over unto the use of one Ellen Toto their daughter or such person as she should marry’, following the forfeiture of William Standon junior, grandson of the William Standon who had encroached on these pieces of common waste.314
The Standon/Stondon family had been influential landholders in Mitcham since at least 1488, as farmers of the Ravensbury demesne, much of which they somehow converted to copyhold
tenure (see above, page 61). William Standon senior also inherited from his father John some freehold properties in Mitcham held of the manor of Reigate, including two mills and 30 acres of marshland. These, plus the lease of Merton Priory’s ‘Marisfee land’, were in turn inherited in 1529/30 by William his grandson,315 a minor who came of age in February 1536.316 It was this mix of demesne land, copyhold, freehold and leasehold properties that gave rise to further legal disputes.
Toto claimed that the mills were in fact copyhold of Ravensbury, and dispossessed young William and his sub-tenants Webbe and Beston. The litigation in the court of Star Chamber rumbled on for many years, from 1547 to after 1556, by which time both Toto and Standon were dead.317 It resurfaced in July 1584 when Charles Lord Howard, lord chamberlain to Elizabeth I, claimed that a messuage, two mills and 30 acres of land in Mitcham ‘called the marrys’ were freehold of Reigate manor, but that Sir Nicholas Carew claimed them as copyhold ‘of hys mannor of Ravisburye’.318 They were then in the tenure of Bartholomew Clerk, who had married the widow of the Thomas Smith who had been admitted to the three mills above Mitcham Bridge and the various plots of copyhold land on the surrender of Elianora in 1561.319 These three mills were under one roof (see below). In 1622 the court books of Reigate manor reveal that ‘a water milne and 30 acres of marsh grounds lying at Mitcham’ were held of Reigate manor by Thomas Smith’s son George who, in the autumn of 1595, had bought out the rights of the remaining members of the Standon family, Alice Tyler alias Standon widow, Anne Wood alias Standon widow and Edith Standon, to ‘one messuage, three mills, one dovehouse, two gardens, two orchards, 30 acres meadow and 4 acres marsh [marisci] in Mitcham [Mytcham] and Morden [Moredon].320 A survey of Reigate manor from the first decade of the 18th century confirms that ‘Smith of Mitcham, widow, claimeth to hold of this manor one messuage or tenement with a water mill now used for the working of copper, and a parcel of marsh ground thereunto belonging, situate and being at Mitcham, containing 30 acres 1 rood 9 perches, at £1 quit rent’.321 Charles Perry (or Parry) is said to have obtained (or renewed) a licence to manufacture copper coins (or more likely blanks) at the Tower Mills in Mitcham in 1712,322 and John Rocque’s 1741–5 map of the environs of London shows ‘Perry’s Mill’ close by Mitcham Bridge.
As we have seen (above, page 76), in March 1764 William Myers II, descendant and successor to the Smiths, sold various messuages, a ‘mill house and the three water corn mills therein’, formerly in the occupation of Charles Parry, plus closes of pasture and meadowland in Mitcham and Morden, including a part of Bennetts Field, and also a new copper mill and meadow ground in Carshalton, to Robert Cochran,323 who sold them in October 1768 to Rowland Frye of Wallington.324 In 1838 the Morden tithe apportionment schedule shows that plots 295–305 belonged to ‘Mrs Spencer (late Fry)’. The Mitcham tithe apportionment of 1846 lists Richard Spencer as owner of plots 1290– 1303, while in 1847 Francis (perhaps Frances) Spencer owned plots 184–186 in the Carshalton tithe schedule – a total of 30 acres across the three parishes, together with mills in all three parishes.325 One would assume that these were the 30 acres ‘in Mitcham and Morden’ held of Reigate manor but, as we have seen, the Morden land was still considered part of the Ravensbury copyhold of Bennetsfield [V7] into the late 18th century. The allocation of these riverside meadows to the various manors is considered in chapter 5 (see page 115).
The Domesday mills
The only ‘Mitcham’ mills mentioned in Domesday Book were within the two fitzAnsculf estates held by William the chamberlain of Tancarville. No mills were recorded on the bishop of Bayeux’s Mitcham or Wicford estates or on the count of Mortain’s holding that became Vauxhall manor or on the two Chertsey Abbey estates that are thought to have been within Mitcham.326
The mill in Lang’s former Wicford estate was likely to have stood above Mitcham bridge on the site of the Grove mill. An indenture of 1645 refers to ‘A Cornmill called Micham Mill als Wickford Mill als Marris Mill, with appurtenances, and a high drying room or loft adjoining, and two closes of marsh ground, all in the parish of Micham’.327 The three names probably refer to three separate establishments under one roof, as leases of 1764–1768 for the Grove mill site
include a ‘millhouse and three water corn mills therein … in Mitcham’.328 When William Glassier surrendered to Hellen/Elianora Toto in 1549 the mills were described as ‘three mills heretofore one watermill lately new built by William Stondon called Ravisbury mill’.329 Standon’s great- grandson refers to ‘two mylles under one ruff … and another mylle’ in the mid 1550s,330 the third mill having been built by Standon’s sub-tenant Richard Webbe.331 In 1372 an extent of the properties held in 1357 by Henry de Strete included ‘two watermills in one house’.332 These would have been William Mareys’s ‘two watermills’ mentioned in 1361,333 one of which had probably belonged to the Wicford estate purchased by his father, apparently already in existence by the 12th century when John de Wykeford gave ‘all my tithes of Wichford in corn and meadow and mill and garden and lambs and calves and fleeces and foals …’ to Southwark Priory, a grant confirmed in the early 1200s by Alexander de Wicford, who promised ‘that I shall pay the tithes from my mill to them completely, honestly and in full’.334 Archaeological exploration by Compass Archaeology on the Grove mill site in 2004 revealed evidence for at least two sets of waterwheel housings and tailraces, matching the three separate channels issuing from the western side of the mill depicted on the 1846 Mitcham tithe map.335
One possible interpretation of the ‘half-mill’ of Lemar’s former Mitcham estate is that it occupied the same site as the Wicford mill, and that both mills were under one roof as early as 1086. However, Eric Montague suggests it is likely to be one share in the ‘Pippesmoln’ held by Merton Priory by the mid 13th century.336 Although Pippes mill had ceased operating long before the dissolution of Merton Priory in 1538, its approximate location can be inferred from later documentation. In 1533 the priory leased to John Hokelandis, or Hyller, a ‘meadow called Pyppis mead, together with a grove called Pypis Grove’, later said to be of 10 acres, as part of its grange ‘situate without the gates of the priory’,337 and, as this piece of land can be identified from later documents as the modern Bunces Meadow by the Wandle between Morden Hall and Phipps Bridge, now home to Deen City Farm, Pippes mill would have been in this area near Phipps Bridge. The Carew estate extended as far as the southern end of Bunces Meadow in 1838, and a Ravensbury copyhold plot adjoined it, so this identification of Lemar’s mill is a possibility (see map on page 42). Eric Montague suggests that Pyppis meade and grove might have been the 9½ acres in Mitcham of the fee of Sir Matthew de la Mare given to Merton Priory in 1238×1248, as noted above (page 48).338
In 1260 Merton Priory had received a moiety or half share in Phipps mill from Baldwin de Insula, earl of Devon and Wight.339 At Baldwin’s death in 1262, the prior was recorded among the many free tenants of the Mitcham section of the estate which was to become the manor of Vauxhall, as holding a virgate of land in Mitcham at 12d a year rent ‘for all services’, and the ‘mill which is called Pippesmoln’ at 20 shillings rent.340 This Mitcham holding had almost certainly originated in the estate ‘in Wallington Hundred’ held by William count of Mortain in 1086 and by Æthelmær in 1066.
Vauxhall manor came into the king’s hands in 1293. A partially-dated entry in the Merton Priory cartulary records that ‘On the Monday after the feast of St Andrew the Apostle, the lord N prior of Merton did fealty to the lord Edward king of England for the mill of Pippes, namely by Sir Ralph de Marton’.341 The nearest dated entry in the cartulary is from 27 February in the king’s twenty-ninth year, which Major Heales interpreted as the 29th year of Edward I, 1301, and he assigned the same date to the succeeding entries.342 However, the prior from 1296 to 1305 was Edmund de Herierde. His predecessor was Nicholas de Tregony (1292–96), so these entries probably date from around 1293, when the king obtained the manor of Vauxhall. An extent of the manor undertaken in 1318 still noted that ‘the prior of Merton renders by the year for a certain watermill in Mitcham twenty-one shillings at the four principal terms of the year by equal portions’.343
Meanwhile, the Merton Priory cartulary recorded that ‘In the 4th year of king Edward the mill of Pippes was purchased for £23 6s 8d, as contained in the treasurer’s roll’.344 As they already held the de Redvers’ moiety, this was presumably the other moiety, perhaps that once held by Lemar, and then by fitzAnsculf. One would assume that this was the 4th year of Edward I, 1275/76.
However, this entry in the cartulary merely gives the date as ‘the 4th year of king Edward’ and the entries before and after it date from the 1250s and 1260s. The handwriting of the entry relating to Pippes mill dates from the first half of the 15th century, so it is a later entry inserted in a blank space.345 Thus it is just possible that the entry could date from as late as the 4th year of Edward III – 1330/31 – though if so one would expect his number to have been inserted.
The site of the present Ravensbury Mill, at the junction of Morden Road and Wandle Road, is first mentioned in the 1680s, when the mill is described as ‘newly-erected’.346 There is no evidence of any predecessor on this site.
The 5th- to 6th-century cemetery
The excavation between 1888 and 1922 of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Cemetery’ each side of Morden Road immediately to the east of the Carew demesne lands (see map on page 42) revealed 238 burials, most with grave goods dated to the century and a half before 600.347 The location of associated settlement sites has not yet been identified, but it seems unlikely that any of the medieval Ravensbury copyholds in Morden date back to this period. An association with the ‘wic’ of Wicford cannot be ruled out. 4: THE DOMESDAY SETTLEMENTS IN MORDEN 87
Although we have seen that the Wicford estates mentioned in Domesday Book probably extended into Morden, the only entry which mentions Morden by name is the following:1
The Abbey of Westminster itself holds Morden. TRE it was assessed at 12 hides; now at 3 hides. There is land [blank]. In demesne are 3 ploughs; and 8 villans and 5 cottars with 4 ploughs. There is 1 slave, and a mill rendering 40s. TRE it was worth £6; now £10, and yet it renders £15.
A hide was primarily a unit of assessment for tax purposes, but was originally based on a real land holding. The chronicler Henry of Huntingdon defined it as ‘land sufficient for the work of one plough [or plough team] in one year’, which was also deemed to be the amount of arable land considered sufficient to support a free family – Bede’s ‘terra unius familiae’.2 By the 11th century few villein tenants held more than a virgate – a quarter of a hide – which in Morden was 20 acres, according to the custumal c.1225.3
This tax assessment for Morden had decreased from 12 hides before the Conquest to just 3 hides in 1086, and yet the value of the estate had increased from £6 to £10, while the abbey’s tenant farmer was in fact paying £15. The hidage assessment of many Surrey estates decreased at this time, but this was normally reflected in a similar fall in value.
Why was Morden’s situation so different? Was it merely a matter of a tax reassessment, as in nearby Cuddington, where the bishop of Bayeux still held 26 hides ‘now assessed at 5 hides’, the value falling from £11 to £9 12 shillings?4 Or does it relate to a real reduction in the land under their control, as in the royal manor of Ewell, where a reduction from 15¾ to 13½ hides is explained thus: ‘The men of the hundred testify that 2 hides and 1 virgate have been subtracted from this manor, which were there TRE; but the reeves let them out to their friends’, the value falling from £20 to £16, though it in fact rendered £25?5 It has been suggested that the reduction from 10 to 3 hides at Clapham, and a corresponding fall in its value from £10 to £7 10 shillings, was due to conversion of arable to pasture.6
Probably the 2 hides of Morden Fee in Ewell were omitted in 1086, but had the abbey’s estate within Morden been reduced in area? We have seen in the previous chapter that the Morden section of Ravensbury manor was likely to have been one of the Wicford estates recorded in Domesday. Could part of the explanation for Morden’s reduction be the loss of the property that became Merton Priory’s Spital estate – though it was only some 150 acres in modern times, less than 2 hides based on the Morden customary virgate of 20 acres, and much of it grazing land which might not have been included in the assessment of hidage? Or had the abbey argued that its 80-acre hide was over-assessed as most neighbouring estates used a 120-acre hide – 12 hides at 80 acres would be equivalent to 8 hides at 120 acres? Had some of Morden’s arable land been converted to pasture? Whatever the reasons for the lower hidage assessment, the dramatic rise in the value of the abbey’s estate is as yet unexplained.
The Domesday holdings
Domesday Book seldom gives any details about the size of tenant holdings, so we do not know whether each of the 8 villeins held a single virgate. However, Domesday entries for Middlesex detail the size of holdings, and it has been calculated that, although 47% of villein holdings in that county were single virgates and 42% half-virgates, some could be as large as 8 virgates (2 hides).7 On three sample Middlesex estates held by Westminster Abbey, the villein holdings were as follows:8
Greenford: 1 at 5 virgates, 4 at 2 virgates, 4 at 1 virgate – total 17 virgates held by 9 villeins
Hanwell: 1 at 8 virgates, 4 at 1 virgate – total 12 virgates held by 5 villeins
Hendon: 3 at 2 virgates, 7 (+ a priest) at 1 virgate, 16 at ½-virgate – total 22 virgates held by 27 tenants
At Greenford, ‘a certain Frenchman’ had a further 5 virgates, presumably held freely.
It is unusual to find both bordars and cottars listed on the same Westminster Abbey estate, the exceptions being five estates in Middlesex, three in Hertfordshire and one in Worcestershire.9 On those mentioned above the bordars shared a specified amount of land, probably equally, whereas cottars seem to have only held their cottage plot, probably including a garden. Thus we find:10
Greenford: 7 bordars sharing 4 virgates (+ 3 cottars) – the virgate was 16 acres, so about 9 acres each
Hanwell: 6 bordars sharing 3 virgates (+ 4 cottars) – later administered with Greenford, so probably 16-acre virgates, with 8 acres each
Hendon: 12 bordars sharing 2 virgates (+ 6 cottars) – virgate size unknown but probably 30 acres, so 5 acres each.11
However, the holdings in the first two estates seem larger than elsewhere as, where the terms bordar and cottar are used indiscriminately, it is generally thought that they probably held a cottage plot with an adjoining croft of up to 4 or 5 acres.12
There were also slaves on these estates – 6 at Greenford, 2 at Hanwell and 1 at Hendon (see below, page 93).
Post-Domesday expansion
When the abbey’s custumal was produced c.1225 there had been an increase in the Morden tenantry from the eight villein- and five cottar-holdings of 1086 to three free tenants holding 5 virgates and 17 customary tenants holding 16 virgates at 20 acres to a virgate, while William Swein paid 1 shilling for 3 acres (but more of him later).13 We will consider the holdings of the three free tenants in the next two chapters, but here we will examine possible scenarios to explain the doubling of the customary tenements. There are two situations which could have led to such an increase – the subdivision of the Domesday holdings or the extension of the arable land to support additional customary tenants.
Let us first consider the possibility that some of the tenements were divided to create extra tenements. A simple splitting in two of each of the eight holdings would create 16 tenements. Are we looking at a redefinition of the standard holding, a 40-acre unit being divided into 20-acre ‘virgates’? The virgate at another Westminster estate, Aldenham in Hertfordshire, was of 40 acres, but the most common holding there was of a quarter-virgate.14 This was true of many estates, such as the bishop of Winchester’s estates at Taunton, Bitterne and Bishops Waltham, where the majority of tenants held quarter-virgates, called ferlings – in Taunton and Bishops Waltham the virgate being 40 acres, and in Bitterne 32 acres.15 Such regular descriptions of fragmented holdings as half- or quarter-virgates make it unlikely that the increase in Morden from eight villein-holdings in 1086 to 16 customary virgates c.1225 had resulted from the halving of virgate size. However, John Blair warns us that ‘we should not take terminology too seriously: whether the scribe on a particular manor described the predominant assessed holdings as virgates, half- virgates or iugera may simply reflect his own training or an ad hoc administrative decision’.16 But he also points out that in Merton College Oxford’s manor of Thorncroft in Leatherhead, ‘thirteen-acre half-virgates predominated heavily when the tenemental structure first appears, and we should not automatically assume that a large unit had been halved rather than vice versa’.17
Furthermore, Morden’s tenements c.1225 were not all identical. Of the customary tenants, 11 held a 20-acre virgate each, two held 1½ virgates each, and four a half-virgate each. Most customary tenants paid 2 shillings per virgate, though Hugh Aunger paid 2 shillings for a half- virgate, a marginal note stating that he should only pay 1 shilling. William the clerk also paid 2 shillings for a half-virgate, but there is no such marginal note. Hubert paid 2s 4d – presumably having incurred an increment for an additional cottage or suchlike.
It seems more likely that some of the eight Domesday villeins in Morden, like their counterparts in Middlesex, had held large tenements – some perhaps a 2-virgate holding or even larger. The evidence from Middlesex certainly reveals a range of tenement size, though 89% were single virgates or half-virgates.
There appears to be directly comparable information for only one of the three Middlesex estates sampled above – Greenford – which reveals that c.1225 there were 3 free tenants and 46 customary tenants, none holding both free and customary land.18 However, as has already been noted, Hanwell was administered with Greenford, and a reference to Hanwell virgate holders indicates that the c.1225 figures covered the combined estate. Including villeins, bordars, cottars and slaves, the Domesday customary population of the two estates had been 45, one less than c.1225, and they had held 36 virgates. The customary holdings c.1225 also totalled 36 virgates, but 3 tenants had only a house, 7 held less than a half-virgate, while 15 each held a half-virgate, 13 held ¾ to 1 virgate, 3 held 1½ virgates, and 5 held 2 virgates.19 So, over a period of 140 years the same acreage had been redistributed among roughly the same number of customary tenants, but the very large holdings had been broken up, resulting in a wider variety of tenement size. A similar process could have brought about the redistribution of Morden’s Domesday villein holdings, but among a larger number of tenants to produce the situation we find there c.1225.
However, we must consider the possibility that each Domesday tenant had held the typical single virgate. If the customary virgate in 1086 was of 20 acres, as in 1225, then a further 160 acres of arable land would have had to become available to enable the creation of eight new virgate holdings. Is it significant that the Southfield, bounded by the Pyl brook, Lower Morden Lane and Epsom Road, totalled some 175 acres, excluding the messuage-plots and crofts between Lower Morden Lane and the back lane? The 1838 tithe apportionment calls the 13-acre field at the corner of Epsom Road and Lower Morden Lane (plot 91) ‘Stonebridge and Old Mordens’ and the 7½-acre field adjoining to the north-west (plot 92) ‘New Mordens’ (see map 1.5 on page 10), but in 1579 a close called ‘Stonebridge Close joining on a close called Girmans’ contained 4 acres, a ‘close called Ould Morden’ contained 16 acres and another ‘close called Old Morden Furzes’ contained 4 acres.20 Does the name ‘Old Morden’ indicate that it was the remnant of the earliest open field, before the development of the Southfield on the opposite side of Lower Morden Lane? The messuage-plots and crofts north of Lower Morden Lane and east of Bow Lane occupied 7 acres in 1838, while those west of Bow Lane occupied 19½ acres (see map 1.6 on page 13). The latter may well have been taken out of the arable open field known in the 16th century as Bowhill and described in the 18th century as the Lower Shott and Upper Shott in Bowhill, while the former could have included land in Old Mordens, though a close examination of 19th-century maps reveal that they also extended onto land formerly part of the green (see map 8.3 on page 147).21 The origins of the Southfield will be explored further in the next chapter (see page 102).
Although we have information from the early 13th and early 14th centuries on the extent of the arable on the demesne and on the tenant holdings in Morden, we have seen that we are unable to compare it with the Domesday data on the hidage of the estate in order to assess the likelihood of overall arable expansion post-Domesday. However, there are some clues to the scale of both demesne and tenant arable cultivation in 1086 in the statements in Domesday Book that ‘there is land for X ploughs’ and also in the number of ploughs/ploughteams recorded there. Unfortunately the first of these entries is incomplete in the Morden record, merely stating ‘there is land …’. Much more information is available for the abbey’s Middlesex estates. In the entry for Hanwell we read that there is ‘land for 5 ploughs. To the demesne belong 4 hides and 1 virgate, and there is 1 plough. The villans have 4 ploughs’, revealing that the number of ploughteams was sufficient to cultivate the existing arable. In Greenford, however, there is evidence of understocking: ‘There is land for 7 ploughs. To the demesne belong 5 hides, and there is 1 plough, and there could be another. The villans have 5 ploughs’.22 Although some scholars have suggested that such entries identify additional land that could be cultivated, J S Moore has convincingly argued that these ‘teamlands measure the area of land actually cultivated, not the area of land which might be brought into cultivation’ in 1086.23 As there is no additional statement in the Morden entry that ‘there could be another’, it might be supposed that the 7 ploughteams recorded were sufficient to cultivate the existing arable, but this phrase is also omitted in entries for other Westminster Abbey estates in Surrey where the number of ploughs does fall below the potential – Tooting with half a ploughteam but potential for 1½, and Pyrford with 7 teams out of 13 potential.24
Moore also draws attention to the fact that ‘teamlands are units of variable size’, not the standard 120-acre hides suggested by earlier scholars, and concludes that ‘the teamland is completely identical with the local hide or carucate’. We have seen that in Morden the customary virgate c.1225 was 20 acres, so the 4-virgate hide would be 80 acres, whereas in Greenford (and probably in Hanwell) the 16-acre virgate would give a 64-acre hide, though it must be remembered that these acreages would have been estimated not measured. In addition to the overall hidage of the estate, the Middlesex entries also give the hidage of the demesne lands. In both Greenford and Hanwell the difference between these two figures is the same as the sum of the various tenant holdings noted above, so it seems that we are looking at a real calculation of area rather than a mere tax assessment. It should therefore be possible to calculate the approximate number of acres per ploughteam on the Middlesex estates. Tenants were required to assist in ploughing the demesne arable, so we must count both tenant and demesne teams, including the potential further plough team in Greenford. The figures are as follows:
Greenford: 5 hides demesne + 6.5 hides tenants = 11.5 hides x 64 acres = 736 acres
Hanwell: 4.5 hides demesne + 3.75 hides tenants = 8 hides x 64 acres = 512 acres
However, the Greenford figures include 5 virgates held by the Frenchman, whereas only demesne and villein ploughteams are recorded, so presumably the total should be reduced by 80 acres to 656 acres. This would give a ratio of about 109 acres per team with 6 ploughs or 94 acres with 7 ploughs. For Hanwell’s 5 teams the ratio would be 102 acres per team. In each case this is about 1½ times the 64-acre hide, perhaps indicating that about a third was left fallow each year.
Can we use this ratio to calculate the approximate extent of the arable in Domesday Morden? Like Morden, the Middlesex estates sampled above are situated on the London Clay, so a similar ratio might be expected. In 1086 there were 3 demesne and 4 tenant ploughteams in Morden, which would give a range between 650 and 760 acres. If we compare this with acreages recorded in later records, the 1312 extent details 307½ acres demesne arable in Morden ‘by the perch of 16½ feet’,25 while the c.1225 custumal – which seems to correspond to the virgated tenant holdings in the 1312 extent – reveals that, ignoring the three freeholds, there were 16 virgates of the customary tenants at 20 acres plus Swein’s 3 acres,26 a total of some 630 acres for the entire estate. This comparison gives no impression that the total arable within the manor of Morden had increased since Domesday, though a slight fall is possible. However, this comparison might be considered too conjectural to justify any valid conclusion!
If we were to conclude that the overall extent of the arable had not increased in the post-Domesday period, an alternative scenario would be that the demesne arable had been reduced in size, allowing additional customary tenements to be created from former demesne. There is strong evidence that this was happening on many estates across the country in the late 11th and the 12th centuries.27 In some instances the less productive acres were let out to villeins, but more commonly the entire demesne of an estate was leased for a fixed rent – ad firmam – often for the life of the individual lessee, though these ‘farmers’ could occasionally comprise the whole body of tenantry. One indicator for such contraction of direct management by landlords is the reduction in the weekly labour services due from customary tenants – as the demesne arable contracted there was less demand for such services. Sometimes whole communities became liable for purely money rents instead of the traditional labour services, while elsewhere individuals managed to have their labour services commuted for an additional money payment. The c.1225 custumal and the 1312 extent both indicate that regular weekly labour services in Morden were comparatively light – only 1 day a week – though other occasional services were also required from time to time. Was this because the labour services attached to the original customary tenements had been shared among the new tenants of subdivided Domesday holdings, or had the need for labour services lessened since the estate had first been created, due to a reduction in the size of the arable demesne?
Although some landlords were leasing excess demesne arable to tenants at this period, Westminster Abbey was already farming out its entire demesne at Morden before the Domesday survey was made, though it had been taken back into direct management by 1225. Barbara Harvey points out that in 1086 the abbey’s estate at Morden was ‘certainly at farm for [it] rendered to the monks a sum (or perhaps the equivalent in kind) in excess of its Domesday value’ (see below, page 96).28 Although it is possible that the demand for labour services decreased at the time the demesne was first leased, by 1225 the number of customary tenants liable to render them had more than doubled since Domesday, though it is not clear whether the total of such services had been increased or just reapportioned. Landlords had three options when creating new holdings – customary tenements owing both money rents and weekly labour services, customary tenements owing mainly money rents with occasional services, or freeholds owing just money rents. The abbey had chosen the third option in the case of the five freehold virgates, but the first option for the customary holdings. The implication is that the new customary tenements date from a period when labour services were required to support a reinvigorated demesne, but that the five free virgates were created later, when the demesne already had sufficient labour services.29
There are indicators that the Morden estate had undergone major reorganisation before 1312, and probably before 1225. Not only had the number of customary tenements doubled since 1086, but the demesne land seems to have undergone a process of rationalisation. Whereas most of the tenant arable land was in scattered strips in the open fields each side of Lower Morden Lane, the 307½ acres of demesne land were in 24 consolidated blocks, an average of almost 13 acres, though the largest was 36¾ acres and the smallest just 1¾ acres.30 Furthermore, some of these blocks have personal names, such as Durandesfeld and Wulfardes Croftes, suggesting that they had formerly been tenant holdings.
If such a reorganisation were to go hand in hand with the creation of additional customary holdings, it would not only ensure sufficient labour services to run the newly-rationalised demesne more effectively but also serve as an incentive to gain the cooperation of the tenantry in the reallocation of their plots. Although the date of this reorganisation is not recorded, we have suggested that it probably took place before the creation of the freeholds, and certainly before 1225, so it would have occurred during the period that the demesne was leased at farm. No doubt a far-sighted farmer saw the possibilities inherent in such a reorganisation, and was able to gain the support of both the local tenantry and the abbey’s officials. But whether this included an expansion of the customary arable holdings or merely a gradual redistribution of the existing holdings is far from clear.
We have seen that by 1312 most of the virgated tenements were in Lower Morden, though a couple were in the Central Road area. The Lower Morden settlement then consisted of some 16 messuages around a green at the junction of Bow Lane and Lower Morden Lane (see map 1.6 on page 13). As there were roughly the same number of tenements c.1225 as in 1312, it seems likely that some at least were similarly located here in the early 13th century. But had the Domesday population also occupied messuage plots here? Were the additional customary tenants housed by dividing the eight Domesday villein messuages? Alternatively, had a Domesday settlement here been extended to provide additional messuage-plots? Or was this perhaps a new settlement of post-Domesday origin, created as part of a general expansion and reorganisation of the estate? If the latter, where did the eight villeins, five cottars and one slave live in 1086?
The Domesday villein settlement
The 1312 extent reveals that four of the Lower Morden tenants had the surname ate Cherche. This seems to indicate that their ancestors had once lived near the church, rather than in Lower Morden. As we saw in chapter 1, no church is mentioned in Domesday Book, and the earliest extant record is from 1157.31 But Domesday Book omitted some known Saxon churches, and the church’s dedication to St Lawrence has led to the suggestion that a church had stood here in Saxon times.32 Another 1312 tenant family was named ate Rythe, suggesting residence near a brook or rythe. Was this the East Pyl brook which has followed various courses over the centuries but which was crossed by the London–Epsom road by a ‘stonebridge’ on its way towards Lower Morden and beyond (see chapter 1 page 12)?
During the medieval period several of the Lower Morden tenements had detached crofts of 1 or 2 acres along the London–Epsom road, between the church and the junction with Lower Morden Lane.
One of the 10-acre holdings based in Lower Morden acquired the name Bexwells [X] after John Bexwell, who held it in the mid-15th century. In 1312 the tenant had been Thomas ate Cherche. John Bexwell and his wife Agnes passed ‘Chyrcher’s cottage, curtilage and 10 acres’ to their daughter Johanne and her husband Robert Hardyng in September 1466, by the usual method of surrendering it at the manorial court.33 In 1488 the Hardyngs surrendered the property to John and Margerie Williams, but it was now only 9 acres.34 However, in April 1466 Margaret Drayton had been admitted to a one-acre holding which she passed to her daughter in 1486, when it was described as ‘one acre of land lying on the west of the church of Morden next to land of John Spyke on the east’ [X1].35 Later records name this one-acre croft as Bexwells.36 It seems likely that Margaret Drayton had obtained this croft from John Bexwell in 1466, but the record has not survived. The croft eventually passed to John Smith, who surrendered it and some other properties in 1587 to Richard Garth, who had purchased the manor in 1553/4.37 The exact boundaries of this croft cannot now be traced, as part seems to have already been swallowed up by its neighbours before 1682, when a later Richard Garth granted a 99-year lease of just half an acre ‘in a certayn close called Boxwels lying contiguous to the churchyard in Mordon’ in exchange for another half-acre plot adjoining (see chapter 13 page 292).38 It is listed among the manor’s leasehold lands in 1745,39 but by 1782, when the exchange was confirmed, it had been built upon, being described as ‘all that messuage or tenement with buildings, garden or orchard containing in whole half an acre formerly part of Boxwells contiguous with the Churchyard’.40 It is clear from the 1838 tithe map, however, that much of this half-acre (plot 178) was taken from former roadside waste, retaining only a fraction of the original Bexwells croft. The 18th-century house now forms part of a residential home next door to the church, which is for some unknown reason called Manor House.
Adjoining the residential home is the George inn. The oldest part of the present building, fronting the road, has been built on a strip of land taken in from roadside waste in the 1290s [I8],41 and a building here was probably occupied as an alehouse by the 1460s if not earlier.42 The land behind this roadside strip, now occupied by extensions to the inn, the Travelodge and the car park, represents the 1469 ‘land of John Spyke’ mentioned above [W1], though later exchanges have altered its boundaries (see above and chapter 13 page 292). Spyke had bought this 2-acre croft of freehold land some time before 1400,43 and it presumably had once belonged to one of the two freehold tenements in Morden, probably Wynteworthes in Lower Morden [W]. In 1517 it was described as ‘a croft of land lying towards the church of Morden’,44 in 1522 as ‘one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn’,45 and when sold in 1598 as 2 acres ‘in a close called Boxwells adioyning and lying on the north side of the foresaid Messuage or Tenemente’, referring to the adjoining inn site, sold at the same time.46
Next to the George was an 8-acre croft, known as Gyrmans [C1] by 1536, when John Holt surrendered to Thomas Toller four tenements in Lower Morden – Rydons half-virgate [R], and Adams [A], Cokeseys [C] and Swans [S] virgates.47 Holt retained for himself ‘one close containing by estimation 8 acres of land called Gyrmans and another close called Netherlotkyns containing 2 acres by estimation’. In 1570 Gyrmans was described as a ‘tenement commonly called Girmans containing 8 acres land lying between the queen’s highway on the south and demesne land on the north’,48 and in 1579 and 1624 Gyrmans was said to have adjoined Stonebridge Close (part of tithe plot 91), named after the adjoining bridge that carried the Epsom Road over the East Pyl brook.49 By 1594 Gyrmans was said to be of only 7 acres when included in the lease of the farm from which the Morden Park estate was to be formed in 1768/9.50 The 1536 acreage was ‘by estimation’ and had perhaps since been measured more accurately. By 1745 ‘Garmans’ had been extended to 8½ acres by exchanges made in the 17th century.51 It is now part of the golf course within the park, though its former boundary hedge is probably represented by a row of trees shown on the 1865 Ordnance Survey maps (see map 4.2 on page 86). The whereabouts of Netherlotkyns [L1] is not stated, but a possible location would be on the south-west of Garmans, in the later Stonebridge Close across the East Pyl brook, perhaps alongside the 2-acre holding belonging to Edwards virgate tenement mentioned in 1399 [E1].52 Thomas and Emmote Spyk held both properties in the 15th century.53
It seems clear that Garmans had been amalgamated from the 2-acre crofts belonging to the three virgate tenements and the 1-acre croft of the half-virgate tenement based in Lower Morden. Netherlotkyns similarly represented a croft belonging to a virgate tenement in Lower Morden [L], and Bexwells croft [X1] had belonged to a half-virgate there. Edwards virgate tenement [E] was also in Lower Morden. In addition to these seven copyhold tenements in Lower Morden, the freehold tenement there also had a detached croft [W1], later annexed to the George site.
Could these eight crofts represent the former messuage-plots of the eight Domesday villeins?
Did this settlement originally front the London–Epsom road or the old Roman road now known as Stane Street, which ran across the present Morden Park? Its route was roughly parallel to the tree-line suggested above as the boundary hedge of Gyrmans, the crofts having been extended to this hedgerow once the road went out of use. A stretch of the Roman road forms the parish boundary between Pylford Bridge and Lower Morden Lane, so at least part survived beyond the late-Saxon period. However, the earliest Saxon settlers seem to have deliberately avoided the line of Roman roads when siting new settlements. ‘If the settlers had themselves used the grass-grown roads as lines of invasion they might well have decided that it was prudent not to settle directly on a track along which others, and rivals, might come’.54 If this was the site of the Domesday settlement, perhaps it had in turn replaced a more scattered earlier settlement pattern.
The Domesday cottar settlement
It seems likely that the descendants or successors of the five Domesday cottars were among the new customary tenants granted virgate or half-virgate holdings in Lower Morden, as the custumal c.1225 makes no mention of ‘landless’ cottagers. If we are right in identifying the eight crofts between the church and Lower Morden Lane as the villein settlement, where might the cottars have lived?
The possibility that the Lower Morden settlement grew out of a cottar settlement cannot be ignored, but its distance from the manorial centre might make this unlikely. However, it was noted above that one customary virgate tenement – that held by Thomas Belle [B] in 1312 – was not in Lower Morden but in Central Road (see map 1.4 on page 9). It also differed from the Lower Morden tenements in that it was a compact holding, not scattered in strips in the open fields. Thomas and Emma Belle had been disposing of their tenement in 1- or 2-acre parcels since 1298, but by the late 16th century most of these had been reunited in the hands of John Smith and it is possible to identify the location of his holdings in later records.55 The Belles’ virgate had occupied plots 220, 259, 250–248, 245, 242 and part of 240 & 241 on the 1838 tithe map and schedule.56 The roadside plots had been colonised from roadside waste at the end of the 13th century (see chapter 5 page 117), and kinks in the eastern boundary of plots 240 and 241 reveal the original extent of Belles virgate. Why had this compact block of 20-acres been allocated as a customary holding, so unlike its fellows in Lower Morden? Had it already been tenant property before the reorganisation? It is possible that the five Domesday cottars had occupied this land with their cottages and crofts. Although the London–Epsom road crofts were only of 1 or 2 acres, most of the Lower Morden messuages and crofts seem to have been about 4 acres. Had the cottar crofts in Morden similarly been of 4 acres? This is the size of holding frequently associated with cottars, and seems a reasonable size in comparison with the 3-acre holding that appears to have been allocated to the former slave. (The suggestion that this area had been included within an enclosed ‘park’ after 1086, before reverting to customary tenure, is considered in chapter 6.)
The Domesday slave
Although slavery in England was in decline by the late 11th century, it has been estimated that perhaps 10 per cent of the population may still have been slaves [servi] in 1086.57 So the single slave listed among the abbey’s assets in Morden was not unique. In fact Westminster Abbey had 149 slaves on its estates in 1086.58 It is generally considered that the prime responsibility of Saxon agricultural slaves was as ploughmen, and that landowners increasingly opted for a system whereby freed slaves were granted a small landholding in part return for their labour.59 Christopher Dyer suggests that ‘the descendants of freed slaves of the tenth and eleventh centuries can be identified after 1100 because they held small tenements in return for heavy services, such as carrying out full-time tasks as ploughmen or shepherds’.60 The custumal c.1225 has the following entry at the end of its list of customary tenants: ‘William Swein, for 3 acres, 12d’ [Y].61
No details are given of the labour services William owed, but in 1312 a descendant also paid 12d for his holding, and his duties are spelt out at length:62
Geoffrey le Sweyne holds the tenement formerly belonging to Robert le Sweyne at a rent per annum of 12d at the four principal terms equally. And he shall give as medsilver 1d at the feast of St John the Baptist. And he shall find at each of the three boonworks of the lord’s corn-reaping in Autumn 2 men with food provided by the lord as above, a work worth as above and at 2 dry boonworks for the lord’s corn-reaping in Autumn, namely at each boonwork 1 man as above worth as above. And he shall go with a rod over the reapers. And he shall find 1 man at haymaking for 1 day in the lord’s meadow with food provided by the lord twice a day at the lord’s will. And he shall find 1 man at the cleaning of the millpond as often as it needs to be done with food provided by the lord twice a day. And the value of the work without deductions is ¼d. And they say that there are 15 who are assigned to this, and that it is not necessary to clean the aforesaid pond if it is well cleaned for the space of 10 years. And the total value of the work without deductions is 2s 11d. And so it is valued annually at 3½d. Also he shall find 1 man at the shearing of the sheep of the lord and he shall receive of the lord after dinner bread and cheese. And the value of the work is ½d. And he shall plough twice in a year with food provided by the lord twice a day if he has a plough [team] or with as many as he can yoke, at the will of the lord.
Geoffrey is listed among the free tenants, but we saw in chapter 2 that this seems to have indicated freedom from the obligation to perform weekly labour services, rather than a tenant of a freehold sold by charter. Although Geoffrey was not required to perform the weekly labour services due from tenants of virgates and half-virgates, his duties were quite onerous for one who only held 3 acres and would therefore have needed to find employment in order to earn his living.
The 1225 agreement about rerouting the road that had crossed the abbot’s court mentions Sweyn’s tenement as one of the landmarks. The abbey agreed to provide a new ‘common way for all riders and pedestrians and for carts direct from the north-west corner of their court of Morden to the south corner of their tenement in the same vill, next to the house of William son of Sweyn, on the west side’ (see chapter 1 page 3).63 This places Sweyn’s tenement in close proximity to the manorial centre, as would have been appropriate if it had originated as a slave- holding.
There is some uncertainty over the later descent of this holding, partly because later generations of the family obtained additional small properties in Morden, but also due to confusion over the names Sweyn, Swan and Sewyn. The Sweyn family continued to hold property in Morden until 1378, when John Sweyn senior died, and attempts were made to find his heir, a chaplain also named John, ‘the lord’s serf’ [nativus] or villein.64
In 1512 John Holt obtained a property described as ‘Swaynes toft, curtilage and 3 acres’ by surrender of Sir Lawrence Aylmer, and it was as ‘formerly Langton and Aylmer’ that ‘Swaynes toft, curtilage and 3 acres’ passed to Holt’s heirs in 1537.65 Unfortunately no record survives of Langton’s or Aylmer’s admittance.
However, 1512 was also the year that John Barker surrendered to Peter Goodfild ‘Swaynes toft, curtilage and 3 acres’, though the name Swaynes was not used in 1522 when John Goodfild surrendered a ‘cottage with garden adjoining and 3 acres formerly Simon Popsent then Thomas Drayton’ to George and Alice Lord.66 This seems a more likely candidate for the former slave- holding, as Goodfild also surrendered other properties to the Lords including the ½-acre Growtes [N0], which was also located at the southern end of Morden Hall Road, within the grounds of the
present Morden Lodge (see map on page 94), and it is likely that Swayne’s 3 acres were eventually absorbed into the curtilage of Growtes (in 1838 the grounds of Morden Lodge were 3 acres). By 1553 Growtes had become the Morden residence of the first lay lord of the manor of Morden, Edward Whitchurch – and the former slave-holding had become the setting for the sumptuous Tudor manor house (see chapter 12 page 262)!67
John Barker had inherited ‘Swaynes’ in 1508 from his uncle, Thomas Barker, who had it by surrender of Katerine Drayton, in 1487.68 She had inherited it in 1486 from her mother, Margaret Sewyn, who had been admitted in 1463 as joint-tenant with her first husband, Simon (not Thomas) Drayton, on surrender by William and Blanche Davy.69 They had it in 1455 from William Popsent, who had it from John Castelman junior in 1441.70 However, John had not received 3 acres but only ‘a cottage, curtilage and 1 acre of Sweynes formerly Henry Milward’ in 1437 from his mother, Julian Castelman, widow of Henry Mellewarde, who had surrendered ‘a cottage, curtilage and 1 acre of land formerly Edmund Sweyne’ to the joint use of himself and Julian, his third wife, in 1392 (see chapter 9 page 158).71 There is no indication of what had happened to the missing 2 acres before 1441.
The Domesday farmer
So far in this chapter we have identified the likely locations of the villein settlement, the cottar settlement and the holding subsequently allocated to the slave recorded in Domesday Book. But we have also noted one other tenant of Domesday Morden, the farmer of the demesne. The tenant-farmer is not named in any extant document, but he is likely to have been someone closely connected to the abbey, perhaps serving the abbey in some capacity or someone of influence whose support the abbey would want to secure – a leading churchman or a royal official. Barbara Harvey draws attention to ‘the expectation men had that the lords of great estates would reward some of their servants and well-wishers with estates in land’.72 In the 12th century the abbey’s known farmers included bishops and clerks, earls and sheriffs.73 The farmer would be granted ‘the whole manorial estate, tenant-land as well as demesne’, probably for life, in return for which he paid the abbey his £15 a year, in cash or as a food render.74 As a life- tenant he ‘probably needed the monks’ permission for major changes, whether on the demesne or on the tenant-land’.75 Towards the end of the 12th century, developments in the land law made life-grants less attractive to the monks, as lessees gained the right to alienate their leases to third parties who had no personal links to the abbey, and as tenancies for life began to be recognised as heritable free tenements which could easily slip from the abbey’s control. At the same time canon law was beginning to frown on the alienation of monastic properties. But perhaps the greatest argument against the practice was economic, as rents agreed decades before were becoming less realistic and were proving insufficient to fund the everyday needs of the monastery.76 By the time the custumal c.1225 was produced, the demesne at Morden, together with the rest of the convent’s estates, was under the direct control of the abbey and its officials. Some of the individual custumals might well have been drawn up as each estate was recovered from the hands of its last farmer.77
The Lower Morden settlement
It has been suggested above that the abbey’s estate at Morden underwent major reorganisation between 1086 and 1225. This seems to have included a rationalisation of the demesne lands from scattered strips to consolidated parcels of land, and also a doubling of the customary holdings, involving the creation of the settlement at Lower Morden. In addition freeholds totalling 5 virgates were created, which were not subject to labour services. The likelihood is that these freeholds were a later development, at a time when the services required to maintain the demesne had already been apportioned among the virgates already in existence.78 In the next two chapters, which examine the possible origins of these freeholdings, it will be argued that the evidence suggests that some of them might have been created around the middle of the 12th century, which would then indicate that the reorganisation of the demesne was probably completed within a few decades of the Domesday survey.
This accords with published results from Norfolk of field walking round a number of settlements set around an open green area, such as we find in Lower Morden, which revealed an absence of pottery from before the 12th century in every case. These studies concluded that the original Anglo-Saxon settlements in that region were closely nucleated round the now isolated churches and that the greens were settled in the 12th century.79 However, we should not assume that settlements migrated en masse at a particular moment of time. Tom Wilkinson argues that gradual expansion from an early core was the norm for settlement nucleation, rather than a planned ‘nucleation event’, and this seems to be the case with the Lower Morden settlement. An initial phase of new tenement creation would be followed by expansion as other tenants realised the benefits of the new site.80 One clue to the development of the new settlement is that, of the eight tenements in Lower Morden associated with crofts along the London–Epsom road, none were situated between Bow Lane and Mede Lane (see map 1.6 on page 13). Adams [A], Edwards [E], Bexwells [X] and Wynteworthes [W] were all south of the green in Lower Morden Lane, as was Rydons [R], an irregular shaped tenement that looks like a later encroachment. Lotekyns [L] was west of Mede Lane, while Cokeseys [C] and Swans [S], to the east of Bow Lane, occupied messuage-plots extending onto the green itself, as is clear from the early large-scale Ordnance Survey maps (see map 8.3 on page 147).
The likely scenario would be a settlement for new customary tenants established to the north of the green between the two lanes, around the beginning of the 12th century (possibly developing from an earlier settlement). In due course some of the existing customary tenants were attracted to the new site, and were allocated messuage-plots south of the green, while retaining their former crofts along the London–Epsom road. Another found a site west of Mede Lane [L]. After a while even two of the more established families were persuaded to move, and were permitted to encroach on part of the north-eastern edge of the green – Swans [S] was originally Huberds, a name occurring in the c.1225 custumal, while its neighbour [C] was held in 1312 by one of the many Attecherches, whose ancestors had probably once lived near the church. At some stage a plot at the extreme south-east was carved out for Rydons [R]. In the late 13th century the Poybele family holdings were amalgamated [F] [G] and the redundant house-plot [F5] was donated to the church and rector (see chapter 8 page 146), while the croft behind it became a separate smallholding [F2]. Similarly a part of Wynteworthes [W] was also hived off to form a smallholding, with a house-plot partially extending onto the green [P]. Was the cottage-plot west of Bow Lane [F3] also an encroachment on the exit funnel from the green? Various cottage-plots were also created within family holdings for dependent relatives.
The picture is not entirely clear, as Wynteworthes [W] was a large tenement of some 70 acres, presumably formed by the amalgamation of smaller holdings after 1225. Was this before or after the suggested move from near the George site to Lower Morden? Its messuage-plot and croft, south of the green adjoining Wynters Lane, are larger than those of its eastern neighbours.
Similar uncertainties relate to the two moieties of the so-called free tenement formerly belonging to Alice wife of Matthew [F] [G]. They were also south of the green, but had no crofts along the London–Epsom road. The evidence indicates that they had been amalgamated, and the redundant house-plot and croft disposed of, well before 1297 when John Snoter surrendered the former croft [F2].81 Snoter was already in occupation when Isabel Poybele granted the adjoining land [F5] to the rector between 1273 and 1301 (see chapter 8 page 146).82 But they seem to have been two separate virgate tenements c.1225, which suggests that the settlement south of the green was already in existence by then.
Probably the only way to test these hypotheses would be by excavation or test-pitting, though successive waves of building work on the Hatfeild School site in Lower Morden have revealed little if any of its medieval past. The only reported find is this fragment of pottery (image 4.4) discovered in 1975. Perhaps in the light of the suggestions in this chapter more focused excavation will enable further finds, particularly of datable pottery fragments. 5: EXPANSION ONTO THE WASTE 101
Morden Common
Uncultivated land was often described as ‘waste’, although it still served an important role within the economy, especially as rough grazing for livestock (see page 24). The 1838 tithe apportionment map shows that the 83¾-acre Morden Common occupied a triangular area in the west of the parish, separated from the bulk of the parish by the Pyl brook.1 The only other land within Morden west of the Pyl brook was the farm known since the 15th century as Hobalds (see below). Morden Common had been part of a vast expanse of open pasture known as Sparrowfeld, intercommoned for centuries by tenants of the manors and villages of Cheam, Cuddington, Ewell and Malden, as well as Morden. By the 14th century there were frequent conflicts between the various communities competing for valuable resources. As early as 1280 tenants of neighbouring Malden had found it necessary to remind the archbishop of Canterbury and the prior of Christ Church Canterbury, who each held a manor in Cheam, that the free tenants of Malden compastured in 300 acres here,2 and over the years further disputes are recorded between Cheam and Malden,3 and between Cheam and Morden.
One such dispute in 1530 ended in an agreement between the archbishop and Westminster Abbey, as lord of the manor of Morden, ‘for and concernyng the communyng, pasturyng, grasing, and fedyng of the Rother Bestis called catell of the said tenantes of the said lordshyppe of Morden and for the fellynge of furcys and busshes for fyrewood and busshes for their heggeyng and other necessaryes in uppon the comen of Sparfeld’.4 Earlier disputes had erupted into acts of violence against both property and persons, especially in the 1390s when extant court records reveal a series of attacks and counter-attacks between the neighbouring communities. In a case heard in 1393/4 some Morden tenants had carried off 200 of the archbishop’s sheep.5 Another case, heard in 1396, involved a group from Cheam accused of seizing and detaining cattle belonging to Morden, and some of the same men were prosecuted the following year for a violent assault upon one of the abbot’s servants in 1393.6 No doubt the perambulation of the joint parish boundary by the bailiff and steward of Westminster Abbey and the archbishop’s steward, recorded in the Morden account rolls for 1392/93, was a response to these events in an attempt to define each community’s rights.7 But there were no long-lasting solutions as, during a perambulation c.1415, some Cheam tenants attacked a procession of Morden tenants, stealing their cross and banners. These were returned the following year at the request of the archbishop, but the Cheam men appeared at Morden church and ordered them not to make any more processions, and at the same time were said to have carried off all the tenants’ animals from their demesne.8 Morden was in royal ownership from 1539/40 to 1553/54 and in 1553 an appeal was made to the king by several of his tenants of Morden because tenants of Cheam had again driven away their cattle and beasts.9 The plans or ‘plotts’ already referred to were produced to settle this latest dispute about the boundaries, but again without long-lasting effect, as the extant Morden manorial records include various 16th-century transcripts of earlier disputes, collected by the new lord of the manor after 1554.10 Were these disputes the inevitable responses to conflicts of interest as expanding neighbouring communities tried to exercise their ancient rights in what was a finite area of land, or did the Cheam tenants have a genuine grievance over the rights claimed by tenants of Morden?
The second ‘plott’ of 1553 shows a boundary line between the prior’s manor of West or Upper Cheam, and the archbishop’s manor of East or Nether Cheam,11 and these have been plotted onto a more modern map on the facing page. Although the portion of Sparrowfeld allocated to Upper Cheam is larger than that allocated to Nether Cheam, the two sections are comparable in shape. However, the section claimed for Morden Common occupies more than half of Nether Cheam’s share! Could Cheam’s claim to Morden Common have been justified? Of course, boundary lines within open land shown on a mid 16th-century map may not reflect an ancient situation. But the map also shows a more substantial boundary – a ‘banke’ marked along the western edge of the Pyl brook. Surely this was not created merely to stop animals falling into the brook! But why would Morden tenants create a bank to mark a boundary between their arable and common pasture – a boundary already marked by the brook itself? Is it not it more likely that this had been created as a boundary between Morden and Nether Cheam?
This might indicate that Morden did not originally have any rights to common pasture on the west bank of the brook, but only on its east bank. Between the Pyl brook and Lower Morden Lane lay the medieval open arable field known as the Southfeld. But a glance at the 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps reveals that the Southfeld adjoined Sutton Common on its eastern edge, and the northern boundary of Sutton Common in the early 19th century was a continuation of the line of Lower Morden Lane (see map 5.3 on page 100). It seems highly likely that at one time the common pasture stretched in a continuous arc from Sutton Common to Sparrowfeld and included the later Southfeld of Morden and the ‘Sutton Feldes’ shown on the 1553 ‘plott’. The plott also shows an ancient enclosure in the southern corner of the Southfeld by Pylford Bridge, very similar to the ancient enclosures shown on the plott along the ‘London Waye’ within Cheam. It does not seem beyond the bounds of possibility that the Southfeld had been converted from common pasture to arable much later than the ancient enclosures along the London–Epsom road.
There is other evidence for an early enclosure within what was to become the Southfeld adjoining Sutton Common. The 1838 tithe apportionment and map for Morden shows plot 89 as a 9-acre field called ‘Sutton Ash’.12 In 1814 Sutton Ash contained almost 9½ acres when leased to Thomas Sherwood,13 but in 1745 a ‘close of arable land called Sutton Ash’ in the occupation of Jonas Lovejoy was only 8 acres.14 A second close called Sutton Ash listed in 1745, containing 2½ acres, appears in another series of leases from 1768 to 1783 as ‘a close heretofore called Sutton Ash now called the little two Acres adjoining Cursed Close’.15 In 1629 both the Sutton Ash closes were leased to William Batts.16 A copy of a court roll entry of 1521 gives an earlier version of the name: ‘Suttonarsshe outside the Common’, a furlong in which John Hyller held two ½-acre strips.17 This is a variant of the fieldname element ersh, which is thought to be evidence of occasional cultivation of the earliest Saxon period, on relatively light soil within an area of heavy clay.18
As we have seen in the previous chapter, the arable land north of Lower Morden Lane was known for centuries as Old Mordens, suggesting that it predated the arable land within the Southfeld. We also saw in the previous chapter that the number of customary holdings doubled between 1086 and 1225, and we considered the possibility that additional arable land had become available. It was pointed out that the Southfeld totalled some 175 acres, excluding the crofts and tofts of the settlement south of Lower Morden Lane. When one allows for the allocation of some former arable land north of Lower Morden Lane for further crofts and tofts, we see that sufficient additional arable land for the eight new 20-acre virgate holdings could have been obtained by converting former common pasture east of the Pyl brook into the open arable field that became known as the Southfeld.
In the late 11th or early 12th centuries there was little pressure on common pasture. It was not until the late 13th century that population growth reached the stage where there was a shortage of land. Westminster Abbey and its farmers could well have decided that there was sufficient common pasture within the area of Sparrowfeld west of the Pyl brook, and that former common pasture on the east bank could be converted to arable. This was the view endorsed by the Provisions or Statute of Merton in 1236, clause 4 of which reads:19
Because many great Men of England, which have infeoffed Knights and their Freeholders of small Tenements in their great Manors, have complained that they cannot make their Profit of the residue of their Manors, as of Wastes, Woods, and Pastures, whereas the same Feoffees have sufficient Pasture as much as belongeth to their Tenements; It is provided and granted; That whenever such Feoffees do bring an Assise of Novel disseisin for their Common of Pasture, and it is knowledged before the Justicers, that they have as much Pasture as sufficeth to their Tenements, and that they have free Egress and Regress from their Tenement unto the Pasture, then let them be contented therewith; and they on whom it was complained shall go quit of as much as they have made their Profit of their Lands, Wastes, Woods, and Pastures; And if they alledge that they have not sufficient Pasture, or sufficient Ingress and Egress according to their Hold, then let the Truth be inquired by Assise; And if it be found by the Assise, that the same Deforceors have disturbed them of their Ingress and Egress, or that they had not sufficient Pasture, as before is said, then shall
they recover their Seisin by view of the Inquest: so that by their Discretion and Oath the Plaintiffs shall have sufficient Pasture, and sufficient Ingress and Egress in form aforesaid; And the Disseisors shall be amerced, and shall yield Damages, as they were wont before this Provision. And if it be certified by the Assise, that the Plaintiffs have sufficient Pasture with Ingress and Egress as before is said, let the other make their Profit of the residue, and go quit of that Assise.
At an earlier period it is unlikely that the neighbouring communities would have objected to the conversion of the Southfeld from common pasture to arable – with so much pasture available to them in Sparrowfeld they probably did not make use of the pasture on the opposite bank of the brook. It was not until later that conflict arose.
There is later evidence that a community could exercise limited rights in the common pasture of an adjoining community. As late as 1806, when plans were first being mooted to enclose Merton Common, parishioners of Morden were entitled to object. Among the documents that used to be in the parish chest at St Lawrence was this ‘Notice having been stuck on the door of the church’:20
Notice is hereby Given to the Proprietors of Lands and Estates in the Parishes of Merton and Moredon in the County of Surrey and to all persons whom it may concern That at the next Session of Parliament a Petition will be presented to the Honorable the House of Commons for leave to bring in a Bill in order to obtain an Act of Parliament for dividing alloting and inclosing the Open and Common Fields Meadows Commonable Lands and Waste Grounds in the Parishes of Merton and Morden in the County of Surrey.
A vestry meeting was hurriedly called, and a petition against enclosure was signed by or on behalf of 39 Morden parishioners, claiming that ‘the Majority of the Cottagers have large Families and will be wholly deprived of firing which at present they enjoy from the Common. That it is not in their power to purchase Coals or other fuel and will drive them to the greatest Distress – We therefore pray those whom it may Concern that the Common may remain in an open State as it now is – subject only to such Stint or other Improvement as the Inhabitants in Vestry shall approve and direct’. As the manor of Merton was not in the same ownership as the manor of Morden, it seems clear that this proposal only referred to Merton Common.
It seems strange that parishioners of Morden could object to the enclosure of Merton Common, but they had certain rights as the common extended as far as the parish boundary. The 18th-century writer Richard Gough, in his The History of Myddle, describes a similar claim to common ‘by reason of vicinage [or proximity], but all that they ought to claime is onely liberty to turne out theire catle att theire owne gates, upon a litle of theire owne land which they have left out beefore theire gates, and soe they streake out further; but they cannott staffe, drive, nor incloase, nor hinder incloaseing’.21 It would appear that neighbours had limited rights over adjacent common land, and it is possible that Morden’s original claims within trans-Pyl brook Sparrowfeld was of a similar origin but that later generations managed to procure full common rights. Merton Common was eventually enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1816, and allotments were parcelled out among the various claimants.22 Similarly Cheam Common was enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1806.23 By contrast, all rights in Morden Common had long been in the hands of the Garth lords of the manor, so they were able to enclose it at will without recourse to Parliament.
Hobalds
One of the free tenants c.1225 was William de Wattune or Walton, who paid 2 shillings for a virgate ‘freely’ – presumably free of any other tenurial obligation. Shortly afterwards William granted this property to Merton Priory, but with certain restrictions that gave rise to a great deal of litigation for which many records survive (see chapter 8 page 141). One such document explains that the land for which William paid his 2 shillings a year was in West Morden.24
By the 15th century Merton Priory’s estate in West Morden was known as Hobalds.25 Following the dissolution of the priory, the Ministers’ Accounts for 1538 include the account of Thomas Fremondis, ‘farmer of Hobbaldis’ for a mansion called Hobbaldis with lands in Morden, Malden and Merton together with lands called Appuldore in Malden and Kingston, for which he paid £10 a year.26 In addition, Sir Thomas Hennage farmed the priory’s former demesne land which included areas of meadowland in Merton and also a ‘meadow called hobbalds meade’, which later records show adjoined Hobalds in Morden.27 The Appuldore lands later became attached to Blagdon Farm, one of the subdivisions of the priory’s West Barnes estate in Merton,28 but the other lands are detailed in a lease of 4 October 1611, whereby ‘Robert Garth of Morden Esq devised and let to farm to William Coxitter of Marton yeoman’:29
all that the capital messuage and farm of Hobballs with appurtenances in Morden, Merton and Malden, late in the tenure or occupation of Martyn Cottye deceased, now or late in the occupation of Christian Cottye son of Martyn Cottye, and all houses, buildings, orchards, gardens, backsides, barns, stables, lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, commonings, easements and commodities belonging, and all those closes and grounds to the said farm belonging containing by estimation 140 acres, for 21 years at 3 score and ten pounds a year, particulars as follows:-
Hobalds is depicted on both plotts or plans of Sparrowfeld common of 1553, which include sketches of the sheephouse, and reveal that the 30-acre ‘Hyde Hyll’ was in Malden parish. The 30-acre ‘Merton Field’ was, as its name indicates, in Merton parish.30 The Morden land lay to the east of these two fields, and totalled 82½ acres, plus the 18 or so acres of Hobalds Mead. Is this an 80-acre hide, with appurtenant meadowland? When the priory was arguing its case before the Curia Regis against William Walton’s widow in 1231 the land was described as ‘a carucate of land with pertinents in Morden’, rather than a virgate as in the c.1225 custumal – a carucate being another term for a hide, or 4 virgates.31 Had Walton held the whole of this hide, or had some come from one of his fellow-freeholders c.1225, the 1½ virgates of John Ducet or the 2½ virgates of Richard de Winnelendune? Or was Walton’s virgate much bigger than the customary 20 acres?
John Blair observes that, although the term virgate is normally used of a regular-sized customary holding, usually with strips scattered across the open fields, ‘not all Surrey virgates were of this regular kind, and even the townships which contained them also had others of a very different character. In areas of extensive post-Conquest clearance the range of virgate sizes is much wider, extending in the Weald as high as 80 acres.’32
Had this area been subject to assarting – conversion of common pasture to arable – or even enclosed (purpresture)? The parish boundaries here are certainly distinctive (see map 5.4 on page 106). Although the eastern boundary of Malden parish normally follows the Beverley brook, the 30-acre Hide Hill was east of the brook, but still in Malden. On its northern edge the 30-acre Merton Field also departs from the normal boundary line, this time the parish boundary between Merton and Morden. Both fields are almost square in shape, and resemble an interlocking puzzle.
It is generally agreed that Surrey parishes crystallised, and their boundaries became fixed, during the episcopate of Richard of Ilchester as bishop of Winchester (1174–89), though the estate boundaries of Merton described in a 10th-century charter seem to correspond fairly closely to the later parish boundaries.33 The eastern boundary followed the Wandle or ‘Hidebourne’ and the western boundary followed what is clearly the Beverley brook. In 967 the landmarks along the southern boundary, separating Merton from Morden, were ‘slade Edichs’ and ‘Benanberwe’, listed east to west.
This area in the south-west corner of Merton parish is now known as Motspur Park, after a farm called Motts Furse Farm in nearby Malden parish. It is not just the parish boundaries that meet here but hundred boundaries as well – Malden is in Kingston Hundred, Merton in Brixton Hundred and Morden and Cheam in Wallington Hundred. Hundreds were the judicial and administrative divisions within the shires. The farm was probably named from an early tenant – a Henry Mott is mentioned in a rental of Malden manor from 1358 – but I was tempted by the fact that many ‘Mot’ place-names come from the Anglo-Saxon word gemot, referring to a meeting-place.34 Could this have been a meeting-place of the hundred courts? Jeremy Harte, curator of Bourne Hall Museum in Ewell, and Surrey co-ordinator of the Landscapes of Governance project, kindly corrected me. He pointed out that mōt is never found on its own, only in compounds, and also that all the forms of the name, from its 1627 spelling as ‘Motes Firs Ferm’ onwards, end with an ‘s’, as one would expect with a genitive form from a personal name. So the irregularities in the borders here do not relate to a Saxon meeting- place. Jeremy suggests they are more likely to have originated through the allocation among neighbouring communities of an area of intercommoning similar to nearby Sparrowfeld.
Sparrowfeld lay immediately to the south of this area, on the other side of Green Lane and, like Hobalds, was on the west bank of the Pyl brook. As we saw above, it was intercommoned by several neighbouring parishes and estates, and was the subject of frequent disputes among these communities. Were these disputes exacerbated by the privatisation of substantial areas of former intercommoning to the north of Green Lane?
Barbara Harvey notes the link between free tenure and colonisation of former ‘waste’ or common pasture:35
Most of the tenants who ever held agricultural land by one of the free tenures in the demesne manors probably owed their good fortune to a colonising situation. In this respect, the estates of Westminster Abbey were not, of course, unusual: assarting and freedom quite commonly advanced together in the early Middle Ages, and this for reasons which are easily discovered. A landlord who refrained from imposing the burdens of villein tenure on new lands in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries suited himself as much as his tenants. The extent of his demesnes may now have been more or less settled, and the services that should maintain it more or less apportioned between the virgates already in existence. He did not always need the extra services that an extension of villeinage would have provided; indeed, the wisdom of relying whole-heartedly on customary services for demesne needs was already in question. Further, a heavy burden of rent and services, such as villein holdings often bore, might make the work of colonisation, expensive as it could be, impracticable; it would also repel many new settlers. Long-term as well as short-term considerations seemed to point to free tenures, or at least to the cash option instead of labour rent, if villein tenure was insisted upon.
These considerations evidently weighed both with the monks of Westminster and with their fee-farm tenants, for free holdings became extensive on the colonising manors of the Abbey’s fee in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, whether these manors were then in demesne or in the hands of such farmers.
This evidence seems to support the suggestion that the free holding or holdings that became Merton Priory’s Hobalds estate may have originated in colonisation of former intercommoning, and that the 12th or 13th centuries are the most likely for this to have begun. Clearly it was before 1225, when William de Walton was already holding his land in Morden. But documentation relating to the Malden section of the estate – Hide Hill – enables us to go further back in time.
Land in neighbouring Malden parish
In a legal dispute of 1206 it was claimed that Eudes de Malden had given the advowson of the church of Malden to Merton Priory at the time that he joined the community there.36 The prior produced Eudes’s charter, together with a formal confirmation of it by king Henry II (1154– 1189), in support of his claim before the Curia Regis. However, Eudes’s right to make such a gift was challenged by his daughter Gunnora and her husband, presumably after Eudes’s death, ‘because it was after the aforesaid Eudes gave himself to religion and took the habit that that charter was made’. In 1212, after several years of legal wrangling, the priory abandoned their claim to the advowson in exchange for 20 acres of land in Malden, mostly in acre- and half-acre- strips in three different fields.37
But Eudes had also given some land to Merton Priory, as had his father before him. The court records explain that ‘Eudes himself gave, and by charter confirmed to God and to the church of St Mary of Merton and to the canons there serving the Lord, the moiety of that field [campus] of Malden which is called Hide, the other moiety of which his father William formerly had given to the same church with a certain Gilbert and with a messuage next to the same Hide in pure and perpetual alms’.38 Presumably this Gilbert was a villein, and this piece of land was a distinct and separate part of Malden’s customary holdings.
A 1627 map of Malden depicts ‘Hobbals land’ as a compact holding in the south-east corner of the parish, well away from the open arable fields of the manor (see map 5.5 below).39 Similarly, the open field system in Merton was some distance to the north, while in Morden the open arable of Southfeld was to the south-east and that of Bowhill Shott lay to the north-east beyond the Common Meadow (see map 5.4 opposite). Hobalds was always a compact unit, quite distinct from the open fields, though in the early 19th century it expanded to take in enclosures from the former Southfeld during the reorganisation of the farms in Lower Morden.40 Hobalds Farm survived until 1890 when 125 acres in Morden were sold to Battersea Corporation for the new cemetery. Hide Hill is now occupied by Green Lane primary school together with grazing for horses from the nearby stables, while the Merton field has become the Sir Joseph Hood Playing Fields in Motspur Park.
Later records reveal that by the 16th century the priory only held 30 acres in Hide Hill. The customary virgate in Malden was of 16 acres,41 so these 30 acres would represent a half-hide, but was it the one given by Eudes or the one given by his father, William? No date is given for William’s gift, and all we know of Eudes’s gift is that it was made before Henry II died in 1189. There has been some scholarly confusion over the de Malden genealogy,42 but it seems clear that William was son of an earlier Eudes, who witnessed a charter thought to date from 1139/40.43 Thus William’s grant must be dated between 1140 and 1189. As we have seen above, it was towards the end of this period that Surrey parish boundaries became fixed.44 As the northern boundary of Hide Hill is by definition the southern boundary of the adjoining square field in Merton, the probability is that William’s earlier gift to Merton Priory was considered to be within Merton parish when the boundaries were fixed, while the southern half, still in Eudes’s possession, was deemed to be in Malden.
By the time of William’s gift the land was already being cultivated by Gilbert as a substantial villein holding. If Hide Hill had formerly been intercommoning, this would take the assarting back to the mid-12th century if not before. In which case, it would be reasonable to assume that the adjoining land in Morden had also been privatised from former intercommoning at a similar date.
However, an alternative origin for the hide has been suggested. Research by Rosamond Faith suggests that Hyde names may represent ‘the oldest type of independent Anglo-Saxon farm, predating the open field system’.45 Dr Faith cites many examples, several of which share similarities to Hide Hill in Malden. Thus in Shaw Cum Donnington, Berkshire: ‘The Hyde is an enclosed field of 33.5 acres on a tithe map of 1842, the parish boundary, which elsewhere runs mostly along natural features, forming an anomalous detour to include it in the neighbouring parish’.46 A frequent feature is location ‘on the edge of the parish, in areas which were not involved in its main field system … Several of these parish-edge hides look as if they comprised blocks of land that had never been included in the common field system that formed around the village core’.47 She suggests that ‘when the parish boundary comes to be established it runs along their outer boundary in order to incorporate their arable and woodland within the parish’.48 Most of the examples cited are from the Chilterns, and Dr Faith comments on the frequent occurrence of ‘feld’ names in that area, referring to open land, sometimes in large open spaces of heath or grassland used for common grazing – similar to Sparrowfeld – but also in large open arable fields, such as Morden’s Southfeld.49
If Hide Hill and its Merton partner had originated as an early Saxon landholding (perhaps the hide mentioned in Domesday Book as being disputed by several claimants in 1086)50 should we interpret the adjoining 80-acre (1 hide) holding of Hobalds in Morden as a similar early estate, or is it more likely to have been a 12th-century assart? Perhaps there are clues to be found elsewhere in Morden, for the Motspur Park area is not the only section of Morden’s parish boundary that follows an unexpected course. Could other such anomalies have arisen through the allocation of former intercommoning among the communities that had enjoyed such common rights?
Rose Hill
One such anomaly is a pentagonal block of some 75½ acres in the Rose Hill area, which early maps show adjoined the eastern edge of Sutton Common (labelled ‘Kynwardesley Feld’ on map 5.6 on page 110). Although most of this land has been included within the ecclesiastical parish of Morden since boundary adjustments in the second half of the 20th century, it is within the London Borough of Sutton. Historically it had been in Carshalton parish, though only joined to the rest of that parish by a narrow bottleneck along the London–Sutton road (now Bishopsford Road/Rose Hill) near the present Rose Hill roundabout. To the north-east and the north-west it adjoined Morden parish, and to the south and the west it adjoined Sutton. The western boundary followed the East Pyl brook, or rather a diversion of the brook, a route that has also been followed by the railway line between Wimbledon and Sutton since 1930. Sutton Common lay to the west of the brook until it was enclosed between 1809 and 1815. Along the north-west boundary with
Morden a lane, now Love Lane, ran from Green Lane to the brook and the former common. In fact early maps of Surrey, such as Rocque’s of 1768 and Lindley & Crosley’s of 1793, only show the south-eastern end of Green Lane running from the London–Sutton road and then following Love Lane onto and across the northern section of Sutton Common to meet the London–Epsom road, and Love Lane is called Green Lane in a record of a perambulation of the boundary of Sutton in 1793.51 No doubt it served as a droveway for driving cattle to and from the common pasture, but it probably doubled as a convenient long-distance route. A similar droveway once led from the London–Sutton road along the southern edge of this pentagon, again along the parish and manorial border. In fact the farmsteads of Rosehill and Oldfield Farms occupied a triangular area around this droveway typical of those used for funnelling livestock into a common, indicating that the common once extended as far as Rose Hill.
The Carshalton tithe apportionment, produced in 1847, reveals that the land within this pentagonal area was divided between two estates along the line of Green Lane. To the north-east of the road this Carshalton land (plots TA 9–11 on map 5.6 overleaf) was part of the Spital (later called The Lodge) estate, which had most of its land adjoining on the Morden side of the boundary. Part at least of the Spital estate was already a Merton Priory possession by 1196, when this small part of Carshalton was allocated to the priory in settlement of a dispute with Gilbert Morin, who received the land to the south-west of Green Lane (see chapter 8 page 143).
In 1847 the remaining 64½ acres (plots TA 1–8, 12–13a) were in the possession of the executors of Thomas Baker and occupied by John Williams. Ordnance Survey maps of the 1860s show the whole of this property to have been hedged. In 1312 the demesne arable lands of Morden manor included 5½ acres in ‘les Buttes super le Gretyngg’,52 though the manorial accounts usually referred to the Gretehegg or Gretteheys – the great hedge or fence (or land enclosed within it) – and once as le Gretehengg.53 This large enclosure does not appear to have been within the manor of Morden, merely abutting it, and the 64½-acre enclosure at Rose Hill, adjoining Morden demesne lands west of Green Lane, seems the most likely candidate. (The alternative suggestion that the name referred to an enclosed ‘park’ is considered in the next chapter. The large ‘oval’ enclosure within the Ravensbury section of Morden (see chapter 3 pages 43, 51 and 64–5) did not abut on any part of the Westminster Abbey manor.)
Until 1818 this land west of Green Lane had been held with a plot of land within Morden parish, but in August 1818 Coutts Trotter, Thomas Cutts, Elizabeth Norman and George Tennant sold ‘by lease and release’ to William Buckland of Mitcham, farmer, and George Tennant: ‘eight acres, formerly Huntleys Meadow alias Gilton Hills, now called Gillmore Hill’.54 In 1838 the Morden tithe apportionment showed William Buckland as owner/occupier of plot 191: ‘Buckles Meadow (grass) 9 acres 3 roods 30 perches’, so we know exactly where this land lay, to the west of Green Lane in the vicinity of St Helier station and Glastonbury Road.55 The entire estate had been described in 1733, when Elizabeth Elliott of Croydon leased to George Woodcock of Mitcham, whitster:56
all those undivided three parts of four parts of all that parcell of meadow or pasture ground containing 8 acres, called Huntleys Meadow als Gilton Hills in Moredon, certain lands now in the occupation of Rebecca Bishop lying on north, south and west and the lane to Carshalton on the east; and also eight several fields, pieces or parcels of inclosed grounds in Carshalton parish in the several fields there called Oldfields containing 60 acres, abutting or bounding west upon Sutton Common, east upon the said lane from Moredon to Carshalton, north upon the lane from Sutton Common and south on certain land in the occupation of Robert Willard; all in the occupation of George Woodcock; but reserving timber, etc to Elizabeth Elliott, spinster.
John Huntley, who gave his name to Huntley’s Meadow, had purchased his majority interest in the estate in 1583 from three of the five heirs of John Scott, who had died in 1558.57 Scott had inherited this and other Surrey estates from his father, also John, whose death was reported to the Carshalton manorial court in 1532:58
John Scott, a Baron of the Exchequer etc, who held freely of the lady a capital messuage with certain land appurtenant to the same called Kenwardesle formerly of Thomas Leycestre and lately of Edward Burton together with two other parcels of land lying apart in the common fields of Carshalton late of said Edward Burton etc. died since the last court. The same John held, on the day he died, at farm from year to year 15 acres of arable land lying separately in divers places in the common fields. They say John Scott is his son and heir, and is of full age.
This first John Scott had bought this freehold property ‘in Kennersly, Carshalton, Sutton, Mordon and Walyngton’ in 1507/8 from Edward and Isabel Burton.59 The main manor of Kynnersley lay in Carshalton, but extended into adjoining parishes, and it also had an outlying estate in Horley. It seems that Isabel Burton had inherited the Carshalton lands, and that Scott’s wife Elizabeth and her sister Agnes Leigh had each inherited a moiety of ‘Kynworsley manor’ in Horley in 1506 from their father, John Skinner.60 The relationship between Isabel and Elizabeth is not stated, and the Carshalton and Horley estates might have been divided between heiresses in an earlier generation.
The Kynnersley family (there are many variations of the spelling) had owned both the Carshalton and the Horley estates from at least the mid-13th century, and they appear regularly in Morden records between 1283 and 1450 in connection with a property ‘at Gilden Hill’ that had belonged to a Robert Morin around 1195×1215 (see below and chapter 8 page 144).61 As Gilbert Morin held the largest part of the Carshalton pentagon in 1196, it seems certain that the Kynnersleys had inherited or purchased the former Morin estate. Robert’s property was described as a virgate ‘which lies between the land of John son of Peter and the old croft’.
‘Kynwardesley Feld’ is mentioned in a perambulation of the Sutton parish boundary in 1496 which lists the ‘Metes and bounds of the manor of Sutton and of the demesnes there’:62
They begin at le inhome of Robert de Cheyham and so thence to le Hale on the northern part and thence to Innemere / and thence to Pillefordbrugge / and thence to Wollardesfeld on the eastern side / and thence ascend to le Hethcroft on the southern side / and thence to Southside of Kynwardesley Feld / and thence descend in lez twey eldesfeldes to Redeston / and thence South by the Est Side of Farnhull to Grennell …
Some of these landmarks can be recognised on maps from the 19th century and later (see map 5.6 opposite). Pylford Bridge is where the London–Epsom road (A24) crosses the East Pyl brook, near the Lord Nelson public house; the name Eldesfeldes was preserved in Oldfields Farm at Rose Hill; Great Grennell was south of Greenshaw Farm. Kynwardesley Feld is clearly the area within the pentagon, to the south-west of Green Lane.
Thus the ‘Kynwardesley Feld’ of 1496 had by 1733 become the ‘eight several fields, pieces or parcels of inclosed grounds in Carshalton parish in the several fields there called Oldfields containing 60 acres, abutting or bounding west upon Sutton Common, east upon the said lane from Moredon to Carshalton, north upon the lane from Sutton Common and south on certain land in the occupation of Robert Willard’.
But we have seen that the name Oldfields, or rather ‘Eldesfeldes’, was also applied to the land south of Kynwardesley Feld in 1496, the land later associated with Oldfields Farm in Sutton. It would seem that the name had extended across a considerable area. The 1496 perambulation refers to the parish boundary descending ‘in lez twey eldesfeldes’ [in the two Oldfields] so perhaps one of the two fields was in Carshalton, perhaps reaching as far as the site of the present St Helier Hospital, while the other, in Sutton, comprised the land associated with both Oldfields Farm and Greenshaw Farm in the 19th century, divided by the London–Sutton road. As the boundary here crosses the summit of Rose Hill, the word ‘descends’ is somewhat confusing!
Margaret Gelling points out that feld originally denoted ‘open country’ and only came to be applied to arable land in the late 10th century. She connects the transfer of meaning to the conversion of common pasture to arable in the Saxon period, with the meaning ‘open land previously used for pasture’.63 This is precisely the meaning we are looking for here – the privatisation of an area of former common-grazing in an extended Sutton Common, some of which, if not all, was later converted to arable. But how old are the ‘Oldfelds’? Were they created in Saxon times, or would the term still be applied in this way in the 12th century? (Could our pentagon have been the ‘old croft’ mentioned by Robert Morin?)
One of the great advantages of open-field arable cultivation was that it was used as common pasture once the harvest had been gathered, providing grazing for the livestock and their manure to enrich the soil. This was presumably the situation in April 1446 when a William Atte Wode was amerced at the Carshalton manor court for enclosing ‘common pasture at Oldefeld at a time of commoning as if it were his severalty’ [inclusivit communem pasturam apud Oldefeld’ in tempore communi tamquam suum separalem].64 The initial stretch of the diverted East Pyl brook, as depicted on early Ordnance Survey maps, seems to follow part of an aratral curve, which would be confirmation that at least some of the adjoining Sutton Oldfields had been ploughed for arable during part of the medieval period, presumably before the brook was diverted (see below).
Carshalton landowners certainly claimed common rights in Sutton Common during the Middle Ages, and two records of such disputes survive. In one case, heard before the Curia Regis on 19 July 1233, Merton Priory claimed such rights by reason of its holdings in Carshalton, probably the few acres of its Spital estate alongside Green Lane noted in 1196:65
In a suit between Henry, Prior of Merton, claimant, and Alan, Abbot of Chertsey, defendant, by Ralph de Chertsey in his place, respecting the common pasture of the said Prior in Sutton as far as a certain ditch called Middeldich, required of the said Abbot by reason of lands and tenements at Carsalton. Thereupon a Placita was made between them in the said Court, viz. that the said Abbot admitted and granted for himself and successors to the said Prior and his successors to have the common pasture at Sutton, where and so far as the men of Carsalton had had common according to the quantity of lands and tenements which the said Prior had in fee in Carsalton, without impediment from the Abbot. And for this admission, concession, fine and concord, the said Prior remitted all claim for loss by deprivation of the pasture up to the date of this Concord.
A similar dispute is recorded in a Chertsey cartulary entry of 1408:66
Nicholas Carewe esquire by the counsel of malignant men impleaded the lord Thomas Culuerdon Abbot of Chertsey [Certesey] concerning a certain common of pasture in the manor of Sutton called Sutton Heth pretending that he has lordship in all the said common called Sutton Heth and that it ought to be called Carshalton [Kersaulton] Heth and not Sutton Heth. To which it was answered by the counsel of the lord Abbot that the aforesaid Abbot and all his predecessors, abbots of the abbey of Chertsey [Certesey], were seised of the said common as parcel of their manor of Sutton from the first foundation of their church of St Peter Apostle, Chertsey [Certesey], until they were impeded and gravely harmed by the said Nicholas Carewe and for this they have shown many praiseworthy evidences. At length after very many altercations the parties aforesaid have submitted themselves to the ordinance and arbitration of two trustworthy persons, namely Thomas Aylwarde and John Brunsgraue clerks, the which Thomas and John have ordered and adjudged that the same Abbot and Nicholas should have in common [pro indiviso] lordship of the aforesaid heath to the aforesaid Abbot and his successors and to the aforesaid Nicholas and his heirs for ever, from the common way which leads from Mertone to Codyngton and from the said way to [usque] a certain ditch called Middeldyche on the north part [ex parte boriali] of the said ditch. So that the tenants of either party may freely be able to common in the same with all their beasts up to [usque] the aforesaid ditch and not further. …
The ‘common way which leads from Mertone to Codyngton’ would be the present A24, the stretch between Lower Morden Lane and Pylford Bridge running along the north-western edge of Sutton Common in the 19th century. Is ‘Middeldich’ the East Pyl brook or just the central one of its many feeder ditches that drain from Rose Hill? ‘Ditch’ would certainly be an appropriate term for this section of the brook – 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps show an obviously manmade watercourse flowing westward from a source at the London–Sutton road (now Rose Hill), along what would appear to be an ancient aratral curve, before turning north-north-west
at an almost right angle along the eastern edge of the former common as far as Love Lane, where it turns another right angle to follow the road north-eastwards before turning north-west at yet another right angle to join the ‘original’ course of the brook within Morden. Modern maps showing the geology of the area reveal the natural course of the brook in a strip of alluvium some 300 metres to the east of this channel with a lozenge-shaped area of alluvium at its southern end, from the centre of which the diverted stream flows (see map 5.6 on page 110). The word ‘ditch’ is also used in Morden manorial court rolls to describe the northern section of the brook where it crosses the present Morden Park – ‘the ditch leading from the stone bridge called Stonebridge towards the common meadow’.67 The zigzagging course of the parish boundary between Morden and Sutton along the northern edge of the former Sutton Common probably indicates that the land on the Morden side of the boundary had also been part of a larger area of intercommoning, extending north-eastwards to the brook, if not beyond.
Was Middeldich an internal boundary within the common in 1408, or did its northern/north- eastern bank then mark its limit? Had it at one time run through the middle of a larger common, until land on the north-east and east was ‘privatised’ sometime before 1196? If each lordship which had enjoyed intercommoning had been allocated a section, it could be argued that they still had such rights within the remaining common on the west bank. Was the 1196 dispute between the prior of Merton and Gilbert Morin over recently privatised land or merely a confirmation of existing estate boundaries? We have noted above that it was during the episcopate of Richard of Ilchester at Winchester (1173–88) that Surrey parishes crystallised and their boundaries became fixed.68 The parish boundary here clearly predated the agreement of 1196, and probably followed the western boundary of an existing Spital estate or its predecessor before the adjoining waste had been absorbed. Had the Oldfields area also been recently converted from common grazing to arable, or had it been an open arable field for centuries? Once again the evidence is inconclusive.
Gilden Hill
At the beginning of the 13th century Robert Morin, no doubt a relative of Gilbert, granted a virgate of free land in Morden to Robert de Cleygate, and this property was purchased from Cleygate by Westminster Abbey between 1217 and 1221 (see chapter 8 page 144).69 Was the plot held by Buckland in 1838 the remnant of this virgate that had somehow reverted to the manor of Kynnersley, or was it a separate holding that had been retained by Morin and his successors when the virgate was granted to Cleygate?
The extent of 1312 lists among the arable land of the manorial demesne ‘in Gilleneheld 17 acres’ together with ‘5½ acres in les Buttes super le Gretyngg’ which might have been in this area as well. Listed under ‘pasture’ was ‘in Gillenmede 3 roods’.70 If these were distinct from the Morin/Cleygate virgate, which was normally 20 acres in Morden, the abbey’s holding here was about 42½ acres of arable plus ¾-acre of pasture. When the abbey’s last lease of the manor was surrendered by Thomas Welshe to Richard Garth in 1568, the document included the following paragraph:71
And the said Richard Garthe Covenaunteth and graunteth for hym his executors and administrators to and with the said Thomas Welshe his executors administrators and assignes by theies presentes That he the said Richard Garthe his executors and assignes and every of them shall and will permytt and suffer Elizabeth Welshe wydowe mother in lawe to the said Thomas and her assignes peaceably and quietlie to have and enioye certen closes of pasture arrable land and roughe grounde parcell of the premisses conteyninge by estimacion Fyftie acres or thereaboutes called Gyldon hill lyinge in Mordon aforesaid nowe in the holdinge of the said Elizabeth or her assignes All okes elmes & asshe in & uppon the same closes & the toppinge & loppinge of the same onely excepted from the date hereof untill the Feast of Sainte Mychell Th’archaungell whiche shalbe in the yere of our Lorde god A Thousand fyve hundreth Threescore and Eleaven, shee the same Elizabeth and her assignes payinge therefore yerelie duringe the said terme unto the said Richard Garth his executors and assignes Twentie syx shillinges and eight pence of laufull money of Englande at the Feastes of Sainte Mychell Th’archaungell and Easter by even porcions or
at any tyme after wthin the space of Twentie and one Daies next ensuinge any of the same Feastes And the said Thomas Welshe dothe Covenante and graunte for hym his executors and administrators to and with the said said Richard Garth his executors administrators and assignes by theies presentes that shee the said Elizabeth and her assignes shall and will yerelie paie duringe the said terme unto the said Richard Garthe and his heires the said yerelie Rente of Twentie syx shillinges and eighte pence in manner and forme aforesaid wthoute fraude or coven.
Thomas’s ‘mother in lawe’, or stepmother, was exercising her right to dower in the lands which her late husband had leased, and she was entitled to retain this until the lease expired. The lands assigned to her were some 50 acres at ‘Gyldon Hill’, which seems to confirm that the Morin/Cleygate virgate had been in addition to the 23¼ acres of the 1312 demesne, though it is possible that the name had subsequently been applied to all the land in the area. In 1618 George Garth let to farm to John Mountjoy of Morden, husbandman, for 21 years at £20 a year, a house and lands in the vicinity of ‘Gilden Hilles’ totalling 50 acres, the nucleus of the later Hill House estate based around the site of the present building called The Sanctuary, but 13 acres had recently been purchased from the Heringman family, so this farm was not identical to Elizabeth Welshe’s 50 acre holding.72 Mountjoy’s farm comprised:
all that Mansion house and tenement in Morden now in the occupation of J Mountjoy with barns, stables, gardens, orchards, etc.
and a close of ground adjoining to the said tenement 2 a
and 1 acre of meadow in the Common Mead of Morden 1 a
and all those closes and grounds in Morden, parcel of the ground called Gilden Hilles viz.
1 close of ground 8 a
Stonebridge Close 4 a
1 meadow called the Long Meadow 4 a
The Upper Meadow 4 a
The Further Close 10 a
and 4 acres adjoining upon Sutton Common 4 a
Also all those closes late purchased by Robert Garth brother of George Garth of John Heringman the elder and younger, viz:
A close called Malthawes 8 a
and a close of meadow under Gilden Hills 1 a
and a close 4 a
John Heringman senior, John junior and his wife Johanna had sold ‘thirty acres land, four acres meadow, twenty acres pasture, eight acres wood, and six acres heath and furze, with pertinents in Morden’ to Robert Garth in Michaelmas term 1612.73 These appear to have been one half of the free tenement in Lower Morden called Wynteworthes [W] as, when the property had been divided between brothers in 1540, William Playstowe’s portion included:74
four acres thereof lying together in a certain several close next to Suttonheth
six acres thereof lying together in a certain several close called Molthawes
three acres thereof lying together in another close called Molthawes
one acre of meadow thereof lying in a several close called Gyldonhyll Medow.
The transfer of this holding from the Playstowe family to the Heringman family is not recorded (see chapter 9 page 178).
These particular closes [W5] had not originally been part of Wynteworthes, [W] which was entirely located within Lower Morden, but both properties had been in the same ownership since before 1458.75 The earliest reference to them is from 1395 when John Cok sold to John and Emma Spyk:76
… eleven [sic] acres land with the moiety of one piece of meadow with hedges, fences and ditches, commons, easements and all their appurtenances in the fields of Morden, whereof nine acres land lie in a certain [codam=quoddam?] place which is called Gyllenelond and land of Robert Bernes on the north and the king’s highway on the south. And 4 acres land lying in a certain place which is called le Buttes between land of the abbot and convent of Westminster on the south and land of the prior and convent of Merton on the north,
and it extends upon the common which is called Suttoneheth, and the aforesaid piece of meadow lies in a certain place called Gyllenemed as apportioned by agreement [sicut sors de condonat] with the aforesaid abbot and convent of Westminster in the aforesaid piece of meadow, to have and to hold the aforesaid fourteen [sic] acres land and piece of pasture with hedges, fences and ditches, commons, easements, ways, lanes [?venel], feedings and pastures and with all their appurtenances, to the aforesaid John Spyke and my[?mei] heirs and his assigns freely, quietly, well and in peace of the chief lords for the services in respect thereof due and by law customary forever. And indeed I John and my heirs will warrant the aforesaid 14 acres land and the aforesaid piece of meadow with all its appurtenances to the abovesaid John Spyke and his heirs and assigns of the aforesaid John against all people forever …
Although the writer of the 1395 charter had difficulties with his arithmetic, there seems no doubt as to the identity of the properties, the 9 acres in Gyllenelond becoming the two Molthawes closes, the 4 acres in le Buttes ‘extending upon’ Sutton Common, while the ‘piece of meadow’ in Gyllenemed is described as an acre. But what were the origins of this freehold property?
We noted in chapter 1 that Westminster Abbey’s demesne lands in 1312 included 17 acres of arable in Gilleneheld and 5½ acres in les Buttes super le Gretyngg, as well as 3 roods of pasture in Gillenmede.77 It was suggested above that le Gretyng might have been the 64½-acre pentagonal enclosure at Rose Hill adjoining Sutton Common, and perhaps enclosed from it (see page 109). As the piece of meadow sold to the Spyks in 1395 had been ‘apportioned’ by the abbey, it would appear that it was within the common meadow, distinct from demesne pasture there, so this holding is not of former demesne land, and this is confirmed by the statement that the abbey held land to the south of the Gyllenelond 9 acres purchased by the Spyks.
The Morden manorial account rolls regularly record a sum of 4 shillings a year being paid to members of the Kynnersley family for land at ‘Gilnehelde’, Gildeneheld’ or ‘Gildonehill’ between 1283 and 1450,78 which can be identified with the land purchased by the abbey from Robert de Cleygate. Had the abbey perhaps sold part of this virgate to Cok or his predecessors before 1395? The abbey had stopped paying the 4 shillings rent to the heirs of the Kynnersley family by the time of the next extant roll of 1467/68, the manorial accounts recording the fact but not the reason.79
The fact that the lords of Kynnersley manor still held land in Morden into the 19th century suggests that these 14 acres had formed part of a larger Kynnersley estate originally joining tithe plot 191 to the main holding within Carshalton parish, perhaps the 14 acres of plots 188 and 189 adjoining Sutton Common to the south-west and Love Lane (the ‘king’s highway’ of 1395) and the Rose Hill enclosure to the south-east. It is likely that some of this land had also been enclosed from the common at some time prior to the late 12th century.
Perhaps one other observation is relevant here. In the 1970s scatters of late 1st- and early 2nd- century Romano-British pottery sherds were discovered across a wide area to the west of the Morden section of Green Lane between Glastonbury Road and St Helier station, in the vicinity of the Kynnersley estate’s detached land at Gilden Hill.80 Did the name arise from early finds of Roman coins or other treasures in the area? And would Roman settlement in the area have influenced the early medieval landscape pattern?
The Watermeads
Another area where the boundary departs from the expected is around the National Trust’s Watermeads by Mitcham Bridge, where a finger of Morden parish extends across the road between Mitcham and Carshalton (see map 5.7 on page 116). We have seen that this was the Ravensbury copyhold of ‘Bennettsfield’ [V7], described in 1667 as ’23 acres formerly in one close now in 4 closes in Mitcham and Morden’ (see chapter 3 page 76).81 The property that Mareys entrusted to the vicars of Mitcham and Morden in 1361 (see chapter 3 page 55) included two watermills and ‘a certain piece of marshland [more] adjoining thus enclosed by the water towards [versus] the field [campus] called Beneytesfeld’ (and see chapter 8 page 148),82 and there seems no reason to doubt that these references relate to the same field. In the 1838 Morden tithe apportionment plots 295–305 totalled 23½ acres, and included a rood of land and an adjoining pightle taken in from the ‘common’ [V8], perhaps roadside waste, by William Standon as presented at the Ravensbury manorial court on 27 April 1536 (see chapter 3 page 77).83
Although there is no indication that this Morden property had formed part of Merton Priory’s Mareslonde estate in Mitcham and Carshalton, it is likely to have had a similar origin. Much of the Mareslonde estate was enclosed pasture and meadowland each side of the Wandle, and it is likely that this had once been intercommoned by neighbouring communities in Mitcham, Carshalton and Morden. When this former common land was divided among the communities, the Morden portion was allocated to what was to become Ravensbury manor, together with a part of the Mitcham portion – Ravensbury manor held 47½ acres of copyhold land in Mitcham here in the 16th century.84 Another Mitcham portion and some in Carshalton became part of Mareys’s Wicford estate – 44 acres in Mitcham were still known as the ‘Marsh Fee lands’ in the 17th century and beyond,85 while the term ‘Marris fee’ was used of two fields in Carshalton totalling 40 acres in 1645 (see map 5.7 opposite).86 Again, this is likely to have happened before the fossilisation of parish boundaries towards the end of the 12th century, but is probably much older.
There had been mills on the Mitcham bank of the Wandle since Saxon times, and by the 18th century there were also mills within the Watermeads. Here Richard Glover, whose family had operated mills on the Mitcham bank since the 1770s, was manufacturing paper at his mill ‘at Morden’ between 1795 and 1814, and nearby he also had a snuff mill.87 The paper mill was served by a leat known as Paper Mill Cut, which still runs through the National Trust’s Watermeads, with its tumbling-bay and pond. However, the line of Paper Mill Cut had been a boundary long before the erection of the paper mill. When the estate of the late Henry Hoare of Mitcham Grove was put up for sale in 1828,88 it included the leasehold mills and adjacent lands in both Mitcham and Morden, sublet to the Glover family. The land was in three parcels held under separate leases originating in the 1760s and 1770s. The boundary between land covered by a lease of 1765 and one of 1772 followed the line of Paper Mill Cut. Saxon mills were normally served by a long leat cut in a straight line across such a loop in the river, creating enough of a gradient to power the mill.89 Perhaps we should consider the possibility that the line of a Saxon mill leat here survived as a boundary ditch into the 18th century, to be re-cut to serve the paper mill.
Central Road – colonisation of roadside waste and other rent increments
It has so far been suggested that there might have been large-scale privatisation of former common pasture in the 12th century, though it could have taken place much earlier. Thereafter the only expanse of common pasture in Morden was in Sparrowfeld itself, the later Morden Common, which escaped enclosure until the end of the 19th century. However, there were smaller areas that could still be colonised, and we have seen that two of the Lower Morden tenements appear to have encroached upon the north-east of the green at the junction of Bow Lane and Lower Morden Lane (see chapter 4 pages 89, 97).
It was noted in chapter 2 that a number of very small properties were created in the closing decades of the 13th century (see page 29). Although some of these were within existing family tenements to provide homes for family dependants while others came about through the dismemberment of the arable land belonging to Thomas and Emma Belle’s tenement [B] in Central Road, several small cottage-plots had been taken from former roadside waste in Central Road and other parts of the manor. We have already noticed the piecemeal nature of the property boundaries in Central Road, with cottages and crofts on different alignments, as revealed by the tithe map and other large-scale maps produced in the 19th century. Similar anomalies can be seen elsewhere in the parish, especially around the parish church and the adjoining residential home site [X1] and the George inn [I8]. Although the site of the inn is first recorded in the 13th century (see chapter 4 page 92), small plots of roadside waste were still being colonised in the 18th century, including the schoolhouse site at the junction of Central Road and London Road (plot 202), and the workhouse site in Central Road (plots 267–270).90
Although referred to as ‘waste’, roadside grazing was an important asset in medieval Morden, as it still is in parts of Britain. Horses still graze by the main gate into Swansea Airport, and sheep can be seen on the verges of the B4271 a couple of miles east of Llanrhidian on the Gower peninsula of South Wales. In Morden the manorial beadle continued to enjoy the right to pasture his livestock on some of the roadside ditches of the manor into the early 14th century.91 Central Road in particular seems to have served as a wide drove road for flocks and herds heading towards Westminster and the London markets. But with the growth in population in the 13th century, it would seem that demand for housing took priority over the needs of travelling livestock.
The earliest extant manorial records from the 1280s reveal that the abbey had been allowing small plots of the roadside waste here to be developed, and the 1312 extent lists several curtilages [curtilagium] and cottages, for each of which the tenant paid an ‘increment’ [incrementum] of 1d or ½d a year, and worked a day’s harvest boonwork (see chapter 1 pages 6, 8).92 Although the early manorial court rolls and account rolls give details of some of these early transactions, including the transfer of acre-plots from Belles tenement [B], none of the extant records specifically refer to an initial grant of a plot of roadside waste, so it is not certain whether it was the abbey or the tenants who had initiated this development. However, an analysis of rent income in these early accounts should enable us to determine if this was a recent phenomenon (see also chart 10.5 on page 196).
Whenever a plot was transferred to a new tenant a further increment was added to the annual rent paid to the abbey, as can be seen from the entries relating to a messuage and 1½ acres of land, transferred by John Snoter to Peter Shutte in 1297, and passed from Shutte to John le Haytere in 1303/04 (see chapter 2 pages 29–30).93 In 1297 the increment was 1d and in 1303/04 it was increased by a further ½d. In 1312 the extent records that Hayter was paying 7d a year for his 1½-acre plot [F2], in addition to 6d that he paid for a small freehold tenement. The implication is that the plot had been transferred several times, the rent being increased by 1d or ½d at each transaction.
However, it is possible that Hayter’s 7d might be a clerical error. Examination of the total rents recorded in the manorial account rolls reveals a discrepancy of 6½d between the rents listed in the October 1312 extent and those listed in the Michaelmas 1312 to Michaelmas 1313 accounts. The extent has a total of 72s 8½d, of which 68s 7d was from freehold and customary tenements and 49½d from rent increments (excluding income from demesne land leased to Robert Fabian). The accounts give the total as 72s 2d, unchanged from 1307 until 1314, an increase of 38d over the 69 shillings rent recorded in 1280/81.94 Deducting this increase from the 49½d in the extent, it would appear that increments to the value of 11½d had already accrued before the start of extant records in 1280, but it is probable that this figure should only be 5d. Whichever figure one uses, the evidence suggests that the first grants of plots of roadside waste were quite recent, probably dating from around the 1270s, at an initial rent of ½d per plot. Most of the court roll and account roll entries probably relate to later transfers of these initial plots, though some that merely record an increment without mentioning a previous owner could possibly relate to a new grant.
Most of the cottage-plots and associated crofts that can be identified in late 14th-century and early 15th-century court rolls, including those on former roadside waste, were said to be held ‘in bondage’, which ought to imply an origin within a servile tenement. Some are known to have been at some stage in the tenure of villein families, but not all. This raises the possibility that the roadside plots had originally been colonised by the villeins who held tenements adjoining these plots, particularly the Belles or their predecessors, before they came onto the property market in the late 13th century. However, the roadside plot on which stood the predecessor of the present George inn was also said to be held ‘in bondage’ in 1409 and yet it adjoined a freehold croft, not a villein holding.95 Admittedly it had been held by members of the Edward family of villeins for several decades before this date, which might have influenced this description. The next extant entry for this property dates from 1471, by which time the terms ‘villein’, ‘serf’ and ‘bondage’ had ceased to be used.96 Perhaps all properties held by rent increment were originally considered to be held in bondage, whatever the status of their tenants.
A MEDIEVAL GAME PRESERVE?
The fragmentation of Bunt’s freehold property [U] (see table 6.4 page 126)
As noted on page 9, there is some evidence that William Bunt’s freeholding might once have been part of a game preserve. On 21 November 1390 four tenants of Morden were amerced and distrained because they had failed to fulfil their pledge to bring to court the new tenants of land formerly held by William Bondes:1
Baldwyn Popsent,2d Robert Berenger,2d Ralph atte Rythe,2d and William Mulseye,2d the pledges of John Spyk’, John Wylot, Simon Wylot, Anicia Heyter’, and William Mulseye, tenants of the tenement formerly William Bondes, because they do not have them to satisfy the lord for certain services in arrears etc. Therefore they are etc. And the order is given to distrain them against the next [court] etc.
On 1 June 1391 the order was repeated, though now the former tenant’s name was given as Buntes:2
Again the order is given to distrain Baldwyn Popsent and other pledges of John Spyk, John Wylot, Simon Wylot, Anicia Heytere and William Mulseye, tenants of the tenement formerly William Buntes, to satisfy the lord for services in arrears etc, against the next [court].
On 13 November 1391 an attempt was made to reapportion Bunt’s rents among the new owners:3
Again the order is given, as at other times, to distrain Baldewyn Popsent and other pledges of John Spyk, John Wylot, Simon Wylot, Anicia Heytere and William Mulseye, tenants of the tenements formerly William Buntes to come against the next [court] for apportioning rents etc.
William Bunt first appears in extant manorial records on 22 May 1378, when he was responsible for scouring a length of ditch alongside a plot of demesne land that he was presumably leasing:4
Likewise they present that the lord of the manor has 1 ditch at le Foureakrer in length 40 perches not scoured, to the nuisance of those passing. Therefore John Edward 6d is in mercy. And that Simon Hobekoc 6d has 1 ditch at Wollardescroft in length 6 10 perches not scoured. And the lord has 1 ditch 6d at le Park in length 20 perches not scoured, to the nuisance. Therefore etc Simon Hobekoc in mercy. And that William Bunt 2d has 1 ditch at Neweberygardyn in length 4 perches not scoured to the nuisance of those passing. Therefore etc.
However, by 1380 he was selling plots of his free land. At the court held on 5 May 1380 [U4]:5
John Beranger comes and makes the lord a fine as appears for 2 acres land and 1 rood adjoining of the lord’s fee of William Bunt. And he does fealty.
Beranger had bought the land before November 1379, when the court roll records:6
Ralph Edward and the beadle are in mercy because they do not have John Beranger plaintiff and the order is given that they distrain him better against the next [court] to do fine and fealty for 2 acres land adjoining of the lord’s fee.
A further 3 acres had been sold before 7 February 1383 [U6]:7
Likewise that John Salyng purchased 3 acres free land of William Bont. Therefore the order is given to distrain for fine and to do fealty.
Salyng failed to attend the court to do his fealty, as we read in the roll for 25 June 1383:8
And the order is given to distrain John Salyng again against the next [court] to make the lord fine and fealty for 3 acres free land purchased of William Bunt against the next [court].
By 4 May 1384 Salyng had sold the land:9
Simon Willot and Amicia his wife come and do the lord fealty for 3 acres land late William Bunt. And they give the lord for fine for entry into the lord’s fee such as appears, both for the purchase on their own behalf and for the purchase by John Salyng. though later in the same court the order to distrain Salyng was repeated:10
The order is given, as at other times, to distrain John Salyngges to make the lord a fine and fealty for 3 acres free land purchased [from] Bunt against the next [court].
It would appear that Bunt had sold the last of his land by 16 February 1385, as his essoin, or apology for absence at the court, was rejected on the grounds that he was no longer a tenant:11
Essoins
William Bunt of common [suit of court], not valid because he is not the tenant by Alan Berenger.
The same court roll records the sale of this final plot [U2]:12
At this court come Sir Roger Lakyngthe vicar of this vill and Alan Berynger and show a certain charter made according to the form of the statute by which they purchased for themselves and their heirs from William Bunt all the land and tenement of the same William in the parish of Morden containing by estimation one messuage and 8 acres land with pertinents with enclosed warren dated at Morden aforesaid 2 March 7 Richard II [1384]. And they give the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And they do fealty.
This presumably was, or included, Alan Berenger’s ‘Buntescroft’ mentioned on 15 May 1385:13
Likewise they present that Richard Pynget2d has 1 ditch at Morden church against Fullislond in length 5 perches not scoured to the nuisance. And that Alan Berneger [sic] 2d has 1 ditch at Buntescroft in length 8 perches not scoured to the nuisance. And that the lord of the manor has 1 ditch at Fullerescroft in length 12 perches not scoured, in default the farmer.2d Therefore they are in mercy etc. And the order is given to emend against the next [court] under penalty of 40d.
Their entry fine had been noted in February 1385 as respited, but Alan was required to make his payment on 20 February 1386:14
Likewise they present that Alan Berenger purchased of William Bunt 1 messuage and 8 acres free land with pertinents. And the order is given to distrain him against the next [court]. And later the said Alan, being present in court, gives the lord to have entry within the lord’s fee as appears etc.
Alan had sold the property before 20 May 1389:15
Likewise they present that John Spyk’ purchased within the lord’s fee one messuage and 8 acres free land with pertinents, formerly William Bond, of Alan Berenger. And the said John, being present in court, gives the lord for fine for entry into the lord’s fee as shown. And he does fealty.
Although the information in the extant court rolls dates from the 1380s, Bunt was already a tenant of the manor by October 1360, as we discover from a dispute recorded at the above- quoted court of 20 February 1386 [U7]:16
Henry Melleward appears against William Webbe in a plea of land – pledges for prosecuting John Edward and Thomas Carpenter – namely because the said William dispossessed him of 1 piece of land containing 17 perches and 5 feet in length and 7 perches and 4 feet in width at one end and 6 perches and 5 feet at the other end lying between the way leading towards/against [versus] Morden church and land formerly of Walter Webbe. And he says that on the Saturday in the feast of St Faith [Fides] the virgin 34 Edward III [=6 Oct 1360] the said W Henry purchased the same tenement for himself and Alice his wife and the heirs of Henry himself from a certain William le Bunt, which Alice now has died, and he produces here in court a certain copy testifying to the things aforementioned. And he seeks that the court rolls be searched. And he gives the lord for search of the said rolls as appears. And the order is given to summon the tenants against the next [court].
This plot between the road and Walter Webbe’s land would have been one of the plots taken from the roadside waste along Central Road (see chapter 5 page 117). In fact we can probably
identify its exact position, as the bulk of Bunt’s former holding was reunited in the early 16th century and remained as a single unit into the early 20th century when a house that had been built upon it was known as Hazelwood, giving its name to the present Hazelwood Avenue. The Hazelwood estate occupied plots 230–231 and 240–241 in the 1838 tithe apportionment survey of Morden, and only had a frontage of some 95 yards on Central Road, the southern edge of plot 240 – 95 yards being equivalent to 17 perches and 5 feet. This plot extended northwards beyond the boundary of the adjoining roadside plots but, as near as can be determined from the tithe map, the western edge met this boundary at a depth of some 40 yards (7 perches 4 feet) and the eastern edge at about 34⅔ yards (6 perches 5 feet) (see map 6.5 on page 132).
The northern section of plot 240 and the southern section of plot 241 would have been within Belles customary virgate [B] at the end of the 13th century, and the continuation of the southern boundary of plot 230 can be identified on the tithe map by a kink in the eastern boundary of plot 241. Presumably Bunt or a predecessor had obtained a couple of acres that had come onto the land market when Belles virgate was fragmented (see chapter 2 page 29), and had added a plot of roadside waste to gain access to Central Road.
These two acres [B5] were of customary tenure, but it seems likely that this fact had been forgotten by the time Bunt disposed of them along with his freehold properties. In later centuries these two acres in East Morden formed part of the 5-acre Wales Croft, also known as Walles or Wallis Mead, a corruption of Willots Mead.17 In 1390 and 1391 John Willot was listed among the new tenants of Bunt’s former lands, and it is likely that it was these two acres that he held, selling them to two of his daughters, as presented at the manorial court of 17 November 1404:18
Likewise they present that Agnes daughter of John Willot purchased within the lord’s fee one acre of free land of the aforesaid John Willot and Anicia his wife who being present in court gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And she does fealty.
Likewise they present that Anicia daughter of the aforesaid John Willot purchased within the lord’s fee one acre of free land of the aforesaid John Willot and Anicia his wife who being present in court gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And she does fealty.
John’s wife, here named as Anicia but normally called Alice, was the daughter of Alan Hayter who, on his death in 1378, left a widow called Anicia. Anicia Hayter was also listed among the new tenants of Bunt’s freeholds in 1390/91, though there is no extant record of her acquisition. She held other freehold, leasehold and customary holdings previously held jointly with her husband, including a freehold property in Lower Morden, almost certainly the precursor of the later Plummershawe [P], probably the 3½-acre property she sold to William Mulseye in 1409:19
Likewise they present that William Mulseye purchased within the lord’s fee 3½ acres free land by charter of Amisia Hayters, who being present in court acknowledges that he holds it of the lord. And he does the lord fine and fealty.
It is possible that Anicia/Amisia Hayter was the ‘Emma Hayters’ from whom Alice Willot inherited a customary toft in 1410:20
Likewise they present that Emma Hayters who of the lord holds by roll of court one toft with pertinents died in December last, after whose death there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 cow worth 5s. And it is sold. And that Alice wife of John Welot is her nearest heir and of full age, and she seeks her admittance and is admitted to hold to herself and hers of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And she gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And she does fealty.
Another of Alice Willot’s daughters had an interest in land formerly belonging to Bunt. On 7 January 1446:21
Agnes Martyn of London, widow, daughter and heir of Leticia Reynolds, late one of the daughters of Alice formerly wife of John Wylot … remitted, released and entirely quitclaimed for me and my heirs forever to John Chynnore and William Lovelas … all my right, title and claim in this which ever I had or any right now or title I might have in the future, of and in all that parcel of arable land lying together in the parish of Morden [Mordon] in the county of Surrey, of which one head abuts upon land of the abbot and convent of Westminster towards the north and the other head abuts upon the royal way leading from the vill of Morden as far as the parish church of the same vill towards the south, and land of the aforesaid abbot and convent of Westminster on the east and west. The which parcel of arable land aforesaid to the aforementioned John Chynnore and William has recently been entrusted by gift and feoffment of Robert Stoke of Mitcham [Mycham] in the county of Surrey just as by a certain charter in respect thereof makes thus fully clear …
Chynnore and Lovelas are known to have held the 8-acre property known as le Parklond [U2],22 which is likely to have been the 8 acres with enclosed warren that Bunt had sold to the vicar and Alan Berenger in February 1385 (see above), though there is no extant record of any member of the Willot or Hayter family possessing any part of that property.23
The messuage [U21] mentioned in May 1389, when the property was purchased by Spyk, was probably built on former roadside waste, but it was not mentioned when or after the land was quitclaimed by Agnes Martyn.24 Could it have been in Agnes’s possession at that time, which would explain why she might be considered to have had some rights in the adjoining land? We have seen above that Agnes was a granddaughter of Alice Willot, who in 1410 inherited a customary toft from ‘Emma Hayters’,25 probably her mother Anicia Hayter who had held otherwise unidentified Bunt property in 1390/91, perhaps purchased from Spyk who already held other houses. Roadside waste was normally treated as customary land.
Another member of the family was Simon Willot who, as we have seen above, purchased 3 acres [U6] of Bunt’s former land from John Salyng in 1383 or 1384.26 These 3 acres and John’s 2 acres probably formed the later 5-acre Wallis Mead. By 29 October 1387 Simon had also bought a further 5 acres of free land [U5], presumably from Bunt’s former land – a purchase that gave rise to years of legal wrangling (see chapter 10 page 222):27
The order is given to seize into the lord’s hand five acres of land which Simon Wylot, the lord’s serf, as if pertaining to his manor of Parham, purchased within the lordship of this manor saving whatever rights against the next [court] etc.
By July 1397 Simon had sold the land:28
Whereas the order was given at the last court to distrain Simon Wylot to do the lord fealty for 5 acres free land with pertinents as appears in the last court, now it is found that William Mulseye purchased within the lord’s fee the said land with pertinents of the aforementioned Simon, which William, being present in court, gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And he does the lord fealty.
Mulseye had already purchased some of Bunt’s former land [U4], as recorded in February 1383:29
Likewise they present that William Mulsey purchased 2 acres and 1 rood free land of John Berenger for himself and his heirs. Therefore the order is given to distrain for fine and to do fealty.
He had bought more [U3] by May 1399:30
At this court comes William Mulsey and gives the lord for fine to have entry within the lord’s fee to one acre of free land purchased by charter of Peter Clement. And he does fealty etc.
Clement had purchased this acre by November 1396:31
Likewise they present that Peter Clement purchased within the lord’s fee one acre of free land from John Spyk and Emma his wife. The same Peter being present in court gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And he does the lord fealty etc.
As we have seen, Spyk had bought Bunt’s former messuage and 8 acres including the enclosed warren [U2] from Alan Berenger by 1389. Was it part of this property that Spyk sold to Clement, or another acre that he had obtained from Bunt? The property is always described as being of 8 acres in the few surviving later references, though the messuage is not mentioned again, unless it was that inherited by Alice Willot (see above).
So far we have traced William Mulseye’s acquisition of 8¼ acres of Bunt’s former holding [U3] [U4] [U5], which he had sold by May 1419:32
Likewise they present that John Fylth purchased within the lord’s fee 8 acres free land by charter of William Mulsey. Therefore the order is given to distrain him for fealty against the next [court] etc.
These are likely to have been the 8 acres held by Simon Popsent at his death in 1447:33
Likewise they present that Simon Popesent, who of the lord held freely by charter 8 acres land, died in February last. And that John Popesent is his son and heir and of full age. And there falls due to the lord for relief as appears. And he does fealty. he is distrained for fealty
They then disappear from the records until April 1512:34
Likewise they say that Laurence Aylmer, citizen and clothier [pannar] of London, Thomas Aylmer esquire and Edward Tyrrell, who of the lord held freely eight acres and one rood of land and 3 other acres of land in Morden by fealty and rent [blank] yearly in respect thereof, have enfeoffed John Holt, Oliver Knight, John Heryngman and Richard Playstowe in fee to the use of the aforesaid John Holt and his heirs as appears by charter produced in court dated [blank] September 2 Henry VIII. Which John Holt, being present in court, does the lord fealty for himself and his co-feoffees.
The precise locations of the Aylmers’ former holdings are not indicated, but the 8¼ acres match Bunt’s former lands once held by Mulseye. The other 3 acres mentioned here were probably among the lands Holt held in Lower Morden [W3] in 1536,35 rather than the 3 acres purchased from Bunt by John Salyng [U6] by February 1383 (see above), which are more likely to have been part of the ‘5 acres of meadow lying together in East Morden’ that Holt had purchased from Thomas Brewse, as reported on 14 March 1537, following his death:36
And also he held freely on the day that he died one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn, with 5 acres of meadow lying together in East Morden, formerly Thomas Brewse, by fealty, rent of 7d a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due. The which Richard Holte being present in court pledged his relief, namely 4s 7d.
This 2-acre croft [W1] was the one behind the alehouse near the church, formerly owned by John Spyk, which Brewse held in 1517.37 This is likely to have originated as the detached croft belonging to the other freehold tenement, Wynteworthes in Lower Morden, and the 3 acres [W3] that Holt purchased from the Aylmers had probably also been part of Wynteworthes (see chapter 10 page 219).
The location of Bunt’s freehold properties
By the late 16th century the 5-acre Wallis Mead and the adjoining 8¼ acres had come into the hands of the Smith family, and they remained as a unit into the early 20th century as the Hazelwood estate. In January 1704/05 the component parts of this estate were described in detail:38
all that messuage or tenement, barn, stable, outhouses and buildings with gardens and orchards, in which messuage John Roland lately dwelt, situate, lying and being in Morden, and three closes of land or pasture ground to the said messuage belonging, containing 15 acres,
one of which is called Wallis Mead, containing 5 acres, abutting one end on highway from Morden church to Mitcham to south-east, and adjoining to lands of the lord of the manor, namely end of Long Orchard and end of Barne Close and to Great Barwells towards north- east and to part of Great Barwells to north-west, and unto part of certain lands which one Henry Smith deceased formerly held by leases of the lord of the manor and upon part of Bushy Close to south-west,
the other two lie together and are commonly called Bushy Closes, containing 10 acres, and abut partly on Wallis Mead and upon Great Barwells towards north-east, and upon a piece of ground of the lord of the manor called the Marish towards north-west, and upon a piece of ground of the lord of the manor called Little Parkelands towards south-west, and upon the said leasehold of Henry Smith towards south-east.
Although not named in the tithe apportionment schedule of 1838, Wallis Mead and the adjoining house plot formerly taken from the roadside waste were represented by plots 240 and 241 (totalling 5⅜ acres) while the original 8¼ acres had expanded to 9½ acres as plots 230 (5¼ acres) and 231 (4¼ acres), the irregular field boundary indicating probable encroachment upon the adjoining field – that named as Little Parkelands in 1704/05.39
Little Parkelands was not the freehold property formerly held by Bunt [U2], as there is a reference to 24 acres of demesne land called Parkeland in a document of 1567, when le Parklond was still in private hands.40 The Parkland name survived into the early 19th century, when it was part of the farm known in 1804 as Shords, and ultimately as Morden House in London Road. Although the fieldname was not used in 1838, it can be plotted onto the tithe map with some confidence (see map 6.3 on page 120).41 Tithe plots 221, 222, 223 and 229 totalled 22¾ acres in 1838, and we have just noted that in the 16th century plot 229 had probably extended eastward into the later Hazelwood estate. Other lands belonging to the farm included Marsh Meadow (tithe plots 227–228) and Marsh Close (tithe plot 232), as well as a pightle (tithe plots 224–225), described in 1745 as the Coney Warren.
The first known reference to ‘le Park’ is from the Morden manorial court roll for 22 May 1378, quoted above (page 121): ‘And the lord has 1 ditch 6d at le Park in length 20 perches not scoured, to the nuisance. Therefore etc Simon Hobekoc in mercy’.42 Presumably Hobcok was leasing this piece of demesne land. The next occurrence of the term comes from February 1385:43
At this court the lord grants William Webbe one garden called Newberygardyn and one piece of land called the Parkland containing by estimation 10 acres land to hold to the same William from Michaelmas last past until the morrow of the same feast for the term and end of 7 years, rendering the lord in respect thereof 10s per year equally at the usual terms for all other services. And he gives the lord for fine for having the said term as appears.
In May 1405 this piece of demesne land was leased to Simon Popsent, who, as we have seen above, owned 8¼ acres of Bunt’s former land:44
At this court the lord grants and lets at farm to Simon Pompsent 10 acres demesne land called Parklond, to have and to hold the said land to the aforementioned Simon from Michaelmas Eve next future after the date of this court until the end and term of 10 years from now next following full and complete, rendering thereof to the lord yearly at the usual terms equally 5s 6d for all other services etc.
In April 1469 there is further indication that the lord’s park was some form of game preserve:45
Likewise they present that Roger atte Hegge 8d unjustly broke the lord’s park and [there were] various beasts impounded at the same place at that time and he found, took and hunted, against the peace of the lord king. Therefore he is in mercy.
There is a later reference to the poaching of small game in April 1494:46
And that William [blank], parson of the parish church of Morden, overstocks the common of the lord and tenants with more animals than he should have to the grave damage and of his tenants aforesaid. And also that he is a common hunter [venatorum] within the free warren of the lord, and he takes hares [lepores], rabbits [cunic’los], pheasants [phazianos] and partridges [p’dices] from the aforesaid warren. Therefore etc.
However, the lord’s ‘free warren’ was his right to hunt game on his lands and did not necessarily imply the existence of a specific warren at this period. Another reference to poaching appears in October 1502:47
And that Richard Gyles is a common hunter within the lord’s warren and kills hares, rabbits and partridges against the lord’s will, and the order is given to warn him not to do it any more under penalty of 3s 4d.
As we have seen above, some of the manorial parkland and warren had come into private hands well before 1385, when Bunt sold to the vicar and Alan Berenger 8 acres of his freehold land, including an enclosed warren [U2], which passed from Berenger to Spyk in 1389. This 8-acre ‘Parklond’ was in the possession of Robert Stoke by 1446, by whom it was entrusted ‘by gift and feoffment’ to Chynnore and Lovelace.48 In September 1458 William Lovelace disposed of the property, together with the freehold tenement Wynteworthes in Lower Morden:49
Moreover I have given granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to the aforementioned John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow all that my piece of land with its pertinents called The Parklands [le Parklond’] containing eight acres of land having either more or less, lying in the parish of Morden aforesaid which I the aforementioned William together with the said John Chynnore deceased, lately had by gift and feoffment of Robert Stoke deceased, to have and to hold all and singular the abovementioned lands and tenements with other premises and the rest of their pertinents to the aforementioned John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow, their heirs and assigns for ever, of the chief lords of that fee by the services in respect thereof due and by right accustomed.
Parklond remained in the Playstowe family until July 1602:50
William Playstowe of the parishe of Kingston upon Thames in the Countie of Surrey yeoman … hath given graunted and alyened, infeoffed, bargayned and solde … unto the said William Fromund all those messuages or Tenements, Barnes, Stables, howses, edifices, buyldings, easements, and the gardens, Orchards, Courtes yardes and Backesides to the said messuages belonginge situate and beinge in the parish of Morden in the Countie of Surrey aforesaid Together with all those Landes, Tenements, meadowes, pastures, feedinges, woodes, underwoodes, trees, myllehouse, mylles, pondes, waters, watercourses, sluces, Bayes, Bankes, fyshings, fyshes, weares, wayes, pathes, wastes, moores, marishes, Commons, woodgroundes and hereditaments whatsoever to the same messuages or Tenements or to any of them belonginge or in any wise appertayninge with the appurtenances whatsover or reputed used or taken as any parte or parcell thereof or at anye tyme or tymes heretofore used occupyed or enioyed to or with any of the said messuages or tenements situate lyinge and beinge in Morden aforesaid.
In November 1617 Bartholomew Fromund of Cheam ‘demised and let to farm for 21 years at £20 per annum’ to David Benet of Morden gent, ‘Wenterworth farm’ with 45 acres, including ‘8½ acres in Parklonds with 3½ acre coppice’.51 Twelve years later Fromund sold his freeholds in Morden to Richard Garth, lord of the manor of Morden, and this freehold part of Parklonds was once again reunited with the 24 acres of demesne land which shared the same name.52
The only extant description of this freehold Parklonds is from the charter of 7 January 1446, whereby Agnes Martyn quitclaimed all her ‘right, title and claim’ in:53
all that parcel of arable land lying together in the parish of Morden in the county of Surrey, of which one head abuts upon land of the abbot and convent of Westminster towards the north and the other head abuts upon the royal way leading from the vill of Morden as far as the parish church of the same vill towards the south, and land of the aforesaid abbot and convent of Westminster on the east and west.
Fortunately its location was also noted in documents from the 1630s, copied into the bishop of Winchester’s register, recording the granting of permission by the king and by the bishop to restore to the incumbent of Morden parish church the rectorial rights that had been appropriated to Westminster Abbey in 1301 (see chapter 1 page 11). As part of this ‘disappropriation’, the lord of the manor, Richard Garth II, gave three closes of land as glebe in exchange for the earlier plots of glebeland which seem to have been in scattered strips in the open fields in Lower Morden. The bounds of the new closes of glebe are set out as follows:54
two closes containing 11½ acres or thereabouts lying between one close called or known by the name of Newbery close on the west side and one close called or known by the name of Parkeland on the east side; and one other close in Morden aforesaid in the county aforesaid called or known by the name of Emcotes haw containing 2 acres or thereabouts lying between the mansion house of the aforesaid vicar on the south side and one close called or known by the name of litle Parkland on the north side.
As we noted in chapter 1, the vicarage, about to become the rectory house, was in Central Road (tithe plot 247), and Emcotes haw continued to be the grounds of the rectory (tithe plot 248), though in 1838 it was more accurately measured as 1 acre 2 roods and 30 perches. We saw above that in 1704/5 the 10-acre Bushy Closes, formerly the northern part of Bunt’s freehold, abutted on a ‘piece of ground of the lord of the manor called Little Parkelands towards the south-west,55 so Little Parkland occupied tithe plots 221 and 229, with Great Parkland occupying plots 222–3. The new glebe closes occupied tithe plots 216 and 217 in 1838, so the Parkeland east of the glebe occupied plot 218 and part of 219. In 1745 another Bushy Close of 8½ acres, and ‘2½ acres adjoining west upon the said Bushy Close’, together with the 2½-acre Longclose, were leased to William Wickham, and these can be identified with tithe plots 218, 219 and 259 (see map 6.3 on page 120).56 It is significant that both sections of Bunt’s former freehold later bore the designation ‘bushy’.
We are fortunate that the abuttals of the new glebe closes were recorded in the bishop’s register, as it would have been tempting to identify Bunt’s enclosed warren with the ‘coney warren’ noted above in 1745 as lying between Morden House and the demesne Parklands, alongside London Road (tithe plots 224–225).57
The origin of the Parklands
The origins of the Parklands are unclear. The fact that the name only appears in the late 14th- century might suggest that it was a late creation, perhaps by a lessee of the manorial demesne. But the first lease of the demesne was granted from Easter 1359, and Bunt was already disposing of his plot of former roadside waste in Central Road in October 1360.58 It therefore seems likely that at that date he already held his adjoining freehold and customary properties.
Another argument against a 14th-century origin for Bunt’s holding is that there are no known instances of former demesne land being granted as freehold at this time, any surplus demesne land being sub-let to a tenant for a fixed period, as with Hobcok and Popsent noted above (page 128).
In 1312 William Antorneys held a free tenement [U] in Morden, by right of his wife, at a rent of 2 shillings, formerly held by Walter Clerk.59 Neither Antorneys nor his tenement are mentioned in other records, but 2 shillings was the normal rent for a customary virgate of 20 acres, and Bunt’s holding seems to be the only candidate that can be identified with Antorneys’s free tenement. Was this the free virgate for which Matilda daughter of Baldric paid 4 shillings a year in 1235,60 or was Antorneys’s wife the successor of one of the free tenants listed in the custumal c.1225 (see chapter 2 page 20)? Richard de Winnelendune paid 6s 4d for 2½ virgates, while John Ducet paid 3 shillings for 1½ virgates.61 Ducet’s holding had originally been of 2¼ virgates, but a ¾-virgate had been granted back to the abbot in 1220 by the widow of a previous tenant (see chapter 2 page 20 and chapter 9 page 153).62 Until 1219 these two freeholds were in the same occupation, Nicholas and Mary Duket leasing properties in Morden and elsewhere from Richard and Cristina de Wimbeldona,63 so it is possible that the two properties adjoined. If the free virgate was of a similar size to the 20-acre customary virgate, 2¼ virgates would be about 45 acres and 2½ virgates about 50 acres, a total of some 95 acres (see below).
The name Parklands does not appear among the demesne lands in the 1312 extent, though we saw in the previous chapter (page 109) that a large hedged enclosure adjoined the 5½ acres of demesne arable in ‘les Buttes super le Gretyngg’,64 and that the manorial accounts call this enclosure the Gretehegg, Gretteheys or le Gretehengg.65 This enclosure is unlikely to have been the Parklands as ‘Le Gretyngg’ itself is not listed among the demesne lands, only the land abutting it. It is therefore likely to have lain outside the parish and it was suggested above that this was the area later known as Kynnersley Field or Oldfields in Carshalton.
Two areas of marshland were named in 1312 among the demesne pastures:66
… in Litlemarsche 6½ acres, in Magna mersche 15 acres, worth 6d per acre …
By 1567 only a 10-acre close called ‘the Mershe’ was listed among the demesne lands given in dower to Richard Garth’s bride, but 18th-century leases mention Marsh Close and Marsh Meadow, totalling 13½ acres, which can be identified with tithe plots 227, 228 and 232.67 The 6½ acres of the farmhouse and adjoining paddocks and coney-warren probably account for the rest of the medieval ‘marsche’ (tithe plots 224–6). The adjoining demesne Parklands were probably the 22 acres ‘in Thistelcroftes’, worth 4d per acre in 1312, while the 2½ acres adjoining Bunt’s Parklond should probably be identified as the 1¾-acre Tweyacre, also worth 4d per acre, later extended by intakes from roadside waste, the 17th-century glebe closes perhaps occupying the 9⅜-acre Durandesfeld, worth just 3d per acre, with similar intakes from roadside waste.68
So, it would seem that the later Parklands were being used for arable and pasture in 1312 yet, at the same time, an enclosed warren is likely to have been part of William Antorneys’s freehold tenement. The implication is that, some time before 1312, part of a former area of parkland had been converted to demesne arable use, another section reserved for demesne pasture, and the remainder, including an enclosed warren, had been granted as a freehold tenement, perhaps originally to the former park-keeper. And yet the name Parkland was revived in the late 14th century, and there is evidence of the illegal hunting of hares, rabbits, pheasants and partridges associated with a demesne park or warren around the end of the 15th century (see above).69 Had the decline in demesne arable farming, discernible in the manorial accounts from the beginning of the 14th century, led to the abandonment of this poor quality land and its return to rough pasture and game-keeping?70 We have seen that the later Hazelwood estate included 10 acres known as ‘Bushy Closes’ in 1704/05, and that ‘Bushy Close’ was also the name of the 8½ acres of the former freehold Parklond [U2] (tithe plots 218–9) in 1745.71
It is clear that the parklands of Morden were not of the vast extent that we normally associate with medieval parks. Some could be of hundreds, even thousands, of acres, while others were less than 50 acres. As S A Mileson explains: ‘Given these differences in size and location, it may not be surprising that lords appear to have used their parks in a number of different ways. Apart from deer herds and lodges for the parkers who supervised them, many parks also housed other game, especially rabbits in artificial warrens, as well as fishponds. In some there is evidence for the cutting of timber and exploitation of fuel wood, in others an apparent focus on the pasturing of cattle or breeding of horses. Certain parks were even partly put under the plough for arable farming’.72
Scholars debate the chronology of park formation, some tracing them back to the late Saxon period, others insisting they were a Norman innovation, proliferating in the 12th century.73
If our interpretation of the Morden evidence is correct, a late 11th- or early 12th-century origin seems most likely, with abandonment in the 12th or early 13th century and revival in the 14th century. We have seen that the number of customary holdings was doubled, the demesne lands rationalised, and settlement patterns reorganised, between 1086 and 1225, perhaps by the farmer leasing the estate from the abbey at the time of the Domesday survey (see chapter 4). However, if the enclosed warren was for rabbits rather than hares, it would not have been an original feature, as rabbits were not introduced to the British mainland until the early 13th century.74
The extent of the Parklands
What was the extent of the early park? It is likely that it included the whole of Bunt’s free tenement, though not the former roadside waste in Central Road. Did it also include Belles [B] 20 acres which we have identified as the Domesday cottar settlement (see chapter 4 page 93)? Had they become part of a post-Domesday park before reverting to customary tenure? It clearly included the 24 acres of demesne called Parkland in 1567, and probably the 21½ acres of demesne pasture in the marsh mentioned in 1312. Some 67 acres seems to be the smallest extent possible, comprising tithe plots 218–9, 221–232 and the greater part of 241. Belles would have added a further 20 acres. This would still be less than the 95 acres suggested above for the combined free tenements noted in the 1220s. But it is possible that it had extended further to incorporate all the land between London Road and Central Road as far as the estate centre on the site of Morden Hall – the present line of Morden Hall Road only dates from 1225 (see chapter 1 page 3). Perhaps the name Newbury, relating to the land within the junction of London Road and Central Road, refers to a manorial building or earthwork associated with the park. The word ‘park’ indicates an enclosure, and there may well have been earthworks associated with the perimeter fence or hedge. To keep the cost of fencing to a minimum, medieval parks were normally rounded, a circle being the shape that provides the largest area within the smallest perimeter.75 Could this be the reason for the winding route of London Road at this point, a route that replaced the straight line of the Roman road now known as Stane Street?
THE BLACK DEATH AND ITS EFFECTS
John Huberd, who held of the lord 20 acres servile land which had been formerly J Mankernays, died in the month of April, for which there are arrears relating to the said land, thereafter in the lord’s hands, viz for 20 manual works, price of a work ½d, 10d. Also for 8 harvest works, price of a work 1½d, 12d. Also for 3 harvest boonworks with the lord’s food 3d. Also for 2 dry harvest boonworks 2d. Also for rent for Easter term 6d and the Nativity of St John the Baptist 12d. Also for medsilver 1d. Also for one hurdle of rent ½d. Sum 3s 4½d. 2s 10½d, no more because Easter term rent not allowed. And there was harvested for the lord’s use of his corn 4 acres 3 roods wheat and dredge mixed and 1 rood oats. And there was mown 1½ acres meadow.
Walter ate Cherche, who held of the lord 1 messuage and 10 acres servile land, for which there are as many arrears as for Mankerneys tenement, except that he only owed 9d for the said 2 terms. Sum 3s 1½d. 2s 9d And there was harvested of his corn 2 acres wheat.
William Jose, who held as much as Mankernays tenement contains, for which there are as many arrears as for the said Mankernays tenement. Sum 3s 4½d. 2s 10½d And there was mown of his meadow ½ acre.
John Adam, who held as much as the aforesaid William Jose and is as much in arrears. Sum 3s 4½d. 2s 10½d And there was harvested of his corn ½ acre wheat. And there was mown of his meadow 1 acre.
Henry ate Rithe, who held of the lord as much as the others, for which there are as many arrears, except that he only owed 6d for the said 2 terms. Sum 2s 10½d. 2s 7½d
Thomas de Northwich, who held of the lord 1 messuage and 20 acres servile land for which he was in arrears 6 boonworks with the lord’s food 6d. Also rent at the said 2 1 terms 12d. 6d and rent for the said Nativity of St John And he does not owe a hurdle for rent. Sum 18d.12d And there was harvested of his corn 2 acres wheat.
Sum total of cash 17s 7½d. 15s
Sum of acres wheat and oats 9½.
Sum of acres meadow 3 acres meadow.
LIVESTOCK ACCOUNT
Draught horses: The same answers for 3 draught horses from the remaining, viz 2 male and 1 female. And for 6 horses of which 1 female arising from heriot, viz 1 male John Huberd, 1 male for Peter Edward and 1 male for John Gildon and 1 female for Richard Edward and 2 draught horses for Henry Buxton. …
Oxen: The same answers for 14 oxen from the remaining. And for 2 arising as heriot, viz 1 for John Huberd and 1 for William Kypingh. …
Cows: The same answers for 11 cows from the remaining. And for 6 cows arising as heriot, of which 2 before calving, of which 1 before calving for John Vebbe, 1 dry for Henry ate Rith, 1 for Walter ate Ch[er]ch after calving, 1 for William Jose before calving and 1 for William Corped. and 1 for William Keppyng before calving …
Calves: The same answers for 10 calves of issue of which 2 from cows arising as heriot …
Steers: The same answers for 2 steers from the remaining. And for 1 arising as heriot, viz 1 for Richard ate Hegge. …
Young heifers: The same answers for ½ young heifer as heriot for Adam Hobekok. …
Ewes: The same answers for 4 ewes from the remaining. And for 2 ewes after lambing and before shearing for new of heriot viz 1 for Cecil Gardner and 1 for Charles le Catter’. …
Hoggets: The same answers for 2 hoggets [young male sheep] from the remaining. And for 9 hoggets received from the legacy [ex legato] of Roger de Lynton before shearing. …
Gimmers: The same answers for 1 gimmer [young female sheep] from the remaining. And for 1 gimmer added from lambs. And for 1 gimmer received after lambing and before shearing from the legacy of Roger de Lynton. …
7: THE BLACK DEATH AND ITS EFFECTS 135
The Black Death reached the west of England from Europe in June 1348, having originated in Mongolia in the 1320s.1 No community was immune. At Westminster, abbot Simon de Bircheston and 26 monks – around half of the convent – died in the early summer of 1349.2
There are no extant manorial court rolls for Morden for the 1340s and 1350s, but there are manorial account rolls for the period. These reveal that the plague reached Morden just before Easter 1349, which was 12 April. The maslin account, for mixed cereals allocated to household servants, records: ‘In livery of 2 ploughmen from Michaelmas until 10 April for 27 weeks 4 days, 5 quarters 4 bushels, to each of them a quarter for 10 weeks. And at that time they died’.3
Rolled with the manorial account roll is a separate schedule which lists six tenements that had come into the abbey’s hands, because no heir could be found (see image 7.1 and translation 7.2).4 This also notes April as the time of death of at least one of the tenants, the former manorial reeve John Huberd who, in addition to his family holding, was also tenant of Makernays.
Makernays was in fact a 1½-virgate tenement, of 30 acres not 20 acres, and Henry ate Rithe’s a ½-virgate of 10 acres, which explains his 6d rent for a half-year. It is not clear why Walter ate Cherche owed 9d for 2 terms for his 10 acres.
But these were just a few of the dead. The livestock accounts record the payments of heriot, the ‘best beast’ due to the lord of the manor on the death of a tenant (see extracts at foot of facing page).5
A further entry in the account roll reveals that a few of these animals were sold:
Livestock Sold
The same answers for 3s for 1 draught horse sold arising from heriot of John Gylden. … And for 3s for 1 cow from heriot of Walter ate Cherche sold. And for 3s 6d for 1 cow from heriot of Jakynges sold. And for 18d for ½ a heifer from heriot of Adam Hobekok sold.
The other half-heifer from Adam Hobekok was probably taken by the vicar as ‘mortuary’ – a death duty payable to the church – though perhaps both halves were in fact sold to Adam’s heirs. Similarly, the other livestock sold may well have been purchased by heirs of the deceased. The evidence is summarised in table 7.3. The reference to the sale of a cow of ‘Jakynges’ is confusing as there is no mention of him in the Livestock account. Is it an error for William Keppyng’s cow? Only two calves were born from pregnant heriot cows, so it is likely that the third cow was sold. Or should this entry really be Jakynge not Keppyng, perhaps referring to John Adam, whose tenement came into the lord’s hand for lack of heirs, but who is apparently not listed among the heriot payers?
If Keppyng is correct, why was he charged two heriots? The family are only known to have held one tenement at this time [K]. Were there two Williams – father and son – who both died of plague, the son briefly inheriting from the father? This is likely to have been the situation with the Edwards, unless one held the family virgate and the other a second virgate.
No heriot is recorded for Thomas de Northwich’s tenement, which might have been in the hands of one of the other tenants listed here, perhaps Corped, Catter or Gardner, unless he was exempt from heriot. It is possible that Thomas was a descendant of the ‘William de Norwyke’ mentioned at the manorial court of 2 March 1327/28:6
Inquiry taken by the whole homage says that William de Norwyke ploughed servile land of the lord namely 2 furlongs clearly as free land. And now Nicholas the vicar of Mitcham acquired the land of the said William in fee to himself and his heirs without licence, therefore he is distrained. Afterwards the aforesaid Nicholas the vicar comes and makes a fine for entry of 2s and no more at the request of Sir William de Harleston clerk in the chancery of the lord king. And he does fealty &c.
The involvement of a royal chancery clerk suggests that important people were involved, and it is likely that William was the ‘William de Norwico sheriff of Middlesex’ whose rent arrears of 33s 10d were remitted [relaxit] by the convent in 1320/21, and who was given 2 quarters of oats from the Morden grange.7 The sheriffs of London were by right also sheriffs of Middlesex, but William was presumably ‘William de Norwiz, their deputy in the said county, [who] had gone to Wales in the King’s service in the company of Master John Waleweyn in a matter greatly affecting the office of the Exchequer’, according to a letter from the mayor to the king in March 1321/22.8 If Thomas was a descendant of the sheriff, it is quite possible that this former servile tenement had been excused the payment of heriot. However, neither William nor Thomas were listed among the Morden taxpayers in 1332, so perhaps William had sold his entire holding to Nicholas, and Thomas was no relation.9
Why did Henry Buxton owe two heriots? Was he perhaps the tenant of the two freehold properties [Q1] [Q2] of Morden Fee in Ewell that had belonged to the St Michael family of Cuddington in 1312? Certainly the tenant in the reign of Henry VII owed heriot for these two tenements.10 The following deleted entry in the Expenses section of the 1349/50 manorial accounts suggests that the Cuddington properties had been considered to be in a similar category as the tenements in hand:11
Payment of rent resolute and decayed rent
In decayed rent of the tenement late William Megurneys [1½ virgates] serf because in the lord’s hand for the year 3s at the four terms. Also at the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist for medsilver 4d. And for tallage 6⅜d at Michaelmas. In rent-allowance for William Joce for the year 2s. Also for medsilver 2d. And for tallage 4¼d. And for the same for 1 cottage 1d. In allowance [ ] Adam for the year 2s. And medsilver 2d. And for tallage 4¼d. In rent-allowance for Henry atte Ritthe for the year 12d. [And for] medsilver 2d. And for tallage 2⅛d. Also for the tenement of Walter atte Cherche because in the lord’s hands for the year 12d. And for medsilver 2d. And for tallage 2⅛d. In rent-allowance for the tenement of Christiane atte Rithe because in the lord’s hands at Michaelmas ½d.In decayed rent for the tenement late Walter le Cras which the lord of Cudyngton now holds for the year 8s. And for medsilver for the same ½d. Also the same for the tenement of Walter Snel for the year 3s 6d. And for medsilver ½d. Also for 2 cocks 3d. And for 4 hens 8d. And for 18 boonworks 18d.
Sum 18s 0¾d
Later account rolls record failures to collect the rents from these two properties as well as from the third freehold property in Ewell. Perhaps the tenant of the third Ewell freehold was one of the other unknown heriot payers, with the tenants of one or more of the Morden freeholds formerly belonging to Staundon or Antorneys.12
Nothing is known of Roger de Lynton’s ‘legacy’. Was he a tenant of the abbey in Morden or elsewhere, or just someone who decided to leave sheep to the abbey ‘for his soul’s sake’ (see chapter 8 page 150)? Presumably there was some local link, though sheep were often brought here from the abbey’s manors in Middlesex and even Essex.13
The plague was as devastating in Morden as elsewhere. Few households would have been unscathed. We have no information on the occupiers of cottage plots, who did not owe heriot. Similarly we have no indication of how many died in other households, as only heads of household owed heriot. Of the 15 customary virgate and ½-virgate holdings in Morden only three heads of household seem to have survived the pestilence. These were the tenants of the virgates held in 1312 by Hawenld la Bosser [L] and Johanna la Godesone [O] and of Henry Attechurche’s half-virgate [R]. Henry had died in 1342, and his heir is not known.14 Hawenld’s virgate seems to have come into the tenure of a member of the ate Rithe family, Robert, who served as beadle in the 1320s and as reeve in the 1350s.15 As he received a rent allowance of 2 shillings a year as reeve, it seems that he was then holding a virgate, not the family half-virgate which was in hand. Johanna’s virgate was likely to be that held by John Reynald who died in 1354, whereupon the tenement came into the lord’s hand.16
Our records are purely concerned with finance, and shed no light on the impact of the plague on the community, its families and its individual members. The effects on the manorial economy of Morden have been considered in another volume.17 In the present volume we will concentrate on its effect on property holding and the property market (see chapter 10). But even here, the demands of the manorial economy were paramount. The abbey’s first concern was to maintain the cultivation of the manorial demesne, which had been heavily dependent on the labour services owed by its customary tenants. But attempts to find tenants willing to take on the vacant tenements under the old arrangements met with failure. Those who had survived the pestilence found their existing commitments difficult to fulfil, with the loss of able-bodied members from their own families. Potential new tenants, recognising the urgent need of the abbey, sought to negotiate tenancies under more favourable conditions. It took until 1352/53 to reach a compromise, whereby short-term leases began to be granted, free of any requirement to render labour services. At first, few of these leases covered complete tenements, as many lessees were only willing to take on a few acres or a croft to expand their existing holdings (see chapter 2 page 34).18 Meanwhile the abbey waited for the situation to improve, in the hope that traditional arrangements could be re-established. But instead matters deteriorated, and even more tenements came in hand as tenants who had survived had no heirs to succeed them, further outbreaks of plague striking the next generation who had no immunity. By the end of the 14th century the abbey had realised that there would be no going back, and new forms of customary tenure were introduced, without the obligation to perform labour services (see chapter 2 page 26). The fact that the manorial demesne was also permanently let at farm meant that the farmer was now responsible for finding labour, and the abbey no longer needed to demand labour services.
The following chapters will explore property transactions in more detail, both before and after the Black Death, though the bulk of our documentary evidence dates from the later period.
8: TREASURE IN HEAVEN? 141
The monastic communities of the late Saxon and early medieval period relied for their maintenance on endowments of land and other property. Wealthy individuals gave substantial estates, while others gave what they could afford, perhaps a field, a house, or even the rents received from a house. In 1349, following the outbreak of plague, there is a reference in the Livestock section of the Morden manorial accounts to nine hoggets and one gimmer ‘received after lambing and before shearing from the legacy of Roger de Lynton’, so even sheep could be given to the abbey.1 Although many were inspired by religious devotion to make their gifts, there was also an element of self-interest. This was the period when the church was developing and expounding the doctrine of purgatory, whereby it was believed that sin could be purged through suffering after death, and that such suffering could be lessened by the prayers of the living. As a result, those who gave to a monastic community expected to benefit from the prayers of that community. We have an explicit example of this in one of the documents relating to Merton Priory’s Hobalds estate in Lower Morden.
Merton Priory’s Hobalds estate
One of the free tenants listed in the custumal c.1225 was William de Wattune, or Walton, who held a virgate at 2 shillings a year.2 We have already noted in chapter 2 and chapter 5 that William made a grant of part of this property to Merton Priory, reserving part for a marriage portion for his daughter (see pages 20 and 103). The grant had to be confirmed by Westminster Abbey, within whose jurisdiction the land lay, and there were some difficulties that had to be sorted before this could happen. However, Richard de Berkyng, abbot of Westminster (1222–46) issued an undated confirmatory charter to Robert de Hexham, prior of Merton (1238–1248/9), in these words:3
To all the faithful in Christ, about to see or hear the present script, Richard by God’s grace abbot of Westminster and the convent of the same place, greetings in the Lord eternal. We wish to bring to the notice of you all that we, by the consent of our chapter, have granted, and by this present writing have confirmed, to God and the holy church of St Mary of Merton and the canons serving God there, the service and the whole land with appurtenances in Westmorden, which is of our fee, which the aforesaid canons have by gift of William de Wauton, except twelve acres of land with appurtenances which Nicholas de Purley and Joan his wife held there towards the free marriage of the same Joan, and which land the same William held from us by the free service of two shillings a year for all service, just as by the charter of the said William to the said canons, fair and full witness is made thereof. …
In fact, Joan and Nicholas had already come to an agreement with Merton Priory, and the final concord recording this agreement survives at The National Archives:4
This is the final Concord made in the Curia Regis at Westminster in the fortnight of St John the Baptist [24 June–9 July 1237], in the twenty-first year of King Henry [III], before Robert de Lexinton, William de York, Adam son of William, and William de Culeworth, Justices, and other of the King’s faithful subjects then and there present; between Henry, prior of Merton, plaintiff, by David de Merton, clerk, appearing in his place to win or lose, and Nicholas de Pyrle and Joan [Johanna] his wife, defendants, concerning twelve acres of land with pertinents in West Mordon; in respect whereof a plea of warranty of charter has been summoned between them in the same Court, namely that the aforesaid Nicholas and Joan acknowledge all the aforesaid land with pertinents to be the right of the prior himself and his church of Merton as that which the same prior and his church aforesaid have by gift of the aforesaid Nicholas and Joan, to have and to hold to the same prior and his successors and his church aforesaid of the aforesaid Nicholas and Joan and the heirs of Joan herself forever, rendering in respect thereof annually ten shillings sterling at the two terms of the year namely half at Michaelmas and the other half at Easter for all secular services and charges. And the aforesaid Nicholas and Joan and Joan’s heirs shall warrant to the same prior and his successors and his church aforesaid all the aforesaid land with pertinents by the aforesaid terms against all people forever. And the same prior receives the aforesaid Nicholas and Joan and Joan’s heirs in all benefits and prayers which henceforth are made in his church of Merton forever. The final sentence spells out one of Joan and Nicholas’s expectations of this agreement – they would be included in all the benefits and prayers of the priory, both during their lifetimes and, more especially, after their deaths.
But they also expected earthly treasures as well as treasures in Heaven. They ‘gave’ the priory the 12 acres of land in West Morden, to be held ‘of the aforesaid Nicholas and Joan and the heirs of Joan herself forever, rendering in respect thereof annually ten shillings sterling at the two terms of the year namely half at Michaelmas and the other half at Easter for all secular services and charges’. As Joan’s father had only paid Westminster Abbey 2 shillings a year for the full virgate holding, this ‘gift’ was costing Merton Priory dearly.
But Westminster Abbey also expected to be paid for its co-operation. The charter of confirmation quoted above continues in these words:5
However, on condition that where the aforesaid canons were accustomed to render to us for the said William and his heirs through the attorney of the aforesaid William, two shillings on the feast of Blessed Peter ad Vincula [1 August], at Westminster, they shall render to us on the aforesaid feast henceforth at Westminster by the hands of the heirs of the aforesaid William or their attorneys, four shillings annually. Whereby we wish and by our present writing have granted for us and our successors and our church that the aforesaid canons and their successors and their church of Merton, shall hold all the aforesaid land with appurtenances in Westmorden thus freely and peacefully, just as in the abovesaid charter is fully expressed, saving however to us and our successors the increase in rent just as in the present writing above is contained.
It is possible that this rent increase reflected the acquisition by William of additional land since 1225. In Trinity term 1231, when his widow brought a claim for dower against the priory before the Curia Regis, the royal court of justice, the land in question was called a carucate (equivalent to 4 virgates) rather than a virgate:6
Matilda de Walton petitions against the prior of Merton for 1 carucate of land with pertinents in Morden [Mordon] as her dower, wherewith William her husband endowed to her in the name etc.; and the prior by his attorney comes and petitions view thereof. He has it. A day is given to him in the octave of St John the Baptist: and meanwhile etc.
Later in the same term the case was settled:7
Matilda who was wife of William de Wauton, seeks against the prior of Merton 1 carucate of land with pertinents in Morden [Mordon] as her dower, of which in the name etc. And the prior vouched to warrant William de Walton, son and heir of the aforesaid William de Walton, who comes and warrants him as that which the same prior has for a term, whereof four years are still to come, namely that from the feast of St Michael next coming. And they are agreed. And the concord is such, namely that the prior for the remainder of his term shall render therefor yearly to the same Matilda in the name of dower 2 marks and 1 quarter of wheat each year for the aforesaid four years: and after completion of the aforesaid term of four years that land shall remain to Matilda for her whole life in the name of dower. And for this etc. the aforesaid William [gives?] to the same Matilda 3 marks. And because the plea days have not yet come, therefore at the plea day this fine shall be recorded etc. And William appoints in his place Amyas de Walton.
Here we learn that the priory only had the land for a term, of which four years were yet to run. They then agreed to give Matilda 2 marcs, each worth 13s 4d, plus a quarter of wheat for each of the remaining 4 years, after which Matilda was to retain the land for the rest of her life. Presumably it was then to revert to the priory. The Westminster confirmation charter of 1238×1246 probably followed Matilda’s death.
So Merton Priory was to pay annually 10 shillings to Joan and Nicholas, 4 shillings to Westminster Abbey and 26s 8d to Matilda Walton, plus a quarter of wheat a year (one authority read it as 5 quarters).8 Thorold Rogers’s monumental study of prices only begins in 1259, in which year wheat was selling at between 5s and 6s a quarter so, if prices were similar in the 1230s, this would bring Matilda’s annual payment to some 32 shillings, and the priory’s total annual liability to more than 45 shillings for a property for which William had been paying a mere 2 shillings a year to the abbey c.1225, and which he had ‘given’ to the priory!9 It is not known how long these payments were continued. There is no record in the Morden manorial account rolls, which are extant from 1280, of any payments received from Merton Priory.
We are fortunate that so many documents survive relating to this property, though a record of the original grant would have enabled us to understand the situation more clearly, especially the details of the ‘term’ of the grant due to expire in 1235.
This property was clearly valued by Merton Priory, probably because it adjoined other properties held by them in Merton and in Malden, as we saw in chapter 5 (see page 103).
To the modern eye it seems strange that a charitable grant of this kind led to so much litigation, but it was through the decisions of the judiciary that England’s Common Law developed. The litigation does not necessarily imply animosity between the parties – it was merely the process by which legitimate property rights could be established.
Merton Priory’s Spital estate
Fortunately, the other case for which records survive relating to Merton Priory’s holdings in Morden involved them in less expense. On 13 February 1196 the following agreement was reached at the Curia Regis:10
This is the final concord made in the court of the lord king at Westminster the Tuesday next after the octave of the Purification of St Mary 7 Richard [I], before H archbishop of Canterbury, R of London and G of Rochester bishops, William of St Mary’s church, R Herfordin’ and R Elien archdeacon[s], William de Warenne, Richard White, Osbern son of Henry, Simon de Pateshill justices of the lord king and many others faithful to the lord king then and there present. Between the prior of Merton plaintiff and Gilbert Morin defendant, concerning all the land which is between the thorn tree of Poellose[?] and land which Sedmar’ de Lathorn’ held between Morden and Alton, in respect whereof a plea has been summoned between them in the same court. Namely that the same Gilbert grants to the aforesaid prior and the convent at the same place all that part of the aforesaid land that is below the road towards the north, which road proceeds from Morden towards Awlton, to hold to the same prior and the aforesaid convent of the same Gilbert and of his heirs in perpetual alms free and quit from all secular exaction. And the same prior quitclaims his whole right and claim that he has in all the other part and of the aforesaid land above the aforesaid road towards the south to the same Gilbert and his heirs forever.
Here we have land on each side of a road leading from Morden to Carshalton. Before Middleton Road was created in the 20th century, the direct route from Morden to Carshalton would have been along Green Lane into Wrythe Lane.
At this time Merton Priory’s only possessions in Carshalton were the appropriated parish church and a few very small properties, the large estate known as Mareslond apparently being given to them in the 14th century (see below).11 But it did possess another large estate within Morden during the medieval period, in addition to Hobalds. That was the 150-acre Spital estate adjoining the parish of Carshalton, bounded by the present Central Road, Green Lane, Farm Road, and Bishopsford Road (see map 8.2 on page 140).
It is not clear if a hospital of some kind existed within the grounds, or if the income from this estate supported a hospital elsewhere, or merely helped pay for the hospitality that the priory offered to its visitors. The term ‘spital’ or ‘hospital’ was applied to a variety of foundations providing hospitality to pilgrims and other travellers, support for the poor, care for the sick and homes for lepers. Many served more than one of these functions. They were distinct from monastic infirmaries which cared for the sick and aged within the monastic community. Although some hospitals were founded by, or even as, monasteries, particularly those of the Augustinian order, others were independent of any monastic house, while many were founded by laymen and women but entrusted to a monastery for administration and supervision. Most were provided with a modest but regular endowment, often from the rents of properties which remained in the hands of the founder’s family. Over the years other benefactors would contribute to the endowment, but the intention of the initial founder determined the function of each foundation.12
Many hospitals were laid out like churches, the sleeping quarters arranged along the aisles of the ‘nave’, allowing sight of a chapel at the east end.13 Others were modelled on a monastic cloister, while some were almost indistinguishable from a secular hall-house, perhaps even using and extending a former private dwelling.14 Documentary evidence from the 17th century might indicate that Merton Priory’s Spital at Morden included an undercroft (see chapter 12 page 270) – an architectural form that could be found in both monastic and secular buildings. The undercroft and chapel of St Leonard’s Hospital York still survive within York Museum Gardens.15
Hospitals were typically built ‘on the busiest roads, beside every middling town, open to even the lowliest lay person’.16 If the Morden Spital was a hospital, rather than part of the endowment of a hospital, it might indicate that Morden’s roads were sometimes thronged with visitors to the priory.
The origins of this estate are unknown, the earliest extant reference being to ‘Le Spitellondegrove’ in the Morden manorial account roll for 1302/03, though it is possible that the ‘chapel of the hospital [capella hospitalis] of Merton’, mentioned in the eyre records for 1263, was on this site.17 A Morden rectory account of 1353 refers to ‘gratuities given to various men of the vill’, including ‘the court of the hospital of Morden’ for assisitance with collecting tithe corn at harvest.18
If, as seems likely, Merton Priory was already in possession of the Spital estate in 1196, it may well have wanted to add the adjoining 11 acres in Carshalton between the parish boundary and Green Lane to round off the estate and, in particular, to secure grazing rights within Carshalton (see chapter 5 page 112). And Gilbert Morin may well have been happy to increase his standing with God by granting them an odd bit of land separated by the main road from his other properties in the area, later known as Kynwardesley Feld or Oldfields (see chapter 5 page 111). The Morin family might even have been the founders of the hospital.
The 11 acres were certainly shown as part of the ‘Spital Farm alias The Lodge’ estate on 19th- century estate maps.19 Even the physical geography still makes sense. The piece of land released to Merton Priory is described as being ‘below the road towards the north’, and the part retained by Gilbert Morin as being ‘above the aforesaid road towards the south’. Green Lane runs south- east from Love Lane to Rose Hill, so the Spital land was north-east of the road and Kynwardesley Feld south-west. At this point the houses on the north-east side of Green Lane are slightly below the level of the road, and Canterbury Road slopes down from Green Lane. It was suggested in chapter 5 (page 108) that this land might previously have been part of a larger Sutton Common, intercommoned by several neighbouring landholders and communities.
Gilbert’s grant to Merton Priory was ‘in perpetual alms free and quit from all secular exaction’, but we cannot determine whether this was due to his piety, or to the fact that only 11 acres were involved, or in response to the prior quitclaiming his rights within the rest of Gilbert’s land.
A grant to Westminster Abbey
In chapter 5 we noted that the land retained by Gilbert Morin was later called ‘Kynwardesley Feld’, part of the Kynnersley estate in Carshalton. We also noted that, until the mid-19th century, the lords of Kynnersley also held a plot of land in Morden. Westminster Abbey was holding land in Morden of Kynnersley manor from 1283 to 1450,20 and this Morden land can also be traced to a member of the Morin family. Between 1195 and 1215 Robert Morin issued the following charter, William de Walton (of Hobalds) being one of the witnesses:21
Know [all men] present and future that I, Robert Morin, have given and granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to Robert de Cleygate, for his homage and service, one virgate of land with appurtenances in Morden. Namely that virgate which Agmund held, which lies between the land of John son of Peter and the old croft, which land the aforesaid Robert and his heirs, or those to whom he wishes to assign, hold from me and my heirs fully and wholly, freely and quietly, peacefully and honourably with all its liberties and free customs and with all its appurtenances in all things and in all places. Rendering thence per year to me and to my heirs four shillings at the four terms of the year, namely at Christmas, twelve pence, and at Easter twelve pence, and at the feast of Saint John the Baptist twelve pence and at Michaelmas twelve pence for all services and exactions and for demands of every kind to me or to my heirs pertaining. Moreover the aforesaid land with appurtenances, I and my heirs will warrant to the aforesaid Robert and his heirs, or those to whom the aforesaid Robert wishes to assign, against all people. Truly I make this donation and grant and confirmation by the present charter to the aforenamed Robert for the homage and service that he has made to me and for ten marks of silver which he gave to me in fine. These being witnesses, Robert Mauduit, chamberlain of the lord king, Henry Foliot, John son of William, William Mauduit, John de Windlesomer, William de Walton, Peter de Berghes, Robert de Bekham, William Marescall, Graleng de la Wdecot, Baldric de la Wdecot, Ralph de Bokham and many others.
Between 1217 and 1221 Robert de Cleygate sold this land to Westminster Abbey:22
Know [all men] present and future that I Robert de Cleygate have given and granted, and by this my present charter have confirmed to God and the monks of Westminster all my land which I had in the vill of Mordon in the county of Surrey, namely one virgate of land with appurtenances which I held from Robert Morin in the same vill namely the virgate which Aghemund held and which lies between the land of John son of Peter and the old croft. To have and to hold forever from me and my heirs, freely and quietly, by rendering each year from the aforesaid virgate of land, to me and to my heirs, fifty pence for all service and exaction, namely at Christmas twelve pence, at Easter twelve pence, at the feast of Saint John the Baptist twelve pence and at Michaelmas fourteen pence. Truly I, Robert de Cleygate, and my heirs acquit the aforesaid virgate of land with appurtenances against the chief lords of the same fee, namely against Robert Morin and his heirs and against all men and women for the aforesaid, by rendering the service to the aforenamed Robert and his heirs of four shillings a year, at each appointed term of the year twelve pence, on condition that at Michaelmas, the two pence which remain, over and above the four shillings aforenamed, is rendered to me and to my heirs by the aforenamed monks forever. Truly if it should happen that I, Robert de Cleygate, or my heirs have not paid to the aforesaid Robert Morin or to his heirs of four shillings a year, just as the service is expressed, it is well permitted to the aforesaid monks, without contradiction from me or my heirs, to acquit the aforesaid virgate of land against the aforesaid Robert Morin and his heirs by rendering to them of the aforenamed four shillings a year and then they must render to me and to my heirs only two pence at Michaelmas for all things. Nor can we exact anything further from the aforesaid monks at any time for the aforenamed virgate of land. Also I, Robert de Cleygate and my heirs warrant to the monks of Westminster the aforementioned virgate of land with all its appurtenances against all men and all women and for greater security I have returned to them the charter which the aforementioned Robert Morin made to me concerning the aforementioned virgate of land with appurtenances. Indeed for this donation and grant and confirmation by my charter together with warrantisation, there are given to me by the aforementioned monks of Westminster eight marks and a half sterling in fine. So that by this my donation and grant is firm and secure, to the present writing I have affixed my seal. These being witnesses, Eustace de Faukemberge, then treasurer of the king, Thomas de Chimel, William de Castell, Alexander, clerk, Hulian Cheendut, then seneschal of Westminster, Odo Aurifabio, Richard fitz Eymund, Stephan de Berkinge, Robert de Crokesle, Alan de Eye, Thomas fitz Reginald, William del Ewe, Henry de la Doune, Walter de Wandlesworth, Ranulf de Eya, Walter Marescallo and many others.
Although Cleygate claims to ‘have given and granted, and by this my present charter have confirmed to God and the monks of Westminster’, his holding in Morden, it reads more like an assignment of a lease, but with a compensatory payment of 2d a year to Cleygate himself. However, before 1290, when the statute Quia emptores was passed, landed property could not be transferred outright to a new owner, but instead the grantee became the subtenant of the grantor, introducing ‘a new link in the chain of feudal tenure’.23 So these charters were grants of the freehold, and not merely leases, the annual payment of 4 shillings being that owed to
‘the chief lords of the same fee’, ‘for all services and exactions and for demands of every kind to [him] or to [his] heirs pertaining’. Cleygate informs us that Morin was himself the chief lord of this fee. Between 1283 and 1450 the Morden manorial account rolls regularly record a sum of 4 shillings a year being paid to members of the Kynnersley family – presumably the successors to Morin – for land at ‘Gilnehelde’, ‘Gildeneheld’ or ‘Gildonehill’, though there is no further mention of the 2d due to Robert de Cleygate’s heirs.24
The payment of 8½ marks [£5 13s 4d] to Cleygate shows that it was clearly a purchase, not a gift, though perhaps still motivated by piety. Barbara Harvey suggests that it was one of many examples of the monks ‘repurchasing the freehold of the property too readily alienated in the eleventh and twelfth centuries’.25 She also points out that the monks were often unable to repurchase the whole of the property, and we have seen that the lords of Kynnersley manor still held land in Morden into the 19th century.26 Both the origins and the later history of this holding have been discussed in chapter 5 (see page 108 and map 5.6 on page 110).
A grant to the rector of Morden
So far we have examined two grants to Merton Priory and one purchase by Westminster Abbey. A later grant was made to the last medieval rector of Morden, Gerard de Staundon, who was appointed in 1273 and who resigned in 1301 to enable the abbey to appropriate the tithes of the parish to meet its expenses following a fire at Westminster.27
Two charters survive among the Westminster Abbey muniments, the first undated:28
To all the faithful in Christ about to see or hear the present charter, Isabel Poybele of Morden, daughter of John le Berther, greetings in the Lord. Know that I have rendered, granted and by my present writing charter have confirmed to Master Gerard, rector of the church of Morden, all that croft with all its appurtenances in Morden, which is between a tenement of the aforesaid church on each side, whose northerly head abuts upon the royal way and the southern head upon the tenement of John Snoter. To have and to hold to the same Master Gerard and his successors and his aforesaid church freely, quietly, truly and in peace forever. I have remitted also and have wholly quitclaimed for me and my heirs forever to the aforementioned rector and his successors and his church aforesaid, all right and claim which I ever had or could have or ought to have in the aforesaid croft with appurtenances. Namely on condition that neither I, the aforesaid Isabel, nor my heirs nor any in our name or for us, henceforth shall be able to exact or lay claim to any right or claim in the aforesaid croft with appurtenances. In witness whereof I have confirmed the present charter by affixing my seal. These being witnesses, Ralph de la Chambre de Creshalton, Richard Aurifaber, Robert de Sutton, Robert de Cheyham, Geoffrey de Morden, clerk, Thomas de la Forge of Merton, Thomas atte Water of Wymeldon and others.
When Staundon resigned in 1301 he handed the property to the abbey: 29
To all the faithful in Christ to whom these present letters shall have come, Gerard de Staundone, clerk, greetings in the Lord. Know that I have remitted and wholly quitclaimed, for me and my heirs to the abbot and convent of Westminster, all right and claim which I had or in any way could have or may be able to have in one plot on which I have built and which I had by the gift and grant of Isabel Poybele of in Westmorden and the which site is situated between tenements of the Rectory of the same vill. On condition that neither I nor my heirs, nor anyone by me or on my behalf or in my name shall be able to exact or lay claim to any right or claim in the aforesaid plot and buildings forever. In witness whereof, to these presents I have affixed my seal. Dated at Westminster on the Thursday nearest after the feast of All Saints in the twenty- ninth year of the reign of King Edward [].
This piece of land is described in almost identical words in documents of the 1630s allocating glebe to the incumbent, prior to the restoration of rectorial rights appropriated three centuries before (see chapter 6 page 130). Among the closes mentioned is:30
… one other parcel of land containing half an acre or thereabouts lying between two parcels of land of the vicar of Morden aforesaid called or known by the name of Viccars Pightell in West Morden [Mordon Occidental] …
In chapter 1 (page 13) we identified this croft, situated on the south of a road, as the central part of the plot of glebe meadow [F5] south of Lower Morden Lane, shown as plot 71 on the 1838 tithe apportionment map, the rest of the plot being the ‘tenement of the aforesaid church on each side’ that Isabel mentions (see map 1.6).31 We have also identified Snoter’s tenement [F2] as the eastern section of the adjoining plot 70. We have further suggested that Isabel’s family had held two adjoining tenements in Lower Morden, and had sold the redundant croft belonging to one of these tenements to John Snoter, and had given the house-plot to the church [F5]. Possibly the tenements had been inherited by three sisters, two of whom had given their portion to the church, while Isabel had given her share to the rector and his successors. The remaining tenement might be that held by Henry Gulden [G], the land belonging to the redundant tenement being the other ‘moiety’ held jointly in 1312 by Robert Fabian and Walter Attewode in 1312 [F]. Perhaps ‘Alice wife of Matthew’, the former tenant, was a relative of Isabel. Fabian, Attewode and Gulden were described as ‘free tenants’ in 1312, even though their holdings were later surrendered at the manorial courts rather than sold by charter, as one would expect for a true freehold. We have noted above that tenants who held more than one tenement were more likely to obtain some sort of freedom in their tenure, even if only freedom from the obligation to perform weekly labour services (see chapter 2 page 22), as was the case with Fabian, Attewode and Gulden. And yet Isabel Poybele granted her croft to Staundon by charter, and Staundon similarly quitclaimed his rights in the land by charter. Perhaps it was the fact that the grant was made to Staundon that made it appropriate to grant it by charter, either because he was the rector of Morden, or because he already held a true freehold property in Morden [W], which we have seen was always sold by charter.
Merton Priory’s Maresland estate
Another ‘gift’ was made in August 1361 – to the vicars of Mitcham and Morden – when William Mareys of Mitcham (see chapter 3 page 55), made the following grant:32
Know [all men] present and future that I William Mareys of Mitcham [Mich’m] in the county of Surrey have given and granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to Sir Richard Porter perpetual vicar of the church of Mitcham [Micham] and [Sir] John de
Scaldewell perpetual vicar of the church of Westmordon, all my capital messuage with the buildings built upon it, gardens, crofts, meadows, pastures, woods, trees, fences [sepibus], hedges [hays], ditches thus enclosed, with two watermills and a certain piece of marshland [more] adjoining thus enclosed by the water towards [versus] the field [campus] called Beneytesfeld and with all other their pertinents which I have in Wykeford in the parish of Mitcham [Micham] abovesaid, to have and to hold all the aforesaid messuage with the said two watermills, piece of marshland adjoining and with all other their pertinents as aforesaid to the aforementioned Sir Richard and [Sir] John and their heirs and assigns, freely, wholly, well and in peace, in fee and heredity, of the chief lords of that fee by the services in respect thereof due and customary forever, rendering in respect thereof annually to me the aforementioned William and my assigns for the whole of my life 100 shillings sterling at the feasts of Easter and Michaelmas by equal portions. And if the aforesaid annual rent of 100 shillings at any time during the life of me the aforesaid William should be in arrears beyond any term when the same rent ought to be paid as aforesaid then it is well permitted to me the aforementioned William and my assigns to enter the said messuage and mills with their pertinents and to distrain by all goods and chattels found in the same and to carry off, take away, drive away and retain distraints until satisfaction is fully made to us for all arrears of the same annual rent.
And I the aforesaid William and my heirs will warrant the whole of the aforesaid capital messuage with the buildings built upon it, gardens, crofts, meadows, pastures, woods, trees, fences, hedges, ditches thus enclosed, with the said two watermills, piece of marshland adjoining and with all other their pertinents as is aforesaid to the aforementioned Sir Richard and [Sir] John and their heirs and assigns against all people forever. In witness whereof to one part of this indented charter, that shall remain in the possession of the said Sir Richard and [Sir] John, I the aforesaid William have affixed my seal. The other part of the same, which shall remain in my possession, has been sealed with the seals of the same Sir Richard and [Sir] John. These being witnesses: Nicholas de Careu, John de Bergh, Robert atte Doune, Adam Kentyssh, William Harpour, William Fyge, Thomas Est and others. Dated at Mitcham the Friday next after the feast of St Laurence the martyr 35 Edward III [13 August 1361].
And it is noted that the aforesaid William Mareys came into the King’s Chancery at Westminster 21 January of the present year and acknowledged the aforesaid charter and all contained in the same in the form aforesaid.
This grant to the vicars is generally thought to have been in trust for Merton Priory, as the priory was said to be holding ‘the manor of Wickford’ in 1380 (see below, page 150),33 and at the Dissolution held lands in the vicinity of Mitcham Bridge as part of its Maresland or Mareshlandes estate ‘in Mitcham and Carshalton’ (there is no mention of any land in Morden).34 The lands can be traced through later documents, where they are described as ‘Mareslondes’, ‘Marrish lands’, ‘Marris Fee’ or ‘Marsh Fee’ lands (see map 5.7 on page 116).35 This annuity of 100 shillings seems to have been a form of pension, William investing his property to provide for his old age and for his afterlife. However, there may be more to this ‘gift’ than one would at first assume.
In January 1348/9 William Mareys ‘came before John Lovekyn then mayor of London and Thomas de Colle then clerk deputed for receiving such recognizances in the same city and made recognizance that he is indebted to Henry de Strete citizen and vintner of London in £100 sterling according to the form of the Statute of Merchants, which he ought to pay him at the feast of St Michael then next future []’.36 As we have seen in chapter 3, Henry de Strete, also called del Strete or atte Strete, was Mareys’s Mitcham neighbour, having purchased the manor of Ravensbury, or rather ‘Rasebury’, from William de Herle in January 1347.37 He also purchased a further 60 acres ‘in Mitcham’ from Mareys in October 1347.38
Mareys’s debt was still not paid in September 1362, and the mayor requested the chancellor to write to the sheriff of Surrey in due form ‘that the said William be compelled to make the said payment owed to the same Henry according to the form of the statute’.39 Under the statute De Mercatoribus, passed in 1285, commercial debts had to be acknowledged in public before the clerk of the Statutes Merchant and the lord mayor of London, or before two merchants appointed
by the mayors of other towns. The merchant was liable to have his goods seized and the rents and profits of his lands collected by his creditor if he defaulted in the payment of his debt. In 1353 this was replaced by the Statute Staple by which debts were acknowledged in public before the mayor of the Staple, and it was presumably the later statute that is meant here, though the debt had been acknowledged under the previous statute.40
No indication is given in the document regarding the source of this debt. Wine retailed at 4d a gallon in London in the 1340s,41 so it is unlikely that Mareys would have ordered £100 of wine from de Strete; it was probably a loan from a neighbour. De Strete had attempted to cover any risks – two days after the loan was registered before the mayor, on 1 February 1349, William Mareys granted de Strete a 25-year lease of ‘certain lands and tenements with pertinents in Mitcham, Wicford, Wandsworth and Carshalton’ as security should the loan not be repaid within the agreed period.42 The agreement stated that ‘if it should happen that the said William in any way grants contrary to the tenor of the aforesaid covenant at any time henceforth … that from that time the said bond shall … stand firm and permanent’.
As the debt was still outstanding in 1362, it would seem that Mareys had reneged on the lease and had ‘granted contrary to the tenor of the aforesaid covenant’. Although we cannot be certain that the grant to the two vicars in August 1361 involved the same – or part of the same – property that was rightfully leased to de Strete, the coincidence of dates suggests that this was likely.
Such a substantial unpaid debt could create a cash flow problem for the creditor, who could then himself be faced with the prospect of the debtors’ prison. As early as 26 June 1357 an order was sent out by Chancery to the sheriff of Surrey to arrest Henry and his son Thomas and to value and seize their properties within Surrey in order to repay a debt of £50 that had fallen due in November 1355 to a London fishmonger, Richard Smelt.43 Fortunately for them they were not living at Mitcham, and so escaped the sheriff’s jurisdiction.44
Despite his absence, Henry’s Mitcham and Morden estates were valued on 10 July 1357. The extent or valuation of the properties revealed that the annual income from the properties only amounted to £38 10s, so they were seized in the king’s name until the creditor had been repaid from the income. One of the jurors valuing the property was William Mareys!45 It must have been galling that Mareys, who could perhaps have solved their financial problems if only he had paid back the £100 he owed them, should be one of the jurors valuing the properties.
Of course, the outstanding debt from Mareys may not have been the only cause of de Strete’s financial problems. In the Ravensbury volume of his Mitcham Histories series Eric Montague reminds us that this was a period of war with France, during which the vineyards of Gascony were devastated by rival armies and by bad weather.46 Costs were driven up accordingly, but these were passed on to consumers, the retail price in London rising from 4d to 6d a gallon in 1352, increasing to 8d a gallon in 1361, and only returning to 6d in 1372.47 When Edward III died in 1377 only Calais and a strip of coast from Bordeaux to Bayonne were firmly in English hands.48 Perhaps it was anticipation of this ultimate failure that led to the prosecution of the de Stretes on 14 August 1372 for another debt, this time of £186, to John Michel, a fellow vintner, and John Conyngton, clerk, incurred 15 years before, in October 1357. The order was given to arrest Henry and Thomas and to value their lands in Surrey and seize them until the debt was repaid out of the issues of the property.49
But Henry and Thomas were beyond the jurisdiction of both sheriff and king, as the sheriff reported:50
Henry del Strete citizen of London and Thomas del Strete, son of the same Henry, are dead. Therefore no action has been taken at present regarding this writ.
However, the debt still had to be paid, and new orders went out on 4 November 1372 to value the Surrey properties that they had held at the time of the recognizance of the debt in 1357.51 The sheriff replied that the properties had now been valued and seized for the king,52and the valuation or extent, made on 17 November 1372, was stitched to the writ and returned to Chancery.53 The
jurors said ‘that the aforesaid Henry had on the day of recognizance aforesaid in Mitcham: one messuage and two watermills in one house which are worth yearly after expenses 53s 4d; also that he had from rents of assize in Mitcham and Morden yearly 30s; also he had from a certain rent called worksilver 2s 10d; also he had there 300 acres of arable land in Mitcham and Morden which were worth yearly £10; also he had on the aforesaid day of recognizance of debt 57 acres meadow in the said vills of Mitcham and Morden which were worth yearly 57s. Also they say that the aforesaid Thomas son of Henry did not have any lands or tenements in the aforesaid county that they can value or appraise’ – a total annual value of just £17 3s 2d, less than half the valuation made in July 1357.
This extent omits several items listed in July 1357, and it might have been for this reason – but perhaps because the sheriff was too slow in returning the writ and extent – that ten days later, on 27 November 1372 another order went out from Chancery.54 Once again the sheriff responded that the properties had been valued and seized,55 and sent a new extent made on 4 December 1372. This included items omitted a fortnight earlier, and is comparable to the one made in July 1357 as far as overall acreage is concerned, though the land use is very different and the land values are lower, giving a total value of £21 18s 4d – just 57% of its former value.56
An entry in the close rolls for 18 March 1373 reveals that the properties had finally been delivered to the creditors Michel and Conyngton ‘to hold as their freehold until contented of the said sum and of their damages and costs’, but that they had then sold on their rights to Merton Priory (see image 8.1 on page 139).57
So Merton Priory bought up the outstanding debt which had perhaps begun when Mareys reneged on his agreement to allow de Strete to recoup his losses from the income arising from Mareys’s estates, and instead granted them to the two vicars in order to secure an income in his old age. As the contract had been broken, it is likely that the priory, as de Strete’s creditor, was entitled to claim Mareys’s lands in settlement of his unpaid debt of £100. This might explain why the priory was said to be holding ‘the manor of Wykford’ in 1380, including 12 acres in the Wandsworth area, though the jurors assessing whether any loss or injury would befall the king or anyone else if the land was included in a gift to Westminster Abbey, reported that ‘the prior holds further the said 12 acres of the lord king in pure and perpetual alms’.58 Although the Barnack-fee holding had passed to John Burgh by 1428 (see chapter 3 page 55), it is likely that Merton Priory retained part of Mareys’s former lands to create the estate that became Maresland – perhaps not from a charitable grant to the church but through a debt that seems to have brought a neighbour to financial ruin.
Treasure in Heaven
In conclusion, we have seen that gifts to the church could be substantial estates, a virgate holding, a few acres alongside a road, or part of a croft. They might be absolute gifts ‘with no strings attached’ – no obligations to superior lords – or they might be encumbered with a multitude of payments and duties. They might even have unfortunate effects on others.
But every gift was made in the hope of gaining treasure in Heaven, by the influence of the religious men to whom the gift was made. As with Alnoth’s gift to Westminster Abbey of his estate at Tooting, recorded in Domesday Book (see chapter 3 page 53), when a man gave property ‘to God and the monks of Westminster’, or to another religious body, it was ‘for his soul’s sake’.59
9: KEEPING IT THE FAMILY 153
Many properties remained in a single family over several generations, usually by inheritance, but sometimes by gift. In this chapter we will look at different ways that properties were transferred within the family.
Widows
The rights of widows are enshrined in English law. King John’s Magna Carta of 1215 has the following clauses: 1
A widow, after the death of her husband, shall immediately, and without difficulty have her marriage [portion] and her inheritance; nor shall she give anything for her dower, or for her marriage [portion], or for her inheritance, which her husband and she held at the day of his death: and she may remain in her husband’s house forty days after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned. No widow shall be distrained to marry herself, while she is willing to live without a husband; but yet she shall give security that she will not marry herself without our consent, if she hold of us, or without the consent of the lord of whom she does hold, if she hold of another.
In 1236 the first two clauses of the Provisions of Merton stated: 2
FIRST, Of Widows which after the Death of their Husbands are deforced of their Dowers, and cannot have their Dowers or Quarentine without Plea, whosoever deforce them of their Dowers or Quarentine of the Lands, whereof their Husbands died seised, and that the same Widows after shall recover by Plea; they that be convict of such wrongful Deforcement shall yield Damages to the same Widows; that is to say, the Value of the whole Dower to them belonging, from the time of the Death of their Husbands unto the Day that the said Widows, by Judgement of our Court, have recovered Seisin of their Dower, &c. and the Deforcers nevertheless shall be amerced at the King’s Pleasure.
ALSO, From henceforth Widows may bequeath the Crop of their Ground, as well of their Dowers as of other their Lands and Tenements, saving to the Lords of the Fee all such Services as be due for their Dowers and other Tenements.
‘Dower’ [dos] was ‘the portion in lands and revenues assigned to a bride by her husband at the time of marriage’. It must be distinguished from ‘dowry’ [maritagium], which was the ‘marriage portion that the bride brought with her into the marriage’.3 ‘Quarentine’ was the right to ‘remain in her husband’s house for forty days after his death’ as described in Magna Carta. These entries in Magna Carta and the Provisions of Merton were clarifications of rights long recognised in English law.
We have already seen references to widows claiming their rights in lands formerly held by their husbands. In 1220 Alina Sakespeye came to an agreement whereby she granted to Westminster Abbey her right in the lands that she claimed in Morden in order that the abbey would support her in gaining her right, presumably in other properties of greater value than her Morden claim: 4
This is the covenant made between E. prior of Westminster and Alina widow of Richard Sakespeye namely that I Alina have granted and by this present writing have confirmed in my legitimate widowhood, all my right and claim which I had or could have in the half of one hide of land and in the half of one half-virgate of land with its pertinences in the vill of Morden. Namely that land which Richard Sakespeye, formerly my spouse, sold to Nicholas Duket, whom I could not gainsay. For this grant and quitclaim, I, E. the aforesaid prior of Westminster, have faithfully permitted counsel and aid and all reasonable expenses towards the winning of her right, and have promised to the aforesaid Alina six marks of silver when her right is acquired. Truly I, the aforesaid E. prior of Westminster, have promised by this covenant in the word of the Lord on my behalf, to be firmly bound. And I the aforesaid Alina, by touching the sacred gospels, have sworn to be bound faithfully by this covenant without any deceit. And so that this covenant be valid and secure, we have confirmed [it] with our seals. These being witnesses, Henry de Wautham, Odo Aurifaber, Richard son of Edmund, Robert, clerk, Sanson de Coquina, Richard de Chalfhonte, Vono/Voun le Ku, Phillip servant of the prior and many others.
Although the word ‘dower’ [dos] is not used, it is the most likely explanation of her claim. Dower was normally reckoned to be one-third of the husband’s estate. Alina claimed ¾ virgate as her share in 2¼ virgates of land that her husband had sold to Nicholas Duket. A few years later John Ducket held 1½ virgates in Morden, two-thirds of the original holding.5 Alina’s share did come into the hands of the abbey, according to a marginal entry in red against the above record, which reads, ‘This aforesaid land is assigned to the Anniversary of Prior Helias as is plain from Part IV of the Customary’. Elias had been prior c.1157.6
Although dower was assigned to the wife as a bride, she could not oppose her husband’s wishes during his lifetime, even if he sold the land with which he had endowed her. But, after her husband’s death, a widow could still claim her right to dower. Glanvill, a legal treatise written c.1187–9, says:7
It should be known, moreover, that if any woman’s husband sells his wife’s dower to another after he has endowed her with it, his heir must, if he can, deliver that dower to the woman, and must give to the purchaser reasonable lands in exchange for what was sold or given by his ancestor; if he cannot deliver to the woman, he must give her reasonable lands in exchange.
If a Sakespeye heir did provide alternative land to Duket, it was not in Morden, but as Alina was prepared to renounce to the abbey her rights in Morden it seems likely that her husband had other properties elsewhere, of greater value. A Geoffrey Sakespeye was a free tenant in the abbey’s manor of Battersea and Wandsworth in the 1260s.8
The word ‘dower’ is used of Nicholas’s widow Mary in 1219, but her rights in the property, held by lease, had been bequeathed to her by Nicholas (see chapter 2 page 20).9 Wills have been considered in chapter 2 and below (see pages 38, 166). The word ‘dower’ is also used in the other case that we have considered, where Matilda de Walton claimed her rights in land given by her husband to Merton Priory ‘as her dower, wherewith William her husband endowed to her in the name etc …’ [ut dotem suam, unde Willelmus vir suus eam nominatim dotavit etc …] (see chapter 8 page 142).10 In chapter 3 we noted several occasions when a third part of Ravensbury manor was similarly held by the deceased lord’s widow as dower.
As noted above, ‘dower’ [dos] must be distinguished from ‘dowry’ [maritagium], the ‘marriage portion’ that the bride brought into the marriage. The Walton case also includes an example of this in the twelve acres of land ‘which Nicholas de Purley and Joan his wife held there towards the free marriage [in liberum maritagium] of the same Joan’, presumably William de Walton’s married daughter.11
So far our examples have related to freehold properties, but the principle that a widow had rights in her husband’s property also applied to customary holdings and to leaseholds.
We have seen in chapter 5 that, when Thomas Welshe surrendered his lease of the manor of Morden three years before it expired, his stepmother was entitled to remain in possession of 50 acres at Gyldon hill until the end of the lease (see page 113).
It is clear that a widow was entitled to a portion of her late husband’s property, and when this was a large estate, she could claim several acres. But if the husband only held a single cottage standing within a small curtilage, the widow was only entitled to a part of it, the husband’s heirs succeeding to the rest of the property. Thus in 1402, on the death of John Hurrok, Katerina, wife of Richard Dyssher, and Johanna, wife of John Bekeswell, were admitted to his cottage and curtilage as his nearest heirs, though it was noted ‘that Isolde wife of the said John Hurrok is entitled to dower’.12 It seems likely that Isolde continued to live in the cottage, or a part of it, though she had problems with Johanna’s husband, as the court roll of April 1404 records:13
Likewise they present that John Bekeswell 6d did seven housebreakings [homesokyn=hampsoken/hamsocna] upon Isolde Hurrok for which the said Isolde justly raised hue and cry upon the said John. Therefore he is in mercy; pledges John Spyk and Alan Berenger.
The impression is of repeated attempts to intimidate Isolde, and it might be that John and Johanna occupied a part of the cottage and were hoping to force Isolde out. John was certainly
resident in Morden at this period, for he makes several appearances in the court records, though there is no record of him holding any other property at this time. The Dysshers are not otherwise recorded. Johanna and Katerina were probably John Hurrok’s daughters, and Isolde might have been a stepmother.
This cottage had almost certainly originated as a home for a widow. It appears to be the cottage held in 1312 by Matilda atte Hegge [H2], probably the widowed mother of Henry Attehengg, who held a virgate tenement [H], and it was likely to have been within the curtilage of the family home in West Morden.14 A marginal note to the 1312 extent says that this was later in William Carpenter’s possession. William Carpenter died in 1387 and his widow as joint-tenant had a life-interest:15
Likewise they present that William Carpenter, who held of the lord one cottage with pertinents and that Agnes his wife is jointly enfeoffed with the aforesaid William [her] husband, which William has died since the date of the last court held here and that John John his son is his next heir, whereof nothing falls to the lord for heriot at present but he shall find pledge to keep 5s in the name of heriot 5s. And to keep her tenement well without waste etc.
Three years later, in June 1390, Agnes, now married to William Irissh, surrendered the cottage and curtilage ‘formerly John Serles’ to her son John Carpenter and his wife Cristiane.16 At the next court, in November 1390, they surrendered it to John Hurrok who, as we have seen, died in 1402.17 We have seen that a John Carpenter and his wife Cristine were admitted to Lotekyns tenement [L] in November 1391 (see chapter 2 page 33).18 In 1455 Johanna Clement, widow of Peter Clement, surrendered ‘the cottage and curtilage formerly Hurlokkes’ to John atte Hegge, bringing the atte Hegge possession full circle.19
Although John Carpenter had an obligation, as his father’s heir, to keep the property in good condition during his mother’s occupation, Agnes had full rights in the property as a joint-tenant with her late husband, and not merely her right to dower. This additional security became increasingly common, and most references to widows in the manorial court rolls describe them as joint-tenants. But if a husband had been in possession of other properties during the marriage, the widow could still claim her dower in these. Thus, on 13 November 1391:20
Matilda widow of Richard Milleward complains of Peter Popsent in a plea of dower, whereof she has nothing etc.
The same Matilda complains of John Milleward in the aforesaid plea etc. Therefore the order is given to summon the aforesaid defendants against the next [court].
Richard had died before November 1389, when ‘Andrew Aslak and Alice his wife as daughter of the late [quondam] Richard Melleward’ surrendered two neighbouring small properties [B41] to Peter Popsent and his wife Alice, who may have been Alice Aslak’s niece, as Alice Popsent was the daughter of a Henry Milward/Melleward, possibly Richard’s elder son (see page 158 below).21 It is likely that Richard had acquired these properties as a marriage portion for his daughter, and Matilda therefore had dower rights in them as former possessions of Richard.
John Milleward had been admitted to his property [B2] on 25 June 1383, on surrender by his father:22
At this court Richard Mulneward surrenders into the lord’s hand 1 messuage and 5 acres land with pertinents to the use of John his son, to whom is granted seisin thereof, to hold to the same John and his heirs at the will of the lord by services and customs, saving [the lord’s] rights, etc. And he gives the lord for a fine to have entry as appears. And [he does] fealty.
But at the following court, on 4 May 1384, John surrendered the property to be held jointly by his father and himself and their wives:23
At this court John Mulneward surrenders into the lord’s hand 1 messuage and 5 acres land pertaining to the same, late Richard Mulneward his father. And the lord out of his possession grants the aforesaid messuage and the land pertaining to the same to the aforesaid John and Agnes the wife of the same, Richard Mulneward and Matilda wife of the same Richard, to hold to the same John, Agnes, Richard and Matilda and the heirs of the aforesaid John at the will of the lord by services and customs, saving [the lord’s] right etc. And the said John gives the lord in place of heriot 12d. And he gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And he does fealty.
Thus Matilda had a joint-tenancy in this property. The issue of dower was still unresolved at the next court, held on 25 January 1392:24
The order is given to seize, as at other times, Peter Popsent and John Milleward to answer Matilda who was the wife of Richard Milleward in a plea of dower against the next [court] etc.
Finally, on 3 July 1392 Peter and John each acknowledged Matilda’s rights in both properties before a jury of their neighbours:25
Peter Popsent and John Milleward because they were penalized by their acknowledgement against Matilda who was wife of Richard Milleward in a plea of dower. Therefore they are etc. And the order is given to the beadle to deliver and distribute the said dower to the said Matilda against the next [court].
However, four months later, on 11 November 1392, Matilda, John and Agnes surrendered the family holding [B2] to another member of the family, Agnes Mulseye, sister of Alice Popsent:26
At this court come John Milleward and Agnes his wife and Matilda late wife of Richard Milleward, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs forever to the use of William Mulseye and Agnes his wife, one messuage and 5 acres land with pertinents, to have and to hold the said messuage and land with pertinents to the same William Mulseye and Agnes, the heirs and assigns of the same William, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for both heriot and fine as appears. And they do the lord fealty.
John had purchased a cottage in Carshalton in 1385, so maybe he had made his home there. Matilda might have moved to Carshalton as well, though it is possible that she married again.27 She makes a final appearance in our records at the court of 22 May 1394, perhaps in relation to the balance of her share of the purchase price of the property:28
William Mulseye because he was penalized by the homage against Matilda Mulleward by William Norman her attorney in a plea of debt, namely over a debt of 2s. Therefore etc. And the order is given to levy the said cash to the use of the aforementioned Matilda against the next [court] etc.
Many widows remarried, some several times. We have seen that Alice Edward married Richard Fowler, Thomas Gaston and Thomas Attemere (see chapter 2 page 32).29 Alice Dunton or Dounton married John Flemyng after John Dunton’s death, and then John Langton after Flemyng’s death.30 Each had held jointly with their late husbands. There are many references to a man holding property ‘by right of his wife’, some because his wife had inherited the property from a relative. The 18th-century treatise mentioned above explains that this only applied to property inherited before the marriage.31 If it was inherited after the marriage, the husband had full rights in it, though his wife would always be ‘examined alone’ before a surrender was made, to ensure that she approved the surrender, as we saw in the case of Hugh and Johanna Mannynge (see chapter 2 page 27). But this private examination did not only apply to wives who had brought property into the marriage. It was a regular procedure, as we have seen in the case of Thomas and Cristine Carpenter (see chapter 2 page 32) and that of John and Matilda atte Rythe (see chapter 2 page 31), even though John had inherited his property from his father.
Although some men held ‘by right of’ their wives through inheritance, we also have records of the new husband of a widow holding land ‘by right of’ his wife. Thus in May 1384:32
Richard Pynget who espoused Alice Hobecoke comes and gives the lord for fine for licence to have occupancy of servile land of the lord by right of the same Alice. And he does fealty.
Simon Hobecok’s death had been presented at the court held 7 February 1383:33
Likewise they present that Simon Hobecok who held of the lord 1 messuage called Cokcyes and 1 virgate of land jointly with Alice his wife has died, by which death there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 horse valued at 10s. which is respited until the death [of Alice] Likewise that the same Simon held jointly with Alice his wife 1 cottage called Huberdes and there falls to the lord for heriot 1 ox valued at 10s which is respited until the said Alice dies. And the said Alice comes and shows thereof her good title and is admitted and does fealty.
Once again the Hobecoks had held their properties jointly, so Alice had full rights in them after his death. Richard and Alice surrendered Cokcyes [C] in November 1391:34
At this court come Richard Pynget and Alice his wife and surrender into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs for ever one messuage and one virgate of land with pertinents called Cookcys, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot as appears. And it remains in the lord’s hand. And the order is given to the serviens to answer for the issues until etc.
However, Huberdes cottage [N7] was retained until Alice’s death in September 1400:35
Likewise they present that Alice Hopcokkys, who of the lord held by the rod one cottage with curtilage called Huberd, died in September last past, for whose death nothing for heriot because no animals etc. And that Matilda Hopcokkys is a blood relation and her nearest heir, namely the daughter of John son of the aforesaid Alice and aged 7 years, for whom the custody of both land and heir is committed to John Skott and Katerin’ his wife until the full age of the said Matilda. And they give the lord for fine to have this enrolled as appears. And the fealty of the aforesaid Matilda is respited until her full age etc. And they do the lord in respect thereof for the aforesaid tenement services and customs owed during the term aforesaid etc.
Richard is last mentioned in the court roll for 5 July 1400, when it was recorded that:36
Likewise they present that John Spyk purchased within the lord’s fee 2 acres free land of Richard Pynget, who being present in court gives the lord to have entry as appears. And he does fealty etc.
This would have been the 2-acre croft [W1] behind the later George inn (see chapter 4 page 92). It is possible that this purchase had taken place some time before, and that Richard had died shortly before Alice, which might explain why she is called Alice Hopcokkys not Pynget, but even if he outlived her, he would no longer have had rights in her property. When there were surviving children or grandchildren of the first marriage, they would inherit on the death of the widow, according to the custom of the manor, and any surviving husband would have no further claim on the property. If Matilda was 7 years old in 1400, her father is likely to have been alive in 1391 when Alice and Richard surrendered Cokcyes. One wonders whether he had any say in the disposal of his late father’s holding, as he would have done if his mother had only held as dower rather than as joint-tenant.
Occasionally a widow surrendered the property on remarriage, to be granted jointly to herself and her new husband, and then to their heirs. Presumably these were situations where there were no surviving children of the first marriage. This was the case with a later tenant of Cokcyes, as recorded in the court roll for October 1444:37
At this court come John Lytell and Johanna his wife, late wife of Alexander Fyssher and surrender into the lord’s hand one tenement with 20 acres land called Cokeseyes. And later the lord grants the said tenement with its pertinents to the aforementioned John Lytell and Johanna his wife, to have and to hold the said tenement with 20 acres land and its pertinents, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
Johanna and Alexander had been granted the joint tenancy in November 1441, the tenement having come into the lord’s hand in June 1439, because the former tenant, John Baylly, had left it in a ruinous state:38
At this court the lord grants to Alexander Fyssher and Johanne his wife one tenement with curtilage and 20 acres land called Cokesey, to have and to hold the said tenement, curtilage and land with its pertinents to the aforementioned Alexander and Johanne, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
Alexander, or ‘Saunder’ Fysher, was already a resident of Morden in April 1439, but there is no record of him holding any property before 1441:39
At this court Saunder Fyssher, of full age and dwelling within the lordship, is placed in the tithing and is sworn.
Not every wife outlived her husband. When a widower with children remarried, he would want to provide for his new wife as well as his children, especially if the children were of marriageable age. If he had more than one property he might surrender one or more to be held jointly with his new wife. She would have full rights in that property and would take it over on his death. She would also be able to leave it to a later husband and/or their offspring, while the heirs of her first husband would only inherit his other properties. We have suggested above that Henry Mellewarde might have been an elder son of Richard Millewarde, as Richard’s widow claimed dower in a property held by one of Henry’s daughters (see page 155). We have also seen that Henry and his wife Alice had purchased a small plot of land [U7] from William Bunt in 1360 (see chapter 2 page 27 and chapter 6 page 122). Alice had died by 1386, and in June 1391 it was Henry and his wife Matilda who were admitted to another property [I2]:40
At this court come Robert Berenger and Matilda his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs forever, the moiety [medietatem] of one messuage and one curtilage formerly Adam Tracy in Stoyle, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot as appears. And later the lord in open court grants the said moiety to Henry Milleward and Matilda his wife, to hold to the same Henry and Matilda and their heirs, of the lord in bondage by roll of court by service etc saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do fealty.
However, in November 1392 Henry surrendered another property [Y] to be held jointly by himself and his new wife Juliane:41
At this court Henry Milleward surrenders into the lord’s hand one cottage with curtilage and 1 acre land with pertinents, formerly Edmund Sweynes. And later the lord in this court grants the said cottage and land with pertinents to the same Henry and Juliane his wife, to have and to hold the said cottage and land with pertinents to the same Henry and Juliane, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for entry fine as appears. And they do the lord fealty.
Henry’s death was presented at court in July 1400, and Juliane did fealty for this property:42
Likewise they present that Henry Millward, who of the lord held jointly with Julian’ his wife one cottage with curtilage and 1 acre land with pertinents, died in March, nothing falling due to the lord for heriot or for fine for the reason aforesaid, who [ie Julian’] being present in court does fealty etc.
At the same court she surrendered a small ‘parcel of land’ from ‘the tenement formerly Webbes’ – a different property [B311] from that to which she had just been admitted:43
At this court comes Julian late wife of Henry Milward and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, 1 parcel of land lying at Stoylesstrete containing in length 10 perches and in breadth 10 feet, parcel of the tenement formerly Webbes, to the use of John Pycot and Matilda his wife, to have and to hold the said parcel of land to the aforementioned John and Matilda, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by customary service saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty etc.
This was part of a croft that Henry had held in this area [B31], formerly held by a Walter le Webbe, over which Juliane and her new husband John Castelman were in dispute with Henry’s married daughters in May 1401:44
The order is given to summon John Castelman and Julian his wife to answer Peter Popseynt and Alice his wife, Peter Mulsey and Agnes his wife, daughters and heirs of Henry Milward, deceased, in a plea of land because they deforced them of one croft of land formerly of the aforesaid Henry father of the aforesaid Alice and Agnes etc against the next [court] etc.
The case dragged on for some time, with claim and counterclaim. In May 1402:45
A day is given between Peter Popseynt and Alice his wife, Peter Mulseye and Agnes his wife, daughters and heirs of Henry Milward deceased, to answer John Castelman and Julian his wife in a plea of land because they deforced them of one croft of land formerly the aforesaid Henry, father of the said Alice and Agnes etc until the next [court] etc.
Again in November 1402:46
Again a day is given between Peter Popseynt and Alice his wife, William Mulsey and Agnes his wife, daughters and heirs of Henry Milward deceased to answer John Castelman and Julian’ his wife in a plea of land because they deforced them of one croft of land formerly of the aforesaid Henry father of the said Alice and Agnes etc, until the next [court] etc.
In the previous two courts it was William Mulseye’s father, Peter, who was said to be the husband of Agnes Milward, but hereafter it is corrected to William. Meanwhile, at the court held in May 1403, the daughters claimed the small plot that Henry and Alice had bought in 1360 [U7]:47
The homage, sworn, present that Henry Milward, who of the lord held, jointly with Alice his wife and Henry’s own heirs, died in former times and held of the lord one plot [plac] of land lying between the way leading towards the church of Morden and land of Walter le Webbe as appears in the great court held here the Saturday next after the feast of St Faith the virgin 34 Edward III []. And that Alice wife of Peter Popseynt and Agnes wife of William Mulseye are daughters and heirs of the aforesaid Henry and of full age. And they seek their admittance to hold and to have the aforesaid plot of land to the aforementioned Alice and Agnes their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty etc.
The legal battle between the Castelmans and Henry’s daughters also moved into a new stage at that court:48
The pledge of John Castelman for his good behaviour towards the lord king, and his pledge is chiefly against William Mulsey and Peter Popseynt the beadle Baldwyn Popseynt and Ralph atte Ryth each under penalty of £10. And the said William Mulsey and Peter Popseynt now found pledges for the same, namely John Spyk and Alan Bernger each under penalty of £10 etc.
And there the record ceases, though we learn later that Juliane’s claim must have failed, as the Mulseyes and the Popsents each held a moiety of the croft in May 1414:49
At this court come William Mulsey and Agnes his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, a moiety of one croft formerly Henry Mylleward lying next to land of John Pycot on the north, to the use of Simon Popsent and Laurencia his wife, to have and to hold the said moiety of a croft to the aforementioned Simon and Laurencia his wife, Simon’s heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And they do fealty.
There are later references to ‘a garden 2½ acres formerly Peter Popsent’, which is likely to have been the croft under dispute.50 It was probably the 2½-acre croft [B31] for which Walter le Webbe paid ½d rent increment in 1325, but there are no extant records of when Henry obtained it.51 It is likely that he already held it before 1360, as the small plot he had purchased from Bunt [U7] adjoined Walter le Webbe’s former land. Unfortunately no court rolls have survived for the period 1328–78.
However, Juliane continued to hold the property [Y] to which she and Henry had been admitted in 1392 as joint-tenants, and in April 1437 she and John surrendered it to their son:52
At this court come John Castelman and Julian’ his wife, late wife of Henry [Milward], in full court, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hands, for themselves and their heirs forever, 1 cottage with curtilage and 1 acre of land with pertinents formerly Sweynes to the use of John Castelman, son of the aforesaid John Castelman, to have and to hold the aforesaid cottage and curtilage and 1 acre of land with pertinents to the aforementioned John Castelman, son of the aforesaid John Castelman, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
John junior surrendered the property to William Popsent in May 1441, by which time the property included 3 acres, instead of the original 1 acre:53
At this court comes John Castelman and surrenders into the lord’s hands, for himself and his heirs forever, one tenement with curtilage and 3 acres land called Swaynes to the use of William Popsent, to have and to hold the said tenement, curtilage and land to the aforementioned William, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs due in respect thereof and customary. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
Henry’s efforts to arrange for his widow and his daughters to each inherit parts of his property did eventually succeed, though not before several years of family conflict.
Some husbands were less organised, leaving provision for wives to the very last moment, such as Robert Waryn’s transfer of his cottage [B63] in April 1440:54
At this court it is witnessed by John Lightfote, tenant of the manor at the same place, that Robert Waryn, before his death, out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand for himself and his heirs forever, one cottage with curtilage and the rest [ceteris] of its pertinents, to the use of Johanne late wife of the aforesaid Robert Waryn. And later in the same court the lord grants to the aforementioned Johanne the aforesaid cottage with curtilage and its pertinents, to have and to hold to the aforementioned Johanne, her heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly rent services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And she gives the lord for fine as appears. And she does fealty.
Similarly with John Hiller’s holdings [G] [G2] in 1539:55
Likewise they present that John Hiller died after the last court. And that in his lifetime he surrendered into the hands of John Playstowe and Thomas Toller, two tenants of the manor aforesaid, out of court, all and singular his customary lands and tenements lying within the manor aforesaid, namely one messuage, one cottage and 23½ acres of land formerly John Goldwyer lying divided [divisum iacen’] in the vill and fields of Morden as appears in the roll of court 12 Henry VIII,
and the individually divided [divisio] parcels of land and the tenement aforesaid appear in a certain schedule annexed to the copy of the same time made by the aforementioned John Hyller now in the custody of Alicia Hiller widow, late wife of the said John Hyller, to the use of the said Alicia during the natural life of the same Alicia. And after her death to the use of the rightful heirs of the same John Hiller.
And now comes the aforesaid Alicia and seeks her admittance to the land and tenement aforesaid according to [iuxta] the form aforesaid, to whom the lord by his steward grants seisin thereof to the aforementioned Alicia to have to herself according to the custom of the manor aforesaid, during her lifetime. And she gives the lord for fine as appears. And she does fealty. And she is admitted tenant thereof.
And that John Hyller aged 30 years, is youngest son and nearest heir of the said John Hyller. And there falls due to the lord for heriot by the death of the aforesaid John Hyller, namely [blank]. And she has a day to pay for heriot before the next court.
We have already observed Hiller’s schedule in chapter 2 (page 28). He also held copyhold properties in neighbouring Merton, which were inherited by his son John.56
Heirs
We have seen that a widow who was not a joint-tenant with her husband was only entitled to a life-interest in a part of her late husband’s estate, the property as a whole passing to the heirs of the deceased husband.
The manor of Morden followed the custom of ‘Borough English’, whereby customary tenements were inherited by the youngest son, though freehold properties passed to the eldest son. Thus in November 1420:69
Likewise they present that John Spyk, who of the lord held various lands and tenements by roll of court, has died, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 bullock worth 5s. And that John Spyk’ is his son and nearest heir to certain free land, who being present in court pledges to the lord relief as appears. And he does fealty. And that Thomas Spyk’ is his son and nearest heir to his lands and tenements held by roll of court. And the lord grants the said lands and tenements to the aforementioned Thomas and Emmotte his wife, their heirs and assigns, to hold etc by roll of court etc by service etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
John Spyk senior had been living in Morden since at least 1378, and married Emma, daughter of John Edward.70 It is not clear where the Spyks lived at this time. The first record we have is of their admittance to a copyhold cottage [N4] in November 1388, on the surrender of John and Agnes Melleward, whom we have met above.71 Agnes had inherited it from her father, John Trought or Trowte, on his death the previous December.72 Emma Spyk died in 1397 and John Spyk surrendered the cottage in November 1398 to John and Agnes Crouch.73 However, John and Emma had inherited the Edward family customary tenement [E] five years before, in May 1393:74
Likewise they present that John Edward, who of the lord held by roll of court one messuage and one virgate of land with pertinents, late Richard Edward, died in March last past, after whose death there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 ox worth 10s. And that Emma, wife of John Spyk, is his daughter and nearest heir and of full age. The which John Spyk and Emma his wife, being present in court, give the lord for fine to have entry into the said messuage and land with pertinents, as appears, to hold to the same John Spyk and Emma his wife and Emma’s heirs, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc as appears And they do the lord fealty.
In the meantime John had bought some freehold land, including a messuage and 8-acre enclosed warren [U2] formerly belonging to William Bunt (see chapter 6 page 122), and the 2-acre close now part of the George inn [W2] probably formerly part of Wynteworthes in Lower Morden.75 He served as beadle in 1398 and 1405, took the lease of the rectory estate from 1400 until 1409, held the lease of the manorial demesne jointly with William Mulseye between 1406 and 1410, and was dead by 1420 when his properties were divided between his sons John (freeholds) and Thomas (copyholds) (see table 13.3 page 284).76
In a rental in the manorial account roll for 1448–50 both John junior and Thomas Spyk are listed: ‘And for 4s 8d received from Thomas Pyk [sic] for rent at 2s 4d per year. … And for 2s received from John Spyke for rent at 12d per year’ (see figures 11.1 and 11.2 on pages 229, 230).77 However, Thomas Spyk’s death had been reported at the manorial court in October 1448:78
Likewise they present that Thomas Spyke, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will one tenement with 20 acres land, died in September last, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot nothing because Emmote late his wife has joint title with the aforementioned Thomas for the term of her life etc. Therefore placed in respite etc.
Emmote continued to hold the Edward family tenement [E] until October 1465:79
At this court come Simon Colyns, Emma his wife, in open court examined alone, and John Spyke son and heir of the late Thomas Spyke, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land and meadow situate [cituat’] or lying in West Morden, whence nothing falls due to the lord in the name of heriot as appears, because they have no animals, to the use of John Goldewyr, to have and to hold the aforesaid tenement, garden and 20 acres land and meadow with its pertinents to the aforementioned John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
Thus a family link with the property came to an end after at least 240 years, Robert Edward having been a virgate holder c.1225.80 In the 1280s Walter Edward must have been holding a customary tenement, as he was the reeve, an office only held by virgaters or half-virgaters.81 He was also leasing an additional 20 acres at his death in 1297, inherited by his son John.82 John’s widow, Agnes, held a virgate at 2 shillings in 1312, and an additional 4 acres at 4d increment [E2], which was probably absorbed back into the main holding, as the 1448–50 rental shows the total rent as 28d.83 Richard Edward was taxed among the abbot’s villeins at 17½d in 1332, and served as beadle from 1339, reeve from 1341 to 1345, and granger in 1345/46.84 Both Richard and Peter Edward died in the plague year, a horse being claimed as heriot for each of them.85 Peter probably outlived Richard, briefly inheriting the property before succumbing himself. However, an heir survived, and Ralph or Randolph Edward served as the
last reeve, from 1356 to 1359, after which the manorial demesne was leased at farm.86 John Edward was joint-farmer (with Ralph atte Rythe) of manor and rectory from before 1388 until 1391, dying in 1392.87 As we have seen, the family holding was inherited by his daughter, Emma Spyk, though John Edward’s widow, Agnes, held 2 acres which were taken into the lord’s hand in 1399 because her son- in-law had alienated them to her without licence. Later at the same court these 2 acres were granted to Agnes for life, to revert to Spyk after her death.88 These 2 acres might have been in a detached croft [E1] in the Epsom Road adjoining Netherlotkyns [N1] (see chapter 13 page 294).
Emma Spyk and Agnes Melleward were not the only daughters to inherit their fathers’ holdings. If there was more than one daughter, they would inherit jointly. We have already noted above that Henry Milward’s two daughters jointly inherited his croft [B31] (see page 159), and that John Hurrok’s co-heirs were probably his two daughters [H2] (see page 154).
If an heir was under-age, a relative would be appointed as guardian of both heir and property. The guardian would pay any heriot due, plus the entry fine, but the act of fealty was respited until the heir came of age. We have already seen that on the death of Alice Hobecok, or Pynget, in September 1400, her 7-year-old granddaughter inherited her cottage [N7] (see above, page 157).89 Young Matilda and the cottage were both in the custody of her mother Katerine, now married to John Skott. One hopes that Matilda received more care than the cottage, which was regularly reported as being in a ruinous condition. Each year thereafter it was noted that fealty had been respited until she came of age, the age of 14 being first introduced into this entry from November 1405:90
And again fealty of Matilda Hopcok is placed in repite until the full age of the said Matilda at the age of 14 years for the reason fully appearing in the 8th court preceding etc.
However, in May 1406, the stipulation of the age of 14 seems to have been overlooked:91
The order is given again to distrain Matilda Hobbecokkys, who is aged 12 years, to do the lord fine and fealty for one cottage with curtilage called Hybberdes customary land against the next [court] etc, because she is of full age as appears in the court held here the second year of the present king etc.
The order is repeated in November 1406, but it was not until April 1407 that 14-year-old Matilda made her fealty at court:92
Whereas fealty of Matilda Hopcok was placed in respite for the reason fully appearing in the court next preceding, now at this court comes the aforesaid Matilda and being present in court does the lord fealty.
Having followed Matilda for seven years, it is particularly sad to read of her death 6 months later:93
At this court it is witnessed by the serviens [farmer of the manor] and tenants that Matilda Hopcok, who of the lord held by roll of court one tenement with curtilage called Hoberdis, died in October etc. And that the said Matilda before her death, by the hand of William Mulseye serviens of the lord, out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, the said tenement with curtilage and its pertinents to the use of John Skot and Katerine his wife, mother truly of the aforesaid Matilda. And later here in court it is reported [record], whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 wether worth 12d, and so sold to have and to hold the said tenement with curtilage and its pertinents to the aforementioned John Skot and Katerine his wife, and Katerine’s heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs, saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine to have this enrolled as appears. And they do fealty.
The Skots continued to live in Morden, John frequently being named as a brewer and serving as manorial aletaster from 1410 to 1422, but the cottage remained ruinous until after John’s death in 1437:94
Likewise they present that John Skot, who of the lord held by roll of court, died on Palm Sunday. And that John Skot is his son and heir and whether he is alive or not they do not know.
In November 1437 the death of John junior was presented:95
Whereas before it was presented in the court held the Friday after the feast of St George the martyr 15 Henry VI that John Scot, who of the lord held various lands and tenements by roll of court, had died on Palm Sunday next preceding, and that John Scot is his son and heir and where he is or [if] alive they are utterly ignorant. And now they say that the aforesaid John son and heir of the aforesaid John is dead. And that Annet’ Agnes Goldwyr’ is heir of the aforesaid John. Therefore the order is given to the beadle etc.
However, the matter does not seem to have been settled, as in 1446 the court was informed:96
Likewise John Skotte who of the lord holds by roll of court one tenement called [blank] died in the 16th year of the present king and nothing for heriot etc. And that John Skotte is his son and heir etc. And they do not know where he is etc. Therefore the order is given to seize that land into the lord’s hand and to answer for the issues etc until etc.
Was this perhaps the son of John junior? A John Scott was still recorded as paying his rent for 1448–50:97 ‘And for 4d received from John Scott for rent at 2d per year’, even though William Goldwyre had been amerced for not repairing the property in 1446, and again in 1462 and 1468.98 Orders were given in 1463 and 1469 to take the property into the lord’s hand, and this had finally happened by May 1473:99
Likewise they present that 1 croft called Skottys Hawe [is] now in the lord’s hand for a lack of tenants which croft renders in respect thereof yearly 2d and 3 days harvest boonworks. Therefore the order is given to answer for the issues etc.
At the following court in November 1473, it was granted to a Londoner:100
Whereas there remains in the lord’s hand one parcel of land called Skottes Hawe for a long time, whence the rent is in decay and not paid etc. Now at this court the lord grants to John Parker of London, scrivener, the aforesaid parcel of land called Skottes Hawe, lying between one parcel of land of the aforesaid John called Clerkys Hawe on the west and a cottage called Sewenys late Simon Drayton formerly William Bonehams on the east and the king’s highway on the south and a field [campus] of land called le Northefeld on the north, to have and to hold the aforesaid parcel of land called Skottes Hawe with its pertinents to the aforementioned John Parker, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals.
John and his first wife Margerie already held a small property adjoining [B62], having been a tenant of the manor since 1448–50,101 and were soon to acquire two others [B63] [I5] [I6] (see table 9.2 on page 152).102 They also held copyhold land in Morden belonging to Ravensbury manor (see chapter 3). When John Parker died in September 1494 all his copyhold properties in Morden were inherited by his 6-year-old son, in the custody of his mother, John’s second wife Johanne, fealty being respited until he came of age:103
At this court it is presented by the homage that John Parker, late of London, scrivener, who of the lord held by roll to himself, his heirs and assigns, one toft with one acre of land called Clerkys Hawe, 1 parcel of land called Scottes Hawe, one cottage with garden adjoining late John Brysham, and one toft and one acre of land with pertinents lying next to the tenement called Pycardes on the south, as appears by various copies shown here in court – died seised thereof in September last. And that William Parker is his youngest son and nearest heir and aged six years, who being present in court seeks admittance by his mother and is admitted. To whom the lord grants seisin thereof by the rod, to hold to himself, his heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And because he is underage, therefore custody of him and the land is committed to Johanne his mother until he comes of full age. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And fealty is respited for the aforesaid reason.
In 1518 it was recorded that the tenants of a neighbouring property [B21], Richard and Elizabeth Camryngham, and later Elizabeth and her second husband Thomas Wylson, had been occupying young William’s properties without the lord’s licence, though perhaps with his guardians’ permission.104 Young William did not make his fealty until May 1519, by which date he would have been 31 – perhaps he waited until the death of his mother before he made his claim to the properties:105
At this court comes William Parker, youngest son and nearest heir of John Parker, late of London, scrivener, and does the lord fealty for one toft with one acre of land called Clarkes Hawe, one parcel of land called Scottes Hawe, one cottage with garden adjoining late John Bryssam [sic], and one toft and one acre of land with pertinents lying next to land called Pycaardes on the south late occupied by Thomas Wylson without any right.
However, at the next court held in April 1520, his own death was reported, a minor inheriting the properties once again:106
Likewise they say that William Parker, who of the lord held by custom one cottage with one acre of land adjoining called Clarkes Hawe, one parcel of land called Scottes Hawe, one cottage with garden adjoining late John Bryssham, and one toft and one acre of land lying next to the tenement called Pycardes on the south, died since the last court, by whose death there falls due to the lord for heriot nothing because he had no animals. And furthermore they say that William Parker is his son and nearest heir and aged 3 quarters of one year and more. And upon this comes Johanna Parker, mother of the said William, and seeks that the aforesaid William Parker be admitted to the premises. To the which William the lord by his steward delivers to him seisin thereof to have to William Parker the son, and his heirs and assigns, by the service in respect thereof due etc. And for such title he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading and fealty of the said William remains until his lawful age and custody of the said William with his land is committed to the aforementioned Johanna his mother.
The Ravensbury court book tells us that William’s widow later married Ralph Bayly or Baylys (see chapter 3 page 69).107
Young William’s grandfather, ‘John Parker th’elder, Citezin and Scrivaner of curte lettre 108 of the Citie of London and notary publich by the holy authorities Papale and Imperiall’, was one of the first Morden tenants for whom a will is extant. Written on ‘The first day of the moneth of Juyn in the yere of our Lord God MCCCCLXXXXIII and the viij yere of the reigne of king Henry the vijth’, John requested to be ‘buryed in the church of Saint Thomas of Acres of London 109 in such a place there where as it shall please the master of the same place for the tyme being to assigne me’, his body to be accompanied to the burial place by twelve poor men bearing eight torches and four tapers. He bequeathed two of the torches to St Thomas’s church, one to his ‘parish church of Colchurch’ [St Mary Colechurch, London], and one to ‘the parish church of Mordon’. He bequeathed 6s 8d ‘to the high aulter of the said parish church of Colchurch for my tythes and oblations by me negligently witholden or forgoten, yf any so be, in discharg of my conscience’, a further 6s 8d ‘to the werke of the body of the same parish church’, presumably the building fund, and 3s 4d ‘toward the sustentation of the fraternitie of that glorious virgin and martyr Saint Kateryn founded in the same paryssh church’. A further 3s 4d was bequeathed ‘toward the suscentation of the fraternytie of an other glorious virgine and martyr Saint Margarette founded in the said church of Saint Thomas of Acres’, and 6s 8d ‘to the commyn box of my craft or science of scryvaners … of the said citie toward the supportation of the charges of the same Craft or Science’. To his three eldest children, John, Agnes and Margarete, he left ‘Goodes [God’s] blessing and myn’, plus 40 shillings each, explaining that they ‘have ben right chargeable and costlie unto me as wele whyle they were of theire tender ages as sithey they cam to theyr lauful ages by diverse and many sondry means’, and that he could not afford to give them more, ‘I being but a por handry crafty man and have borne grete losses and charges diverse tymes in my days and nowe am in grette age not so lusty to labor for my lyving as I was in my yonge and florisshing daies and yt growing dayly in grete expenses I being but of small substance of goodes of fortune’. The bequest was conditional ‘that non them nor wone of them trouble sue nor vex myne executours and specially my wif after my decesse by the Lawe nor otherwise for to have any more good of myn than only the said money
that I have above bequeithen unto them’. To young William and his sister Elisabeth, ‘which both tendre of age and have put me as yet to no further charge of cost than naturall and patirnal love hath it required’, he bequeathed ‘Godys blissing and myn’, as well as 40 shillings each when they came of age or married. William was also to receive a ‘chased cup covered with a lowe fote of silver parcele gilt’, and Elisabeth a ‘flat cup covered and chased of silver half gilt withowte a fote’. He left a further 40 shillings to ‘Syr Robert Haryson clerke to th’entente that he take upon hym with my wif the charg of executour of this my present testament’, and ‘vj of my sponys of silver’ to his elder son John who was asked to act as overseer of the will ‘to th’entent that he be curtis and gentil behaving towards my said wif and to se this my present testament truely fulfilled according to myn entent above writen thereof’. The ‘Residue of all my goodes & catales and dettes what so ever they be and where so ever they may be founde aftre my dettes be paid, my funeral expenses ful don, my legacies fulfilled, the which both conteyned in this my present testament, and all other charges bene and don that owen to be don for me, I geve and bequieth holy to Johanne my true and welbeloved wif, she to do hire own voluntary will and fre disposition therewith’.110
The fact that John paid tithes in the parish of Colechurch, not in Morden, suggests that he was not normally resident in Morden. As the Morden properties were not specified among the bequests, one might assume that they were included in the ‘residue’ left to Johanne. However, there was no need to mention these copyhold properties because William, as the youngest son, would automatically inherit them under the custom of the manor. By the 17th century it became the practice for a tenant to surrender his copyhold properties ‘to the use, behoof and intent mentioned, expressed and declared in his last will and testament in writing’, thus enabling him to bypass the custom of the youngest son automatically inheriting.111 This was particularly important when a tenant held several copyhold properties and wished each child to have one or more. By this time extracts from wills were often included in the court roll entry.
The earliest mention of a will in the Morden manorial court rolls is in February 1385, referring to Simon Hobecoke, whom we have met above (see page 157):112
The order is given to distrain against the next [court] Richard Sp’nget and Alice his wife, sometime wife and executrix of the will of Simon Hobecoke, to answer Simon Pynnor’ in a plea of debt.
As it became increasingly common for copyhold properties to be held by outsiders like the Parkers, who were not resident, the problem of identifying the heir became more acute. We have already seen that there was some uncertainty concerning the whereabouts of John Skot junior, or even if he was alive (see page 164). In such cases proclamation was made for heirs to come to the court to present their claim to the property, as in May 1525:113
Likewise they present that Elizabeth, late wife of Richard Camringham, esquire of the royal household, and later wife of Thomas Wylson, who of the lord held, for herself and her heirs according to the custom of the manor, one piece of land late built and 2 acres lying in le Held formerly William Mylly as appears by copy produced in court of the Tuesday next after Michaelmas 23 Henry VII, died since the last court. After whose death nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because she had no animals. And furthermore they say that Margaret, now wife of John Smyth, is her daughter and nearest heir to the land aforesaid and of full age. And upon this proclamation was made if the said Margaret or the said John Smyth in her name wishes to come to claim the land aforesaid. And they do not come. And so it remains in the lord’s hand until etc.
The ‘piece of land late built’ was the site of Bonehams cottage [B21], which separated the two blocks of Parker copyholds in Central Road, and the 2 acres in le Held became the later Merton Close [N8].No one came at the first or second proclamation, but in May 1527:114
At this court third proclamation was made if John Smythe and Margaret his wife, daughter and nearest heir of Elizabeth late wife of Richard Camryngham, or any other, wishes to come to claim one vacant piece of land late built and 2 acres of land lying in Le Held’, formerly William Mully, of which the aforesaid Elizabeth died seised, according to the custom of the manor. And so it remains in the lord’s hand until etc. But now comes a certain Ralph Bayly and Johanna his wife and lay claim to the aforesaid land.
The court would then have to check that the claim was valid. As we have just seen, Ralph and Johanna Bayly were the guardians of William Parker the younger, but no further details are given of their claim to this property, though in 1518 it was recorded that Richard Camryngham, and later Elizabeth and her second husband Thomas Wylson, had occupied William senior’s adjoining properties without licence (see above).115
In April 1514 a claim was made regarding two other copyholds in Lower Morden, Makernays [M] and Yerdes [F], where the rightful heir had been cheated of his rights:116
Whereas after the death of John Playstowe, grandfather of a certain Walter Playstowe, son of John Playstowe, youngest son of the said John Playstowe the grandfather, according to the custom of the manor, one tenement called Markerneys containing 30 acres land and one toft containing 20 acres called Yerdes, and various other customary lands with pertinents in East Morden and West Morden, which the aforesaid John Playstowe the grandfather held customarily the day that he died, were seized. And for a long time they remained in the lord’s hand because none came, as heirs of the aforesaid John Playstowe the grandfather, to claim the premises. But a certain Richard Playstowe after the death of the aforesaid John Playstowe the grandfather entered into the premises and hitherto occupied them unjustly both to the grave damage of the lord and to the next heir of the said John Playstowe the grandfather. And now comes the aforesaid Walter Playstowe as kinsman and heir of the aforesaid John Playstowe the grandfather and seeks his admittance to the aforesaid tenement, toft and acres of land called Makerneys and Yerdes and to all other customary lands that the aforementioned John Playstowe the grandfather had and held customarily the day that he died.
To whom the lord by his steward delivers seisin thereof by the rod, to have to himself and his heirs, at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor by service in respect thereof previously owed and by customary law. And to have such title in respect thereof he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And he does fealty. And so he is admitted tenant thereof.
His grandfather would have been the John who died in 1475, leaving a wife as joint-tenant (see below, page 173).117 Having received his rightful inheritance, Walter Playstowe promptly disposed of the properties, surrendering them at the same court to John Judde. His uncle Richard Playstowe, as the eldest son, had inherited John Playstowe’s freehold properties in Morden – Wynteworthes [W], Parklondes [U2] and land in the Gildenhill area [W5] (see table 9.5 on page 180). He was an active member of the community, and it was probably at the connivance of his fellow-tenants that he had taken over the copyhold properties when his nephew failed to claim them.
Other heirs included brothers,118 nephews,119 cousins,120 and in-laws, as in table 9.4 overleaf.121
Illegitimate heirs
Perhaps surprisingly, the extant court rolls for the manor of Morden make no mention of illegitimate children, other than the following undated fragment from before September 1594:122
And that John North 6d received in his dwelling-house a certain Elizabeth Robynson for her confinement having been made pregnant by a certain unknown in another parish, and supports her at the same place by comfort, in evil example to others as against the queen’s peace. Therefore he remains in mercy as appears etc.
This offence did not prevent North from being elected head tithingman at the same court:
Election of officers
Into the office of tithingman at the same place they elect John North, who is sworn etc.
However, there is a possible example of a man making provision for illegitimate heirs, but in connection with Ravensbury manor. When Henry de Strete purchased ‘Rasebury’ manor in January 1347 he included detailed arrangements as to the descent of the property in the event of his death.208 First it was to go to ‘Thomas de Strete of London son of Katerine de Temple and the heirs of his body begotten … And if it should happen that the same Thomas should die without heirs of his body begotten then after the death of Thomas himself the aforesaid manor with pertinents shall wholly remain to William de Strete of London son of the aforesaid Katerine de Temple and the heirs of his body begotten … And if it should happen that the same William de Strete should die without heirs of his body begotten then after the death of William himself the aforesaid manor with pertinents shall wholly remain to the rightful heirs of the aforesaid Henry’. The same wording was used when he purchased a further 60 acres ‘in Mitcham’ from William Mareys in October 1347.209 He did not mention that Thomas was his son, as we learn from other records relating to his unpaid debts (see chapter 8 page 149), nor does he suggest that Katerine de Temple was his wife, so perhaps these details were necessary to ensure that an illegitimate son could inherit. The last known reference to Henry dates from May 1364, when he witnessed an agreement at Lambeth, as recorded in the close roll for 1367.210 A final concord of January 1378 reveals that the manor of Rasebery had come into the hands of James de Strete (see chapter 3 page 60).211 James was not listed among the designated heirs, and it is not known whether he was another son of Henry and Katerine or some other relative. As Henry and Thomas were both dead by 1372,212 and William by 1378, it is possible that all three had succumbed to the plague that had returned to England in 1369.
Provision for non-heirs
Although the eldest son would automatically inherit freehold land, there seem to have been only two freehold tenements in Morden. Bunts tenement [U] had been fragmented in the 1390s (see chapter 6) and Wyntworthes [W] seems to have also lost some of its land but, even so, there was little freehold land available. However, there are a number of cases in the Morden records of more than one member of a family holding copyhold properties, and it seems likely that fathers had funded the acquisition of additional properties to provide for older sons. We saw in chapter 2 that it was probably John Edward’s elder brother, Ralph, who took on Huberd’s former virgate tenement [S], surrendering it to his son, another John, in 1398 (see page 24). Was John junior also an elder son, who would not have inherited the property on his father’s death? Ralph may have had another son who had chosen a different lifestyle to his father and brother, as we see from the court roll entry of November 1395:213
Likewise they present that Ralph Edward the lord’s serf has placed his son William, the lord’s serf, to study the liberal arts [ad artem lib’am] in London without the lord’s licence. Therefore he is in mercy. And the order is given to his parents and next of kin to have the said William here before the next court under penalty of a half mark etc.
In July 1397 William, now described as John’s son (so perhaps Ralph’s nephew or even his grandson), is said to be living outside Newgate with a joiner, presumably as an apprentice, so the reference to studying ‘the liberal arts’ probably means he was placed in a London craft guild:214
At this day comes John Edward, the lord’s serf, and gives the lord for chevage for William Edward his son, the lord’s serf, in order that the aforesaid William is able to reside outside the lord’s dominion at London with Simon Serles joiner [joyno’] outside Newgate until the next View day as appears.
William’s death was reported at the court held on 17 November 1417.215 Ralph also had a daughter Alice who had in 1388 been granted by ‘the lord’ the half-virgate tenement later known as Bexwells [X], for the lives of herself, her first husband and her son (see chapter 2 page 32).216 As the joint-farmer of the manor at that time was a John Edward,217 probably her uncle rather than her brother, it is likely that Ralph had used family influence to acquire this property for his daughter.
We have also seen that Henry Milward held several small properties, even though the family tenement passed to John Milward, presumably his younger brother (see above, page 155). John’s sister also held two small properties [B41] which she surrendered in November 1389: 218
At this court come Andrew Aslak and Alice his wife as daughter of the late [quondam] Richard Melleward and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one garden called Lytelhawe containing from the king’s street [a regia strata] in length 9 perches and 7 feet and in width 4 perches and 6 feet, and 2 acres of land lying next to William Broodeye’s gate [portam], whence there falls due to the lord for heriot as appears. And later the lord in the same court grants the said garden and land to Peter Popsent and Alice his wife, to hold to themselves and theirs at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc according to the customs of the manor, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine to have entry as appears in the heading. And they do the lord fealty.
It is likely that her father had acquired these for her marriage portion, unless he had left them to her in an undisclosed will. Another daughter certainly received a cottage [T2] from her father, within the family tenement, as we read in the court roll for May 1389:219
At this court comes Ralph atte Rithe and surrenders into the lord’s hand for himself and his heirs forever one cottage with curtilage adjoining parcel of his tenement which he holds of the lord by roll of court, namely on the east of his tenement aforesaid as enclosed with hedge and ditch [prout sep’ et foss includit]. And later the lord in open court grants the said cottage with pertinents to William Pynnore and Lucy his wife, daughter of the aforesaid Ralph, to hold to themselves and theirs at the will of the lord in bondage by roll of court, by service, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do fealty.
It remained in the Pynnore family until 1422, when it was surrendered to the use of Roger and Alionore atte Hegge who had taken over the atte Rithe family tenement [T] (see chapter 11 page 243).220 We have previously noted several cottage plots held by members of virgater and half-virgater families, and have suggested that many of these may have originated as homes for married sons and daughters, or as retirement homes or ‘granny-annexes’ when an heir took over a tenement during the life of a parent.
Another daughter received her father’s properties [I2] [N3] [B22] [B222] [I1] by what appears to be a ‘death-bed’ surrender, as reported at the manorial court held in May 1484:221
At this court it is witnessed by John Goldewyer senior, tenant at the same place, and William Cristemas and Nicholas atte Wood, that Thomas Leycettour, out of court before his death, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one cottage with curtilage, three acres of land and one acre of meadow lying in Mycchehammede formerly Robert Beneger [sic], and one toft with curtilage formerly Bellys later Henry Tracy as by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next before the feast of the translation of St Edward king and confessor 29 Henry VI [is] fully apparent, to the use of John Baron and Elena his wife, daughter of the aforesaid Thomas. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage toft land and meadow as aforesaid is lying and vouched to the aforementioned Thomas [sic] and Elena to have and to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court in bondage at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty. And there is delivered to them seisin by the rod etc. And they are admitted tenants etc.
Presumably Elena was not her father’s legal heir, if he needed to make a death-bed surrender. One wonders who the heir was, and why he or she was disinherited in this way.
Trusts
In 1458 John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow (also recorded as Burstowe) obtained three freehold properties in Morden:222
Know all men present and future that I William Lovelace have given, granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to John Playstowe of Merstham [Mestham] in the county of Surrey, Richard Best of the same and John Bristow junior of Horley [Horle] in the county aforesaid, all that my tenement with messuages, cottages, lands, rents, services and all its pertinents whatsoever called Wynterworthes situate and lying in West Morden [Westmordon] in the said county of Surrey which [quod et que] I the aforementioned William together with Richard Pulton and Margaret his wife, John Chynnore and William Andrewe, now deceased, lately had by gift and feoffment of Thomas Herst.
I have also given, granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to the aforementioned John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow all that my land and tenements with their pertinents situate and lying in the parish of Morden [Mordon] in the said county of Surrey which [que et quas] I the aforementioned William, together with the said John Chynnore, now deceased, lately had by gift and feoffment of the aforesaid Richard Pulton.
Moreover I have given granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to the aforementioned John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow all that my piece of land with its pertinents called The Parklands [le Parklond’] containing eight acres of land having either more or less, lying in the parish of Morden aforesaid which [quam] I the aforementioned William Lovelace together with the said John Chynnore deceased, lately had by gift and feoffment of Robert Stoke deceased.
To have and to hold all and singular the abovementioned lands and tenements with other premises and the rest of their pertinents to the aforementioned John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow, their heirs and assigns for ever, of the chief lords of that fee by the services in respect thereof due and by right accustomed.
Under the following condition only, namely that if the aforementioned John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow pay or cause to be paid or any one of them pays or causes to be paid to me the aforementioned William Lovelace or my certain attorneys, my heirs or executors twenty pounds sterling on the day of St Matthew the apostle and evangelist next after the date of these presents without further delay at Merton in the county of Surrey that then the present indented charter and seisin by the same had and delivered shall remain in all their strength and virtue forever.
And if the aforesaid John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow default or if default is or shall be made in the payment aforesaid £20 in part or in whole on the payment day therefor abovesaid then the aforesaid John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow will and grant and each of them will and grant by these presents and also I the aforementioned William Lovelace in respect of myself and my heirs by the tenor of these presents reserve that it shall be well lawful for me the same William my heirs and assigns to wholly re-enter into all and singular the abovementioned lands and tenements with the other premises and the rest of their pertinents whatsoever and retain, regain and possess them as in their former state, totally expelling and removing the said John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow, their heirs and assigns therefrom, the present indented charter and seisin by the same had and delivered at that time in no way withstanding.
In witness whereof to one part of this indented charter, remaining in the possession of the said John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow, I the aforementioned William have affixed my seal; to the other part of the same indented charter, remaining with me, the said John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow have affixed their seals. These being witnesses John Tyler, Walter atte Heth’, William atte Hegge, Nicholas Drayton, John Lightfote and many others. Dated at Morden aforesaid 24 September 37 Henry VI.
‘Wynterworthes’ [W] was a substantial freehold property in West Morden (see chapter 10 page 217), and le Parklond’ [U2] had been part of Bunt’s freehold in Central Road, purchased by John Spyk in 1389 (see chapter 6 pages 122–4).223 The second property, though neither named nor described, was probably the freehold land in the Gildenhill area of Morden purchased by Spyk
in 1395 but part of Wynteworthes by 1540 [W5] (see below and chapter 5 page 114).224 It is not clear if the £20 was the whole purchase price or just the outstanding balance.
William Lovelace, a citizen of London involved in the wool trade, originated from Bethersden in Kent, where his memorial brass of 1459 can still be seen, but he also had unidentified property in Merton.225 He and his brothers were among those who received pardons for their involvement in Jack Cade’s rebellion in 1450.226 He was the last surviving member of what appears to have been a consortium of merchants and gentry. The 1458 charter traces the first of these holdings back to a Thomas Herst, not otherwise recorded, who had enfeoffed Wynteworthes to William Lovelace, Richard and Margaret Pulton, John Chynnore and William Andrewe. These also held other properties in Morden, so it is possible to identify the period of their tenancies. Pulton had been admitted to Makernays customary tenement [M] in April 1437, John Chynnore succeeding in May 1454, following Pulton’s death.227 On Chynnore’s death his nephew surrendered Makernays to William Lovelace in April 1458.228 Chynnore and Lovelace had also purchased the freehold property known as le Parklond [U2] by January 1446 (see chapter 6 page 124).229 The rental for 1448–50 records Pulton paying 7s per year ‘for rent of his land’, ie Wynteworthes, and 10s per year ‘for land and tenement of Makernays’, while Lovelace and Chynnore paid 7½d per year, which would have been for le Parklond.230
However, the manorial court rolls reveal that a Thomas Best had been distrained ‘to do the lord fine and fealty for Wynterworthys tenement’ as early as 1415,231 and other members of his family served as trustees ‘enfeoffed to the use of’ several members of the extended Playstowe family who continued to hold this property until 1602. It seems quite possible, therefore, that Lovelace and his colleagues had also been serving as trustees of these properties. The Playstowe family certainly relied heavily on trustees to ensure that their holdings moved through the generations in accordance with their wishes, at a period when the privilege of transferring freehold property by will was only available to citizens of London (see chapter 2 page 38 and table 9.5 on pages 180–1).
John Playstowe was always described as ‘of Merstham’ and further evidence that he was not resident in Morden can be found in his amercements for default of his suit of court – his duty to attend the manorial court – and his even more regular essoins, or apologies for absence. A William Playstowe was similarly essoined in 1468 and 1469.232 (See figure 9.6 on page 182 for a possible family tree of the Playstowes.)
An entry in the Morden manorial court roll for April 1466 refers to ‘John Playstowe senior of Merstham’ apparently selling his Morden properties to Best, Bristow and a Thomas Whyte, but the bottom of the court roll is damaged and the entry is no longer complete:233
Likewise they present that Richard Beste senior of Caterham [Katyrhm’], John Brystowe senior and Thomas Whyte of Charlwood [Charlewode] [ ] purchased within the lord’s fee freely by charter of John Playstowe senior of Merstham [Mersta’] all lands, tenements, rents, [ ], meadows, grazings [pascuas], pasturages [pastur’], woods, commons and heaths with hedges and ditches and all their pertinents within [ ] held of the lord by service. Who, being present in court [ ].
However, later documents reveal that this was an enfeoffment to trustees. When John Playstowe’s death was reported to the Morden manorial court in October 1475, his freehold tenement was said to be in the hands of unnamed feoffees:234
Likewise they present that John Playstowe, who of the lord held freely by charter 1 tenement held of the lord by service service [sic]7s 7½d suit of court and relief, whence there falls due nothing to the lord for relief because in the hands of feoffees.
John had also held Makernays [M] and Yerdes [F] customary tenements jointly with his unnamed wife and in May 1481 it was a Richard Coke of Sutton who did fealty for the Morden freeholds and for Makernays copyhold which he held ‘by right of his wife’: 235
At this court comes Richard Coke of Sutton, who of the lord holds both by charter and by roll of court by right of his wife, and does the lord fealty in respect thereof.
It is likely that John Playstowe’s widow had died by May 1487 when his son Richard was granted the Morden freeholds by John Bristowe, the last surviving trustee under the 1466 enfeoffment:236
Know present and future that I John Bristowe have demised, granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to Richard Playstowe, son of John Playstowe late of Merstham in county of Surrey now deceased, all those lands and tenements, rents and services, with their appurtenances, situate and lying in West Morden [West Mordon] in the aforesaid county, which I the aforesaid John Bristowe lately had, together with other lands and tenements, together with Richard Best senior, John Bristowe senior, Thomas Whyte of Charlwood [Charlwode], William Bristowe of Nutfield [Nutfeld] and Thomas Best now deceased, by gift and feoffment of the aforesaid John Playstowe, to have and to hold all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services, with their appurtenances, to the aforesaid Richard Playstowe and the male heirs of his body legitimately begotten forever of the chief lords of that fee by the services in respect thereof due and by right accustomed. And if it should happen that the same Richard Playstowe should die without male heirs of his body legitimately begotten, that then all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services, with their appurtenances, entirely shall remain to William Playstowe, brother of the same Richard Playstowe, and the male heirs of his body legitimately begotten forever of the chief lords of that fee by the services in respect thereof due and by right accustomed. And if it should happen that the same William Playstowe should die without male heirs of his body legitimately begotten, that then all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services, with their appurtenances, entirely shall remain to the right heirs of the same William Playstowe forever of the chief lords of that fee by the services in respect thereof due and by right accustomed. In witness of which thing I have appended my seal to this my present charter. Dated 19 May 2 Hen VII [1487].
It was from Richard Playstowe that his nephew Walter, son of John Playstowe, son of John Playstowe senior, claimed Makernays [M] and Yerdes [F] in April 1514, complaining that Richard had unjustly deprived him of them (see above, page 167).237 This was presumably the ‘John Pleystowe junior’ who was married to Margaret, daughter of Richard Best senior, by July 1463, when John Burstowe junior of Horley and Thomas Gylmyn of Burstowe quitclaimed all their interests in a property in Bletchingley to John and Margaret.238 John Playstowe junior was dead by 1473, when ‘Margaret widow of John Playstowe’, who had since married Thomas Compton, was recorded in property transactions in Cheam.239 Margaret and Thomas Compton were still active in Cheam in May 1490.240
Although Richard was a ‘yoman of Ewell’, and in his will of 1518 asked for burial there, and also held property in Merstham,241 he appears frequently in the Morden manorial records from September 1477, and regularly served as chief pledge between 1490 and 1503 and as a member of the homage and as a juror until 1518.242 He was also a trustee, or perhaps a member of a consortium, who purchased land in 1512 for John Holt (see chapter 10 page 219).243 He had enfeoffed further members of the Best, White and Bristowe families in December 1492, as revealed when his death was reported in January 1519:244
Likewise they present that Richard Playstowe, who of the lord held freely one messuage and various lands lying in West Morden by fealty and rent of 7s 7d a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due, died since the last court, after whose death nothing falls due to the lord because the homage present that the aforesaid Richard before his death enfeoffed Richard Best, Thomas White, Henry Gylwyn and Nicholas Bristow in fee of and in the aforesaid messuage and land as appears by sealed charter produced in open court dated 21 December 8 Henry VII [1492]. And furthermore they say that the aforesaid Richard Playstowe by his last will gave and willed the aforesaid messuage and land with their pertinents to John Playstowe son of Thomas Playstowe, younger brother of the said Richard Playstowe, and his heirs forever. And he has a day to show the will of the said Richard before the next court.
Richard’s will was dated 1 December 1518 and proved 16 March following. After bequeathing livestock and cash sums to relatives and friends, and settling his various properties in Ewell, Merstham and Bletchingley on his widow Margaret for the rest of her life, he turned to his Morden properties:245
Also I will to John Playstowe son of Thomas Playstowe to have, enjoy and hold to himself and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten all that my messuage called Wynters and all and singular my lands and tenements in Morden. Also I will that the aforesaid John Plaistowe and his heirs shall pay or cause to be paid a certain annuity of 13s 4d issuing from the aforesaid messuage lands and tenements in Morden aforesaid to Thomas Plaistowe his father and Agnes his wife annually during the term of the life of them or the longer living of either of them at the feasts of the annunciation of the blessed virgin Mary and St Michael the archangel in equal portions. And if the said John Plaistowe happens to die without heirs of his body lawfully begotten then I will that the aforesaid messuage lands and tenements in Morden aforesaid remain to my true heirs forever.
This was presumably the John Playstowe who, with William Playstowe and Thomas Fromond, had been enfeoffed of properties in Cheam, Banstead and Ewell as trustees for a Thomas Puplet ‘to th’entent thereof to perform his last will’ made and proved in July 1522.246 This network of trustees was clearly important to the Playstowes and their friends, and Puplet’s arrangements highlight one method by which trustees might benefit from such enfeoffments. Puplet left a cash bequest to Cheam parish church, a life-interest in his properties to his widow and then to her brother for life, and stipulated that the properties should ultimately be sold ‘and with the money comyng or to be receyved of the seid mesuages, landes and tenementes the same feoffees to fynd a pryest to sing for the seid Thomas Puplet and his frendes’. No doubt Puplet’s ‘frendes’ included his feoffees, who were thus rewarded for their work on his behalf.
In May 1540, more than 20 years after Richard’s death, John Playstowe sold to his brother William part of his inheritance ‘which lately has been bequeathed by Richard Pleystowe of Ewell deceased’:247
Know all men present and future that I John Pleystowe of Morden [Mordon], in the county of Surrey, yeoman, for a certain sum of money paid to me in advance by William Playstowe my brother, have given, granted and by this my present indented charter have confirmed to the aforementioned William Pleystowe forty-two acres and one rood of arable land and furzes and one acre and three roods meadow with its pertinents, part of my messuage lands and meadows in Morden aforesaid called Wynters which lately has been bequeathed by Richard Pleystowe of Ewell deceased, lying in the fields and closes in the parish of Morden aforesaid, namely five acres thereof lying together in a certain several close [clauso seperali] called Bowhyll. And four acres thereof lying together in a certain several close called Spottes Close. And four acres thereof lying together in a certain several close next to Suttonheth. And six acres thereof lying together in a certain several close called Molthawes. And three acres thereof lying together in another close called Molthawes. And one acre of meadow thereof lying in a several close called Gyldonhyll Medow. And three roods of meadow thereof lying together in Mordon Mede. And three half-acres thereof lying together in Longfurlong at le lambpyttes next to three half-acres of me the aforementioned John Pleystowe on the east. And one acre thereof lying at Makerelles Style. And three half-acres thereof lying together in byttyns next to three half- acres of land of me the aforementioned John Pleystowe on the east. And one rood thereof lying at Hungerhyll. And one acre thereof lying in Shortfurlong between land of John Hyller on the west and land of Thomas Toller on the east. And one acre thereof lying in Spotfurlong, next to 1 acre of land of me the aforementioned John Pleystowe on the south. And one acre thereof lying at Hungerhyll, next to Londonwey. And one acre thereof lying in Oldemordon. And a half-acre thereof lying in Strutfurlong on the east of a half-acre of me, the aforesaid John Pleystowe. And a half-acre thereof lying in Tollersnewe Close. And a half-acre thereof lying in Combstrode, abutting upon a close of Thomas Heryngman. And one acre thereof lying within [infra] a close of Thomas Toller called Cobbeshawe next to two acres of me the aforementioned John Pleystowe on the south. And one acre thereof lying within [infra] a close of John Hyller called Cobbeshawe. And one acre thereof lying in Bowhyll next to 2 acres of me the aforementioned John Pleystowe on the south. And one acre thereof lying in Bowhyll next to land of Thomas Toller on the south. And one acre thereof lying in Combstrode, next to one acre of land of me the aforementioned John Pleystowe on the east. And a half-acre thereof lying in Combstrode, next to a half-acre of me, the said John Pleystowe on the south. And five acres thereof lying together upon Hungerhyll on the north of five acres of land of me, the aforesaid John Pleystowe. And also three half-acres of land lying together in Bowhyll fyrses, next to three half-acres of land of me, the aforesaid John Pleystowe on the south.
To have and to hold the aforesaid forty-two acres and one rood of arable land and the aforesaid acre and three roods of meadow with all and singular their pertinents to the aforementioned William Pleystowe, his heirs and assigns, to the use and behoof of the aforesaid William his heirs and assigns forever of the chief lords of that fee by rent of three shillings a year for all secular exactions and demands. And I truly the aforesaid John Pleystowe and my heirs aforesaid the forty-two acres and the rest of the premises with all their pertinents will warrant the aforementioned William Pleystowe his heirs and assigns against all people and forever defend by these presents.
And moreover know that I the aforementioned John Pleystowe appoint as attorney [attornasse], appoint [constituisse] and in my place appoint [posuisse] my beloved in Christ Nicholas Fenn’ of Ewell and John Welshe of Morden and both of them together and separately my true and legitimate attorneys to enter on behalf of and in my name into the aforesaid forty-two acres and the rest of the premises with pertinents and into any part thereof and to take possession and seisin thereof. And after so taking possession and seisin of this kind and having thereafter on my behalf and in my name full and peaceable possession and seisin thereof shall deliver to the aforementioned William or his certain attorney in this regard, according to the meaning, form, tenor and effect of this my present charter, having approved and ratified all and whatsoever the said my attorneys or one of them shall do on my behalf and in my name in the premises by these presents. In witness whereof to both parts of this my indented charter my seal is affixed. Dated 6 May 32 Henry VIII.
[endorsed]
Possession was taken and delivered the day and year within written for the within-named John Playstowe by the within-written John Welshe his attorney in the presence of Richard Bray of Ewell, William Marchall of Cheam [Chayh’m], Thomas Heryngman and others.
Although John says that William had purchased 42¼ acres of arable and 1¾ acres of meadow, the lands listed total 45½ acres. The 9 acres in Molthawes, the 4 acres ‘next to Suttonheth’ and the acre of meadow ‘in Gyldonhyll Medow’ were the 14 acres added to the estate, first noted in John Spyk’s purchase of 1395 [W5] (see above).248 These freehold lands were intermingled with customary ½-acre strips in the open fields, though some were in small closes that seem to have been only recently created. William owed 3 shillings as his portion of the 7 shillings annual rent of assize normally paid for Wynteworthes. John mentions various parcels of land amounting to 16½ acres that were still in his tenure, but a later document, a 21-year lease from November 1617, at £20 per annum, gives a full list of this other section of the estate – 47 acres including the messuage plot and 3½ acres in four parcels in the common meadow:249
Witnesseth that Bartholomew Fromonds … hath demised, granted and to farm letten … to David Benet, all that the messuage or farme of him the said Bartholomew called Wenterworth farme … with all manner of houses, barnes, stables and other edifices and buildings, orchards and gardens thereunto belonging, together alsoe with all and singular the closes, meadowe ground, arable lands and other the several parcells of groundes and other things conteyned in a schedule attached to theis presentes, with all and singular commons, feedings, woods and underwoods, waise, easements and other their appurtenances … late in the tenure or occupation of one Thomas Whight of Moreden, yeoman …
This portion included Parklands [U2] in Central Road, but the bulk of the holding was within the Southfield and Bowhill.
Although no conditions had been set out in the 1540 charter, it was referred to in March 1546 by William’s heir, another John Playstowe, ‘son and heir of Philip Playstowe late of Merstham, deceased’, who claimed that he had been named as having the remainder after William’s death, on condition that he quitclaim to John of Morden’s son any rights to the residue of the Wynteworthes estate:250
To all faithful in Christ to whom this present writing shall come, John Playstowe, son and heir of Philip Playstowe late of Merstham in county Surrey deceased, greetings in the Lord eternal.
Know that I the aforementioned John Playstowe have remitted, released and wholly for me and by me and my heirs forever have quitclaimed to William Playstowe, son and heir of John Playstowe late of Morden in said county yeoman deceased, his heirs and assigns, being in full and peaceable possession of them, all my estate, title, claim, interest and demand which I have or ever had or in any way in the future am able to have, of and in all that messuage, gardens, lands, tenements, meadows, wastes, pastures, woods, rents and services, with their pertinents, called Wynters lying and being in Mordon aforesaid, excepting and reserving to me the aforementioned John Playstowe the son, and my heirs, 42 acres 1 rood arable land and fallow and 1 acre 3 roods meadow with pertinents, parcel of the aforesaid messuage, lands, tenements and the rest of the premises, which 42 acres 1 rood land and fallow and the aforesaid acre and 3 roods meadow with pertinents a certain William Playstowe, brother of the aforesaid John Playstowe deceased, lately had to himself and his heirs by gift, grant and charter of confirmation of the same John Playstowe deceased, with remainder thereof, after the decease of the aforesaid John Playstowe deceased, to me and my heirs under these conditions: that I the aforesaid John Playstowe son of the aforesaid Philip, after I have attained to my full age of 21 years, release and quitclaim to the aforementioned John Playstowe deceased, his heirs or assigns, all my right and interest of and in the residue of the said 42 acres 1 rood arable land and fallow and the aforesaid acre and 3 roods meadow, just as in a certain indented charter, of which the date is 6 May 32 Henry VIII,251 made in respect thereof, is fully plain, that is to say that neither I the aforementioned John Playstowe the son nor my heirs nor assigns nor any others on my behalf or in my name, shall be able or ought to detain, demand, claim or lay claim to any of my right, estate, claim, interest or demand of and in the aforesaid messuage, gardens, lands, tenements and the rest of the premises, except as excepted, nor in any parcel thereof, but from all action, right, estate, title, claim, interest and demand in respect thereof shall be wholly excluded forever by these presents. And truly I the aforesaid John Playstowe son of the aforesaid Philip, and my heirs will warrant and defend the aforesaid messuage, gardens, lands, tenements and the rest of the premises with their pertinents, except as excepted, to the aforementioned William Playstowe the son and his heirs and assigns against all people forever by these presents. In witness of which thing I have appended my seal to this my present writing. Dated 1 March 37 Hen VIII.
[Endorsed in English]:
Memo: that this dede of Relese was sealed and delyvered unto Wyllyam Marchall of Chayh’m unto the use of Wyllyam Playstowe, son and heyr of John Playstowe late of Mordon decessed, in the dwellyng howse of Rychard Bray att Ewell in the presens of the said Rychard Bray, the said Wyllyam Marchall, George Thorne father in lawe of the wythin named John Playstowe son of Phylyp, Christofer Thorne and other.
This is presumably the transfer of land from a deceased John Playstowe to his cousin John Playstowe of Merstham in the early 16th century, according to an undated letter:252
John Playstowe I commend me unto you and thus itt is that you have certen landes in Moredon after the decese of John Playstowe your cosyn and his wyf hath occupyed itt this last half yere as I am informed and for that tyme you demannde the ferme therof which itt is reason you have itt and by cause the sed John Playstowe your cosyn was your grete frynd in granntyng you the sed land without any suyt or troubyll and partely att my desyre and the goodman Marchalle of Cheyham and in so mych more that your seyd cosyn left all the tymber and woode apon the sed land to your use att the tyme of his deth and that you were content to abyde the order of the seyd goodman Marchall and me for occupying of the sed land untyll Mychelmas last past, the goodman Marchall and I wyll that you shall take noe more for the occupying of the sed land butt 10s which we thynk is responsibyll consyderyng all thynges and thus fare you well from Ewell by your frynd the last day of October
Richard Bray
[endorsed:] This lettar and this ded of Relees muste go together to John Playstowe of Merstham bee this delivered.
Unfortunately that deed of release is no longer extant, as it would probably have clarified the nature of the grant, as John of Merstham seems to have inherited from William senior not from John of Morden. The impression given is that William senior had left his section to his brother John for life, with remainder to John son of Philip. (Marchall was probably the ‘William Marchall of Cheam’ who had married Thomas Puplet’s widow – see above.253)
The lands inherited by John son of Philip Playstowe included the land in Molthawes, Sutton Heath and Gildenhill [W5] mentioned above, and these were sold to Robert Garth by John Heringman senior and junior before 1618.254 No doubt they had been part of the ‘thirty acres land, four acres meadow, twenty acres pasture, eight acres wood, and six acres heath and furze, with pertinents in Morden’ purchased by Robert Garth from John Heringman senior, John junior and his wife Johanna in Michaelmas term 1612.255 We have seen that ‘Mr Garth’ already held the lands adjoining the other half of Wynteworthes by 1617.256 No record of the transfer to the Heringmans has been found, and it is possible that it had been by inheritance, a Playstowe daughter marrying a Heringman. In August 1558 Thomas Herringman of Morden, yeoman, left properties in Morden, Croydon, Tooting Graveney and Mitcham to his wife for her widowhood and then to his four underage sons, John, Henry, Thomas, and Nicholas. His will details his purchases of lands and tenements in Mitcham and Tooting, but unfortunately the end of the will is now missing, so the source of his Morden properties is not known. An illegible note seems to mention probate in 1561, and a Thomas Herringman witnessed the will of John Jux of Stockwell, Lambeth, in November 1558.257 Thomas had been admitted to several Morden copyhold tenements in 1535 [M] [F] [H31] [H33],258 so it is not certain that he had already obtained this portion of Wynteworthes by 1558, but in April 1571 John Heringman of Morden left various properties in Mitcham, Tooting and Croydon to his sons, as well as ‘all my free holde in the parishe of Mordon’ to his son Thomas on reaching the age of 21.259 By 1583 ‘young Heringman’ only held 40 acres of arable land in Morden,260 not enough to have been the copyhold tenements, so there seems no doubt that this was the Wynteworthes half-holding.
The William Plaistowe who was a witness in the Star Chamber enquiry regarding Anthony Toto’s complaints against his tenants and neighbours in Ravensbury manor in 1546/7 (see chapter 3 page 78) was there described as a 60-year-old miller in January 1547, though elsewhere in the same records he said he was 64.261 This could not have been William Playstowe senior, son of Thomas, who had clearly died before 1546, and he seems too old to have been John of Morden’s son William, who was presumably the William Playstowe who wrote his will in April 1596, proved in November of that year.262 In it he left all his lands and housings in Morden to his son William; all his land, etc, in Kingston [Kingstone] plus 3 years rent of land at Morden and Teddington [Toddington] to his son John; a life interest to his wife Alice; and the residue to his son Manevell. His death was presented at the Morden manorial court in October 1596:263
The Homage at the same place, namely Henry Smyth and John Baylie, sworn and by the steward aforesaid here being charged to inquire concerning various articles imposed upon them, say upon their oath that William Plaistowe senior, who held of the lord of this manor freely by fealty and yearly rent paid at the feast of [blank] and by services done, suit of court to the lord of the manor aforesaid for the time being held every third week at the same place if such notice [premunit’] is [given] and by service paid after the death of each tenant dying seised thereof in the name of relief [blank], with pertinents in Morden aforesaid, died after the last court held here, whereby a certain William Plaistowe junior is son and heir of the aforesaid William Plaistowe senior, the which William Plaistowe junior at this court defaulted to do his fealty and suit and also to pay his relief to the lord of this manor. And nothing for mercy because by reliable witnesses [ex fidedigno testimonio] here in court it is witnessed that the aforesaid William Plaistowe junior now is suffering from a serious disease [ex gravi morbo laborat]. Therefore he has a day given to him to be at the next court held here to do his fealty and suit of court under penalty 3s 4d.
In July 1602 William Playstowe ‘of Kingston’ sold all his Morden properties to William Fromund of Cheam, in return for an annuity of £25 for life.264 The final concord of Michaelmas term 1602 describes the property as:265
one messuage, one toft, one barn, one garden, one orchard, forty acres land, eight acres meadow, sixteen acres pasture, six acres wood, twelve acres heath and furze, ten acres moor [more] and six acres marsh, with pertinents in Morden [Moredon].
The figures for pasture, wood, etc, probably reflect the common rights appurtenant to the tenement. The sale included a promise by Playstowe to overcome some legal complication, perhaps occasioned by the repeated enfeoffments to trustees noted above, and in the following November a Thomas Jones laid claim to the property, probably one of the current trustees, but possibly under a legal fiction similar to that for dealing with entailed estates.266 The sale does not appear to have been reported to the manorial court until October 1604:267
Likewise they present that William Plaistowe, who of the lord held freely to himself and his heirs one messuage and about 40 acres of land called [blank] for a rent of 4s 10d a year and other services, alienated and sold the premises to William Fromonde gent and his heirs. And that there falls due to the lord for relief 4s 10d according to the custom of this manor upon the said alienation. And the order is given to the bailiff to distrain the aforesaid William Fromonde both to pledge the lord 4s 10d for relief aforesaid and to do the lord fealty in respect thereof before the next court.
The rent for this section of the estate was 4s 10d. William Fromund was presumably a descendant of the Thomas Fromond who had served with John and William Playstowe in 1522 as trustees for Thomas Puplet in Cheam.268 The Fromonds had long had property interests in Morden, Thomas Fromond having held a 40-year lease of Merton Priory’s Hobalds farm from Michaelmas 1538.269 William Fromond’s death was presented at the Morden manorial court in April 1608, leaving ‘Plaistowes’ messuage and about 40 acres to his eldest son Bartholomew.270 As we have seen above, in November 1617 Bartholomew leased to David Benet of Morden for 21 years ‘Wenterworth farm’ with its 47 acres, all detailed in the schedule summarised above, but in 1629 Bartholomew sold his freehold properties in Morden – described as ‘1 messuage, 1 barn, 1 toft, 1 garden, 1 orchard, 40 acres land, 8 acres meadow, 16 acres pasture, 6 acres wood, 12 acres heath and furze, 10 acres more [moor], 6 acres marsh and common pasture for all animals with pertinents’ – to Richard Garth II, lord of the manor of Morden, and the two halves were again reunited in a single ownership, though later records indicate that they were still being leased separately in the mid-18th century.271
A word of caution
We see from the final entries in tables 9.4 and 9.7 that occasionally the relationship between an heir and the deceased tenant is not stated. In the same way we cannot be certain that, because no mention is made of any relationship between the person surrendering a property and the person admitted in their place, they were not related. If the surnames are the same it seems reasonable to assume that they were related, but other transfers that would appear to have been to non-family members might in fact have been to a relative. Thus Agnes Melleward’s cottage [N4], which John Spyk had surrendered in November 1398 to John and Agnes Crouch, was in turn the subject of a ‘death-bed’ surrender in 1413 to a Matilda Spyk:272
Likewise they present that Agnes Crouch, who of the lord held by roll of court one cottage with curtilage late John Crouch, died in December last, after whose death there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 ewe worth 16d. And so it is sold. And later in this court it is reported [record] that the said Agnes, before her death, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, the said cottage with curtilage with its pertinents to the use of Matilda Spyk, to have and to hold the said cottage with curtilage and its pertinents to the aforementioned Matilda, her heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And she gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And she does fealty.
It would appear that there was an undisclosed family relationship here. Similarly, Agnes wife of Walter Payn, to whom in 1413 Alice Willot surrendered Goodwynys Acre, cottage and curtilage [B62], to take effect after her death, could well have been Alice’s daughter Agnes who had purchased an acre of free land from her parents in 1404.273
Chart 9.8 on page 184 analyses the records of 355 transactions recorded in the manorial court rolls where a new tenant was admitted into a customary/copyhold property. No freehold or leasehold properties have been included here, and the admittance of any tenant who already held the property jointly with a deceased spouse has also been omitted. If more than one property was involved in a transfer each appears as a separate item.
The previous chapter looked at the transactions within the family. This chapter will examine transfers outside the family to discover the extent of the property market across the period covered by our records, and across the full range of properties – virgate and half-virgate tenements; small properties held by rent-increment, both plots of land and cottage-plots; and freehold properties large and small. It will also glance at demand for properties held by lease, including demesne land. An attempt will be made to identify some characteristics of the tenants who engaged in the property market at various times, and to discover any trends.
However, it must be borne in mind that there are limitations to our data. We have observed in the previous chapter that the relationship between a tenant and his or her heirs was not always explained in the records of the manorial court, and that we are not always informed of the relationship when surrenders are made to a person sharing the same surname. Therefore it might not be valid to assume that a surrender to someone of a different surname necessarily involved the alienation of a property outside the family.
The survival of records also limits the data. For the decade 1290–99, only 14 court records are extant (covering just the four years 1296–99); for the next decade only 3 records (all for the year 1300); none survive for the next decade, a period that saw severe famine; only 3 courts (covering the years 1327–28), for the 1320s; no court rolls are extant for the 1330s, 1340s, 1350s and 1360s; and only 4 courts are represented for the 1370s (for 1378 and 1379). Another gap in the records occurs between 1422 and 1435, so only 4 courts are recorded in the 1420s, and 9 in the 1430s. There are no court rolls for 1459 or for 1460; and from 1500–1509 only 7 records survive (for the years 1500, 1502, 1503, 1507, 1508 (2) and 1509). Again no rolls are extant for 1510, 1511 or 1528. In the 1530s only 7 records survive (for 1534–39), though a few copies of individual entries are also extant. Only 2 records survive from the 1540s (for 1540 and 1541). These are the last rolls until the 1590s, well outside the ‘medieval’ period.
Not every property mentioned in an entry in a court roll can be identified with certainty, some not at all. However, the descent of most properties can be traced through the extant records, even if exact dates of transfer are not always known. Gaps in the record can usually be bridged – the names of former tenants are often cited, and descriptions of properties usually help to distinguish one from another.
Virgate and half-virgate tenements
In spite of the limitations outlined above, chart 9.8 does reveal that no surrenders of virgate and half-virgate properties outside the family were recorded in extant rolls before the 1430s, though grants of vacant tenements were made by the lord of the manor throughout the 15th century. During the second half of the 14th century, following the devastation caused by the Black Death in 1349, the vacant tenements were mostly leased at farm, but the development of a copyhold tenure free of weekly labour services – the ‘new rents’ (see chapter 2 page 26) – became dominant from the 1390s.
Although half of these tenements changed hands at least once between 1312 and 1349, a tendency towards continuity of customary virgate and half-virgate tenements within the family before 1350 is confirmed by a comparison of surviving lists of tenants – the custumal c.1225,1 the 1312 extent (with its partial list of former tenants c.1270×1300),2 the 1332 taxation return,3 and entries in manorial accounts relating to heriots and lost rents arising from deaths in and around 1349 – as presented in table 10.2 at the top of the facing page.4
Four of the 17 families listed c.1225 can still be identified in 1312, three of which – Huberd, Edward and Godesone – were taxpayers in 1332, and three – Ingulf/Adam, Huberd, and Edward – were still in occupation of tenements in 1349. Other families survived into the 15th and 16th centuries. William ‘de la Ritha’ was reeve in 1283 and the last of his atte Rythe descendants left Morden in 1417, though he was still paying two capons a year in November 1420 as chevage ‘in order to be able to remain outside the lordship’.5 Descendants of the Edwards were still resident in 1465.6 An Andrew atte Heghes was a tenant by 1298, and the family link was not broken until 1513.7 A branch of the Gulden family still held property in Morden until 1521.8
Two ancient families, Ingulf/Adam [A] and Thomas/Walter ate Cherche [X], were wiped out in 1349, when six tenements, marked with * in table 10.2 above, came into the hands of the abbey as lord of the manor (see chapter 7), a seventh [O] following in 1354.9 The atte Rythe family half-virgate [T] was also among these, though it seems to have been returned to the family later, perhaps when the surviving heir came of age. Another branch of the atte Rythe family was holding what was probably Hawenld la Bosser’s former virgate [L], retaining it into the 1350s, but by 1379 it was held by William Lotekyn.10 By 1398 John Huberd’s family virgate [S] had come into the lord’s hands and had been granted to Ralph Edward, who surrendered it to the use of his son John that year, as we saw in chapter 2.11 Henry atte Cherche had died in 1342, but his tenement [R] did not come into the lord’s hands immediately and the first known lease was of 1392, perhaps on the death of his heir.12
Chart 10.3 in the centre of page 186 plots changes of family for each virgated tenement, where known, and also shows periods when the tenement was leased or remained in hand. Occasionally the date of change has been estimated if the exact date is not known. From 1225 until the 1290s only the four tenements still held by someone of the same surname have been charted. As surnames were only just developing at this period, it is quite likely that other properties were still held by a relative of the 1225 tenant.
In the 50 years before the Black Death, it would appear that there was no more than one change of family for each tenement. During the second half of the 14th century many of the properties were in hand or were leased, in part or in whole. According to the records, the atte Hegge leases [O] and [J] apparently endured for six decades, though we have seen that this is unlikely (see chapter 2 page 36). Few were for more than 20 years. Between 1400 and 1450 some properties were changing hands more frequently, and the rate increased in the following half-century. However, during the first four decades of the 16th century things seem to have become more settled.
There were a number of reasons why tenure transferred from one family to another. The death of a tenant without heirs was not uncommon. Occasionally a tenant no longer felt able to continue to work his or her lands, perhaps because of age or infirmity, and surrendered the tenement into the lord’s hand, as with the Pyngets in 1391 [C] (see chapter 9 page 157).13 Others just abandoned their tenement and moved away, as with John Carpenter junior at Lotekyns [L] (see chapter 2 page 34),14 and John Bayly [A] who ‘fled’ in 1442:15
Likewise they present that John Bayly, who of the lord holds by roll of court one tenement and 20 acres land called Ad’ms, has fled out of the lordship and has abandoned the aforesaid land and tenement he holds of the lord etc. And so it remains in the lord’s hand etc. Therefore the order is given to the beadle at the same place to answer for the issues etc until etc.
Others forfeited their tenement because they had sublet it without licence, as in November 1390 [L]:16
Likewise they present that John Godyne, who of the lord holds by roll of court 1 messuage and 1 virgate of land with pertinents called Lotekynes, leased without licence to William Pynnore etc. And because he leased it without licence, therefore the order is given to seize etc, and to answer etc.
or because they had allowed it to fall into disrepair, as in June 1439 [C]:17
Whereas before it was presented that John Bayly had a tenement ruinous and unrepaired; therefore the order was given to the aforementioned John that he emend the aforesaid tenement before the next court under penalty of forfeiture of the same messuage. Now at this court the homage, sworn, say that the aforesaid tenement is not repaired nor emended. Therefore the order is given to the beadle to seize into the lord’s hand and to answer for the issues etc until etc.
In all the above cases the tenements were ‘granted’ to new tenants by the steward of the manor on behalf of the abbey. It was in the abbey’s interest to find a new tenant as speedily as possible, in order to maintain its income from rents and services. It also received an entry fine from the new tenant on admittance.
We have already noted that some families obtained additional tenements for members of the family who would not inherit the family holding. The 1312 extent mentions two members of the Godesone family – Johanna la Godesone, possibly widow of John Godesone, holding what appears to be the family tenement held c.1225 by John son of Gode [O], and Durand Godesone, listed as the former tenant of the tenement held by Thomas and Emma Belle [B]. Had Durand or a forebear obtained his tenement by marriage or in the property market? There is mention of an Emma Durantt in 1295 and it is possible that she was Durand’s daughter and brought the tenement to Thomas Belle by marriage.18 Emma Belle certainly had rights in the property and was frequently involved in the surrenders (see below, page 199).19
In 1312 Henry atte Cherche held a virgate [J] and a half-virgate [R] and in 1327 he inherited another virgate tenement from his mother, Isabelle Coxx [C].20 It is not clear whether Isabelle’s tenement was the atte Cherche family tenement or one that she had inherited from elsewhere, but at least one of Henry’s tenements is likely to have been obtained in the market. However, he did not keep all three tenements. By 1332 his virgate tenement [J] was held by William Joce and Henry was assessed for tax at the same sum as his neighbour Richard Edward, suggesting that he only held a single tenement.21 At his death in 1342 he certainly only held the half-virgate tenement later known as Rykedons [R], his mother’s tenement, known as Cokcyes [C], being held by Adam Hobcok until 1349.22 Did Henry think that 50 acres was too large a holding for him to manage, or had the abbey put pressure on him to surrender them because he could not render the weekly labour services incumbent upon 2½ virgates?
If there was a policy against multiple holdings, it did not apply to John Huberd, who held 2½ virgates at his death in 1349 – his family virgate tenement [S] and the 1½-virgate tenement known as Makernays [M]. His tax assessment in 1332 was much higher than his neighbours but, as the tax was only on goods, not on land, we cannot be sure that he already held both properties at that time. But John served as manorial reeve from 1323 to 1341 and had proved his ability to manage a large holding.
An earlier reeve, Walter Edward, had also held extra lands, leasing 20 acres from the abbey in addition to his family tenement. In November 1297, after Walter’s death, his son took a 7-year lease on the land:23
The lord demises to John Edward 20 acres land for a term of 7 years, which land was in the lord’s hands and which aforesaid land Walter Edward, father of the aforesaid John, used to hold of the lord for 7s per year by certain services, and he gives the lord 12d for licence to hold the aforesaid land &c. And at the end of the aforesaid term it shall revert to the aforesaid [ ] called [ ]th; pledge Bailiff.
In the post-plague era any earlier restrictions were put aside, as the abbey tried to find new tenants for the vacant tenements. A few tenants built up multiple holdings (see next chapter), either at farm or by the ‘new rents’ free of weekly labour obligations. Thus John Bayly held both Cokcyes [C] and Adams [A] tenements in the early years of the 15th century, before having one confiscated in 1439 and abandoning the other in 1442 (see above).
Adams and Cokcyes seem to have been the first copyhold virgate tenements in Morden to be held by a Londoner (see table 10.4, page 190), unless we should include the sheriff of Middlesex of the 1320s (see chapter 7 page 136). In October 1471 Thomas Sharpe of London, and his wife
Elen were admitted to Adams, by grant of the lord of the manor, having come into the lord’s hand the previous year, together with some small properties that had become attached to it (see pages 249–252). At the same court it was witnessed that Margaret Drayton had previously surrendered Cokcyes out of court to the Sharpes:24
Whereas the order was given to seize into the lord’s hand one tenement and 22 acres land pertaining to the same tenement called Adams, 1 tenement and 2 acres land formerly John Lyghtfote and 3 roods of land formerly the aforesaid John [in error for John’s brother William, corrected below], recently in the tenure of John Arnold, and because the aforesaid tenements are unrepaired and in decay on account of the default of the aforesaid John Arnold etc. Now at this court the lord grants the aforesaid tenement, 22 acres land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement called Adams tenement and 2 acres land formerly John Lyghtfote and 3 roods of land formerly the aforesaid William Lyghtfote to Thomas Sharpe and Elen his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid 2 tenements, land and meadow with their pertinents, to the aforementioned Thomas and Elen his wife, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
At this court it is witnessed by Nicholas Drayton, tenant of the manor at the same place that Margaret Drayton, widow, out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cookeseys to the use of Thomas Sharpe to have and to hold the aforesaid tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation, with their pertinents, to the aforementioned Thomas Sharpe, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
The Sharpes only held the properties for 2½ years, surrendering them in May 1474:25
At this court come Thomas Sharpe of London in open court, and Elena his wife examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one tenement and 22 acres land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement called Adams, one tenement and 2 acres land formerly John Lyghtfote and 3 roods of land formerly William Lyghtfote, late in the tenure of John Arnold, to the use of Thomas Acton to have and to hold the aforesaid 2 tenements land and meadow pertaining to the same tenements and 3 roods of land formerly William Lyghtfote with their pertinents, to the aforementioned Thomas Acton, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
At this court comes Thomas Sharpe of London and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cokeseys, to the use of Thomas Acton, to have and to hold the aforesaid tenement and garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cokeseys with their pertinents to the aforementioned Thomas Acton, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
Acton in turn disposed of the properties four years later, in April 1478, to another Londoner:26
At this court comes Thomas Acton in his proper person, who of the lord holds by roll of court, and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one tenement and 22 acres land and meadow belonging to the same tenement called Adams, late Thomas Sharpe of London and Elena his wife, one tenement and 2 acres land formerly John Lyghtfote, and 3 roods of land formerly William Lyghtfote, late in the tenure of John Arnold,
and one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cokeseys, to the use of John Coweper of London, capmaker [capper], and Emma his wife, and William son of the same John and Emma, to have and to hold to them and the heirs and assigns of John and William, of the lord at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
Already the two tenements and associated properties were being treated as a unit. John is here described as a ‘capper’ but elsewhere as a ‘hewerer’, an attempt by the clerk to render the word ‘hurer’, a maker of ‘shaggy’ caps with a long coarse nap.27 The Cowepers retained the properties for 10 years, though they were taken in hand between October 1484 and October 1485 for waste, and again in April 1488, a few months after John’s death, because they had been sublet without licence.28
During this period the Cowepers had further engaged in the local property market, purchasing Rydons [R] and selling a smallholding [G2], as explained in October 1487:29
At this court it is witnessed by John Goldewyer junior and William Goldewyer, tenants at the same place, that William Tennett also called Davy, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will, out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one tenement or toft and nine acres of land pertaining to the same tenement or toft called Rydons lying within the vill and field of Morden, to the use of Emma Coweper, widow, and William, Emma’s son. And later in the same court the lord grants the aforesaid tenement or toft and nine acres of land pertaining to the same tenement or toft called Rydons, to the aforementioned Emma and William, Emma’s son, to hold, to themselves and their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the court roll. And they do fealty and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod and they are admitted etc. At this court it is witnessed by John Goldewyer senior and John Kyrkeby, tenants of the manor at the same place, that William [sic] Coweper late of London, the lord’s hurer, before his death, and Emma late his wife, and William Coweper son of the aforesaid John and Emma, out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one cottage and two acres of land and a half-rood of land adjoining the same cottage, to the use of John Goldewyer junior. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage and 2 acres and half-rood of land adjoining the same cottage to the aforementioned John Goldewyer junior, to hold to himself, his heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And he does fealty and seisin thereof is delivered to him by the rod etc.
This latter transaction seems to relate to the property adjoining Adams tenement, and previously included with it [F2] [A31] [A32], and yet, when the confiscated properties were granted to two more Londoners in May 1489, these 2⅛ acres were still listed among the properties transferred, and continued to be so for decades to come!30
At this court it is enrolled thus: Whereas at the court held here the Tuesday the penultimate day of April the 3rd year of the aforesaid reign it was presented by the homage that John Coweper, late of London, hurer, handed over and demised at farm – one tenement and twenty-two acres land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement called Adams, one tenement and 2 acres of land formerly John Lyghtfote, three roods of land formerly William Lyghtfote, late in the tenure of John Arnold and one tenement with garden adjoining and twenty acres land by estimation called Cokeseys formerly Thomas Shapp later Thomas Acton and late John Coweper, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will – to a certain John Dunnyng by indenture for a term of years made between them without the lord’s licence and against the custom of this manor.
Therefore the order was given to John atte Well, bailiff at the same place, to seize and take into the lord’s hand all the aforesaid land and tenements with pertinents, by virtue of which the same bailiff seized and took into the lord’s hand all the aforesaid land and tenements with pertinents. And now at this court the lord grants all and singular the land and tenements aforesaid with pertinents as aforesaid is named, to Robert Hawekyn of London, hat merchant, and Reginald Pegge, gentleman, to have and to hold all and singular the premises with all their pertinents to the aforementioned Robert and Reginald, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted tenants. And seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod. Upon which there comes into this court in the presence of the steward of the manor aforesaid William Coweper, son and heir of John Coweper, and remits, releases and quitclaims for William himself, and his heirs, to the aforementioned Robert and Reginald and their assigns, all right, claim and interest which he has or is able to have of and in the land and tenements aforesaid and other premises or in any part of them. And further the lord grants and gives licence to the aforementioned Robert and Reginald and each of them to grant, demise and to hand over at farm, to whoever they wish or one of them wishes, all and singular the premises for a term of ten years from the date of this court next coming. And for having this licence the aforesaid Robert and Reginald give the lord fine as appears in the heading.
Hawekyn and Pegge surrendered the properties in October 1490:31
At this court it is found that Robert Hawkyn of London, hat merchant [hatter marchaunt] and Reginald Peg’ gentleman, who of the lord held by roll of court by grant of the lord, for themselves, their heirs and assigns, one tenement and twenty- two acres land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement called Adams, one tenement and 2 acres of land formerly John Lyghtfote, three roods of land formerly William Lyghtfote, late in the tenure of John Arnold, and one tenement with garden adjoining and twenty acres land by estimation called Cokeseys formerly Thomas Shapp’ later Thomas Acton and late John Cowper, as is fully apparent by roll of court 14 and 18 Edward IV, at Westminster in the presence of George Fatell, treasurer of the monastery of blessed Peter, Westminster, and Thomas Hunt, chief steward of the aforesaid monastery, surrendered into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs forever, the aforesaid tenements, land and meadow with pertinents as aforesaid are named, to the use of John Veer, esq, and William Page, gentleman of the lord king’s receipts [de Recepta dm’ Regis Gentilman]. And upon this the lord grants all and singular the premises with pertinents as aforesaid are named, to the aforementioned John Veer and William Page, to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
At the same court Emma and William Coweper also surrendered Rykedons [R] to Veer and Page:
At this court it is witnessed by William Goldewyer and John Goldewyr junior, tenants at the same place, that Emma, who was the wife of John Cowper, and William Cowper, son of the same Emma and John Cowper, out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one tenement or toft and nine acres of land pertaining to the same tenement or toft called Rydons, to the use of John Veer esquire and William Page, gentleman of the lord king’s receipts [de Recepta dm’ Regis Gentilman]. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid tenement or toft and 9 acres land called Rydons to the aforementioned John Veer and William Page, to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted tenants and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod.
By April 1494 Veer was dead and the properties all changed hands yet again:32
The homage are charged by their fealty and say that William Page, late gentleman of the lord king’s receipts, who of the lord held by roll of court with John Veer esq now deceased, their heirs and assigns, out of court at Westminster in May in the 9th year of the aforesaid reign, in the presence of Thomas Hunt, steward, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one tenement or toft and 9 acres land with pertinents called Rydons, one tenement, 22 acres of land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement with pertinents called Adams, one tenement and 2 acres of land formerly John Lyghtfote, 3 roods of land formerly William Lyghtfote late in the tenure of John Arnold, and one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cokeseys formerly Thomas Sharp, later Thomas Acton and late John Coweper, to the use of William Wilcokkes of London, draper, and Johanne his wife their heirs and assigns. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid toft or tenement and 9 acres land with pertinents called Rydons, and all the premises with pertinents as aforesaid is named, to the aforementioned William Wilcokkes and Johanne to hold to themselves and their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
In May 1500 the court was informed:33
And that William Wilcokkys, who of the lord held [rest of line blank] died before the next court and they do not know who is his nearest heir. Therefore they have a day to better inquire towards [erga] the next court etc.
Two years later a copy of the court roll entry of May 1502 records:34
At the View of Frankpledge with Court at the same place held [blank] day of May 17 Henry VII, it is enrolled as follows. At this court it is found that Thomas Carter and Alianora his wife, who of the lord hold, to themselves, their heirs and assigns by roll of court by grant of the lord as appears by roll of court produced dated at the general court at the same place held the Tuesday next after Michaelmas next before the date of this court, by the surrender of Edmund Grevyle gentleman and Johanne his wife, daughter and heir of William Wylcokkys, one tenement or croft and 9 acres of land called Rydons, one tenement and 22 acres land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement called Adams, one tenement and 2 acres of land formerly John Lyghtfote, 3 roods of land formerly William Lightfote late in the tenure of John Arnold, and one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cokeseys formerly Thomas Sharpe, and then Thomas Acton and later John Coweper, and late William Page late gentleman of the lord king’s receipts, the which Alianora herself at the court of William Borough treasurer of the monastery of blessed Peter, Westminster, and Edmund Dudeley then steward of the aforesaid monastery, examined alone, out of court, namely at Westminster 19 October last past before the date of this court, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for themselves, their heirs and assigns forever, all the aforesaid messuages, lands, meadows, crofts and gardens with their pertinents, to the use of John Holt, his heirs and assigns. Under the following conditions: namely that if the aforesaid John Holt pays or causes to be paid [soluat aut solim fac’] to the aforesaid Thomas Carter, his heirs and assigns or his named attorney [aut suo c’to attornat’] eight pounds sterling in the following manner and form [modo & forma sequent’], namely at the next Michaelmas after the date of this court four pounds sterling, part of the said eight pounds, and at the next Michaelmas immediately following four pounds sterling, the rest of the said eight pounds, that then the present [tenant [ie Carter]] shall surrender all his power permanently and effectively. And if he was to default in any payment payable aforesaid at any feast of the aforesaid feasts which the said John Holt ought to pay that then the aforesaid Thomas Carter and Alianora his wife, their heirs and assigns, shall rightly be allowed, in all the messuages, lands, meadows, crofts and gardens aforesaid with their pertinents and in whatever part thereof, to re-enter, hold and possess to themselves, their heirs and assigns as in their original [pristino] title [statu] and to command [dicere], admonish [ammonere] and altogether [penitus] expel, by this [isto] surrender, the said John Holt, his heirs and assigns, in respect thereof wholly, and to have [h’ita] seisin thereof and delivery [libat’] in anything not withstanding [non obstant’].
And on the conditions [conditoi’bz] aforesaid the lord grants thereon in all the premises to the aforementioned John Holt seisin to have and to hold all the premises, to himself, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor, saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals at the same place the rent customs and services in respect thereof due and by law customary. And he gives the lord for fine as appears in the roll of court. And he does the lord fealty.
Thus in a mere 31 years these properties had been transferred nine times, mostly within the community of London citizens and minor courtiers. They seem to have been absentees, none of them holding office within the community, such as chief pledge, aletaster or constable. Only John and William Coweper served as jurors, members of the homage, witnesses or ‘affeerers’ [assessors] at the manorial courts. These tenements seem to have been seen as lucrative short- term investments for wealthy Londoners with cash to invest in the property market during a period of economic revival.
John Holt is probably the John Holt of Tooting, yeoman, who had held properties in neighbouring Merton until 1516.35 He built up a substantial estate in Morden between 1494 and his death in 1536, both copyhold and freehold, at its greatest extent amounting to almost 200 acres (see chapter 11 page 247).
This 1502 entry is one of the few occasions that we have a glimpse of the finances involved in these property transactions. Usually we only hear of the quitrents and entry fines due to the lord of the manor, but here we have arrangements for the payment of the purchase price in two instalments at a year’s interval. It is not clear if the sum of £8 was the total that Holt paid for these properties, or just the outstanding balance.
Apart from these London transactions, the market in virgate and half-virgate tenements was quite steady with, on average, only two or three transfers outside the family in each half-century.
Rent increments
It was noted in chapter 2 that a number of new properties were created in the closing decades of the 13th century, some within existing family tenements to create homes for family dependants, some through enclosure of small plots of roadside waste for cottages (see page 29), and some through the dismemberment of the arable land belonging to Thomas and Emma Belle’s tenement [B] in Central Road (see below, page 199). We have seen that the tenant paid an additional rent increment on each acquisition, so that the rent for a property would gradually increase by 1d or ½d at each transaction.
Chart 10.5 shows the rate at which increments accrued between 1280 and 1339, based on information in both the court rolls and the account rolls. For those years where no records survive the increments have been calculated from the increases in total rents shown in the next extant roll, and divided among the unrecorded years.
As noted in chapter 2 the earliest manorial account roll for 1280/81 gives no details: ‘And for increment of rent 4d’.36 In 1290/91 a name is given for the tenant whose increment had been added the previous year: ‘And for 18s 3½d for rent for the Michaelmas term with increment of rent of Thomas the miller [molend]’.37 A little more detail is introduced in 1294/95: ‘And for 18s 5½d for the Michaelmas term with rent increment from the preceding account. And for 1d for rent increment of Roger Curteys at the same term. And for 1d for rent increment of Thomas Miller [Molendinar’] at Michaelmas, viz for 2 acres land that he had from Emma Durannt. And for 1d for rent increment of Robert Tiytor for land which was Richard Fletsch at the same term’.38 But in 1295/96 the clerk returns to merely recording names: ‘And for 1d for increment of rent of Thomas Miller [Molendinar’] and Robert Cothebrid at the same term’.39 Thomas the miller was already building up a smallholding that by 1312 had become ‘a curtilage and 6 acres’ paying 7d a year. He was probably the founder of the Melleward/Mulneward family (see chapter 9 page 155).
No account rolls survive between 1296 and 1302 but fortunately a bundle of court rolls are extant for most of these years.40
The court roll entries reveal that the properties subject to rent increments might be found anywhere within the manor. Of the four entries in November 1297, the first relates to property in Central Road, the second to a holding of Morden Fee in Ewell, the third to a smallholding in Lower Morden, and the fourth to a property probably near the manorial centre in Morden Hall Road (see extracts on page 29).41 The following entry of May 1299 probably relates to land within a family tenement in Lower Morden:42
Henry Atterithe and Alice his wife come in open court and surrender into the lord’s hands half an acre of land to the use of William Atterithe and the same William comes and gives the lord 12d for having entry to the aforesaid land and gives for rent increment ½d at Michaelmas and does fealty to the lord.
But the majority of the transactions dealing with building plots relate to buildings on the former waste alongside Central Road, as in this entry for January 1298:43
Peter le Priour and Agnes his wife come and surrender into the lord’s hands one messuage to the use of John Sweyn and the same John comes and gives the lord 2s for having entry to the aforesaid messuage and he furnishes a pledge to build and mend and maintain the aforesaid house in as very good condition as now or better and does fealty to the lord and further gives the lord for rent increment ½d at Michaelmas; pledge Thomas the miller and Richard Atte Ryth.
The manorial account rolls recommence from 1303, recording further rent increments including a further transfer of John Snoter’s former holding in Lower Morden in 1303/04: ‘And for ½d of rent increment of John le Haytere at the same term for 1 messuage and 1½ acres land which was Peter Schutte’s’ (see November 1297 entry in chapter 2 page 29).44
Other properties also changed hands. In 1298 Richard le Fleche surrendered a rood of land to William and Alice le Flech:45
Richard le Fleche comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one rood of land to the use of William le Flech and Alice his wife and the same William comes and gives the lord 6d for having entry to the aforesaid land and gives for rent increment ½d and does fealty to the lord; pledge William Atterithe.
In 1305 the account roll records a further transfer within this family: ‘The same renders account for 19s 10½d for rent of the Michaelmas term. with increment of rent from the preceding account And for 1d of increment of rent of Robert Fleysch at the same term for a certain small plot from the messuage of his father’.46 A further transfer from Richard to Robert was recorded in 1306/07, when there were so many increments that the clerk got confused and entered some twice:47
And for 19s 11½d for rent for the Michaelmas term with increment of rent from the previous account. And for 1d for increment of rent of William le Webbe for 1 small plot bought from William Paternoster at the same term. And for ½d for increment of rent of Geoffrey Sweyn for
a certain house with curtilage bought from John le Sweyn at the same term. And for ½d for increment of rent of Robert Fleys for a certain plot bought from Richard Fleys at the same term. And for 1d for increment of rent of Henry le Guldene William le Webbe[?] for a certain small plot bought of Henry atte Hegghe [insertion smudged, possibly erased] at the same term. And for 5s for tallage at the same term. And for ½d because above [superius] for increment of rent of Geoffrey Scheym [?Sweyn] at the same term. And for 1d because above for increment of rent of William le Webbe at the same term.
Although Paternoster had here disposed of a ‘small plot’ to Webbe, he still held an acre of land in 1312 for which he paid 1d a year [I6]. By 1312 Robert le Webbe was holding ‘a messuage and 7 acres’ [B3], most of the land probably coming from the Belles (see below). An entry in 1324/25: ‘And for ½d for rent increment of Walter le Webbe for 2½ acres land at Michaelmas for the whole year’ [B31],48 probably refers to a portion allocated to Walter from this family holding, which had been reduced to ‘a messuage and 4 acres’ by 1363.49 It was probably the croft inherited by Henry Milward’s daughters in 1402 (see chapter 9 page 159).50
Another big year for rent increments was 1321/22: ‘And for 1d for increment from Walter Edward at Michaelmas. And for ½d for increment of rent from Robert de Nunthey at the same term. And for ½d for rent increment from John Huberd at the same. And for 1d for increment of rent from Ralph atte Hamo at the same term’.51 (We learn from marginal annotations to the 1312 extent that Walter Edward had taken over the plot formerly held by Henry le Hose [I8], part of which later became the site of the alehouse that was the forerunner of the present George inn [I81] (see chapter 1 page 12). Robert de Nunthey was the estate manager [serviens] at the time.)
Most of the above transactions were small scale – a cottage plot, a curtilage, a ‘small plot’, a rood of land – to enlarge a family holding or to set up a family member with a holding of his/her own. But John Huberd seems to have had a different agenda. The first of many entries relating to his property acquisitions had been recorded in 1319/20: ‘And for 21s 9½d.10d for the Michaelmas term.with rent increment of John Huberd’ 52 He was serving as manorial beadle at that time, and was promoted to reeve in 1323, serving until 1341.
It is not clear whether the following entry from 1327/28 refers to a normal rent increment as it was payable by instalments at the four ‘terms’ or quarter days, whereas increments were normally payable at Michaelmas: ‘And for 6d new rent from John Huberd at the 4 terms’.53 Huberd held Makernays 1½-virgates [M] by 1349, and it is possible that this ‘new rent’ was an additional payment for that, over and above the regular 3 shillings annual ‘rent of assize’.
Huberd appears to have financed his property dealings by securing an annuity out of a cottage with curtilage [N1], according to this entry in the court roll in October 1327:54
John Hubert comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands to the use of John le Webbe one cottage with curtilage adjoining between the tenements of Richard le Milleward and Richard le Webbe as enclosed by the metes and bounds, to have and to hold to himself and the offspring issuing from his body, and if he should die without etc that it shall revert to the aforesaid John Hubert and his offspring etc, by customs and services &c in bondage &c that he shall pay the aforesaid John Hubert for the whole of his life 18d yearly at the usual four terms. And he gives the lord as a fine 12d; pledge John Hubert. And he does fealty and he has seisin &c.
This was presumably one of the properties for which he had paid ½d-increments in 1319/20 and 1321/22, and was almost certainly a former roadside enclosure. No mention was made of a rent increment on this occasion. Perhaps it was not considered appropriate as this was a conditional surrender involving an annuity to Huberd, who retained the reversion if Webbe died without heirs. The fact that Huberd was serving as reeve at this time might also have influenced matters. As it happened, both Webbe and Huberd died in 1349, probably of the plague, and the cottage came into the lord’s hands. In comparison with the standard 2 shillings ‘rent of assize’ for a virgate tenement, Huberd’s 18d a year from the cottage was a lucrative arrangement. It is no wonder that by 1332 he was the wealthiest inhabitant of Morden, being assessed at 4s 7½d in the taxation return. Among his fellow villeins, the next most wealthy were Richard Edward and Henry ate Cherche, each assessed at 1s 5½d, while the wealthiest free tenant was William
ate Thorne, assessed at 2s 7d, though he was one of three members of his family assessed, their combined assessment totalling 5s 3d.55 As the assessment was on households, each presumably had his own home.
Huberd continued to expand his property empire in 1329/30: ‘And for 1d for increment of rent of John Huberd at the same term for the whole year’.56 This was included in the Michaelmas total in the next year’s account, and a further increment from Huberd was noted: ‘And for 22s 5½d for the Michaelmas term with increment of rent of John Huberd. And for 5s from tallage at the same term. And for 1d for increment of rent of John Huberd at Michaelmas. And for ½d for increment of rent of William Taverner at the same feast’.57 Do these annual increments from Huberd indicate that he was paying for his properties in instalments? Perhaps the unexplained 1d of new rent noted in 1335/36 – ‘And for 1d of new rent at Michaelmas’ – is another Huberd instalment.
Huberd’s involvement in the property market proved a profitable investment, and his example was followed by many over the centuries, but most who bought these small properties were merely attempting to secure homes and sufficient land to maintain themselves and their families.
Small plots of customary land from a dismembered virgate holding
Entries concerning small plots of land of an acre or so normally refer to parcels of land within existing customary tenements, and the majority at this early period relate to land belonging to Belles tenement [B] in Central Road (see table 10.6, pages 200–1), as in the first two entries in the court roll of October 1298:58
Thomas Belle comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one acre of land to the use of John Godwyn and the same John comes and gives the lord 12d for having entry to the aforesaid land and does fealty to the lord and gives the lord for rent increment 1d; pledge William Atterith.
The same Thomas comes and surrenders into the lord’s hands one acre of land to the use of Robert le Webbe and the same Robert comes and gives the lord 18d for having entry to the aforesaid land and gives the lord for rent increment 1d; pledge John Chutte.
Both Thomas and Emma Belle were involved in the break-up of their tenement, as in March
Thomas Belle and Emma his wife come in open court and surrender into the lord’s hands 2d a year in rent and 2 acres land to the use of Thomas the miller and the same Thomas comes and gives the lord 3s for having entry to the said rent and land and gives for rent increment at Michaelmas 2d and does fealty to the lord and doing in respect thereof all services due and accustomed and maintaining the land in as very good condition as now or better; pledges William Atterithe and William le Webbe.
No details are given of the property surrendered by the Belles in October 1299:60
Thomas Belle and Emma his wife come in open court and surrender into the lord’s hands to the use of William Le Flesch and the same William gives to the lord for having entry 18d and for rent increment ½d at Christmas, and he does fealty, pledging to do the due and accustomed services in respect thereof &c. pledge.
But in July 1300 they are still disposing of land:61
Thomas Belle and Emma his wife come and surrender into the lord’s hands 2 acres land to the use of Robert le Webbe and the same Robert comes and gives the lord 18d to have entry to the aforesaid land and gives the lord for rent increment at Michaelmas 1d. And does fealty to the lord.
The dismemberment of the Belles’ customary tenement released about 20 acres in plots of 1 or 2 acres.
By 1312 Robert Webbe held 7 acres of Belles [B3], Thomas the miller 6 acres [B2], Gilbert le Shutte 3 acres [B4], and John Godwyne 2 acres [B6]. A further 2 acres [B5] seem to have become part of Bunt’s freehold property [U] (see chapter 6 page 123). Surprisingly the Belles were listed in the extent as owing 2 shillings a year for their virgate, even though they had disposed of its lands. They are not mentioned in any extant documents after this date, other than as former tenants, but the customary responsibilities pertaining to their tenement seem to have passed to the Webbes, who are assessed as villeins in the 1332 taxation, and who owed various services over the years. Presumably the 2 shilling rent, which was still being paid to the abbey until at least 1359, was allocated among the new tenants, in addition to the increments that they paid.
Having discovered the origins of these five parcels of land, we will now attempt to trace their descent, to enable an assessment to be made of their impact on the land market.
As the abbey seems to have treated the Webbe’s holding [B3] as the successor to the Belles, it has been included among the virgate holdings in chart 10.3 top. We have noted that it had been reduced to 4 acres by 1363, probably as a result of 2½ acres [B31] being transferred to Walter le Webbe in 1324/25.62 Walter was holding the family property at the 1332 taxation, and it remained in the family until 1398:63
At this court come Peter Webbe and Anicia his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one cottage with curtilage and 4 acres land with pertinents called Webbes tenement, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot one horse, to the use of John Pycot and Matilda his wife. And later the lord grants the said cottage with curtilage and land with pertinents, to have and to hold to the aforementioned John and Matilda, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by service etc saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty etc. And note that the aforesaid horse is sold [….…….] as appears in the heading etc, namely Alan Berneger etc.
In the rent roll for 1448–1450 ‘John Pygot senior’ was paying 10d and ‘John Pygott’ 14d, presumably John senior’s son on behalf of his infant daughter Alianore, who had inherited 4 acres from her mother, another Matilda Pygot, in 1447.64 Alianore inherited her father’s family holding at his death in 1457, and in April 1465 she and her husband Robert Wylman surrendered ‘Webbes’ to Simon and Margaret Drayton.65 (The Draytons immediately exchanged a ½-acre of this holding with their neighbours the Leycesters in 1465, and in the following October surrendered ¾-acre to another neighbour John Dounton, but this was probably from the curtilage of the cottage rather than from the arable land (see below).66) However, at her death in 1472, Alianore’s heir inherited an 8-acre holding [B23], and it is possible that the two properties had been reunited.67 Margaret Drayton’s current husband, John Seven/Sewyn, apparently forfeited the property at the court held in April 1475, for felling timber without licence, and it disappears from the record, but there is an entry relating to the Wylmans in a damaged section of the court roll for April 1466 and this might have explained the situation.68 Short-term surrenders are not unknown in the Morden records, and might refer to mortgages (see chapter 2 page 24).69
Alianore’s heir, her sister’s son, surrendered the 8-acre property in October 1475:70
At this court comes John Goldewyer junior in open court [and] surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, 1 messuage with garden adjoining and 8 acres land called Pygattes to the use of John Downton and Alice his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid messuage, garden and 8 acres land with their pertinents to the aforementioned John Downton and Alice his wife, and the heirs of their body lawfully begotten. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine etc etc saving [the lord’s] right etc.
Alice Dounton outlived three husbands, the third being John Langton, and at some time she surrendered this and other properties to Sir Laurence Aylmer, who in 1512 surrendered them to John Holt, the Dountons’ son quitclaiming any rights he might have in the properties:71
At this court come John Will’ms and Richard Playstowe tenants of the lord and report a certain surrender made to them out of court, according to the custom of the manor, by Laurence Aylmer knight and William Aylmer esquire his son to the use of John Holt and his heirs, of one tenement with garden adjoining and eight acres land late in the tenure of Alice Langton widow; and of one garden and a half-acre of land late in the tenure of John Dounton; and of a half-acre and one rood of land late in the tenure of Thomas Leycetter; and of one toft with curtilage and 3 acres land formerly Swaynes; and of one cottage with 2½ acres formerly Peter Popesent and later William Davy and Blanche his wife; and also of one garden [and/of] 2½ acres of land formerly Peter Popesent later John Dounton; which all and singular the premises with their pertinents were late in the tenure of the said Alice Langton widow. By which surrender nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because they have no animals. The which John Holte being present here in court takes of the lord all and singular the premises according to the custom of the manor. And later here in the same court comes a certain Lionel Dounston son and heir of John Dounton and Alice his wife who lately laid claim to all and singular the premises. And now in open court he surrenders, remits and releases all his right title and interest of and in all the aforesaid lands and tenements with their pertinents to the aforementioned John Holt and his heirs forever being in his full possession. And he does the lord fealty.
Among the holdings that Aylmer surrendered were two of 2½ acres ‘formerly Peter Popesent’, one of which is likely to have been the land surrendered to Walter le Webbe in 1324/25 [B31] which, we have suggested, came from the Webbe family holding.72 It is probably the croft inherited jointly by Henry Milward’s daughters, which he had obtained before 1360, and which came into the possession of his grandson Simon Popsent and his wife in May 1414 (see chapter 11 page 231).73
The four acres inherited by Alianore Pycot from her mother in 1447 are not identified in the records, but there seems little alternative but to assume that they were from the 6 acres held in 1312 by Thomas the miller [B2]. The property had already lost 1 acre by June 1383, when Richard Milleward surrendered ‘a messuage and 5 acres’ to his son John (see chapter 9 page 155).74 In December 1392 this was surrendered to William Mulseye and his wife Agnes, daughter of Henry Milward, and the land then disappears from the record, though Richard Milleward’s messuage, later known as Bonehams [B21], had come into the possession of Henry Hobcok by May 1409:75
At this court comes Henry Hobcok and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one cottage with curtilage and its pertinents, formerly parcel of Richard Melleward’s tenement, to the use of Leticia Straw, daughter of John Straw and Agnes his wife, to have and to hold the said cottage with curtilage and its pertinents to the aforementioned Leticia, her heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And she gives the lord for fine as appears. And she does fealty. And the said Leticia is to build anew the aforesaid cottage and so maintain it; pledges John Straw and Agnes his wife.
So far we have traced the descent of 10½ acres of the customary land formerly Belles, and a further 2 added to Bunts as freehold [B5] (see chapter 6 page 123). John Godewyne’s 2 acres [B6] seem to have been split by January 1413:76
At this court comes Alice Welot widow and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, one cottage with curtilage formerly Alan Hayters and 1 acre of land called Goodwynys acre lying between land of John Pycot on the west and land of William Hyndefoot on the east. And later the lord in this and the same court grants the aforesaid cottage and curtilage and land with pertinents to the aforementioned Alice for the term of her life only. And that after the death of the said Alice the said cottage with curtilage and land with pertinents remains to Walter Payn and Agnes his wife, to have and to hold the said cottage with curtilage and land with pertinents to the aforementioned Walter and Agnes, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And the said Walter and Agnes shall keep, repair and maintain the said cottage with its pertinents at their own cost and expense. And they give the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And they do fealty.
John and Alice Welot had inherited Goodwynys acre [B61] from Alice’s father, Alan Hayter, in 1378, together with the cottage, croft and land in West Morden held in 1312 by John le Hayter [F2].77 Agnes Payn is probably John and Alice’s daughter, to whom they had sold another property – 1 acre of free land – in November 1404 [B51], selling another acre to her sister [B52] (probably the 2 acres of Bunt’s property that had been added from Belles).78 She is likely to have been the ‘Agnes Wylott’ who died in 1436, surrendering ‘1 toft and 1 acre of land to the use of John Lyghtfot’.79 Goodwynys acre’s position west of William Hyndefoot’s land indicates that it was the ‘toft with one acre of land called Clerkys Hawe’ [B62] when William Parker inherited it from his father in September 1494 (see chapter 9 page 164).80 Hyndefoot held this adjoining acre of land after the death of his wife in 1395:81
Likewise they present that Agnes wife of William Hyndefot, who of the lord held by the rod one acre of land with pertinents, has died, after whose death nothing falls due to the lord etc. And they say that the said William according to the custom of the manor holds by English law [leg’ Angl’ie] etc. And they say that Thomas son of the said Agnes is her youngest son and nearest heir etc. And he is not admitted for the aforesaid reason etc, which William, being present in court, does the lord fealty to hold etc.
It was probably the other acre held in 1312 by John Godewyne [B61], and later became known as Emcote Acre. In May 1416 it was surrendered to the vicar, who lived on an adjoining plot:82
At this court it is witnessed by Roger atte Hegg’ that Nicholas Hyndefoot, out of court, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one acre of land called Emcote acre next to the vicar to the use of John Whyte vicar of the church of Morden, to have and to hold the said acre to the aforementioned John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
It was in hand in May 1420, and did not become a permanent part of the vicarage until May 1436:83
At this court come Ralph Tracy and Alice his wife, examined alone, in open court and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, 1 acre acre [sic] of land with toft adjoining called Emcottes acre, lying next to the dwelling [mansione’] of the vicar of that place, to the use of Robert Brytayn clerk, to have and to hold the said acre of land and toft with its pertinents to the aforementioned Robert, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
Gilbert le Schutte’s 3-acre holding [B4] is not identified by name after 1312. However, there are various references to odd acres of land with no indication of their origins, and some of these are likely to have been Schutte’s. Richard Melleward’s daughter, Alice Aslak, was holding 2 acres [B41] until November 1389, when she and her husband surrendered them to Peter and Alice Popsent (see chapter 9 page 171).84 They became part of the other 2½- acre holding ‘late Peter Popsent’ that Aylmer surrendered to Holt in 1512 (see chapter 11 page 248). Another acre from Schuttes might be that described in April 1486 as ‘one acre of land late Berengers lying between land of William Tennett on the south and land late Margery Pyegottes on the north’ [B42], extended in May 1487 to ‘… and land late Alice Saltby afterward Margerie Pygottys on the north’.85 It was another of the many properties that Katerina Drayton had received from her mother, and surrendered to Thomas Barker, eventually passing to the Lord family.86 The various branches of the Berenger family held many properties (see table 10.7 on page 206), but it is likely that this was the ‘cottage and 1 acre of land … formerly John Webbe’, held jointly by John and Agnes Berenger, and after John’s death in 1394 by Agnes. It was inherited in 1402 by their son, Alan Berenger, who surrendered in May 1405 to Robert and John Overslee for their lives.87 Robert Overslee was vicar of Morden until at least 1411 but had gone by 1416.88 We will see below that William Tennett held a cottage in Central Road [I7] as well as other properties [R] [Y] [N5] [N2] [B41]. There are no other references to Alice Saltby, but ‘Margerie Pygottys’ is presumably Margery
atte Hegge née Pygott, who was guardian to her niece Alianore Pycot from 1447, when she inherited from her mother 4 acres that we have tentatively identified as Richard Melleward’s family holding [B2] (see above, pages 202–3).89
It is unlikely that Belles tenement was the origin of the acre held in 1312 by William Paternoster [I6], having sold ‘a small plot’ to Webbe in 1306/07.90 It seems to be the acre later described as lying south of ‘Pykardys’ or Pycots, and adjoining a cottage plot called Bonehams [B21], which probably indicates that it had been roadside waste. William is not mentioned after 1312, but Leticia Paternoster was brewing in April 1328.91 In 1390 another Leticia, wife of William Granger, held a cottage and 1 acre ‘formerly William Taverner’ – in 1312 William le Taverner had held only a curtilage [I5] at 1d a year, but in 1329/30 he paid a further ½d increment for an unspecified property.92 Could this have been the Paternoster acre? The Grangers surrendered the property in June 1390 to be regranted to themselves for life, with remainder to William and Agnes Mulseye, though at the following court the Grangers surrendered another toft ‘formerly William Corpell’ to Peter Webbe.93 William Granger is last mentioned in the manorial records in 1392, when he was elected as aletaster, and it is possible that he died soon afterwards and that Leticia remarried.94 Leticia and Ralph atte Rithe, who had taken over the lease of the atte Rithe half-virgate [T] in May 1396, surrendered a toft and an acre to Thomas and Johanne Drayton in October 1416, the Mulseyes also surrendering to the Draytons the adjoining ‘toft of building land [terr’ edificat’]’.95 It is tempting to see all these transactions as referring to the same acre of land passing through the female line. In May 1473 Thomas Drayton, 14-year-old son of Thomas Drayton alias Hobbys was admitted to his father’s cottage and ½-acre ‘called Graungerrys’, his mother as joint tenant also surrendering to young Thomas the following year ‘one toft and ½-acre land lying between Pykar[dys] tenement on the south and the tenement late Boneehams’.96 Had Johanne retained half the acre when young Thomas inherited his half? In October 1482 Thomas surrendered ‘one toft and a half-acre of land with pertinents lying between the tenement called Pykardys on the south and the tenement late Bomannes and formerly John [Joh’is] Drayton’ to John and Marjorie Parker, but it was to a toft and 1 acre that the Parkers’ son and grandson were admitted in future years.97
We have seen that Miller’s/Melleward’s holding [B2] had been reduced from 6 acres in 1312 to 5 acres in 1383, and it may have been further reduced to 4 acres between 1392 and 1447 if this is the property inherited by Alianore Pycot. The missing 2 acres might have been the 2 arable acres inherited by William Berenger from his father in November 1419 [B22] together with a cottage [I1], as they had been assessed for ploughing services ‘for the tenement formerly Bellys’ in 1402:98
At this court comes William Berynger and seeks his admittance to one cottage and various lands with pertinents, after the death of Robert Berynger his father, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot nothing because he had no animals etc. And later the lord in this and the same court granted the aforesaid cottage and lands with pertinents to the aforementioned William and Margery his wife, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
Although no details were then given of the land involved, a later record explains that there were 3 acres, of which, according to even later records, one was meadow [B222], and two arable. Thus in May 1435 William’s widow, Margery, surrendered to William’s sister and husband:99
At this court comes Margery Berynger in open court and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, 1 cottage and 3 acres land with pertinents to the use of Robert Newebury and Alice his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid cottage and 3 acres with pertinents to the aforementioned Robert and Alice, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
Likewise they present that Margery Tracy, late wife of William Berneger, who of the lord held for the term of her life one cottage with curtilage called Tracyes and 1 acre of land formerly of the tenement called Swaynes, of which 1 head abuts upon Swayneshaw on the east and the other head abuts upon Bolleslonde on the west, died in February last, the reversion thereof belonging to the direct heirs of the said William. And that the said William died without heirs of the body etc. And that Alice now wife of Robert Newbery, as sister of the said the said [sic]William, and John Lyghtfote kinsman of the said William, namely son of Agnes, the other sister of the aforesaid Alice, in open court and of full age seek their admittance to the said cottage, curtilage and land. And they are admitted, to have and to hold the said cottage, curtilage and land with its pertinents to the aforementioned Alice and John Lyghtfoote, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
William had received this land [N3] from his parents in October 1387:101
At this court come Robert Bernger and Matilda his wife and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one acre of land formerly of the tenement of Edmund Swayn. And later the lord in open court grants the said acre of land to William Bernger, son of the aforesaid Robert, to hold to him and his in bondage by roll of court by services and customs, saving [the lord’s] rights. And he gives the lord for both fine and heriot as appears. And he does fealty etc.
and the cottage in 1395:102
At this court come Robert Berenger and Matilda his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one cottage with pertinents formerly Tracyes, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot as appears. And later the lord grants the said cottage with pertinents to William Berynger and Margery his wife to have and to hold the said cottage with pertinents to the aforementioned William and Margery, the heirs and assigns of the same William, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do the lord fealty etc.
This was presumably the cottage [I2] for which Henry Tracy owed 1½d increment in 1312, which perhaps included the ½-acre obtained in 1297 from Robert Codebrid for which Henry had paid ½d increment.103 It is possible that William and Margery only received part of the cottage as Robert and Matilda had surrendered ‘the moiety [medietatem] of one messuage and one curtilage formerly Adam Tracy in Stoyle’ to Henry and Matilda Milleward in 1391,104 though this might have been a temporary surrender by way of a mortgage (see page 25).
It is not until October 1450, when Alice Newbury surrendered all the properties, that we finally discover the nature of the lands involved:105
At this court comes Alice Newbery widow and in open court surrenders into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, one cottage with curtilage and 3 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow lying in Mycheham Mede formerly Robert Berneger and 1 toft with curtilage formerly Belles, later Henry Tracy, to the use of Thomas Leycestre and Cristina his wife, to have and to hold the said cottage, curtilage, land and meadow, and the said toft and curtilage with its pertinents, to the aforementioned Thomas and Cristina, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
In 1384 Adam Tracy had held ‘one piece of fenced meadow built upon lying in Resshemed so enclosed by hedges’,106 which might be the ‘acre of meadow in lying in Mycheham Mede’ [B222].
In May 1484 Leycester surrendered to his daughter (see chapter 9 page 171),107 whose widowed husband surrendered in May 1492:108
At this court it is witnessed by John Godfrey, William Goldewyer and John Goldewyer, tenants of the manor at the same place, that John Bernes – who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will, together with Elena late his wife, now deceased, their heirs and assigns, by the surrender of Thomas Leycettour, one cottage with curtilage adjoining, three acres of land and 1 acre of meadow lying in Mitcham Mede, formerly Robert Beneger, and 1 toft with curtilage adjoining, formerly Bellys, later Henry Tracy, as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 1 Richard III [] – out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, the aforesaid cottage, curtilage, toft, land and meadow as aforesaid is lying and named, to the use of Thomas Barker and Robert Vyncent, their heirs and assigns, to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod and they are admitted tenants etc.
As we have seen, Barker’s nephew surrendered these and other properties in 1512 to Peter Goodfeld, who surrendered the following to John Holt in January 1519, when even more detail was given regarding the lie of the lands:109
At this court it is witnessed by the steward that Peter Goodfeld – who of the lord holds by custom one cottage with curtilage and garden adjoining formerly Thomas Barker and later John Barker, and one acre of land lying on the west of the church of Morden called Bexwells between land of John Holt on both sides, and also one rood of land lying in a certain croft called Wales containing 5 acres of land, and also one cottage with garden adjoining called Swaynes, three acres of arable land, of which one acre lies in the aforesaid croft called Wales and two acres of which lie in a certain field near [prope] a tenement late Donton, and one acre of meadow in Mitcham Mede [Micheham mede] next to land of the lord of Ravesbury – surrenders all the premises to the use of John Holt and his heirs, by which surrender nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because the same Peter still remains a tenant of the lord. Which John Holt being present in court seeks his admittance to the premises, to whom the lord by his steward delivers seisin thereof by the rod, to have to the same John Holt, his heirs and assigns, at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor, rendering to the lord annually at the customary feasts the annual rent newly apportioned both by the agreement of the lord and the said Peter and John Holt [and] to do in respect thereof other service according to the custom of the manor. And for such title he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading and he does the lord fealty.
The other cottage linked with this holding passed with the rest of Goodfeld’s properties to George and Alice Lord. It had been described since 1508 as ‘one toft with curtilage adjoining formerly Bellys’.110 However, in 1450 it was described as ‘1 toft with curtilage formerly Belles, later Henry Tracy’, a conflation of two separate identities.111 One cottage had been Belle’s, the other Tracy’s and, from their apparent locations, it seems more likely that Belle’s [I1], in Central Road, had passed to Holt, and Tracy’s [I2], in Morden Hall Road, to the Lords.
Small plots of customary land: Sweynes tenement
Confusion also followed another component of the above estate, the acre described in October 1387 as ‘one acre of land formerly of the tenement of Edmund Swayn’ [N3].112 By January 1519 it had become ‘one cottage with garden adjoining called Swaynes’.113 By 1570 it was ‘one tenement commonly called Swaines and one close adjoining containing by estimation 1 acre’.114 This transfer of a name from a single acre to an unrelated cottage is just one of the problems we face when trying to follow the descent of William Sweyn’s tenement first mentioned in 1225.
As we saw in chapter 1, ‘the house of William son of Sweyn’ was one of the landmarks in 1225 at the southern end of the rerouted road now known as Morden Hall Road (see pages 3, 5). It was
suggested in chapter 4 that this had been a former slave-holding (see page 95). The custumal c.1225 tells us that ‘William Swein’ paid 12d for 3 acres, and that was the sum paid by Geoffrey le Sweyne in 1312 for ‘the tenement formerly belonging to Robert le Sweyne’ [Y].115 In October 1298 Robert had inherited a messuage and 4 acres from his father, also Robert (see chapter 2 page 23).116 As the rent remained unchanged between 1225 and 1312 it would appear that the extra acre had been sold, though it is a possibility that it was an acre of meadow omitted from the 1225 record, in the same way that meadow appurtenant to the virgate holdings was ignored in 1225 and in 1312.
In 1312 Geoffrey also paid 2½d rent increment a year for a messuage [I9], no doubt the one John Sweyn had received in 1298 from Peter and Agnes Priour, probably on a plot of former roadside waste (see above).117 A marginal entry in the extent explains that this later passed to William Webbe, and was presumably the cottage and adjoining curtilage ‘of the tenement formerly Swayn’ held jointly by William and Agnes Brokere at William’s death in 1385, which Agnes surrendered to Simon Popsent in April 1404,118 and which ultimately passed to George and Alice Lord (see extract in chapter 11 page 239).
Edmund Sweyn appears in the records in 1327 and 1328, and presumably held the family holding [Y].119 In May 1378 the court was informed that John Sweyn had died, and that his heir was his son John:120
The order is given for an inquiry about the goods and chattels of John Swayn senior deceased and the order is given to have at the next [court] the body of John Swayne junior.
At the previous court John junior was described as a chaplain [capell’]:121
Again the order is given to have John Swayn junior, chaplain, the lord’s serf that he should be at the next [court] under penalty ¼d.
Other members of the Sweyne family, Roger and Richard, were living in Wimbledon from 1381 to 1384, and it is likely that the family’s links with Morden were severed at this time.122
We have seen that Robert and Matilda Berenger held ‘one acre of land formerly of the tenement of Edmund Swayn’ [N3] until October 1387, and that it ultimately passed with their other properties to John Holt in 1519.123 Was this part of the family holding [Y] or a later acquisition?
In the previous chapter we noted that in November 1392 ‘Henry Milleward surrenders into the lord’s hand one cottage with curtilage and 1 acre land with pertinents, formerly Edmund Sweynes’ [Y] which was then granted ‘to the same Henry and Juliane his wife’ (see page 158).124 Juliane and her second husband surrendered ‘1 cottage with curtilage and 1 acre of land with pertinents formerly Sweynes’ to the use of their son, John Castelman junior, in April 1437.125 However, John junior surrendered not 1 acre but 3 acres to William Popsent in May 1441 (see chapter 9 page 160).126 Popsent surrendered ‘one toft with curtilage and 3 acres of land called Swaynes’ in October 1455 to William and Blanche Davy alias Tennett.127 In April 1457 they were presented at court for failing to scour ‘1 ditch lying near to Swaynes in the highway [alta via] between Morden and Croydon containing 12 perches’.128 Did this highway lead from the manorial centre on the present Morden Hall site along Morden Hall Road, to Mitcham via Morden Road (on its pre-1753 route) and then across Mitcham Common?129 The Davys also held a cottage in Central Road [I7] and other properties (see chapter 11 page 233). They retained this property until April 1463:130
At this court come William Davy and Blanche his wife in open court examined alone and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one toft with curtilage and 3 acres land called Swaynes to the use of Simon Drayton and Margaret his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid toft, curtilage and 3 acres land with their pertinents to the aforementioned Simon and Margaret, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
The property then followed the same descent as other Drayton properties, via their daughter Katerine, Thomas Barker and his nephew John, to Peter Goodfeld. He did not surrender this property to John Holt in January 1519 with the other ‘Sweynes’ property mentioned above,131 but in May 1522 he, or possibly his heir John Goodfeld (the court roll and the copy disagree), surrendered ‘one cottage with garden and three acres of land adjoining’ and other properties to George and Alice Lord.132
However, John Holt was admitted to a property described as ‘one toft with curtilage and 3 acres land formerly Swaynes’ among the many properties surrendered to him by Sir Lawrence Aylmer in 1512 ‘which all and singular the premises with their pertinents were late in the tenure of the said Alice Langton widow’ (see chapter 11 page 248).133 The property is not otherwise identifiable, unless it refers to a remnant of the Pycot property forfeited by John Seven or Sewyn in April 1475 (see page 202).134 But we have suggested that this had been reunited with Alianore Pycot’s other holding to form the 8-acre ‘Pygattes’ [B23] surrendered to Alice and her first husband John Dounton in 1475, and surrendered by Aylmer to Holt at the same time as ‘Swaynes’!135
Just to add to the confusion, the Huberd virgate holding [S], held by Richard Swan from 1438, is often called ‘Swaynes’ instead of ‘Swans’, especially during the period it was held by John Holt!136
There is therefore some confusion over the descent of both Sweyn’s 3-acre holding and the lands that had once formed Thomas and Emma Belle’s virgate tenement. But one thing is clear. There was an active market in small parcels of land from the end of the 13th century until the early 16th century. Although some plots were retained by individual families for several generations, others changed hands time and time again. Some families sold off an odd acre here or there, while other families bought up land. Londoners such as John Parker and Thomas Barker bought both land and cottages. And all but 2 acres of the Belles’ fragmented holding in Central Road were reunited in the hands of John Holt, Clerkys Hawe [B62] remaining with the Parker family, and Emcotte Acre [B61] becoming part of the vicarage.
Small plots of customary land within a family virgate holding
Many studies of the peasant land market warn that the picture provided by custumals and extents might be misleading, as the virgates and half-virgates that they describe might have been severely truncated by the alienation of parcels of land.137 Evidence from the rents of assize recorded in the manorial accounts suggests that the 1312 extent presents an accurate picture of the holdings, as it identifies small plots of land held by rent increment by tenants who also held virgate and half-virgate holdings in Lower Morden. These are likely to have been part of the main holding, perhaps set apart for a family member, such as a widow or a son. Thus Agnes Edward paid 4d a year for 4 acres [E2] in 1312. Was she the same ‘Agnes relict of John Edward’ who held the family virgate [E], or was she John’s widowed mother? A later Agnes, widow of another John Edward, held 2 acres [E1] in October 1399, perhaps a detached croft (see below and chapter 4), alienated to her from the family holding by her son-in-law, which was to revert to the main holding after her death, and it is likely that the earlier 4 acres had also been reabsorbed into the family virgate:138
Whereas the order was given to seize into the lord’s hand as above 2 acres land which John Spyk held and alienated to Agnes late wife of John Edward etc. Now the lord grants the said land to the aforesaid Agnes for the term of her life to hold at the lord’s will by service etc on condition that after the death of the said Agnes the aforesaid 2 acres land shall remain to the aforementioned John Spyk’ and his assigns, of the lord by service etc, saving [the lord’s] right etc. And she gives the lord for fine to have this enrolled as appears. And the aforesaid Agnes does fealty etc.
A smaller plot was probably set aside for a son in May 1299:139
Henry Atterithe and Alice his wife come in open court and surrender into the lord’s hands half an acre of land to the use of William Atterithe and the same William comes and gives the lord 12d for having entry to the aforesaid land and gives for rent increment ½d at Michaelmas and does fealty to the lord.
William served as manorial reeve between 1305 and 1308, an office only ever held by a customary tenant, so he had presumably taken over the family half-virgate [T] by then. But he had apparently died by 1312 as Alice atte Rithe held this plot [T2] in 1312, and she was probably the tenant of the half-virgate, erroneously recorded as Alice Attecherche. The marginal notes to the extent state that Ralph atte Rithe later held this plot [T2], so it seems to have remained within the family and was probably reintegrated into the family holding.
Another ½-acre plot, together with a ‘tenement and a cottage’ [A2], was held by Walter Attewode in 1312 at 1½d a year. He was joint tenant with Robert Fabian, the estate manager or serviens, of a moiety of a tenement [F], the house-plot being held by the tenant of the other moiety [G]. He is probably the Walter de Bosch who paid ½d for rent increment in 1292/93.140 It was suggested in chapter 1 that his cottage-plot had been carved out of the virgate belonging to Adam Est or Ingulf [A], which he leased to Attewode for 4 years from 1297 (see page 14).141 Adams tenement came into the lord’s hand in 1349, and was leased with Attewode’s ½-acre by 1399/1400, according to the account roll: ‘From Simon Lightfoot and Thomas Gaston for farm of 20 acres land formerly Simon son of Thomas and afterwards Adam Est and 1 tenement and ½ acre land formerly Walter Attewode leased to them per year 4 terms 12s’.142
Simon Lightfoot also obtained the other Lower Morden smallholding mentioned in 1312, the 1½ acres held by John le Hayter [F2] which he had from Peter Schutte in 1303/04, and which Schutte had obtained from John Snoter in 1297 (see chapter 2 page 29).143 John le Hayter died in 1342, his properties being inherited by Alan Hayter.144 When Alan died in 1378 his daughter Alice, married to John Welot, inherited this and other holdings.145 Alice surrendered to Simon and Johanne Lightfoot in 1421:146
At this court it is witnessed by Roger atte Hegg’, beadle at the same place, that Alice Welot out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand for herself and her heirs forever, 1 acre and 3 roods lying severally to the use of Simon Lyghtfoot and Johanne his wife, to have and to hold the said land to the aforementioned Simon, and Johanne their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
Simon and Johanne’s younger son, John, inherited the Hayter lands, surrendering them in April 1458:147
At this court comes John Lyghtfote in open court and surrenders into the lord’s hands, for himself and his heirs forever, 1 acre and 3 roods of land lying divided [divisi] in the Southefeld of Morden to the use of John Elmys pewt[e]rer to have and to hold the aforesaid acre and 3 roods of land with their pertinents to the aforementioned John Elmys, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
Johanne Lightfoot inherited an adjoining ½ acre ‘parcel of Gildencrofte’ from her father, Richard Perham, which seems to have been the plot held by Henry Guldene in 1312 [A3], which she divided between her two sons in October 1439, William, the elder, also receiving a messuage [F3].148 John’s ¼-acre [A31] seems to have been added to the Hayter lands, which thereafter are described as 2 acres.149
William was granted the former Adams virgate tenement [A] in May 1444.150 There is no record of him surrendering this, but he surrendered his share in Gildencrofte [A32], together with his father’s toft formerly held by Attewode [A2], in October 1455:151
At this court come William Lyghtfote and Johanna his wife, examined alone in full court, and surrender into the lord’s hands, for themselves and their heirs forever, one messuage with curtilage formerly Alexander atte Brygende, one toft with close of land adjoining formerly John Adams later John Baylly, and a fourth part of one acre of land parcel of Gyldencroft’ on the east, to the use of Nicholas Drayton and Lucy his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid messuage, curtilage, toft, close, land and quarter-acre of land aforesaid with their pertinents to the aforementioned Nicholas and Lucy his wife, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
The Draytons surrendered them to Elmys in April 1457, bringing the holdings together again, though the ‘toft’ is now described as a ‘croft’:152
At this court come Nicholas Drayton and Lucy his wife, examined alone in full court, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one messuage with curtilage formerly Alexander atte Bryggende, one croft with a close of land formerly John Adam, later John Baylly, and a quarter of an acre of land parcel of Gyldonacre on the east, to the use of John Elmys pewterer, to have and to hold the aforesaid messuage, curtilage and land with their pertinents, to the aforementioned John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
By October 1471, when they were granted to Thomas Sharpe, they also included Adams tenement [A] (see above, page 192).153 As we have seen they continued to be listed as part of Adams into the 16th century, but in fact seem to have been separated from it in October 1487 and added to the adjoining Gilden/Goldewyre property [G2] (see above, page 193).154
The property market was certainly active in regard to these small properties.
Detached crofts
We have observed that several of the Lower Morden virgate and half-virgate tenements included detached crofts along the London–Epsom road (see chapter 4 page 91). Bexwells acre next to the parish church [X1] seems to have been separated from its parent holding in 1466, and had passed through many hands before it came to John Holt in January 1519 with other lands surrendered by Peter Goodfeld (see chapter 11 page 238).155 The adjoining 2-acre croft [W1] was a freehold property, probably originating in Wynteworthes tenement [W] in Lower Morden (see below, page 217). Beyond that was the 8-acre Gyrmans croft [C1] retained by John Holt when he surrendered the parent tenements – Rydons half-virgate [R], and Adams [A], Cokeseys [C] and Swans [S] virgates.156 Holt also retained ‘another close called Netherlotkyns containing 2 acres by estimation’ [L1], possibly to the west of Gyrmans. This was probably the property that had been surrendered to Alan Berenger by Thomas Carpenter in May 1402 (see chapter 2 page 33), though it was then described as ‘one toft and 1 acre land with pertinents, parcel of the tenement formerly Lottekynes’, as it was when Berenger surrendered in May 1405:157
At this court come Alan Berngeer and Agnes his wife and surrender into the lord’s hand for themselves and their heirs forever one toft and one acre of land with pertinents, parcel of the tenement formerly Lotekyns, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot 3s. And later the lord grants the said toft and land with pertinents to Peter Clement of Gascony [de Vascon] to have and to hold the said toft and land with pertinents to the same Peter, to himself and his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court in bondage by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine to have this enrolled as appears. And he does fealty.
However, it was described as ‘one toft and 2 acres of land’ in May 1447, probably meaning an acre-toft and an adjoining acre-croft:158
At this court it is witnessed by Richard Swanne, collector of rents at the same place, that Peter Clement of Gascony [de Vascon’] out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand one toft and 2 acres of land parcel of Lotekyns tenement formerly Alan Berneger, whence there falls due to the lord in the name of heriot 18d as appears, to the use of Thomas Spyke and Emmote his wife, to have and to hold the said toft and land with its pertinents to the aforementioned Thomas and Emmote, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
There is no record of it passing to Holt.
Agnes Edward’s 2 acres [E1] (see above, page 211) might have been a detached croft for Edwards tenement [E].159
It seems less likely that another 2 acres, described as being ‘upon le helde’ or hill [N8], represent a detached croft as it was located on the parish boundary with Merton, the later ‘Merton Close’, labelled ‘Nomansland’ on the tithe map of 1838 (plot 131) (see chapter 13 page 301). It is first named in April 1486 when Katerina Drayton and Richard Hakket received it and Bonehams cottage from Katerina’s mother. They surrendered it in May 1487:160
At this court come Katerina, daughter of Margaret Drayton, and Richard Hakket, who of the lord hold jointly by roll of court, to themselves and their heirs and assigns, one cottage with garden adjoining, formerly Bonehans, late William atte Wood and 2 acres of land together [insimul] lying upon le Holt [sic], as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 1 Henry VII [], and in open court surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, the cottage, garden and 2 acres of land aforesaid to the use of John Shreve of London goldsmith and Matilda his wife. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage, garden and 2 acres of land to the aforementioned John and Matilda, to have and to hold to themselves, John’s heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted tenants and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod.
Bonehams [B21] was the cottage formerly part of Richard Melleward’s holding and had come into the possession of William Mulseye (see chapter 9 page 156). Mulseye had also inherited from his father in 1409 ‘one messuage and two acres land with pertinents formerly Peter Mulseye’, and it is likely that these were the 2 acres that passed with Bonehams.161 No further information is given as to their origin.
The Shreves surrendered both properties in April 1491 to another Londoner:162
At this court comes John Shreve of London, goldsmith – who of the lord holds, by roll of court with Matilda late his wife now deceased, one cottage with garden adjoining formerly Bonehams late William atte Wood and two acres of land together lying above the hill [le hill’], by surrender of Margaret [sic] Drayton and Richard Hakkett, as is fully apparent by copy produced in court Tuesday 8 May 2 Henry VII – in open court in person, and surrenders into the lord’s hand for himself and his heirs forever, the cottage, garden and land aforesaid, to the use of Richard Tillesworth of London, vintner [vyntoner]. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage, garden and land to the aforementioned Richard, to hold to himself, his heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And he does fealty etc.
Tillesworth forfeited the properties for neglect in October 1502, and it had been seized again before October 1507, by which times Bonehams had become a ‘vacant piece of land recently built on’:163
At this court the lord grants out of his hand to Richard Camryngham esquire of the royal household [de hospito’] and Elizabeth his wife 1 vacant piece of land recently built on and 2 acres of land lying in Le Held’ late in the tenure of William Milly that came into the lord’s hand as forfeit because the said William Milly fled on account of various transgressions and felonies perpetrated by him and for making waste in respect thereof and rent arrears in respect thereof being not paid. To whom the lord grants seisin thereof, to have and to hold the aforesaid vacant parcel of land and the said 2 acres of land to the aforementioned Richard and Elizabeth, of the lord etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the court roll and they do fealty etc.
Camryngham’s widow and her second husband, Thomas Wylson, continued to hold the two properties until Elizabeth’s death in 1525, but her heirs did not claim them.164 John Holt held them at his death in 1536, when it was stated that he had been admitted on 18 April 1530, but that court roll is not extant.165 (The Wylsons had also occupied the neighbouring Parker copyholds for a while without licence (see chapter 9 page 165)).
Exchanges
Before leaving the subject of the market in customary land, mention should be made of exchanges of land. Several copies of court roll entries survive, all claiming to be from the court held Tuesday 6 February 37 Henry VIII, but 6 February 1546 was a Saturday. The only years in Henry VIII’s reign that 6 February fell on Tuesday were 1537 and 1543. It seems likely that 37 Henry VIII has been written for 1537. Thomas Heryngman obtained from his neighbours the following parcels of land, presumably in an attempt to rationalise holdings of scattered strips in the ancient open field:166
At this court come Thomas Toller and Anna his wife and, she examined alone in the absence of her husband in the presence of the steward, surrender into the lord’s hand seven six acres of land lying in Sowthewelles and four acres of land lying in a certain close called Olde Morden, one acre of land lying in Comestrode and one acre of land lying in Sitenars [later called Sutton Ash] to the use of Thomas Heryngman, his heirs and assigns, to whom the lord by the steward grants seisin thereof to hold to himself, his heirs and assigns, by the rod at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor saving [the lord’s] right customary. And he gives the lord for fine to have his entry thereof as appears in the roll of court. And he does the lord fealty. And he is admitted tenant thereof.
At this court comes John Welche and surrenders into the lord’s hand two acres of customary land with its pertinents, more or less, lying in Olde Mordon, to the use of Thomas Heryngman, his heirs and assigns, to whom the lord by the steward grants seisin thereof to hold to himself, his heirs and assigns, by the rod at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor saving [the lord’s] right customary. And he gives the lord for fine to have his entry thereof as appears in the roll of court. And he does the lord fealty. And he is admitted tenant thereof.
Heryngman likewise surrendered lands to Welche:167
At this court comes Thomas Heringman and surrenders into the lord’s hand two acres of customary land, of which one acre of land lies in one close called Syttenars [Sutton Ash] and a half-acre of the said two acres of land lies in Spottes and a half-acre lies in Long Furrelong lying in Bettes, to the use and behoof of John Welche, his heirs and assigns, to whom the lord by his steward grants seisin of it to hold to himself and his heirs and assigns by the rod at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor. And he gives the lord for fine to have entry thereto as appears in the court roll. And he does the lord fealty. And he is admitted thereto [and] is tenant thereof. and also to Toller, though there seems some confusion as to the total acreage, unless the ½-acre in New Close is not intended to be part of the 10 acres:168
At this court comes Thomas Heringman and surrenders into the lord’s hand ten acres customary land lying in West Morden, of which eight and a half acres land of the said ten acres lie in one close lying on the east of Thomas Toller’s house and an acre and a half lie in two parcels in Comestrode, and a half-acre of land lies in Strottsfurlong also called New Close, to the use of Thomas Toller, his heirs and assigns, to whom the lord by his steward grants it. Know that he holds to himself, his heirs and assigns, by the rod according to the custom of the manor. And he gives the lord for fine to have his entry in respect thereof as appears in the roll of the lord’s court and he does the lord fealty and is admitted tenant thereof.
There had also been some exchanges between neighbours in Central Road in April 1465, when ‘Simon Drayton … surrenders … a half-acre of land late Alianor Wyllyam [sic] daughter and heir of John Pygot to the use of Thomas Leycettyr and Cristina his wife in exchange’ [B34], and ‘Thomas Leycettyr and Cristina his wife … surrender … a half-acre of land lying at Popsentysyate between land of John Dounton on the east and land of Simon Drayton on the west, to the use of the aforesaid Simon Drayton in exchange’. At the following court it was reported that ‘Simon Drayton out of court surrendered … a half-acre and 1 rood of land late Thomas Leycettyr in exchange with the aforementioned Simon, and abutting on one part upon the gate late Thomas Popsynt on the south and east, and upon the other part upon land of John Downeton on the north and west part, to the use of the aforementioned John Downeton [B33]’.169 Other transfers of small plots to neighbours, such as that by Juliane Milward to the Pycots (see chapter 9 page 159), probably relate to similar adjustments of boundaries to extend gardens or allow for extensions.
Cottage-plots
We have seen that a number of cottage-plots were created in the late 13th century, paying a rent- increment to the manor. Some were created within family virgates as homes for dependents, but many were taken from roadside waste, especially in the Central Road area. Although it is not possible to identify every cottage mentioned in the records, many can be traced with some confidence from the end of the 13th century until the mid-16th century. The lower part of chart 10.3 on page 186 indicates transfers from one tenant-family to another for 15 cottage-plots that survived into the 16th century and for two whose later history is less certain.
Once again, some transfer dates have to be estimated because no record survives of the date of a known transaction, and the lack of extant records from the middle of the 14th century might mean that one or two transactions have been omitted. We have seen that the manorial accounts continued to show properties as being leased at farm to a long-dead tenant whereas the court rolls prove them to have been held by another tenant by ‘new rent’ or copyhold. It is likely that Huberd’s cottage [N1] and the other cottage-properties [I3] [I4] leased with it from 1400, did in fact change their tenure, even though the account rolls continued to record them as leased until the series ceases in 1503, 66 years after the death of the last-recorded tenant!170 Brounyng’s cottage and garden [E3] in West Morden was reported as being in hand from 1473 until 1494, which seems unlikely, and it had probably been reabsorbed into its parent holding, almost certainly Edwards [E].171 Other cottage-plots that quickly disappear from the records, and are not charted here, had probably either been reintegrated into parent holdings, absorbed by neighbours, or transferred by rent increment without extant record of its previous history.
Most of the cottage-plots charted here can be traced back to the 1312 extent, its marginal annotations identifying later tenants. Two others, [N1] and [N7], can be traced to John Huberd’s acquisitions in the 1320s (see above, page 198), though it is not clear whether these were newly created or transferred from an unknown tenant.172 Matilda Popsent’s cottage [N2] is first identifiable at her death in 1386, and its origins are unknown, and John Trought’s cottage and adjoining garden [N4], first noted at his death in 1388, have also so far proved impossible to identify in earlier records.173 Another cottage-plot, not included on the above chart, had become the site of the vicarage by 1416, but again its origins cannot be traced.174 Growtes [N0] seems to have been formed from a ½-acre plot of demesne land belonging to the rectory estate, originally leased but then granted ‘in bondage’ as copyhold by ‘new rent’, though it might also have included an existing cottage.175
Apart from Huberds [N1], which, as we have seen, seems to have been used to fund John Huberd’s property dealings, most of these cottages had remained within a family for several decades, but the 15th century saw an increase in the frequency of transfers outside the family (see chart 9.8 on page 184). As we have seen with the virgate and half-virgate holdings and with the small plots of land, most of the cottage-plots were eventually acquired by a few ‘outsiders’, many of whom built up considerable holdings. It is likely that, by the mid-16th century, none of these cottages were occupied by their ‘owners’, and several of the plots were no longer used for dwellings (see chapter 11).
Freeholds
We have seen that in 1312 only three of the Morden properties listed in the manorial extent under the heading ‘Free Tenants’ referred to true freeholds, bought and sold by charter (see chapter 2 page 21). These comprised the tenement held by the former rector, Gerard de Staundon, previously belonging to Nicholas Gurdeler, at a rent of 7s [W]; that held by William Antorneys on behalf of his wife, which formerly belonged to Walter Clerk, at a rent of 2s [U]; and the smallholding for which John le Heyter paid 6d [P] which, like his other smallholding held by rent increment [F2], had once belonged to John Snoter.
Wynteworthes [W]
Staundon, who was also rector of Stevenage in Hertfordshire, was dead by February 1314/15, when his will as regards his London properties was enrolled in the Court of Husting.176 In 1317 his heir, Peter de Staundone, quitclaimed to Cristine sister of Robert de Cheyham ‘all lands and tenements with appurtenances that Gerard had by gift and grant of Nicholas de Reygate, girdeler [cinctuarius] of London, and Margerie daughter of Nicholas in the vill of Morden’.177 (The will of a Nicholas de Reygate, girdeler, was dated 25 March 1348/9, perhaps the son of this Nicholas.178) Peter de Staundon’s will, dated 25 April 1330 and enrolled 1 May 1330, refers to properties left to him by his uncle Gerard de Staundon, and leaves bequests to his wife Margaret, his sons Thomas and Henry and daughter Alice.179
The descent of Staundon’s former tenement is well documented from 1378, when the extant run of manorial court rolls recommences. By that time it was owned by William Wynteworth, and it retained his name, or the shortened form of Wynters, into the 18th century. In June 1390 William and his wife seem to have been making preparations for approaching old age:180
Likewise they present that John atte Cherch purchased within the lord’s fee one messuage and 50 acres land with pertinents of William Wenteworth. And that the same William and Alesia his wife purchased the said messuage and land with pertinents for the whole of their lives, who being present in court give the lord for fine for entry as appears in the heading. And they do the lord fealty.
William Wynteworth was still active in March 1393 when he was a member of an inquest jury at Morden summoned to make a valuation or extent of the Surrey properties of ‘John Chyrche, citizen and brewer [pandoxiter] of London’, who had failed to repay a debt of £20 to a John Bayly de Sulbury [Soulbury, Bucks] due for payment at Christmas 1391. The jurors reported:181
that the aforesaid John Chyrche has in the vill of Cheam [Chayham] 16½ acres land which he holds of the archbishop of Canterbury as of his manor of Croydon at the will of the lord according to the custom of the manor and worth yearly according to the true value at 2s 9d, at 2d per acre. They also say that he has in the aforesaid county 15 sheep which are worth 15 shillings, at 12d a head. Also he has in the same county 14 wool-fells which are worth 14d at 1d each. Also he has in the same county 10 lamb-skins which are worth 5d. Also they say that there are not more lands or chattels in the aforesaid county which could be valued, appraised or taken into the hand of the lord king. In testimony of which the aforementioned jurors append their seals to the presents. Dated the day and place aforesaid. By virtue of which inquisition and writ the aforesaid were seized into the hand of the lord king.
The extent was endorsed with a memorandum ‘that 12 June the year within-written [1393] the goods and chattels within-written were delivered to the within-written John Bayly to have according to the form of the statute’.
In December of the following year ‘John Chirche citizen and brewer [braciator] of London’ contracted another debt, for £11, with three fellow citizens, due for repayment at Michaelmas 1395, though the writ ordering the extent was not issued from Chancery until October 1404, by which time Chirche was dead. The local jury, which did not include William Wynteworthe, reported in January 1405:182
that John Chyrche named in the aforesaid writ held on 17 December 18 Richard II [1394] and afterwards one tenement and 50 acres land and three acres meadow in various parcels with pertinents in the vill of West Morden [Westmoredon] in the said county which are worth yearly over expenses 4 marks [£2 13s 4d]. And they say that the same John Chirche did not have any other land or chattels within the aforesaid county on the day he made the acknowledgement nor afterwards which could be valued, appraised or seized. And they say that the same John Chirche is dead. In testimony of which the aforesaid jurors append their seals to this inquisition. Dated the day and place aforesaid.
The extent was endorsed with a memorandum ‘that 22 February 6 Hen IV within-written [1405] the tenement, land and meadow within-written were delivered to the within-written John Hore, John Bedyngton and John Peryman to hold as their free tenement according to the form of the ordinance made in respect thereof’.
However, William and Alesia were both alive and active in May 1395, and William is twice mentioned in the court roll of the following November, though he had sent his apologies for absence, but at the Morden manorial court held in May 1396 it was reported:183
Likewise they present that John Heved purchased within the lord’s fee one tenement and 50 acres free land, by estimation, formerly William Wynteworthe. Therefore the order is given to distrain him to do the lord fine and fealty.
Presumably John Heved, or Hed as he is later called, was the same person as John [atte] Cherch. Although the sale of a freehold property did not have to be approved by the manorial court, the purchaser was still required to do fealty to the lord of the manor, and to pay an entry fine known as a ‘relief’ [relivium]. Heved finally attended court in May 1399, having been summoned at every previous court:184
Whereas the order was given to distrain John Heved to do the lord fealty for the tenement purchased within the lord’s fee as appears in the previous court; now the same John, being present in court, does the lord fine and fealty to have entry within the lord’s fee etc.
Heved had sold the property by May 1402:185
Likewise they present that John Colcok’ and [John] Pertonale purchased within the lord’s fee one messuage and 60 acres land and 2 acres meadow formerly William Wynteworth, free land by charter, of John Hed etc. And the order is given to distrain them to do the lord fine and fealty against the next [court] etc.
But the new owners had disposed of it by the following November:186
Likewise they present that Richard Godfrey and others purchased within the lord’s fee one messuage with pertinents called Wyntworthis of John Pertenale and John Colcok’, free land by charter. And the order is given to distrain him against the next [court] to do the lord fine and fealty against the next [court] etc.
Although the Chancery records state that the property was confiscated and delivered to Chirche’s creditors in 1405, the Morden manorial court rolls continued to record Godfrey at Wynteworthes until May 1413.187 Had the creditors been compensated by Chirche’s heirs, or were Godfrey and his colleagues responsible for repaying the debt, perhaps losing temporary possession until full satisfaction had been made out of the income from the property?
In 1415 a Thomas Best was distrained ‘to do the lord fine and fealty for Wynterworthys tenement’, but the court rolls make no further mention of the property until 1466.188 Fortunately an original charter of William Lovelace survives from September 1458, which fills some gaps (see chapter 9
page 172).189 Although this grant was to John Playstowe, Richard Best and John Bristow, it was the Playstowe family who inherited the property. As we saw in the previous chapter, the Playstowes made full use of ‘feoffment to uses’ to convey their properties to trustees, and it is possible that Lovelace and his colleagues had previously been acting as trustees, especially as Thomas Best had been distrained to do fealty for Wynteworthes in 1415. In addition to Wynteworthes this charter included an unnamed property probably to be identified as 14 acres at Gildenhill [W5] (see below) and also the 8-acre Parklond [U2], formerly part of Bunts tenement (see below). The Playstowe properties were divided between two brothers in 1540 (see chapter 9 page 175), one portion remaining in the family until July 1602 when William Playstowe ‘of Kingston’ sold all his Morden properties to William Fromund of Cheam, in return for an annuity of £25 for life.190 The rent for this part of Wynteworthes was 4s 10d, while the other portion owed 3s rent. Of this 7s would have been the ancient rent for Wynteworthes [W], 7½d for Parklond [U2], leaving 2½d for the land in the Gildenhill area [W5].
Wynteworthes was described in 1390, 1396 and 1397 as having 50 acres ‘by estimation’, in 1394/1404 as 50 acres arable and 3 acres meadow, but in 1402 as having 60 acres arable and 2 acres meadow.191 By 1540 William Playstowe’s share was said to be 1¾ acres meadow and 42¼ acres arable, (though really 43¾ acres – see chapter 9 page 176), including the 14 or so acres at ‘Gyllenelond’ [W5] which were not originally part of the Wynteworthe estate (see below).192 The portion retained by his brother John was later revealed to consist of a 2-acre messuage plot and a 3½-acre close called Winters, 3½ acres meadow and 38 acres arable, but this included the 8½ acres in Parklond [U2] again not part of the original property.193 So the arable land belonging to the West Morden tenement would have totalled 58¾ acres. If, as seems likely, the freehold tenement held in 1312 by John le Hayter was the precursor of Plomers [P] – which evidence suggests was on the site now occupied by Morden Park Baptist Church and previously by The Kennels (tithe plots 55–56) – it adjoined and was probably created out of the original Wynteworthes. It was described in 1493 as 3½ acres arable and 1 acre meadow, in 1495 as a toft and 4½ acres, in 1537 as a garden and 4 acres, in 1538 as a tenement and 5½ acres, and in 1546 and 1602 as a messuage and 4 acres.194 John Holt also held some 8½ acres of freehold land in West Morden, listed below, which had presumably also been purchased from Wynteworthes over the centuries, though some may well have been repurchased by later owners of Wynteworthes. All in all, the evidence suggests that the original tenement had been about 70 acres of arable plus the house and adjoining close, the detached croft near the church, and plots of meadow in the common mead. As the annual rent of assize for customary land in the 13th and 14th centuries was 1 shilling for 10 acres of arable, the 7 shillings due from this tenement in 1312 also indicates that it had originally been of about 70 acres of arable.
John Holt purchased several small pieces of freehold land, and those in Lower Morden would have originated in Wynteworthes. Thus, in February 1513 the court roll records [W4]:195
Likewise the jury present that William Hendon vicar of Morden, who of the lord holds freely two acres of land formerly Dunton lying in the Southfield [le Suthfeld] in West Morden abutting towards the south upon the king’s highway at the same place, in respect thereof enfeoffs John Holt in fee, which John being present in court does the lord fealty and fine – 4d.
In April 1512 Holt had been the beneficiary of a consortium, including Richard Playstowe, which purchased another 11¼ acres of free land, some of which might have been in West Morden:196
Holte
for free land
Likewise they say that Laurence Aylmer, citizen and clothier [pannar’] of London, Thomas Aylmer esquire and Edward Tyrrell, who of the lord held freely eight acres and one rood of land and 3 other acres of land in Morden by fealty and rent [blank] yearly in respect thereof, have enfeoffed John Holt, Oliver Knight, John Heryngman and Richard Playstowe in fee to the use of the aforesaid John Holt and his heirs as appears by charter produced in court dated [blank] September 2 Henry VIII [1510]. Which John Holt, being present in court, does the lord fealty for himself and his co-feoffees.
Other records reveal that the 8¼ acres were in Central Road (see below), but the 3 acres might have been among the lands that Holt sold to Thomas Toller and another consortium in June 1536:197
alienation
fealty
Also they present that the aforesaid John Holte, who of the lord holds by charter 6 acres of land lying in Combstrodecloose and a half-acre lying in Stertfurlong in the Southfield [le Southfeld] of West Morden by fealty and rent [blank] a year suit of court with relief in respect thereof, enfeoffed John Ownsted of Farley, Thomas Toller, Thomas Heringman and others to the use of the said Thomas Toller and his heirs forever. The which Thomas Toller and Thomas Heryngman, being present in court, do the lord fealty for themselves and the co-feoffees.
The sale of freehold land to a number of co-feoffees is a common practice of the period. We have seen in the previous chapter that the Playstowe family used this method as a kind of family trust, but there is no evidence for Holt or Toller using it in this way. Are the co-feoffees their financial backers, perhaps providing the cash for the purchase or guaranteeing payment by instalments?
The half-acre in Sterte or Strete furlong [W2], ‘next to land of John Bailly’, is first mentioned in 1408 as in hand because unclaimed after the death of William Gerard, a carpenter.198 It was probably the same as ‘Crouch halfacre abutting John Bailly’ sold by John Carpenter in 1411 to Nicholas Bysshop, who sold it the following year to Peter and Johanna Clement.199 Bailly held Cokcyes customary tenement [C] from 1394 and Adams [A] from 1406, both in West Morden.200
The 6 acres in Combestrodeclose may have been those sold by John Draper to Thomas Draper and John Berenger in 1418 [W3], which are otherwise not mentioned in the extant records.201 They may have included the toft and 4 acres Peter Clement bought in 1400 from Thomas and Anicia Pynnore, who had bought them from Thomas Carpenter in 1395.202 Combestrodeclose was near the present Cherry Wood.
At his death in 1536 Holt still held other free land, totalling some 17 acres, described as being in East Morden:203
death
heriot
And also the aforesaid John Holte held freely on the day that he died one close in East Morden late Dountons containing by estimation 10 acres by fealty, rent of 4s a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot [blank]. And that Richard Holte is his kinsman and next heir of the aforesaid John Holte, namely son of Nicholas Holte, elder brother of the aforesaid John Holte etc.
And also he held freely on the day that he died one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn, with five acres of meadow lying together in East Morden, formerly Thomas Brewse, by fealty, rent of 7d a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due. The which Richard Holte being present in court pledged his relief, namely 4s 7d.
Most of this land is traceable to plots purchased from Bunt, see below [U3] [U4] [U5], but in 1517 we are told that the 2-acre croft was ‘lying towards the church of Morden’,204 and so can be identified as the one behind the alehouse, now the George inn [W1], originally likely to have been the detached croft belonging to Wynteworthes free tenement in Lower Morden [W] (see chapter 4 page 92). It is first identifiable in July 1400:205
fine 6d
respited?
fealty
Likewise they present that John Spyk’ purchased within the lord’s fee 2 acres free land of Richard Pynget, who being present in court gives the lord to have entry as appears. And he does fealty etc.
Gildenhill [W5]
A second property conveyed with Wynteworthes by the 1458 charter is probably the 14 acres and piece of meadow sold by John Cok to John and Emma Spyke in 1395:206
Know present and future that I John Koc have given, granted, and by this my present charter have confirmed to John Spyke of Morden [Mordone] and Emma his wife eleven [sic] acres land with the moiety of one piece of meadow with hedges, fences and ditches, commons, easements and all its appurtenances in the fields of Morden, whereof nine acres land lie in a certain [codam=quoddam?] place which is called Gyllenelond and land of Robert Berneger
on the north and the king’s highway on the south. And 4 acres land lying in a certain place which is called le Buttes between land of the abbot and convent of Westminster on the south and land of the prior and convent of Merton on the north, and it extends upon the common which is called Suttoneheth, and the aforesaid piece of meadow lies in a certain place called Gyllenemed as apportioned by agreement [sicut sors de condonat] with the aforesaid abbot and convent of Westminster in the aforesaid piece of meadow, to have and to hold the aforesaid fourteen [sic] acres land and piece of pasture with hedges, fences and ditches, commons, easements, ways, lanes [??venel???], feedings and pastures and with all its appurtenances, to the aforesaid John Spyke and my[?mei] heirs and his assigns freely, quietly, well and in peace of the chief lords for the services in respect thereof due and by law customary forever. And indeed I John and my heirs will warrant the aforesaid 14 acres land and the aforesaid piece of meadow with all its appurtenances to the abovesaid John Spyke and his heirs and assigns of the aforesaid John against all people forever. In witness whereof to this present charter I have appended my seal. Dated at Morden the Friday after the Conception of blessed Mary 19 Richard II []. Witnesses: Robert Berenger, Ralph at Rithe, William Mulsey, William Priour and many others.
This 1395 charter survives among the archives of the Petre heirs of the Fromond family, who purchased half of the former Playstowe estate in 1602. Although there is some confusion over the acreage – was it 11, 13 (9+4), or 14 acres? – it seems to refer to the following lands listed when Wynteworthes was divided between two brothers in 1540 (see chapter 9 page 175 for the full schedule):207
… And four acres thereof lying together in a certain several close next to Suttonheth.
And six acres thereof lying together in a certain several close called Molthawes.
And three acres thereof lying together in another close called Molthawes.
And one acre of meadow thereof lying in a several close called Gyldonhyll Medow…
These, with half of Wynteworthes, passed to the Heringman family, who sold to Robert Garth in 1612, and they were listed in a lease by George Garth to John Mountjoy in 1618 as part of the farm that became the Hill House estate.208 It was suggested in chapter 5 that this land in the Gildonhill area probably originated within Kynnersley manor (see page 115).
Bunts [U]
Spyk had also been one of the purchasers of the other freehold in Morden, that held by William Bunt and broken up in the 1370s and 1380s (see chapter 6). In 1389 Spyk had purchased from Alan Berenger a messuage and 8-acre enclosed warren that Berenger, in association with the vicar, Roger Lakyngthe, had bought from Bunt in 1385, presumably the later Parklond [U2] held by successive owners of Wynteworthes.209 Bunt had probably also owned the acre [U3] that Spyk sold in November 1396 to Peter Clement, who sold it in 1399 to William Mulseye.210
Bunt’s tenement is likely to have been the free tenement held in 1312 by William Antorneys by right of his wife, and earlier by Walter Clerke, possibly the remnant of a former game preserve (see chapter 6). Few of the original purchasers of Bunt’s lands seem to have retained them for long, and there was a lively market in these small parcels of freehold land in the 1380s and 1390s. However, Mulseye started to accumulate many of them. As we have seen, before buying the acre [U3] from Clement in 1399, he already owned other Bunt lands – 2¼ acres [U4] purchased from John Berenger in 1383211 and 5 acres [U5] purchased from Simon Wylot in 1397 (see below).212 These 8¼ acres would have been those that Holt purchased from Aylmer in 1512, Mulseye having sold ‘8 acres’ to a John Fylth[?] in 1419, who had apparently sold them to Simon Popsent before the latter’s death in 1447.213 Aylmer had bought them in 1510, no doubt from Alice Langton, along with her copyholds, but the court rolls do not survive.214 John Langton held unspecified copyhold and freehold lands at his death in 1499.215
In 1409 Mulseye bought 3½ acres from Anicia Hayter, probably the freehold land of her late husband Alan, held in 1312 by John le Hayter – the forerunner of Plomershawe [P] in Lower Morden – though she also held former Bunt property, which we suggested in chapter 6 might have been the messuage associated with Parklond [U21] (see page 124).216
The other purchaser of Bunt lands mentioned in 1390 and 1391 was John Wylot, who had married Alan Hayter’s daughter and inherited Alan’s copyholds. The purchase from Bunt was presumably of the two acres of free land that John and his wife sold in 1404, one acre to each of two of their daughters. These had probably been originally part of Belles adjoining customary tenement [B51] [B52] (see page 123).217 Another daughter might have received a nearby house- plot on roadside waste attached to Bunt’s former holding [U21] (see page 124).
Our records do not explain the relationship between John and Simon Wylot. Simon purchased 3 acres [U6] of Bunt’s former land in 1386 from John Salyng, who had bought them from Bunt in 1383.218 There seems to have been no problem in Simon buying this land, but a subsequent purchase of 5 acres of free land [U5] led to this entry in the court roll for October 1387:219
the order is
given
Wylot
The order is given to seize into the lord’s hand five acres of land which Simon Wylot, the lord’s serf, as if pertaining to his manor of Parham, purchased within the lordship of this manor saving whatever rights against the next [court] etc.
Westminster Abbey held the manor of Parham in Sussex, and when the Morden demesne was first leased at farm in 1359 it was to a Thomas de Parham. It might have been this link with the Sussex manor that encouraged others from Parham to move to Morden. Simon’s 5 acres continued to be retained in the lord’s hands until November 1389:220
Whereas the order was given at the last [court] to retain in the lord’s hand 5 acres of free land which Simon Wylot, the lord’s serf, late purchased within the lord’s fee, as pertaining to the manor of Parham, and to answer for the issues etc until etc. Now at this court the serviens answers for the issues as appears. And again the order is given to retain in hand and to answer etc until etc. Now at this court the lord grants the said land to the aforementioned Simon, to hold to himself and his by service and customs etc. And for the future to give at Christmas for rent increment 2 capons annually until it is proved whether he is a serf or not etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does the lord fealty.
The question of villeinage was crucial, as it was commonly agreed that a villein could not hold free land, ‘for a villein who possessed himself of a freehold interest in land was well on the way to throwing off the condition of villeinage altogether; he must surrender his charter and accept the status of a tenant at will on the purchased land, or give up the land itself’.221
The enquiry into Simon’s status dragged on for several years, and in the meantime he paid his two capons. However, in June 1391 it would appear that he had given up hope, and was perhaps thinking of leaving Morden, as he disposed of both freehold and copyhold [N6] properties:222
At this court it is witnessed by the whole homage that Simon Wylot surrenders into the serviens’ hand five acres of free land which the same Simon lately purchased, and later it was granted to him at a rent increment of 2 capons a year etc as appears in the court held here 14 November in the present king’s 13th year. And later the lord grants the said five acres land with pertinents to Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife to hold to the same Alan and Agnes and Alan’s heirs by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And a similar rent increment of 2 capons as appears. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do the lord fealty.
At this court it is witnessed by the serviens that the aforesaid Simon Wylot and Anicia his wife surrender into the lord’s hand by the hand of the said serviens, for themselves and their heirs forever, one cottage with croft adjoining in Stoyle. And later the lord grants the said cottage and croft with pertinents to the aforementioned Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife, to hold to the same Alan and Agnes and to Alan’s heirs, in bondage by roll of court by service etc, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 horse. And they give the lord for fine for entry as appears. And they do fealty.
The case was finally settled in November 1396:223
The lord was given to understand that a certain Simon Wylot was a serf of the church of Westminster as pertaining to the manor of Perham, which manor pertains to the office of the infirmarer of Westminster, and he purchased freely by charter within the lordship of this manor five acres free land with pertinents. Upon which the order was given to the beadle that he seize the said 5 acres land for the reason abovesaid and answer for the issue thereof until etc, saving [the lord’s] right etc, as appears in the court held here the Tuesday on the morrow of the apostles Simon and Jude 11th year of the present reign. And upon this in various courts later held here the serviens answered for issues etc, as fully appears in the said courts held here etc, until at the court held here 14 November in 13th year of the present reign that the said Simon Wylot took from the lord the said 5 acres free land for a rent increment of 2 capons payable at Christmas until it is proved whether he is thus the lord’s serf or not. And further the infirmarer of Westminster be questioned in respect of the bondage of the said Simon and his ancestors etc.
And upon this the order was given to John Kanterbury monk of Westminster and now infirmarer of Westminster by the steward that enquiry be made by the oath of the whole homage of the manor of Perham in respect of the bondage of the said Simon, which same men, sworn for the full verdict presented that the aforesaid Simon is free and of free status and he and his ancestors were free and of free status time out of mind.
Which infirmarer wherefore, in respect of the matter aforesaid upon the villeinage of the aforesaid Simon, in the presence of brother John Burwell monk and bailiff of Westminster, brother William Sudbury monk of Westminster and other trustworthy [persons] at Westminster, witnesses the aforementioned. And therefore it is granted and agreed by the court and the lord that the aforesaid Simon Wylot and his heirs shall have and hold the aforesaid 5 acres land with pertinents to himself and his heirs freely by charter without any increment of rent thereof by the lord imposed as rent according to the meaning, freely to hold of the chief lords by services and customs thereof due and accustomed. And moreover that the aforesaid 5 acres land is completely discharged of the said rent increment of the aforesaid 2 capons. And the aforesaid Simon being present in court gives the lord for fine to have entry within the fee of the lord as appears. And the order is given to distrain him to do the lord fealty against the next [court] etc.
Although Simon was no doubt relieved that his free status had been confirmed, it would appear that the decision had come too late, as he had disposed of the land in question. However, the transaction with the Berengers might not have been as straightforward as it looks, as the Berengers had already returned the copyhold property [N6] to the Wylots in November 1394:224
respited?
amercement
3s 4d
fealty
heriot 1
hogget
At this court come Alan Berenger and Agnes his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand one cottage with croft adjoining whence there falls due to the lord for heriot 1 hog [hoggaster] worth [blank]. And later the lord grants the said cottage and croft with pertinents to Simon Wylot and Anicia his wife, to hold to the same Simon and Anicia, their heirs and assigns, in bondage at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc, to whom is granted seisin thereof, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for entry fine as shown and they do the lord fealty etc.
Had the transaction perhaps been a temporary transfer by way of a mortgage or other loan? ‘Receiving interest for a loan was prohibited as ‘usury’ until 1571, and instead the lender would take possession of the property and collect the rents, etc’.225 It seems that the freehold land [U5] had also been returned to Simon, as he had since sold it to William Mulseye, as revealed in the following entry from July 1397:226
respited?
[fine] 20d
fealty
Whereas the order was given at the last court to distrain Simon Wylot to do the lord fealty for 5 acres free land with pertinents as appears in the last court, now it is found [compertu’] that William Mulseye purchased within the lord’s fee the said land with pertinents of the aforementioned Simon, which William, being present in court, gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And he does the lord fealty.
The question remains: why was this purchase by Simon challenged, and not his earlier one of 3 acres? And why was John Wylot’s status not challenged when he obtained some of Bunt’s former lands? Simon’s controversial 5 acres [U5] became part of Mulseye’s 8¼-acre freehold that eventually passed to John Holt from the Aylmers in 1512, while his 3 acres [U6] and the 2 acres that John sold to his daughters [B5] formed the adjoining 5-acre meadow that retained a distortion of their surname as late as 1862 in ‘Wallis Mead’, part of the estate later known as Hazelwood, which comprised most of Bunt’s former lands except le Parklond [U2].227 These would have been the ‘5 acres of meadow lying together in East Morden’ that John Holt held at his death in 1536 at a rent of 7d, purchased from Thomas Brewse (see above).228
Leaseholds
We have seen that many of the tenements that came into the abbey’s hands following the plague of 1349 were subsequently leased rather than held by customary tenure, as tenants were unwilling to take on the burden of weekly labour services. Often it was only possible to find lessees for a part of the tenement, perhaps the house-plot or a few acres. Although the manorial accounts record properties leased at farm into the 16th century, it is clear from the court rolls that many, perhaps all, had in fact changed from leasehold to copyhold tenure (see chapter 2 pages 34–7). The extant manorial account rolls also reveal that the abbey found it impossible to maintain the level of rents.229 Thus the 13s 4d rent paid by Alan Berenger for the 1½-virgate Makernays [M] between 1399 and 1407 fell to 10 shillings from 1409 when leased to John Spyk, Richard Pulton continuing to pay 10 shillings a year from 1441. John Edward paid 12 shillings for Huberd’s former virgate [S] between 1399 and 1411, but Richard Swan was only paying 10 shillings in ‘new rent’ by 1441. The atte Rythes were paying a total of 14 shillings for the two virgate tenements of Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J] between 1399 and 1410, which fell to 12 shillings in 1411 when leased to Simon Lightfoot, and by 1441 the atte Hegges were only paying 10 shillings, though they continued to pay 5 shillings for the atte Rythe ½-virgate [T]. According to the 1448–50 rent roll they were paying 20 shillings for their combined holding of 3½-virgates. Bexwells ½-virgate [X] had raised 5 shillings a year between 1399 and 1411, but only 3s 4d ‘new rent’ by 1441. John Andrew had paid 5s 6d for Rykedons ½-virgate [R], but John Michel only 3 shillings by 1441. Even the Popsents’ 1s 8d rent for 3 cottages [N1] [I3] [14] and an acre of demesne land had fallen to 8d by 1441. Only John Bayly was still paying in 1441 the 12 shillings rent that he had been paying for Adams virgate [A] and associated properties since 1406, perhaps one of the reasons that he ‘fled out of the lordship’ the following year (see above, page 188).230
However, the subletting of customary and copyhold properties is likely to have continued unabated, although the evidence is scarce. Two of the earliest extant court rolls record licences to sublet properties for terms of 4 years and 8 years respectively.231 Very few licences to sublet are recorded in the court rolls, one for 10 years, one for 21 years and one for the life of the lessor’s wife.232 Sometimes, as we have seen, a property was taken in hand because it had been sublet without licence.233 However, these are probably just the tip of the iceberg, perhaps only relating to properties leased for a long period. There is a passing reference to two subtenants in an entry of November 1517:234
penalty
A day is given to Peter Goodfeld and John Bele his subtenant to make 12 perches of his garden hedge towards land of Richard Rownd subfarmer of John Holt before Christmas under penalty of 2s.
A John Bele was regularly listed among the chief pledges from April 1486 until May 1535, but mention of John Bele senior in April 1516 suggests that the later references are to a son.235 In April 1512 John Bele was designated ‘gent’.236 Rownd served as a juror in May 1517 and in April 1518.237 Until almost the end of the 15th century most of the inhabitants of Morden whose names appear in the court rolls as tithingmen, jurors or homage, including manorial officers, can be recognised as being tenants of the manor, but in the 16th century many who served in such roles are not known to have been tenants in their own right, and are likely to have been subtenants. This was a period when multiple holdings came into the hands of a few wealthy tenants, often non-resident (see next chapter), so subtenants were increasingly called upon to
undertake key roles in the manor and in the community, though few records survive to identify the properties that they held.
Demesne land
There are references to small plots of demesne land being leased as early as 1312,238 and this seems to have continued into the 16th century.239 As the demesne itself was leased at farm from 1359, the farmer was entitled to the rents from such subletting, though this was only recorded in the extant manorial accounts from 1445/46.240
There is only one reference, from May 1409, that might indicate that former demesne land had been granted as copyhold, and it was not part of the manorial demesne but ‘parcel of the rectory’ [N0]:241
respited?
farm
fine 4d
At this court the lord grants and lets at farm to Simon Lyghtfoot and Johann’ his wife one toft parcel of the Rectory at the same place to have and to hold the aforesaid toft to the same Simon and Johann’, their heirs and assigns, until the end and term of 20 years thereafter next following full and complete, rendering in respect thereof to the lord yearly 6d. And the said Simon and Johann’ to make no waste upon the aforesaid toft during the aforementioned term, but only to have loppings for enclosing the said toft etc. And they give the lord for fine to have the said land as appears in the heading etc.
In September 1437, or possibly May 1438, Simon’s son, William Lightfoot, was granted a half- acre to be held ‘of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual feasts 8d and other services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed’.242 Later references describe this half-acre as ‘of the rectory’, so it is possible that this was the toft of rectory demesne land formerly leased to his father.243
Buyers and sellers
Much of the commerce in land and cottage-plots was between neighbours – tenants adding to their holdings, or making provision for non-inheriting members of their family. Some was on a very small scale – a fraction of a holding to round off a garden. By the end of the 15th century London merchants and gentry were investing in properties in Morden, sometimes building substantial holdings of several virgates, but sometimes merely a collection of cottage-plots and odd acres. What was it that attracted them to Morden? The fact that Morden was only some 10 miles from London might have been influential, but few of these buyers seem to have resided in Morden.
Perhaps of more significance was the fact that several of the newcomers had links with Westminster Abbey, who held the lordship of the manor. Thus Alice Lord, who held several cottage-plots including Growtes [N0], rented a town-house in Thieving Lane Westminster from the abbey.244 John Coweper, who held several virgates in West Morden, is described as ‘the lord’s hurer’ or cap-maker, presumably indicating that he made headgear for the abbot, prior and monks of Westminster.245 Other London merchants and minor court officials are likely to have had dealings with the abbey, and could easily discover when property was available. Many surrendered their Morden properties to the steward at Westminster rather than at Morden.
Had it been their links with the abbey that brought the first tenants to the cottage plots in Central Road towards the end of the 13th century? Their surnames indicate that many of them were craftsmen or traders – in addition to Thomas the miller [B2] they included Webbe (weaver) [B3], Fflessch (butcher) [I3] [I4], Hose (stocking-maker) [I8], Paternoster (rosary-maker) [I6], and Taverner (tavern-keeper) [I5]. There is no record among the regular amercements of brewers that Walter or William Taverner were ever involved in brewing in Morden, and one wonders whether there was sufficient demand for rosaries in Morden to keep Paternoster in business. Were these in fact former Westminster craftsmen and traders who had retired to Morden? The Webbes and the Milwards were the only families who retained their holdings for more than a couple of generations.
It was certainly their links with Westminster Abbey that brought to Morden many outsiders who farmed the manorial and rectorial demesnes after 1359, and who also obtained free and customary tenements here. The final lease, granted in June 1511, was to William Porter ‘clerk of the Crown of the Chancery of England’.246 John Atwell’s lease of February 1498/99 describes him as ‘of Westminster, yeoman’.247 The Sawgers appear as Morden tenants about the same time that John Sawger is listed as farmer of the demesne, and John Dounton was first noted as tenant about the same time that he was described as farmer of the demesne. The first farmer of the manor, Thomas de Parham, came from the abbey’s manor of Parham in Sussex, and it was probably through him that others came from Parham, including the Wylots, as we have seen above, and perhaps the Lightfoots – Johanna Lightfoot was ‘daughter and heir of Richard Perham’.248 Other farmers of the manor or rectory seem to have already been tenants, some, such as John Spyk and William Mulseye, having married daughters of tenants. Mulseye presumably came from the Surrey village of East or West Molesey, where Merton Priory had manors.
Other tenants came from nearby villages, and held properties outside Morden in addition to their Morden holdings. Thus the Playstowes were from Merstham and also held property in Ewell and Kingston; the Holts were ‘of Tooting Graveney’ and held property there and in neighbouring villages; the Yerdes were from Cheam; John Milward had property in Carshalton and moved there; the Parkers, a London scrivener family, held Morden land within Ravensbury manor (see chapter 3); Sir Laurence Aylmer sold lands in Wallington, Carshalton, Beddington, Woodmansterne, Woodcote and Mitcham of the annual value of 40 marks to Nicholas Carew on 3 May 1516,249 and had held properties in Merton.250 One must never assume that Morden tenants only held properties in Morden. Some who only held small properties here might well have been substantial landowners elsewhere. Three of the tenements belonging to Westminster Abbey’s Morden Fee in Ewell were held by lords of manors [Q1] [Q2] [Z].
Entry fines
Some studies have used the changing levels of entry fines to identify changes in supply and demand for property before and immediately after the Black Death, manorial lords raising the level when demand exceeded supply, and vice versa.251 Morden has no such records for this early period, but chart 10.8 opposite maps entry fines between 1388 and 1518 for two standard property types, to enable comparison of like with like – customary virgate holdings of 20 acres, and single cottages with adjoining curtilage or garden.
The virgate entry fines were normally between 40d and 80d, though occasionally dropped to 24d. There does not seem to be any obvious explanation for the changes, which could swing widely in just a year for the same property. Cokecyes [C] ranged from 60d in 1394, 80d in 1441, 40d in 1444 and 1470, to just 24d in 1471.252 Huberds alias Swans virgate [S] was 24d in 1456, 40d in 1467 and a massive 160d in 1519 when granted to John Holt.253 Perhaps it was merely a matter of finding a level that the incoming tenant was willing or able to pay.
After 1400 the entry fine for a single cottage with adjacent curtilage or garden was normally a shilling (12d), but could drop to 8d or even 4d, and once reached 2 shillings for Bawdes [I9] (though that seems to have included an acre of land by 1468 and might have done so in 1448). In the 1380s and 1390s fines fluctuated widely from 20d, 24d, 36d, 40d, 48d, to 72d, even within a single year. Perhaps the fact that there were two or three cases in a year at this time indicates that this was a period of high demand for a scarce commodity, and that the abbey was seizing the opportunity to profit from the situation. Some cottage-plots might have been larger than others but, to take just one example, the entry fine for Byrshams cottage [B63] was 48d in 1395, 12d in 1410, 6d in 1440, 4d in 1454, 12d in 1467 and 7d in 1477.254 Again, it would appear that levels could be affected by the financial circumstances of the incoming tenant.
cottages with gardens
20-acre virgate holdings
pence pence
10.8: All recorded entry fines for virgate holdings and for cottages with gardens 1388–1518
(Grey is used when more than one entry fine is recorded in a year)
The property market: conclusions
This chapter has been wide-ranging both in years and in property types and tenures. It is clear that the acquisition of land remained an important goal for many in medieval Morden. The bond between land and family was strong, especially in the 13th and early 14th centuries, and many families were able to retain their family tenement for more than 200 years. In addition to ensuring the passing of the family holding from one generation to another, parents were anxious to make provision for non-inheriting members of their families, both sons and daughters. Occasionally they were able to obtain virgate or half-virgate tenements for an elder son, which in turn might remain in that branch of the family for several generations, sometimes after the hereditary holding had passed out of the family. But often all they could afford was a cottage-plot and an odd acre or two, sometimes carved out of the family tenement. Some of these were later reabsorbed into the parent holding, while others survived as independent properties.
The creation of cottage plots on former roadside waste in the second half of the 13th century, combined with the break-up of Belles virgate tenement [B], seems to have attracted outsiders to Morden, possibly craftsmen and traders with links to Westminster. However, many of these plots came back onto the market within a few years, and proved popular among families with stronger local connections, including many who had married into Morden families.
The Black Death seems to have flooded the market with vacant tenements, and it took a while to find tenants for these. Reluctance among potential tenants to take on the burden of regular labour services – the essence of servile tenure – led initially to the granting of short-term leases, perhaps in the hope that traditional forms of tenure could soon be re-established. Leases for life, or for a set number of lives, were also introduced. By the end of the 14th century new forms of customary tenure, without the servile obligations, were gaining ground, with the added security that the tenant was given a copy of the entry in the court roll – equivalent to the charter of the freeholder – and copyhold tenancy was born.
With the passing of the social stigma of servile status, copyhold properties attracted merchants and gentry looking for profitable ways of investing surplus capital, usually for very short periods. Some properties, whether virgate and half-virgate tenements or cottage-plots, changed hands frequently. But prosperous local families, both from Morden itself and from neighbouring communities, also took the opportunity to expand their horizons, often building up sizeable holdings. It is to the amalgamation of properties that we turn in the next chapter.
229
11
11: ACCUMULATION OF HOLDINGS 231
Accumulation of smallholdings and cottage-plots
As we have seen, in the final years of the 13th century and the early years of the 14th the Webbes [B3] and the Mellewardes [B2] built up smallholdings from the individual acre strips they obtained from the breakup of Belles [B] tenement in Central Road. Over the years these properties were added to and were then divided among sons and daughters. The evidence seems to suggest that ultimately 4 acres from each of these two parent holdings were combined to create the 8-acre smallholding inherited in 1472 by John Goldwyre from his aunt Alianor Wylman née Pycott and surrendered in 1475 by John or his son of the same name [B23] (see chapter 10 page 202).
But many of the other small plots that were acquired by members of the Melleward family came into the hands of Peter Popsent, who first appears in our records in June 1384:1
Likewise they present that Peter Popsent 2d has dwelt within the bounds of the View for 1 year and more and is not in a tithing and that Matilda his mother 2d harbours him. Therefore they are in mercy.
On Matilda’s death in 1386 he inherited her cottage [N2]:2
Likewise they present that Matilda Popsent, who held of the lord one cottage with curtilage adjoining, with pertinents, lying between the land tenement of Alice Melleward on one side and the tenement of William Brodeye on the other side, has closed her last day [died], after whose death respited? nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because poor. And they say that Peter Popsent is her next heir and seeks his admittance as son this day to the said cottage with pertinents. And he is admitted to the tenement to hold to himself and his [heirs] at will for service saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty etc.
In 1389 he and his wife Alice obtained the adjoining property, some 2½ acres including a small enclosure from former roadside waste, from Alice Melleward, now Alice Aslak [B41]:3
At this court come Andrew Aslak’ and Alice his wife as daughter of the late Richard Melleward and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, one garden called Lytelhawe containing from the king’s street [a regia strata] in length 9 perches and 7 feet and in width 4 perches and 6 feet, and 2 acres of land lying next to William Broodeye’s gate [portam], whence there falls due to the lord for heriot as appears. And later the lord in the same court grants the said garden and land to Peter Popsent and Alice his wife, to hold to themselves and theirs at the lord’s will by roll of court by service etc according to the customs of the manor, saving [the lord’s] rights etc. And they give the lord for fine to have entry as appears in the heading. And they do the lord fealty.
Peter’s wife was a daughter of Henry Mulnewarde, probably Richard Melleward’s elder son, and, after Henry’s death in 1400,4 she and her sister Agnes, married to William Mulseye, claimed a croft that was being held by Henry’s widow Juliane, now married to John Castleman.5 The case dragged on for many years (see chapter 9 page 159), but in 1414 the Mulseyes surrendered their moiety of the croft to Peter’s son Simon:6
At this court come William Mulsey and Agnes his wife, examined alone, and surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, a moiety of one croft formerly Henry Mylleward lying next to land of John Pycot on the north, to the use of Simon Popsent and Laurencia his wife, to have and to hold the said moiety of a croft to the aforementioned Simon and Laurencia his wife, Simon’s heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And they give the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And they do fealty.
This was presumably the other 2½-acre croft later said to have been held by Peter Popsent – that held by Walter Webbe in 1325 [B31].7 It is likely that Peter was already dead, and Alice seems to have died around 1418, so Simon inherited their properties. He had already acquired the cottage later known as Bawdes [I9] from the Brokere family in 1404:8
At this court comes Agnes formerly wife of William Broker’ and surrenders into the lord’s hand for herself etc one cottage with curtilage, parcel of the tenement formerly Swaynes, to the use of Simon Popsent, to whom seisin thereof is granted, to have and to hold the aforesaid cottage with curtilage to the aforementioned Simon, his heirs and assigns, at the lord’s will by roll of court etc by service etc. And upon this comes William Broker’ of London, son and heir of the aforesaid William and surrenders into the lord’s hand his whole right, to the use of the aforesaid Simon and hereupon he quitclaims, releasing and discharging the right he has in the aforesaid cottage with curtilage, to the aforementioned Simon, his heirs and assigns, to hold of the lord in the form aforesaid. And he gives the lord for fine to have entry as appears. And he does fealty.
He held the manorial demesne at farm around 1418, in succession to his uncle William Mulseye,9 and in 1438 obtained an interest, alongside John Lightfoot, in another cottage and ½ acre [N9]:10
At this court it is witnessed by Roger atte Hege that Matilda Edward, widow, late wife of John Edward, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, 1 cottage with a ½-acre of land lying within the vill and field of Morden, to the use of Simon Popsent and John Lygtfot, to have and to hold the aforesaid cottage and land with its pertinents to the aforementioned Simon and John, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. And rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual feasts rent and service in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
He also took over a share of the lease of ‘3 cottages formerly John Flessh [I3] [I4] and 1 tenement [N1] and 1 acre demesne land formerly leased to B Poppsent leased to S Popsent and W Bron – 8d’ according to the account rolls for 1441/42.11 Baldwyn Popsent was probably a relative of his father’s generation – they had clashed in the manorial courts over questions of unsettled debts and trespass in 1397 and 1398.12
When Simon died in 1446 his elder son William inherited 8 acres of freehold land [U3] [U4] [U5], while younger son John was admitted to Bawdes copyhold [I9] in April 1448 (their names were reversed at an earlier court):13
Likewise they present that Simon Popesent, who of the lord held freely by charter 8 acres land and died seized thereof in demesne as of fee, died in February in the 25th year of the present reign. And that William Popesent is his son and heir and of full age, whence there falls due to the lord for relief 3½d. And the order is given to distrain the said William to do fealty etc against the next [court] etc.
Likewise they present that Simon Popesent, who of the lord held by roll of court one cottage with curtilage called Bawdes, died in February in the 25th year of the present reign. And that John Popesent is his youngest son and according to the custom of this manor heir of the said cottage with curtilage and its pertinents, to have and to hold the said cottage with curtilage and its pertinents to the aforementioned John John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
William, who had been placed in a tithing in 1414,14 had obtained a small part of John Pycot’s garden [B35] by surrender in 1437:15
At this court comes John Picot in open court and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, 1 part of his garden containing in width 1 perch, in length 6 perches on the east side of his garden to the use of William Popsent, to have and to hold the said piece of garden to the aforementioned William, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court suit of court and all other services in respect thereof due and accustomed. And nothing for fine. And he does fealty.
Then in 1441 he received Swaynes tenement and 3 acres [Y] by surrender from John Castleman junior, son of Henry Mulnewarde’s widow:16
At this court comes John Castelman and surrenders into the lord’s hands, for himself and his heirs forever, one tenement with curtilage and 3 acres land called Swaynes to the use of William Popsent, to have and to hold the said tenement, curtilage and land to the aforementioned William, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will in bondage by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs due in respect thereof and customary. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
Later records incorrectly state that this property had also formerly belonged to Peter Popsent. However, William was holding two of Peter’s former copyholds, [N2] and [B41], by 1455 when he surrendered them together with Sweynes [Y]:17
At this court it is witnessed by Walter Hethe and Henry Sager, tenants of the manor at the same place, that William Popsent, out of court, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one toft with curtilage and 3 acres of land called Swaynes, and one cottage with curtilage and 2½ acres of land formerly Peter Popsent, to the use of William Davy and Blanche his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid toft, curtilage, cottage, garden and land with their pertinents to the aforementioned William Davy and Blanche his wife, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
Davy, sometimes called de Tenet, farmed the manorial demesne in the 1450s or 1460s,18 and also held Rykedons ½-virgate [R] from 1453 to 1487,19 and John Mallard’s cottage [I7] and garden [N5] from 1455 to 1463,20 when he surrendered this and Swaynes [Y] to Simon and Margaret Drayton.21 Both of the 2½-acre holdings [B41] [B31] passed to John Dounton,22 though their surrenders are not recorded in extant court rolls. John Popsent’s surrender of Bawdes [I9] is not recorded either, but by 1472 it had come into the possession of Nicholas Drayton, who left it to his 17-year-old son Thomas in that year, Thomas surrendering it to Margaret Drayton and her second husband John Sewyn/Seven in 1477.23
The Popsent family were not the only Morden tenants of this period to accumulate several small properties, both copyhold and freehold. Their relative William Mulseye similarly built up a large portfolio of small properties, though their immediate descent is not recorded. We saw above that the Davys held two cottages in addition to their ½-virgate, and this was quite common. In chapter 9 we traced the accumulation of properties large and small by John Spyk (see page 162 and also below page 242) and in chapter 10 the accumulation of cottages and acre plots by Robert and Matilda Berenger for their son William, whose widow Margery Tracy passed them to William’s sister Alice Newbury (see page 205).
However, it was Margaret Drayton and her husbands, and their contemporaries John Dounton and John Parker, who began to bring this accumulation of properties to its logical conclusion in the 1460s, eventually dividing all the cottages, tofts and crofts in East Morden among themselves and their successors so that by the end of the century it would appear that the only independent small copyholder remaining was at the alehouse on the George site [I81]. These accumulations were to be passed on as complete units of landholdings for a century or more (see tables 11.3 overleaf and 9.2 page 152).
Not all of the court rolls recording the Draytons’ acquisitions have survived, but on Tuesday 11 April 1486 the court was informed that Margaret had surrendered each of her copyholds to her daughter, Katerine Drayton:24
At this court it is witnessed by Thomas Wilkyns, sub-steward at the same place, and by John Coweper of London, hurer, tenant of the manor at the same place, that Margaret, former wife of Simon Drayton and now wife of John Sewyn – the which Simon and Margaret, among others [ie other properties], held, to themselves their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will, one cottage with garden adjoining and a half-acre of land lying in the field of Morden late Margaret Growte [N0] as appears by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 1 Edward IV [] – out of court in her pure widowhood and her lawful authority, surrendered into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, the cottage, garden and half-acre of land as aforesaid is lying, to the use of Katerine her daughter. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage, garden and half-acre acre [sic] of land to the aforementioned Katerine, to hold to herself, her heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And she gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And she does fealty and is admitted tenant and seisin thereof is delivered to her by the rod etc.
At this court it is witnessed by the aforesaid Thomas and John that the aforesaid Margaret surrendered etc forever one cottage [I7] with garden adjoining [N5] formerly John Mollard and late William Tennett as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Michaelmas 4 Edward IV [], out of court surrendered etc the cottage and garden aforesaid, to the use of Katerine her daughter. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage and garden to the aforementioned Katerine, to hold to herself, her heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And she gives the lord for fine etc. And she does fealty etc.
At this court it is witnessed by the aforesaid Thomas and John that the aforesaid Margaret surrendered into the lord’s hand etc forever one acre of land lying on the west of the church of Morden [X1] next to land of John Spyke on the east, as appears by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 6 Edward IV [], out of court surrendered etc the aforesaid acre of land as aforesaid it is lying, to the use of Katerine her daughter. And upon this etc, to hold to herself, her heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc due and accustomed. And she gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And she does fealty etc.
At this court it is witnessed by the aforesaid Thomas and John that the aforesaid Margaret out of court surrendered etc forever one acre of land late Berengers [B42] lying between land of William Tennett on the south and land late Margery Pyegottes on the north, as appears by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Michaelmas 39 Henry VI [], out of court surrendered etc to the use of Katerine her daughter. And upon this etc, to hold to herself, her heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc due and accustomed. And she gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And she does fealty etc.
At this court it is witnessed by the aforesaid Thomas and John that the aforesaid Margaret out of court surrendered etc forever one toft with curtilage adjoining and 3 acres of land called Swaynes [Y] late William Davy and Blanche his wife, as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 3 Edward IV [], to the use of Katerine her daughter. And upon this etc, to hold to herself, her heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And she gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And she does fealty etc.
At this court it is witnessed by the aforesaid Thomas and John that the said Margaret out of court surrendered etc forever 1 cottage with garden adjoining formerly Bony[ehams] [B21], late William atte Wode, as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Michaelmas 39 Henry VI []. And also surrendered etc 2 acres of land together [insimul] lying above le hylde [N8], to the use of Katerine her daughter and Richard Hakket. And upon this etc, to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving etc. Rendering etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
At this court it is witnessed by the aforesaid Thomas and John that the said Margaret out of court surrendered etc forever one cottage and one acre of land adjoining the same cottage with pertinents, formerly Simon Popsynt and late Thomas Drayton [I9], as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next before the feast of the apostles Philip and James 17 Edward IV [], to the use of Katerine her daughter. And upon this etc, to hold to herself, her heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And she gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading etc.
In May 1487 each property was disposed of to Londoners, the two left jointly to Katerine and Richard Hakket being surrendered to John and Matilda Shreve, the rest to Thomas Barker and Robert Vyncent:25
At this court come Katerina, daughter of Margaret Drayton, and Richard Hakket, who of the lord hold jointly by roll of court, to themselves and their heirs and assigns, one cottage with garden adjoining, formerly Bonehans [B21], late William atte Wood and 2 acres of land together [insimul] lying above le Holt [sic] [N8], as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 1 Henry VII [], and in open court surrender into the lord’s hand, for themselves and their heirs forever, the cottage, garden and 2 acres of land aforesaid to the use of John Shreve of London goldsmith [goldesmythe] and Matilda his wife. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage, garden and 2 acres of land to the aforementioned John and Matilda, to have and to hold to themselves, John’s heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted tenants and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod.
At this court comes the aforesaid Katerina daughter of Margaret Drayton etc and surrenders into the lord’s hand, etc forever, one cottage with garden adjoining and a half-acre of land lying in the north field of Morden late Margarete Growte [N0], to the use of Thomas Barker of London scrivener [scriptoris]. and Robert Vyncent cutler [cutteler] And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage garden and half-acre of land to the aforementioned Thomas and Robert to hold to themselves and to Thomas’s heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted tenants and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod etc.
At this court comes the aforesaid Katerina and in open court surrenders into the lord’s hand, etc forever, one cottage [I7] with one garden adjoining [N5] formerly John Mollard and late William Tennett, to the use of Thomas Barker of London scrivener [scriptoris] and Robert Vyncent cutler [cutteler]. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage and garden with pertinents to the aforementioned Thomas and Robert to hold to themselves and to Thomas’s heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
At this court comes the aforesaid Katerina and in open court surrenders etc, one acre of land lying on the east [sic] of the church of Morden next to land of John Spyke on the east [X1] , to the use of Thomas Barker of London scrivener [scriptoris] and Robert Vyncent cutler [cutteler]. And upon this etc, to hold to themselves and to Thomas’s heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering in respect thereof etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
At this court comes the aforesaid Katerina and in open court surrenders etc forever, one toft with curtilage adjoining and three acres of land called Swynes late William Davy [Y], to the use of the aforesaid Thomas Barker and Robert. And upon this etc, to hold to themselves and to Thomas’s heirs and assigns, of the lord etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty etc.
At this court comes the aforesaid Katerina and in open court surrenders etc forever, one acre of land late Berengers [B42] lying between land late William Tennett on the south and land late Alice Saltby afterward Margerie Pygottys on the north, to the use of the aforesaid Thomas and Robert, to hold to themselves and to Thomas’s heirs and assigns, of the lord etc as above.
At this court comes the aforesaid Katerina and in open court surrenders etc forever, one cottage and acre of land adjoining the same cottage with pertinents formerly Simon Popseynt and late Thomas Drayton [I9], to the use of the aforesaid Thomas and Robert, to hold to themselves and to Thomas’s heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court etc saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering etc as above.
In May 1492 Barker and Vyncent acquired further copyholds:26
At this court it is witnessed by John Godfrey, William Goldewyer and John Goldewyer, tenants of the manor at the same place, that John Bernes – who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will together with Elena late his wife, now deceased, their heirs and assigns, by the surrender of Thomas Leycettour, one cottage with curtilage adjoining [I2], three acres of land [N3] [B22] and 1 acre of meadow lying in Mitcham Mede [B222], formerly Robert Beneger, and 1 toft with curtilage adjoining, formerly Bellys, later Henry Tracy [I1], as is fully apparent by copy produced in court dated the Tuesday next after Hokday 1 Richard III [] – out of court surrendered into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, the aforesaid cottage, curtilage, toft, land and meadow as aforesaid is lying and named, to the use of Thomas Barker and Robert Vyncent, their heirs and assigns, to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod and they are admitted tenants etc.
Thomas Barker also acquired freehold properties, later described as ‘one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn [W1], with five acres of meadow lying together in East Morden [U6] [B3]’, which passed to his brother William on his death in 1507 and eventually became part of John Holt’s extensive estate,27 while the copyholds passed to his nephew John Barker.28 In 1512 John Barker surrendered them to Peter Goodfeld,29 who split the properties, surrendering the following to John Holt in January 1519:30
At this court it is witnessed by the steward that Peter Goodfeld – who of the lord holds by custom one cottage with curtilage and garden adjoining [?] formerly Thomas Barker and later John Barker, and one acre of land lying on the west of the church of Morden called Bexwells [X1] between land of John Holt on both sides, and also one rood of land lying in a certain croft called Wales containing 5 acres of land [U51]. and also one cottage with garden adjoining called Swaynes [I2], three acres of arable land, of which one acre lies in the aforesaid croft called Wales [N3] and two acres of which lie in a certain field near [prope] a tenement late Donton [B22], and one acre of meadow in Mitcham Mede [Micheham mede] next to land of the lord of Ravesbury [B222] – surrenders all the premises to the use of John Holt and his heirs, by which surrender nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because the same Peter still remains a tenant of the lord. Which John Holt being present in court seeks his admittance to the premises, to whom the lord by his steward delivers seisin thereof by the rod, to have to the same John Holt, his heirs and assigns, at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor, rendering to the lord annually at the customary feasts the annual rent newly apportioned both by the agreement of the lord and the said Peter and John Holt [and] to do in respect thereof other service according to the custom of the manor. And for such title he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading and he does the lord fealty.
Neither the cottage and curtilage [?] listed first nor the rood in Wales croft [U51] can be identified among the Barkers’ former holdings, though the 5-acre Wales croft [U5] became part of the freehold known in modern times as Hazelwood (see chapter 6 page 124).
The rest of Goodfeld’s copyholds were surrendered in May 1522 to George and Alice Lord, though whether by Peter or his heir John is not clear, the court roll saying John but the copy, reproduced below, saying Peter:31
surrender
At this [court] comes Peter Godfeld and in open court surrenders into the lord’s hand by the rod, according to the custom of the manor, one tenement with garden adjoining called Growtes and a half-acre of land pertaining to the tenement lying in a certain close pertaining to the Rectory [Rectorie] of Morden aforesaid [N0], and one toft with curtilage adjoining formerly Belles [I1], and one toft [I7] with garden adjoining [N5] formerly John Mallard, and one cottage with garden and three acres of land adjoining [Y], and one acre of land late Barengers [B42], and one tenement with garden and one acre of land adjoining the same tenement [I9], which all and singular the premises were formerly Simon Popsent and later Thomas Drayton; and also one toft late built late John Kyrkbye [I82] containing by estimation one rood of land lying between the king’s highway at the same place on the south and land of John Holt on the east, north and west; to the use of George Lord and Alice his wife, by which surrender there falls due to the lord for heriot one horse worth as appears in the roll of court. And upon this come the aforesaid George and Alice in open court and seek their admittance to the premises. To whom the lord by his steward delivers seisin thereof by the rod, to have to the same George Lord and Alice, and their heirs, at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor, rendering in respect thereof to the lord annually at the customary feasts 20½d of rent now apportioned [apportionat’] and doing other service in respect thereof previously due and by law customary. And for having such title [tal’ stat’] in respect thereof they give the lord for fine as appears in the roll of court. And they do fealty and so they are admitted tenants thereof.
The extension of Simon Popsent and Thomas Drayton’s previous ownership of Bawdes [I9] to ‘all and singular the premises’ is misleading. Kyrkby’s toft was part of that held in 1312 by Henry le Hose [I8], which had been divided in April 1512 when the alehouse site now occupied by the George inn [I81] was granted to Richard Cosyn while the rest was taken in hand because of rent arrears and unlicensed sub-letting.32 There is no record of Goodfeld’s acquisition. The rent had already been ‘newly apportioned’ in 1519 when Goodfeld had divided his estate.
It is likely that all the properties accumulated by George and Alice Lord later came into the hands of the first lay-lord of the manor of Morden, William Whitchurch, who occupied an impressive ‘new buylded’ mansion on the site of Growtes before 1554 (see chapter 12 page 261).33 In 1522 this copyhold property [N0] had been described as occupying a ½-acre of land, but later occupied some 3 acres, so it seems likely that the 3-acre Swaynes tenement [Y] had been incorporated into its grounds. By 1710 Growtes, which had been enfranchised by 1682,34 included 6 acres,35 of which, records of 1817 reveal, 3 acres were in the far north-east corner of the parish by the Wandle, having the evocative name of Small Profits (tithe plots 373–6).36 It is possible that this had been formed from other former copyholds obtained from the Lord family. The long narrow strip along Central Road (tithe plot 239), known in 1705 as Long Orchard but in 1578 and 1579 as ‘the Lordes orchard’, might also have been the site of some of their former copyholds.37 However, it is possible that some copyholds formerly held by the Lord family were exchanged in July 1587 during the rationalisation of the various small properties in Central Road. John Smith the younger, who had inherited properties here once held by John Holt, surrendered his copyholds to create a more compact estate later known as The Laurels (tithe plots 242–6) held under a 2000-year lease (see chapter 12 page 265).38
As well as the Barkers’ former freeholds and the copyholds obtained from Goodfeld in 1519, John Holt also acquired another collection of copyholds and freeholds accumulated from the 1460s by John Dounton or Dunton, who was farmer of the manorial demesne in the early 1470s.39 He is first noted as a landowner in April and October 1465 when involved in a three-way exchange of land with Simon Drayton and Thomas Leycester, when Dunton’s lands, probably his freeholds, were noted in the abuttals of the exchanged lands (see chapter 10 page 216).40 There is no extant record of the surrender of Dunton’s copyholds by his widow Alice,
who had married first John Flemyng and then John Langton, but in April 1512 Sir Laurence Aylmer and his son William surrendered them to Holt:41
At this court come John Will’ms and Richard Playstowe tenants of the lord and report a certain surrender made to them out of court, according to the custom of the manor, by Laurence Aylmer knight and William Aylmer esquire his son to the use of John Holt and his heirs, of one tenement with garden adjoining and eight acres land late in the tenure of Alice Langton widow; and of one garden and a half-acre of land late in the tenure of John Dounton; and of a half-acre and one rood of land late in the tenure of Thomas Leycetter; and of one toft with curtilage and 3 acres land formerly Swaynes; and of one cottage with 2½ acres formerly Peter Popesent and later William Davy and Blanche his wife; and also of one garden [and] 2½ acres of land formerly Peter Popesent later John Dounton; which all and singular the premises with their pertinents were late in the tenure of the said Alice Langton widow. By which surrender nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because they have no animals. The which John Holte being present here in court takes of the lord all and singular the premises according to the custom of the manor. And later here in the same court comes a certain Lionel Dounston, son and heir of John Dounton and Alice his wife, who lately laid claim to all and singular the premises. And now in open court he surrenders, remits and releases all his right title and interest of and in all the aforesaid lands and tenements with their pertinents to the aforementioned John Holt and his heirs forever being in his full possession. And he does the lord fealty.
The reference in the margin to the 8-acre Gyrmans [C1] seems to be an error, as this had not been held by the Dountons (see chapter 4 page 92 and table 10.4 pages 190–1). However, they had held ‘Pygattes’ [B23] since 1475, when it was described as ‘a tenement with garden adjoining and 8 acres land’,42 though the insertion ‘Pycotes’ is crossed through in 1537 when this property passed to Holt’s heir.43 Could the garden and ½-acre be that given by the Draytons to the Leycesters in exchange in 1465 mentioned above [B34] (page 216)?44 The ¾-acre is clearly the plot Dunton received at that time [B33].45 However, the next item could hardly be Swaynes tenement and 3 acres [Y] as this had been a Drayton property and had passed via the Barkers and Goodfeld to the Lords (see above), nor could it be the property confusingly called Swaynes [I2] [N3] in Goodfeld’s surrender to Holt in 1519 (see above), which included 1 acre formerly held by Edmund Swayne. The problem of identification has been discussed in chapter 10 (page 209). Fortunately the two 2½-acre holdings are recognisable as the Popsents’ holdings noted above [B41] [B31].
Sir Lawrence Aylmer, with Thomas Aylmer and Edward Tyrrell, had already enfeoffed John Holt and his colleagues with 11¼ acres of free land earlier in the same court:46
Likewise they say that Laurence Aylmer, citizen and clothier [pannar’] of London, Thomas Aylmer esquire and Edward Tyrrell, who of the lord held freely eight acres and one rood of land and 3 other acres of land in Morden by fealty and rent [blank] yearly in respect thereof, have enfeoffed John Holt, Oliver Knight, John Heryngman and Richard Playstowe in fee to the use of the aforesaid John Holt and his heirs as appears by charter produced in court dated [blank] September 2 Henry VIII. Which John Holt, being present in court, does the lord fealty for himself and his co-feoffees.
These were presumably the lands that John Langton had held ‘by charter … by right of his wife’ at his death presented at court in April 1499.47 The 8¼ acres were those former Bunt properties [U3] [U4] [U5] inherited by John Popsent from Simon Popsent in 1447, noted above,48 while the 3 acres were probably in Lower Morden, where Holt held 6½ acres of freehold land in 1536 [W3] (see below, page 248).49 He acquired a further 2 acres [W4] in Lower Morden of Dunton’s former freehold in February 1513, presumably once part of Wynteworthes tenement:50
Likewise the jury present that William Hendon vicar of Morden, who of the lord holds freely two acres of land formerly Dunton lying in le Southfeld in West Morden abutting towards the south upon the king’s highway at the same place, in respect thereof enfeoffs John Holt in fee, which John being present in court does the lord fealty and fine – 4d.
Of all the properties once held by the Draytons, only two had not passed to the Barkers and Goodfeld – the former Drayton copyholds surrendered by Katerine and Richard Hakket in May 1487 to John and Matilda Shreve51 – but Holt had also acquired these before his death in 1537: ‘And also he held, on the day that he died, by copy of roll of court one vacant piece of land late built and two acres of land in Le Held [N8] formerly William Mylly late in the tenure of Elizabeth Camryngham’,52 the vacant piece of ground being the former Bonehams cottage [B21]. A full list of Holt’s holdings is given below (pages 247–9).
Boneham’s cottage, originally Richard Melleward’s home,53 separated the two blocks of cottages and crofts in Central Road accumulated by John Parker between the 1440s and 1482. The rental of 1448–50 includes ‘And 5d received from John Parker for rent at 2½d per year’,54 for a property identified as Clerkys Hawe [B62] in October 1473 when he was granted the adjoining property:55
Whereas there remains in the lord’s hand one parcel of land called Skottes Hawe [N7] for a long time, whence the rent is in decay and not paid etc. Now at this court the lord grants to John Parker of London, scrivener [skrevener] the aforesaid parcel of land called Skottes Hawe, lying between one parcel of land of the aforesaid John called Clerkys Hawe on the west and a cottage called Sewenys late Simon Drayton formerly William Bonehams on the east and the king’s highway on the south and a field [campus] of land called le Northefeld on the north, to have and to hold the aforesaid parcel of land called Skottes Hawe with its pertinents to the aforementioned John Parker, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals.
In September 1477 he obtained another copyhold [B63] adjoining the previous two:56 At this court comes Margaret Bordall, widow, and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for herself and her heirs forever, one cottage with garden adjoining, lying in Morden aforesaid late John Byrsham, to the use of John Parker of London, scrivener and Margerie his wife. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid cottage with garden adjoining to the aforementioned John and Margerie, to have and to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted etc.
Then in October 1482 he received a property on the other side of ‘Bomannes’ (i.e. Bonehams):57
At this court comes Thomas Drayton in open court in person and surrenders into the lord’s hand, for himself and his heirs forever, one toft and a half-acre of land with pertinents lying between the tenement called Pykardys on the south and the tenement late Bomannes and formerly John Drayton as fully apparent by copy produce in court dated the Tuesday next after the feast of the apostles Philip and James 14 Edward IV [Tuesday 3.5.1474], to the use of John Parker of London, scrivener [scriptoris], and Margerie his wife. And upon this the lord grants the aforesaid toft and half-acre of land with pertinents to the aforementioned John and Margerie to have and to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord yearly at the usual festivals the rent customs and services in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading and they do fealty and they are admitted to the tenement and seisin is delivered to them etc.
This property was normally described as a toft [I5] and 1 acre [I6],58 and was called Graungerrys in 1473 when Thomas Drayton junior had received it from his father Thomas Drayton also called Hobbys.59 These two blocks of copyhold properties remained distinct units into the 19th century.60
John Parker also held copyhold land on the opposite side of Central Road of Ravensbury manor – 3 cottages combined into one [V1], another cottage with 3½ acres land [V2], and a garden with ½ acre [V3] – the precursor of Duckets Farm in Central Road. Later he was granted two larger closes [V4] known as Great and Little Stenhawes with a field called le Gore, plus Longecroft [V5] and Little Steelehawes [V6] all soon to be reclaimed as Ravensbury demesne land (see chapter 3 page 68).61
Thus by the mid-1520s the cottages, tofts and crofts in East Morden – other than the alehouse site [I81] and the vicarage and its croft [B61] – were in the possession of just three tenants, the Parkers, the Lords and the Holts, the Holts also holding virgate and ½-virgate properties in West Morden and their detached crofts along the London–Epsom road, as we will see below.
Accumulation of virgate and half-virgate holdings
Although accumulation of small properties was common, the expansion of larger holdings, by leasing parcels of demesne land or by admission to additional vacant customary tenements, was unusual before 1349. Two reasons present themselves – an increased competition for land from a growing population, and a reluctance on the part of many manorial lords to allow their customary tenants to hold multiple virgate holdings as it was impossible for a single tenant to perform all the labour services pertaining to each holding. This reluctance declined as the population fell, and with it the demand for land. It was the local villein families who led the way, particularly those who had gained experience of managing the manorial demesne as reeve or later as farmer of the demesne, and who welcomed the challenges, and the profits, that multiple holdings could bring.
However, as we saw in the previous chapter, large holdings were not unknown in Morden, even in the 13th century. The custumal c.1225 reveals that two customary tenants, Henry de Brus and Walter Wig, held tenements of 1½ virgates (30 acres), as did John Ducet, one of the free tenants.62 Ducet’s holding had been larger when bought by Nicholas Duket from Richard Sakespeye, having been reduced from 2¼ virgates when Sakespeye’s widow claimed her dower in 1220 (see chapter 9 page 153).63 Until 1219 Nicholas and his wife had leased further land in Morden from another free tenant, Richard de Winnelendune, who held 2½ virgates c.1225.64
In November 1297 John Edward was granted a 20-acre holding that his late father, Walter, a former reeve, had held on a 7-year lease (see chapter 10 page 189).65 It is not clear whether this was a customary holding or a parcel of demesne land. It seems certain that it was in addition to the family virgate [E], for which heriot and entry fine had been paid at the previous court, and which remained in the direct family until 1392 before passing to a daughter and son-in-law.66
In 1312 William Attechirche held 1½ virgates (30 acres) [M], while Gerard de Staundon, the former rector, held some 60 or 70 acres [W].67 It has been suggested above that the two moieties held by Gulden [G], and Fabian and Atte Wode [F], formerly belonging to ‘Alice wife of Matthew’, had been a 2-virgate holding, probably that once held by Isabel Poybele’s family (see chapter 8 page 146).68
We have also seen that Henry atte Cherche held two customary holdings in 1312 – the virgate later known as Jocyes [J] and the ½-virgate later known as Rykedens [R] (see chapter 10 page 189).69 In 1327 he also inherited a virgate from his mother, Isabel Coxxe, presumably Cokcyes [C].70 At his death in 1342 he only held the ½-virgate [R], William Joce holding Jocyes [J] by 1332 and Adam Hobecok holding Cokcyes [C] at his death in 1349.71 Alice Hobecok was brewing in Morden from 1327, so they may well have taken over the holding following Isabel’s death, either as customary tenants or as Henry’s subtenants.72 It is not known if the abbey forced Henry to surrender the virgates to Joce and Hobecok or if he surrendered them voluntarily, considering 50 acres too large a holding to manage.
John Huberd, however, was able to hold a total of 50 acres, adding the 30-acre Makernays tenement [M] to his family virgate holding [S]. Makernays was probably the property for which he paid 6d ‘new rent’ in 1327/28 ‘at the 4 terms’, which he held at his death in 1349 (see chapter 7).73 But John had long experience of estate management, having served as manorial reeve from 1323 to 1341.74
One tenant seems to have amassed a number of holdings towards the end of the 14th century. John Spyk held several cottage properties over the years (see chapter 9 page 162) and purchased Bunt’s 8-acre freehold warren [U2] in 1389, and the 2-acre freehold croft behind the present George inn [W1] by 1400.75 He had inherited the Edward family virgate [E] from his
wife’s father in 1393 (which he held until his death in 1420),76 and served as beadle and rent- collector in 1398,77 when he was leasing jointly with Ralph atte Rythe ‘lands and tenements in Sutton’ from Ralph de Codyngton, for which they paid 60 shillings in April 1398 ‘for last Easter term’.78 In October 1399 four virgate holdings were taken in hand because Spyk ‘who of the lord holds at farm by lease of the farmer out of court 4 tofts, 4 virgates land with pertinents – of which 1 is called Adamys [A], 1 called Makerneys [M], 1 called Goodsonys [O], 1 called Josy [J] – permits to be vacant etc’.79 The wording of this entry could perhaps indicate that Spyk sub-let the properties, but if he worked them all his estate exceeded 110 acres. It is likely that he vacated the four holdings to fund other investments, as from 1400 to 1409 he was farming the rectory – paying the abbey a fixed sum in order to receive the great tithes – and between 1406 and 1410 he was joint-farmer of the manorial demesne with William Mulseye.80
In November 1400 two of these properties – Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J] virgate holdings – were leased to Ralph and John atte Ryth, in addition to their family customary ½-virgate [T].81 Ralph also leased the manorial demesne at farm from before 1388 until 1406, being then granted for life Lotekyns virgate [L] in bondage by court roll.82 But this 70-acre holding was short-lived. Godesones and Jocyes were leased to Simon Lightfote in 1411/12,83 and when Ralph atte Ryth died in 1417 John surrendered the family ½-virgate holding to Roger and Alianore atte Hegge.84
Like Ralph atte Ryth, Roger atte Hegge had previously leased the manorial demesne at farm, and so was used to managing a large estate.85 A member of a villein family who by 1312 had a virgate holding [H] which Ralph had inherited in 1403,86 he had built up a 70-acre holding by 1442 when, in addition to the atte Ryth half-virgate [T], he held the leases of Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J] virgates (see table 11.4 overleaf).87 However, Roger and his son took matters a step further than their predecessors. It would seem that they treated the 70-acre holding as a single unit as, when it was divided around 1475 following the death of Roger’s son John, John’s widow retained a single 30- acre holding [H31] rather than a 20-acre and a 10-acre holding, though she was charged 2 heriots:88
Likewise they present that John atte Hegge, who of the lord held by roll of court at the lord’s will 1 tenement and 30 acres land, died in June 15 Edward IV [1475], whence there falls due to the lord for 2 heriots etc. And that Elena his wife has joint title with the aforesaid John late her husband etc.
The other 40 acres were presumably those noted in 1468/69, as ‘in the lord’s hand … late in the tenure of John att Hegge for 10s per year’, though account rolls, which continued until 1503, show them as still held at farm by Roger atte Hegge, almost 50 years after his death!89 However, two ‘new’ properties, totalling 40 acres, made their appearance in the records around this time. In 1495 a new 30-acre ‘parcel of land’ [H32] was granted to John and Isabel Holt:90
At this court the lord grants out of his hand to John Holte and Isabelle his wife, one parcel of land called West Hawes lying separately [seperatim] in the field[s] of Morden containing by estimation 30 acres, to hold to themselves, their heirs and assigns, of the lord by roll of court at the lord’s will saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals six shillings and 8d sterling, suit of court and other services in respect thereof due and accustomed. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And they do fealty and are admitted tenants. And seisin thereof is delivered to them by the rod.
The toft and 10 acres of Andrewes, sometimes known as Hawkes [H33], was already well established when it is first mentioned in extant records in 1512:91
Andrewes
Inquire of Richard Playstowe how he holds one toft called Andrewes, formerly built on in West Morden lying on the east of a close called Wentworthes and at the north end of Plummers, and what land pertains to that toft. It is noted that Mr Porter [farmer of the demesne] has one small rental in parchment that makes mention of Andrewes.
It is tempting to see these as the other 40 acres formerly held by the atte Hegges, especially as the two new holdings paid a total of 10 shillings in rent, the same amount that the atte Hegges had paid for Godesones and Jocyes. It would appear that the scattered strips of the original four holdings had been rationalised into larger and more easily worked units.
In 1513 the atte Hegge’s 30-acre tenement [H31] came into the tenure of William Porter, the farmer of the demesne, and passed, via his son Matthew, to Thomas Heryngman in 1535, together with Andrewes toft and 10 acres [H33] and two other tenements – Makerneys [M] and Yerdes [F] – a combined holding of about 90 acres arable plus meadow and tofts:92
At this court come John Hyller and John Playstowe, tenants of the lord, and report a certain surrender made to them out of court into the lord’s hand by the rod, by which Mathew Porter surrendered one tenement and 30 acres land in West Morden formerly Hegges by rent of 10s a year, and one tenement called Makerneys containing 30 acres land by rent of 10s and two boonworks a year, and also one toft containing 20 acres land called Yerdes by rent of 21d and 2 boonworks a year, and also one toft with ten acres land called Andrewes alias Hawkes in Morden by rent of 3s 4d and two boonworks a year, formerly Pleystowes, to the use of Thomas Heryngman and his heirs. Whence nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because he had no animals. The which Thomas Heryngman, being present in court, seeks his admittance and is admitted etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears in the heading. And heriot then falls due after death etc.
This substantial holding seems to have passed intact to William Parker, who leased it at farm in the 1570s, and the detailed schedule in his lease enables us to identify most of the component plots with some confidence. He was already in occupation in 1579 when he received a new 7-year lease whereby Richard Garth let to farm to ‘William Parker of Morden, yeoman’:93 Several of the fieldnames survived into the 19th century and are listed in the 1838 tithe apportionment.94 The farm comprised a compact block of arable and grassland totalling 32 acres adjoining the homestead, which stood on the site of the later Lower Morden Farm, another 19 acres at Bowhill, a block of 24 acres north of the present Lower Morden Lane at its junction with Epsom Road, with a 4-acre close opposite in Lower Morden Lane, plus three more distant conglomerations of 9½, 6½, and 5 acres in the Southfield (see map 12.3 on page 276). Some of these groupings were the result of exchanges of small plots between Heryngman and his neighbours in 1537 (see chapter 10 page 215), but the atte Hegges were probably responsible for the main reorganisation.95
Westhawes [H32] is described as ‘a parcel of land … lying in severalty’, which suggests a single block of land, in spite of the plural ‘hawes’.96 The field name survived to the end of the 18th century in three small fields – Westhaws (3 acres), Paper West Haws (4½ acres) and Lower West Haws (3 acres) – between the Pyl brook and the western end of the settlement at Lower Morden, but does not appear in the 1838 tithe apportionment.97 If it was a single block of land, the 30 acres of plots 52–54 and 79–80 in the tithe apportionment would be the most obvious location, the lane running across it perhaps explaining the plural ‘hawes’.98
The Playstowe family built up an even larger holding than the Hegges, reaching some 130 acres under Richard Playstowe. The family seems to have originated in Merstham in Surrey, but had property interests across the county. Richard’s home was in Ewell where he held a newly- built tenement with 2 acres pertaining and other land there by 1518, but he also held a cottage and some 20 acres in Merstham.99 In 1513 his nephew claimed two copyhold properties in Morden [M] [F] that Richard had occupied following the death of his mother or stepmother,100 reducing Richard’s holding by 50 acres, and there was also some question over Richard’s right to hold Andrews tenement and 10 acres [H33].101 We saw above that all three copyholds were surrendered to Thomas Heringman in 1535, together with the atte Hegges’ 30-acre holding.102 In 1540 Richard’s heir, another nephew, divided the family freeholds with his brother,103 and the estate remained divided until purchased by the Garths in the early 17th century (see chapter 9 pages 172–9).
John Goldwyre also build up a multiple holding in the 1460s to 1480s, reaching about 76 acres in 1472 when he inherited the 8-acre Pygot holding [B23] from an aunt, though this was sold in 1475.104 In addition to the family virgate [G] which was extended in 1487 by 2⅛ acres from the Cowpers [G2],105 he also held Spyks [E] and Swans [S] virgates, and the freehold Plomers [P].106 The family holding passed to a great-granddaughter, and thence to John Hiller (see chapter 2 page 27),107 but the other properties were sold by sons and eventually came into the possession of John and Isabel Holt.
It was the Holts who built up the largest collection of freehold and customary properties, starting in 1494 and reaching a maximum of almost 200 acres of land, though they disposed of 81¾ acres of copyhold and freehold land in 1536 to Thomas and Anne Toller, including some individual strips within the common fields:108
At this court comes John Holte – who of the lord holds by custom of court one tenement or croft and 9 acres land called Rydons [R], one tenement and 22 acres land and meadow pertaining to the same tenement called Adams [A], one tenement and two acres land formerly John Lightfote [F2] [A31], 3 roods of land formerly William Lightfote [A32], formerly in the tenure of John Arnold, and one tenement with garden adjoining and 20 acres land by estimation called Cokseys [C] formerly Thomas Sharpe, as appears by copy produced in court dated [blank] May 17 Henry VII [1502] – and surrenders into the lord’s hand to the use of Thomas Toller and Anne his wife and the heirs lineally procreated between them, except one close containing by estimation 8 acres of land called Gyrmans [C1] and another close called Netherlotkyns [N1] containing 2 acres by estimation. Whence nothing falls due to the lord for heriot because he still remains the lord’s tenant. And also the aforesaid John Holte, who of the lord holds similarly by copy one messuage and 20 acres of land and meadow lying divided [divis’] in the common field[s] of West Morden called Swaynes formerly Goldwyers [S] as appears by copy produced in court dated 20 April 9 Henry VIII []. And he surrenders into the lord’s hand to the use of the aforesaid Toller and Anne and their heirs of the body lawfully procreated, whence nothing falls due for heriot because the same John Holte still remains the lord’s tenant. The which Thomas Toller and Anne being present in court seek their admittance to the premises. To whom the lord by his steward delivers seisin thereof by the rod to have to the same Thomas and Anne and the heirs lineally procreated between them. And for default of such issue all the premises wholly remain to the rightful heirs of the same Thomas Toller at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor by service in respect thereof previously due and by right customary. And they give the lord for fine as appears in the heading.
And also the aforesaid John Holte surrenders in the same court into the lord’s hand to the use of the aforesaid Thomas Toller and Anne and their heirs of the body between them lawfully procreated one acre of land lying in Bowehill Close and a half-acre of land lying in Cobbeshawe and one piece of land lying in Bexwells Busshes in West Morden formerly John Williams, to have to themselves of the lord at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor. And they give the lord for heriot nothing because the same John Holte still remains the lord’s tenant. And they give for fine as appears in the heading.
Also they present that the aforesaid John Holte, who of the lord holds by charter 6 acres of land lying in Combstrodecloose and a half-acre lying in Stertfurlong in the Southfield [le Southfeld] of West Morden by fealty and rent [blank] a year suit of court with relief in respect thereof, enfeoffed John Ownsted of Farley, Thomas Toller, Thomas Heringman and others to the use of the said Thomas Toller and his heirs forever. The which Thomas Toller and Thomas Heryngman, being present in court, do the lord fealty for themselves and the co-feoffees.
Following John’s death in 1537, Isabel retained her 54 acres that she held jointly, a further 43 acres of customary land passing to a cousin and 17 acres of freehold land to a nephew:109
It is found by the homage that John Holte, who of the lord held customarily by roll of court jointly with Isabella his wife, still surviving, one tenement and 20 acres land and meadow pertaining to the tenement called Spykes [E] lying in West Morden, held to the same John Holte and Isabella and John Holt’s heirs, as appears by copy produced in court dated Tuesday 7 October 10 Henry VII []. The aforesaid John Holt died since the last court and the aforesaid Isabella is still in full life [in plena vita] and she holds within by virtue [intus virtute] of the aforesaid copy for the term of her life. And she does the lord fealty. And that [blank] is kinsman and next heir to the land aforesaid, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot one ox worth [blank] by the death of the aforesaid John etc.
Likewise they present that John Holt and Isabella his wife, who of the lord held jointly to themselves and their heirs one parcel of land called Westhawes [H32] lying in severalty [seperatim – in a private enclosure] in the fields of Morden containing by estimation 30 acres by rent of 6s 8d a year and other service. The which John Holt died since the last court. And the aforesaid Isabella survives him and she holds within by right of joint tenancy. And being present in court she does the lord fealty.
Likewise they present that John Holte, who of the lord held freely by charter together with Isabella his wife, John Atwood and John Heryngman to themselves and their heirs to the use of the aforesaid John Holte and his heirs, one garden called Plummershawe [P] in Morden and 4 acres of arable land with pertinents lying separately/in severalty [seperatim] in Morden aforesaid, by fealty, relief, 12d a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due, has died. And now comes Henry Knyght of Knyghtishill attorney of the aforesaid Isabella and claims the aforesaid land because the aforesaid Isabella holds it for the term of her life by virtue of charter and enfeoffment. And that Richard Holte is kinsman and next heir to the aforesaid John Holte, namely son of Nicholas Holte elder brother of the aforesaid John Holte. And [s]he does the lord fealty.
It is found by the homage that John Holte – who of the lord held by copy of roll of court one tenement with garden adjoining and eight acres of land late in the tenure of Alice Langton widow [B23], called Pycotes and one garden and a half-acre of land late John Dunton [B34], and a half-acre and one rood of land formerly Thomas Leycetter [B33], and one toft with curtilage and three acres of land formerly Swaynes [unidentified], and one cottage [N2] with two acres and a half of land formerly Peter Popsent [B41], and also one garden [and] 2½ acres of land formerly Peter Popsent [B31], all which premises were late Alice Langton widow and later Laurence Aylmer knight and William Aylmer his son as appears by copy produced in court dated 27 April 4 Henry VIII [] – died since the last court, after whose death there falls due to the lord for heriot one ox worth [blank]. And furthermore they say that Johanna now wife of John Symond and aged 60 years is his kin and the nearest heir of the aforesaid John Holte, namely daughter of John Holte younger brother of John Holte father of the aforesaid John Holte.
And also he held, on the day that he died, by copy of roll of court one vacant piece of land late built [B21] and two acres of land in Le Held’ [N8] formerly William Mylly late in the tenure of Elizabeth Camryngham and ten [dcam] acres of land of the tenure of the tenement of Growtes lying in Parkers Close [B621] next to the hedge of John Holte on the west and a close late in the tenure of George Lord, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot one ox as appears, by copy produced in court dated 12 April 21 Henry VIII [].
And also he held, on the day that he died, by copy of roll of court one cottage with orchard and garden adjoining called Bexwells and 9 acres of arable land in West Morden [X] which was late in the tenure of John Wylliams, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot one ox worth as appears, by copy produced in court dated 18 April 11 Henry VIII [].110
And also he held on the day that he died one close of land called Gyrmans [C1] containing 8 acres and another customary close called Nether Lotkyns [L1] containing 2 acres, parcel of the tenure of Thomas Toller called Wylcokkes, by rent of 3s 4d a year of new apportionment.
Moreover he held on the day that he died by copy of roll of court one cottage with curtilage and garden adjoining formerly Thomas Barker [unidentified], and one acre of land lying on the west of the church of Morden called Bexwells [X1], and a rood of land lying in a certain croft called Willets containing 5 acres of land [U51] and also one cottage with garden adjoining called Swaynes [I2] and 3 acres of arable land [N3] [B22] and one acre of meadow in Mitcham Mede [Micheh’m Mede] next to land of the lord of Ravensbury [B222] as appears by copy produced in court dated 12 January 9 or 11 Henry VIII [].111 Whence there falls to the lord one ox worth [blank]. And that Johanna, wife of John Symonds is his kin and the nearest heir of the aforesaid John Holte, namely as above. To whom thereof etc. And she is admitted etc.
And also the aforesaid John Holte held freely on the day that he died one close in East Morden late Dountons containing by estimation 10 acres [U3] [U4] [U5] by fealty, rent of 4s a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot [blank]. And that Richard Holte is his kinsman and next heir of the aforesaid John Holte, namely son of Nicholas Holte, elder brother of the aforesaid John Holte etc.
And also he held freely on the day that he died one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn [W1], with five acres of meadow lying together in East Morden [U6] [B5], formerly Thomas Brewse, by fealty, rent of 7d a year, suit of court, heriot and relief when it falls due. The which Richard Holte being present in court pledged his relief, namely 4s 7d.
Unlike the Hegges’ holding, the individual component properties are all listed here, as in other property transfers, and the origins of some are traced to a period over a century earlier (though a few are as yet untraceable). As we saw in the previous chapter, 55 acres of Toller’s land had been held as a unit since 1487 (see page 193), and it is possible that they too had been rationalised, like the Hegges’ holding.
But it had started in a small way, with the acquisition of an additional acre here and a toft there. The Lightfoot brothers are mentioned in respect of 2¾ acres that had long been linked with Adams virgate tenement. The Lightfoot family first makes an appearance in extant records in November 1389, when Simon Lightfoot (there are many variant spellings) was amerced for breaking the assize as a brewer.112 The following year he was listed among the tithingers paying the common fine.113 In 1393 he and his wife Johanna were plaintiffs in a plea of land against John and Johanna Andrew, who had a 10-year lease of Rykedons [R].114 Between 1394 and 1396 Simon was repeatedly ordered to repair his ruinous building, but no indication is given of where this was.115 Later the family home seems to have been the messuage and curtilage [F3] formerly held by the serviens of the manor, Alexander atte Breggende de Kingston. Johanna may have inherited
this from her father, Richard Perham, together with the ½-acre Gildencrofte [A3], probably the curtilage that Henry Guldene had held by rent increment in 1312.116 The building was ruinous again in 1403 and 1404.117
As we saw in chapter 2, in November 1400 Simon, with Thomas Gaston or Garston, son-in- law of Ralph Edward, took on a 7-year lease at farm of Adams virgate holding [A], one of three virgate holdings currently vacant, at 12 shillings a year (see extract on page 36).118 The manorial accounts reveal that the lease also included atte Wode’s toft [A2], which appears to have been carved out of Adams tenement but was now permanently reunited with it:119
From Simon Lightfoot and Thomas Gaston for farm of 20 acres land formerly Simon son of Thomas and afterwards Adam Est and 1 tenement and ½ acre land formerly Walter Attewode leased to them per year 4 terms 12s.
Simon and Johanna also leased a toft, parcel of the Rectory [N0], for 20 years from 1408, at 6d a year.120 In 1411/12 Simon leased two virgate properties, Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J], for 10 years at a combined rent of 12 shillings,121 Adams tenement [A] having been granted to John Bayly in 1406 under customary tenure.122
William Lightfoot, presumably Simon’s and Johanna’s elder son, was sworn into the tithing in May 1405, being over 12 years of age.123 In 1413 their other son John is mentioned as being over 12 years old but not yet sworn into a tithing, a situation that was remedied the following year.124
In 1421 Simon and Johanna were jointly admitted to 1¾ acres held in severalty [seperatim] [F2], by surrender of Alice Welot (see extract in chapter 10 page 212).125 This had been inherited by Alice (or possibly her mother of the same name) and her husband John from her father, Alan Hayter, in 1378, together with customary property in Central Road [B62].126 We have already noted that in 1312 John le Hayter had held 1½ acres at a rent increment of 7d [F2], obtained in 1304 from Peter Schutte, who had obtained it from John Snoter in 1297 (see chapter 2 pages 29–30).127 John le Hayter also held a small freehold property likewise obtained from Snoter, for which he paid 6d rent in 1312, which remained in the possession of Alan’s widow, Anicia – probably the later Plummershawe [P]. Anicia also retained an interest in 20 acres ‘at Gildonlond’ leased jointly with her husband from 1356, on a life-lease paying 8 shillings a year, no doubt the moiety of the tenement held by Henry Gulden [G] in 1312, which seems to have adjoined Adams tenement [A].128 Later this property was back in the hands of the Gulden family, so this lease might have been granted during the minority of the Gulden heir.
Alice and John Welot’s inheritance from Alan Hayter was described as a messuage and croft in West Morden with a half-rood in Longeforlanges [F2]. Alan had held a further acre which had been taken into the lord’s hand on his death, when it was discovered that he had leased it without licence to William Northwic, but it would seem that the Welots had recovered this land before 1421.129 No messuage was mentioned in Alice’s surrender to the Lightfoots, though their cottage [F3] passed with this land in future (see below). It is possible that the Lightfoots and the Welots were related or otherwise connected, as in 1436 John Lightfoot received a toft and 1-acre by deathbed surrender of Agnes Welot,130 possibly Goodwynys Acre [B62] next to the vicarage in Central Road, or possibly an acre from William Bunt’s tenement [B51] purchased from her parents in 1404 (see chapter 6 page 123). Johanna Lightfoot’s father and Simon Welot both hailed from Parham in Sussex.
In 1438 John Lightfoot was admitted with Simon Popsent to a cottage and ½-acre [N9] by surrender of Matilda Edward, and his brother William was granted the ½-acre ‘next to Adam Traceys Lane’ that became Growtes [N0].131 This is later described as ‘parcel of the Rectory’ – could it be the toft that Simon had leased in 1408? John served as chief pledge in 1436 and 1438, as aletaster from 1443, and in various offices over 29 years, whereas William, though often among the tithingers accompanying the chief pledge from 1439 and serving on the homage in 1439, 1441 and 1450, does not appear to have held any other office.132
Simon Lightfoot died in November 1438, his wife, called ‘Alice’ in the court roll, continuing to hold a cottage and Alice Welot’s 1¾ acres [F2]:133
Likewise they present that Simon Lyghtfote, who of the lord held 1 cottage and one acre and three roods of land lying divided [divisi] in the field of Morden jointly with Alice his wife, died in November last preceding. And nothing for heriot because he had no animals etc.
The cottage was presumably the messuage formerly held by Alexander atte Breggende de Kingston [F3], mentioned above, which Johanna surrendered in 1439 to William and his wife Johanne, together with the eastern half of Gildencrofte [A32], the western half [A31] going to his brother:134
At this court comes Johanna, late wife of Simon Lyghtfote, daughter and heir of Richard Perham, and surrenders into the hand of the lord, for herself and her heirs forever, one messuage with curtilage formerly Alexander atte Breggeende to the use of William Lyghtfote and Johanne his wife, to have and to hold the aforesaid messuage with curtilage and its pertinents to the same William and Johanne, and William’s heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent services and customs due. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
At this court comes Johanna late wife of Simon Lyghtfote, daughter and heir of Richard Perham and surrenders into the lord’s hand for herself and her heirs forever, a fourth part of one acre of land, parcel of Gildencrofte lying at the same place on the east, to the use of William Lyghtfote and Johanne his wife, to have and to hold the said fourth part to the aforementioned William and Johanne, and William’s heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc by rent services and customs due, saving and reserving to John Lyghtfote, his heirs and assigns, one way [via] at the same place to his tenement with his carts and other things necessary to his same tenement. And they give the lord for fine as appears. And they do fealty.
At this court comes Johanna late wife of Simon Lyghtfote, daughter and heir of Richard Perham and surrenders into the lord’s hand for herself and her heirs forever, a fourth part of one acre of land, parcel of Gildencrofte lying at the same place on the west, to the use of John Lyghtfote, to have and to hold the said fourth part to the aforesaid John, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc by rent services and customs due, saving and reserving to William Lyghtfote, his heirs and assigns, one way [via] at the same place to his tenement with his carts and other things necessary to his same tenement. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
In 1440 William’s ‘barn upon his tenement called Perhams’ was ‘ruinous and unrepaired’.135 At some time John apparently received Alice Welot’s 1¾ acres [F2], in addition to the western half of Gildencrofte [A31], as they were in his possession by 1458.136
In May 1444 William Lightfoot was granted the copyhold of Adams virgate [A], which his father had leased at farm 44 years previously:137 At this court the lord grants William Lyghtfote one toft with close adjoining and all other lands lying divided [divis’] within the field of Morden formerly John Adams’ tenement, later John Bayly, to have and to hold the said toft and close and all other lands aforesaid to the aforementioned John [sic] Lyghtfote, his heirs and assigns, of the lord at the lord’s will by roll of court saving [the lord’s] right etc. Rendering the lord in respect thereof yearly at the usual festivals the rent and service in respect thereof due and accustomed. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty.
At the same court he surrendered his ‘cottage and garden formerly Ralph Tracy’ [N0] to John and Juliane Growte.
The rental of 1448–50 shows that William paid 12 shillings for ‘rent of Wat Adames’ (a conflation of John Adam’s tenement [A] and Walter atte Wode’s toft [A2]), plus 6d for ‘his own rent’.138 John paid 8 shillings for his properties, including Lotekyns toft and virgate [L], which his father had been leasing at 7 shillings a year.139 John and Alicia Lightfoot were holding it by customary tenure in 1462 when they surrendered it to their daughter Alicia, married to Henry Sager.140
As we saw in the previous chapter, in 1455 William and his wife Johanne surrendered all their holdings, probably including the land belonging to Adams tenement [A] and certainly atte Wode’s ½-acre toft [A2], their ¼-acre in Gildencrofte [A32], and Alexander atte Breggende’s cottage [F3] (see page 213).141 Nicholas and Lucy Drayton in turn surrendered them all in 1457 to John Elmys, a London pewterer, though the ‘toft’ is now described as a ‘croft’.142 The following year John Lightfoot surrendered to Elmys Alice Welot’s former 1¾ acres ‘in the Southfeld of Morden’ [F2].143
John probably also surrendered to Elmys his ¼-acre in Gildencrofte [A31], as Alice Wylot’s former holding is thereafter described as a tenement and 2 acres.144 We have followed the later descent of this holding in the previous chapter (see page 192), and also noted that the cottage, the Welot 1¾-acres and the reunited Gildencrofte ½-acre seem to be the cottage and 2⅛ acres that the Cowepers surrendered to John Goldewyre in 1487 [G2], even though they continued to be listed as part of the multiple holding which included Adams as late as the 1536 surrender to the Tollers!
It is not known where William lived after 1455, but in 1458 he was admitted to a cottage and curtilage formerly Reginald Edward [E3] on surrender by Dionisia Swyfte.145 William died in 1465, whereupon his son Robert was declared to be heir to this ‘cottage with garden in West Morden’, but he did not claim the property, which was declared ruinous in 1467, and seized into the lord’s hand.146
John Lightfoot had received another virgate holding, formerly Huberds [S], in 1456 by surrender of his son-in-law Henry Sager, which John surrendered in 1467 to Nicholas Dewy.147 John was brewing in 1441, 1444, 1456 and 1462, presumably at his cottage [N9] as Lotekyns [L] was still being described as a toft in 1446.148 In 1478 it was reported that both John and Alicia were dead, and that the ‘toft and lands adjoining and pertaining’ were to be inherited jointly by their daughters Alicia Stevenson, widow of Henry Sager, and the unnamed wife of Dunnyng.149 (A John Dunnyng was a chief pledge 1475–9 and 1486–97,150 and held the sub-lease of Adams without licence in 1488.)151 Alicia Stevenson died in 1480, leaving Lotekyns to her son, Edmund Sager.152 Edmund was chief pledge in 1482, but no further mention is made of him, or of the property, in extant records.153
A ‘John Lightfoot junior’ is mentioned in 1441 as owing suit of court, and he served as aletaster in 1444.154 Thereafter ‘John Lightfoot’ appears without any distinction being made, which might indicate that John senior was already dead. However, in 1462, ‘Lightfoot senior’ was amerced as a brewer, something that is never recorded of William, so it seems likely that both Johns were still alive in that year.155 John junior is probably the John son of Agnes Lightfoot (née Berenger) to whom Margery Tracy left property in 1447 (see chapter 10 page 208).156 Margery was the widow of William Berenger, and she left the cottage [I2] and adjoining acre [N3] that she had held jointly with her husband to William’s relatives – his sister Alice, married to Robert Newbury, and his nephew John, son of his other sister, Agnes Lightfoot, who was already dead, presumably John senior’s first wife, as his wife was recorded as Alicia in court records of 1462 and 1478.157 The Newburys had already received other Berenger property from Margery in 1435 [I1] [B22] [B222].158 They might have bought out John’s interest, as he was not mentioned when Alice surrendered her properties to Thomas and Cristina Leycester in 1450.159 John’s sisters inherited on the death of their parents, so it would seem that John junior had died before 1478 – or was it John junior who was married to Alicia, surrendered Lotekyns [L] to his daughter in 1462, and whose death was reported in 1478?
Although primarily intended as a study of the accumulation of small plots connected with Adams tenement, this excursion into the property dealings of the Lightfoot family has also revealed the mobility of their activity within the property market, acquiring and relinquishing copyhold and leasehold virgates and half-virgates, small plots of land and cottages over the decades. Both William and John seem to have had a fondness for certain properties once held by their parents – William taking over for 11 years Adams tenement, more than 40 years after his father had briefly leased it, and John retaining Lotekyns for some years after his father’s death – but this does not constitute the strong attachment of family to land that is evident in the 13th and early 14th centuries.
The extent of accumulation
Chart 11.5 on page 254 plots the size of properties held at key moments in the manor’s history. The earliest extant list of free and customary holdings is the custumal c.1225.160 Some of the freeholds listed here were subsequently lost to the manor, with the creation of Merton Priory’s Hobalds estate. The extent of 1312 gives a detailed list of all the holdings, including cottage plots.161 The impact of the Black Death is recorded in the manorial accounts, which enable a reconstruction of most of the tenants of virgate and half-virgate tenements (see chapter 7).162 The rent roll included in the account roll for 1448–50 (see figures 11.1 and 11.2) provides a unique snapshot of the tenants and their rents, and most of the holdings can be identified in contemporary records.163 1487 saw many property transfers, and most of the holdings can again be reconstructed.164 Finally 1536 was the year that John Holt surrendered a substantial section of his estate in Morden to Thomas Toller, as we have seen above,165 and it is also possible to identify the properties in the possession of other landholders.
This chart follows the history of 393 acres of mostly arable land identifiable through extant records, but omits messuage plots and adjoining crofts on virgated tenements and also cottage plots and associated crofts of less than an acre. It also omits demesne land held by the tenant as farmer of the demesne or as a sub-tenant, as well as holdings in the Common Meadow – which are seldom mentioned in the records – but it does include individual pasture and meadow lands.
Although there was an increasing tendency towards the creation of large holdings, the chart demonstrates that for most of the medieval period these were still rare. As late as 1450 only 42% of the total acreage was held by the two largest proprietors and 95% of the holdings were less than 25 acres. Even in 1487 two-thirds of the holdings were 20 acres or less.
Tofts
It must also be remembered that the accumulation of holdings into a single ownership did not necessarily create a single unit of occupation. Many of the large landholders were not resident in Morden, and their properties would have been sublet. One clue as to occupation is the description of house-plots as ‘tofts’. The word toft has appeared frequently in this chapter, referring to a plot on which a house had formerly stood. Each tenement had its own ‘messuage’ – the house-plot with its house and outbuildings around the yard – and an adjoining croft for its livestock. Although a tenant might hold more than one property he only occupied one house and its buildings. If he had no family members in need of other houses he would be inclined to neglect the vacant dwellings, and in time they would be too ruinous to remain standing.
We have seen that John Huberd held Makernays [M] 1½-virgate tenement in addition to his family tenement [S]. When he died in April 1349 only the land belonging to Makernays was mentioned, not the messuage, and in 1352/53 the 5-acre toft belonging to Makernays was leased at farm.166 John had been manorial reeve and yet he had been allowed to neglect the house belonging to this substantial tenement. Makernays toft and 30 acres land was leased to Alan Berenger in October 1399, while three other virgates with tofts remained vacant – Adams [A], Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J].167 There is no evidence that Godesones and Jocyes were ever rebuilt. Of their apparent successors, Andrews [H33] was described in 1512 as ‘a toft ‘formerly built on’, and Westhawes [H32] did not have any housing.168 However, Makernays [M] was described as a ‘tenement’ from 1437 and Adams [A], still described as a toft in 1444, seems to have been rebuilt before 1463, when it too was described as a ‘tenement’, though it was reported as being in a ruinous state between 1463 and 1474.169 The house-plot on Bexwells ½-virgate [X] was a toft in 1388 when granted to the Fowlers (see chapter 2 page 32), and it continued to be described as a toft until 1409.170 From 1466 it was variously described as a cottage or tenement but was frequently reported to be ruinous.171
Lotekyns messuage [L] is recorded until 1406, though ruinous between 1384 and 1399.172 It was a toft by 1442, but was described as a tenement from 1462.173 Its detached croft [L1] was described as a toft between 1402 and 1447, and does not appear to have had any buildings when held as ‘a close called Netherlotkyns’ by John Holt in 1536.174 There are references to Rykedons [R] toft in June 1391, and in January 1392 to Rykedons ‘messuage toft’, indicating that there had been a house here previously.175 Yerdes [F4], the new house-plot for the 20-acre atte Wode moiety [F], created after atte Wode’s former toft [A2] had been reunited with Adams tenement [A] in the late 14th century (see above), was described as a tenement or messuage from the 1390s until 1455, though ruinous 1391–98 and 1437–47, but from 1513 it was a toft.
The atte Ryth [T] tenement survived until it was absorbed into Hegges [H] in 1417, though it was reported as ruinous between 1379 and 1388.176 Cokcyes [C] also survived, though frequently ruinous between 1383 and 1468.177 Gildens [G] survived into the 16th century, but was briefly ruinous 1514–16.178 By 1519 the Mannyngs apparently held 3 tenements and a cottage with Gildens, though in 1521 it was just 1 messuage and 1 cottage that they sold to John Hyller (see chapter 2 page 28).179 Even Edwards [E] was reported as ruinous in November 1379 but it had been repaired by November 1380.180 However, in May 1385 and again in February 1386 it was reported that John Edward’s bakehouse [pistrina] or cookshop [coquina] was ruinous, but no further complaint was made, so it was presumably soon repaired.181 Ralph Edward, who held Huberd’s former family tenement [S] by 1398, had a ruinous building 1378–80, 1385–91 and 1394–98, but in 1383 it is stated that it was his cottage formerly Brownynges [E3] that needed repair, and it is likely that all the complaints related to that property, perhaps having been neglected once he had taken over Huberds.182
Otherwise, of the tenements of a ½-virgate or more, only Hegges [H] and Wynteworthes [W] seem to have survived unscathed, the later being described in 1458 as a ‘tenement with messuages, cottages,’ etc.183
Of the smaller cottage properties, many recorded in the early 14th century have proved impossible to trace in later records (see table 11.6 overleaf). They were probably absorbed by their neighbours in the same way that John Parker held ‘one cottage lately contained in three cottages’ [V1] in Morden from Ravensbury manor in October 1488.184
Of the Berengers’ two cottage sites sometimes confused between Belles [I1] and Tracys [I2], that which passed to the Lords was regularly presented at court as ruined between 1437 and 1450,185 and was described as a toft thereafter,186 while that which passed to Holt remained as a cottage. The Berengers clearly did not require both cottages and let one fall from disrepair to destruction. Of the Lords’ other house sites, Growtes [N0] and Bawdes [I9] continued to be occupied, and were never reported as ruinous, presumably having been frequently repaired and even rebuilt – Growtes was described as a ‘new buylded mansion house’ in 1554.187 Mallards [I7] had a cottage until 1512, but thereafter was described as a toft;188 their moiety of the George inn site [I82] was a toft ‘lately built on’ from 1522;189 and Swaynes [Y] was a toft from 1455 to 1512,190 but was described as having a cottage from 1513 to 1540.191
Of the other two cottage sites which passed to Holt, Bonehams [B21] continued to be occupied until 1502, though described as ruinous from 1500,192 but had become a toft ‘recently built upon’ by 1507,193 and from 1524 was merely ‘a vacant piece of land late built upon’.194 A cottage continued on the site of Matilda Popsent’s former cottage [N2] until 1537, though presented as ruinous in 1417–18 and 1468.195 Pycottes tenement [B23] remained occupied, though regularly presented as ruinous between 1449 and 1468,196 and between 1490 and 1508,197 and from 1538 to 1541.198
Of the Parkers’ copyholds, only Byrshams [B63] survived as a cottage, though it had been presented as ruinous from 1396 to 1399.199 The adjoining Clerkys Hawe [B62] was described as a parcel of land in 1473,200 and as a toft from 1494 to 1519,201 but as a cottage in 1520.202 The cottage on Skottes Hawe [N7] had been regularly presented as ruinous between 1385 and 1422,203 and from 1462 to 1469.204 In 1473 it was called a croft, and thereafter merely a parcel of land.205 Grangers was a toft [I5] and land [I6] from 1416 to 1520.206 However, Parker’s two blocks of copyholds, and Bonehams between them, were to become intensively settled again in coming centuries, with 13 cottages and houses in occupation here in 1838, though paddock and orchards occupied 2 acres.207
12: THE TUDOR LANDSCAPE 259
In the preceding chapter we noted considerable changes in the pattern of landholding over the course of the second half of the 15th century as properties large and small were accumulated by a handful of tenants, many of them not resident within the manor. In this chapter we will attempt another virtual walk through Morden to observe the effect these changes had made on the landscape since the extent had been drawn up in 1312. The obvious date for such a visit would be 1553, the year in which the first known maps of the area were produced (see chapter 5 pages 98–101),1 and also the year that the manor of Morden was sold by the Crown to the first lay lords of the manor, Edward Whitchurch and Lionel Ducket.2 However, no court rolls survive between 1541 and the 1590s, so we have little real evidence concerning landholding at this date.
Although we will note changes that occurred later in the century, we will undertake our survey on another key date as far as Morden is concerned, 14 March 1537, when the manorial court was informed of the death of John Holt, who had held the largest accumulation of copyholds and freeholds within the manor (see chapter 11 page 247).3 At that time the manor was still held by Westminster Abbey, which survived as a monastery until January 1539/40,4 but all its rights, other than the presentation of vicars, had been devolved when the final lease was granted to William Porter in 1511,5 thereby weakening Morden’s centuries-old link with the abbey. Although the heading of the court rolls continued to record his name as farmer of the manor until May 1529, William had died some years earlier.6 His will was signed 1 March 1521/2 and proved 31 March 1522, when his children were under the age of 21. He left his London properties in trust to his elder son Antony, and to his younger son Mathew he bequeathed:7
There is no record that he held any freeholds by charter but he did have a copyhold tenement in Morden, as revealed in this extract from the court roll of October 1534:8 It is found by the homage that William Porter Gent who of the lord held by copy of roll of court one tenement and 30 acres of land in West Morden formerly Hegge [H31] by rent of 10s a year, died tenant thereof about 13 years past, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot one horse valued at 2s. And that Mathew Porter is his youngest son and next heir to the aforesaid land according to the custom of the manor. The which Mathew, being present in court, seeks his admittance to the premises, to whom the lord by his steward delivered seisin thereof by the rod to have etc.
At the same court Mathew was admitted to further copyholds:
At this court comes John Judd who of the lord holds by copy of roll of court one tenement called Makerneys [M] containing 30 acres land by rent of 10s and 2 boonworks a year, and one toft containing 20 acres land called Yerdes [F] by rent of 21d and 2 boonworks a year, and one toft with ten acres land called Andrewes alias Hawkes [H33] in Morden by rent of 3s 4d and 2 boonworks a year, formerly Pleystowes. And he surrenders the premises to the use of Mathew Porter youngest son of William Porter Gent deceased, whence there falls due to the lord for heriot one horse worth 2s. The which Mathew Porter, being present in court, seeks his admittance. And he is admitted etc.
Judd had been Mathew’s father’s executor and had been admitted to these properties in 1524, when it had been noted: ‘it is intended that John Judde himself, whenever he was lately shown a request by William Porter or his heirs, ought to surrender the aforesaid tenement, toft and other premises with their pertinents to the same William or his assigns’, so it would seem that he held them as a trustee.9 At the next court, in May 1535, Mathew surrendered these copyholds to Thomas Heringman.10
The manorial centre
William had distinguished between these properties ‘in Mordon’, and other property in ‘Monkton’, the demesne lands of the manor that he leased at farm. As we noted in chapter 1, Monkton, or
Monkyn Farm was the name used in the 16th century for the old manorial centre on the Morden Hall site. However, William Porter had been an absentee and had sublet the demesne. From 1516 to 1526 William Woodman is frequently described in the court rolls as ‘the lord’s farmer’, ‘farmer of the manor’ or ‘farmer of this lordship’, and a memorandum of May 1535, when Mathew’s elder brother, Antony, was acting as steward at the manorial court, begins:11 As we saw in chapter 1, the manorial centre was in the far north-east corner of Morden, and part of the present moated enclosure of Morden Hall lies within neighbouring Merton parish. There was easy access to Merton Common via an entrance near the site of the present Civic Centre.
The lease of the manor was surrendered to the new lord of the manor, Richard Garth, in 1568, three years before it was due to expire.14 Garth had purchased the manor of Morden from Whitchurch in March 1553/4,15 and in May 1564 he purchased further land nearby in the south-east corner of Merton parish, formerly part of Merton Priory’s ‘grange there without the gates of the Priory’,16 which would later become Morden Hall Farm.17 However, the farmhouse for Morden Hall Farm on the site at the junction of the present Morden Road and Kenley Road was a later development for, in December 1588, when Garth leased these Merton lands to John Everest, he included the ‘Farm howse called Muncketon’. In this lease it was noted that Garth reserved to himself:18
all the new Parlor behynde the hall and the Chamber on the same, with free ingress, egress and regress unto the same when and as often as need shall require … [and] the appletrees and peretrees standing in the newe great Orcharde at Monketon farme behynde the great barne there and all manner woodes, underwoodes and trees standing and growing in and upon the premises … and half the peres and apples of the best fruit growing within the said Orcharde to be chosen and taken yearly by Richard Garth or his assigns.
Garth had made a similar reservation at his manor of Hever in Kent in July 1579, when he leased ‘the scite and demesne lands … except the new parlour and a chamber and study over it …’.19
Although the new orchard and buildings at Morden probably date from Garth’s lordship, it would appear that the new rooms were merely additions to an existing hall house, perhaps replacing an earlier parlour and chamber that didn’t meet Garth’s standards. There are references to a hall with a chamber above, and to a solar – a private upper room designed to catch the sun – in account rolls from the 14th century,20 while in 1409/10 ‘the hall chambers and other manor buildings’ had undergone extensive repairs, 2 carpenters working for 26 weeks, another for 13 weeks, and 2 more for 17 days. Walter Dyker spent 10 days ‘pulling down the old roofing of the hall and barn’, before ‘Robert Shorefoot, tiler [tegulator], with his mate [garcio]’ spent ’50 days strengthening walls of various buildings and tiling anew the manor buildings’, while a tiler was ‘hired for 6 days for roofing over the barn with 1 servant’.21 Further work was recorded in 1495/96, but the details were on a separate schedule which has not survived:22
And in various costs of repairs made this year upon new building all the buildings at the same place, both in timber and other stuff bought for the same and in stipends of carpenters, tilers and other labourers working at the same place just as more fully appears by 1 detailed schedule [billa de parcella’] thereof examined at this audit in the presence of the auditors £16 5s 3d. Sum £16 5s 3d.
Growtes
Adjoining Monkton Farm was the copyhold property known as Growtes [N0], after John Growte who had been admitted in May 1444.23 Margaret Growte had surrendered it to the Draytons in 1461, and it had passed with other properties to George and Alice Lord in 1522 (see chapter 11 page 239).24 Alice was one of only two female tenants ever to be recorded in extant Morden court rolls as serving on the homage of the manorial court, in May 1535 and in April 1537, John Holt’s widow Isabella also serving on the latter occasion.25 This probably indicates that they each had ‘country homes’ in Morden, although Alice’s ‘town house’ was in Westminster. It might seem strange today that Londoners would have a country home in Morden, but a very personal account survives of such a situation in neighbouring Merton in the very year of our visit. At the age of 85, Rose Hickman, daughter of William Lock who had leased Merton Holts, later Merton Hall Farm, from Merton Priory, wrote her recollections of childhood. Under the date 13 October 1537 Rose recalls:26
Then there was a plague in London, and my father and mother removed 7 miles of into the country where she was delivered of a chylde, fell sick and dyed.
(John Aubrey noted that on his perambulation in 1673 he had found a brass plate in a marble gravestone at Merton parish church bearing the words: ‘Pray for the soule of Kateryn Lok, sumtyme the wife of William Lok, mercer of London’.27 Merton Holts was probably named after our own John Holt who, as John Holt of Tooting, yeoman, held several properties in Merton until 1516, when he surrendered them to the priory.28)
In March 1553/4 Growtes was described as a ‘new buylded mansion house called Growtes being copiehold of the manor of Mordon aforsaid in whiche the said Edwarde [Whitchurch] now dwellith and occupieth’.30 Included with the sale document is a detailed inventory of furnishings in Growtes, arranged room by room – 9 chambers, 2 parlours, hall, kitchen, buttery, milkhouse and boultinghouse, listed in the following order:
the chamber over the parlour next the lane, the backe chambre over the parloure, the thirde chambre, the fourth chamber over the kychen, the 4th chamber over the buttry, the servauntes chamber over the hall [with ladder to apple loft], the chamber over the litle parlor, my chambre, the parler, the hall, the kytchyn, the mylke house, the chamber over the bultynghous, the grene parlor
Was this mansion house newly-built for Whitchurch, or had it been built for George and Alice after 1522? Young Henry’s bequest was to be kept in trust for him until he reached his full age of 21 years, which would have been c.1547, but no court rolls survive to show when he surrendered the properties. Whitchurch was admitted to copyhold lands in neighbouring Ravensbury manor in 1550/51, so was probably occupying Growtes at that time, though his purchase of the manor of Morden was only finalised in 1553.31 In his will of 1597, proved 1598, Richard Garth left to his widow for life ‘the use and occupation’ of his ‘householde stuffe’ in Growtes, and made specific mention of the ‘wainscott, seelinge, glasse, barres of iron and other yron and ironworke’.32 This matches the description in an insurance policy of 1753 on ‘a timber house etc on the east side of the road leading from Morden to Mitcham, in the parish of Morden, Surrey, standing clear, and in his own possession’, belonging to Philip Selby of Morden, Surrey, Gent, which almost certainly relates to Growtes:33 Later evidence suggests that the Tudor mansion survived until c.1780, when the Poor Rate assessment was increased from £30 to £100 at a time when it was owned by John Groves, a ‘bricklayer’.34 Soon afterwards James Edwards, in his Companion from London to Brighthelmston published c.1789, described Groves’s property, then called ‘Moordon-Grove’, as a ‘neat house’ – his usual description for an elegant well-proportioned house, typically of the latter part of the 18th century. If the Tudor mansion had remained he would probably have described it as ‘antique’ – another of his favourite expressions, reserved for older properties.35
Tracyes
The tenement to the north included in the insurance policy might have been another of the copyholds belonging to the Lord family, described as the ‘toft with curtilage adjoining formerly Bellys’ from 1508, but in 1484 and 1492 as a ‘toft with curtilage adjoining, formerly Bellys, later Henry Tracy’ and previously as a ‘cottage with curtilage called Tracyes’ [I2].36 In 1442 and 1444 it was stated that Growtes had formerly belonged to Ralph Tracy, and its location was given as ‘next to Adamtraceyslane’ in the court roll for May 1438 and ‘at Tracyslane’ in manorial account rolls between 1442 and 1503,37 so it is quite likely that another Tracy holding would have also been in the vicinity.
Swaynes
Before 1513 Growtes was described in the court rolls as a ‘cottage with garden adjoining and a half-acre of land lying in the north field of Morden’ but thereafter as a ‘tenement with garden adjoining with its pertinents called Growtes and a half-acre of land pertaining to the same tenement lying in a close pertaining to the rectory [?R’corie] of Morden’.38 By 1838 its current successor, Morden Lodge, stood in grounds of 3 acres (tithe plot 355). The additional land probably came from another of the copyholds belonging to the Lord family, described in 1513 as a ‘cottage with garden adjoining and 3 acres of land pertaining to the same cottage’, but previously as a ‘toft with curtilage adjoining and 3 acres of land called Swaynes’ [Y].39 As we saw in chapter 1, the house of William son of Sweyn was one of the landmarks for the road diverted in 1225,40
and would have been south of the Morden Hall site in the vicinity of the present Morden Lodge. It is likely that these were the 3 acres that formed the grounds of Growtes, described in 1682 as:41
Central Road
Considerable changes had taken place in Central Road since 1312, the extent having been drawn up at the end of a period that had seen both the conversion of roadside waste into cottage plots and the break-up of Belles customary tenement. By the late 14th century a freehold property here was also broken up and sold in small units by William Bunt. During the late 15th century the trend had reversed, and, as we saw in the previous chapter, these properties were being reunited as they came into the possession of a handful of tenants. By 1537 all but 2 acres of Belles were in the hands of John Holt, and were to pass intact to the Smith family, together with the largest part of Bunt’s former freehold. Most, perhaps all, of the plots in the eastern section of the former roadside waste were included in this holding, while the western section and one acre of Belles was in the hands of one other tenant.
We saw in the previous chapter that in the late 15th century John Parker built up a collection of cottage plots and crofts in Central Road which survived as two distinct but related holdings into the 19th century (see page 241) (tithe plots 250–3 and 258, 260–3), separated by a single cottage plot, Bonehams [B21], which belonged to John Holt in 1537 (tithe plots 254–7). John Parker’s grandson, William junior, held these copyholds in 1537, having been admitted as a 9-month-old infant in 1520.42 He served on the homage in 1540 and 1541,43 and was listed among 30 inhabitants of Morden on a 1539 muster roll (see above, page 258).44 We have seen in chapter 3 (page 67) that the Parker family also held copyhold property in Morden from the manor of Ravensbury – the lands on the opposite side of Central Road, which later formed part of Duckets Farm (tithe plots 326–7, 330–4, 353) (see below).
Parker’s holdings included a croft taken from Belles tenement, once known as Goodwyns Acre but in the 16th century as Clerkys Hawe [B62] (tithe plot 250). Next to this was another croft once held by John Godwyn, but known as Emcottes Acre or Emcotts Hawe [B61] by the 15th century, when it was held by the vicar (tithe plot 248). A legal dispute arose between the vicar and the lord of the manor in the 1580s, the vicar claiming that this croft was part of his glebe, not copyhold, but the judges accepted the evidence of the witnesses that it was copyhold held at 4d quit rent a year.45 It only became part of the glebe by gift of Richard Garth in 1631, under letters patent of Charles I and by agreement of the bishop of Winchester (see chapter 6 page 130).46 The vicarage occupied tithe plot 247, a cottage plot taken from roadside waste in the late 13th century. It became the rectory in 1634, and served as such until the present rectory was built behind the church in 1960.
Until 1537 the ½-acre plot to the north of Clerkys Hawe (plot 249) had probably been held by John Holt. Although it is likely to have been the ‘½-acre [dimid’] in Parker’s close’ [B621] that John Smith held in 1570 and surrendered in 1587 (see below), it was described in 1537 as 10 acres [dcam]:47
Its link with Growtes is unknown, but this might be a clue to the location of some of the Lord family holdings, though it could equally refer to a close of demesne land that Lord had leased in his lifetime but not passed on to his widow.
The exact location of the following Lord family properties in Central Road is unclear (see chapter 13 page 295):48
The ‘hedge of John Holte on the west’ would be that bounding the 8 acres (tithe plots 220 & 259) to the west of Clerkys Hawe and to the north of Parker’s other copyholds, though it is unclear if this was the former Pycot/Pigot holding, which we have suggested was formed from the rump of two copyhold properties, Webbes [B3] and Mellewards [B2] (see chapter 10 page 202), though possibly rationalised by unrecorded exchanges as some references seem to place part of Webbes holding on the east of the vicarage (see chapter 13 page 298). In 1537 ‘called Pycotes’ is inserted then crossed through:49 together with the adjoining freehold properties that later became the estate known as Hazelwood (tithe plots 230–1, 240–1):
Previously only 8¼ acres had been recorded in the first entry, and the erratic western boundary of tithe plots 230–1 might indicate that encroachments upon tithe plot 229 had brought it up to the 10 acres.
The freeholds were inherited by his nephew Richard Holt, and the copyholds by a cousin, Johanna Symonds, but in May 1541 all their properties, both freehold and copyhold, were ordered to be seized into the lord’s hands for non-payment of rent.50 The court rolls end at this point but by June 1570 these freeholds and copyholds were in the hands of John Smith, and it is likely that these former Holt properties in Morden were the ‘freeholde and tenementes’ bequeathed to him in his father’s will together with the lease of Merton Priory’s Spital estate, as well as two copyhold properties in Merton also inherited from his father, Nicholas, in 1560.51 Like William Parker, ‘Nicollas Smyth’ was listed among Morden inhabitants on the 1539 muster roll,52 In his will, Nicholas described himself as ‘of Morden’, and asked to be buried in Morden church, leaving 5 shillings towards weatherboarding its steeple.53
In 1570 John Smith acknowledged that the following copyholds were still liable to all the services that had been listed for a virgate holder in 1312, and surrendered the properties to be granted back to him at a higher rent but ‘wholly exonerated and acquitted from’ these obligations (see chapter 2 page 27):54
The deleted entry would have referred to the two fields totalling 8 acres shown on the tithe map as plots 220 and 259, discussed above [B23]. The probable reference to William Parker would confirm this location. ‘Girmans’, ‘Beckswells’ and the 2 acres between ‘Great Hobblas and Longehille’ will be discussed later in this chapter.
On his death two years later the freeholds passed to his elder son Henry and the copyholds in both Merton and Morden to his younger son John, an eight-year-old left in the guardianship of Henry Kneppe and later of Robert Kneppe until he should reach the age of 18.55
In July 1586 John surrendered his two Merton copyholds,56 and in May 1587, as John Smith the younger of Ifield, Sussex, he surrendered the following copyholds to Richard Garth, lord of the manor of Morden:57
In return John received a 2000-year lease, at £1 per annum ‘plus fines and services incumbent upon copyhold land’, on:
It would be convenient to identify the tenement, cottages and 7 acres in the lease as the same properties listed in 1570, as was the acre in Wallis Mede, but there is always the possibility that some exchanges had taken place to rationalise the estate.
By November 1619 these leasehold lands, together with a 2-acre copyhold called Merton Close (discussed below), had come into the possession of John’s elder brother Henry, who had inherited the adjoining freehold properties, as presented at the manor court in March 1620:58
At this court the homage present upon their oath that a certain Henry Smyth now deceased, formerly one of the tenants of the manor aforesaid, being in possession of one close with pightle adjoining thereto containing by estimation seven acres situate, lying and being behind [pone], in English ‘behynde’, one messuage or tenement late in the tenure and occupation of John Palmer in the parish of Morden in the county of Surrey, and of two cottages with orchard, garden, easement, curtilage, in English ‘backside’, and pertinents thereto belonging, situate, lying and being in a certain common meadow called Walles Meade in the said parish of Morden by virtue of a certain indenture of lease in respect thereof made for various years still to come being [gerend] dated 19 May 29 Elizabeth I, the late queen [1587]. And also being seised of five acres of land freely to himself and his heirs next to a meadow called Walles in Stoylestreete and of eight acres and one rood of land and thus in respect thereof possessing and being seised rendered [rendidit] his last will and testament in writing being [gerend] dated 13 November last past [1619] in these words following, namely – [written in English] ‘In the name of God, Amen. I Henry Smyth of Mordon in the County of Surry yeoman beinge weake in bodye but sounde in mynde and of perfect memory praysed be god doe make and ordayne this my last will and testament in manner and forme folowinge, first I give and bequeath my soule to Almightye God and my bodye to Christian burial in the parish church of Mordon aforesaid. Item I give and bequeath unto my sister Elizabeth fortye shillings to be paide unto her within halfe a yeare after my decease, Item I give unto my brother John Smythe fortye shillings to be paide unto him within halfe a yeare after my decease, Item I give unto Nicholas Lynton the sonne of Joseph Lynton of Mordon aforesaid thirtye shillings to be paide unto him within halfe a yeare after my decease, Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Prudence one close of lande called Merton Close lyinge in the parish of Mordon aforesaid contayninge by estimacon two acres. Item I give unto Marye my wife and to my three daughters Margaret Francis and Prudence my dwellinge house scituate in Mordon aforesaid with all the buildings and edifices thereunto belonginge and all the land I have in Mordon aforesaid (not bequeathed) with all the buildings and edifices thereupon to be by them solde within one yeare after my decease to the full value for ready mony and all the money that shalbe by them receaved for the saide house and lande so solde to be at the receipt thereof equally devided between them foure. Item all my goods and chattels whatsoever not bequeathed I give and bequeath unto Marye my wife who I make my sole executrix of this my last will and testament. Item I make Mr George Garthe of Mordon aforesaid esquire and my brother in law Willyam Kinge of Croyden and Robert Middleton of Mordon aforesaid overseers of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hande and seale this thirteenth of November in the yeare of our Lord 1619′ and afterwards and before this court, thus possessed and seised thereof, he died by reason of which [blank] for relief for the aforesaid five acres of land called Walles and [blank] for relief and one cow worth 40s for heriot for the aforesaid eight acres and one rood of land falls due to the lord and becomes due.
Henry had already sold the 2-acre freehold croft [W1] behind the George inn in 1604.59 It would appear that his widow and daughters sold the Central Road freeholds and leaseholds to John, as a 19th-century abstract of title records that a John Smith assigned the 2000-year lease and sold the adjoining freehold property to Edward Tracy, citizen and clothworker of London, who in turn disposed of both in 1626.60 The two properties continued to be transferred together until the early 19th century and are clearly identifiable on the 1838 tithe map (plots 230–1, 240–6).
Ravensbury
Henry Knepp, the guardian of the young Smiths, was one of the tenants of Ravensbury manor against whom Anthony Toto complained in 1546/47 (see chapter 3 page 72). If Toto is to be fully believed, Kneppe was a formidable opponent, resorting to the use of lightly-veiled threats:61
Morover the said Nepp hathe Intrudyd theis 4 yeres past upon a Orcheyard and a barn in Ravesbury and hathe seyd [many] tymes that he will kepe yor Orators nose to the gryndyngston so that he will make hym wiry[?weary?] of all together.
Allso the said Nepp beyng tenant and fermor unto yor said Orator to declar’ hymsellff to be a pryncypall and a cheif author of the unlaufull assemble and riott thretthenyd yor Orator to his face 8 days before the said ryott with theis wordes in effect: ‘Althoughe all the Town be bent agenst you yt were not best for you to take me in your top’pe[?] to. And then beyng demaunded by yor Orator what then shulld be of the Town that shulld be so bent agenst hym, the said Nepp aunswaryd ‘Ye shall know, I warrant you, ye shall here forth.’ And then, within 8 days after, the said unlaufull and riotous assemble was made by the said parochians and Immedyatly uppon the said riotous assemble they dyd cary away the corne of yor said Orator as in the said byll is pleynly declaryd.
Kneppe denied the charges, claiming that Sir Nicholas Carew, lord of the manor, had leased the manor to his father, Richard Kneppe, and that the lease had not expired:62
Likewise to the orchardes and rest of the landes comprised and specifyed in the seid articles of compleint the seid defendant seieth that Sir Nicholas Carewe knyght nowe deceassed being seased in fee by good title of the seid manour of Ravesbury in the countie of Surrey with th’appertenances, of the which manor the seid orchard and the rest of the landes comprised in the seid articles of compleint ar parte and parcell. And the seid Sir Nicholas so being seased of the seid manor, by his indenture demised and to fearme ded lett the seid manour with th’appertenances to one Richard Knape, father to the seid defendant, for terme of yeres yet contynueng, whose terme [erasure], title and enterest in and to the same manor the seid defendant by good and laufull title nowe hath. And further sayeth as to any ryott, slaunderous wordes and all other mysdemeanours surmised by hym to be done agenst the peace of our sovereigne lord the king or otherwise he sayeth that he is therof not gyltie, and that he is redy to averre and prove as this honorable courte shall award, and prayeth to be dismyssed with his resonable costes and charges in this behalf susteyned.
Although the lease may not have expired, Sir Nicholas had, having been executed for treason in March 1539.63 Richard ‘Knep’, Henry’s father, was still described as the farmer of the manor of Ravensbury in July 1539, when the dispute over the properties of the late William Parker senior was unresolved (see chapter 3 page 71),64 but, as we have seen, Anthony Toto senior was granted a 40-year lease of Ravensbury manor by the king on 2 December 1542.65
However, Henry Kneppe claimed that Toto (‘the complaynant’) had sub-let to him the demesne lands of Ravensbury in July 1543:66
And for farther aunswer the said defendantes sayen that they know not whether our said sovereign lorde the kynge by hys most gracyous letters patens hathe gevyn and grauntid unto the said complaynant the manor of Ravesbury with th’appertinences specified in the said byll of complaynt in maner and forme as in the same byll of complaynt ys recited nor what estate the said complaynant hathe in the same manor, but they saye that the said complaynant by his wryting indented made bytwene the said complaynant of the one parte and the said Henry Knepe, one of the said defendantes, of the other party, th’one parte wherof ys sealid with the seale of the said complaynant and dated the 13th day of July the 35th yere of the raign of our sovereign lord Henry VIII [1543], dymisid, graunted and to farme did lett unto the saide Henry Knepe emong other landes and tenementes of the demeane landes of the manor of Ravesbury to be had to hym and his assignes for terme of certen yeres yet enduring, and in that same indenture specified and conteinid yelding and paying therfore yerely during the same terme to the said complaynant and his heyres the yerely rent of sixtene poundes of lefull money of England at certen dayes and feastes in the same indenture specifyed and conteynid, by force wherof the said Henry Knepe into the demeasne landes of the said manor entred and was and yet is therof possessid and the same occupyeth and inyoieth as laufull ys for hym to do.
Toto confirms this by describing Kneppe as ‘beyng tenant and fermor unto yor said Orator’ in 1546/7.67
Unfortunately the outcome of the above legal proceedings was not recorded, but Toto senior assigned his own lease of the manor to John Hopkyns in May 1552, even though he had already
conveyed the property to trustees for his son, giving rise to yet more litigation – between Toto junior and Richard Hopkyns, son of John.68 The 1583 tithe list (see below, page 277) shows ‘a farme in Mordon in the tenure of Mr Hopkyns – 212 acres’, so it would appear that Toto junior was unsuccessful in his claim.69
Members of the Stondon family had previously held the farm of the manor, ‘Robert Stanton esquire and John Standon, yeoman of the crown,’ having being appointed to take ‘the issues and profits with all pertinents of the said manor and tenements belonging, from the day of the death of the said John late earl of Lincoln [16 June 1487] until the day of this inquisition’,70 taken on 7 February 1488, though the Morden manorial court roll for 29 April 1488 called the farmer of Ravensbury manor ‘William Staunton’ (see chapter 3 page 61).71 The frequent changes in lordship, particularly those following attainder for treason and the consequent forfeiture to the Crown, resulted in conflicting claims by lessees of the manor who each felt that his unexpired lease was still valid. When a lessee further complicated matters with sub-leases and conveyances to trustees, it is hardly surprising that litigation ensued.
In September 1594 it was presented at the Morden manorial court that: 72
the occupier of a certain farm called Ravensbury Farm [Ravisburye ferme] has not sent his jugum, in English his ‘teme’, to repair and mend the royal road within the precinct of this lete as appears above according to the form of the statute in such case recently enacted and provided, but has defaulted.
The use of the word ‘farm’ here is uncertain, as it could refer to the lease or to the home of the farmer. Leases of 1579 and 1629 reveal that the ‘farmer’ occupied the ‘mannor howse of Ravisburye’, so there was no other building called ‘Ravensbury Farm’ at this period. By the late 17th century ‘Ravensbury Farm’ was the name of the house at the junction of modern St Helier Avenue and Central Road, on the site now occupied by Circle Housing Merton Priory. The core of the present building is a replica from 1980, as most of the old house had to be demolished after suffering many years of neglect and vandalism. Fortunately an architectural survey of the building had been undertaken in 1965, and a report was produced by the Greater London Council in 1966, which stated:73
The earliest parts of the building are some of the timbers found in the west block. These timbers are re-used floor joists with chamfers and stops. Some are of large scantling, about fifteen inches, and are of medieval or sub-medieval origin. In one case at least the chamfering is on one of the upper edges, conclusively demonstrating that the beam has been re-used. The west block was originally a timber-framed structure of three bays with bricknogging. From the plan of the bays and the way in which the timbers were used it would be reasonable to suppose a date of erection in the late seventeenth century. It is impossible to say whether the earlier, re-used timbers came from the same site or not.
These beams were trimmed and preserved and incorporated into the replica building, but they are no longer loadbearing.74 The likelihood is that they had been recycled from an earlier building, possibly on or near the same site, though exploratory excavations in the grounds undertaken in 1972 recovered nothing earlier than pottery of the late 17th- or early 18th-century.75 The house and the farmland were separated in 1822, the house having been leased to the rector of Morden by 1832. By 1855 it bore the name Steel Hawes after the name of the meadow in which it stood, but in the 1920s it became The Grange Nursing Home, and was called The Grange thereafter. The name Ravensbury Farm was taken over by a succession of farmhouses in Wandle Road, Morden, during the 20th century.76
Most of the Morden lands of Ravensbury manor remained as demesne land across the centuries, but there were a couple of agglomerations of copyhold land. We have seen that the Parkers held copyhold properties of Ravensbury manor on the opposite side of Central Road to their collection of cottages and crofts held from Westminster Abbey. These included cottages [V1] [V2] [V3] on a strip of former roadside waste similar to the Parkers’ properties across the road, and some 4 acres behind one of the houses and a close called Longcroft or Long Close [V5], probably taken from former demesne land.77 These later came into the possession of Lionel Ducket,78 who, with Edward Whitchurch, purchased the manor of Morden in 1553.79 Ducket’s Ravensbury properties retained the name Duckets Farm into the 19th century,80 and occupied tithe plots 326–7, 330–4 (see chapter 3 page 75). The Parkers also held some plots of land that were to be reclaimed as Ravensbury demesne land [V4], and also Little Steelhawes [V6] later acquired by Whitchurch (tithe plot 353) (see chapter 3 page 73).
The other Ravensbury copyhold in Morden was Bennetsfield [V7] near Mitcham Bridge (tithe plots 294–306), with additional small encroachments from former common land [V8] by William Stondon and disputed with Toto (see chapter 3 page 76).
Merton Priory’s Spital estate
In 1591 John Smith junior petitioned Elizabeth I for a writ to force his former guardian, Robert Kneppe, to appear before the court of Chancery to answer the charge that he had retained to his own use the income accruing from the properties he had administered on John’s behalf during his minority.81 These properties included his copyholds in Merton and Morden mentioned above, and also:
one ferme and divers landes and tenementes to the same belonginge and appertayninge, for a terme of certaine yeeres then to come and unexpired, sett, lyinge and beinge within the parishe of Mordon within the said Countie of Surrey … all which premisses late were parcell of the possessions of the late dissolved monastery of the Priory and Convent of Marten
This would have been Merton Priory’s Spital estate, adjoining Ravensbury manor on the opposite side of Central Road to the Smith’s leasehold and freehold properties (tithe plots 264–6, 271–88).
The petition explains that John senior had leased it at farm until his death in 1572, leaving it to his widow, Anne, for 4 years and then to his two sons, to be equally divided between them once they reached the age of 18. In 1583, soon after John had passed his 18th birthday, a list of tenants owing tithe to the vicar of Morden included an entry for ‘lands in Mordon in the tenure of the two young Smythes – 40 acres’, showing that the boys had received possession of their freehold and copyhold properties, but the list also includes ‘a farme in Mordon in the tenure of Robert Kneppe – 121 acres’, which would be Spital, still retained by Kneppe.82
No information is given as to the date or length of the lease, but a 60-year lease of the ‘mansion in Mordon called Le Spyttell with all arable lands, meadows, pastures and feedings pertaining to the same mansion or farm’ had been granted in August 1531, though effective from Michaelmas 1532, to John Clerk and his wife Anne at £6 5s 0d a year.83 The Clerks still held the farm at the Dissolution in 1538, and the above details of the lease were recorded in Ministers’ Accounts for 1539. He was probably the same John Clerk who leased from the priory other properties within Merton parish including Salyngs, for 41 years from Michaelmas 1537, the lease of which he left to his two sons on his death in 1572.84 There is no mention of Spital in his will, so it would appear that the Clerks’ lease had already been assigned to Smith – according to the 1591 petition, John Smith senior’s lease was from the prior and convent of Merton, not from the Crown who had taken over the priory’s possessions. In 1560 Nicholas Smith had bequeathed to John ‘the lease of a farm with freehold and tenement’,85 and it is likely that this was the lease referred to. A 60-year lease effective from Michaelmas 1532 would have expired in 1592, which perhaps explains John junior’s desire to settle matters in 1591.
However, the lease was no longer held from the Crown, as in August 1544 ‘the mansion and farm called le Spittell in Mordon parish, Surr., in tenure of John Clerke, which belonged to Marton priory’ was among various manors and other properties granted by Henry VIII to Sir William Forman, Sir William Roche, Sir John Cootes and William Ferneley, in fee, for £900.86 It remained in the Roche family until sold to William Kirwyn in 1602, when it was described as:87
2 messuages, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, 130 acres land, 10 [acres] meadow, 100 [acres] pasture, 30 [acres] wood, 20 [acres] heath & furze, and with common pasture for all animals with pertinents in Morden, Carshalton, Mitcham and Sutton.
Kirwyn sold Spital in 1623 to Sir Thomas Wrothe, Henry Hart esq, Robert Howyll gent and Antony Bourcher gent,88 who alienated it to Sir Eustace Hart in 1628.89 Hart sold to Richard Garth and his trustees in 1634,90 but it was apparently sold in 1639 to pay legacies under Garth’s will.91 It cannot be clearly identified again until the 1680s, but the two houses held by Mr John Sibley in the 1664 hearth tax records,92 with 15 and 4 hearths respectively, are likely to have been the mansion and the adjoining farmhouse recorded in an undated valuation from the period 1660×1680 of an unnamed estate belonging to a Mr. Sheppard ‘in Morden and Carshalton’, which describes the mansion as follows:93
In addition there was ‘A new ffarme howse of about 30 roomes and Stables and hayloft’, 14 named enclosures ‘about the howse’, totalling 146¼ acres, and ‘an Inne with a yard, Stables houlding 12 horse, a hayloft and garden plott, a Greate Barn’, and closes totalling 98½ acres elsewhere, presumably in the Carshalton section of the estate.
The fact that the cellars of the mansion were described first might suggest a medieval undercroft with hall, parlour and buttery over. Mention of brick buildings indicates later additions, and the large dining room and many chambers and closets probably include additions made over the centuries.
In 1823 C & I Greenwoods’ Surrey Described referred to Spital Farm as ‘a handsome mansion with beautiful grounds and a farm, the property of George Matthew Hoare, Esq., banker’.94 The property was shown as ‘Spital Farm’ on their map of 1823 and as ‘Spittle Farme’ on a map c.1693,95 but on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey maps as ‘The Lodge’. The Morden tithe apportionment of 1838 lists the mansion house, farm yard buildings and a cottage, together with arable and grass lands totalling almost 150 acres,96 while the Carshalton apportionment of 1847 lists a further 11 acres (plots 9–11). This mansion was still standing in 1901, being then described as of ‘respectable antiquity … originally a farmhouse, but has been enlarged from time to time until it has become a commodious residence’, but by 1910, when the Land Valuation Survey was undertaken, it was ‘void, the tenant leaving Sept 1911’, having the following description:97
The house has had 2 wings erected upon either side with lofty rooms the old portion has low pitched rooms and Contains upon 2nd floor, 2 attics & 2 bed rooms. 1st floor 8 bedrooms and 2 WC and bathrooms. Grd floor Large hall, 6 reception rooms, Large kitchen, 2 servants rooms, domestic offices & cellars & conservatory. House built of brick distempered & slate part cement faced.
A 1929 article attributed to artist Vincent Lines published in the Wimbledon Borough News explains that it had been ‘pulled down many years ago’.98 It seems likely that this building was the ‘new ffarme house’ of the 17th-century description, rather than the medieval ‘mancon’. Lines described the existing farmhouse as ‘an aged building, the oak beams, worm-eaten and decaying, and the wooden walls bespeak centuries of wear’, then ‘in the process of demolition’, which seems to refer to the cottage with farm buildings described in 1910 as ‘situated in the rear of the house known as The Lodge & comprise Timber & pantile roofed Cottage with 2 beds/sitting room kitchen & wash house upon 2 floors’. Rumour has it that the foundations of a ‘medieval hall’ were uncovered in 1975 during the creation of a children’s playground within Morden Recreation Ground, but no record of such a discovery has as yet been found.
The Glebe
The 1838 tithe map shows two fields on the north side of Central Road, opposite Spital, as glebe (tithe plots 216–7), but we saw in chapter 6 that it had formerly been demesne land, exchanged for the former glebelands in the 1630s as part of the process of disappropriation in order to restore the rectorial rights to the incumbents (see page 130).99 The former glebelands seem to have been in strips intermixed with tenant strips in the Lower Morden area. One of John Hyller’s strips in 1521 was in Bowhill ‘between the land of John Playstowe on the south and the land of the vicar of Mordon on the north’ (see chapter 2 page 28).100
Le Parklond
Between the later glebe fields and the copyholds held by Parker and Holt was the 8-acre freehold plot known as le Parklond [U2], together with a narrow strip of demesne land (tithe plots 218–9). Formerly part of Bunt’s freehold property, along with the freehold land held by the Smiths (tithe plots 230–31, 241), these 8 acres ‘with enclosed warren’ had been sold by Bunt in 1385,101 and had been acquired by John Playstowe in 1458,102 remaining in the Playstowe family until 1602 (see chapter 6).103 They finally came into the hands of the lord of the manor in 1629,104 just two years before royal permission was granted for the exchange of the adjoining land for the former glebeland.
London Road
At the corner of Central Road and London Road was a 9½-acre plot of demesne land called Newbury Croft, which adjoined the fields later given as glebe. According to a 1745 list of leaseholds, there was a smallholding here, leased to Henry Webb, consisting of a messuage or tenement with orchards, barns, stables, yards, outhouses, edifices and buildings, a pightle adjoining the messuage containing 1¾ acres, and a parcel of land called Newberry Close containing 4¼ acres (tithe plots 203–214), Webb also leasing two closes ‘commonly called by the name of Little Hobald’ containing 14 acres (probably tithe plots 145–6).105 Another 4 acres called Newberys were leased to John Major, who leased further land near the present Civic Centre, but who also held the George inn – a freehold property so not included in a list of leaseholds. In 1838 tithe plot 215 was still held by the landlord of the George. Across the road, Michael Churcher or Crutcher held the lease of a messuage or tenement with orchard, yards, outhouses, edifices and buildings and 5 acres in Churchfield, adjoining the high way leading to the parish church (tithe plots 150–6). Both these smallholdings were on former demesne land, and there is no evidence that they were of any antiquity.
In fact, apart from the 2 acres discussed below, the whole of the land fronting each side of London Road was demesne land at the time of our visit in 1537. It was not until the very end of the 16th century that the demesne was divided up into compact farms, the first extant leases of the precursor to the Morden Park estate being dated 1594 and 1597.106 Most of the land south of London Road between the 17th-century glebe and Morden Hall was held from a farm on the site of Morden House, now the name of a block of flats. The farmhouse was still standing in 1951, when it was described as ‘an old farmhouse, built traditionally in the fifteenth century but, as it survives today, it appears to be mostly of the early seventeenth century period with some later additions’.107 However, it is likely that it had originated at the same time as its neighbour on the Morden Park site. The cottages that used to line the road between the church and the entrance to Morden Park are not recorded before the late 18th century (tithe plots 158–171).108 The 1838 tithe apportionment shows them as part of the Morden Park estate and they probably post- dated the creation of the estate in 1769, perhaps being built on former roadside waste.109 The wheelwright’s shop and house (tithe plots 172–3) were certainly encroachments on the waste, first recorded in 1797 when ‘Jeffrey Muggridge, wheelwright, was granted licence to inclose a parcel of waste adjacent to the Churchyard and behind the Pound and was admitted to the copyhold’.110
Merton Close
The only copyhold land to the north of London Road was, as we have seen, that inherited in March 1620 by Henry Smyth’s youngest daughter:111
At this court the homage present upon their oath that Henry Smyth, now deceased, formerly a tenant of the manor aforesaid, died since the last court seised of one close of customary land commonly called Merton Close containing by estimation two acres lying and being in Morden within the manor aforesaid and that one cow worth 50 shillings falls due to the lord in respect thereof for heriot and that Prudence Smyth spinster is his youngest daughter and heir thereof according to the customs of the manor aforesaid and aged seventeen years or thereabouts. Upon which the same Prudence being present here in court seeks her admittance to all and singular the premises, with its pertinents, to whom the lord by his steward aforesaid grants seisin thereof by the rod, to have and to hold all and singular the same premises with pertinents to the same Prudence, her heirs and assigns forever of the lord by the rod at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor aforesaid for the rent and services in respect thereof previously due and of right accustomed, and she gives the lord for fine just as appears in the heading. And she is admitted tenant thereof. But fealty of the same Prudence is respited until she reaches her full age of twenty-one years.
The descent of Merton Close can be traced through later documents, which reveal that it was the 3¼-acre plot labelled Nomansland on the 1838 tithe map (plot 131), on the border with Merton parish, then held with an estate in Merton in the ownership of the Bond family occupied by Thomas Whalley (see chapter 13 page 301). It had been recorded as 2 acres from 1620 to 1685, in May of which year it was surrendered to William Quarrington junior.112 It is known that Quarrington senior, also William, was involved in exchanging land with the lord of the manor, by which Garmans [C1] was enlarged by two plots totalling 1½ acres,113 for which two 99-year leases of 1682 remain, recording the mutual exchange of ½-acre plots adjoining the George inn (see below).114 No such information survives regarding the 1-acre exchange, but it is possible that Quarrington was compensated with former demesne land adjoining Merton Close, bringing it to the acreage recorded in 1838 (see below and chapter 13 page 301). William junior only received £5 under his father’s will of 1689, whereas his younger siblings received much larger bequests, probably signifying that his father had funded the purchase of Merton Close.115 (In the 1695 Association Oath Rolls for Surrey, William is entered under Mitcham, while his younger brother George is under Morden.116)
Merton Close would have been the property listed in 1568 among John Smith senior’s copyholds as:117
one other tenement containing in one small close of land and pasture in Morden aforesaid by estimation two acres land and pasture lying between demesne land at the same place called Great Hobblas and Longehille on the south and east and land late Thomas Locke on the north.
Among the many copyhold properties left by John Holt in 1537 were ‘two acres of land in Le Held’ formerly William Mylly late in the tenure of Elizabeth Camryngham’ [N8].118
Earlier references mention that these 2 acres lay together [insimul].119 They seem to have been the 2 acres inherited by William Mulseye from his father in May 1403:120
Likewise they present that Peter Mulsey, who of the lord held one cottage and part of a cottage thereof, and 2 acres land formerly Walter Webbe and others, formerly John Hopcok’ lying adjoining, died in March last, after whose death there falls due to the lord for heriot 2 wethers, valued at 4s. And that William Mulsey is his son and nearest heir and of full age. And he seeks his admittance and is admitted to hold and to have to himself and his in bondage by roll of court by services and customs saving [the lord’s] right etc. And he gives the lord for fine as appears. And he does fealty etc.
Since 1460 they had been held with Bonehams [B21] above,121 described in 1409 as ‘formerly Richard Melleward’,122 which had presumably come into William Mulseye’s possession with Mellewarde’s other properties in 1392,123 but like Mulseye’s other holdings its immediate descent is unknown.
The parish church
The present red-brick appearance of St Lawrence’s dates from the 17th century, but the medieval structure survives within this facing and still carries the weight of the roof. The few visible remains of the medieval framework – the western arch hidden behind the gallery but accessible from the tower, and the door and window apertures (though not the stonework itself, which is thought to be 17th-century) – are of mid-14th-century style and belong to the major rebuilding recorded between 1356 and 1358 when, in addition to the installation of a new east window, the roof was tiled.124 Previously the roof had been thatched, but with some wooden shingles – probably on the spire mentioned in the 1560 will of Nicholas Smith and depicted on the two ‘plotts’ of 1553 (see chapter 5 pages 98 and 99).125 Further repairs to the church had been necessary in January 1453/4, when archbishop Kemp granted indulgence ‘to all and singular who visit the parish church of Morden in the diocese of Winchester on the feast of St Laurence the Martyr in any year, or who present something to the repair of the said church, this to last forever’.126
Epsom Road
The second ‘plott’ shows a single building near the church, and this is likely to be the alehouse on the site of the present public house, known in 1689 as the Halfe Moone but as the George by 1699.127 This was built on an enclosure from roadside waste held in 1312 by Henry le Hose, and later by Ralph Edward [I8].128 On 30 May 1471, John Dounton, who held several properties in Morden, surrendered ‘Edwardys cottage and garden adjoining’ to John Bordall, but as Bordall immediately surrendered it to John Kyrkeby, it seems likely that Dounton’s surrender was somewhat belated, and that Bordall, or Bordale, had been in occupation for some time. He had been regularly presented at manorial courts from 1462 for brewing ‘against the assize’, and on 3 May 1468 as a ‘regrater’ of bread and ale (one who bought local produce for resale), probably indicating that he kept an alehouse.129 He also frequently served as chief pledge of the manor, another term for head tithingman, between 1462 and 1471.130 His successor, John Kyrkeby, also served as chief pledge between 1475 and 1499 and as aletaster in 1495, though he was never presented for brewing.131 However, on 26 April 1512 it was presented at the manorial court:132
that John Kyrkeby, without the lord’s licence, leased to Richard Cosyn his tenement for a term of ten years, and the same John is in arrears of quit rent and service for the space of eight years. And also the aforesaid tenement for not being repaired is nearly decayed. Therefore the order is given to the bailiff to seize the tenement aforesaid into the lord’s hand and to answer the lord for issues of the same. At this comes Richard Cosyn and takes from the lord’s hand by the rod, according to the custom of the manor, part of one house [domus] standing against the cemetery of the church of Morden, namely all that part of the same house standing and built upon the king’s highway there, to hold to himself and his heirs at the lord’s will according to the custom of the manor, rendering in respect thereof yearly at the customary feasts 2d, suit of court and other services according to the custom of the manor. And he is admitted tenant thereof.
Cosyn, who also held Ravensbury properties (see chapter 3 page 68),133 was frequently presented at Morden manorial courts between 1515 and 1529 for being an ale and beer seller and for using unauthorised measures.134 His widow Elizabeth did fealty for their part of the property on 31 May 1529 [I81].135 By 14 March 1537 Thomas Hunte, a brewer and baker, and his wife Margaret, an aleseller, seem to have been in occupation. Although the location of their alehouse is not specified, it is likely to have been on this site as Thomas was ordered to fill in his sawpit in the king’s highway by the church gate on 22 April 1539.136 A watercolour of the north-east side of St Lawrence’s church made before the vestry was added in 1805 and taken from an extra-illustrated edition of Lysons’s Environs of London, first published in 1792, shows a sawpit adjoining the churchyard here, probably on the site of the later wheelwright’s workshop noted above (page 271).137 Kyrkeby’s moiety of the holding passed to the Lord family but eventually was reunited with the alehouse moiety, as in 1838 both plots are shown, each numbered 179.
The 2-acre freehold croft behind the inn [W1] (tithe plots 176–7) had been purchased by John Holt and had passed, along with many of his copyholds, to the Smith family. The croft and the alehouse site had been combined by November 1598 when Henry Smith sold to Gregory Carpenter of Merton:138
All that Messuage or Tenemente with all and singuler the Chambers, Sellers, Romes, Kytchen, Barnes, Stables, outhouses, cowhouses, buildinges, yardes, gardens, orchardes, voyde groundes, waies, passages, emolumentes and appertenances whatsoever to the saide Messuage or Tenemente belonging or apperteyning, or to or with the same now or heretofore accepted, reputed, taken, knowen, used, occupyed or enioyed as parte, parcell or member thereof.
And also all those two acres of arrable land and pasture bee they more or les, with th’appertenances, lying in a close called Boxwells adioyning and lying on the north side of the foresaid Messuage or Tenemente.
Which said Messuage or Tenemente and two acres of ground are now in the tenures or occupacons of Nicholas Mathew and William Shorter or th’one of them, and are scituate, lying and being in the parishe of Mooredon aforesaide, (viz) The saide Tenemente is scituate and being beetwene the Quenes highway on the South and East partes, the land of Robarte Gat Esquier on the west parte, and the saide two acres on the north parte.
And the saide two acres are lying and being beetwene the sayd Quenes highway on the East parte, the land of Robarte Gat on the west and north partes, and the saide Messuage or Tenement on the south parte.
The Smiths had also obtained Holt’s adjoining copyhold properties, Bexwells [X1] and Garmans [C1]. As we saw above, John Smith junior surrendered these to the lord of the manor in 1587, when they were described as:139
Garmans was thereafter treated as part of the demesne lands, being included in the 1594 and 1597 leases of the farm that predated the Morden Park estate, each time as containing 7 acres.140 It was expanded to 8½ acres by exchanges between the lord of the manor and the 17th-century owner of the Halfe Moone, William Quarrington,141 who in 1682 received a half-acre in ‘Boxwels’ in exchange for his half-acre in Garmans, effected by mutual 99-year leases, renewed in 1782.142 The first of these half-acres was presumably part of the ancient Bexwells 1-acre croft [X1], though it included encroachment from roadside waste judging by its outline on the 1838 tithe map (plot 178). As we have seen, the name Bexwells/Boxwells had been extended to include the adjoining 2-acre freehold croft [W1] by 1598, indicating that the two crofts had already been combined and, as the half-acre that Quarrington disposed of was already described as ‘in Garmans’, it is quite possible that the 1682 leases themselves renewed an even earlier arrangement. (As we saw above, Quarrington’s other acre was probably exchanged for demesne land adjoining Merton Close, a copyhold acquired by his son in 1685 [N8].143)
It was suggested in chapter 4 that these crofts are likely to have been the site of the Domesday villein settlement, together with the crofts belonging to Lotkyns [L1] and Edwards [E1] tenements. These latter crofts probably lay between Garmans and Lower Morden Lane and formed the 4-acre ‘Stonebridge Close joining on a close called Girmans’ leased with tenements in Lower Morden in 1579 to William Parker (part of tithe plot 91) (see below).144 None of these crofts were used for dwellings until the building of a house on Bexwells between 1745 and 1782, now the core of the residential home misleadingly known as ‘Manor House’.145
Green Lane
Green Lane formed the boundary between Merton Priory’s Spital estate and Westminster Abbey’s manor of Morden, the area to the west of the lane becoming known as Gilden Hill. We saw in chapter 5 that some land here was held by the abbey from the manor of Kynnersley in Carshalton, lordship of which had been purchased by John Scot in 1507 (see page 108).146 On his death in 1532 his son, also John, inherited this and other properties, leaving it to his five sons equally in 1558.147 The lords of Kynnersley manor continued to hold about 8 acres within the
parish of Morden until sold in 1818 to William Buckland and George Tennant.148 In 1838 the Morden tithe apportionment showed William Buckland as owner/occupier of plot 191: ‘Buckles Meadow (grass) 9 acres 3 roods 30 perches’, in the vicinity of the present St Helier station.149 The name Gilden Hill extended beyond this Kynnersley holding, as in 1568 some 50 acres of demesne at ‘Gildonhill’ were sub-let to the widow of the previous farmer of the Morden manorial demesne (see chapter 5 page 113).150 It seems unlikely that there had been any dwellings in this area in medieval times, only land, the first known reference to a house here being from a 1618 lease of a farm.151 This house would have been a precursor to Hill House (tithe plot 197), on the site now occupied by The Sanctuary. The 50 acres listed in the 1618 lease included 13 acres [W5] which had recently been purchased from John Heryngman senior and junior but which had previously been held with Wynteworthes [W] freehold in Lower Morden.152
Lower Morden
Instead of the 16 individual freehold and copyhold tenements of 1312, the settlement around the green at Lower Morden had undergone considerable amalgamation. Until 1536 John Holt had held 5 virgates plus the 30-acre Westhawes and the freehold smallholding of Plummershawe. In 1536 he sold to the Tollers the easternmost 3½ virgates – Swans [S] and Cokcyes [C] virgates on the north of the green and Rykedons ½-virgate [R] and Adams virgate [A] south of the green, plus odd strips of free and customary land (see chapter 11 page 247).153 The description of the properties involved in this transfer also appears to include the closes between Rykedons and Adams originally belonging to Gildens virgate [G] and later held by the Lightfoot family, but these seem to have been reunited with Gildens decades before, and since 1521 had been held by John Hyller (see chapter 10 page 193). The vicar also had a 1½-acre croft here (see chapter 8 page 146). Holt retained the westernmost holdings of Edwards virgate [E], Bexwells ½-virgate [X], Plummershawe [P] and Westhawes [H32], all south of the green. In this area was the freehold Wynteworthes [W], held by the Playstowe family since 1458, though divided between brothers in 1540 (see chapter 9 page 175). From the 1470s to 1514 the Playstowes had also held Makernays 1½-virgate customary tenement [M] west of Bow Lane and Yerdes virgate [F], formerly Fabian and Atte Wode’s, the new messuage plot of which [F4] adjoined Makernays. They also held the 10-acre Andrews [H33] which probably occupied an adjoining toft formerly belonging to Jocyes [J] or Godesons [O]. However, the Playstowes’ customary tenements had come into the possession of William Porter, farmer of the demesne from 1511, together with the Hegge family holdings [H31] which included the other toft formerly belonging to Jocyes and Godesons and that belonging to atte Rythes [T], and these were all surrendered by Porter’s son in 1535 to Thomas Heryngman, whose will was proved in 1561.154 By 1587 these had come into the hands of the lord of the manor and were being leased to William Parker based at Makernays farmhouse, as set out in chapter 11 page 246 and shown on map 12.3 overleaf.155 However, in April 1571 John Heringman of Morden left various properties in Mitcham, Tooting and Croydon to his sons, including ‘all my free holde in the parishe of Mordon’ to his son Thomas on reaching the age of 21,156 and ‘young Heringman’ held a tenement with 40 acres in 1583.157 This was almost certainly one half of Wynteworthes [W] (see chapter 9 page 178), and it is possible that this was run from the former Hegge family messuage.
The adjoining Lotekyns virgate [L] disappears from the records after 1480, but might have been held by the tenant of Merton Priory’s Hobalds estate, as William Tegge, who farmed Hobalds from around 1516 and who was still living in Morden until his death in 1532,158 was not only responsible for scouring the ditch between Hobbalds Meade (tithe plots 13, 27, 28) and Hawkes Meade (tithe plot 35) in 1519, 1521, 1525 and 1529,159 but also had to scour a ditch in Bow Lane ‘towards Swanesland’ in 1517,160 and in 1522 should have scoured 40 perches (220 yards) ‘between Bow Lane and the Towne Meade’.161 The Towne Meade was probably another name for the Common Meade, which lay at the confluence of the Pyl and East Pyl brooks, Hobalds Meade being west of the Pyl brook, so presumably his responsibilities for these other ditches related to a separate tenement within Lower Morden. In 1539 the Ministers’ Accounts for Merton Priory’s former estates names the farmer of Hobalds as Thomas Fremondis,162 presumably a member
of the Cheam family who purchased half of Wynteworthes in 1602.163 Thomas was still leasing Hobalds in 1562 when the Crown sold the estate to Lawrence Shryfe and Thomas Reve in fee simple, together with properties in Stafford, Lincoln, Leicester, York, Warwick, Kent, Nottingham and Merioneth, probably as agents for other buyers.164 By 1611 it was owned by Robert Garth, lord of the manor of Morden,165 but no record of the purchase has yet been found. It is likely that the 126-acre farm leased to Lane in the 1583 tithe list was Hobalds, as a Nicholas Lane had been leasing the adjoining Twyrymede in Merton before that was sold to Robert Garth in 1607 and it was always leased thereafter with Hobalds.166 The 1553 ‘plotts’ depict a ‘shepehouse’ within the Hobalds estate, signifying the importance of sheep-rearing at this time.167
As we have seen above, John Holt’s former freehold and copyhold properties were forfeited in 1541 and, although some of the smaller properties in the Central Road area came into the possession of the Smith family, his Lower Morden copyholds may well have remained in the hands of the lord of the manor and have been leased to tenant farmers. Certainly by 1583, when the list was drawn up of those owing tithes to the vicar of Morden, the acreage of the leasehold ‘farmes’ outnumbers that of the freehold and copyhold ‘lands’, though only the first 12 can be identified:168
By the mid-17th century nearly all the freehold and copyhold lands within the former Westminster Abbey manor had come into the hands of the Garths and were being leased to farmers. The only remaining freeholds and copyholds were those formerly held by the Parkers and the Smiths. By 1745 the largest farm was Hobalds at 178 acres in Morden, Malden and Merton, though another farmer held two farms in Lower Morden totalling 174¼ acres, and the precursor to Morden Park was 140½ acres (see transcript 13.2 page 280). But others were only 5, 6, 12, 12½, 13½, 14, 16, 18¾, 20, 24, 31½, 34, 58, 64½ or 76¼ acres.169 Holdings equal to the 200 acres accumulated by John Holt would not reappear until the closing decades of the 18th century, when Lower Morden was divided into four, and soon just three, large farms, plus a smallholding, an alehouse, and a cluster of farm workers’ cottages, mostly sub-divided former farmhouses.
Meadow
In 1312 only the demesne meadow and pasture was noted, but the 1583 tithe list details all the ‘Sondry parcells of Medowe lyeng wthin the Parisshe of Mordon’, which are included in the above totals, though the total meadow listed below is 129 acres not the 127 acres stated:170 The open-field arable
The common arable furlongs within the Southfield, Old Mordens and Bowhill continued to be cultivated in strips well into the 16th century. John Hyller’s 1521 copyhold was mostly of ½-acre strips across many furlongs (see extract in chapter 2 page 28),171 and the transfer from John to William Playstowe of half of Wynteworthes in 1540 included several 1-acre strips and a few ½-acres, though others were described as 3 to 6 acres ‘lying together in a certain close’, and closes belonging to other tenants are mentioned as adjoining the strips (see extract in chapter 9 page 175).172 Sometimes Playstowe strips were in another person’s close, perhaps indicating the exchange of strips to create individual closes. We saw in chapter 10 that Heringman, Toller and Welche were involved in mutual surrenders of ‘acres’ of land, probably in strips, in 1537 (see page 215).173 The fact that Wynteworthes was freehold might have prevented exchange for copyhold strips. As late as 1617 the lease of that half of Wynteworthes retained by John Playstowe in 1540 reveals the survival of small strips alongside small closes.174 However, by 1587 the former copyhold lands in the Lower Morden farm leased to William Parker were all in closes ranging from 2 to 16 acres,175 and only closes are mentioned in leases from the 17th century onwards.
Woodland
One major change since the 1312 extent would have been the parcels of woodland that had developed, as no mention had been made of demesne woodland in 1312. The first clear reference to woodland in Morden dates from 1616 when George Garth, lord of the manor of Morden, leased to his son-in-law, David Benet, ‘coppices or wood ground namely Hunger Hill Ruffett of 3 acres more or less, Long Hill Ruffett of 24 acres more or less, Old Morden Ruffett of 4 acres more or less, Cumbestrood Ruffett of 8 acres 3 roods more or less’.176 These ‘coppices or wood ground’ were described in the early 16th century as ‘furzes’, suggesting heathland covered in gorse.
Hunger Hill was in the Stonecot Hill area, part of the tenants’ open arable field called the Southfield. Tithe plot 84 was still called Hungry Hill in 1838. In 1516 there is reference to ‘Hungerhyll Vyrsyn’ in a list of John Hyller’s copyhold lands (see chapter 2 page 28).177 The second 1553 plan or ‘plott’ of Morden Common shows two closes, one labelled ‘fyrsey’, the other ‘close’ (see chapter 5 page 99).178 Hungerhyll Vyrsyn, later ‘Hunger Hill Ruffett’, may well have comprised one or both of these.
In 1745 ‘Langhill wood, piece or parcell of wood ground now grubbed up or intended to be grubbed up containing 8½ acres’, was a remnant of Long Hill Ruffett.179 In 1768 ‘Longhill Wood’, at 11 acres 2 roods 8 perches, became part of the Morden Park estate, which was created from former demesne arable land.180
Old Mordons was a close between Lower Morden Lane and the East Pyl brook, towards Epsom Road, part of plot 91 in the 1838 tithe apportionment.181 It had been tenants’ arable in earlier centuries.182 Old Morden Ruffett was presumably the same as the ‘close called Old Morden Furzes containing 4 acres’ in a lease of 1579.183
Part of Cumbestrood Ruffett was added to the Morden Park estate in 1784,184 and is now known as Cherry Wood (tithe plot 121). A larger part, included in the lands of Lower Morden Farm, was grubbed up in the 18th century.185 The ruffett was probably the area referred to as ‘Le Gretefyrsyn’ in Combstrodeclose’ in 1521, and as ‘Bowhill Furzes’ in leases of 1579 and 1624.186 A Bowhill Close adjoined east on Combstrode in a lease of 1579.187 Bowhill had formerly been tenants’ arable land,188 whereas 13¼ acres ‘in Comstrod’ were part of the demesne arable in 1312, and a further 1¾ acres there were demesne pasture.
The references to ‘furzes’ which later became ‘ruffets’ or ‘coppices’ suggest that these woods originated as patches of marginal land that had fallen out of cultivation during the 14th or 15th centuries, and that they had not been woodland when the extent was made in 1312.
13: DREDGING UP THE EVIDENCE: THE LOCATION OF HOLDINGS 281
Although the evidence for the location of a few properties has been considered in the previous chapters, in most cases suggestions have been made regarding likely locations but the evidence has not been fully presented. We have seen that from the 12th or 13th centuries onwards the most substantial focus of settlement was around Morden Green in Lower Morden, with its virgate and half-virgate tenements intermixed with a few cottages. The main concentration of cottages was along the northern side of the road known today as Central Road, though there were some Ravensbury properties on the southern side. There was also a smaller area of settlement near the manorial centre in what is now Morden Hall Road. It was suggested in chapter 4 that the main Domesday villein settlement had been along the London–Epsom roads between the parish church and Lower Morden Lane, but in later periods there seem to have been only one or two dwellings in the vicinity of the church. The evidence suggests that the cottages along London Road were a development of the 18th century, linked with the creation of the Morden Park estate. The farm that was the precursor to Morden Park and the farm worked from Morden House both dated from the very end of the 16th century, when the demesne was broken up to create smaller farms (see chapter 12 page 271).
Since the coming of the Underground in 1926 Morden has been developed for suburban housing, though we are fortunate that much green space has been preserved, in particular Morden Park and Morden Hall Park (although most of the latter is within the neighbouring ancient parishes of Merton and Mitcham). Small-scale development had occurred earlier – a few Victorian and Edwardian villas had been built in London Road and Central Road, many giving their names to the modern roads that have replaced them, and cottages had appeared in Crown Lane and Crown Road and also in Garth Road. The 1910 valuation survey reveals that new housing development was already underway in the Ravensbury area in Pollard Road, Wandle Road and Sutton Road, and that Morton Road and Seddon Road were being laid out,1 but overall the parish had changed little since the tithe apportionment survey of 1838.2
The tithe map and the early Ordnance Survey maps, together with a few surviving estate plans, enable us to identify the farms, cottages and fields named in leases and other documents of the 19th and 18th centuries, and to trace the changes that took place at this time, but also to recognise that much had remained unchanged since the 16th century. By comparing the information contained in these maps and documents with the records that have survived from earlier centuries, it has been possible to identify many medieval sites, albeit with varying degrees of certainty. Our records also occasionally mention which properties adjoined, sometimes citing two or more abuttals. Manorial court rolls record the presentments of tenants who had failed to scour the section of roadside ditch that fronted their tenements, often giving measurements to assist us in mapping these frontages – hence the title of this chapter. Occasionally we have evidence from modern archaeological excavations to guide us, and it is to be hoped that the suggestions made in this chapter and in other parts of this volume can be confirmed or corrected by future excavations and through a programme of test-pitting.
In 1838 there were three farms in Lower Morden, all leased from the lord of the manor. A fourth had been dismembered in the early 1800s and its land divided among the others. These four farms had themselves been formed around 1770, when the lands of 10 smaller farms were reorganised into more compact units and the redundant farmhouses converted into farm workers’ cottages.3 These 10 leasehold farms and their lands are listed in detail in a document of 1745 (see figure 13.2 opposite for details of 9 of them),4 when the arable and meadow in the Lower Morden area totalled 472¾ acres, of which 42¾ acres had come from the demesne. The development of several of these farms can be traced through earlier and later leases.
As we saw in the previous chapter, in the early 16th century these lands were still in the hands of customary or free tenants of the manor, though Hobalds was an independent freehold property belonging to Merton Priory, with some 111 acres in Morden including meadow. William Playstowe held half of Winters or Wynteworthes free tenement [W] with 45½ acres including meadow, the other half passing to the Herringman family, while John Hyller held a copyhold tenement with 23½ acres including meadow, as well as a cottage [G] [G2]. Edmund Sager’s virgate known as Lotekyns tenement [L], is last mentioned in extant records in 1480. John Holt held Spykes tenement and 20 acres [E], and Bexwells cottage and 9 acres [X], as well as the 30-acre Westhawes [H32], a 4½-acre freehold tenement called Plummers [P], and a further 2 acres of free land [W4], all in West Morden. In 1536 Holt had surrendered another group of customary holdings to Thomas Toller – Swans messuage and 20 acres [S], Cokesays tenement and 20 acres [C], Rykedons croft and 9 acres [R], and Adams 22 acres [A] and a toft [A2], together with some odd strips totalling a little over 1½ acres and a further 6½ acres of free land [W2] [W3]. The transfer also included other land totalling 2¾ acres [F2] [A31] [A32], but this seems to have been an error, as it had already been separated from these other holdings and restored to the holding that became Hyller’s (see below, page 286). Thomas Heryngman held another group of customary holdings – Makernays tenement with 30 acres [M], Hegges tenement with 30 acres [H31], formerly a virgate [H] and a half-virgate [T], Yerdes toft and 20 acres [F4] [F], and Andrewes alias Hawkes toft and 10 acres [H33].
If we ignore the crofts and tofts – vacant house plots – we seem to have 10 messuages or tenements – Hobalds, Winters, Hyllers, Lotekyns, Spykes, Plummers, Swans, Cokesays, Makernays and Hegges – and 2 cottages – Hyllers and Bexwells – plus some 440 acres of arable and meadow in and around the Lower Morden area. As one of the 18th-century farms included both a messuage and a farmhouse, we have 12 dwellings in the early 16th century and 11 in the early 18th-century lists of leasehold properties. Similarly, 12 habitation sites, some subdivided, are shown on the 1838 tithe map – tithe plots 11, 40/41, 50/51, 47, 45/46, 100/101, 98, 67/68, 65, 62/63/64, 58/59, 56, though tithe plots 40/41 and 50/51 probably represent a single farmstead. Tithe plots 62/63/64 comprised a copyhold plot with a beerhouse and cottages, and tithe plots 45/46 a pair of freehold cottages, so these would not have been included in the early 18th-century lists of manorial leasehold farms. One farmhouse listed in 1745 had gone by 1774, the lessee also holding an adjoining property and only needing one house. With these limitations in mind, it is perhaps not stretching the evidence too much to suggest that the habitation sites on the tithe map are roughly the same as the curtilages of the 16th century tenements. The first ‘plott’ or plan of Sparrowfield made in 1553 shows 10 houses in Lower Morden, 5 on each side of the road, though the projection of the plan is unusual, and a second plan was required before the dispute could be settled (see figures 5.1 and 5.2). Unfortunately the second plan only shows a couple of houses on each side.5 Some 16th- century tenement plots had been extended by the inclusion of redundant tofts, where a number of holdings had come into a single tenure.
Is it possible to identify any of these ancient tenement sites and the other tofts in Lower Morden?
Hobalds, which is named and depicted in some detail on the 1553 ‘plotts’ of Sparrowfield, retained its name into the 1890s, when much of its land in Morden was sold to Battersea Corporation for a new cemetery. In 1838 it was held by William Aspin, whose farmhouse and buildings occupied 1¾ acres (tithe plot 11) with a 1-acre orchard adjoining (tithe plot 12), at the far western end of Lower Morden Lane beyond ‘Hobalds Bridge’ over the Pyl brook. In previous chapters we have traced its history from the early 13th century.
In 1618 John Whitinge of Long Ditton bequeathed to his wife Margaret for life, and then to son Thomas, with remainder to son Edward, a property in Morden called Plomershaw (or Plomers Hawe – a hedged enclosure). In 1624 Edward and Margaret each leased to Nicholas Dumbrell of Lower Morden a messuage or tenement with a barn, stable, orchard, garden etc in Lower Morden with 4 acres land and pasture ‘lying dividedly in the parish and fields of Lower Morden’, of which 1 acre lay in the Common Mead, 2 acres in the South Field (1½ in Long Shott, ½ in Short Shott), and 1 acre in Coome Strowde.6 John had purchased ‘Plomer Shawe’ and 4 acres in 1609 from Henry Butte, who had inherited it from his father John Butte in 1602.7 In 1583 ‘Butte’ owed tithe on 6 acres in Morden.8 In 1493 and 1495 Plommers toft, a freehold sold by charter, had 3½ acres of arable and 1 acre of meadow, and paid 1 shilling a year rent to the manor.9 By 1537 it was called Plummershawe with a garden and 4 acres, but the following year ‘Plummers tenement’ had 5½ acres.10 Could the difference in acreage relate to the size of the curtilage? Are we looking for a hedged enclosure of about 2 acres? In 1838 tithe plots 55/56 comprised a 1¾-acre orchard, cottage
and garden, shown on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey 25-inch map as enclosed with a hedge. In the early 20th century it was a pig farm known as The Kennels. Morden Park Baptist Church now stands on the site of the old house, a weatherboarded building with a jettied upper storey, perhaps a surviving wing of a hall-house, which burned down in 1937. In 1409 Amicia Hayters sold 3½ acres of free land to William Mulseye, and it is likely that Plomershawe was a later name for Amicia’s holding,11 probably the freehold property held by John Hayter in 1312 [P], though in 1390/91 Amicia also held unspecified free land that had belonged to William Bunt (see chapter 6 page 123).12
In 1537 and 1538 Richard Bele, a sub-tenant, was amerced at the manorial court because he had not made his fences ‘between Plummers land and Wynters’, which indicates that the two tenements adjoined.13 In the late 14th century William Wynteworthe owned the freehold tenement held in 1312 by the former rector, Gerard de Staunden [W]. (It has been suggested above (chapter 4 page 97) that Wynteworthes was formed by the amalgamation of holdings, which could have left a vacant toft available for Plummers). Although the lands belonging to the tenement were divided between two brothers in 1540, the house plot and adjoining croft seem to have remained undivided.14 In 1617 the ‘house called Wenterworth with orchards, gardens and yards’ occupied 2 acres, and a ‘close called Winters’ another 3½ acres.15 By 1745 a further subdivision had resulted in a 2½-acre close called Winters as part of a farm in the occupation of Mary Martin, and a 1-acre close of the same name adjoining the messuage of a farm in the occupation of John Howard.16 Each also held part of Westhawes [H32]. Howard also leased another farm in Lower Morden, and both his leases were inherited by his wife’s nephew, Richard Dallett, in 1774, by which time only one of the houses remained.17 The site of Wynteworthe’s former messuage was probably the ¾-acre enclosure called Skiltons Meadow in 1838 (tithe plot 57), the orchards, garden and the two closes called Winters probably being part of the adjoining 8¾-acre plot also called Skiltons Meadow (tithe plot 61). In 1524 John Holt was responsible for scouring a ditch ‘between Wynters and Hobalds Bridge’, where Lower Morden Lane crosses the Pyl brook.18 If our identifications are correct, this ditch would have run along the road frontage of Westhawes and Plummers, both held by Holt.
In 1512 Andrewes toft [H33] in West Morden lay on the east of a close called Wentworthes and at the north end of Plummers.19 However, in the 1530s Andrewes tenement, also known as Hawkes, was held by Thomas Heryngman, whose former copyholds were leased at farm to William Parker in 1579 (see chapter 11 page 246). Parker’s farm, which was based on a farmstead on the site of the later Lower Morden Farm (tithe plots 47/48), where Hatfeild School now stands, included a 1¼-acre plot called Hawkes Pightle, perhaps the toft referred to in 1512. Is it possible to interpret the 1512 entry to mean that the toft lay on the northern side of Lower Morden Lane opposite but east of Plummers and Wynteworthes? It was suggested in chapter 11 that the 10-acre Andrewes/ Hawkes was part of the 70 acres of the four customary holdings of the atte Hegge family [H] [T] [O] [J], which were reorganised into a compact block of 30 acres named Westhawes [H32] and a 30-acre holding called Hegges [H31], leaving 10 acres otherwise unaccounted.
In 1524 John Holt was presented at the manorial court for not scouring his ditch in Wynters Lane towards [erga] land late Spyks [E],20 which he had obtained from Robert Goldewyre in 1494.21 Wynters Lane was probably the lane shown on the tithe map as Hawkins Lane, leaving Lower Morden Lane between what we have suggested might have been Plummers and Wynteworthes on the east and Westhawes on the west, and leading to the back lane and the Southfield. The ‘land late Spyks’ was probably not the house plot, but arable land in the Southfield at the end of Hawkins Lane. Goldewyre had inherited both Spyks and Plummers from his father, John, in 1493 and in 1494 had one ditch in length 20 perches ‘lying between Wenteworth [W] and Spyks [E] not scoured’ and a further 20 perches ‘lying below Plomers Croft’ [P] that was still unscoured from the previous court.22 20 perches or 110 yards is the length of the road frontage of tithe plots 55/56, which we have suggested might have been Plummers, but the frontage of tithe plots 58, 59 and 61 was also 20 perches, so perhaps Spyks reached to the eastern edge of tithe plot 61. Spyks tenement had formerly been the Edward family virgate, John Spyk marrying Richard Edward’s daughter and inheriting in 1392 (see table 13.3 overleaf). Holt held other tenements in Lower Morden at this time, so it is possible that this ditch between Wynteworthes and Spyks included the frontage of one of these tenements as well, to give two plots of about an acre each, which seems to have been the standard size of messuage plots. The most likely is Bexwells cottage, orchard and adjoining garden [X], which Holt retained until his death, as he did Spyks, though in 1494 John Williams had only been responsible for scouring 6 perches (33 yards) ‘lying below his garden, late Hardyngs’, i.e. Bexwells.23 In 1838 tithe plots 58–60 held a pair of cottages with gardens, while Skiltons Meadow (tithe plot 61) completed this and the adjoining tenement and any closes to the rear.
In 1441 John Bayly held Adams [A] and was responsible for scouring 12 perches of ditch against ‘Adams croft in West Morden’, and 4 years later his successor at Adams, William Lightfoot, had 6 perches to scour ‘next to the king’s highway against Adamscroft’.24 12 perches or 66 yards is the length of the road frontage of tithe plots 62–65.
Since 1400 Adams tenement [A] had been held with a ½-acre toft formerly Walter atte Wode [A2], and this link continued into the 16th century and beyond. In 1312 Atte Wode had held a moiety of a tenement jointly with Robert Fabian, the abbey’s serviens (estate manager) of the manor [F], Henry Guldene holding the other moiety [G]. Atte Wode’s moiety did not include a messuage plot, so he gradually acquired a ‘tenement, cottage and a ½-acre of land’ elsewhere, paying 1½d rent increment by 1312 (there is a record of him paying only a ½d increment in 1292/93).25 Its link with Adams tenement might indicate that it had been carved out of the messuage plot belonging to Adams, which was probably the virgate tenement that atte Wode had leased from the customary tenant, Adam Ingulf, from 1297.26
We saw in chapter 11 that in 1444 William Lightfoot was granted Adams tenement and atte Wode’s toft. In 1439 he had received from his mother a messuage and curtilage formerly Alexander atte Breggende [F3] and ¼-acre of Gildencrofte [A32], his brother John receiving another ¼-acre of Gildencrofte [A31] and 1¾ acres land formerly Alice Wylot’s [F2]. Each was to allow his brother ‘one way at the same place to his tenement with his carts and other things necessary to his same tenement’.27 All these properties came into the hands of John Elmys, a London pewterer, in 1457, and in 1478 passed to John Coweper, a London hurer or capper. Coweper and his wife and son added further properties, all eventually coming in 1502 to John Holt, who surrendered them to Thomas Toller in 1536. Or that is what the records tell us. However, in 1487 the Cowepers surrendered a cottage and adjoining 2⅛ acres [G2] to John Goldewyre, who had also inherited John Gilden’s former moiety [G]. These 2⅛ acres look suspiciously like the lands once held by the Lightfoots. There is no record of the Cowepers obtaining other land of this description. Goldewyre’s granddaughter surrendered both properties to John Hyller in 1521 and a detailed list survives (see chapter 2 page 28).28 In addition to 29 small strips scattered across Lower Morden, Hyller held ‘1 messuage, 1 cottage, and 3 acres of land in Westmordon between the highway leading through the middle of the town of Westmordon and the common field called Le South feld’. The most likely location for these is the 4⅛ acres of tithe plots 67–70, where a messuage plot of about 1 acre has a road frontage of 60 yards, which matches the 11 perches John Goldwyre was required to scour in 1493 ‘next to the Green’.29 There was a wide croft to the rear, the central section of about 1 acre extending eastwards behind a plot of glebe meadow (tithe plot 71) for a little over 1½ acres and westwards into the adjoining tenement (tithe plot 66) for about ½ acre. These extensions to the original 2-acre plot would appear to be Alice Wylot’s 1¾ acres, and the ½-acre Gildencroft. By the 17th century the farmhouse (later split into 2 cottages) had a 2½-acre croft adjoining,30 perhaps these 2 parcels of land joined by a slip of land. (The Lightfoot brothers had each been granted right of way across the other’s land in 1443, as had the Schuttes in 1299.31)
Alice Wylot senior had inherited the 1¾ acres [F2] from her father, Alan Hayter.32 John le Hayter had obtained them in 1304 from Peter Schutte, who had them from John Snoter in 1297.33 Hayter also held Snoter’s freehold property [P] in 1312, probably the predecessor of Plummers. Snoter’s customary tenement is first mentioned in 1273 when Isabel Poybele granted to the rector, Gerard de Staundon, a croft at West Morden ‘between a tenement of the aforesaid church on each side, whose northerly head abuts upon the royal way and the southern head upon the
tenement of John Snoter’.34 On his resignation in 1301, Gerard surrendered to Westminster Abbey this plot, on which he had built (see chapter 8 page 146). No indication is given as to the size of this croft, or the nature of the adjoining tenements, but the documents relating to the assignment of glebe in the 1630s describe a ‘parcel of land containing half an acre or thereabouts lying between two parcels of land of the vicar of Morden aforesaid called and known by the name of Viccars Pightell in West Morden’.35 The 1838 tithe apportionment records among the glebe land a 1½-acre meadow south of Lower Morden Lane at the eastern end of Morden Green (tithe plot 71). There seems no doubt that the croft Gerard had received from Isabel formed the central part of this piece of glebe [F5], with the church tenements each side – probably a single toft had been divided into three ½-acre crofts. This further supports the suggestion that Snoter’s adjoining tenement had been that part of the 3¾-acre Home Meadow (tithe plot 70) that lay south of the glebe meadow. Isobel Poybele, daughter of John le Berther, granted the croft by charter, so it was a freehold property, presumably part of a virgate holding. No record survives to explain how the adjoining ‘tenements’ had come into the possession of the church or of how Snoter obtained his holding here. It would seem that the Le Berther/Poybele family no longer needed this freehold messuage plot and adjoining croft, though they may have retained the associated arable land. It seems likely that they owned another property here, making this messuage plot surplus to requirements. In 1312 we have a tenement here ‘formerly belonging to Alice wife of Matthew’ with 38 or 40 acres of arable divided into two moieties, one held by Gilden [G], the other jointly by atte Wode and Fabian [F]. There was no messuage plot on atte Wode’s part of the property, so he had to look elsewhere for his ‘tenement, cottage and a ½-acre of land’ [A2] held by rent increment.
Thus the most likely reconstruction would place Adams tenement [A] as tithe plots 62–6 with the western ½-acre of tithe plot 70 having been surrendered to John Gildon before 1312 to form the curtilage or croft later known as Gildencroft [A3]. A ½-acre plot was also obtained by Walter atte Wode for his tenement and cottage [A2]. This was likely to have fronted Lower Morden Lane rather than the back lane, so the copyhold beerhouse and cottages of 1838 (tithe plots 62–4) might well have occupied part of atte Wode’s former toft. Isabel Poybele’s family had probably held the adjoining properties (tithe plots 67–71), of which 1½ acres (tithe plot 71) were given to the church [F5] and 1½ acres (the eastern part of tithe plot 70) sold to John Snoter [F2]. Their 2-virgate freehold, minus one house plot and croft, had been divided into two moieties by 1312, John Gilden holding the messuage plot and croft (tithe plots 67–9 and the central part of tithe plot 70), which descended to the Goldewyres and later passed to Hyller, together with the rest of tithe plot 70, obtained from the Cowepers in 1487. No doubt the proximity of Gildons tenement to the 1¾ acres held by the Hayters in the mid-14th century persuaded the Hayters to take a life-lease on the 20 acres of ‘Gildonland’ from 1356, the same year that William Geldon took out a 7-year lease of 22 acres, possibly from the demesne.36 In 1477 John Goldewyre senior and junior were described as ‘of Cheam’, and John senior died ‘outside the lordship’ in 1493, so it is possible that their Morden tenement was once more let to tenants.37 This might explain why it was William Lightfoot who was mentioned in 1455 as neighbouring the glebe meadow (see below), instead of Goldewyre.38
In 1393 Thomas Carpenter held ‘one messuage and 18 acres land with pertinents formerly Walter atte Wode between the tenement called Makerneys [M] and the tenement of John Wylot’.39 By this date atte Wode’s toft [A2] had become reunited with Adams tenement [A], so Carpenter’s messuage must have been on a new site [F4]. Carpenter’s holding later passed to the Yerde family, and it is as ‘Yerdes toft’ and 20 acres that it came into the tenure of Thomas Heryngman [F].40 John Wylot’s tenement was presumably the ‘messuage and croft in West Morden’ inherited in 1378 from his father-in-law, Alan Hayter, the croft being the 1¾ acres [F2] mentioned above, and the house plot probably that described as ‘formerly Alexander atte Breggende’ [F3] when William Lightfoot was admitted in 1439.41 Makernays [M] was a 1½-virgate holding, perhaps formed by combining a virgate and a ½-virgate in the 12th century, so may have included a vacant toft available for Carpenter. Makernays and Yerdes were both held by Heryngman in the 1530s and were part of the farm later leased to William Parker, the forerunner of Lower Morden
Farm (see chapter 11 page 246). Perhaps the freehold cottages (tithe plots 45/46), traceable back to 1699,42 stood on the site of Wylot’s messuage, formerly Breggendes. Certainly Thomas Acton, from whom the Cowepers received their initial holding, was responsible for scouring a ditch in Bow Lane in 1478, and none of his other properties adjoined it.43 It seems likely that it passed to Thomas Toller with the other properties formerly held by the Cowepers, as the cottage later held by John Hyller was said to adjoin his 2⅛ acres when surrendered to Goldewyre in 1487.44
The glebe meadow (tithe plot 71) also helps to locate another customary holding. In 1456 the vicar was presented at the manorial court for not scouring 5 perches of ditch ‘lying in West Morden between Rykdens [R] and William Lyghtfote’.45 A similar entry occurs in 1496.46 In 1479 it was presented ‘that William Davy has one ditch lying at Townesendlane below Rydons Croft containing 20 perches not scoured … And that the parson of the parish church of Morden has one ditch lying at the same place containing 16 perches not scoured’. At the next court they each forfeited the penalty set previously because their sections of the ditch were still unscoured.47 William Davy alias de Tenet held Rydons cottage and 10 acres from 1453 to 1487. In 1468 he had a ‘ditch lying below Rydons on the west containing 2 perches not scoured’, and again in 1473 a ‘ditch lying below Rydons at the end of the vill [apud fine vylle] of Morden containing 20 perches not scoured’.48 In 1838 the 1½-acre glebe meadow (tithe plot 71) had a road frontage of 26 perches (143 yards). Adjoining it to the east, at the end of the habitation area, was the 2-acre ‘Old Orchard’ (tithe plot 72), with a road frontage of some 25 perches (138 yards), which had presumably once been the house-plot of Rykedons or Rydons ½-virgate tenement. The back lane, presumably Townesendlane, separated it from two adjoining fields within the old Southfield, called ‘Great Rodings’ (tithe plot 73 of 8¼ acres) and ‘Long Rodings’ (tithe plot 74 of 5 acres) in 1838, but called Ridons or Rydons until the end of the 18th century.49 The Old Orchard was irregular in shape, and might represent an early encroachment.
In 1399 John Andrewe of Rykedons had 7 perches of ditch ‘opposite Cokesyes’, and in 1496 30 perches of ‘a ditch called Cokesays lying in West Morden at the end of the vill’ were unscoured ‘on both sides of the way’.50 Thus Cokcyes tenement [C] was also ‘at the end of the vill’, opposite Rykedons. In 1838 the westernmost farm to the north of the Green was that later known as Peacock Farm (tithe plots 93–8) (now the garden centre), and included an 8¾-acre Barn Field. It had a frontage along Lower Morden Lane of some 20 perches (110 yards), well beyond the Old Orchard of Rydons opposite (tithe plot 72), and the responsibility for the ditch on both sides of the road would be explained if the land in the Southfield adjoining this stretch of the road was also part of Cokcyes arable. (The northern section of Cokcyes ditch might have followed the line of the East Pyl brook shown on the tithe map as running along the north-eastern edge of the green, not along the present course behind the garden centre, though 18th-century maps depict a course similar to the present.51) Cokcyes and the adjoining property seem to have originated as encroachments on the Green (see chapter 4 page 97).
Adams [A], Rydons [R], Cokcyes [C] and Swans [S] had all been surrendered by John Holt to Thomas and Anne Toller in 1536, so we would expect to find Swans in this area as well.52 In 1479 it was held by William Goldewyre, who was required to scour 18 perches (99 yards) of a ditch in Bow Lane.53 The most likely site is that at the eastern corner of Bow Lane and Lower Morden Lane (tithe plots 99–103), the farmstead (tithe plots 99–102) being just under an acre. Swans was originally the Huberd family virgate, and it might be significant that immediately before his death in 1349 John Huberd also held Makernays tenement [M]. It will be suggested below that Makernays was on the opposite side of Bow Lane (tithe plot 47), within what became Lower Morden Farm, now Hatfeild school. There would be an attraction in holding adjoining messuage plots if that reflected the layout of strips in the open fields.54 The same applies to the group of adjoining holdings accumulated by the Cowepers and their successors.
Lotekyns [L] disappears from the records after 1480, when Edmund Sager inherited it. In 1470, when Sager’s parents held Lotekyns, John Goldewyre senior was responsible for scouring 20 perches of ditch ‘in Lotekyngslane’.55 Goldewyre had been admitted to Edwardys alias Swa[y]nes tenement [S] in 1468, and also held the family tenement [G] and probably Trowtes cottage [N4], the location
of which is unknown. In 1494 William Goldewyre forfeited 6d for not scouring 4 perches of his ditch ‘in Mede Lane’, and the holders of Wynteworthes [W], Hegges [H], Bexwells [X] and Adams [A], Rydons [R] and Cokcyes [C] tenements were likewise responsible for stretches of ditch in Mede Lane in the 1480s and 1490s.56 The 1838 tithe map shows a lane or path leaving Lower Morden Lane at the western end of the Green, between tithe plots 39 and 51, and veering north- north-west to the Common Mead (see below) and the parish boundary. Each of these tenements included meadowland in the Common Mead, and their tenants were therefore responsible for the upkeep of the ditch along the access lane. But if Mede Lane was called Lotekyngs Lane in 1470, it indicates that Lotekyns messuage plot was in the vicinity, probably west of the lane, where the gardens (tithe plots 38/39) were in 1838, though then they belonged with the farm buildings and cottages to the east of the lane (tithe plots 40–2, 49–52). However, tithe plot 37 seems to have been part of Parker’s 12-acre close, not part of Lotekyns. (In 1526 and 1527 John Holt was responsible for scouring 12 perches (66 yards) of ditch in the king’s highway towards [versus] Lettkyns/Lotkyns,57 but this probably referred to the 2-acre Nether Lotekyns [L1] within the later Stonebridge Close (part of tithe plot 91), retained with the adjoining Garmans [C1] when Holt surrendered the former Coweper holdings to Thomas Toller in 1536 (see chapter 4 page 92). There is no evidence that Coweper or his successors ever held Lotekyns tenement.)
Thomas Heryngman held several copyholds, totalling 4½ virgates, some 90 acres, including both standing dwellings and vacant tofts.58 Two of these were Makernays tenement [M], a 1½-virgate holding, and Yerdes toft [F4], the ‘new’ messuage plot for atte Wode’s former holding [F], acquired for Thomas Carpenter by the 1390s when atte Wode’s former toft [A2] was re-absorbed into Adams tenement [A] (see page 287). In 1393 we are told that Carpenter’s messuage lay between Wylots [F3] and Makernays.59 It was suggested above that Wylots may have stood on the site at the western corner of Bow Lane, where two freehold cottages stood in 1838 (tithe plots 45/46), next to Lower Morden Farm (tithe plots 47/48), which later records show to have been part of Heryngman’s holdings. Heryngman’s properties also included the 30-acre Hegges tenement [H31], taken from the 70-acres of the four tenements amalgamated by the atte Hegge family a century before (see chapter 11 page 243). The messuage plot was probably that belonging to the atte Hegge family virgate [H], though it might have been extended to include the toft of the ½-virgate holding [T] said in 1312 to have been held by Alice atte Cherche, but probably in error for Alice atte Rythe. Heryngman also held the 10-acre Andrewes alias Hawkes [H33] probably occupying one of the ‘lost’ tofts of Godesones [O] or Jocyes [J], absorbed in the reorganisation of the atte Hegge tenements.
It was noted above that in 1512 Andrewes toft [H33] in West Morden lay on the east of a close called Wentworthes and at the north end of Plummers.60 However, a 7-year lease61 from 1579 to William Parker of 100 acres, including 10 acres of meadow, seems to match Heryngman’s former customary holdings, one of Heryngman’s sons having taken over a different 40-acre holding according to a tithe account of 1583, no doubt half of Wynteworthes [W] (see chapter 9 page 178). Parker’s lease included ‘pightles’ named Yards [Yerdes] and Hawkes, probably the tofts belonging to the former properties. Parker’s leasehold property can be traced through later leases, and his large farmstead can be identified with the later Lower Morden Farm, in the area between Bow Lane and Mede Lane. Parker’s lease included ‘all that his messuage or tenement’, a 12-acre close ‘lying behind the barn’, a 2-acre close ‘joining east on the yard behind the house’, a 1¼-acre ‘pightle called Hawkes’ and a ¾-acre ‘pightle called Yards joining to the Green on the north’ (see extract on page 246 and map 12.3 on page 276). The 12 acres and the 2 acres probably formed the bulk of tithe plots 37, 43 & 44 (of 15 acres), part of the extra acre perhaps adjoining tithe plots 38/39 to complete Lotekyns messuage plot, and the rest behind tithe plots 45/46 to round off Yerdes pightle, though we are told that at least part of that fronted the Green. Continuity of occupation might suggest that Makernays messuage [M] stood roughly where Lower Morden Farmhouse stood (tithe plot 47 of 1 acre) with some of the outbuildings extending into Yerdes pightle, the 1-acre orchard adjoining (tithe plot 48) occupying Hawkes pightle, all of which had been held together for several decades.
A possible predecessor to Andrewes/Hawkes is Jocyes toft [J], as Andrews and Makernays were both held by Richard Playstowe in 1512, so may well have been adjacent properties, and in 1357/58, following the Black Death when Makernays was in hand and tenants could only be found for small parts of the holding, Alan Hayter leased ‘1½ acres land of Mancornays and Jocy for the term of his life and Anicia his wife’, which similarly might indicate that these two tenements adjoined.62
However, an alternative origin for the adjoining toft occupied by Andrewes/Hawkes might be that belonging to the half-virgate held in 1312 by Alice atte Cherche/atte Rythe [T], as Makernays was a 1½-virgate holding, possibly formed by the amalgamation of a virgate and a half-virgate before 1225. (Another half-virgate was Bexwells [X], which has tentatively been placed next to Wynteworthes [W], which appears to have been a 3½-virgate holding (see chapter 10 page 219).) In 1353 a 5-acre croft ‘of the tenement of William Mancornays’ was leased for 20-years to Robert and Agnes atte Rythe, and it is possible that this unusually large croft included a vacant toft from its component half-virgate, perhaps to become available later for Yerdes and Wylot’s house plots. Tithe plots 44–6 totalled 5 acres in 1838. In 1539 Thomas Heryngman was required to scour a ditch in Bow Lane, presumably for the stretch of the Pyl brook along Bow Lane that bordered this close, about 200 yards.63 Was this the 40 perches of ditch ‘at Makernays croft’ that John Spyk was required to scour in 1393?64
The ¾-acre orchard (tithe plot 49), and the ¾-acre farmyard and cottages adjoining the western lane (tithe plots 40/41/42, 50/51) – by the 18th century belonging to a different farm – were probably not part of Parker’s lease, perhaps having been retained by ‘young Heryngman’. This was presumably Hegges messuage plot, which had only been held with Makernays and its tofts since 1534. It seems reasonable to suggest that the atte Hegges had continued to occupy their ancestral messuage [H], perhaps extending it by the inclusion of an adjoining toft.
It was suggested in chapter 11 that the 30-acre Westhawes [H32] was created by combining adjoining lands belonging to the four tenements held by the atte Hegge family in the mid-15th century [H] [T] [O] [J], and that it occupied the block of land at the western end of the Lower Morden settlement beyond Hawkins Lane (the 30 acres of tithe plots 52–5, 79 & 80). Its frontage could well have included any of the lost tofts that cannot be fitted into the above reconstruction. The fact that Godesones [O] and Jocyes [J] were always leased together from the end of the 14th century perhaps indicates that they were adjoining. There may be some significance that the atte Rythes held these two virgates together with Lotekyns [L] in the early 1400s, as well as their family holding [T]. In 1312 John Godesone paid 1d rent increment for a cottage [O2], which a marginal entry to the extent explains was later leased at farm. The family virgate was then held by Johanna la Godesone, probably John’s mother, and the cottage might have been within the curtilage of the family homestead. In 1350 William Joce’s virgate was in hand together with a cottage paying 1d increment [J2], and this might similarly have been within the curtilage of his homestead.65 Neither are recognisable in later documents.
So it would appear that each of the virgate and half-virgate messuage plots in Lower Morden originally had about an acre fronting the road, probably with an acre or two in a croft at the rear. However, when John Lightfoot surrendered Alice Welot’s former 1¾ acres [F2] to Elmys in 1458 it was described as ‘lying in the Southfeld of Morden’,66 whereas it appears to have been a former croft behind the atte Wode and Geldon moieties of a 2-virgate holding. Had all these crofts been enclosed from the open fields, the Welot holding still retaining the Southfeld description because it was not part of a neighbouring messuage plot? Was the Back Lane between the crofts and the open field originally a field path? Were the fences that the tenants had to make ‘towards [erga] the common field’ before Easter 1513 between the back lane and the Southfeld for tenants living south of the road?67 Did each of the ancient tenements on the north of the Green have a share in the 12-acre close later occupied by William Parker and his successors at Lower Morden Farm? Did the 5-acre toft belonging to Makerneys in 1353 belong solely to the 1½-virgate holding, or did it also include a croft originally pertaining to a neighbouring property?
Another cottage in West Morden [E3] was held at 2d rent increment in 1312 by Ralph Brounyng. Matilda Brounyng died in 1352, owing half a cow as heriot.68 By the 1380s the cottage, held by the Edward family, was ruinous. It was probably the cottage and curtilage formerly Reginald Edward surrendered by John Edward in 1419 to John and Agnes Bexwell,69 who surrendered it to John and Dionisia Swyft in 1449, Swyft paying 4d rent in the 1448–50 rental.70 Dionisia surrendered to William Lightfoot in 1458,71 at whose death in 1465 his cottage and garden in West Morden was inherited by his son Robert, but was taken in hand because he did not claim it.72 In 1473 Brounyng’s cottage and garden, formerly John Cherteham, owing 4d rent plus 3 days of harvest boonworks, was again taken in hand, for rent arrears according to the manorial account roll of 1494, when it was still in hand.73 It then disappears from the records. The transfer from Edward to Bexwell might indicate that it was in the vicinity of their adjoining tenements [E] and [X], probably at the western edge of the Edward family messuage plot [E]. Perhaps Matilda Brounyng or a forebear was a member of the Edward family, and had been provided with a cottage plot on the family holding?
In chapter 4 it was suggested that the eight villeins recorded in Domesday Book had lived between Lower Morden Lane and the parish church, the house-plots being retained by their successors as detached crofts once the Lower Morden settlement was established (see page 91), though apparently no longer used for dwellings. In 1332 the vicar was still occupying the ‘mansion house with a curtilage and garden, adjacent to the same church, which the priest of the parish was accustomed to live in from ancient times’,74 until an alternative site was found in Central Road sometime before 1400 (see below). It would seem that the only site in this area still inhabited by the 16th century was the forerunner of the George inn (tithe plot 179), presumably the building depicted next to the church on the plotts or plans of Sparrowfield made in 1553 (see figures 5.1 and 5.2).75 In 1312, when held by Henry le Hose, the site [I8] was described as a curtilage paying a rent increment of ½d, no doubt for an encroachment on the north-western side of a small triangular green at the junction of Epsom Road, London Road and Central Road. By 1322 it had come into the possession of Walter Edward, who was paying a further 1d rent increment.76 John Kyrkby received ‘Edwardys cottage and adjoining garden’ in 1471,77 but in 1512 it was seized in hand because of rent arrears and because he had leased it without licence to Richard Cosyn.78 Cosyn was then granted ‘part of the house on the highway adjoining the churchyard’ [I81], which his widow Elizabeth inherited in 1529.79 The location and the fact that he was regularly amerced as a brewer suggest that Cosyn’s portion was a predecessor to the George. The remainder of Kyrkby’s former holding was described in 1522 as a ‘¼-acre toft lately built adjoining John Holt’s, formerly Kyrkby’.80 It passed to the Lord family, but seems to have ultimately been reunited with Cosyn’s portion, as the tithe map shows plot 179 in two parts totalling ½-acre.
John Holt’s property adjoining Kyrkby’s holding was the paddock behind the inn, which originated as a separate freehold property [W1], probably the detached croft belonging to the forerunner of Wynteworthes freehold in Lower Morden [W]. It can be identified as the ‘croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn, formerly Thomas Brewse’ listed in 1537 at Holt’s death,81 which Brewse had purchased from William Barker in 1513.82 When Thomas Barker died in 1507, his freehold properties had been inherited by his brother William, who sold them in 1513 to Thomas Brewse, while his copyholds went to his nephew John Barker, who surrendered them all to Peter Goodfeld.83 In 1515 Goodfeld sought admittance to a further two acres of Barker’s land which he claimed should have been included in John’s surrender as copyhold, but Brewse claimed that he held them freely.84 Brewse held ‘one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn, with five acres of meadow lying together in East Morden’.85 In 1517 this 2-acre croft was described more precisely:86
Note that Peter Goodfeld has shown nothing for a croft of land lying towards the church of Morden where he cut down trees. But Thomas Brewes says that Berker was seised of a certain tenement in East Morden which his brother had and he says that the said croft pertains to the said tenement and was in everyway occupied with the tenement, but he does not show any charter proving that croft to be parcel of the said tenement.
The court was then ordered to search the court rolls for further evidence. Although the result is not recorded, Goodfeld’s claim must have been unsuccessful, as Brewse later sold both properties to Holt as freeholds, the 5-acres [U6] [B5] becoming Willots Mead in Central Road (see chapter 6 page 125).87
In April 1514 Cosyn essoined Brewse (brought his apologies for absence), which perhaps indicates that he was occupying Brewse’s croft behind his alehouse [W1].88 This croft was first recorded in 1400 when John Spyk did fealty for the 2-acre holding that he had purchased from Richard Pynget.89 The croft and the alehouse site were certainly occupied together by 1598 when Henry Smith sold the messuage and 2 acres ‘adioyning and lying on the north side of the foresaid Messuage’.90 This description is repeated in subsequent sales up to 1702,91 and the 2 acres are also mentioned in a will of 1736.92 A Land Tax Redemption certificate of 1792 also describes the inn site as a messuage, garden, orchard and parcel of land containing 2 acres.93
However, the property had been subject to some reorganisation over the centuries, and by 1838 tithe plot 177 was only 1¼ acres. In 1682 mutual 99-year leases were agreed by which William Quarrington, the owner of the inn, then known as the Halfe Moone,94 exchanged land with the lord of the manor, Richard Garth. Garth leased to Quarrington:95
All that his parcell of land contayning by estimacon halfe an acre be it more or lesse, lying and being in a certayn close called Boxwels lying contiguous to the churchyard in Mordon aforesaid and abutting to the house of James Hilton on the east, Mordon church on the north, to the house of John Bishop on the south, and the house of Richard Weyley on the west, together with all and singuler the trees now standing, groweing and being or which any time hereafter shall stand, growe or be in and upon the hedgerowes to the east and all others thereunto belonging or in anywise appertayning, and the same to fell, cut down, grub up and carry away. All which said parcell of land before menconed to be demised is scytuate, lying and being within the said parish of Moredon in the county aforesaid, and now in the occupation of the said Richard Weiley …
The Boxwels half-acre can be traced through later records to plot 178 on the tithe map, with the house that first appears in the records when the exchanges were confirmed in 1782,96 the core of the present residential home misleadingly known as Manor House. By 1745 the Bishop family was occupying the farm later known as Hill House, with its farmhouse on the site of The Sanctuary, on the opposite side of Epsom Road at the corner with Central Road/Green Lane, and manorial records place them in that area in 1628, 1658, 1661 and 1664.97 Hilton and Weyley are otherwise unrecorded, but by 1745 there was a smallholding on the present Hatfeild Mead site and another fronting the site of the present Merton Campus of South Thames College, either of which could have been occupied by Hilton, while Weyley perhaps occupied the George/Halfe Moone.
In exchange, Quarrington leased to Garth:98
one other halfe acre of land more or lesse, belonging unto the said William Quarrington lying and being in a certayne close called Garmans abutting to a field called Longhills on the north, to a close called Boxwels on the south, to the house of the said William Quarrington to the east, and also to a close of John Harisons called Stonebridge on the west, together with all and singuler the trees now standing, groweing and being or which any time hereafter shall stand, growe or be in and upon all the hedgerowes of the said field called Garmans and all others thereunto belonging or in anywise appertayning, and the same to fell, cut down, grub up and carry away. All which said parcell of land before menconed to be demised is scytuate, lying and being within the said parish of Moredon in the county aforesaid, and now in the occupation of the said William Quarrington …
This half-acre was probably that occupied in 1838 by the ‘Rick Yard and Buildings’ belonging to the farm on the Morden Park estate (plot 176), with the croft belonging to the inn on its south- western side, two hilltop ridges to its north, the farmhouse serving Morden Park on the north- east (sometimes called Church Farm because it adjoined the church), and the rest of Garmans Close to the west, sloping down to the Pyl brook, on the far side of which lay Stonebridge Close. At an unknown date Quarrington had also exchanged a further acre in Garmans (see below).
As a result of these encroachments and exchanges, and perhaps others for which no record survives, it is not possible to identify the exact boundaries of the original 2-acre freehold croft or of the copyhold crofts adjoining it. In 1486 Bexwells [X1] was described as ‘1 acre of land lying on the west of the church of Morden next to land of John Spyk on the east’ (i.e. the 2-acre freehold [W1] behind the George), and in 1570 as ‘1 acre … between land called Garmans on the west and demesne land on the north’ when John Smith surrendered to Richard Garth.99 The 1838 tithe map shows a ½-acre plot with its dwelling house (tithe plot 178) south of the church, which clearly includes an enclosure from roadside waste. In 1598 the inn site was described as follows:100
The saide Tenemente is scituate and being beetwene the Quenes highway on the South and East partes, the land of Robarte Gat Esquier on the west parte, and the saide two acres on the north parte
which seems to indicate that this piece of roadside waste was then unenclosed. Thus Bexwells acre-croft would have lain back from the road on the same line as its 2-acre neighbour, and stretching back to, and perhaps including, the western section of the later Church Farm buildings on plot 175. This indicates that the Georgian house was built on the very edge of the original croft. The 1745 list of Garth’s leasehold properties only mentions ‘½ acre in a certain close called Boxwells, continguous with the churchyard in Morden’,101 so William Martin’s house mentioned in the 1782 exchange was of fairly recent origin. In 1838 it was owned by ‘Sarah’ Lambert, presumably Harriet Lambert, daughter and sole heir of William Martin named in 1808 and 1817.102 In 1840, following Harriet’s death, the property was sold to the Garth lord of the manor, though research had then revealed that it was not held in ‘fee simple’ because of the 1782 exchange.103 Sales particulars of 1873 described it as ‘a Bailiff’s house near the Church’.104 As we have seen, Bexwells was also the name of a half-virgate holding in Lower Morden [X], which had been reduced from 10 to 9 acres between 1466 and 1488, and it is likely that this detached croft was the missing acre (see chapter 4 page 92).
In 1393 it was presented at the manorial court that ‘John Adam has 1 ditch at the East end of the vill [le Estende vill] of Morden containing 5 perches not scoured’.105 Elsewhere the terms ‘East end’ and ‘West end’ refer to the two manorial ‘tithings’ or tenant groupings of Morden,106 more usually called East Morden and West Morden. John had property in both tithings, as Adams virgate tenement [A] in Lower Morden also included a detached croft near the site of the George inn, part of what was to become Garmans [C1]. Ralph Edward had been responsible for scouring 4 perches (22 yards) of ditch ‘at Jakke Adames’ in 1380,107 the year that he left to his daughter, Alice Fowler, Hose’s cottage and garden [I8],108 later sub-divided to provide the site of the alehouse [I81] that preceded the George inn (see above). Garmans is first named in 1536, when John Holt surrendered to Thomas Toller the copyhold properties formerly held by William Wylcockys – Rydons half-virgate [R], and Adams [A] and Cokeseys [C] virgates – as well as Swans virgate [S], which Wylcockys had not held. Holt retained ‘one close containing by estimation 8 acres of land called Gyrmans and another close called Netherlotkyns [L1] containing 2 acres by estimation’.109 The acreage surrendered to Toller was not reduced by 10 acres, which perhaps indicates that these closes were not part of the arable land counted in the virgates. Holt also held Spyks virgate [E] and Bexwells half-virgate [X], and we have seen that there was a 1-acre holding next to the church also called Bexwells [X1]. It would appear that Garmans was created from the detached crofts belonging to each of the tenements that Holt was surrendering to Toller.
In 1570 Garmans [C1] was described as a ‘tenement commonly called Girmans containing 8 acres land lying between the Queen’s highway on the south and demesne land on the north’.110 In 1579 and 1624 Garmans adjoined Stonebridge Close (part of tithe plot 91), named after the stone bridge carrying the Epsom Road over the East Pyl brook.111 The tithe map shows that the land fronting the Epsom Road as far as the East Pyl, apart from 3 small closes adjoining the George, had been absorbed into the Park (tithe plot 114), but early OS maps show a row of trees, the remnant of the northern boundary hedge of Garmans (see map 4.2 on page 86). There were also hedges along the Epsom Road frontage and on the boundary with the George (between
tithe plots 177/179 and tithe plots 180/181), the area enclosed being about 8½ acres. In 1598 and 1597 ‘Gyrmans’ was said to be of 7 acres,112 but by the 18th century it had been extended to 8½ acres. In 1745 and 1769, the 8½-acre Garmans Close was described as ‘Garmans close with one acre meadow at its lower end and half-acre with hedgerows in said field exchanged for other lands with Wm. Quarrington’.113 The ‘half-acre with hedgerows’ is clearly that leased to Garth in 1682, taken from the north-western section of the inn’s croft (probably tithe plot 176), but these references reveal that, at an unknown date, Quarrington had also exchanged a further acre in Garmans, possibly for demesne land adjoining Merton Close [N8] (see chapter 12 page 272). However, the tithe map shows that the north-eastern corner of the croft behind the George (plot 177) reached as far as the churchyard wall, whereas Bexwells 1-acre croft [X1] is known to have been between the churchyard and the original 2-acre croft [W1], and this expansion into Bexwells is almost certain to have preceded the 1682 exchange involving the half-acre in ‘Boxwells’.
Anyone who has walked up the hill from Lower Morden Lane towards the George would assume that the acre of meadow in Garmans ‘at its lower end’ was by the brook, but there is no evidence that Quarrington had held land so far from the inn site. A possible alternative interpretation could be the lower end of the inn’s 2-acre croft, perhaps plots 181/182 on the tithe apportionment, totalling 3 roods 13 perches, which included enclosures from roadside waste along the Epsom road. Or perhaps the ‘lower end’ referred to the whole stretch of former roadside waste between the inn and the brook. However, the reconstruction map 1.5 on page 10 extends the crofts as far as the row of trees shown in 1865. Could this area be described as the ‘lower end’? Or had this area already been exchanged for an acre of meadow near the brook – perhaps that involving the absorption of much of Bexwells croft posited above – Quarrington’s exchange being a later rationalisation of the holdings? Unless further documentation is found, we can only speculate.
The location of the other croft that Holt retained in 1536, Netherlotkyns [L1], is not stated, but it had presumably once been part of Lotkyns tenement [L], not held by Holt. As we saw above, in 1526 and 1527 Holt was responsible for scouring 12 perches (66 yards) of ditch in the king’s highway towards [versus] Lettkyns/Lotkyns,114 and this probably referred to Netherlotekyns. In 1402 Thomas Carpenter, whose relatives held Lotkyns, surrendered remainder of a toft and 1 acre, part of Lotekyns tenement to Alan and Agnes Berenger, who surrendered it to Peter Clement in 1405.115 In 1448 Clement surrendered a toft and 2 acres [sic], part of Lotekyns tenement, to Thomas and Emmote Spyk, but the property is not mentioned again.116 This is likely to have been the property later known as Netherlotkyns. If the above interpretation of the origins of Garmans is correct, we might also expect to find Netherlotkyns nearby, probably within Stonebridge Close which a lease of 1579 describes as ‘joining on a close called Girmans containing 4 acres’.117
The other 2 acres forming Stonebridge Close could well have been the croft belonging to Edwards tenement [E1], mentioned in 1399, and which Thomas and Emmote Spyk inherited in 1420.118 The 1838 tithe apportionment shows that Stonebridge Close was at the corner of Epsom Road and Lower Morden Lane, calling plot 91 – a 13-acre field – ‘Stonebridge and Old Mordens’ and plot 92 – a 7½-acre field adjoining to the north-west – ‘New Mordens’. The lease of 1579 lists, in addition to the 4-acre close called ‘Stonebridge Close joining on a close called Girmans’, a ‘close called Ould Morden’ containing 16 acres and another ‘close called Old Morden Furzes’ containing 4 acres.119 The stone bridge was the crossing over the East Pyl brook, possibly a causeway (see chapter 1 page 12).
The line of Stane Street runs only a few yards to the south of the northern hedgerow of Garmans, and it is possible that the original tenements here had been aligned to the old Roman road before it was superseded by the present A24 route – perhaps originally a ‘back lane’. The parish boundary with Sutton between Pylford Bridge and Lower Morden Lane followed the line of Stane Street, so part at least would still have been in evidence. Once the Roman road ceased to be used the crofts were probably extended northwards to include the roadside waste which would have lined it on each side.
Garmans was absorbed into the Morden Park estate,120 created in 1768 from a farm carved out of the former demesne land of the manor at the end of the 16th century. The farms that operated from the Morden House site in London Road (tithe plots 224–6) and the Hill House site opposite the George (tithe plot 197) were similarly late 16th- or early 17th-century creations from former demesne lands (see chapter 12 page 271).
Central Road or ‘Stoyle Street’ (see map 1.4 on page 9)
We saw above that the vicar moved from the old parsonage site by the church to a new vicarage on a cottage plot in what is now Central Road. When the tithes were restored in 1634 this vicarage became the rectory,121 and so it remained until the new rectory was built behind the church in 1960. The rectory is marked on the 1838 tithe map (plots 247/248) and on Ordnance Survey maps, and can therefore be used as a fixed point in identifying neighbouring properties. Plot 248 behind the original vicarage plot was a copyhold close added in 1436, when it was known as Emcote Acre [B61].122 It was first mentioned in May 1416 when the then vicar took it over for a short while:123
At this court it is witnessed by Roger atte Hegg’ that Nicholas Hyndefoot, out of court, surrendered