The Wife’s Whisper – Indirect Evidence from the Manorial Court

This week’s entry in the 50 Marriage Mondays series features my 7x great grand-parents, the parents of Mary Pearman who featured in Women in the Property Records of Clent Manor.  Their marriage is recorded in the parish register:

Bride: Sara Waldren
Groom: Nicholas Pearman
Date: 16 July 1679
Location: Clent

Nicholas Pearman owned copyhold land in Clent, which was regulated by the manorial Court Baron.  Clent’s manorial court records three collections of land parcels, called a copy, numbered 3, 5 and 35, by the steward (the main court official)[1].

The Latin Court Record

On 21 October 1718, Nicholas transferred copy no 5 to John Raybold junior and copy no 3 to John Wight senior[2].  A challenge of reading manorial court record before 1733 is that they are in Latin.  Legal Latin is often heavily abbreviated.  In the example below I have denoted expanded abbreviations by enclosing them in <>.  The entry for 1718 transfer of copy no 5 commences:

Ad hanc Cur<iam> vener<unt> Nicolaus Pearman e<t> Ric<ard>us Pearman filium e<t> hered<em> apparen<tis> p<re>d<ictum> Nicholai in propriis p<er>sonis suis e<t> sursum reddider<unt> in manus D<omi>ni pr<e>d<icte> p<er> sene<sca>ll<u>m suum pr<e>d<itus> sec<undu>m consuetud<inem> man<er>ii pr<e>d<icte>  Totum illud messuagium sive tenementum in quo Joh<ann>es Raybold Jun nunc inhabitat

Which translates as:

To this Court came Nicholas Pearman and Richard Pearman, son and heir apparent of the aforesaid Nicholas, in their own persons, and they gave up [surrendered] into the hands of the Lord aforesaid by his steward aforesaid according to the custom of the manor aforesaid:  All those messuage or tenement where John Raybold now dwells in

The entry goes on to describe the property (a house, garden, workshop, one and a half acres of land called Ashfurlong) and its location in relation to properties owned or occupied by neighbours Joseph and Samuel Penn, Benjamin Tristram, John Jones, Samuel Welch, Richard Cox, and mentions the Bell Inn and Hollow Cross.  Working out exactly where it was is a whole other problem to be investigated another time.  Finally, the entry includes the legal transfer of ownership to John Raybold.

The Wife Whispers

Where is Nicholas’ wife Sarah?  Why is Nicholas’ son, Richard, involved?

The custom (i.e. law) of Clent manor dictated that property was inherited according to the ‘Rules of Descent of Common Law’ i.e. the eldest son or other male heir, and wives were entitled to a third of the estate as her ‘Customary Dower’.  What does this record tell us about family relationships?

As Richard was the son and heir apparent, we know that he was:

  • legitimate – Nicholas was married to his mother
  • the eldest surviving son
  • an adult (over 21) – he was acting in his own right

So, Nicholas at one time had a wife, with whom he had a son, Richard, born in 1697 or earlier.  At the time of the 1718 transaction only Richard was still alive to give up his rights to the property so it could be transferred.  We have indirect evidence of a marriage that occurred before Richard’s birth, even though Sarah whispers nameless from the grave.

The Son’s Inheritance

When Nicholas died in 1724, his remaining land, copy no 35, was inherited by his heir[3].  You are thinking that should be Richard, aren’t you?  However, the court records that Richard had died, so the property he would have inherited passed to the next male heir, his brother John.  What does this tell us about Richard?  It tells us he had no surviving wife or son, but not whether he was widowed or had daughters.

The son-in-law

This property transfer is very much a family affair.  John Raybold married Mary Pearman, daughter of Nicholas and Sarah, in 1714.  Note that the house (messauge or tenement) described in the 1718 copy no 5 transfer was already occupied by John Raybold.  I would not be surprised if John Wight, the other property recipient also turns out to be a relative.

Does the information from the property records agree with the parish registers[4]?

Year Event
1679 Nicholas Pearman and Sarah Waldron were married July 16
1680 Richard the son of Nicholas Perman and Sara his wife was baptised May 31
1683 John the son of Nich. Pearman and Sara his wife was Bapt. Sept. 30
1694 Mary daughter of Nich. Pearman and Sara his wife bapt. June 10
1710 Ri: Pearman a child bur. May 21
1713 Sara wife of Nich. Pearman bur’d Jul 19
1714 John Raybould and Mary Pearman were married Feb. 12
21 Oct 1718 Nicholas Pearman & son Richard transferred property to John Raybold junr and John Wight sen
1721 Richard Pearman was buried May the 8th
1724 Nicolas Pearman was buried Apr 9th
5 Jun 1724 Nicholas Pearman died, his remaining property passed to son John

Fits like a glove!  Putting it all together, I conclude:

Nicholas Pearman property relationships

Nicholas Pearman property relationships

© Sue Adams 2013

[1] Manor of Clent, Abstracts of admissions and surrenders (1716 – 1927), pp. 3, 5, 35; 705:550/5085/1; Marcy, Hemingway and Son, Bewdley; Worcestershire County Records Office, Worcester.

[2] Manor of Clent, Court rolls. (1716 – 1752), pp. 53-54 [penned], session 21 October 1718, cases 2 & 3; 705:550/5085/2; Marcy, Hemingway and Son, Bewdley; Worcestershire County Records Office, Worcester.

[3] Manor of Clent, Court rolls. (1716 – 1752), session 5 June 1724, cases 1 & 2; 705:550/5085/2; Marcy, Hemingway and Son, Bewdley; Worcestershire County Records Office, Worcester.

[4] Church of England. Clent Parish Register 1636-1729. microfilm. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, USA. Film no 1042160, items no 7 & 8.

Keeping it in the Family?

When I first examined the microfilm copy of Clent parish registers back in 1998, I wondered if this couple was connected to the Wilson family of Walton, Clent, from whom I am descended.

Bride: Catherine Hanbury
Groom: William Wilson
Date: 12 June 1789
Location: St Leonard’s, Clent, Worcestershire
Witnesses: Edward Price, Jane Price

The Will

The Will of William Wilson of Walton, made on 15 May 1788 and proved on 7 February 1789, identifies his nephew, also William and a grand-niece Catherine Hanbury as beneficiaries:

And I give to my Nephew Matthew Hanbury (Son of my late Sister Mary) and my Grand Niece Catherine Hanbury (daughter of my late Nephew John Hanbury) the sum of twenty pounds each


I give devise and bequeath all my messuages lands Tenements and Heredittaments and all other my real and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresover with all and every appurtenances unto my Nephew William Wilson of Walton aforesaid who now lives with me (another of the Sons of my late Brother Richard Wilson deceased) and to his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns to his and their own use and behoof forever, and I do herby appoint the said last mentioned William Wilson sole Executor of this my Will

The relationships between the beneficiaries mentioned above are:


The Wilson-Hanbury connection. William Wilson of Walton – red. William Wilson, nephew – yellow. Catherine Hanbury, grand-niece – green

So, did William Wilson, the nephew and main beneficiary, marry his first cousin once removed, Catherine Hanbury?

The Gravestone

Sadly, parish registers of this period do not generally record ages of the nuptial couple.  However, William of Walton shares a gravestone at Clent with a couple named William and Catharine.

Wilson gravestone at Clent

Wilson gravestone at Clent

In memory of
who departed this life
the 28th day of January 1789
aged 81 years.
Also WILLIAM WILSON late of Bournheath
He departed this life October the 30th
1821 aged 82 years
and two of his daughters who died
in their infancy.
Also of CATHARINE, wife of the said
WILLIAM WILSON of Bournheath.
she departed this life Septr 2nd 1830.
Aged [8 or 6?]6 Years

The inscribed age of Catharine is worn, so I am not sure if it is 66 or 86.  The former suggests a birth year of 1764, making Catherine 25 years younger than her husband (born ca. 1739).  The age difference is consistent with the relationship suggested by the will.

The FamilySearch baptism index confirms that a Catharine Hanbury, daughter of John and Grace Hanbury was baptised at Halesowen, Worcestershire on 17 October 1764.  The pieces are fitting together quite nicely, but I have not yet made a connection between the gravestone couple and the Hanbury family.

Bournheath, the place named as the gravestone couple’s residence, lies in Bromsgrove parish, near the boundaries with Catshill and Belbroughton.  Clent lies on the other side of Belbroughton from Bromsgrove.  A search of the FamilySearch index of baptisms for the children of William Wilson and Catharine revealed this family in Bromsgrove:

Name Date
William Wilson 4 June 1790
Jane Wilson 6 January 1792
Eleanor Wilson 5 June 1793
John Wilson 20 February 1795
Hanbury Wilson 25 January 1797
Thomas Wilson 19 April 1799

Note the name of the third son, Hanbury, which suggests a connection with the Hanbury family.

So, it is looking very likely that William Wilson did marry his 1st cousin once removed, Catharine Hanbury.  Next steps include investigating property records, electoral rolls and possible connections with the marriage witnesses, the Price family.

© Sue Adams 2013

Vanishing Artifacts – the Gravestone and Silver Spoon

Apart from the parish register, two other sources contain evidence for this, the 25th in the 50 Marriage Mondays series.  Typical of 18th century parish registers, the entry gives only limited information:

Bride: Mary Wilson
Groom: Edward Pratt
Date: 9 March 1777
Location: Clent, Worcestershire
Witnesses: Ann Wilson, Thos Wilson

Pratt family gravestone, Clent

Pratt family gravestone, Clent

A gravestone in the churchyard of St Leonards in Clent commemorates this couple, their daughter and son-in-law and indicates Wannerton as their residence.

When I took the photo in ca 1998, I could only read the parts highlighted in red.  Fortunately, the monumental inscriptions were recorded and published by the Birmingham and Midland Genealogy and Heraldry Society in 1989, so I can fill in the gaps:

Sacred to the memory of
(late of Wannerton)
He departed this life March 31st 1811
aged 57 years.
Likewise MARY wife of the above
who departed this life March 10th 1839
aged 90 years
Also SARAH daughter of Edward
and Mary Pratt wife of
JOHN SMITH (of this parish)
died January 24th 1811 aged 32 years
Also of the above JOHN SMITH
he departed this life March 7th 1841
aged 66 years

The will of Mary’s mother confirms the family connection with Wannerton and Mary’s marriage.  The will also gives information on the marriages of Mary’s two sisters.  Siblings Thomas and Ann are likely candidates for the witnesses to Mary’s marriage.

Extract from the Will of Sarah Wilson (nee Raybould) of Wannerton, made 19 January 1795, proved 2nd February 1795:

In the Name of God Amen I Sarah Wilson of Wannerton in the county of Worcester, Widow ….. give and bequeath unto my four youngest children viz Mary the wife of Edward Pratt, Ann the wife of George Boraston, Thomas and Joseph the said sum of one hundred pounds each ……. I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Wilson all and singular my Household Goods Implements of Household and other Household Effects situate and being in my dwelling house at Wannerton…… I intend otherwise to dispose of consisting of Ninepair of Sheets and one Silver Spoon marked with the day of my Birth I give and bequeath unto my Daughters Mary Pratt, Ann Borraston and Sarah Crowther  Waldron equally share and share alike but the said Silver Spoon particularly give and bequeath unto my said Daughter Mary Pratt  All my Wearing Apparel of what nature or kindsoever of which I shall die possessed I Give and bequeath unto my said Daughters Mary Pratt Ann Borraston and Sarah Waldron to be equally divided amongst them share and share alike  One pair of Silver Shoe Buckles I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Ann Borraston ……. appoint my said Son Thomas Wilson and my Son in Law Edward Pratt executors thereof  In witness whereof I the said Sarah Wilson have to this my last will and testament set my hand and Seal the Nineteenth day of January one Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety five

I wonder if one of Mary’s children inherited the silver spoon and whether it passed down the generations or was lost or otherwise disposed of.

© Sue Adams 2013