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.

Advertisements

Women in the Property Records of Clent Manor

The 22nd in the 50 Marriage Mondays series concerns my 6th great grandparents.

Bride: Mary Pearman
Groom: John Raybould
Date: 12 February 1714 (Julian)
Location: Clent, Worcestershire

The parish register entry[1] appears under the heading Ladyday 1714.  Ladyday was the 25th March, so the February following was 1715 on the Gregorian calendar in use today.  Let’s resist celebrating the tri-centenary of this marriage until 2015.   The entry woefully is short on detail:

John Raybould and Mary Pearman
were married Feb. 12.

No father’s names, occupations, witnesses, or the other information we expect on more recent marriage records.   Fortunately, both the Raybould and Pearman families feature in the property records of Clent Manor.  Property transactions were recorded in the manorial court books and the new owner, called a copyholder, was given a copy of the entry.  The court official who administered proceeding on behalf of the Lord of the manor was the steward.  Clent’s stewards compiled summaries of title for each collection of land parcels (called a copy), which includes the year, the person who disposed of land (by death or surrender), the person who acquired land (admitted as a Tenant), and the relationship between them.  Copy no 5 shows the typical primogenitor inheritance pattern in the Raybould family[2].  Copy no 35 shows property passed through female hands as the result of John Pearman’s will[3], and provides evidence that Mary Pearman married a Raybould.

Pearman & Raybould families from Stewards Summary

Pearman & Raybould families from Stewards Summary
Left: Copy 35, Right: Copy 5

Notice that each date of death matches the property admittance of the heir.  Now compare the two younger John Rayboulds on both family charts.  The matching deaths and admittances is strong evidence that the son of Mary Pearman is the same person as the son of the John Raybould who died in 1746, and likewise for the grandson.  Two people sharing a surname and eldest son is strong evidence indirect of a marriage.

The steward’s summary gives the essentials of who owned land when.  The original court books give greater detail, for example:[4]

Clent Manor, Court Baron. Session: 1 October 1756

Case 4

To This Court Came Mary Raybould, Widow, and also Mathew Wilson and Sarah his Wife, Joseph Hollington and Ann his Wife, Joseph Wyatt and Elizabeth his Wife, (the said Sarah, Ann and Elizabeth being first secretly examined apart from their said husbands),  Mary Raybould and Susanna Raybould, spinsters, which said Sarah, Ann, Elizabeth, Mary and Susanna are five of the children of the said Mary Raybould Widow and freely consented to and surrendered unto the hands of the Lord of the said Manor by the Steward aforesaid and by the Rod according to the Custom of the Manor: All and Every the Customary Messages, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments within this Manor of which John Pearman of the City of London, Loriner, Brother of the said Mary Raybould, Widow, died seized and which were surrendered to the use of the last Will and Testament of him the said John Pearman and now in possession of the said Mary Raybould, Widow, with all and singular and Every of their Rights Members and appurtenances.   To the use and behoof of the said John Raybould of Clent within this Manor, Sythe Smith (Eldest son and heir of the said Mary Raybould Widow), his heirs and assigns for Ever according to the Custom of the said Manor.  Whereupon the said Lord by his Steward aforesaid hath granted to the said John Raybould the Messuages, Lands, Hereditaments and Premisses aforesaid with the appurtenances and he hath seizin thereof by the Rod according to the Custom of the said Manor  To have and to hold the same with their and every of their appurtenances To the said John Raybould his heirs and assigns for Ever according to the Customs therefore due and of Right accustomed and the said John Raybould is thereof admitted Tenant and gave the Lord for a Fine for such his admission thereof had                    and did his Fealty.
Tho Smith
Steward

Now, let’s pull the evidence together:

Raybould and Pearman families from Clent Manor land records

Raybould and Pearman families from Clent Manor land records

Did you think women could not own property and therefore do not feature in property records?

The most informative manorial court property entries often involve women because of laws in force at the time.  In a nutshell:

  1. Widows and single women could own property in their own right.
  2. On marriage ownership of a woman’s property automatically transferred to her husband and property that she inherited or acquired after marriage also passed to her husband.
  3. Ownership of a woman’s property could be given to a third party in trust, whilst she continued to enjoy the benefits of it.  Any future husband would have no claim on it.
  4. In most manors, including Clent, the eldest son inherited ownership of all property.
  5. An estate could be entailed, by either giving a life interest it the property and/or stipulating an ordered list of succession.

John Pearman registered the existence his will in the manorial court in 1729.  At that time, he could expect bequests to his sister Mary would pass to her husband John Raybould, then still alive, and then to his nephew John Raybould. However, by 1756 Mary was widowed so she inherited the property and was admitted tenant[5].  John Pearman gave his nieces a stake in the property by entailing his estate.  Under circumstances laid out in the will, they had the right to become the owners.  The husbands of the three married nieces had rights through their wives.  Consent of all parties was required for the property to be transferred free from all claims.  Although the married women did not stand to become owners, they were “secretly examined apart from their husbands” to give their consent.  Clearly, the family decided to avoid the complications that could arise from entailment and opted to transfer absolute ownership “in fee simple” to John Raybould, the eldest son.

© Sue Adams 2013

Back to Family Folk Research Services


[1] Church of England. Clent Parish Register 1636-1729. microfilm. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, USA. Film no 1042160, item no 8, image no 58, 22nd of 25 entries on left hand page.

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

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

[4] Manor of Clent. Court rolls. (1752-1778). Marcy, Hemingway and Son, Bewdley. 705:550/5085/5, Worcester County Records Office, Worcester. Session 1 October 1756, Case no 4.

[5] Manor of Clent. Court rolls. (1752-1778). Marcy, Hemingway and Son, Bewdley. 705:550/5085/5, Worcester County Records Office, Worcester. Session 1 October 1756, Case nos 2-3.