Glebe and Tithe: keeping the Vicar’s body and soul together.

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Before the notion of stipends provided a vicar with an income, he would have had to rely on glebe and tithe to feed himself.

The Glebe was a piece of farmland, cultivated by the cleric himself, or by a hired man if he could afford one.

The Tithe was a tenth of the produce of the parish. A rector got the Great Tithes of corn and hay, but if he was a lay rector (not a clergyman) he would have to supply someone to hold services, administer sacraments, etc on his behalf, ie. ‘vicariously’ – hence, a vicar! The vicar got the Small Tithes.

The old vicarage, where John Watkin, Vicar of West Haddon, 1747-1772, would have lived. Ralph Turner may have occupied an older house on this site in 1579.
The old vicarage, where John Watkin, Vicar of West Haddon, 1747-1772, would have lived. Ralph Turner may have occupied an older house on this site in 1579.

In 1579, Ralph Turner, a new  vicar in West Haddon, got into a dispute with his lay rector, Edward Andrew, about just what was included in Small Tithes. The Bishop of London and ‘several doctors of the civil law’ ruled that the vicar was due a tenth of the following:

  • wool
  • lambs
  • colts
  • calves
  • pigs
  • goslings
  • chickens
  • butter
  • cheese
  • hemp
  • flax (which made linen – hemp made a coarser fabric, more like sackcloth, and rope)
  • honey
  • fruits
  • herbs (these included vegetables, a word not widely in use at this time)

By 1765 the Enclosure Commissioners awarded John Watkin the Vicar, in lieu of

  • half a yardland,
  • the swarth (a half-yardland-equivalent share of the hay from the village meadows – a tenth of which he presumably owed to Thomas Whitfield as his lay rector),
  • land called Spinney Close on the South side of the town (as yet unidentified – no acreage given),
  • a modus of 20 shillings for every yardland in the parish and a shilling per cottage, payable each year,
  • the small tithes
  • and ‘garden pence due to the Vicar out of the gardens, orchards or old enclosures of the several proprietors of the open field lands’

a farm of 157 acres

Bearing in mind that a half yardland was rather less than 20 acres, even adding up all the other sources of income due to John Watkin, it would seem that Thomas Ford and Jonathan Robins, objecting to enclosure on the grounds that too much was allowed for tithes, had a point.

What remains of the Glebe, up behind the vicarage. Most of the land that was awarded to the Vicar in 1765 was sold off, as Vicarage Farm, early in the 20th century.
What remains of the Glebe, up behind the vicarage. Most of the land that was awarded to the Vicar in 1765 was sold off, as Vicarage Farm, early in the 20th century.

A measure of land

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Thomas Whitfield had bought his West Haddon estate around 1750. Although he worked in London for the Court of Chancery, he was descended from a Rector of Bugbrooke and may perhaps still have had family in Northamptonshire.

Staple Inn, one of the inns of Chancery where law students would live and train. Is this  where Thomas Whitfield began his career?
Staple Inn, one of the inns of Chancery where law students would live and train. Is this where Thomas Whitfield began his career?

His estate comprised:

  • The Lordship of the Manor, which entitled him to hold manorial courts (though there’s no evidence that he did) and various sporting and other rights over the area of his jurisdiction.
  • the Impropriate Rectory of the church, which obliged him to maintain the fabric, in return for the Great Tithes of corn and hay (one tenth of the produce of all the farmers within the parish).
  • the Advowson of the parish, which gave him the right to nominate the next vicar.
  • a little over 7 yardlands of land.

A yardland was an archaic measurement of land, which varied from place to place depending on soil character. It was traditionally the amount of land an ox-team could plough in a season.


West haddon had 48 yardlands in total, each 36.5 acres, in cultivated strips across the parish. In addition to the arable land, there were also areas of meadow, pasture and rough grazing, and the Heath, where villagers could cut furze and bushes for firewood. This was a community resource under the open field system. But with Enclosure this was all about to change…

A house divided

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There are often indications in property deeds of houses having been divided, but the widow Mary Kirtland’s will, made in 1765, contains a very clear description of how it might be done.

Mary had no children of her own so left her property to her brothers (sadly no evidence has yet been found to identify the house.) From the description in her will the house already had a tenant in half of it, but Mary made quite clear which bits were to go to Daniel Poole and which to Samuel. In doing so she provided a vivid picture of what the house must have been like.

The West end of my dwelling house, now or late in the tenure of Elizabeth Hipwell, widow, consisting of one kitchen, one pantry, two chambers and one yard, with a part of the West end of my barn, consisting of two bays thereof and also a building adjoining to the premises of Robert Collis where I generally lay my fuel, together with half the yard and orchard thereunto adjoining.

The East end of my dwelling house wherein I lately dwell, consisting of one parlour, one chamber, one small passage over the entry and one garrett, together with the stable and one bay of barn thereto adjoining, which said stable and one bay of barn is now in the occupation of Elizabeth Hipwell and also half the yard and orchard thereto belonging.

Did Elizabeth act as a kind of housekeeper for Mary? (She was the only one with kitchen-interior-by-thomas-hicks-e28093-1865a kitchen). They were probably both of a similar age – Mary’s husband James had been born in 1701, while Elizabeth’s husband Edward was two years younger. Both women had been widowed within a year of each other . Neither had children. Had they pooled resources and gained companionship?

The wheelwright’s son

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John Tavener, the wheelwright, bought a house in West Haddon with the wheelwrightbarns, stables, outhouses and appurtenances in 1732 for £60. It was in a good position for his business, on the main road through the village, with plenty of room for workshops.

Lime House cropThis was the house where his son Thomas and daughter Judith were born. Then, when Thomas was only 7 years old, his father died. The family stayed on at the house, but what became of the business is unclear.

Thomas and his sister were educated, either by their mother or by Henry Newton, the village schoolmaster and parish clerk and Thomas signed the register when he witnessed the marriage of his sister to Giles Killworth of Barby in 1758.

In 1771 he was listed as a weaver in the Militia List, as also were John, Robert and William Killworth. It’s tempting to think there may have been some kinship connection or at least friendship between the two families. Both the Taveners and the Killworths appear in the West Haddon parish registers for the first time with babies baptised in the 1730s. Had the boys trained together as weavers in the 1740s? And is that how Judith met Giles Killworth – perhaps some kind of cousin from Barby?

In 1774 his mother died, leaving him the house and a small enclosed farm of about 20 acres, rented out to Nathaniel Parnell. (She had objected to Enclosure, but it had gone through anyway.) How long he continued as a weaver is unknown. The Northamptonshire textile industry was failing by the 1780s. At some point he divided the house into two, and a list of ‘hous dwelers’ in 1783 suggests that he had rented part of it to John Killworth.

Thomas never married and his life left little trace behind it. By the time he died, aged 63, he was living in Barby, perhaps with his sister. His divided house and the farm in West Haddon were rented out until Judith’s granddaughter sold the house to a local builder, John Johnson, who turned the house back into one.

Ann Tabernar’s trees

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In 1733 Ann Gulliver married John Tavener (also spelt Tabernar), a wheelwright.

The Gullivers had lived and farmed in West Haddon for centuries, John was a new arrival. They had a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Judith, and then John died, leaving Ann with two small children to bring up alone.

She seems to have been quite a resourceful woman. What happened to the wheelwright’s business is unclear, but some years after John’s death she bought nearly 20 acres of land and rented it out. She also had the common right attached to her cottage and another four acres somewhere in the parish. As a landowner, she stood to gain from the Enclosure.

But she joined those against Enclosure and, in the Pro and Con document, gave her reason:

that she had some trees growing on her land and if they would defer the inclosure till they were full grown she would consent, but taveners treesnot till then.

How many trees she had, or where they were, is not specified.

However a survey of a landholding, quite close to the one she was eventually allotted at Enclosure, includes a valuation of the trees on that land, in 1798, which gives s3La6_edited-1ome idea of the sort of price that timber fetched ‘full grown’ as opposed to ‘small’. In Sedge Hollow (the triangular field between the roads to Watford and Long Buckby at the bottom of Station Road) there were 31 elm and 2 ash trees, valued at £21, and 86 ash, 17 elm and 8 oak, small, valued at £12. 13 shillings [£12.65].

Was she serious about the trees? or just cocking a snook at the new absentee landowners like Thomas Whitfield, who wanted to barge in and change things and yet had never set foot in the village that had been home to her family for generations?

Felling axe

An apprentice’s tale

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In November 1747 Thomas Garnett had apprenticed his son Thomas to Thomas Haile of Ravensthorpe. (There was a distinct lack of imagination in the firWoolcomber_edited-1st name department at 18th century christenings). Mr Haile was a woolcomber who processed wool fibres ready for spinning.


The apprenticeship was intended to run for seven years, but months before his time was up, young Thomas ran off to Northampton with his cousin Ann and was married by special licence. They were married on the Tuesday after Easter in 1753 (hence the licence – banns couldn’t be called during Lent). Their baby daughter, Avis, was born at the beginning of June – an over-riding reason for cutting his training short – apprentices were not allowed to marry.

But what an apprentice could do was claim settlement in his master’s parish. Before the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, each parish was responsible for looking after its own poor, providing financial assistance, lodgings, clothing etc, funded by a Poor Levy – a kind of community charge administered by the Overseers of the Poor. There were various circumstances that could qualify you for a ‘settlement’ in a particular parish – that was the right to be supported by that parish if you fell on hard times.

And Thomas did fall.

In December 1769 a settlement certificate was issued in respect of Thomas Garnett, woolcomber, Thomas and William his sons, Avis, Mary and Sarah his daughters, of Ravensthorpe. His wife Ann had died in October that year and his 4-day-old son John a few months before, in April. Of his nine children, five had survived infancy and ranged in age from Avis at 16 to Sarah, 4.

All his children were baptised in West Haddon and Ann was buried here, so it’s quite possible that the family had been living in West Haddon for years. But the date of the certificate suggests he may have approached the Overseers here for some assistance (Ann would almost certainly have been spinning to supplement the family income, and the older girls too – if one of them was now doing her best to take care of the younger children, household earnings would have dropped significantly.)

The issuing of the certificate is an indication that West Haddon Overseers were unwilling to offer assistance, or at least worried that assistance might be requested and so made sure that settlement rights were clarified and Ravensthorpe would pick up the tab if necessary.

Militia list 71 reducedThe certificate includes his five children, but the following year he lost his son William too, and in 1771 he appeared on the Militia List for West Haddon as  woolcomber, poor, with four children.

A teacher’s salary at Guilsborough

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This advertisement appeared in the Northampton Mercury for January 15th, 1759.

The Ushership of the Grammar School at Guilsborough being vacant, a Gentleman properly recommended to Sir John Langham, Sir Thomas Samwell and other Trustees, will be admitted. And as the salary is only Twenty pounds a year the addition of Ten pounds a year will be made to it, until the Usher of the said school shall acquire a Curacy.

Guilsborough Grammar School9-15-2009_009_edited-3

An Usher at a school was the deputy Master. At this time a grammar school teacher was also expected to have trained as a clergyman and in this instance the candidate was expected to combine his school duties with that of a curate (or deputy vicar) when he could find a local situation vacant.

Whoever was appointed would have taught at least two boys from West Haddon that we know of. The sons of Mary Burbidge, John and William, were both educated there. Mary was widowed before the birth of her younger son, William, but managed to continue to run The Red Lion Inn (possibly somewhere in West End?) as well as looking after four young children. She is reported to have been determined to bring them up ‘genteelly’ and gave them every opportunity to make something of their lives. John became a doctor at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. William didn’t.

The saddler’s house

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Saddlery and harness-making was a key trade in an era when the horse was the most significant form of transport (after feet).

John Haycock was the saddler on the 1771 Militia List and leather-working was in his DNA. An earlier John Haycock had been a shoemaker in West Haddon in 1658. His son John had married Mary Robins, a widow ‘whose husband was a shoemaker’ as the parish register recorded. Their son Thomas was also described as a shoemaker when he was buried in 1741.

The next generation is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps he had a gap year in saddler_treeYelvertoft? Possibly apprenticed to a saddler? Whatever, John ‘Heycott’ came home to West Haddon in 1739 to marry Ann Martin, a weaver’s daughter, and at some point they came to live in High St. Their son John was the saddler in the Militia List.

The house in High St was to become associated with saddlery over the next century and a half – first with several generations of Haycocks and then with the Farns.saddlers house cropped

Possibly the most notable in the line of Haycocks was Sarah, born Sarah Breedin in 1781, the daughter of a poor weaver. She married William Haycock in 1809 and held the family and the business together following the early deaths of both her husband and her son. As her daughter-in-law cared for a new baby, left fatherless at 11 days old, Sarah perhaps took on an apprentice, or hired a journeyman saddler to work for her.

In any event, William Farn came on the scene and his family were to continue as saddlers in the same, modernised or rebuilt, house into the 1940s. But before he took over, Sarah continued in charge. The earliest trade directory for West Haddon came out in 1847. I hope the entry for ‘Mrs Sarah Haycock, saddler’, made her very proud. She died in 1852 at the age of 71.

Constabulary duties

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When Emma Elmes died, leaving her nephew Thomas Spokes her farm in West Haddon, he was newly married to Rebecca Parnell.

In the spring of 1771 his father (another Thomas) died and he inherited the house and homestead in Guilsborough Road next door to the Patch family. He and Rebecca had four children (with two more to come) and all of them lived into adulthood.

The site of the old brickyard and the cottages of the Patch and Spokes families (Mary Spokes had married the boy next door.)
The site of the old brickyard and the cottages of the Patch and Spokes families (Mary Spokes had married the boy next door.)

Thomas Spokes sen. had been against enclosure (“thinks it won’t improve”), with barely 10 acres to his name. We don’t know what Thomas Spokes jun. thought, but by the time the surveyors had done their measuring and apportioning, his aunt’s legacy had left him with almost 40 acres and the prospect of higher rents if he took on a tenant. (Enclosure was generally reckoned  to double the value of land overnight – good for landlords but bad news for tenants.)

Whatever his opinion, with the death of his father he was the head of his family and a man of property. A man to take on the responsibilities of village administration in the role of Constable. There were no police in the 18th century. A constable was the principal member of a group of what might be considered local government officials for a village, including overseers of the poor, surveyors of the highways, churchwardens, aletasters, haywards etc.

In 1771 Thomas Spokes was elected Constable. One of his most onerous duties that year was the compiling of the village listing for the Militia ballot. This was a Militia list 71 reducedlist of all male inhabitants between the ages of 18 and 45 who were liable to serve for a certain number of days a year in the local militia, for a period of three years. Certain groups were excused service, such as the disabled, the poor with children (who would have to be supported by the village while their fathers were away) and apprentices. All the names were listed and then the dozen to serve for the next 3 years were drawn at random in the ballot.

He had help. John Colledge was his headborough, or deputy – a good man for this job as he was also parish clerk and used to writing legibly. Richard Baucutt, John Naseby and William Adams were his thirdboroughs, or assistants. Between them they produced a document which has been of huge value in building a picture of life around 1765. It not only listed names – 148 of them. It also included occupations for most of them (124).

There was only one gentleman in the village in this age-group (John Kilsby). Also an apothecary -something between a doctor and a pharmacist (Charles Heygate), a breeches maker and a saddler.

Out in the fields there were 6 farmers, 2 graziers, 2 husbandmen (small farmers). Most of the 13 labourers and 11 servants were also probably employed on the land (a labourer worked by the day, a servant in husbandry was hired by the year and lived as part of the farm household).

To keep body and soul together there were 3 bakers and 5 butchers, together with 2 victuallers, or innkeepers. 4 tailors and 3 shoemakers kept everyone clothed and shod. 2 masons and 3 carpenters built or adapted housing.

And beavering away in workshops all over the village were 49 weavers and 13 woolcombers. Each weaver needed the work of 10 spinners to keep him supplied with yarn. So although women were not included in the Militia List, we can be sure that a great many were fully employed at their spinning wheels. This was a busy village.domestic spinning and weaving

“that she was old and childish…”

Of the three women who appeared on the ‘con’ list in the Pro and Con document, opposing the plan to enclose the common fields of West Haddon, two were considered incompetent to express an opinion.

East’s widow was not even acknowledged to have a name of her own and was dismissed as ‘not right in her senses’.

Emme Elmes, also a widow, ‘was old and childish and would consent’. Was this a clerical error? if she would consent she should have been listed with the others who supported enclosure, surely? Perhaps she confused the writer of the document in some way so that he was distracted as he wrote. In any event, we are left with the possibility of two female landowners perhaps suffering from some form of dementia.

And yet her will, made in December 1763 seems to be very clear and straightforward – did someone else draw it up on her behalf?

Medieval man writing

TP Guils Rd2_edited-1
The site of the old brickyard and the cottages of the Patch and Spokes families (Mary Spokes had married the boy next door). Emme Elmes described Thomas Patch sen. as her brother, but since her maiden name was Hollis, this raises questions that cannot be answered from the parish registers of this village alone.

The will gives a picture of her wider family – what they did for a living and where they set up homes for themselves. Her property consisted of a farmhouse with a couple of paddocks in the village and farmland out in the open fields, being farmed by a tenant – John Facer. This went to her nephew Thomas Spokes, with money bequests to other relatives, including Richard Elmes of Eynesbury, Huntingdon, a yeoman, Thomas Elmes of Lilbourne, a cooper, Mary the wife of Thomas Mason of West Haddon, a baker, Elizabeth, wife of Daniel Hollinshead of the City of London, whitesmith and Mary Patch, mother of Thomas who, as an adult, was to set up the brickyard in Guilsborough Road.

She had no children of her own to inherit her property. The parish registers show that Emme Hollis married John Elmes, a mercer and chandler, in 1722. They had four daughters, all of whom died young. John himself died a matter of months after the birth of their cropped to image, recto, unframedfourth child in 1728. So after a marriage of only six years Emme lived a widow for 36 years, never remarrying.

A deed of 1745 shows that whilst living with relatives in Warwickshire, she sold premises in West Haddon (presumably her late husband’s shop). This raises the possibility that, although she was buried in West Haddon, she may have lived for a significant part of her life in Warwickshire, leaving John Facer to run the farm, and therefore being yet another absentee landlord.