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The History of Ilmington - Chapter 4


The Manor of Ilmington 1496-1781

When Sir Simon Mountford was attainted for high treason in 1496, the manor passed back to the Crown, and in the same year was granted by Henry VII to Sir Reginald Bray.  It remained with the descendants of this family until it was passed to Thomas Andrewe, whose family retained it for three generations.  According to Dugdale, Thomas Lord Sandys passed the manor away to Thomas Andrewe.  Documents give the date of this as 1550, one stating that it was sold (1), another that it was held for military service (2).  The first Thomas Andrewe later became a knight and is referred to as Sir Thomas Andrewe of Longdon and Ilmington.  He appears to have had at least two sons, Thomas and Richard, although the name of the latter appears in only one rather unimportant document.  The son Thomas did not become a knight and is also referred to as of Longdon and Ilmington.  He appears to have lived in both, as the baptism of a daughter Jane is recorded in the Tredington Parish register for 1590, and his widow Jane, in a document of 1610 (3), after his death, refers to the mansion house of Ilmington in which Thomas had lived.  The manor then passed to Sir John Andrewe, son of Thomas and Jane, and that he lived in Ilmington for a time is suggested by the record of the baptisms of five of his children between 1606 and 1614.  He was married to Anne Read in 1603 (4) at the age of about eighteen, and John Read, her father, paid to Thomas Andrewe the sum of £1,000, no doubt as dowry.  The manor was sold by Sir John Andrewe, Ann, his wife, and Jane, his mother, to Sir Baptist Hicks of Chipping Campden in 1615 for £10,000 (5).  This would have been a small transaction for a man of Baptist Hicks' vast wealth, but before he died in 1629 he included among his other titles that of Baron of Ilmington.  It remained with the descendants of Baptist Hicks until it was again sold by the Earl of Essex in 1700 to John Mills for £5,000 (6).  From Mills it passed to the Shirleys of Ettington, then to Francis Canning of Foxcote, and later through marriage to the Howards.

From the documents available it is not entirely clear at what date this manor ceased to be granted by the king for military service, and was first sold as a private estate.  This may have been as early as 1550 or as late as 1615.  When it was sold in 1700 a considerable amount of land and a number of cottages were, or had already been, sold separately.  The title of lord of the manor would by that date have little significance though the Court Baron was convened by his steward or bailiff till the Enclosure of the Common Fields in 1781.

Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of all these lords of the manor until the time of the Cannings is the absence of any permanent effect on the village, and the conclusion seems justified that for none of them was it their principal home.  The only records to be found in the registers of Tredington and Ilmington have already been quoted.  Lord Henry Capell, lord of the manor 1658-1692 is quoted in the Hearth Tax of 1674 in a house with four hearths (not the manor house) and in 1689, when the medicinal properties of a spring between Ilmington and Larkstoke were publicised in a treatise by Samuel Derham, he paved the region round the spring and built a small cottage nearby for the use of those taking the waters.  This he gave to the village in perpetuity.  It was later used by the overseers for the isolation of smallpox cases, and taken down between 1850 and 1860.  Lord Capell certainly lived here for some time, for apart from his name on the Hearth Tax, Richard Etheridge was charged with carrying coals for him, for a distance not exceeding 22 miles, as part of his service (7).

The origin of the present manor house, or mansion house as it is named in some documents, is still obscure.  Thomas Andrewe lived in it, and he died before 1610.  Sir John Andrewe's children were baptised in Ilmington between 1606 and 1614, which suggests that he was living here then, still a young man.  In a document of 1611 (8) Jane, his mother, appears to be reserving the mansion house and a quantity of land for herself.  There is the curious fact that Thomas Andrewe did not become a knight, although both his father and his son were designated as such.  This was quite costly.  Did Thomas build the manor house and was he therefore unable to afford knighthood?  As stated earlier, the site of the 13th century manor house was most likely Bury Orchard.  In 1699 Edward French, who then owned the manor house, leased to one Snow of Morton, Bury Orchard with the dove-cot standing in it (9). Did this dove-cot belong with an earlier manor house, or did it belong to the present one, whose grounds then extended in that direction?  Could that be why Middle Street becomes, at the level of the present manor house, a narrow path?

In an old deed of late 19th century (10) two old cottages, formerly a chapel adjacent to the mansion house, are mentioned.  Jane Andrewe, wife of Thomas, is cited in the lists of recusants (11) so she was a Catholic.  Did she have her own private chapel, and did Ilmington Catholics use it?  Ilmington, like Brailes, is said to have an unbroken Catholic tradition, but where the people worshipped is obscure.  They may have gone to Foxcote at this period, as they are known to have done in the 19th century.  The chapel they attended then, however, was only built in 1814.  It may, of course, have replaced an earlier one, as the Cannings were at Foxcote from at least the 15th century, and were Catholic.

Edward French who owned the manor house in the late 17th century was the son of widow French, who appears living in the only house with five hearths other than the rectory in the Hearth Tax of 1674.  In the Constable's accounts for 1685 is found an entirely inconsequential note stating: 'The Yew tree now growing in the churchyard was the gift of Edward French'.  It is still growing near the porch, so Edward French, though not one of the lords of the manor, is commemorated by his tree.  Nine of his children were baptised in the church.

The numerous documents examined, obscure though some appear to be, occasionally throw some light on the community.  One of the earliest, in Latin (12), from the Public Record Office among the papers of the Duchy of Lancaster, affords the following extract:-


No explanation of why this is in the Duchy of Lancaster at this date can be given, as the right to hold manorial courts had been granted to Sir Reginald Bray.  However, it might have been during the minority of Thomas Lord Sandys.

When Thomas Andrewe inherited the manor from his father Sir Thomas in 1564 (13), it was said to contain 100 messuages and tofts, one windmill, one dove-house, 1000 acres of land, 300 acres of pasture, 40 acres of wood, 500 acres of heath and furze and to produce £20 in rent from Ilmington and Foxcote.  The windmill was almost certainly on Windmill Hill (though there was another at Foxcote), and the dove house was in Bury Orchard.  The 500 acres of heath and furze was probably the common grazing ground on which the yardlanders had rights of common, and the 1000 acres of land was the arable land.  The survey made when Sir John inherited from Thomas (14) in about 1610 gives only 30 messuages , one mill, one dove-cot, 30 gardens, 20 orchards, 800 acres of land, 500 acres meadow, 140 acres of pasture and 600 acres of heath.  This certainly does not mean the disappearance of 70 houses, as a later survey, about 1638, for Sir Edward Alford, gives one hundred as before (15).

An interesting document of 1571 (16) refers to a transfer of land from two London gentlemen, Jenkyns and Forth, to Thomas Andrewe Junior, son of Sir Thomas Andrewe, Knight.  This land was 'certain lands formerly... given for the maintenance of lights in the Church'.  Thomas Andrewe was to continue to pay three shillings and four pence.  Possibly these lands came into the hands of these London men after the Reformation.

In 1585 (17) Thomas Andrewe and Jane, his wife, sold to Richard Canning Senior, Richard, his son, and Thomas, son of Richard Junior, two cottages in Foxcote one in the occupation of John Brayne (Brayne was a Foxcote name 200 years before this), and also Margaret Bennett's well, together with some land.

The following list of Ilmington inhabitants in 1615 (18) comes from Birmingham Public Libraries.


The Nicholas Archer with his 1½ yard lands may have been a descendant of the Nicholas Archer mentioned in the previous chapter.

A note taken from Dugdale refers to the survey of the manor taken for Sir Edward Alford in 1638.  This states that there were 2170 acres besides the homestalls of the freeholders and inclosures.  Twenty seven of the 100 houses are inhabited by farmers who keep teams.

Rent rolls of Mary Alford (19) (daughter of Sir Baptist Hicks, married to Sir Edward Alford) were obtained from Hertfordshire Record Office, dating from 1634-39.  Only one gives a list of names and the rents paid.  It includes some large rents, such as that of Edward Palmer at Compton Scorpion £50, and Robert Lilley £25 and William Wright £24.5s.  These were almost certainly for enclosed farms and were probably half-yearly rents.  Another large rent of £33 was paid by William Rose and Southern together and included a quarry.  Most rents appear very low, that for a yard land, 35-40 acres with its grazing for animals, being 13/4d.  Richard Eden, tenant of what is now Crab Mill, paid 6d. a half-year.  William Staples, a cottager in 1615, had at a later date five strips and a cow common, and paid 1/- a half year.  The coppice woods were mentioned several times, and are certainly the 40 acres mentioned in earlier surveys on Ilmington Hill.  The 'Bayliffes' wages were £5 a year, and the rents were sometimes sent to Bath.  The manor appears to have yielded to Mary Alford something like £600 a year, which might be a reasonable return on the £10,000 paid for it.  It is quite clear that Mary Alford did not live in Ilmington.


The Hearth Tax of 1674, rearranged under the number of hearths, is as follows:-


There is a high proportion of paupers.  At this date no stigma attached to this term, but it did mean those too poor to pay tax, and approximately one third of the householders come into this category.  If the reasonable assumption can be made that 'farmers' would have two or three hearths, the number of 25 agrees fairly well with the last survey mentioned, and is exact if R. Collicutt and Christopher Rose from the four hearth group are added.  A Richard Caldicott was an owner of land in the 1615 list of inhabitants.  The general picture given by this tax roll is of a rather poor community, the majority being subsistence farmers and cottagers.

A religious census called the Compton Census was taken in 1676.  This gave the number of all people over sixteen years of age, and for Ilmington was 171.  A conservative estimate of the number to add to this for children under sixteen is one third, giving a community of 225.  This is almost certainly too low, and it may be reasonable to assume that the population was between 250 and 300.

As shown in the Ecclesiastical Terrier of 1605 (20), quoted in Chapter 5, both Southfield and Cathole were already enclosed farms.  By 1689 the farm house had been built at Southfield, and that at Cathole by about the same date.  A further example of enclosure is found in a deed of 1605, where 'one parcel of newly enclosed land on the back side of a capital messuage called Eden's farm' is mentioned.

The numbers of baptisms and burials have been recorded month by month from Harvey Bloom's transcription of the parish registers for the period 1587-1790.  This is at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  The records for 1700-1713 are too faulty to be of use.  It was impossible to see any particular significance in the monthly totals, and the yearly ones showed such fluctuation as to give no particular pattern.  They have been graphed decade by decade and are given at the end of this chapter.  The yearly fluctuations have been studied in conjunction with 'The Population of an English Village' by Professor Hoskins, published in the Transactions of the Leicester Archaeological Society Vol. XXXIII; with 'Agricultural Records A.D.220-1968', by J.M. Stratton; and with the overseers' accounts for Ilmington, which unfortunately cover only a very short period.

Except for the decades ending in 1657 and 1733, baptisms always exceed burials.  The average excess over the 17th century is 44.6 and over the 18th century is 51.5, which may indicate a steadily rising population.  No explanation for the variation in numbers of baptisms can be offered, except for the decade ending in 1657 immediately after the Civil War.  No reason has been found for the increased number of burials 1637-1647, although a number of years were cold and stormy, and wheat reached a very high price in 1647 and 1648.  Although the number of burials 1657-1667 was not unduly high, 21 of them occurred in 1667 and were probably due to a visitation of plague.  The high total for 1677-1687 was not due to a large number in any one year, but again weather records suggest exceptional cold, in some places great enough to cause splitting of oak trees.  There were also both droughts and floods.

The exceptionally high number of deaths in the decade ending in 1733 was due to large numbers in 1729 and 1730.  Professor Hoskins states that these were years of severe epidemics of influenza.  In 1729 Ilmington appears to have had much wet weather, for in the churchwarden's accounts is found the statement 'streams more than usual were running through the churchyard' and the rector agreed that drainage channels should be dug through his adjacent orchard.  The years 1755, 1756, 1757 and 1763 were disastrous years for agriculture, and in some places food riots occurred in 1756.  Of the diseases smallpox, typhus, typhoid and influenza, said by Professor Hoskins to be the most important at this time, only smallpox is mentioned by the overseers, and deaths from this cause are not marked in the registers.  Cases needing isolation occurred in 1762, 1763, 1766, 1774, 1776 and 1778.

In 1773 the total relief paid out by the overseers was £392, and as many as 51 families were in receipt of relief for part of the year.  The value of money may have changed, but this sum is nearly five times the amount disbursed in the early years of the 18th century for which accounts exist.

It is difficult, from the many deeds examined, to discern any pattern in the system of land tenure.  Extracts showing different features or particular points of interest follow.

An indenture of 1639 (21) granting land by Sir Edward Alforde to Danyel Wilkins on the death of William Staples, grants five ridges distributed in the common fields for an initial payment of £3 and a subsequent rent of 1/- a year, to be paid at the feast of St Michael and at the Annunciation, i.e. in October and March.  In 1674, Daniel Wilkins appears under the list of those with two hearths.  It might be the same man, or his son.  This indenture is of special interest for two reasons.  It is the only grant of land by Sir Edward Alforde so far found, and it was obtained from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, USA.  Such is the dispersal of Ilmington documents!

In 1544, the land belonging to the Guild of the Holy Trinity and St George of Warwick was let to Richard Pettie for 10/- a year (22).  In 1598 for the same land, the fine for the entry of a new tenant was £25.13.4., the rent was 13/4d. a year and a couple of good capons.  The rent from this land was a charity for the poor of Warwick, and was granted to the Guild after the Reformation by Henry VIII.  The origin of the charity, which is much older, is unknown.  It now forms all or part of Park Farm, an earlier name for which was Charity Farm.

In 1684 (23) a lease was granted by Sir Henry Capell for the lives of Richard Etheridge of Stratford, Maltster, Hannah and Ann Etheridge, daughters of Richard, for £203.12.5d.  'All that messuage and one yard land heretofor in occupation of one Allen by copy and now in occupation of Richard Caldicott, yielding and paying therefor yearly to Henry Capell a rent of 13/4 and also yielding and paying after the decease of everyone of them, Richard, Hannah and Ann, the best beast or chattel according to the custom of the manor for a heriot.  Also paying suit and service at all and every court held in the manor.  And it is agreed that Richard Etheridge shall have liberty to have and take of the premises House Boote, Plow Boote and Cart Boote.  And further that Etheridge shall yearly during the said term carry one load of coals to and for the use of the said Sir Henry Capell to the manor house of Ilmington from such places as he shall appoint not exceeding 22 miles from Ilmington.'  Here is shown the lease for a number of lives; heriot by which, on the death of a lessee, the best beast was due to the lord of the manor; and house boote etc., whereby the tenant had of right wood to mend his house, his plough and his carts.

In 1698 (24), a sale by the Earl of Essex to Joseph Archer excludes 'All those cottages now erected on the waste ground'.  A dispute concerning the erection of a cottage on the waste is reported in the section on Quarter Sessions.  It is believed that these were squatters' cottages, and it appears that, although the lord's permission was needed, the case later quoted shows that the inhabitants of the village could successfully dispute this.  It is of some interest in the much later uncertainty of the Parish Council on the subject of village greens.

The following is just one example of many, showing alterations in the buildings and the compulsion to attend the court baron, which 50 years later was to become obsolete at the time of the Enclosure.  '1699 (25).  Richard Salmon, shoemaker... sale of two little plots of ground adjoining their houses, reputed to have been part of Bury Orchard for CIO.'  '1732... all that tenement... lately two tenements... a lease for 21 years at 5/- a year and suite at court baron.'

The deeds occasionally throw light on the craftsmen and tradesmen of the community before the days of directories and the census.  In the 17th century a mason, a miller, a tailor, a butcher, a weaver and a shoemaker are mentioned.  In the 18th century are found mason, tailor, weaver, woolman, carpenter, collarmaker, baker, and tanner.  These cannot of course be regarded as complete lists, as the survival of deeds is so much a matter of chance.  Among the records very few examples of apprenticeship have been found; two are quoted below.

James Hickson (26) of Ilmington to William Walker of Ilmington carpenter, in consideration of £5, allowing Hickson sufficient meat, drink and lodging and other necessaries during the term of seven years, wearing apparel and washing excepted.  This is dated 1763.

In 1777 (27) is found:- Walter Wells of Inkborough to Thomas Newman of Ilmington, butcher, for seven years in consideration of 20s. Walter Wells to provide for himself meat, drink, washing and lodging and all other necessaries, during the term.  On the back of this is a note:- seven years board £35.  Consideration £1.  Total £36.

It is usually assumed that the community of this date was reasonably stable, that people remained in their own village or within walking distance, and indeed a number of surnames reappear in the documents examined over long periods, as is shown in the following table.  This, of course, meant that a large number of householders had the same name, which is shown particularly in the Hearth Tax.  However, one example of a family, some of whose sons had left the village, was found in the will of a Southam in 1729, which mentions one son an ironmonger in Birmingham and one son in London, and the two family studies given later suggest a considerable amount of coming and going between the villages of the district.

  1. Warwick Record Office, CR 1379 Box 1.

  2. P.R.O. C 142/315/163.

  3. Birmingham Local Studies Library No. 193156.

  4. P.R.O. C 142/315/163.

  5. Birmingham Local Studies Library No. 193157.

  6. Warwick Record Office, CR 1306.

  7. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, ER 12/47/14.

  8. Birmingham Local Studies Library No. 193156.

  9. Birmingham Local Studies Library No. 86397.

  10. Warwick Record Office, CR 1379 Box 2.

  11. P.R.O. Cal. State Papers Domestic 1603-10, p. 524.

  12. P.R.O. PI 30/81/1114 MZ.

  13. Warwick Record Office CR 1379 Box 2.

  14. P.R.O. C 142/315/163.

  15. Antiquities of Warwickshire, by Dugdale.

  16. Warwick Borough Records W 4/64.

  17. Warwick Record Office CR 1379 Box 1.

  18. Birmingham Local Studies Library No. 193157.

  19. Herts Record Office No. 10653.

  20. Ecc. Terriers of Warwickshire Parishes, Dugdale Society Publications Vol. I.

  21. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, Z.c. 36(69).

  22. Warwick Borough Records W 4/64.

  23. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust ER 12/47 / 14.

  24. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust ER 12/47/2.

  25. Warwick Record Office CR 1379 Box 2.

  26. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust ER 16 Apprentice Indentures.

  27. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust ER 16 Apprentice Indentures.

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