It is always satisfying to come across documentation which either backs up or disproves my earlier research. In this case, deeds from 1801 confirm my belief that John Morphew sold his farmhouse in Long Street (later known as the Cemetery Farm) to John Wiggett.
But do the legal documents tell us anything else?
Conveyancing Documents from 1801 relating to Morphew, Wiggett & Others. Courtesy David & Julia Matthews
Lease for a Year
Looking at the deeds in chronological order, on the 9th October, 1801, John Wiggett Esquire, a farmer of East Bradenham, entered into a Lease for a Year with John Morphew Esquire of the City of Norwich. Historically, the use of ‘Esquire’ after a name denotes a man belonging to the gentry – having a good social position commanding respect.
Wiggett paid the sum of five shillings to Morphew for:
ALL such part and so much as is freehold or charterhold of ALL THAT MESSUAGE situate in Great Ellingham in the said County of Norfolk wherein Roger Selth formerly did and John Thurston now doth live with the Barns, Stables and other Edifices yards gardens and orchard to the same belonging AND ALSO of all those several closes or inclosures pieces and parcels of arable land meadow and pasture ground to the said Messuage belonging or now or lately held used occupied or enjoyed therewith lying and being in Great Ellingham aforesaid and containing together by estimation thirty five acres as the said Messuage and premises are now in the occupation of the said John Thurston his assigns or undertenants at the yearly rent of thirty six pounds AND ALSO of all those two new Inclosures or pieces of land lying and being in Great Ellingham aforesaid containing together by survey nine acres one rood and twenty perches and now in the occupation of the said John Thurston his assigns or undertenants
I have already established that the above described property is indeed the property later called the Cemetery Farm (and, much later, in the 20th century, called Home Farm). Further, we know from my earlier research that John Thurston was a tenant of both John Morphew and John Wiggett.
What is interesting is that the ‘Lease’ is only for a year, and that the very next day, on the 10th October, 1801, John Wiggett entered into a ‘Lease & Release’ with John Morphew and at the same time, entered into an ‘Assignment of Remainder of Term to attend the Inheritance’ with John Morphew, Matthew Copeman and Robert Copeman.
Two weeks’ later, John Wiggett completed another transaction (a Mortgage) with Matthew Copeman. All these documents are linked.
Historically, if a Lease is only for six months or a year with a small sum for the consideration (such was five or ten shillings) and with nominal annual rent (usually a peppercorn), then it is not really a lease but is drawn up for another purpose.
In this case, it may be that the ‘Lease’ acted similar to a contract, and was only one part of a series of transactions needed for Morphew to transfer the property free from incumbrances to Wiggett. However, the Deed contains no covenants (promises) by Morphew to discharge any incumbrances (including mortgages) which one would usually expect to see (or referrred to) in a Contract for sale.
Assignment of Remainder of Term to attend Inheritance
The next deed is the ‘Assignment of Remainder of Term to attend Inheritance’. These Assignments (as well as long leases for 500 or 1000 years), usually indicate that a family settlement or a mortgage is involved with the property.
There are four parties to the Assignment dated the 10th October, 1801: Matthew Copeman, a gentleman of Great Witchingham, John Morphew Esquire of the City of Norwich (the same John Morphew who conveyed the property to John Wiggett), John Wiggett himself and Robert Copeman, a gentleman of Aylsham.
Morphew’s Mortgage Debt
The wording of the Assignment tells us that on the 20th April, 1797, John Morphew and his wife Sarah borrowed £500 from Matthew Breese of Great Witchingham for a term of 1000 years. (As mentioned earlier, in those days a mortgage term of 500 or 1000 years was not uncommon).
All of Morphew’s property and land in Great Ellingham (including the messuage and land occupied by John Thurston), was charged to Matthew Breese as security for the loan.
The mortgage would terminate upon the sum of £500 plus interest being paid by the Morphews to Breese.
Lender Matthew Breese Dies
As it happens, Matthew Breese died on the 12th March, 1800, just three years after the mortgage was taken out. The debt of £500 plus interest was still outstanding. Accordingly, the debt was now owing by Morphew to Matthew Breese’s executor, Matthew Copeman.
Mortgage Debt Repaid
However, the 1801 Assignment also records that John Morphew paid £500 to Matthew Copeman (the executor of Matthew Breese) in full satisfaction of the mortgage debt. The Deed does not record the payment of any interest. Nevertheless, the Assignment releases John Morphew from the mortgage debt.
Remainder of the Term of 1000 Years Conveyed to Robert Copeman
At the same time, a sum of five shillings was paid by Robert Copeman to Matthew Copeman (as the executor of Matthew Breese). In consequence, Breese’s interest in the remainder of the mortgage term of 1000 years in the messuage and land (notwithstanding that the mortgage debt had been repaid) was conveyed to Robert Copeman.
Again this consideration of five shillings would have been viewed as a modest amount. It was paid as a formaility to ensure that the Deed would be legal and binding. Without consideration, the Deed would not be so.
Consequently, Copeman held the interest in the remainder of the term on trust for John Wiggett. This provision was again a formality and necessary as when dealing with a mortgage term of 500 or 1000 years, the remainder of the mortgage term would need to be formally assigned or terminated by Deed.
The Assignment also referred to a simultaneous ‘Lease & Release’ between John Morphew and John Wiggett. This Lease & Release formally conveyed the messuage and land to John Wiggett (presumably absolutely, and free from incumbrances).
Wiggett Mortgages the Property
Two weeks later, on the 24th October, 1801, John Wiggett entered into an Indenture of Mortgage with Matthew Copeman (the same Matthew Copeman referred to in the earlier documentation).
Wiggett borrowed £600 from Matthew Copeman and charged his property in Great Ellingham (including his Messuage with Barns, Stables, etc with some 44 acres of land occupied by John Thurston) to Matthew Copeman. The Deed also tells us that Thurston was paying an annual rent of £26 to John Wiggett.
Interest on the mortgage sum of £600 was payable at the rate of £5 per centum per annum.
Once again, this Deed provides for a mortgage term of 1000 years, with Wiggett paying a peppercorn rent (if demanded) on the 24th October in each year.
The mortgage would terminate upon Wiggett repaying the mortgage sum in full (i.e. the sum of £600 plus the interest).
The Indenture of Mortgage also refers to parts of the land being copyhold of the Manors of Buckenham Castle Outsoken and Buckenham Lathes Outsoken. In the Deed, Wiggett covenants with Copeman to deal with the surrender of these lands (in favour of Matthew Copeman) at the respective Manors Courts. Further, until Wiggett dealt with the surrenders, he agrees to hold the lands on trust for Copeman.
I do not know whether Wiggett dealt with the surrenders as I cannot find reference to these in the respective Manor Court Books. In any event, the Manor Court Books show that in 1812, Wiggett surrendered the same copyhold land to the use of John Whittred (his purchaser).
The reverse of the Indenture of Mortgage shows a receipt dated the 6th December, 1802, for the receipt of thirty pounds for a year’s interest due on the 24th October last (i.e. 1801). I do not know when Wiggett repaid the mortgage debt (and the mortgage term formally terminated), but I believe this would have been prior to 1812, when John Whittred purchased this property from Wiggett.
1801 October 24th, Indenture. Wiggett to Copeman. David & Julia Matthews
1801 Octber 10th, Assignment. Exor of Matthew Breese by the Directions of John Morphew & John Wiggett. David & Julia Matthews
1801 October 9th, Lease for a Year. Morphew to Wiggett David & Julia Matthews
University of Nottingham website. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/deedsindepth/leasehold/lease.aspx Accessed 6th May 2022
1753-1847 Manor of Buckenham Castle, Lathes, Close and Priory. Court Book. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: MC 1833/8 -MC 1833/16. 1595-1847 also available at https://www.familysearch.org/