Discovering House Histories
Title Deeds are one of the best resources when researching the history of a property.
Historical deeds will usually include conveyances, mortgages, agreements etc. They may also recite extracts from wills and earlier deeds. Accordingly, title deeds may provide an unbroken chain of ownership through many decades – or even centuries!
However over time, many historical deeds have long disappeared. Nevertheless, many have remained tucked away in cupboards or attics, and many more are preserved at County Record Offices and History Societies. Even so it can be a bit ‘hit and miss’ trying to establish what deeds actually relate to your subject property.
For all that, how can we find out the history of a property where there are no surviving historical title deeds?
It is possible to investigate ownership and occupation of a property by looking at other types of documents. For example, electoral and poll registers, auction sales particulars, maps, surveys, Inclosure documentation, and manorial records.
Admittedly, we may have to make calculated assumptions but, on the whole, it is possible to discover at least some of the history of a house without the title deeds.
Messuage in Long Street
In this blog, we discover the history of a farm in Long Street. With no historical title deeds available, we plot the history by looking at other documentation.
At the turn of the 19th century, Francis Parke owned some 59 acres in Great Ellingham. This included a farmhouse with outbuildings and barn, as well as another barn in close proximity. This farmhouse later disappeared. However, a further farmhouse was built close by.
The nearby barn is significant as, much later, the farmhouse of Cherry Tree Farm was built near to this barn.
We begin at 1800, and then take the history back into the 1700s. We then take the history forward through to 1840, when another family became the custodians of the farm.
In the Statement of Claims c.1800 associated with the Inclosures of Great Ellingham, Francis Parke’s property is listed as follows:
One Messuage and 50 acres of Land, occupied by Robert Wade. Of which 4 acres are Copyhold of Ellingham Hall, 2 acres of Bury Hall, 2 acres one rood and 20 perches of Buckenham Castle Outsoken, 1 acre and 3 roods of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken and 4 acres and 2 roods of Attleburgh Mortimers
A Particulars & Valuation of a similar date (which also relates to the Great Ellingham Inclosures), details Parke’s land as follows:
|394||Long Six Acres||06-1-36|
|395||Clay Pit Close||06-1-39|
|399||House, Outbuildings, Barn, Yard, Garden, Orchard||00-1-31|
|401||Barn & Yard||00-1-00|
|Allotment upon Town Green||08-2-03|
|Allotment upon Hyrne Common||01-1-06|
|Allotment upon Incroachment||00-0-15|
|Allotment upon Incroachment||00-0-23|
|Total [in acres, roods and perches]||59-3-08|
1802 Inclosures Map
The numbering used in the schedules to the Particulars & Valuation concur with the Great Ellingham Inclosures Map of 1802. Accordingly, we can see the exact location of Francis Parke’s farm and land.
The purple arrows on the above extract from the 1802 map indicate the southern end of Long Street.
The red arrow indicates the position of Parke’s farmhouse which was occupied by Robert Wade. This is the property which later disappeared.
The blue arrow indicates the additional barn (also owned by Parke and occupied by Robert Wade). Some fifty or so years later, a further farmhouse was built near to this barn. This farmhouse became known as Cherry Tree Farm.
We can also see where Parke’s individual fields lie. For example, Braky Field (402) is adjacent to the farmhouse (399).
Francis Parke lived at Attleborough Hall, a substantial farm in nearby Attleborough. He and his wife Elizabeth had a daughter, also named Elizabeth. She may have been the couple’s only child – or at least their only surviving, child.
Parke may well be the Francis Parke (son of Francis & Elizabeth Parke) baptised in St Mary’s Church, Attleborough, on the 4th April, 1757. If so, Parke would have been just into his forties at the turn of the 19th century.
The Statement of Claims dated c.1799 confirm that some of Parke’s land is copyhold of five separate Manors, including Buckenham Castle Outsoken and Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
Copyhold title is an ancient form of ownership. It was initially an occupation of land at the pleasure of the Lord of the Manor. Over time this occupation became an occupation as of right, but it was still subject to the customs of the Manor. These customs include the rules procedures for a change of ownership, whether by bargain and sale or by inheritance.
Accordingly, every change of ownership is recorded in the Manor Court Rolls (later Court Books). In addition, a copyhold tenant would be given a copy of the record to keep. Fortunately, many Manor Court Rolls survive, with many available to view online.
Manors of Buckenham Lathes & Buckenham Castle Outsoken
An inspection of the Manor Court Books for Buckenham Lathes Outsoken and Buckenham Castle Outsoken reveal that Francis Parke became the owner of the copyhold pieces of land of the two Manors lying in Great Ellingham in 1793. The former owner (copyhold tenant) was James Barnard, the Younger.
1793 Purchase from James Barnard
Accordingly, if we can assume that the pieces of copyhold land formed part of the Long Street farm in 1793 (as it clearly did in 1800), then it is most probable that Francis Parke purchased the Long Street farm from James Barnard around 1793.
Earlier Copyhold Tenants
The Manor Court Books also tell us that James Barnard (of Great Ellingham) inherited the pieces of copyhold land from his father, William Barnard. William Barnard died before November 1773.
Again, if we assume that the pieces of copyhold land formed part of the Long Street farm at the time William Barnard made his will in 1756, then it is likely that William Barnard owned the Long Street farm from at least 1756 until his death in 1773.
However, it is difficult to be confident of earlier owners of the Long Street Farm. The Manor Court Books tell us that William Barnard ‘took’ (purchased) some of the copyhold land from John Amyas, Gent. (who in turn, had ‘taken’ the land from Roger Selth in 1734). William Barnard inherited other copyhold land from his father, John Barnard.
The question is, did either John Amyas (and Roger Selth before him) or John Barnard own the Long Street Farm in the early part of the 18th century?
That is, of course, assuming that the farmhouse mentioned in the Inclosure documentation of c.1800 and identified on the map of 1802 (or at least an earlier dwelling), existed at that time.
However, we can confidently take the owners of the pieces of copyhold land of the Manors of Buckenham Castle Outsoken and Buckenham Lathes Outsoken back to at least the early 1700s.
Death of Francis Parke
Francis Parke still owned the Long Street farm when he died before July 1816. He left all his messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments both freehold and copyhold to his wife Elizabeth.
Widow Elizabeth Parke
Accordingly on his death, widow Elizabeth Parke became the owner of the farm in Great Ellingham.
The Manor Court Books for Buckenham Castle Outsoken and Buckenham Lathes Outsoken show that Elizabeth Parke was ‘admitted’ as a copyhold tenant of the two Manors on the 9th January 1817.
In addition to the land which formed part of the copyhold land (which her late husband Francis Parke purchased from James Barnard in 1793), Elizabeth Parke inherited an additional piece of copyhold land of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes. This piece of land at Town Green was awarded to Francis Parke under the Great Ellingham Award (the Inclosures).
By the time Elizabeth Parke inherited the property and land around 1816, Robert Wade had vacated the farmhouse and the land.
James Stanley subsequently occupied the farm. However, he was likely ‘thrown out’ in 1816 (and before Francis Parke died) for non-payment or rent.
The next tenant was Thomas Norman, who may well have been in occupation of the farm until the 1830s.
Marriage of Daughter Elizabeth Parke
On the 26th October, 1816, Francis Parke’s daughter Elizabeth married John Beevor at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Newark. I think it likely that the marriage took place after the death of Francis Parke.
Around the time of the marriage, widow Elizabeth Parke entered into a Deed of Settlement in relation to the marriage. The Parke’s land and property in Great Ellingham, Attleborough and Morley St Peter, were part of this settlement.
Death of Elizabeth Beevor
Sadly within three years of the marriage, Elizabeth Beevor died on the 25th June, 1819.
The marriage produced two children – Henry born in 1817 and John born in 1819. I wonder whether Elizabeth Beevor died during, or shortly after, childbirth.
John Beevor inherits on death of Mother-in-law
On the 24th April, 1824, John Beevor of Newark-upon-Trent, gentleman instructed his attorney, Daniel Alexander, to appear before the Manor Courts of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken and Buckenham Castle Outsoken on his behalf.
Widow Elizabeth Parke (John Beevor’s mother-in-law) had died. Daniel Alexander produced a copy of the Elizabeth Parke’s last will and tesstament dated the 2nd May, 1822.
In the will, Elizabeth Parke bequeathed all her freehold and copyhold messuages, lands, grounds, tenements, hereditaments and real estate situate in Great Ellingham, Morley St Peter or elsewhere in Norfolk, to her son-in-law John Beevor. The will also referenced the Settlement made on the marriage of her daughter, Elizabeth, to John Beevor.
Consequently, John Beevor was ‘admitted’ as a copyhold tenant of the two Buckenham Manors. I have no doubt that John Beevor also became the owner of the Long Street farm.
Death of John Beevor
As it happens, John Beevor died in 1833. His eldest son, Henry, was just sixteen years old.
On the 3rd February, 1834, Henry Beevor’s attorney came before the Manor Courts of Buckenham Castle Outsoken and Buckenham Lathes Outsoken. He was admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manors as the eldest son and heir of his late father, John Beevor.
Again, I have no doubt that Henry also inherited the Great Ellingham property and land at Long Street.
Sale of the Long Street Farm
However, on or about the 6th October, 1840, Henry Beevor sold the farm, the barn (which later became part of Cherry Tree Farm) and all the farmland (save for some pieces of land at Town Green), to Jeremiah Grice.
The following year, Henry Beevor sold the remaining parcels of land at Town Green to Robert Large, the Younger, a farmer of Great Ellingham.
End of the Parke Family’s Ownership
Accordingly, the sale of the Long Street farm in 1840 by Henry Beevor to Jeremiah Grice brought the Parke family’s 50 year ownership of the farm to an end.
1802 Russell James Colman Plans. Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref. C/Ca 1/84.
1799-1842 F W Horner, Records of the Surveyors to Commissioners for Inclosure in Parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk. Great Ellingham (Act 1799). Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: NRO, BR 90/2
1800 Inclosure Commissioner’s Particulars and Valuation, Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: NRO, MC 2213/119
1799 Statement of Claims. Great Ellingham Inclosure. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: MC 2213/118
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD609. Also available at https://www.familysearch.org and https://www.ancestry.co.uk
Norfolk Chronicle 3 February 1816. Viewed via www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
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/
Attleborough Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD438. Also available via www.ancestry.co.uk
Nottinghamshire, England, Church of England Marriages & Banns, 1754-1937. Nottinghamshire Archives; Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England; PR27275; Reference: PR27275. Ancestry.com. Nottinghamshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2022.