At the time of his death in 1870, Great Ellingham born William Wretham owned several freehold and leasehold properties in Norwich, including his home in Paragon Street, Norwich.
Extract from Second Edition, 1906. Norfolk, sheet LXXXV S.W. Courtesy Ray & Maureen Beales
Wretham also owned a modest farm (or smallholding) in Bow Street, which he let to tenants. The above extract from a later map shows the position of the farm.
Some twenty five years earlier, William Wretham purchased the property and land at auction in 1845.
Death of William Wretham
On the 10th April, 1870, William Wretham died at the age of 76. He left some of his property (including his property and land in Bow Street, Great Ellingham), to his nephew, John Whellum.
Born in Swainsthorpe c.1830, John Whellum was the son of William Wretham’s sister, Amelia, and her husband, John Whellum.
The 1851 census captures John with his parents, John and Amelia Wellum aged 60 and 55 respectively, in Swainsthorpe. John Wellum senior is working as a farmer’s labourer. However, 21 year old John is working as a carpenter (the trade of his uncle William Wretham).
By 1857, John Whellum moved to Heigham, Norwich.
On the 12th May, 1857, John Whellum married Sarah Poll at the Church of St Stephen in Norwich. The marriage entry in the parish registers shows that both John and Sarah were single and aged 28. John is living in Heigham and working as a carpenter. Sarah, the daughter of Jeremiah Poll, is a servant living in the parish of St Stephen, Norwich.
Some six months after the marriage, on the 27th November, 1876, Sarah Whellum gave birth to a daughter, Jane.
John and Sarah welcomed another daughter, Sarah, on the 18th September, 1859, followed by their son, Walter, on the 7th December, 1860.
Arthur was born on the 25th January, 1863. All four children were baptised in the parish church of Heigham in November, 1876.
The 1871 census captures the Whellum family living in Paragon Street, Heigham, Norwich. The household comprises 41 year old carpenter, John Whellum with his 40 year old wife, Sarah, and their four children: Jane 13, Sarah 10, Walter 8 and six year old Arthur.
William Wretham’s Estate
Following William Wretham’s death in April, 1870, it fell upon John Whellum (as his uncle’s sole executor) to carry out the administration of his late uncle’s affairs. This entailed selling property, distributing legacies and ensuring the property which John inherited was conveyed to him.
Great Ellingham Property
The majority of Wretham’s land and property in Great Ellingham was copyhold of the Manor of Ellingham Hall. We know that at the time Wretham purchased the property in 1845, that the messuage (or tenement) with the barn, stable, outbuildings, yards, gardens, orchards and the several parcels of land amounted to seven acres two roods and thirty three perches (7a 2r 33p). Later documentation confirms that of the seven acres two roods and thirty three perches, two acres and thirty three perches were indeed freehold.
Although I have not seen any documentation in this regard, I assume that Whellum dealt with conveyance of the copyhold and the freehold parts of the Great Ellingham property to himself.
Copyhold of the Manor of Ellingham Hall
In addition, in accordance with the customary procedures of Manor Courts, John Whellum was required to attend a court of the Manor of Ellingham Hall and ask ‘the favo[u]r of the Lord‘ to be admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manor.
Accordingly, on the 26th November, 1870, John Whellum, presented himself before a court of the Manor of Ellingham Hall. He produced an extract from the will of his late uncle, William Wretham, which he had earlier ‘proved’ at the Norwich Probate Registry on the 14th May, 1870.
The extract confirmed that Wretham had bequeathed his property and land in Great Ellingham to his nephew, John Whellum.
Whellum “humbly pray[e]d the favo[u]r of the Lord of this Manor to be admitted tenant according to the form and effect of the said Will to the Lands Copyhold on this Manor …”
Extracts from Manor of Ellingham Hall Admission of John Whellum 26th November 1870. Courtesy Roger Banks
In consequence, Whellum was admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manor in respect of the following land and property:
One tenement and three acres of copyhold land with the appurtenances lying in two several pieces whereof the first piece containing by estimation one acre and three roods parcel of one tenement and three acres of land to the same tenement belonging the second piece containing by estimation one acre and one rood with the tenement aforesaid thereupon built called Newmans and lie together in [Great] Ellingham between the lands late of Alice Cady widow and Eglius Meare on the part of the east and the land late of James Harvey on the part of the west and abuts upon the late Common Pasture of [Great] Ellingham aforesaid towards the north and upon land late of the said James [Harvey] towards the south
And also one acre two roods and sixteen perches of land fine arbitrary part of and laying on the west side of a piece of land late parcel of the Anchor Common lying in Great Ellingham containing by measure three acres and one perch which said three acres and one perch are bounded by land belonging to Robert Mendham towards the north by land allotted to Matthew Burch towards the east by the 14th private road towards the south and by land allotted to John Spurgeon towards the west
And also to three acres and twenty four perches of land other part of the said three acres and one perch lying on the west side thereof and adjoining the said one acre two roods and sixteen perches
Adjoining Land Owners
It is worth bearing in mind, particularly in relation to the ‘one tenement and three acres’, that the wording of the various property descriptions has been ‘brought forward’ (usually word for word) in the Manor Court documentation over many, many years.
Accordingly, at the time that John Whellum inherited the property in 1870, the names of the adjoining land owners were not current. In fact, the description of the ‘one tenement and three acres‘ had been used in consecutive documentation since at least 1735, and reference to the other land since 1802.
Extract from 1802 Map of Great Ellingham. Russell James Colman Plans. Cat. Ref. C/Ca 1/84. All rights reserved Norfolk Record Office. With kind permission of NRO
The black dots on the above extract from the 1802 Inclosure Map of Great Ellingham (some 68 years before Whellum’s inheritance) indicates the extent of the land and property which John Whellum inherited from his uncle William Wretham.
John Whellum owned the farm from 1870 until 1908. During this period, I am certain that Whellum did not occupy the farm. Accordingly, the farm was tenanted.
I believe that the tenant may have been Robert Bowden. However, given that in those days many properties were neither numbered nor named, it can be difficult to say with any certainty who lived where.
The 1881 census captures 61 year old Robert Bowden with his 63 year old wife Rebecca in Bow Street. Little Ellingham born Robert Bowden is farming 12 acres. With the couple is their 12 year old grandson, William Woods.
I am reasonably confident that they were at Whellum’s seven acre farm. It is also reasonable to think that Robert Bowden rented an additional five acres to farm nearby.
Church of Rockland All Saints with Saint Andrew
Robert Bowden married Great Ellingham born Rebecca Ryder (Rider) on the 27th January, 1843, in the parish church of Rockland All Saints with Saint Andrew. Both were single, of full age and living in Rockland All Saints at the time of the marriage.
Robert was a labourer as was his father John Bowden. Rebecca’s father, James Ryder, was a dealer.
The 1851 census captures 31 year old Robert Bowden with his 33 year old wife Rebecca living at Anchor Corner, Little Ellingham. Robert is now described as a fowl dealer and the couple have a daughter, two year old Sarah Ann.
The Bowden family were still at Anchor Corner in 1861. Robert and Rebecca now have two daughters – Sarah 12 and Selina 7. The census describes 42 year old Robert Bowden as a dealer and farmer of 4 acres.
Ten years later, Robert and Rebecca are still at Anchor Corner. Robert Bowden is now 52 and the 1871 census describes him as a farmer of 8 acres. 17 year old Selina is still with her parents.
Move from Anchor Corner to Bow Street
Before the next census (1881), Robert and Rebecca moved to Whellum’s farm in Bow Street.
Death of Rebecca Bowden
Great Ellingham Parish Church of St James
Sadly, Rebecca Bowden (nee Rider) dies at the age of 69. She was buried in the churchyard of St James, Great Ellingham on the 28th October, 1886.
The 1891 census captures 72 year old widower Robert Bowden in Bow Street – I assume still at Whellum’s farm. Robert is now described as a farmer and dealer.
With Robert is his grandson, 22 year old agricultural labourer William Goldsmith, and granddaughter, 23 year old Laura Goldsmith. Given that Laura is described as a housekeeper, I think it likely that she is keeping house for her grandfather. Perhaps William is also working for their grandfather. 27 year old Carbrooke born Julia Graves is a visitor to the household.
Robert Bowden Dies
Nearly four months after the head-count of 1891, Robert Bowden is dead. He was buried in the churchyard of St James, Great Ellingham on the 31st July, 1891.
The note ‘Frederick Harvey person in charge of burial’ alongside the burial entry in the parish register suggests that Robert Bowden was a member of the Baptist Church, as Frederick Harvey was the Baptist Minister.
New Tenant – James Fox
Following the death of Robert Bowden, I believe the next tenant of Whellum’s seven acre farm in Bow Street was James Fox. With his wife Hephzibah, Fox remained at the farm until 1908 when he moved to Long Street.
It was at this time that Horace Pike moves into Whellum’s farm in Bow Street.
Whellum Sells the Seven Acre Bow Street Farm
After owning the property for some thirty years, 78 year old John Whellum decides to sell his seven acre farm in Great Ellingham.
Accordingly, the property would again have a new owner.
Great Ellingham Parish Registers Norfolk Record Office PD 609. Also available at www.familysearch.org
Rockland All Saints with Saint Andrew Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 335. Viewed via www.ancestry.co.uk
Norwich St Stephen Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 484. Viewed via www.ancestry.co.uk
Swainsthorpe Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 76. Transcription viewed via Norfolk Family History Society website. https://www.norfolkfhs.org.uk/
31 December 1869. Will of William Wretham, carpenter of Heigham. Norfolk Family History Society, 70 St Giles St, Norwich NR2 1LS. Ref: 1007. Wills Books. Book 1. Page 19.
1851 census HO107/1818/21; HO107/1823/141
1861 census RG9/1237/109
1871 census RG10/1820/91; RG10/1841/105
1881 census RG11/1974/85
1891 census RG12/1549/73
Private Deeds Collection. Property in Bow Street. Thanks to Roger & Sue Banks