The delightful thatched house on the corner of Church Street and Chequers Lane. Postcard possibly dates from the early 1900s. Courtesy of Carol Ewin
The Story of the Owners and Occupiers of the House
In Part I we began to explore the owners and occupiers of an early 18th century house, which stands in the heart of the village of Great Ellingham.
The house will have witnessed the ‘highs and lows’ of the everyday life of the many families who, over the centuries, made the house their home.
The property was likely built (or evolved) as one messuage (i.e. a dwellinghouse with outbuildings and land attached). However, in the late 18th century it was divided into at least two tenements. Later, in the 19th century, it comprised four dwellings. Today, it is two cottages.
We commenced the story with Sarah Burman and her son, Robert Littleproud. In 1727, Robert inherited the property from his mother.
We concluded Part I, with the house in the ownership of the Smith family of Old Buckenham.
Part II continued the story of the Smith family’s ownership, their tenants Mary Mitchell and Daniel Browne, and Mary Mitchell’s subsequent purchase in 1804.
Here in Part III, we take the history further forward from Mary Mitchell’s death in 1818, to a sale of the property in 1868.
The messuage was copyhold of the Manor of Buckenham Close Outsoken. Accordingly, the Court Books (or Court Rolls) provide an unbroken chain of ownership until the copyhold tenure was converted to freehold c.1862.
As the description of a particular property is repeated (more or less) word for word for every transaction in the Court Books, we can be reasonably certain that we are following the chain of ownership for the same property.
In this respect, the sentence ‘…one rood of land copyhold with messuage thereupon built upon the tenement Greenhouse…’ appears in the several entries in the Court Books for this property.
Owner John Chaplin
We left Part II in 1818, with the death of shopkeeper Mary Mitchell.
For several years before purchasing the property, Mary occupied at least part of the property as a tenant of the Smith family.
Following her death, Mary’s executors, (James Barnard and William Rose), sold the property to John Chaplin, a cordwainer (shoemaker) of Great Ellingham.
Marriage to Martha Mitchell
John Chaplin was Mary’s son-in-law. On the 24th May, 1804, he married Mary’s daughter Martha in Great Ellingham Parish Church.
I believe John was the son of local couple, William and Sarah Chaplin.
Mary Mitchell’s Will
Mary Mitchell left her property to her son-in-law William Rose, the husband of her daughter Amelia. William Rose was also an executor of Mary’s will. However, this bequest was on condition that Rose paid half the value of the property to his co-executor, James Barnard.
Barnard was tasked with investing the money as a trust fund for Mary’s other daughter, Martha Chaplin and subsequently, her children.
At this time, a married woman’s property was controlled by her husband. However, as Martha’s legacy was by way of a life interest in a trust fund, John Chaplin, had no control over the money whatsoever.
We can but wonder why Mary Mitchell did not want John Chaplin to have control over Martha’s legacy. It seems that Mary was content for her other son-in-law William Rose to administer her estate, and also to have control over her daughter Amelia’s legacy.
However, as it happens, the property was sold.
On the 1st February, 1819, John Chaplin stood before a court for the Manor of Buckenham Close Outsoken. Chaplin produced a copy of Mary Mitchell’s will together with an Indenture of Bargain and Sale dated 28th January, 1819. The Indenture confirmed the sale of the house by Mary Mitchell’s executors, James Barnard and William Rose, to John Chaplin.
In consequence, John Chaplin was admitted a copyhold tenant of the Manor in respect of the ‘one rood of land copyhold with messuage thereupon built upon the tenement Greenhouse‘.
I do not know what sum John Chaplin paid for the property. However, Chaplin borrowed (or owed) money using the property as security. He was indebted to James Barnard for £150 (with interest). The debt to be repaid on the 1st August, 1819. I presume that this James Barnard was also one of the executors of Mary Mitchell’s estate.
Chaplin also borrowed (or owed) £150 of widow Elizabeth Brasnett of Hingham. This loan too was secured by the house.
Occupiers Chaplin, Powley, Coates & Long
A Survey of Great Ellingham (1817-1819) reveals that the house owned by John Chaplin was occupied by John Chaplin, John Powley and William Coates. Benjamin Long had also been an occupier before William Coates. It follows that the house was at that time divided into at least three tenements.
John & Martha Chaplin’s Family
John Chaplin’s wife Martha gave birth to their first daughter, Amelia, in c.1805. Amelia was baptised in the Church of St James on the 21st July, 1805.
More children followed and were all baptised in the same Parish Church. Sarah on the 22nd March, 1807, James on the 13th August, 1809, Mary baptised on the 20th October, 1811 and finally, Rebecca, on the 30th April, 1813.
Sadly, on the 15th August, 1824, John and Martha buried their 12 year old daughter Mary in the churchyard of St James.
John Chaplin dies at 49
John Chaplin died three years later at the age of 49. He was buried in Great Ellingham on the 9th November, 1827. Seven years later, in September, 1834, his widow Martha Chaplin died at the age of 60.
Owner James Chaplin
On the 28th October, 1830, James Chaplin, a shoemaker of Great Ellingham, came before the Manor Court. He claimed the copyhold property as the only son and heir at law of his father, John Chaplin.
James Chaplin was admitted a copyhold tenant of the Manor in respect of the ‘one rood of land copyhold with messuage thereupon built upon the tenement Greenhouse‘ in Great Ellingham.
Chaplin was indebted to Garrett Odin Taylor, a gentleman of the city of Norwich. The loan was the sum of £40 plus interest at the rate of £5 per centum per annum. Again, the house was used as security for the debt.
Chaplin agreed to repay the loan (without deductions) on the 28th April, 1831. In default, James Chaplin would forfeit the property to Taylor.
By 1834, James was clearly in financial difficulties.
On the 25th March, 1834, James Chaplin late of Great Ellingham, cordwainer, was amongst the insolvent debtor prisoners who appeared at the Court-House at Norwich Castle.
Chaplin and his fellow debtors may well have faced a period of imprisonment. It was not until the Debtors Act of 1869, that imprisonment for debt was abolished.
What went wrong for James Chaplin?
We do not know whether Chaplin’s money problems were due to his own bad management, or whether he was a victim of the hardships being faced (particularly in rural areas), at this time.
Difficult Period for Rural Communities
Although James Chaplin had a trade, he relied on the custom of the villagers, who were predominantly agricultural labourers.
At this time, and throughout the country, many agricultural labourers were experiencing great suffering and unrest. It was a period of high unemployment and low wages. Primarily this was as a result of the introduction of mechanised practices in agriculture. Great Ellingham was no exception to the resulting discord.
Arson and Emigration
In 1832, the property of local farmer John Barnard suffered an arson attack, which likely resulted from the turmoils.
In 1836, the village saw over 80 of its inhabitants emigrate to America and Canada. These villagers took advantage of an ‘assisted scheme’ brought in by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Did these villagers leave Great Ellingham in an attempt to escape poverty?
Other Insolvent Debtors from the Village
James Chaplin was not the only local tradesman to experience financial difficulties.
The Norfolk Chronicle of 4th July 1835, named James Warren, late of Great Ellingham, as an insolvent debtor. James was originally a currier and leather cutter, but he had also been a publican.
Perry’s Bankrupt & Insolvent Gazette of the 4th March, 1837, lists two further Great Ellingham men as insolvent debtors: farrier John Leeder and journeyman baker William Warren.
Default of Mortgage leading to Forfeiture
Therefore, it is no surprise to find that James Chaplin defaulted on the mortgage to Taylor.
However, with the mortgage secured over the property, there was only one outcome – forfeiture of the house to John Oddin Taylor.
John Oddin Taylor
On the 3rd April, 1838, George Hall, as the attorney for John Oddin Taylor, appeared at a General Court of the Manor. Upon the Court being provided with evidence of the forfeiture of James Chaplin, Taylor was admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manor.
The ‘one rood of land copyhold with messuage thereupon built upon the tenement Greenhouse‘ was now owned by John Oddin Taylor.
I feel sure that the property continued to be let. An ‘Estates and Occupations‘ which I believe dates from around the 1830s (but no later than 1840), lists the occupiers of the property as John Powley, Barnabas Long and William Coates.
The same document has later annotations suggesting that Michael Stubbens (Stubbings) also occupied the property. Amelia Rose (the daughter of a previous owner and occupier Mary Mitchell), may have later occupied (or even purchased) the property.
John Oddin Taylor, who had owned the property since 1838, died c.1856.
Change of Ownership to John Oddin Taylor
Following the death of John Oddin Taylor, another John Oddin Taylor, also a gentleman of the city of Norwich, became the owner of the house.
On the 20th February, 1856, he was admitted copyhold tenant of the Manor.
It was during the tenure of this John Oddin Taylor that the copyhold was converted to freehold.
On the 19th February, 1862, at a General Court of the Manor, and on the production of a copy of an Award dated 13th April, 1861, the absolute ownership of the property was transferred to John Oddin Taylor.
This transfer to freehold (called enfranchisement), was subject to the payment by Taylor (and his successors), of a yearly rent charge of £1 6d 9d.
The enfranchisement is the last entry relating to this property in the Manor Court Books. The house referred to as ‘one rood of land copyhold with messuage thereupon built upon the tenement Greenhouse‘, was thereafter free from the customs of the Manor.
In consequence, future changes in the ownership (or mortgages) of the property, would not be recorded in the Court Books.
Sale by Auction
In 1868, the ‘messuage built upon the tenement Greenhouse‘ was offered for sale at auction by John Oddin Taylor.
The auction was arranged for the 13th August, 1868, at the Crown Inn at Attleburgh.
The notice of the auction (which appeared in the local paper), describes the property in Great Ellingham as:
Lot 1: FOUR FREEHOLD COTTAGES with Stables, Gig-house, Slaughter-house, and excellent Gardens, in the several occupations of William Mallowes, Robert Dawes, _ Lebbell, and another, adjoining the road from Attleburgh to Hingham.
It follows that at this time, the house comprised four cottages.
Owner Sarah Ellis
At the auction, Sarah Ellis, a widow, of Haw Common, Richmond, Surrey, was the highest bidder at £215 for Lot 1.
A draft conveyance deed between John Oddin Taylor and Sarah Ellis dated 11th December, 1868, recites the property as “all that one rood of land with a messuage thereon built of the tenement Greenhouse lying and being in Great Ellingham …”.
The same conveyance also confirms that the property was purchased by Sarah Ellis at the auction on the 13th August.
Accordingly, we can be sure that the property that Sarah Ellis purchased at the auction in Attleburgh, was the very same property which, in 1704, was owned by Sarah Burman.
Further, the deed also confirms that the house was divided into four cottages, occupied by William Mallows, Robert Dawes, __ Lebbell and Amelia Rose.
However, although Amelia Rose was listed as an occupier, she died just weeks before the auction.
20th century view of the thatched double cottage on the corner of Church Street and Chequers Lane. The house once copyhold and described as ‘a messuage built upon the tenement Greenhouse’. Postcard courtesy of Susan Fay
Periods of Change
From the entries in the Court Books for the Manor of Buckenham Close Outsoken, we have been able to trace the owners (and some of the occupiers), of a house which has been standing in the centre of the village since at least the early 18th century.
No doubt the house will have gone through periods of change. For example usage, alterations, extensions or even demolition and re-building. Accordingly, the house may not look exactly as it did when it was originally built some 300 years ago.
The harness maker’s shop of Henry Warren attached to the thatched house (now two cottages) on the corner of Chequers Lane and Church Street. Postcard courtesy of Christine Bell
We know that the western side of the house once extended to the boundary with Chequers Lane. In the early 1900s, this part of the house was occupied by saddler, Henry Warren. However, this ‘extension’ has long disappeared.
If you have any information about the owners or occupiers of the property (particularly after 1868), please get in touch with me via the contact page.
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
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. Buckenham Castle, Lathes, Close Insoken & Outsoken, and Priory. 1767-1909. MC 1813/46, 840X4 also available at https://www.familysearch.org/
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 www.familysearch.org
Will. Mitchell, Mary of Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. 1819. ANF will register 1819-1820. fo. 211 (1819 no.1). Viewed via http://www.norfolksources.norfolk.gov.uk/DserveNS/ May 2021
The London Gazette 4th March, 1834. Issue 19133. Pg. 400. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/
Norfolk Chronicle 4th July, 1835 Viewed via www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 7th May 2021
Perry’s Bankrupt & Insolvent Gazette 4th March, 1837. Viewed via www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 7th May 2021
Norfolk Chronicle 25th July, 1868. Viewed on microfilm at Norfolk Heritage Centre, Norwich
Draft Conveyance 11th December 1868. John Oddin Taylor to Sarah Ellis. Lands in Great Ellingham. ID 11781. Attleborough Shelf. Wymondham Town Archive. Council Offices, Ketts Park, Harts Farm Road, Wymondham NR18 0UT