At the beginning of the 19th century Thomas Warren owned and occupied a house in Long Street. This house was later known as Fir Tree Farm.
A Statement of Claims c.1799 relating to the Great Ellingham Inclosures, provide details of the owners and occupiers of houses, cottages and the various parcels of land in the village at that time.
It confirms that Thomas Warren owned:
- One Messuage [house, garden and associated land] and 17 acres of land which he occupied
- One Cottage occupied by John Norman
- One Cottage and 3 roods (or rods) of land occupied by Peter Reeder
The document also tells us that the Messuage and 3 acres of land were copyhold of the Manor of Bury Hall, 2 acres and 20 perches copyhold of the Manor of Ellingham Rectory and 3 acres and 2 roods copyhold of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
Thomas Warren’s claim also included various rights benefiting his property and his parcels land over the commons and waste lands in Great Ellingham.
Thomas Warren’s House
Extract from 1802 Map of Great Ellingham. Original held at Norfolk Record Office. Russell James Colman Plans. Cat. Ref. C/Ca 1/84. With kind permission of NRO
The numbering used in a Particulars and Valuation of Great Ellingham dated 1800 (also prepared for the Inclosures) concurs with the numbering used on an 1802 Map of Great Ellingham. This allows us to identify the location of Thomas Warren’s house in Great Ellingham.
Thomas Warren’s ‘House, Barn, Stable, Yard and Garden’ comprising 2 rood and 6 perches is numbered 365 on the above extract from the 1802 map. This shows that the house is in Long Street.
Nearby, and numbered 358, is Hannah Browne’s house. This house also had outbuildings, barn, stables, yards and gardens.
The above photograh c. 1960s shows both Thomas Warren’s house (later Fir Tree Farm) and Hannah’s Browne’s thatched farmhouse (later known as Broadmarsh Farm) to the top of the photograph. Courtesy Michelle Baron
In addition to owning the house in Long Street (and the two cottages which were occupied by tenants), Thomas Warren owned and farmed some 30 acres of land. Most of the land adjoined his farm.
Early History of the House
Title deeds and documents will provide details of the owners (and sometimes occupiers) of a particular freehold property or land. These deeds can go back centuries. However, not all historical deeds survive.
We know from the documentation relating to the Inclosures of Great Ellingham that Thomas Warren’s house and three acres of land were copyhold of the Manor of Bury Hall. Further, some pieces of land were copyhold of the Manor of Ellingham Rectory and the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
Accordingly, the Court Books for the respective Manors will contain an unbroken chain of ownership of the messuage and the various parcels of copyhold land.
Manor of Bury Hall
William Warren, eldest son & heir of William Warren
On the 30th April, 1740, William Warren came before a court of the Manor of Bury Hall. His father, also called William Warren, had died. William Warren came before the court as the eldest son and heir of his father. He produced to the court a copy of his father’s last will and testament dated 6th January, 1738.
In the will, William Warren left all his messuages, lands and tenements whether copyhold, freehold or any other tenure, in Great Ellingham (or elsewhere) to his son, William Warren. The legacy was conditional. However, details of the conditions are not set out in the Court Book.
Mary Partlett, earlier owner of land on Pennell Moore
The Court Book records that at an earlier court held in October, 1728, William Warren (the elder) was admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manor in relation to one acre of land on ‘Pennell Moore’. The records also tell us that widow Mary Partlett was the previous copyhold tenant of the land, and that she had died.
John & Ann Marshall, earlier owners of the House on Southgate Street
Further, at an earlier court held on the 3rd November, 1730, William Warren was admitted a copyhold tenant in respect of a messuage and two acres of land in Great Ellingham in Southgate Street.
The previous owners of the messuage (house with outbuildings and land) were husband and wife, John and Ann Marshall. As the Marshalls had ‘surrendered’ their messuage and land, it follows that William Warren purchased the copyhold messuage (as opposed to taking it by way of inheritance).
Although we cannot be sure that the ‘messuage’ referred to in the entry in the Court Book in 1730 is the very same messuage (house) which stands today, we can certain that there was a house on the land as early as 1730. Even if it is the same house as it is today, the house will have undergone considerable changes.
Death of William Warren
William Warren owned the house on Southgate Street for around 14 years. He died before the 28th October, 1754, when the proclomation of his death was made at the Manor Court.
I am certain that the Court Books for the Manor of Bury Hall will continue to show an unbroken chain of ownership of the house on Southgate Street. However at time of writing this blog, I have only been able to view the Court Books up to 1755.
Nevertheless, I have been able to continue with the story of the owners of the house with the help of the entries in the Court Books for the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken
I have mentioned that the Statement of Claims c.1799 in relation to the Inclosures of Great Ellingham, reveal that 3 acres and 2 roods of the land owned by Thomas Warren were copyhold of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
Accordingly, the Court Books for this Manor will also provide an unbroken chain of ownership of this copyhold land.
Mary Partlett, earlier owner
On the 14th April, 1740, William Warren came before a court of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
The Court Books tell us that copyhold tenant Mary Partlett (late Mary Warren, widow) had died. Further, that in her last will and testament, Mary Partlett left all her messuages, lands and tenements to her nephew William Warren, a butcher of Great Ellingham, for his life and, after this death, to Mary Warren forever.
The court was also informed that both William Warren (the butcher) and Mary Warren had also died.
William Warren (now before the court) claimed to be the eldest brother and next heir of Mary Warren. He was admitted a copyhold tenant of the Manor in relation to the 3 acres and 2 roods of land in the Manor (the very same land which, in 1800, was owned by Thomas Warren).
The Manor Court Books also tell us that Mary Parlet as Mary Warren had owned the 3 acres and 2 roods of copyhold land since the 3rd February, 1695, when she had taken them (by purchase or otherwise) from John Warren.
I believe that the William Warren who came before the Court for the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken on the 14th April, 1740 and the William Warren who came before the Court for the Manor of Bury Hall on the 30th April, 1740 (in relation to the messuage), are one and the same person.
Death of William Warren
On the 30th December, 1754, Thomas Warren came before a court of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken. He was the brother and next heir of copyhold tenant William Warren, who had died since the last court. Thomas Warren was admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manor in respect of the 3 acres and 2 roods of land.
I think it is reasonable to assume that in addition to the copyhold land of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken, Thomas Warren inherited the copyhold house on Southgate Street (much later known as Fir Tree Farm) from his brother, William Warren.
We know that c.1800, Thomas Warren owned the house in Southgate Street, as well as two cottages and some 30 acres of land.
Thomas Warrren, widower, of Great Ellingham was buried in the churchyard of the Church of St James on the 12th February, 1804.
William Warren, son of Thomas Warren
Four months later, the death of Thomas Warren, a copyhold tenant of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken, was proclaimed at a court held on the 21st June, 1804.
Six months later on the 18th December, 1804, William Warren, the eldest son and heir of Thomas Warren came before the same court. He claimed his late father’s copyhold land of the Manor i.e. the very same 3 acres and 2 roods of land which his late father had inherited on the death of his brother, William Warren.
I have no doubt that Thomas Warren’s eldest son, William Warren, also inherited his late father’s house on Southgate Street as well as his late father’s land.
William Warren died on the 20th May, 1816. Accordingly, the house in Southgate Street (which would later become known as Fir Tree Farm), would have a new owner.
On the 9th January, 1817, Edward Wilkins, a farmer of Great Ellingham, came before the Manor Court of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken.
Edward Wikins produced to the court the last will land testament of his late cousin, William Warren, dated 20th June, 1812.
The will of William Warren contains the following words:
'I give and devise unto my Cousin Edward Wilkins of Great Ellingham aforesaid Farmer all that my Messuage or Tenement with the Barn Stable Yards Garden Orchards and the several Closes or Inclosures Pieces or Parcels of Arable and Meadow land thereto belonging contained by estimation twenty six acres (be the same more or less) situate in Great Ellingham aforesaid now in the occupation of the said Edward Wilkins To hold the same unto him the said Edward Wilkins his Heirs and Assigns for ever'
Consequently, Edward Wilkins was admitted as a copyhold tenant of the Manor of Buckenham Lathes Outsoken in relation to the copyhold land of the Manor. This land was in ‘Pennell’ and upon the Burying Ground Common.
I have no doubt that, at a similar time, Edward Wilkins was also admitted a copyhold tenant of the Manor of Bury Hall in relation to the house in Southgate Street, (assuming that the house was still copyhold).
I believe Edward Wilkins was the son of John and Ann Wilkins of Great Ellingham. He was baptised in the Church of St James on the 2nd August, 1768.
Marriage & Children
On the 23rd November, 1796, Edward married local girl Mary Carley in St James’s Church, Great Ellingham. I found baptisms for three sons of the couple also in the parish registers: Edward baptised on the 28th May, 1797, Robert on the 27th January, 1799 and James on the 24th March, 1805.
However, the couple had at least one other child. Their son William was born about 1808.
I think it likely that this Wilkins family attended the local Baptist Church. I found reference to the burial of an Edward Wilkins on March 13th, 1824, in the registers of Great Ellingham Baptist Church.
The census of 1841 captures 70 year old farmer Edward Wilkins, 60 year old Mary Wilkins and 30 year old William Wilkins living in Great Ellingham. I assume that the family are living in the house which Edward inherited from his cousin, William Warren, in 1817. However, the census does not tell us exactly where the Wilkins family was living.
Further, the ages of persons over the age of 15 were rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5. Accordingly, Edward was more likely 73. In addition, Mary and William may have been slightly older than the census suggests.
14 year old Elizabeth Smith is working for the family as a servant.
Edward’s son William is working as a shoemaker.
A few years earlier, William Wilkins had found himself in financial difficulties. His name appears in Perry’s Bankrupt and Insolvent Gazette published on the 10th March, 1838. He was one of many insolvent persons applying to be discharged. His case was listed for hearing at the Court-house, Norwich Castle on the 23rd March.
Death of Edward Wilkins
The death of Edward Wilkins aged 82 was registered between April and June 1849 in the Wayland District. I have not found his burial in the registers for the Parish Church of St James. This adds to my belief that this Wilkins family attended the nearby Baptist Church.
Following Edward’s death, his widow and son continued to live in the house in Long Street.
The 1851 census captures 74 year old Mary Wilkins with her 42 year old unmarried son William in Long Street. Mary Wilkins is farming some 21 acres and employing one labourer. William is still working as a shoemaker.
Death of Mary Wilkins and her son William
By the time the next census was undertaken, both widow Mary Wilkins and her son had died.
The death of 79 year old Mary Wilkins was registered in the Wayland District between April and June 1857. Just two years later, the death of 52 year old William Wilkins was registered in the same district beween January and March 1859.
Accordingly, the ownership and occupation of the house by the Wilkins family had come to an end.
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 609. Also available at www.familysearch.org
1802 Russell James Colman Plans. Great Ellingham. 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
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/
Manor of Bury Hall Court Book. 1605-1755. Norfolk Record Office. Ref: WLS V/21. Microfilm MC/X 118/2. Also available at https://www.familysearch.org/
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD609. Also available at https://www.familysearch.org/
1841 census HO107/781/8
1851 census HO107/1823/129
GRO Index. FreeBMD website
Death. Wilkins, Edward. JuneQtr 1849. Wayland. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=e%2FrGZfQW%2B%2FvRzUjJazbHaQ&scan=1
Death. Wilkins Mary. JuneQtr 1857. Wayland.https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=vK3gHCQLHHajHtLB4%2BOlfQ&scan=1
Death. Wilkins, William. MarQtr. 1859. Wayland. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=StdkQ%2BghYEq2tocTNWK1dg&scan=1
10th March 1838. Perry’s Bankrupt & Insolvent Gazette. Viewed via British Newspaper Archive website https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 21st March 2022
England & Wales, Non-Conformist & Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970. RG4: Registers of Births, Marriages & Deaths. Norfolk Baptist Piece 1254: Great Ellingham (Baptist) 1817-1837. RG4/1254. Accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk 13th June 2019