Small Histories

Being brief accounts of episodes, incidents and characters from here and hereabouts complete with facts and imaginings.

On this page:

1) ROGER MOREY – Drimpton’s First Emigrant?
2) THE MIDDLE AGES – Misdeeds and Misdemeanours
5) THE JOHN GOULD CHARITY – Who was John Gould?


Small Histories 1:
ROGER MOREY – Drimpton’s First Emigrant?
[source: Geoffrey Williams, New Zealand]

Roger was born in Drimpton on 16th May 1610. Growing up he became a farmer. Maybe he felt rather unsettled. Maybe he just had wanderlust. Maybe he felt a degree of religious persecution. Whatever the case, just a month after his 18th birthday he made his way to Weymouth, and, on June 20th 1628 he set sail on the ‘Abigail’ en route for the New World of America. The ship was no doubt full of like-minded emigrants, among whom was Hugh Laskin of Childhay with Mrs Laskin and Edith Laskin.

They travelled with all that they would need to set themselves up. Roger did not pay his own passage. The Dorchester Company employed him to feed and water the cattle and sheep on board. Conditions on board cannot have been easy. Although the crossing went fairly smoothly, it still took the Abigail about 11 weeks to reach the port of Naumkeg where it docked on 6th September. This was fairly late on in the year, not giving too much time to establish a working settlement before winter came on. Roger with about 60 fellow settlers disembarked, unloading their surviving animals and hurried to build houses in a new plantation in Salem, New England.

Three years on, in 1631, Roger appears to have briefly returned to England possibly to assist others to emigrate. Back in New England he became a member of the Salem Church and in 1634 he married Mary Johnson and settled down. He was to put his farming experience to good use. In 1636 he made an agreement with the townsfolk of Salem to look after their cattle for 7 shillings (35p) per beast for the season - which was from 1st April to 1st November. [This had a spending worth of about £30 today.] Each day, one hour after sunrise, at the gate of the pen on the western end of the common, Roger started work taking the cattle to pasture. Any owner who did not have his herd ready needed to drive them out himself to Roger, whose job was to look after them and bring them back safely to the pen each evening. In the meantime the owners tended their crops and built the township using timber from the Eastern Woodlands, which were little by little being felled to be replaced by farmland.

In the same year, 1636, Roger benefited from this land clearance and was granted 40 or 50 acres for his own use. Over the next few years he received other smaller grants of land as he continued in his role of neatherd - looking after the township’s cattle in the paddock during the summers and in the neathouse during the long, cold winters.

In 1641 he and his family moved away. His movements can be traced. First they moved to Lynn where he was sued for debt in 1650. This didn’t appear to cause him any major problems, for by 1652 he was in Providence, Rhode Island, where for the next few years he was an innkeeper and also constable - an interesting combination it seems to the modern reader. By August 1656 he had a house lot laid out on a hill next to Robert Williams’ meadow. Mr Williams was clearly a man of some standing, having a servant, John Clawson. It is recorded that John and Roger did not get on. At least John’s complaints about Roger are recorded. These came out at the time of John’s violent death.

Roger continued to advance his position. In 1657 he was empowered with a group of men to treat with Indians, to lay claim to meadowland and clear it for the town. The same year he acted as a juryman at General Court Trials. He was now a man of some standing in the community; administering the estate of William Robinson, buying and selling property, and adding to the size of his own holding to such an extent that in 1660 he was in a position to sell 90 acres to another emigrant, John Acres of Dorchester.

Roger and Mary had twelve children, of whom Bethia, Thomas and Hannah are known to be alive in 1658, as must Mehittabel whose marriage is recorded in 1665, and Jonathan who appears as Roger’s heir when Roger dies on January 5th, 1666.

Had Roger made a success of his life in New England? It would appear so from all that has been said above. We might imagine him as a bit of a hard nut, doing deals, surviving one or two knocks, pulling himself up by his bootstraps by dint of hard work. Starting with almost nothing, he acquired land and property and a social position. And yet at his death his estate was insolvent and all Jonathan appears to be left with is 12 acres of upland, which doesn’t sound the best land.

Roger Morey may not have achieved the final financial success and security he strived for. However he and Mary put down strong roots and through their children established an ever growing ‘family’. In 2005 it was to be seen that Roger was the ascendant of around two-thirds of the 19,660+ Moreys in the New World.

back to the top


Small Histories 2:
THE MIDDLE AGES – Misdeeds and Misdemeanours
First, a bit of background regarding the Bigger Picture, or, History with a capital H…..

In 1483 Richard III became king. He stands accused by history of murdering the two boy-princes in the Tower of London in order to secure his hold on the throne. Shakespeare paints him as a crooked hunchback. He was definitely at the dark heart of late 15th century history, battling his way through the Wars of the Roses which were only to end with his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. A new era then began with Henry Tudor, aka Henry VII.

Meanwhile in Drimpton or Drempton and its surroundings in the Parish of Broadwin(d)sor, a world away from any spotlight, rural life went on - not always smoothly as the Parish Court Rolls record.

The Hundred & Manor of Broadwindsor was composed of the tithings of Windsor, Childhay, Drimpton and Dibberford. The court met to decide upon disagreements, complaints and small acts of criminality. The court rolls contain details of cases of petty debt, trespass, cattle strayings, and other smallscale local matters. Many of the issues sound familiar to us today. Even some of the names are still with us, or at least variant spellings of them.

Photo of Drimpton Cross
Drimpton Cross 1907

12th Nov 1483: ‘William Mason and William… presented for not repairing a road at Uphaylane which is muddy and deep. Henry Stodelegh presented for not repairing his ditch between Hylleslond and Culmelake. Richard Lamberd … for not repairing his ditch between Pyllmarshe and Culmelake. Roberet Stokfysshe to repair his ruined house. Nicholas Mantell … for allowing his pigs to run at large unringed. Hugh Pawle to repair a way near Drempton Crosse.’

Did the court manage to solve these issues? By January 1484 Mr Stokfysshe had still not repaired his house and Mr Mantell’s pigs were still roaming about unringed; and unringed pigs could root around in destructive ways. In April 1484 these men had still not acted in accordance with the court’s wishes. Ways and ditches were a major cause for complaint after what might have been a wet winter and spring. Nothing new there.

In July 1484 Mr Mantell was once again presented. Once more for his pigs. But he added another misdemeanour - brewing and breaking the assize. The Mantells were clearly a local family of character. For Nicholas was not the only Mantell in local trouble. Ten years on, in October 1493, William Mantell and John Hethen were presented for brewing and breaking the assize, as was Agnes Miller. Was Agnes’ behaviour a demonstration of equality of opportunity?

In January 1494 there were more ditches ‘unscoured’ leaving laneways ‘muddy and deep’. Unsurprisingly one of these between Courtedown and Simonishill belonged to Nicholas Mantell.

The Court of April 1494 was a busy session. Ditches needed repairing. Of course one belonged to Nicholas Mantell. William Stodlegh’s pigs were running ‘at large’ in Childhay. William Mason had allowed ‘his ditch at Whetehamlane’ to be ‘muddy and deep’ whilst Hugh Norys had allowed ‘the highway at Ax to be muddy and deep’. Perhaps to drown his sorrows and those of others George a Botery had been brewing illicitly. Meanwhile John Mantell (naturally) had gone one better. He had not only brewed and broke the assize but was presented for ‘keeping a tavern and selling ale without the signum of the lord’. Was the next case fuelled by George a Botery’s ale or that of John Mantell or of John Hoper? ‘Richard Wyllys made an assault on Richard Mason with his fist and the reverse.’

Again in July 1494 unmaintained ditches and illicit brewing were among the cases with many of the same names cropping up. A new name is that of Simon Gaberet who assaulted John Forde with a stick.

Photo of John Edwards
John Edwards 2004

One year on, in October 1495, various repairs feature. The court demands that Nicholas Mantell repairs his bakehouse ‘which is in ruins’. When will he learn? John Leneham has to ‘repair his ruined tenement’ and Richard Rycheman is ‘to repair the ruined walls of his barn’. John Edward was presented for assaulting Thomas Lede (who had been accused of brewing ale illicitly at an earlier court) ‘with a stick end’. Thomas Lede had reacted. He was presented for ‘assaulting John Edward with his fist’. Tit for tat.

At the same court hedges were another area of neighbourly strife. Not over high leylandii, though. ‘The tenants of Stoke Abbot presented for allowing a hedge between Lewsdown and Stockdown to be broken down and the tenants of Lytell Wyndsore for allowing a hedge between Lesdown(?) and Stockdown to be broken down. The tenants of Lytell Wyndsore for allowing a hedge between Colcomb and Lytell Wyndsore to be broken down.’

Back in Drimpton tithing John Grenway was presented ‘for unjustly taking a lamb value 4d from John Huchyn.’

A general ruling was also delivered. ‘The tenants are to make butts by Easter (1496). Penalty 10s.’ Was this to practice their archery? Most likely. All men were required to practice in case they were needed to fight. The tenants were also ‘to construct gallows with the cockyngstoll(?). Penalty 10s.’ One wonders what and who that was for. We know that a gallows is for hanging and a cucking-stool is usually for trial of women by water emersion; but is this some gruesome combination of the two? Surely not.

In January 1496 the tenants were reminded to construct the gallows and cucking-stool. Perhaps we should feel some sense of pride in our ancestors that they were reticent to build them. At the same time John Hopkyns was presented as he had unjustly taken ‘joystes and plankes’ value 1s from John Crockehorne. Let’s hope this was not the timber destined for the gallows. In April 1496 the gallows and cuckingstoll were still missing. Was this really some kind of rebellious act?

Among other court business the problem with pigs surfaced in a major way. The following pig owners were presented for letting their ‘pigs run at large unringed against the custom of the manor’. Again the Mantells were well represented. Nicholas Mantell (1 pig), William Mantell (6), Robert Smyth (3), Thomas Lede (6), John Hopkins (2), Agnes Miller (2), John Dowelton (1), William Stodeley (2), John Comb (2), Richard Mason (1), Robert Pawle (1), John Mason (2) and John Edwards (1)[any relation of the current John Edwards?] The area must have been well dug by all those rooting snouts. The owners were duly fined. The rate was 3d for 1 pig, 4d for 2, up to 6d for 6. Why was it that the more pigs that were let to root, the rate dropped?

Now just as we may have thought that the Mantell family were united in their actions against authority, Nicholas Mantell called for action against John Mantell who had made a common way at Symonshill. Ah, the problems of rights of way sound familiar, don’t they?  But the Mantells were not the only family in conflict one with another. Read on.

Although the cases reported above may bring a smile to the modern face, a case involving the threat of serious violence was brought to this court in April 1496. It was reported that, ‘John Grenway late of Nethirhay, husbandman,’ and we assume him to be the lamb thief noted earlier, ‘and Alice Grenway, housewife, on Tuesday before the Feast of St Matthew, with swords and daggers broke and entered the house of Walter Grenway at Nethirhay within the inquisition of this court, taking away four yards of woollen cloth in mixed blue value 6s 8d and a half yard of linen cloth worth 2d.’ The mention of swords and daggers leads one to expect something more than the taking of cloth. Why couldn’t John and Alice simply ask their kinsman for it? Clearly that was out of the case. Nor was the taking of the cloth the end of the matter. At the same court it was reported that, ‘John Grenway on Sunday before the Feast of St Matthew…’ just a few days later, ‘with swords and daggers broke and entered the house of Walter Grenway etc, broke open a sealed chest and took two pieces of gold worth 10s, one charter worth 40s and seven pieces of pewter worth 14d.’ This sounds altogether of a different scale - gold and documents. But what was behind these crimes? How the case was resolved is not known. It seems at variance with our sometimes romantic notions of rustic medieval life to imagine a married couple armed with deadly weapons staging a break-in and robbery - and in Netherhay of all places.

Throughout the reign of Henry VIII, 1509-1547, the court continues to hear complaints about fouled ditches and rights of way. The session of April 1530 was a busy one. It was reported that ‘the walls and roofs of John Hochyn’s senior, John Andrews’ and John Whetham’s tenements are in ruins.’ Goodness only knows what it was like for the poor tenants who lived there. Also that ‘the hedges of John Mantyll at Ewly Cross are in need of repair,’ and that ‘William Hyll, Robert Brown and Robert Gelley are common “lusores carpinas pro pecunia”, which sounds worrying. It means they had been caught playing games of chance. Quite shocking!

There appears to be something about the Hochyns/Hutchings family and their walls for generations later, in 1612, another John of that family is fined 13s 4d for ‘allowing his wall to remain a nuisance of the lord.’ John was not about to take this lying down and clearly expressed himself forcefully. As a result it was reported that he ‘gave scandalous words in open court, saying “that they are false foreswearers which did present him’ for his wall. One wonders if the fine was waived or increased, or if the wall was repaired (if indeed it needed to be).

back to the top



Small Histories 3:

Picture of Hillcrest

The original Whetham family took its name from the small hamlet of Whetham, not much more than a mile away from Drimpton, in the neighbouring parish of Burstock. This was sometime possibly in the 13th or 14th centuries. Centuries later during the 16th century, one John Whetham returned to his ancestral neighbourhood. Clearly he was a man of substance in that he acquired a large amount of property in the parish of Broadwindsor and made his home in Drimpton. The house is still here, the major part of what is now called ‘Hillcrest’. It stands in The Square, facing anyone approaching the village from Broadwindsor before the road swings downhill to Drimpton Bridge.

John lived here with his wife, Edith (nee Peare) and they had six children; Thomas, Hercules, James William, Grace and Joan. Any parents that can call a son Hercules are surely saying something about themselves and their aspirations.

John died on March 1st(?) 1605. Before he did so, he made his full and detailed will in 1604 ‘being sicke and weake in bodye but of whole and perfect remembrance…’ His ‘whole and perfect remembrance’ did not stop him making one serious mistake when he drafted his will, a flaw that was to cause internal family strife for years to come.

In the will John appoints Edith to be his executrix and residuary legatee. Nothing wrong there. He then gives legacies of money to Grace, Hercules, Joan and James, and also to the five children of his eldest son, Thomas. The estate he leaves in his house and lands held upon a lease for the term of four thousand years, to his sons Thomas and William. Here is where the problem arises. Look at the existing house. It is long and narrow and runs alongside the road from southwest to northeast. It doesn’t appear to have changed much essentially in four hundred years. The will says that Thomas is to have ‘all that parte of my dwelling house from the entrie towards the northe easte’ and William ‘the parte Sowthe West from the entrie – the entrie and well without the back door shall be in common between them according to their several uses.’  The causes of future fallings-out are plain to see. John then goes on to divide his enclosed lands. Thomas is to have Brearth, Wheatclose, Horrie Mead, Common Close; William receives Broad Close, Field Close, Hippett Mead and Pathclose. Then there is another cause for potential disharmony; William is to have the right of digging and carrying away marl (clay & lime) from one of Thomas’s fields, to be used ‘on anne parte or parcell of grounde which I have before given him and not elsewhere.’

Problems at the house itself appear to have started as soon as John was buried. William was most put out. By 1606 he is not living in his part of the family home; he is living in Bridport, where his brother, James, also lives. In fact William never comes to live in his share of the house. And what of his share of the land? We can perhaps assume the fields were rented out to others and he benefited at a distance from his father’s thorny bequest.

Back to Thomas - even before his father’s signature was dry on his will, Thomas and his wife Dorothy (nee Hooper) celebrated the birth of another son, Nathaniel. After John’s death Thomas, Dorothy and their children move into their part of the family home. Maybe they move into all of the property at some time over the following years. Or perhaps William leaves it vacant, or rents it out to others to annoy his older brother.

Of Thomas and Dorothy’s children, John and Robert stayed in the parish as yeomen or tenant farmers - John at Broadwindsor and Robert at Drimpton. James and Joseph moved away. Nathaniel, the youngest son, embarks on a life that links Drimpton to major events of History with a capital ‘H’.

When he is 16, he is apprenticed to Edward Tirrell who was baker to the Inner Temple in London. He clearly completed his apprenticeship and stayed on, proving himself to be a competent baker and a close co-worker. So close in fact that when Edward died in 1632, Nathaniel married Edward’s widow within four months. This may have been to secure Mrs Tirrell’s possession of the bakery.

The 1630s and 1640s were a time of political dissent, especially in London. When in 1642 the simmering conflict between Parliament and King Charles I erupted into Civil War, Nathaniel’s sympathies were for Parliament and at some point he joined the ranks of the parliamentarian army, a.k.a. the Roundheads. He went on to prove himself to be very able, rising to the rank of colonel in Oliver Cromwell’s army. The War went on until 1652, but Nathaniel retired from the army in 1647 and settled in Chard, where he lived until his death in 1668 only months after marrying his second wife, Elizabeth Gale, a widow.

His story is a rare occasion when someone from our village played a noted role in the wider world.

back to the top



Small Histories 4:

Photo of an engine

With the opening of the Yeovil to Exeter section of the London south Western Railway in July 1860, the chance to catch a train came within four miles of Drimpton. Yet for some people this was not near enough.

In 1863, the Chard Road and Lyme Regis Harbour Railway Company announced a railway to link the two towns of Chard and Lyme. This line was to pass through and serve the following – though it is hard to say what the precise route was going to be. There were Chard and Crewkerne in Somerset, Axminster and Uplyme in Devon, and all of the following in Dorset (or, at least, in Dorset in 1863) – Wambrook, Chardstock, Thorncombe, Hawkchurch, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Charmouth, Monkton Wyld, Lyme Regis, Catherstone, Burstock, Broadwindsor, Pilsdon, Childhay, Drimpton, Dibberford and Littlewindsor. It comes as a surprise to read of Burstock, Broadwindsor, Childhay, Drimpton and Littlewindsor all appearing on the route of a railway – a list of place names as enchanting and evocative as any sung by Flanders & Swann. It is worth a moment to ask: “What if?” Certainly, such a line would have been closed by Dr Beeching in the 1960s. But for a moment let us imagine catching the 9.17am from Drimpton Halt heading for the coast via Burstock, Childhay, Hawkchurch and all the rest. Steaming along, sending cattle running. With the window down and our heads popped out. With a face getting smut-stained. But we don’t mind. In autumn, waving to a ploughman driving his horses across a field. In summer, watching the hay being cut. In winter, clutching a stone hot water bottle to keep the cold at bay. In spring, admiring the wild daffodils and catching the scent of the bluebells in Marshwood Vale. At all times trailing clouds of steam and smoke rivalling the clouds in the sky. Before, finally, reaching the sea!
But it was not to be.

Almost thirty years pass before another attempt is made – or, before another attempt that we know of is made. It is 1891. The project is aired in the schoolroom in Broadwindsor and reported in the Bridport News on December 4th. Among those present were farmers, William Dommett of Broadwindsor, J Fowler of Burstock, J H Creed of Burstock Grange, and T Forsey of Hursey. Also there were Joseph Hurding, builder and publican at the Royal Oak, Drimpton, Randolph Meech, canvas manufacturer’s clerk at Yarn Barton Mill, and T Greening, leader of the Broadwindsor Band.

The route this time was to connect Bridport to the LSW via Netherbury, Beaminster and Broadwindsor. The Rev Farrer was in the chair and said how difficult it was to get to Crewkerne station – being a journey of some six miles. He also ‘noticed how the population of the agricultural districts had decreased of late years, and observed that a railway would doubtless bring many back again, for farmers and manufacturers around would have an opportunity of developing their resources, which meant more work and bigger wages.’ The meeting heard others say that farmers ‘would be better able to dispose of their produce’. Can we hear the farmers there crying, ‘Hear! Hear!’? And it was said shopkeepers would benefit as the carriage of goods would be cheaper than by road. The Rev Robertson said: ‘None could help being benefited by a railway through Broadwindsor’. What, nobody? Was that really the case? Did everyone greet the prospect of a railway running through the parish so positively? Didn’t anyone stand up to say that with such a railway so close at hand even more people would pack up, hop on a train, never to return? Let alone the noise, the disruption, the progress! But again the venture did not get off the ground. And, with the arrival of the motor car, all thought of a railway was shelved forever.

back to the top


Small Histories 5:
THE JOHN GOULD CHARITY – Who was John Gould?

The stated aims of this local charity are that ‘INCOME TO BE APPLIED TOWARDS THE REPARATION OF THE CHURCH OF BROADWINDSOR AND OTHER GOOD USES WITHIN THE PARISH.’ It was on Gould Charity land that the St Mary’s Chapel of Ease, now the parish Church of Drimpton, was built in 1867, and the village school was built in 1874. The Royal Oak pub also stands on former charity land. But who was John Gould?
The years roll back several centuries…..

A note before proceeding with this account; the name Gould has no consistent spelling in what follows.

There does not appear to be any record of the date of the foundation of this charity, nor whether it was by deed or will. The earliest document in existence relating to it appears to be a conveyance of Deed of Feoffment (= a grant of ownership of freehold property to someone) dated 1664, a few years after the Restoration of the Monarchy after the Commonwealth period. This document conveys the lands from one set of people acting as feoffees of the charity to a new set. By a deed dated 27th January 1695, Hugh Paull, who may have been the last survivor of this latter set of feoffees, conveyed certain lands held by the charity to another charitable group of local worthies, William Bragge, Richard Norris, Andrew Goudge, James Wakely, William Paull, Giles Stoodly, Richard Joanes and John Bragge. In this document Hugh Paull describes himself as ‘feoffee of the lands and tenements which John Gould long since gave towards the reparation of the Church of Broadwindsor and other good uses within the same parish’ – showing that the present aims of the charity have not changed. But the question of who John Gould was still begs an answer. And how long is ‘long since’.

Winding the years back a further century to 1579 we find the following references in a survey of Broadwindsor dated April 1st. It is talking about rents paid on pieces of land and who paid them:
‘Goldes londe in Drempton – William Poole esq and other tenants appear in the books – 20d. Gouldes londe in Sondepitt – said William Poole esq and other tenants as before – 22d’
We appear to be on the right track. Even though by the 1570s there were no Goldes/Gouldes living in the Broadwindsor parish, the family clearly had been living locally before then, and thanks to the extensive researches of Patrick Lewis, author of ‘The Sandpit Book’, we can go further back in time from the late 16th century to the early 13th century and find the arrival of the family in our parish, and then proceed forwards in time as any history should.

The earliest member of the family is one John Gole or Golde of Seaborough. He went on the Fifth Crusade, which was one of a series of military ventures that Christian Europe made to retake the Holy Land from the armies of Islam. This crusade took place between August 1218 and November 1219 and sends echoes across the intervening 800 years, for it has a contemporary ring; worringly so, I feel. Anyway, John Gole/Golde left these shores and participated in the Siege of Damietta, a town on the Nile ten miles from the Mediterranean coast. He performed in such a distinguished fashion that when he returned to Britain the Lord of the Manor of Seaborough presented him with an estate or farm there. In this way the family’s acquisition of local land began.

Rolling forwards to the early years of the 14th century we meet Elias Golde and his sons, John and Robert. They are all involved with property in our parish, acquiring and/or claiming rights over a growing portfolio of lands and dwellings in Drimpton, Sandpit and Axe. They were not averse to protecting their rights and guarding their recently acquired property. At Easter 1321, Robert prosecuted his neighbours for trespass. These were Giles de Meleplash, Ivo de Sandeputte and others. But for some reason they did not turn up at court. Maybe that was wise. The Goldes were flexing their muscles and Robert, especially, was showing a taste for litigation. In June 1325 he won a case at court against John Cole de Brodewyndsore and his wife, Agnes. They ended up acknowledging Robert’s right to inherit three dwellings and land. Robert settled the matter by giving the couple ‘£20 sterling’. It appears his strategy was first to intimidate, then to offer a bribe. Is that an unfair assessment? Was he a land grabbing bully? Interestingly £20 in 1325 would have a spending worth of almost £7000 today. So Robert clearly wanted the property quite badly.

The following year, 1326, sees Robert on the receiving end of a prosecution. He and 16 neighbours were accused by Nicholas Dauncey ‘for taking 20 oxen and 12 cows’ belonging to Nicholas, ‘value £24 at Little Wyndesore’. Can the cattle really have had a worth today of approaching £7000? But Nicholas was not finished. He accused them not only of rustling, but of also ‘assaulting his servants, Richard Serle and others, and imprisoning them for four days’. Unsurprisingly, Robert and his co-defendants staunchly protested their innocence. They claimed that they had raised a ‘Hue and Cry’ – not unlike a posse of deputy sheriffs in the Wild West – to deal with Richard Serle and others who they accused of breaking the peace. So, in brief, they claimed they had acted alongside the guardians of the peace to deal with the unruly, antisocial behaviour of Nicholas’ servants. What of the stolen cattle? Who knows. Perhaps Robert managed to muddy the water so much that they were overlooked.

Throughout the middle years of the 14th century Robert and his wife, Elizabeth, build up their property empire. The style they had set in the early years, they maintain.

It appears that sometime in the 1350s John, Robert’s brother, died. Possibly on his deathbed John had passed over the Manor of Seaborough to the parson of Bere Church. In this way property was due to leave the family portfolio. Clearly Robert was not about to let that stand. In a settlement whereby the parson received 100 silver marks, Robert and Elizabeth became the rightful owners.

[An aside: A silver mark was equal to about 2/3 of a pound. So 100 silver marks in 1350 was equal to about £66 with a worth today of c£28,000. This speaks of the disposable income that Robert and Elizabeth had.]

The Manor of Seaborough was not all that Robert acquired. John’s property in Drimpton also appears to have ended up in his hands.

Robert and Elizabeth’s son, Robert (Jnr), continued the family business. In 1414, Robert Jnr’s son, another John, described as being ‘of Sanput’ or ‘Sandput’ acted with his partner, William Warre, to buy more property, ‘eleven messuages’ (=dwellings), ‘2 carrucates of land’ (being about 200 acres), ’20 acres of meadow, 40 acres of pasture in Wyke and Milton juxta Gyllingham’. The family empire was getting ever larger. For all this they paid another 20 silver marks, which is just over £30,000 today.

Picture of Seaborough Church
Seaborough Church

Perhaps it is this John Gole/Gold/Golde/Gould who gave his name to the charity. He certainly had a thought for the hereafter, for also in 1414, he gave to the parson at Seaborough ‘a certain parcel of land in the village one hundred feet in length and sixty feet in breadth, for the building of a chapel there.’ It was completed in early 1415 (which, by the way is the year that Henry V and his English army won the Battle of Agincourt in France), and on July 23rd ‘the Vicar General granted licence to celebrate masses and cause such to be celebrated, as well in a loud voice as in a low voice, in a chapel newly built in the church of this parish… in the presence of John Goold and his wife and the parishioners there’.

Picture of Childhay Manor
Childhay Manor

Trying to track our John Gole/Gold/Golde/Gould/Goold of the charity is not made any easier by the fondness generations of the family have for the name, John. The John who had the chapel built had a son called John. In turn this John had three children. First there was a John, of course. He in turn had a single daughter, Alice. So her line did not carry on the family name when she married John Crukerne. The Crukernes built the existing Childhay Manor. Back to the second child. This was another daughter, also called Alice. So another Gould line ceased. The third child was Thomas. His line survives into the mid-16th century, via his son, Thomas (Jnr), who died in 1525, and Thomas Jnr’s son, John. This John’s death in 1555 brought the Gould name to an end. But the last Gould did not die an easy death. Here is the story told by Patrick Lewis:
“On the morning of 7th August 1555, John Gold, was indulging in his favourite sport of hawking with a party of friends from whom, in the excitement of the chase, he became separated. In his haste to rejoin them, he inadvertently trespassed on the land of his neighbour, Mr Week or Wyke of Henley Farm, who was superintending his employees’ work. For a long time there had been animosity between the two men. Mr Week rode up to Mr Gold and a furious quarrel ensued. Mr Week ordered one of his men to fell Mr Gold from his horse. This he did with a rake, and Mr Gold toppled friom his saddle to the ground and was found to have died from the blow. Mr Week and two of his men were taken into custody and at an assize held at Crewkerne found guilty of murder, and, it was said, hanged in the market place.’

So the last John Gold of the property owning Gole/Gould/Golde/Goold family was brought down, quite literally, by a fellow property owner in a trespassing dispute based on the land they owned and their perceived rights. His demise echoes so much of what the family had done over the preceding three centuries.

And what of the charity? We are still unable to point with confidence at who the John Gould of John Gould’s Charity was. There are so many candidates to choose from. But whichever John bequeathed a portion of his land, or whichever family member made the bequest in John Gould’s name, Drimpton finally benefitted. Our pub, former school and church stand on charity land. It is for the reader to decide which establishment best serves the memory of John Gould.

The charity today still owns a small remnant of land in Drimpton once owned by the Gould family. They are just two small fields, which have been rented and worked by members of the Forsey family for many years.

back to the top