Wedmore Genealogy Pages
There are a few miscellaneous things that I should like to set down here. I may as well leave them behind me as pack them up and carry them away with me.
1. - TRADITION. The late Mr. John Banwell was born in 1809 and died in 1898, aged 89 years. His father, Mr. William Banwell, was born in 1774 and died in 1862, aged 88 years. Mr. John Banwell told me that his father told him that when Wells Cathedral was built no carts were used for bringing the stone from Doulting, but there was a line of men formed and the stones were passed on from one to another. The men had a penny a day. I have no doubt this tradition represents a truth, though it must not be taken too rigidly. Within living memory carts have begun to do what formerly they never did. For instance, milk used never to be brought home in carts but was always carried on the head. For those coming from Wedmore Moor there was a resting place by the Lurban, where 30 or 40 might sometimes be seen at a time.
2. - HARD TIMES. Old William Wyatt, son of Samuel Wyatt, died in 1889, aged 89 years. He said he was born the year of the hard winter, and the very day that he was born his father gave four shillings for a two-quartern loaf. I see from the Registers that he was baptized on Christmas Day, 1800. With bread two shillings a quartern, and wages a shilling a day, how did people live? Old Mrs. Wyatt told me that one of her two little girls died at the age of eight months. Some women had told her that the child would never live because it was "too cunning."
3. - FOUND IN THE TURF. Joseph Norris told me that many years ago his brother Robert found an ivory ladle and a helmet when he was digging turf in Cocklake delvings. He put the ladle down on a heap of turves, and when he went to get it soon afterwards he found it had all gone to dust. The helmet he gave to somebody in Wells in exchange for something else. They were found about seven feet down. Joseph Norris had himself found lots of gun flints in Cocklake delvings. If every place of any size had its own museum, and if everything found in a place went into that museum, and a record was kept of where it was found, light would be thrown on the history of a place and on what had been done there and on who had lived there. But "ould ancient" things in private collections and of unknown source lose half their value because they have no tale to tell.
4. - FOUND IN A CHEST. I have mentioned at p. 306 the finding of a hoard of coins in the churchyard; they must have been buried there for safety sake in troublous times about 850 years ago, and the owner being killed the, knowledge of them died with him. In October, 1891, another hoard of coins was found in the parish but not in the soil. This also was probably hidden for safety sake, and then the hider being killed the knowledge of it died with him. This hoard must have been buried in the time of the civil war 250 years ago. Mr. Charles Watts had an old chest which he had bought some years ago. He accidentally discovered that it had a false bottom. On removing this he found 57 silver coins in a very good state of preservation. They ranged from Philip and Mary to Charles I., and consisted of 2 half-crowns, 20 shillings,. 35 sixpences, disposed as follows
5. - SINGLE STICK. I have often intended raking together what I could about the old single stick players of Wedmore, but somehow I have never done it; and as I have already said, if you don't do a thing when you can, it is not likely that. you will do it when you can't. Every year it gets more difficult to find out anything about them, because the generation that played has died out. Besides single stick there was playing with the cudgels, which was much rougher work. In single stick playing the left arm was guarded and held up to guard the head; in cudgel playing the left arm was not guarded. I am told that players used "to drink gunpowder" before playing, because that made the blood less ready to come. Any blood above the neck counted. Sometimes blood was drawn on a player's mouth, and he would keep licking it away to hide it; but if the spectators saw it they would cry out, "Blood, blood, blood." On Aug. 15, 1820, a strong hardy fellow, named George Crease, was married in Wedmore Church to Rebecca Willis. It was Priddy Fair day. When the wedding was over George having nothing to do thought he would go across the moor to Priddy Fair. He did not want to buy or sell cattle, but of course that was no reason why he should not go to Priddy Fair. When he got there he found an old single stick player standing outside the inn and challenging anybody to play him. George was not much of a player himself and did not much want to play this old experienced player; but he had plenty of pluck and got persuaded into it. Before they began the old player shook hands with him and said, "We will play a pretty game, and not a hitting one." But having said that he immediately began to hit away as hard as he could, and before long both were covered with blood, but no heads broke.
Such was the one day of George Crease's honeymoon. The story does not say whether the bride went with him or not. Fifty more Priddy Fairs came round after that one, and then George and Rebecca were laid in the same grave on the same day, Feb. 23, 1871.
Two very famous players were the brothers William and John Stone Wall. They went about playing a good deal, and being temperate men as well as good players made money by it. William Wall's house in Pilcorn (now called Pilcorn Street) was built with single stick money. It says a good deal for them that though living in an age and in an atmosphere of drink, though continually attending fairs and revels where drink is everything, yet they were able to keep themselves sober. The same thing cannot be said of all the single stick players. Both were very powerful men, William being the taller of the two.
They were the sons of Jeremiah Wall who in 1776 married Ann Stone. Jeremiah Wall, baptized in 1752, was the son of John and Christopherah or Christopheranna Wall. That John Wall, I believe, was the son of John Wall of Sand and was baptized in 1719. But there were so many John Walls that it is difficult to keep on the right line as you trace them back, just as when there are a great many paths in a wood it is difficult to follow the right one.
William Wall was baptized in Feb., 1782, and died in Nov., 1852, aged 70 years. He must have been a very fine man physically. He is said to have pulled up the tenor bell with one hand when the bells were rung from the floor of the church. This was a wonderful feat if it was done, requiring enormous strength and dexterous management as well. I recollect when I first came here being shown the mark of the foot of this mighty man on one of the paving stones under the tower; he had stamped the impression of his foot upon it as he rung the tenor bell; the stone was removed in 1880. He was the father of several sons, mostly very powerful men. He has the reputation of being a very good master to work for, but being rather hard as a Guardian. The following story speaks well for him. I tell it exactly as it was told to me by an eye witness.
One day, 60 years ago or so, a certain young fellow whom I will call S.C. was working for him on the premises, and being thirsty asked for cider. He was told he might go and draw some. When he went in to draw it Mrs. Wall said, Here is some drawed already, and gave him a jug. S.C. looked at it and saw it was drippings which had been standing, and it was as black as a pair of new shoon. He took it and flung it away. Mrs. Wall was angry and made a noise about it. What is the matter? cried out Mr. Wall from the yard. He's been and flung away the cider I gid him, said Mrs. Wall. Maister, said S.C., `twere so black as a pair of new shoon. Mr. Wall looked grave. Cecilia, he said to his wife, Never give to the workpeople what you would not like to drink yourself.
John Stone Wall was baptized in Sept., 1787, and died in Jan., 1876, aged 88 years. In 1851 Mr. Kempthorne nominated him as Vicar's Churchwarden and continued to do so every year till 1864, when he nominated his son Arthur Wall in his stead.
Mr. Arthur Wall continued to be nominated as Vicar's Warden year by year, and was still holding the office at the time of his sudden death in October, 1895. Of him I can speak from nearly 20 years' personal acquaintance, and am glad to have this opportunity of saying something. He was what the Scriptures would call a just man, a devout man. He was a man of real genuine piety, belonging to a school of thought which is apt to breed narrowness, which often does breed narrowness, but which bred no narrowness in him. He was as fairminded a man as could be, and his religion was thoroughly practical. Prayer and the scriptures and the doctrines of religion were things that he valued much, but they were not placed, as they sometimes are, before the practical parts of religion nor made a substitute for them. He was very quiet in his manner, modest about himself temperate in all things, slow to anger, and if anybody could quarrel with him I don't know who they would not quarrel with. He was a man of accurate observation and had a wonderful memory. He observed everything, and what he observed he stored up in his mind. I can imagine that he may have been a man of observation and of thought rather than of action. I can imagine that he may have been sometimes over cautious and slow to act. There is a verse in the Bible that always puts me in mind of him when I come across it. "He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap." - Eccles xi. .4. I can quite imagine that at haymaking time some opportunities may have been lost through an over careful examination of the clouds or the swallows or of something that foretells the weather. Something may have been lost through a want of dash. But his powers of accurate observation made him an excellent weather prophet so far as anybody can prophesy that uncertain thing, the weather; and whenever any outdoor event was coming on and it was necessary for me to know in the morning how the weather would behave in the evening, I would always go and consult him, and he never misled me.
I look back upon my acquaintance and intercourse with him as upon something that it was good to have had, and may I feel grateful to him for his help and his kindness as long as I can feel at all.
With regard to the two brothers from whom I have wandered, William and John Stone Wall, I can give no details of them nor of their contests. But I would only say that looking at them in a general sort of way, there is something to my mind rather striking in the picture that they give us. Possessed of certain gifts in a very high degree, strength, hardiness, pluck, quickness of eye and hand, and so on, they use those gifts in a certain way and excel greatly in the way in which they use them; and while doing that they show some strength of another kind by keeping themselves free from one great evil at least to which their course of life exposed them; and then when fighting days are over, when the passing of a few years has brought those changes upon them which not even the strongest of men are able to resist, they fall quietly into work of another kind altogether: they do useful work in their parish, the one as a Guardian of the poor, the other as a Warden of the fabric of the Church.
There was a third brother who played, George, but he did not attain to the same rank amongst players that they did. He played outside the Swan on one of the last occasions when there was play there; but being then an oldish man he was terribly knocked about by Mapstone. He died in 1855 aged 70 years. He lived in an old house on Lascot Hill, on the site of which a new house has since been built.
Another family that produced several fine players was the family of Edward Stone. Edward Stone followed his calling as a butcher in the Borough. His house stood where Dr. Hancock afterwards built a house which is now (1898) occupied by Mr. Henry Harvey. He was the son of Edward Stone, was baptized in 1760, married Ann Tucker in 1787, and died in 1840 aged 80 years. A marble stone has lately been set up in the churchyard near the South porch with his name upon it. His age is there given as 83, and so it is in the Register of Burials, but I think it should be 80. He had several sons, Richard, Stephen, Simon, George, Gabriel. Stephen was a blacksmith and died at Ditcheat, and has a son, John, now living at Rughill, and another son at Congresbury. Richard, Simon and Gabriel were all great single-stick players. Gabriel died at Bristol, where he was a butcher. Simon was taken up to London to play and box, and kept there by some gentlemen, and died there. Richard died at Wedmore in 1863 aged 74 years. The only representatives of this family now in Wedmore are John Stone of Rughill, the son of Stephen, and Mrs. Simon Day, the daughter of Richard.
6. - WEDMORE FAIR. Wedmore has two annual fairs, viz., on the Monday after St. James' day and on the last Monday in September. Mr. Emanuel Green in his pamphlet on King Alfred and Wedmore, to which I have already alluded, tells us from manuscripts in London that on May 18. 1255, King Henry III. granted to the Dean of Wells the right to have one market at Wedmore on the Tuesday in every week, and one fair on the Vigil, the day and the morrow of St. Mary Magdalene, unless it should interfere with neighbouring markets or fairs. [Charter Rolls, Membrane 4.] St. Mary Magdalene's day was on July 22; St. James' day is on July 25. I therefore presume that the present St. James' fair is the one granted 650 years ago to be held on St. Mary Magdalene's day and on the day before and the day after it, and that it is reckoned now from St. James instead of from St. Mary Magdalene, because St. Mary Magdalene's day ceased to be regarded after the Reformation, whilst St. James's day still went on.
How long the weekly market went on I do not know, but I presume that it did so for 400 or perhaps 500 years; because old Mrs. Sellick Williams told me that her father, Edward Sweet, told her that there used to be a market in Wedmore, and that the Borough cross, which is a market cross, stood nearer the Lurban than it does now. Edward Sweet was born in 1749. I do not know that he himself remembered the market.
When the September fair first began to be held I do not know, but I imagine it to be a much more modern one than the other.
Amongst a great heap of manuscripts which the late Mr. E. W. Edwards lent me was an indenture dated May 23, 1719, between Harry Bridges of Keynsham and John Lawrence of Wedmore, yeoman, whereby Bridges in consideration of ten guineas paid him by Lawrence granted him all the benefit, advantage and sums of money that may arise by the yearly fair at Wedmore held in the Borough, or by any of the standings, pens or other things to be by him there erected, and with power to erect a tolzey with the benefit thereto belonging, and keep account of all sales and bargains and take all other sums of money and enjoy all liberties and customs belonging to the said fair; this was granted on the lives of Edward, John and Sarah Lawrence, his three children; one shilling was the yearly rent, and a heriot of two shillings at each death.
Another indenture, June 15, 1726, shows the above John Lawrence, now described as a tailor, making over his house and his right to the profits of the fair to John Edwards of Mudgley, to whom he had previously mortgaged it.
Apparently John Lawrence's house was the one near the Lurban now occupied by Mr. Thomas Day. There was another indenture dated Jan. 6, 1703, which showed that Mary Rose of Cheddar, widow of William Rose of Cheddar, gent., then granted it to John Lawrence, tailor, on three lives, and stating that she did so by virtue of authority given to her by Act of Parliament in 1702 for settling (amongst other things) the manor of Cheddar Fitzwaters, of which this house is part. I am very much puzzled to know why a house right in the Borough of Wedmore should have been part of one of the Cheddar Manors.
Harry Bridges of Keynsham, who is a party to the first of the above indentures, belonged to the Bridges family who either by purchase or inheritance succeeded the Hodges family in the possession of the Manor of Wedmore. The Hodges family possessed it from about 1580 to about 1660, and then the Bridges family possessed it till 1757, when they sold it to Messrs. Bracher and Thring, who in 1808 sold it to John Barrow. This Harry Bridges, a great traveller, died in 1728, aged 81 years. He lies buried at Keynsham. He was the son of Sir Thomas Bridges of Keynsham, Knight, who died in 1706, aged 90 years, and to whom there is a monument in Keynsham Church. Sir Thomas married Anna, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Edward Rodney, the last Rodney of Rodney Stoke. She carried the Rodney property to the Bridges family, one of whom later on was made Duke of Chandos. Mr. John Stone Wall has shown me some writings relating to land in Wedmore formerly belonging to the Stone family. One of them dated 1705 bears the signature of this Sir Thomas Bridges as lord of the Manor of Wedmore. He was then 88 years of age, and his signature is only a little bit shaky considering his great age.
7. - JOHN STAYLL. At p.273 I mentioned John Stayll, who was one of a little group of 17 th century Radicals who were mixed up together, John Strachey being another, and Jeremy Horler another. Amongst some writings lent me by the late Mr. Edmund Hole of Clewer was one which throws a little additional light upon him. It is the will of Peter Day of Clewer, made in 1709. At the end of it is the following memorandum.
"Memorandum that upon Munday the last day of October, 1709, Peter Day of Clewer being then sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory, and having an intent to make his will in writing, did send John Hayne of Clewer for one John Stayll of Weare to write the same, who accordingly came with the same John Hayne to the said Peter Day's house and went up into the chamber where he lay sick on his bed, when and where the said Peter Day did in the presence of us whose names are subscribed hereto declare and make his last will in the words written on the other side of this paper, which were all written down in the life time of the said Peter Day by his particular order and whilst he was of sound and perfect mind and memory by the said John Stayll the scribe; but before the said will could be put into form and finished, he the said Peter Day was surprized by suddin death and departed this life on the same day about noon; and the same will was read over to him by the said John Stayll before he died, and the said Peter Day well approved thereof. Witness our hands who heard the same spoken by the said Peter Day and were by him desired to be witnesses to his said will. John Stayll. John Wall. William Pitt."
At p. 95 of this volume I gave an extract from Dr. Westover's Journal, mentioning " Mr. Horler's at Weare." I took this to be Jeremy, the former Vicar of Wedmore in Cromwell's time; but I think now it must be William Horler, as Jeremy was living at Yate in Gloucestershire. Jeremy was still alive in 1718, when he was appointed a trustee in the Will of William Codrington of Bristol, mercer. (Som. Wills, 4th Ser. p. 5.)
8. - THE CHANDELIERS. In giving a rough inventory of the church furniture at p. 301, I omitted the three handsome chandeliers. These were taken down when the gas was brought in about twenty-five years ago, and flung into a stable. After spending a few years there they were brought out and hung up again. Though not wanted for lighting purposes they are a great ornament to the church. Of late years they have been lit twice a year, viz., on the Choral Festival evening and on Christmas evening. The following inscriptions are on them
1. The generous gift of Mr. John Tucker of Blackford in this parish 1779.
2. The generous gift of Miss Ann Bedman of Wedmore, 1854. Thomas Hale J Co. fecit, Bristol.
3. The generous gift of Miss Ann Redman of Wedmore. 1854.
9. - WESLEYAN CHAPEL. I do not know in what year a Wesleyan chapel was first set up here; and though John Wesley went to a good many places in the course of his long and active life, I don't think he ever came here; but at any rate the original chapel stood on the site of the present Church Sunday-school till 1818, when they moved to their present position. A deed dated Dec. 18, 1818, shows that in that year the Trustees of the Church School bought the Wesleyan Chapel for £ 105, being 10 perch, with the house thereon. The Church School Trustees were the Dean of Wells (who was also Bishop of Gloucester), Rev. John Richards, Vicar of Wedmore, and Mr. Joseph Wollen. The Wesleyan Trustees were Messrs. George Millard and Jeremiah Wall, both of Wedmore, yeomen; William Burrow and Job Marshman, both of Winscombe, yeomen; Edward Wood, cooper, Thomas Horsington, carpenter, James Jay, yeoman, all three of Banwell. In January, 1819, the same three Church School Trustees bought of George Harvey, cooper, for £140 his cottage and garden, being twenty-five perches, which adjoined the late chapel on the South. These two purchases were made with money collected for the purpose of a School for the education of poor children in the principles of the Established Church. The School was to be used as a week-day and Sunday-school. Further sums of money were afterwards collected and invested to form an endowment for the Master's salary. The old Wesleyan chapel continued to be used as a Church Sunday and day school till Christmas 1878, and the cottage bought of George Harvey continued till then to be the Master's residence. Those who attended the school about seventy years ago recollect the pulpit being still there. But by 1878 the Board School, which was the result of the recent Education Act, was ready, and the Church day school came to an end. The Sunday-school of course went on, but as that did not require a large endowment we got leave to sell out, and with the proceeds of the sale we pulled down the old chapel and rebuilt the room. A few years afterwards it was enlarged. Apparently when it was a chapel there had been some burials there, as bones were found when rebuilding. But apparently the Wesleyans keep no records or Registers of anything.
Any attempt by the Parish Council to claim the right to use this room as they like and when they like, whether made openly or slyly and sneakingly, should be strenuously resisted. It is not theirs, and if they want the use of it they must ask for it as well as anybody else. The room should be made as serviceable as possible to the parish, but that does not mean that one set of men, with whose money it was never built or improved, should be allowed to take possession of it.
A dwelling-house on the premises is greatly needed, and the recent proposal to erect one met with sufficient support to have overcome the stupid opposition that everything always meets with in some quarter or other, however sensible and reasonable it is; but other circumstances made it impossible for the present.
10. - BAPTIST CHAPEL. A Baptist congregation was formed here in very early days. Mr. Hunt in his history of the Diocese of Bath and Wells mentions that in 1656 a confession of faith was drawn up and signed on behalf of the congregations of Bridgwater, Taunton, Wedmore, and eight others. The late pastor, Mr. Edgington, showed me some writings belonging to the chapel here, from which I learnt that in November, 1709, Henry Martin of Somerton, gent., and Alice Adams of Wedmore, granted to William Sprake all that messuage or dwelling-house wherein the said Alice Adams lately dwelt, situate at Clayhill in the parish of Wedmore; and that the said messuage was converted into a meeting-house for the meeting and assembling of his Majesty's dissenting subjects who go under the denomination of Anabaptists; and that in 1775 William Sprake of Wedmore, cordwainer, son of the aforesaid William Sprake, granted it to certain trustees to be used as a place of worship for Baptists. It is not clear exactly when it first became a chapel, but it was at some time aftet 1709 and before 1775, probably very soon after 1709. The trustees to whom William Sprake of Wedmore, cordwainer, conveyed it in 1775 were Joshua Toulmin of Taunton; Simon Tincknell, sen., Simon Tincknell, jun., John Sprake, all three of Wedmore, yeomen; William Rattle of Wedmore, woolcomber; Thomas Wall of Mark, yeoman; Samuel Urch of Mark, yeoman; and Thomas Bull of Draycot, yeoman.
I am writing in such a scrambling hurry, and on the eve of departing, so that I have no time to go properly into the details of all these matters.
11. - MURDER. William Wall, one of the sons of William Wall, the great single stick player, was a butcher, and bought the house in the Borough near the Lurban, which has since been occupied by Mr. Richard Morgan, baker, and Mr. Mogg, baker. When digging in his garden one day he found a skeleton. Some years afterwards an old woman, whose name I will not give, confessed on her death-bed to having helped to murder a packman there and bury him in the garden. The house was at the time of the murder owned by a single stick player called Long Tucker. Long Tucker kept a sort of lodging house, and queer things are said to have been done there. This would have been in the early years of this century.
12. - QUAB. From 1877 to 1894 the Wedmore Cricket Club played in a ground called Upper Tining. In 1895 they shifted their quarters to Westover's Home ground, where a match had occasionally been played thirty years ago or so. Not far off is Quob Lane with a large juvenile population that would be better further off. The first of the houses in that lane was the one at the further end of it, which was built by James Williams in 1825. His widow, Sellick Williams, was still living there sixty-one years afterwards, in 1886. The only house in the lane previous to that one was the one which is now a ruin on Mr. Charles Day's premises. It belonged to Edward Sweet the Parish clerk, who sold it to Mr. Charles Day's grandfather. Mrs. Sellick Williams was the daughter of Edward Sweet.
13. - PARISH CLERKS. This is the succession of Parish Clerks so far as I know it.
Though four consecutive generations of Sweets supplied a clerk, yet the son was not always fit when his father died, so that other names sometimes intervene. The two Duckets intervened between Edward and Sampson, just as the three Danish kings mentioned at p. 306 intervened between Ethelred and his son Edward the Confessor. The first Sweet that I know of who held office connected with the church was Edward, who died in 1676 aged 84. He is described in the Registers as living in the Borough, and is called Busticeta et Vespillo. These are two dog-latin words meaning I believe grave-digger. I have not included him amongst the clerks. He was eleven years old when Queen Elizabeth died, and lived all through the civil war and Cromwell's time, and died the year after the battle of Sedgemoor. His son John was clerk, John's son William was clerk, William's son Edward was clerk, Edward's son Sampson was clerk, and then the office of clerk was abolished. Mrs. Sellick Williams, who was till lately amongst us, was the daughter of the second Edward. How easy it is to step back, and how few steps will carry one from the days of Queen Victoria to the days of Queen Elizabeth! Sampson, Edward, William, John, Edward: that's all. Sampson touched Queen Victoria's reign, the first Edward touched Queen Elizabeth's reign, and only three between them, and each one could touch the one next before him and the one next after him, just as each one in a close procession can touch the one before and the one after him.
14. - THE VICARS. In the first volume of the Wedmore Chronicle, p. 225-268, I gave a list of the Vicars of Wedmore from 1311 to 1876 with such information about them as I was able to get hold of. I may as well set down here the slight additional information that I have got hold of since then.
JOHN RETFORD, 1492. Amongst the Manuscripts of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury is the will of a John Retford, who does not appear to have been the vicar of that name, but was evidently of the same family. This is his will, a copy of which I got with the kind help of Canon Blore. St. Cuthlac's chapel mentioned in it is the chapel that stood at Marchey. The name Bannton is a little bit doubtful.
In the name of God Amen. The yere of our Lorde MV and three (1503), the first day of the month of September, I Master John Retforth in my fresshe and hole mynde make my testament and last will in manner and forme folowyng. First I bequeth my soule to Almighty and, our lady and to all the holy company of heven, my body to be buried in the church of our lady at Wedmare. Item I bequeth xx li: to Wedmore Church aforesaide to fynde a preest in the same church syngyng 111 yers for me, my fader and my moder and for Sir John Tolle. Item I bequeth to the same church of Wedmore xl s to the makyng of a new belle. Item I bequeth to Bannton [?] Church x marcs to fynde a preest in the same church syngyng an hole yere for me and myfrends aforesaide. Item I bequeth unto the said church of Bannton [?] for the reparation of the same xx s, Item I bequeth to the house of Saynt Michaell at Cambridge x marcs. Item I bequeth to the church of Alforth a chalice price of vii li: Item I bequeth to my servant William Hardley and to his wiff xx il: Item I bequeth to Robert Rygmadyn my servant xx li: Item I bequeth to John Algate x s yerely of rent. Item I bequeth to William March xl s. Item I bequeth to Seynt Gouthlake Chapell my masse booke. Item I bequeth to Sir John Castell my parish preest my best gowne and a booke called the Catholicon. Item I bequeth to every of my god children xii d. Item I bequeth to Mary Rogger a lyned gowne. And of this my present testament I make and ordeyne Master John Horne mine executor, and he to have for his labour xx marcs. The residue of all my goods moevable and unmoevable I gyve and bequeth to my servants abovesaid. These beyng witnes, Sir John Castell, lewse gyst, John Deane, John Salway, John Sye, William Hardley and Robert Bygmaden. Proved Sept. 11, 1503.
THOMAS SUARPON, 1559. One of this name, and probably the same man was Chaplain of a Fraternity at Winscomb, and pensioned off at the dissolution in the reign of Edward VI. See Som. Record Soc. 11, p. xxii.
ROBERT EDWARDS, 1647. Preb. Coleman tells me that one of this name, perhaps the same man, was curate at Cheddar in 1635.
JOHN LEWIN WARREN, 1802 to 1810. I have since discovered that he resigned Wedmore, and in Dec. 1810 was appointed to the Vicarage of Combe St. Nicholas, near Chard, which he held till his death in Feb. 1823, aged fifty-eight years. There he was buried, and there is a mural tablet to his memory. He was the son of John Warren, Rector of Ripple, Co. Worcester, who died in 1787, and who was the son of John Warren of Boxford, Co. Suffolk.
STONE FAMILY. I am going to give some account of the Stone family. It is always instructive to trace back any family for 300 or 400 years, because it shows us how close we really are to days that we call long ago. When we see how few generations are needed to fill up the 300 years from Queen Elizabeth to Queen Victoria, when we see how still fewer lives stretched out end on end are needed to fill up that interval, then it makes us realize how close we are to things like the Spanish Armada or the Reformation. If anybody living in 1890 can have seen somebody, who saw somebody, who saw somebody, who had seen Queen Elizabeth and recollected the Spanish invasion, that brings those things pretty close. It is the nearness of long ago and not its far-offness which we need to realize, because near is what it is, and far off is what it isn't.
I single out the Stone family to trace back 300 years for several reasons. Partly because I have already mentioned some of them in connection with single-stick playing, viz., the three sons of Edward Stone, and the two Walls whose mother was a Stone. Partly because they have been in the parish as substantial yeomen from the time when the Registers begin, and so the means of tracing them is at my door. Partly because I have seen some of their wills and title deeds, which are a great help to the Registers. Partly because there is (or was till I solved it) some little mystery about them which excited my curiosity.
The mystery was this. I once asked the late Mr. Mathew Wall, (who was born in 1817, whose grandmother was a Stone, and who was a likely man to know anything,) what kin he was to the single-stick Stones, the sons of old Edward Stone the butcher. He said positively, None; they were no kin to we, but were another family altogether. On the other hand a grand-daughter of old Edward Stone told me that her grandfather was very near kin to Gabriel Stone of Somerset Court in the parish of South Brent, and that when he got to be very poor he used to go sometimes to Somerset Court, and they used to give him £5 or so, because they were near akin, and because he had cut off the entail and so lost some of the property which otherwise would have been his instead of theirs.
I determined to see what truth there was in this story. To support the fact of kinship between old Edward Stone and Gabriel Stone there was the fact that old Edward used to sit in a pew in church where Solomon Wall also used to sit as tenant of Gabriel Stone's old family house now pulled down; it was the second pew on the left as you enter by the South door, and just over it are the mural monuments of the Stones of South Brent. These was also the fact that Gabriel and other Christian names were to be found alike in both families. And if the two Walls got their single-stick qualities from their mother and if Edward Stone's sons got theirs from their father, that would be slight additional evidence that the mother of the Walls and the father of the others were of the same family. But beyond such evidence as that I had none to prove whether Mr. Mathew Wall was right in what he told me or whether Edward Stone's grand-daughter was right. So I determined to look for myself. I have looked and found that she was perfectly right. Edward, the father of old Edward the butcher, and Gabriel, the father of Gabriel of South Brent, were two brothers sons of George Stone. Gabriel was the youngest, but Edward and two other brothers being disinherited by their father and cut off literally with a shilling (see George Stone's will), Gabriel became as it were the eldest son and the bulk of the property in Wedmore became his. Thus Edward Stone the butcher and Gabriel Stone of South Brent were first cousins, and Mrs. Jeremiah Wall, the mother of the two single-stick Walls and grandmother of Mr. Mathew Wall, was their second cousin, her father and their fathers being first cousins. I have not the slightest doubt but what Mr. Mathew Wall told me what he believed to be true and what he had been told by his elders, and it is very curious that the relationship should have been so quickly lost sight of.
I will now give the succession of Stones from the time of Queen Elizabeth, and that will show clearly what has happened.
But before I do that I must just make a note of a few Stones who no doubt belonged to this same family, though I cannot quite see the connection nor put them in their proper place in the tree. I will give each of them a letter A, B, C, D, E, and they must stand for the present outside and detached and isolated.
A. HENRY STONE. In the Wedmore Chronicle, Vol. I, p. 132, I printed the will of Bartholomew Bydeput of Wedmore made in the year 1401, just 500 years ago, in which is mentioned a house in the borough of Wedmore between the house of Henry Stone on the East and the house of Philip Streming on the West. I just make a note of that Henry Stone, whose house must have stood in the street that runs from Main's Corner towards the church, because its neighbours are East and West; if it had stood in the other street in the borough its neighbours would have been North and South.
B. WALTER STONE. I have already in this volume (p. 268) mentioned a Walter Stone who left £6 a year for six years beginning in 1547 to a priest who should pray for his soul in Wedmore Church.
C. THOMAS STONE. I have already (p. 269) mentioned Thomas Stone, who shortly before 1585 had bought some of the lands which had belonged to St. Ann's Chantry in Wedmore Church, and who in 1585 conveyed them to his brother Edward. I presume that this is the same Thomas Stone as he to whom in 1588 the right to bear arms was granted. I presume that the church lands which he had recently acquired got for him the legal right to bear arms. (Add: MSS. 14,297, referred to in Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, iv. 257.) The Parish Register contains an entry of the burial of Thomas Stone, sen., generosus, in November 1606, and another of Thomas Stone, generosus, in September 1613. I presume he is the first of the two. I do not know who the other is. I presume Thomas Stone had no son, as he gave his lands to his brother Edward.
Amongst some writings lent me by the late Mr. E. W. Edwards was an indenture dated 1591 between Thomas Stone of Wedmore, gentleman, and Elizabeth his wife, of the one part, and Frances Longworth, wife of John Longworth, D.D., and their two children, Thomas and Ann, of the other part; whereby the Stones grant to the Longworths one burgage and a half and cottage with all rights, etc., for the said three lives. £10 was the sum paid down, 5 shillings was the yearly rent, and 5 shillings was to be paid as a heriot at the death of any one dying in possession. A burgage is a house in the borough.
D. EDWARD STONE. The above Thomas Stone conveyed his lands in Wedmore in 1585 to his brother Edward, who in 1630 sold them to the Corporation of Wells as Trustees of Llewellyn's Almshouse. So I learn from Mr. Serel's pamphlet already referred to. This Edward Stone is described as one of Queen Elizabeth's footmen. I should like to know more about him. He does not enter into any of the Wedmore Parish Registers. As he was alive in 1630 he must have survived his royal mistress many years, for she died in 1603.
But we have another source of information as to him. I have already (p. 43) referred to the Herald's Visitations. Formerly an official called a Herald used to go to each county periodically and hold a Visitation. He would go to the chief towns in the county, and summon all the knights, esquires and gentlemen to appear before him and prove their legal right to be called gentlemen and to bear arms. Of course the legal right consisted in a sufficiency of means; there must be so much land possessed. If they could prove their right satisfactorily he put them down in his book; if they couldn't he didn't. The Visitations of Somerset for 1531 and 1573 have been printed, and in the lists of gentlemen I can find no one from Wedmore. All the land in Wedmore belonged to the church, and the church never died nor sold, so that nobody here had a chance of getting land enough to make him a gentleman in the legal sense of the word. He could only be a gentleman in another sense of the word, a sense which the Herald did not care about and took no notice of. So he could not get himself put down in the Herald's list. But then came the Reformation, which took away an enormous quantity of land from the church and sent it into the market, and numbers of people got hold of it in sufficient quantity to be able to satisfy the Herald that they were perfect gentlemen and might bear arms. So whereas at the Visitations of 1531 and 1573 nobody from Wedmore so much as put in a claim, at the next Visitation in 1591 Thomas Hodges appeared before the Herald to put in a claim, though somehow he did not succeed in establishing it; and in the next Visitation of 1623, George Hodges, the grandson of Thomas, and Edward Stone both put in a claim and both succeeded in establishing it.
This is the account which
Edward Stone gave of himself and which the Herald accepted and put down.
The arms are described in the language of heraldry, a language which,
to be understood, has to be learned as though it were a foreign language:
ARMS. Per pale or and gules, an eagle displayed with two necks counter changed.
I presume that the Edward Stone who in 1623 gave this account of himself and of his three children is the same Edward who was Queen Elizabeth's footman and who received the Wedmore chantry lands from his brother Thomas. From his marrying a young lady of Lancashire, and from his daughter Ann marrying a young gentleman of the diocese or principality of Durham, one would infer that his office or duties or something or other had caused some part of his life to be spent in the North of England. Neither he nor his son Edward appear in our Registers.
Amongst some writings lent me in 1888 by the late Mr. Edmund Hole of Clewer was an indenture dated Aug. 17, 1674, between Hugh Hobbs of Stoton, husbandman, and John Redman, Sen., of Priddie, yeoman. It recited that 6 acres of land in Wedmore parish, viz., 3 acres in a close in the North side of the lane, 2 acres in a close called Suttelbarrs, 1 acre in Stoton field, had in 1670 been granted to Hugh Hobbs by the Trustees of Llewellyn's Almshouse from and after the death of Thomas Hobbs of Stoton, which 6 acres Thomas Hobbs held for his life by a lease granted by Edward Stone of Westminster, Esq.; the said 6 acres having come into possession of Hugh Hobbs since the death of Thomas his brother, to be held by him for 99 years if certain lives last so long, he grants his right in 3 of them to John Redman in consideration of £10 paid down and a yearly rent of shilling.
That shows Edward Stone, the late Queen Elizabeth's footman, living in London, and there I must leave him. I have no doubt the writings of Llewellyn's Almshouse would throw light if they could be seen.
E. THOMAS STONE the Scrivener. Another of Mr. Edmund Hole's writings was an indenture dated Sept. 28, 1680, between William Taylor of Cocklake, yeoman, and Thomas Stone of Wedmore, scrivener, of the one part, and Richard Durban, of Cheddar, yeoman, and John Tibbott of Cheddar, chandler, of the other part, whereby Taylor and Stone granted to Durban and Tibbott 7 acres and 3 yards of meadow ground, being part of an old auster tenement in the parish of Wedmore and in the manor of Churchland, and sometime in the possession of one John Blake, viz., 1 acre at Shutters Stile, 5 yards arable lying upon Tuttnell, 1/2 acre shutting upon Tuttnell, 2 acres pasture at Crannell, 2 acres arable at Crannell Mill above Langland, acre arable lying in Headland. This Thomas Stone the scrivener or scribe was baptized in 1635. He was the son of Robert and Elizabeth, and apparently had an only child Abigail, and died in 1693. He had a brother Robert, and his father Robert, 1604, was the son of Thomas.
These five, A, B, C, D, E, must stand detached from the tree, because I cannot see their proper place in it. But the other Thomas, the gentleman, C, and his brother Edward, Queen Elizabeth's footman, D, certainly do belong to it, because they owned the chantry lands, and the rent of the old chantry house, 2 pence a year, continued to be paid out of church rate by the churchwardens to a Stone till quite lately. It will be seen entered in the book every year. The late Mr. Mathew Wall told me that it was paid to him till one year when the Vestry clerk refused to pay it, and though he made a fuss about it he could not get it. I imagine that this was the origin of that annual payment of 2d. to the Stone family. The chantry of St. Ann in Wedmore Church had lands and a house belonging to it, the house standing in the churchyard. This chantry was disendowed in 1547, and its endowments shortly afterwards were got hold of by Thomas Stone. His brother Edward sold the lands in 1630 to the Trustees of Llewellyn's Almshouse, but for the house in the churchyard, or for the site of the house after it was pulled down, the churchwardens paid this annual sum of 2d., and went on paying it till about 1860. Hard up though we be and cramped and crippled for want of funds, yet I wish that annual 2 pence, had continued to be paid. It told a tale, and if it never had been paid, there are two or three things that we should not have known.
And now I will show a regular succession of father and son for 300 years.
1. - GABRIEL. In 1603, the very year that Queen Elizabeth died and James I. came to the throne, Gabriel Stone was married in Wedmore Church to Grace Weathie. The Weathie or Withy family were clean gone from Wedmore before 1700. This Gabriel Stone is not down in the Register of Baptisms and I don't know who his father was. And curiously neither he nor his wife Grace are down in the Register of Burials. But the Registers show the baptism of one child, Edward in October 1613.
2. - EDWARD, 1613 - 1704. This Edward, son of Gabriel, died in January, 1704, aged 90 years. His long life was stretched across like a rope from James I. to Queen Anne, and he was a middle-aged man when Oliver Cromwell was in power. What he thought about him I don't know. He was twice married.
By his first wife Elizabeth he had amongst other children two sons, Edward in 1644, Gabriel in 1646. When there are two or three of the same name at the same time it is difficult not to get mixed, especially as the Registers are so very sparing in their information; but if I am not mistaken this Edward of "Wedmore" was buried in May 1689, and apparently left no children (Another Edward "of Meare." was buried here in August, 1689); and Gabriel "of Panborough" was buried here in Feb., 1690. Apparently Gabriel also left no children, though a posthumous daughter, Ann, arrived in March, 1690, only to find that her father had gone before her. I don't think she stopped here very long, but died in 1694. Amongst some papers which the late Mr. E. W. Edwards lent me was the inventory of goods of this Edward Stone of Wedmore who died in 1689, taken on May 4, 1689, by Robert Coles, James Larder, John Pitt, Matthew Barrow, John Tincknell, and valued at £158 16s.
By his second wife, Mary Tincknell, whom he married here in 1649, the very year that King Charles I. was beheaded, Edward Stone had amongst other children two sons, viz., George in 1653, William in 166o. William died 10 years afterwards, but George carried on the name and line. Mary their mother died in 1668, and old Edward their father in 1704, aged 90 years.
3. - GEORGE, 1653 - 1715. As there were three successive Georges I will call this one George I. He married Dorothy . His sons were George (not down in the Register), Edward in 1680, John in 1683, William (not down). I give the will of this Geroge I. further on. His name is on the fourth bell, it having been cast during his churchwardenship.
Edwaard died in November
1701, and so there is no branch to follow there.
There was a Lancelot Stone, son of George, born in Jan. 1671. He married Mary --, and had three daughters only, viz., Mary in 1695, Hannah in 1698, Jane in 1700. He died in 1702 and his widow in 1709. I have read both of their wills. I had put him down to be a son of George I. but have just struck him out. His father George must have been a cousin of George I. though he does not appear in the Registers. Mary, Lancelot's widow, in her will appoints "my cuzen George Stone sen." to be one of her children's trustees. If Lancelot were the son of this George, "the cozen" would be a father-in-law.
4 (a). - JOHN, 1683 - 1738. This is that John who locked the poor people out of the poorhouses, so that a Vestry had to be called to consider what should be done. See p. 177 of this Volume, Vestry No. 11. By his wife Ann he had daughters and a son John in 1711.
5 (a). - JOHN, 1711 - 1765. This John married Hannah Barrow in 1748 who died in 1785, and had three children, viz., Grace in 1751, John in 1753, Ann in 1755. Grace married firstly Ambrose Clapp in 1771, and secondly Mathew Taverner in 1783 Ann married Jeremiah Wall in 1776 and was the mother of the two great single stick players, William Wall and John Stone Wall.
6 (a). - JOHN, 1753 - 1828. He died unmarried aged 76 years, and with him that branch came to an end in the male line. He lived on Lascot Hill, where there were two houses belonging to this branch; one still stands, the other has been pulled down and built anew. We must now go back to George, the elder brother of John 4a.
4 (b). - GEORGE, 16. - 1740. This George I call George II. I go back to the numeral, because that is the generation to which he belongs, counting from Gabriel who married in 1603, the year the Queen died, As he is not down in the Register of Baptisms, I do not know the exact year of his birth, but it must have been soon after 1670. Apparently Frances who died in 1695 was his first wife, and he married secondly Mary --. The children of the second marriage were William in 1699, Ann 1701, Edward 1703, Stephen 1705, George 1707, Hannah 1711, Eleanor 1717, Gabriel 1719.
I print his will further on, whereby it will be seen that to three out of his four eldest sons, viz., William, Edward and George, he only left one shilling, while to his fifth and youngest son, Gabriel, he left the house wherein he dwelt and other property. He also left land to Stephen. Thus the youngest son became as it were the eldest, and the consequences of that can be seen to-day. His daughter Ann, who married a Barrow, also appears to have incurred her father's displeasure, as he leaves her one shilling.
We have now got to follow four parallel lines, i.e., we have got to come down from the days of this second George Stone to the present day by four different routes, viz., via William, via Edward, via George, and via Gabriel. Stephen I cannot follow. And the only way to prevent getting hopelessly confused and mixed will be to keep the same numeral for all those (whether brothers, first, second or third cousins) who belong to the same generation counting from the original Gabriel of Queen Elizabeth's reign, but to give a different letter to the different lines. Williams line will be distinguished by c, Edwards by d, Georges by e, Gabriel's by f
5 (c).WILLIAM, 1699 - 1770. He married in January 1750, Mary, the widow of his younger brother George, and so came to live at Fisher's tenement in Pilcorn, and had these children: Ann in December 1750, William in 1753, Benjamin and John, twins, in 1755, Maria in 1759.
Of these daughters I imagine that Ann was the Ann who in 1792 married James Pickford of Glastonbury, and that Maria was she who in 1786 married Paul Tyley.
Of the sons I imagine that William married Hannah Brown in 1785, and died in 1807. Whether his line goes on or not I do not know. Nor can I trace John, the twin brother of Benjamin, with whom he quarrelled about Fisher's tenement, unless he is the John who died at Blackford in 1822, aged 66 years.
6 (c).BENJAMIN, 1755 - 1811. But Benjamin can be followed a little further down the stream of time. Fisher's tenement was left to him after his mother's death; he mortgaged it over and over again, and eventually lost it. He dropped down dead as he was carrying a sack to the mill. He married firstly Catherine Pickford in 1785, and secondly Elizabeth Ducket in 1792.
By his first wife he had Benjamin in 1785, John in 1787, Nancy in 1788, Mary in 1790.
By his second wife he had Elizabeth in 1793, Maria 1794, Hannah 1796. William 1797, Stephen 1799, Sarah 1801, Suzan 1803, Robert 1805, Eleanor 1807.
7 (c). - The above children are too numerous to be followed much further. Benjamin, the eldest, lived in the parish of Badgworth, at Tarnock, and was brought here for burial in 1816, aged 30 years. He married in 1808 Ann, the daughter of William Barrow, and her mother, Sarah, as we shall see at p. 348, was the daughter of George Stone, his grandfather's brother. Two sons of Benjamin and Ann Stone, viz., William Barrow Stone and John Barrow Stone have died leaving none of their name behind them. Their sister, Maria, married William Wall, the nephew of the two single stick Walls, and is still living.
John, the brother of Benjamin, has I think descendants living in Wales.
Mary married in 1810 John Green.
Of the children of the first Benjamin by his second marriage with Elizabeth Ducket, William had a son Benjamin, whose two sons, William and Harry are amongst the few bearers of the name now living in Wedmore.
Robert was employed about the churchyard, and his widow Betsy is still alive, and has a son Stephen living at Weston-s-Mare.
Sarah married George Morgan in 1825, and their son Robert Morgan was appointed Sexton in 1860 and still holds the office.
That brings us down to the present day via William, the eldest son of the second George.
5 (d).EDWARD. 1703 - 1776. This Edward, the second son of the second George, married Mary --, and besides children who died in infancy he had George in 1754, Edward in 1760. Of George I can see no sign after the day of his Baptism. Though Edward only got a shilling by his fathers will, yet he had some property left to him by the will of his grandfather. See the will of the first George.
6 (d).EDWARD. 1760 - 1840. This is he who followed his calling as a butcher in the Borough where Dr. Hancock afterwards built a new house. He married Ann Tucker in 1787, and was the father of the three great single stick players whom I have already mentioned at p. 330, viz. Richard 1789, Simon 1793, Gabriel 1807. Besides them there was Stephen in 1791 and George in 1799. Stephen was a blacksmith at Blackford and then at Cocklake, and afterwards a journeyman; he died at Ditcheat, and his son John is now living at Rughill.
That brings us down to the present day via Edward the second son of the second George.
5(e).GEORGE. 1707 - 1748. As I cannot follow Stephen the third son of the second George, I pass on to George the fourth son. To him belonged the house in Pilcorn now occupied by Mr. Joseph Gibbs. He married Mary -- and had three daughters only, viz. Mary in 1741, Hannah in 1743, and Sarah a posthumous child in 1748. Mary died unmarried in 1765. Sarah married William Barrow in 1773.
A large flat stone will be found in the South transept of the church with the names of this William and Sarah Barrow and their children. William Barrow died in 1830 aged 80 years, and Sarah his wife in 1831 aged 83 years.
Amongst other children this William and Sarah Barrow had a daughter Ann, who married firstly in 1808 Benjamin Stone, and secondly George Tucker. This Benjamin was the son of Benjamin, the son of William No. 5 (c), and was brought here for burial from Badgworth Parish in 1816, aged 30 years. By her second marriage with George Tucker she had three sons, Henry, Joseph Barrow and George.
I will here turn aside for a moment from this rather dry list of mere names and dates to pay my tribute of respect to the memory of one of those three sons, Henry Tucker. He was appointed Parish Churchwarden at Easter 1877, within a year of my coming here, and he continued in office till his very sudden death in April 1898, within 6 months of my going; so that his Churchwardenship and my ministry have nearly coincided in point of time. He was a man of a very good understanding, a thorough agriculturist, and of good business habits. He was a thoroughly genuine man, incapable of guile or tricks, straight, honest and highminded. You only had to look at him and you saw at once what he was. You saw him and not something that he put on; he never put on anything, and never had need to, because what he was by nature was better than anything that can be put on. I have never heard anybody speak otherwise than well of him; and for myself I had a liking and a respect for him at once, which 20 years and some slight differences and disagreements increased rather than diminished.
That brings us down to the present day via George III., the fourth son of the second George.
5 (f) GABRIEL. 1719 - 1766. We now come to the fifth and youngest son of the second George, who by his father's will succeeds to the house in which his father lived and other lands. That house is not now standing, but was pulled down about 25 years ago; its site remains as a garden, about half way between the Sand Road and the Wedmore end of Plud (not Flood) Street. In 1750 Gabriel married Elizabeth Brown, who was the only child of Richard Brown of Mudgley. Her mother was Edith Lytheat, daughter of Gabriel Lytheat of Mudgley. The Lytheats were at Mudgley at the time when the Registers begin (1560), and continued there and at Theale till the early part of the 18th century, when they disappeared.
Gabriel and Elizabeth Stone had these children: Elizabeth in 1753, Gabriel in 1754, Stephen 1756, Richard 1760, Edith 1762.
Richard and Stephen both died in the spring of 1781. I have Stephen's will, from which it appears that he was unmarried. Edith married John Cripps of Huntspill in 1783; Elizabeth married William Batt in 1776; her mural monument is near the West door in Wedmore church, p. 321, No. 58.
6 (f). - GABRIEL. 1754 - 1815. This Gabriel had a double title to his Christian name, viz., from his own father and from his mother's father, Gabriel Lytheat. On the same November day in 1783 as that on which his sister Edith was married to John Cripps of Huntspill, he was married to Elizabeth Spencer. In the Register she is described as "of Shepton Mallet." On the mural monument (No. 50) she is described as the daughter of Thomas Spencer of Westbury. At his marriage, if not shortly before, Wedmore lost him and South Brent gained him, for he went to live at Somerset Farm, now called Somerset Court, in that parish. I am told that his son-in-law, Mr. Northcote, who sometimes came there, used to say that it was bought with money won in a State lottery; and the same story is told in Wedmore. Which of the two Gabriels bought it, this one or his father, I am not sure. In the last century the State used to organize gigantic lotteries with very valuable prizes. An ancestor of mine whose diary I have printed, mentions buying two tickets in the million lottery. He gave £14 for them. That was in 1695. And in 1710 he bought 155 tickets in a lottery, with one of which he won a prize of £500 a year, and with another £5 a year, both for 32 years. These demoralizing things were afterwards forbidden by law.
Having gained Somerset Farm through a lottery or otherwise, Gabriel settled down there and lived there till he died. He and his son were brought to Wedmore for burial, but his children's baptisms are not down in our Registers. He had a son Gabriel who died in infancy, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Maria. I do not know that there were more than these two. Maria, the youngest, married George Barons Northcote of Feniton Court in Devonshire, and took Somerset Court to that family which now possesses it. Elizabeth the eldest daughter married Joseph Ruscombe Poole, a Bridgwater lawyer, and took the Wedmore property to the Poole family. The Pooles sold their Wedmore property about 50 years ago. Gabriel Stone was brought here for burial in 1815, aged 61 years, and with him that branch of the family died out in the male line. It was the most successful branch of any, and just when its wealth was increasing it died out, while the other and less successful branches were multiplying. Mrs. Gabriel Stone survived her husband 22 years, and was brought here for burial from South Brent in 1837, aged 74 years. Their daughter Mrs. Poole had been brought here for burial from Bridgwater in 1822, aged 37 years, and Mr. Joseph Ruscombe Poole was brought here in 1843 aged 68 years.
By his first wife, Elizabeth daughter of Gabriel Stone, Mr. J. R. Poole was the father of Mr. Gabriel Poole and Mr. Ruscombe Poole, who were both well known in this district and who have left descendants behind them.
Mr. J. R. Poole married secondly Hannah the youngest daughter of William Savage of Blackford, and their only child was Mrs. Luttrell of Badgworth Court. The Savages were a family long settled in Wedmore. Their house at Blackford is now occupied as the Vicarage.
That brings us down to the present day via Gabriel the youngest son of the second George Stone. And here I stop.
It will be seen that eight successive generations (beginning with the Gabriel who was married in the year that Queen Elizabeth died) bring us down to the present day; viz., Gabriel, Edward, George I., George II.; and then the stream is parted like that ancient stream of Gen. i., 10, and becomes four heads, and four generations more in any of those four heads, through William, Edward, George or Gabriel, will bring us down to those who are living now.
I give one tree showing Thomas Stone the scrivener or scribe. I also give another tree showing in a glance the succession and relationship of the various Stones whom I have been able to connect.
PEDIGREE OF THOMAS STONE TIlE SCRIVENER.
One wants to know what kin Thomas who married in 1602 was to Gabriel who married in 1603. Were they brothers? And what kin were they to Edward, Queen Elizabeth's footman?
As I have already said I cannot show the connection between, on the one hand, the Gabriel Stone who married in 1603, the year the Queen died, and who was the common ancestor of all the Stones in Wedmore in this and in the last century, whether thriving or hard up, and, on the other hand, the William Stone who first got possession of the Chantry lands early in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and his brother Edward, Queen Elizabeth's footman, to whom he transferred them. But the following facts show that there was a connection.
1. The annual two pence paid out of Church rate as rent for the chantry house, and paid to a Stone, or to a Wall who was descended from a Stone, to within living memory.
2. The claim made by John Stone in 1735 to the Poor-houses, which I imagine stood on old chantry property.
3. A fire back now in the dining room of this Vicarage, but which formerly was in an old house at Lascot Hill which belonged to the Stones, has on it a double-headed eagle and the double-headed eagle formed part of the arms allowed to Edward Stone at the Visitation of Somerset in 1623. (See p. 342.)
4. In the house at Lascot Hill where the last John Stone of his line lived and died unmarried in 1828, and where I think his father John Stone and his grandfather John Stone had lived before him, there is a shield painted on canvas and framed with armorial bearings upon it. This has come to my knowledge just in time to be recorded here. It looks a good age and may have been done for Edward Stone, Queen Elizabeth's footman, or for Gabriel Stone who was married the year that the Queen died. This coat of arms helps to connect the Edward Stone who is in the Visitation of Somerset of 1623 with the owners of the house at Lascot Hill, though it does not show what the connection was.
Not understanding the language of heraldry myself, and consequently not being able to give a technical description of the arms On the painting, I sent a copy of it (kindly made for me by Mr. Price) to Col. Bramble, Hon. Sec. to the Som. Archaeol. Society, and I give his description of it in the proper technical language. This is what it is
Quarterly. 1st and 4th. Per pale or and gules an eagle displayed with two necks counter-charged. Stone. 2nd and 3rd Gules, a chevron ermine between 3 escallops or. Impaling Argent a fesse vert (?) between 6 annulets gules.
Col. Bramble says that this coat of arms would be borne by one of the Stone family who was descended from an heiress who was entitled to the quartered coat. The impaled coat, i.e., the half of the shield on your right, would be that of his wife's family. A little further research would probably tell one all about it. If I had known of this painting before I would have given an illustration of it.
There is some satisfaction not merely in seeing the procession of men in their proper order, but in placing them in their several tenements, and in seeing them in their several homes. I will therefore just try to set down where I think they lived, though the hurry I am in from being about to depart will prevent my doing it as fully and carefully as I should like to.
About half way between the Wedmore end of Plood (not Flood) or Plud Street and the road from Wedmore to Sand there stood a house till it was pulled down about 23 years ago. Nothing remains of it but the brass knocker, which has been transferred to a neighbouring house. In fact there are two houses which claim to possess this knocker. I leave it to my successor to find out which is the true knocker and which is the impostor. The site of this house is now a garden, and belonged to the late Mr. E. W. Edwards. I presume that it was part of the Poole property sold soon after the death of Mr. J. R. Poole in 1843.
Here in this house I imagine that Gabriel Stone lived who was married in the year that Queen Elizabeth died, 1603, and here also Edward his son who married his second wife the year that the king was beheaded, 1649, and who lived to be 90; and here lived Edward's son the first George, and George's son the second George ; and then William, the eldest of the five sons of the second George, should have come here, but he and his three brothers were cut off with a shilling, so here came the youngest, Gabriel, instead; and then when that Gabriel died his son the next Gabriel would have come, but a successful ticket in a lottery brought him much money, and with it he bought Somerset Court, and put a tenant farmer into the house here; and after being occupied by a tenant for just about 100 years down the house came, and now not one stone is left standing upon another. So much for that house.
In the hamlet of Pilcorn, now called Pilcorn Street, there is a house belonging to Mrs. Joseph Edwards and now occupied by Mr. Joseph Gibbs. I think its proper name is Fisher's tenement. Of course the house was only part of the tenement. Formerly a tenement always included various scattered bits of land that went with the house and that were as inseparable from it as the parlour or the kitchen or the backsid. The modern idea of a house in the country without a bit of ground going with it is one of the atrocities and barbarities of this 19th century. Formerly a house had land that went with it and that was as much a part of it as its rooms were. House and land together, not house without land, made up a tenement, and a tenement was what people had.
I have been shown the writings of Fisher's tenement, from which it appears that it belonged to the second George Stone, then to the third George Stone who left it to Mary his widow, then to William who married his brother's widow, then to his son Benjamin, whose daughter Sarah married George Morgan, whose son Robert Morgan now has the writings. Benjamin appears to have mortgaged it and lost it about the beginning of this century. The second George Stone I have already fixed (rightly or wrongly in the pulled down house, but the third George, William and Benjamin certainly lived here in succession. So much for that house.
In or about 1843 the old Poor-house which stood in the churchyard facing the Vicarage was pulled down, and with the stones of it Dr. Hancock built a new house in the Borough in which his daughter, Miss Hancock, the former church organist, lived for several years. Dr. Hancock built his house where an old house stood which had belonged to Edward Stone the butcher and father of the three great single stick players. I presume that Edward's father, Edward, who was the second of the three disinherited sons of the second George, lived there before him. I think that house is called Domett's. If so it was probably an ale-house during the first half of the last century, as Joseph Domett was a publican (Wed. Chron., vol. 1., p. 92). William Stone, brother of the first of the two Edwards, in his will leaves to his son John the house and orchard in the Borough called Domett's. In which case I don't see how it came to the first Edward, who was uncle to that John. These things want a little more time to make them out, and can't be seen in a hurry.
Some time ago I had a plan made of the Borough from the old parish map of 1798, and intended printing it and giving a full account of each house, but somehow I never got beyond the intention. Of course it could only have been done with the help of the owners of the houses.
On Lascot Hill, or rather almost at the foot of it, there were two houses belonging to the Stones. They belonged to a branch which has, I think, died out in the male line, and which consisted of three successive Johns; the first of those Johns was a son of the first George, and was the one who claimed the poor-houses in the churchyard, and was the one whose daughter was the mother of the single stick Walls, and the last of those Johns died unmarried in 1828. These two houses consisted of a cottage now pulled down, near the site of which a new house was built in 1868, and another house close by that is still standing. It is just possible that Lascot Hill may be where lived the original Gabriel of 1603, and old Edward his son who occupied nearly the whole of the 17th century with the 90 years of his life; but I still incline to the opinion that they lived where the brass knocker knocked.
This is a very imperfect account of the Stone tenements, and a litttle further examination might easily make it more full and more certain; but I have not now time for it.
I will give the wills of the first and second Georges, which I copied at the Court of Probate at Wells.
WILL OF THE FIRST GEORGE STONE.
Imp: I give unto my son George Stone for the terme of his life the land called by the name of the Burnt house ground, and after his decease to his son Edward Stone and his heirs for ever. Item I give unto my son George Stone 1 acre of ground lying in his tyning in Maltfield during the term granted to me. Item I give unto my grandson Stephen Stone the ground which I bought of John Pill for the term to me granted. Item I give unto my grandson George Stone the land which I bought of Mr. Lovell and to his heirs for ever, he paying out of the said lands unto his sisters Ann and Hannah the sum of £ 20 each when they shall attain to the age of 21 years or happen to be married. Item I give unto my grandson William Stone the son of George Stone the sum of £5 to be paid when he comes to the age of 21 years. Item I give to my son William Stone for the term of his life and afterwards to his son William Stone and his heirs for ever the land called by the mane of Reeves and all my wearing apparel. Item I give unto my grandaughter Ann Stone one feather bed and bedstead with the furniture thereto belonging. Item I give unto my grandson John Stone and my grandaughter Mary Stone the sum of £20 each when they shall attain the age of 21 years or happen to marry. Item I give unto my sister Elizabeth the wife of William Ings the sum of £5 to be paid within six months after my decease. Item I give unto my son John Stone and his heirs for ever all the rest of my lands not before mentioned. Item I give unto my son John Stone all the rest of my goods and chattels, whom I also appoint my sole executor. In witness whereof I hare hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written.
presence of Jasnes Andrews,
In the name of God Amen. March 22, 1739, I George Stone of Wedmore in the County of Somerset, yeoman, being sick in body but of perfect mind and memorie thanks be to Almighty God my maker, but calling to mind the uncertaintie of this frayle life and knowing that it is most certainly appointed for all men once to dye, doth therfor make and ordaine this my last will and testament in manner and form following. First and principally I commend my soule into ye hands of Allmighty God my maker, and my body I commit to ye dust to be decently buried at ye discretion of my executors hereafter mentioned; and as for the worldly goods which Allmighty God of his goodness hath bestowed upon me I give and bequeath as followeth, to witt, Item I give and bequeath to my son Stephen Stone my lands which I purchased in fee of John Pitt to him and his heirs for ever after ye decease of Mary Stone my wife, and I doe order my said son Stephen Stone shall pay proportionable my debts out of ye abovesaid lands bequeathed unto him. Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Hannah Stone my acre and half of arable land to her and her heires which I purchased in fee of James Larder. Item I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Hannah Stone 8 1/2 acres of land lying in ye tineings unto her and her heires, and I doe order my said daughter Hannah Stone to pay ye sum of £10 out of ye aforesaid lands bequeathed after my decease, and she being not to enjoy ye aforesaid lands untill after ye decease of Mary my wife. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Gabriell Stone all my lands unto him and his heires for ever which I purchased in fee of Lancelot Stone after the death of Mary my wife and not before, and I doe order that my said son Gabriel Stone shall pay ye sum of £10 unto my daughter Elioner Stone after my decease out of ye said lands bequeathed. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Gabriel Stone my house and all ye ground thereto belonging which I now dwell in unto him and his heires for ever after ye decease of Mary my wife and not before. Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elioner Stone 4 acres and 1 yard of meadow land unto her and her heires for ever lying at Maltfield. Item I give unto my daughter Elioner 1 acre of meadow land adjoining unto ye aforesaid land at Maltfield unto her and her heires. Item I give unto my said daughter Elioner Stone 1 acre of arable land unto her and her heires lying upon Sandy furlong adjoining to Westover's Mill batch; all ye said lands which I bequeath unto my said daughter Elioner Stone is not to injoy the primeses untill after ye decease at Mary my wife none of ye said lands (sic). Item I give and bequeath unto my son Gabriel Stone my tenement called Bruhouse hay for ye term to come thereon after the decease of Mary my wife and not before. Item I give and bequeath unto my son William Stone one shilling to be paid after my decease by my executors. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Edward Stone one shilling to be paid after my decease. Item I give and bequeath unto my son George Stone one shilling to be paid after my decease. Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Ann Barrow widow one shilling to be paid after my decease. All the rest of my goods and chattles of all kinds real or personal I give and dispose unto my well beloved wife Mary Stone and to my son Gabriel Stone, whom I make joint executors of this my last will, they being to pay all my debts and legacies and discharge my funeral expenses etc.
George Stone, his mark.
the presence of Ann Stone, her mark,
Besides these two wills I have copied those of Lancelot Stone 1702 ; Mary Stone his wife 1709; George Stone III., son of George II., 1747; William Stone son of George II. 1766; Stephen Stone son of Gabriel 1781 ; Hannah Stone, widow of John, 1783; Mary Stone widow of George III. and William, 1797. These are all at the Wells Probate Office.
The whistle of my train coming in forbids me to write another word. I would only say that if I have said anything unjust or needlessly harsh at p. 334 I am sorry.
Page 101, the last line but one, John Dyer should be Abraham Dyer
Page 179, Necessities should be necessaries
Page 209, line 2, 1803 should be 1830.
Page 288, line 16, there fixing should be refixing.
Page 312, line 8, dignitas should be dignas
Page 313, line 14 John Edwards should be Joan Edwards
Page 316, No. 32 after William Barrow...aged 83 years, add: Also Sarah relict of the above William Barrow who died September 19, 1831, aged 83 years.
Page 314, last line but 3, there should be no stop after unfortunate.
Page 326, single stick. I have since been told that the left arm was not guarded.
Since the inventory of church furniture was printed at page 301, my mother has given a new and very handsome Bible for the lectern and a Prayer-book to match for the reading desk, which take the place of those she gave in 1881. I have also given another Glastonbury chair, so that there are now three within the Communion rails.