National Library of Wales
Mss Llangibby Castle C933
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Chancery proceedings, Richard Hopton v Trevor Williams
A ‘moiety’ or share of the Manor of Ewyas Lacy, which had been divided in two parts since the 13th century, devolved to Sir Robert Hopton by purchase in 1567. The document transcribed here concerns the subsequent inheritance of this share a century later. Richard Hopton, a descendant of Sir Robert Hopton, disputed the entitlement of Sir Trevor Williams by right of his wife Elizabeth Morgan, another descendant of Sir Robert Hopton, in 1660. The confusion about ownership arose from turmoil of the civil war: between 1643 and 1660, the Manor of Ewyas Lacy was sequestrated to the Commonwealth, until returned to the inheritors of Lord Ralph Hopton who had died in 1652 without issue.
Richard Hopton’s claim failed. A House of Lords ruling in 1672 restored the Hopton estates to Lord Ralph Hopton’s four sisters, Rachel, Mary, Catherine and Margaret. The accusations against persons named by Richard Hopton show this family connection: Rachel married Thomas Morgan [father of Sir Trevor Williams’ wife Elizabeth]; Mary married Sir Thomas Hartropp, Catherine married John Windham, and Margaret married Sir Baynham Throgmorton. [Burke’s Peerages Dormant and Extinct]
Richard Hopton versus Sir Trevor Williams, Bart, and others.
June 6, 1665
To the Right Honble Edward Earle of Claryngdon, Lord Chancellor of England.
In most humble manner complaining sheweth unto your good Lordshipp your orator Richard Hopton of Hopton in the County of Salop Esquire, that whereas Sir Ralph Hopton, knight, longe since decessed was in his lifetime lawfully seased in his demesne as of feetaile to him and the heires male of his body, lawfully begotten […] by force of Letters patents thereof to him made and graunted under the greate Seale of England by our late Sovraigne Lord King Henry the Eight Late Kinge of England etc, who was sometimes seised in his demesne as of fee in the right of his Highness Crowne of England of and in the Mannor or Lordshipp of Longtowne and Newcourte in the County of Hereford and of and in divers messuages lands and tenements lying and being within the said Lordshipp or Mannor [and other properties in the counties of Somerset, Monmouth, Glamorgan and elsewhere in the Realm of England] and so seised and discended of the aunciente family of the Hoptons of the Hole in the County of Salop aforesayd and having an Interest and purpose to preserve in the Inheritance of the said premises in the Issue Male of that family, the said Sir Ralph Hopton in consideration of a marriage […] between Sir Arthur Hopton his cozen, and Rachell Hall his neece, did by his dede of ffeoffment duly execute convey and assure the said Lordshippes Manors lands & tenements with the appurtencances to some feoffees as persones in trust and their heires to the use of himselfe for life, and after his decease to the use of the said Sir Arthur Hopton, and the heires males of his body lawfully begotten […]. And so seased the said Sir Raph [sic] Hopton dyed without any issue male of his body lawfully begotten. By and after whose decesse the said premises with the appurtenances remained and came by the fforce of the said conveyance to the said Sir Arther [sic] Hopton […], and soe seased the said Sir Arther Hopton dyed. By and after whose whose decesse the said premises […] came […] to Owen Hopton, afterwards Sir Owen Hopton, Knight, as sonne and heire male of the body of the said Sir Arther Hopton. […] and so seized […] the said Sir Owen Hopton by his deede of feoffment duly executed did convey and assure the said premises with their appurtenances to certain feoffees as persons in truste and their heires. To have and to hold to the said feoffees and their heires to the use of the said Sir Owen Hopton and the heires males of his body lawfully begotten, and for default of such issue to the use of William Hopton brother of the said Sir Ralph Hopton the first donor.
But the certenty of the dates numbers or contents of the said Letters patents several deedes and munniments your Orator cannot expresse for the reason hereafter mentioned. […] And soe seased the said Sir Owen Hopton had issue: Arther Hopton after Sir Arther Hopton and dyed, the said Sir Arther Hopton had issue Robert Hopton: Robert Hopton had issue Raph Hopton, afterwards Sir Raph Hopton, afterwards Lord Hopton. And after their several deceases the said premises with the appurtenances remained and came to the sayd Sir Raph Hopton […].
And so seized the sayd Raph Lord Hopton about sixteene yeares now last past dyed […] without any issue male of his body lawfully begotten. By and after whose decease the said premises with their appurtenances discended remayned and came to your Orator as sonne and heire of the body of Thomas Hopton, Esquire, sonne and heir male of the body of Richard Hopton Esquire, sonne and heire male of the body of the sayd William Hopton, brother and heire male of the sayd Sir Raph Hopton, the first donor, which sayd William Hopton, Richard Hopton and Thomas Hopton were your Orator’s sayd father, grandfather and great grandfather, all dyed in the lifetime of the said Raph Lord Hopton or before. By force of which your Orator into all and singular the sayd premises […] entered and was thereof seised accordingly […] And your Orator ought to hould and own the said premises. But Honorable Lord soe yt ys yt maye please youre Lordshipp that Sir Trevor Williams, Barronett, Sir Thomas Hartopp, Knight, Thomas Wyndham, Esquire, Sir Baynham Throgmorton Knight, Sir Thomas Tompkins, Sir William Legge, Knight, Richard Hopton, Esquire, John James Esquire, Owen Parry, John Stroude, Thomas Trantor, gentleman, John Tretheway, Walter Desborow, Gabriell Griffith, Arnoll Pryce, Richard Croft, Thomas Symthe, David Gilberte and John Protherick, on combynation and practyce between them, and other persons as yet unknowne to your Orator and whose names upon notice thereof your Orator humbly prayeth may be incerted and made Defendents in this Bill […] have gotten the said Letters pattents and the said severall dedes of Intaile, and dyvers other Deedes, Evidences and wrytynges, both before and in the tyme of the late unhappie war, into their custodie, and do shuffle the same from hand to hand, and under color thereof, the said persons before named, and other persons as yet unknown to your Orator have entred into the said premises upon pretence of severall Leases or grauntes to be made to them severally of severall partes of the said premises for yeares or lyves by some of your Orators sayd Auncestors, owners of the premises. And the said persons doe wrongfully hold and keepe the possession of the said premises from your Orator, and will neither make is knowen to your Orator what estate they have or clayme to have in the sayd premises, nor shew him any Leases or grauntes from any of the said ancient owners. And upon the same combination to defeat your Orator have made and contrived dyvers secret Estates of the said premises amongst themselves and other persones unknown […] which demyses […] are against Equitie and good conscience and to your Orators expresse wrong and like to tend to his great dismaye.
In tender consideracon whereof, and for that your Orator is herein remydielesse at the Common Lawe or elsewhere then in Equitie for want of the said Letters patents, deedes, evydences and writtinges, and for that your Orator doth not knowe the dates, number or contents of the same, nor yet whether the same be conteyed in bagges or boxes sealed or otherwise locked, and to the end the said persons may be severally ordered to discover uppon their oathes what dedes, evydences or wryttinges came to them […] And that your Orator may be quyeted in the possession of soe much of the sayd premises whereunto the defendants nor any of them cannot make good title […]
Maie it please your Lordshippe to grant his Majesties most gracious writt of subpoena oute of the Honourable Courte to be directed to the sayd Sir Trevor Williams, Barronett [and other defendants as named above] thereby commanding them and every of them att a certain date and under a certeine peine therein to be ynvytted to cum and appere before your Lordshippe in this Honourable Courte and then and there to make a full and perfect answere to this sayd Bill, and your Orator will humbly pray for your Lordshipp interest of all honour and happiness.
(sgd) William James
Date June 6 1669 [sic]