A Deed of Mortgage
|Newton in Clodock|
Deeds are a particular class of records that often provide much more information than that of the basic transaction that they record.
Their characteristics are worth a review.
•They refer to a property transaction, this could be a lease, a freehold sale or a mortgage agreement.
•They are invariably accurately dated.
•As documents they had a relatively high chance of survival. This was due to their value as evidence of “Title” and often having been kept in the custody of country solicitors who until the early years of the 20th Century had a financial interest in holding onto them and keeping them preserved.
•They were produced by literate professionals in an age when illiteracy was general.
•They give names of the people involved, buyers, sellers, mortgage providers, and witnesses.
•They give clues as to Farming as practised in past years, a practice that is different from that with which we are familiar.
•In format they were mostly stylistic, they reflect the legal origins of the sense of property and have terminology which is in the jargon of those who drafted them.
•The people who drafted them were often located remotely and had little first hand knowledge of the actual property involved. They mostly copied, with amendments, an earlier document referring to the same property at an earlier date. The descriptions given can therefore be “Historical” and refer to conditions prevailing a long time before the actual date of the document.
One of the first Newton deeds that I came across was in the Hereford City Library - before the days of the County Record Office. It was from a collection of local deeds donated to the Library by a solicitor of the City of Lincoln.
There is no name given to the farm but it is described in legal terminology as
The Messuage in which William and Katherine live with the houses, barns and lands which comprise:
•Two closes of pasture joined together called Kay Quarrel and Kay Baugh (10 acres).
•A Meadow called Gworlod dun ye Tee containing 10 days math.
•A close of arable called Kay Perbren (7 acres).
•A parcel of arable and pasture called Llyne (5 acres).
All this in Newton in Clodock previously part of the lands of Henrie Williams deceased, father of William Harrie Williams and now in the tenure of William Nichols and Katherine.
It was bounded by the lands of Lyson Parry, Gentleman, now in the tenure of Alexander Lord, the brook called Dulas and the lane from Bacton to Urescoed Gennoll and the Common called Urescoed Gennoll.
The Mortgage was to be redeemed by payment of £52 on the 16th September 1618. Six local people witnessed the document.
Quite a lot can be gleaned from this document.
•The place name Newton, whilst not the original name of the area was in common usage in the early 17th Century.
•Newton was then, as later a township of Clodock and not of Longtown
•“Messuage” is a common legal term for ”Dwelling together with barns and buildings and the lands assigned for their use”. The use of the term here shows that the transaction was important enough to the parties to have it recorded in a legal document to the profit of some unknown local lawyer.
•The field names are lost I have not found reference to them either in written records or oral tradition.
•With the exception of Kay Quarrel they are all in Welsh. Kay Quarrel is a mixture of Welsh and Old English. A modern translation would be Quarry Field. This was a clue to the identity of this field. As I later established it was a later addition to the farm and formed as an enclosure from the surrounding waste.
•The older fields were, as I would expect used for Meadow or Arable. The use of fields or enclosures for pastures being a later farming development.
•Field sizes are indicated both in ‘acres’ and in ‘days math’. The acres would be “Customary acres” and would be only approximate to “Statute acres”. Land surveying was not an accurate science at that time. A math of meadow hay was that cut by a mower with a scythe in one day. Our much-abused word ‘aftermath’ comes from this usage. After math originally being the grazing available after mowing.
•Urescoed Gennoll is synonymous with Middle Maes Coed. Urescoed and Maescoed are very similar in meaning one being the ‘clearing in the wood’ and the other the ‘field in the wood’.
•Gennoll comes from the Welsh, meaning the “one below the Upper”. Which can in our case be taken as ‘Middle’ as in Middle Maescoed.
•Before the days of Banks it is significant that the source of ready cash was from a Tanner. One of the richer Trades or Merchant class.
•What was the £40 wanted for? It was a large sum of money in a country area in the days before a Cash Economy was general. We can assume that it was needed for a building project, either a new house or a substantial extension or rebuild. Some idea of its purchasing power is that in 1633 John Able, ‘The Kings Carpenter’ was paid £40 for all the timber works in the rebuilding of Abby Dore.
The deed gives a picture of an early freehold Newton Farm. Originally of about 22 acres and in the years before 1600 being expanded by taking in a further 10 acres from the waste of the common. The size of the original farm corresponds well with the traditional ‘Virgate’ which was the customary size of a holding granted in Norman feudal times for the purpose of supporting a family.
Whilst the boundaries of the farm are clearly given, it was many years before I was able to identify the holding and its fields on the ground. When I did, it was nearer to home than I had expected! This delay being mainly due to my misleading myself with more recent farm sizes, farm patterns, and mistaking the identity of the ‘Lane from Bacton to Urescoed Gennoll, confusing the present road from Newton to Bacton with an old roadway, now defunct and, only existing as a vestige on the landscape.
This extract from the Tithe Map of 1844 shows the extent of the above property
base map © g gwatkin