A Hundred and Fifty Years at Crossway in the Parish of Dorstone
1847 - 1997
Jess Jones Collection:
A Hundred and Fifty Years at Crossway in the Parish of Dorstone
The Jess Jones Collection is a collection of documents that in the days before the Land Registry would have been held by a property owner as the ‘Title Deeds’ and used by solicitors as evidence of legal ownership when the property was to be bought or sold or mortgaged. The collection relates to properties in the Golden Valley, principally Crossway [also referred to as Crossways, Crossway Farm, Crossway House, Upper Crossway] and Sitcombe [also referred to as Sitcwm, Little Sitcwm, Sidcombe, Lower Sidcombe. Lower Sitcombe], both in the parish of Dorstone, as well as land in the parishes of Dorstone and Clifford known as Clay Pitts [also referred to as Clay Pitts Farm, Clay Pits].
The record commences with Ann Jones of Dorstone who died intestate on 2nd December 1846. The Bishop of Hereford granted probate to her husband John Jones on 26th June 1847 who thereby inherited all her property. John Jones subsequently married Eleanor Rees on 23rd October 1849, and his will dated 17th January 1854 left his
properties at Crossway and Little Sitcwm and land in Clodock called Dias Cwm to her on his death on 18th April 1856 at Upper Crossway. Eleanor Jones died intestate on 30th July 1859 and the properties passed to her brother, William Rees who lived in Llanbadanfawr in the County of Cardigan. By 1861 he was paying the Inland Revenue ‘Succession Duty’ on Crossway [Upper Crossway] in the occupation of William Watkin and Little Sitcwm [sic] in the occupation of Thomas Davies.
On 4th July 1863 a letter of administration was issued by the Court of Probate granting formal legal possession of all those properties to William Rees. There is no record of what happened to the land in Clodock, but by 18th September 1865 Rees had mortgaged Crossways and Sidcombe [sic] for £600 to Philip Vaughan, a solicitor in Aberystwyth. On 8th November 1865 Vaughan’s mortgage was assigned to Joseph Beck [document not part of the collection] and on Beck’s death in 1867 it passed to his wife Grace. Rees and Beck then sold Upper Crossway and Sitcombe, still with the same tenants in place, to Richard Williams by a Conveyance dated 19 February 1868; Grace Beck received the £600 of her mortgage and William Rees took £750, the balance of the purchase price of £1350.
Richard Williams soon mortgaged the properties, initially to Charles Trokes on 5th August 1875 for £500. On 5th July 1881 he was given six months notice to repay the mortgage to Trokes, suggesting he may have had difficulty keeping up his interest payments. Whatever the reason, the mortgage was transferred on 4th April 1882 to Philip Spencer, a confectioner in Widemarsh Street Hereford, with a separate handwritten note stating that he had paid the £500 on behalf of James Corner, a Hereford solicitor. There is no information on why such a ‘subterfuge’ was thought necessary, but it may be related to the fact that Corner was representing Trokes at the time regarding the mortgage repayment.
By 1883 Richard Williams had taken over both properties from the former tenants and was in residence at Crossway; on 24th November that year he agreed to the formal transfer of the mortgage from Philip Spencer to James Corner. This mortgage indenture contains detailed maps and schedules of the land, which as the result of otherwise apparently undocumented additions ‘from tithe
apportionments’ now includes seventeen acres at Crossway and thirteen acres at Sitcombe, a significant ‘windfall’ increase on earlier holdings. Nevertheless money seemed to be tight; on 25th January 1893 Williams took out a second mortgage of £60 on the property from Edmund Cheese, a solicitor in Hay. James Corner was evidently keeping a close eye on his own investment - a letter from him to Edmund Cheese dated 28th January 1893 is attached to the mortgage indenture, informing Cheese of the existing mortgage held by Corner and that the new advance was a second charge.
Undeterred, Edmund Cheese advanced a further £137 secured on Crossway in an indenture of 14th April 1894. This indenture acknowledges that the existing mortgage interest payments due from Williams were in arrears, which implies that Williams was in financial difficulty and may have been borrowing again to pay off earlier debts. Things seem to have quickly gone from bad to worse; Williams granted a further mortgage on 18 July 1894 to Elizabeth Ann Medlicott, the wife of James Medlicott a farmer from Hampton Bishop. This indenture acknowledges that Williams owes her ‘five hundred pounds and upwards’ and secures £200 of that debt as a charge on the Upper Crossway; it also requires that Williams assigns to her a policy of Life Assurance for £100 [document not in the collection] that Williams had taken out on the 22nd March 1894, with a covenant that he will keep paying the premiums.
The Medlicott mortgage seems to have been the final straw forcing Richard Williams to agree to the sale of Crossway to pay off his debts and mortgages. The arrangements involved some complicated transactions. First, on 26th July 1894 Edmund Cheese transferred his mortgages to Elizabeth Medlicott in exchange for full settlement of the principal and interest arrears owing to him. Then on the 28th July James Corner transferred his mortgage to Robert Thomas Griffiths, a solicitor in Hay, who was apparently acting for Medlicott. [A memorandum note on this document states that that Lower Sitcombe had been erroneously included in the mortgage indenture, having been sold by Richard Williams to James Williams by deed dated 5 December 1872 [document not in collection], and the Sitcombe property does not feature again in subsequent documents.] On the same day Griffiths, with Elizabeth Medlicott and Richard Williams, drew up a conveyance for the sale of Crossway to Thomas Evans Williams of Hereford. The overall effect was that the two original solicitor mortgagees [Cheese and Corner] were paid in full, while Medlicott agreed to settle for only £140 from her original charge of £200. Richard Williams emerged with a balance of just £63 from the total purchase price of £900.
Just six months later, on 3rd February 1895, Thomas Williams sold the ‘messuage, lands and hereditaments called Upper Crossway’ to Mr Andrew Andrews, a farmer at The Cwm, Dorstone for £925. Buried within the text of the Conveyance document it is noted that Crossway is in the occupation of Richard Williams and Elizabeth Ann Medlicott, which perhaps explains her involvement in lending money to Richard Williams and in the 1894 transactions surrounding the property and its mortgages.
Andrew Andrews continued in possession of Crossway until his death on 12th January 1922, by which time he had acquired some additional parcels of land including pasture land called Clay Pitts by a conveyance of 31 January 1912. This shows that he paid £350 for Clay Pitts despite there being some dispute over the exact acreage; the lawyers hedged their bets in the schedules to the Conveyance, listing a little over 17 acres from the tithe assessments identified in previous legal documents alongside a total of a little over 18 acres compiled from the Ordnance Survey for the same fields.
Andrew Andrews had appointed his nephew William Farr as a trustee of his estate in his will of 5th November 1920 [document not in collection] and had also given Farr the option after his death to purchase Crossway House, Upper Crossway Cottage and adjoining land, and pasture called the Clay Pits [sic] at the price of three thousand pounds. Farr exercised this option and acquired the properties through a Conveyance dated 22nd August 1923, having previously [in his capacity as trustee] made a tenancy agreement with John Morgan of the Llan, Dorstone to occupy Upper Crossway cottage and land, together with the Clay Pits.
William Farr lived at Crossway House until his death on 29th May1932; in his will dated
28th November 1923 [document not in collection] he appointed his wife Edith Farr, his son Arthur William Farr and his daughters Mabel Annie Farr and Gertrude Mary Farr as executors and trustees. After probate was granted the properties all passed to Edith Farr for her lifetime, and when she died on 21st February 1956 Crossway House, Upper Crossway, and parcels of land including Clay Pitts were inherited by her three children.
As soon as probate was granted on the inheritance ownership of the property was vested in the three heirs by a Vesting Deed dated 26th August 1957 and they set about disposing of it. On 31st August that year Upper Crossway Cottage and lands were sold to Leonard Lewis [conveyance document not in the collection]. There followed on 10th September a conveyance to Francis John Williams of some parcels of land, and further land was conveyed to Reginald Thomas Lloyd of Bage Tump, Dorstone on 20th September [conveyance documents not in the collection]. On the 21st September 1957 the disposals were completed with a conveyance of Crossway House and nearly six acres of land to Richard Thomas Breese of The Bell Farm Dorstone for £3,800.
After Richard Breese died on 29th August 1972 his executors sold Crossway House and land to David Edward Hodson and Christina Ruth Hodson from Richmond, Surrey by a conveyance dated 29th January 1973. Shortly afterwards the property seems to have been renamed ‘The Breese House’ and is so named in a mortgage of 18th April 1974 and subsequent documents. Some outbuildings appear to have been developed as ‘The Breeze Barns’ [sic] and on 15th July 1986 the property was divided into three parts; Breese House, formerly Crossway House, was sold to Richard Prince and Gillian Curtin with some land; about 2.5 acres of land were sold to Prince Landscapes Limited; and the Hodsons retained The Breeze Barns and about 2 acres of land adjoining. At this point, the document collection - and this narrative - ends.
A full index to the document collection containing links to photographs of the original material in the Digital Archive is available on the Ewyas Lacy Study Group website www.ewyaslacy.org.uk