6. Lay governance and buildings

Nothing is certain in this life, save death & taxes

Benjamin Franklin c. 1800

The Lay Subsidy of 1327

This is the first Governmental record to mention Stambourne since the Magna Carta. It was translated by Dr Jennifer Ward in 1983 as the Essex Historical Document No 1, The Medieval Essex Community, Essex Record Office No 88.

It lists 21 souls who paid the tax in sums ranging from ten shillings & tenpence halfpenny [x s x d ob = 22%], by Johanna de Grenville, to sixpence [vj d] by Willelmo Serle. She was almost the last owner of the Manor that bears her name but nothing else is known of him. All the taxpayers are listed in the Register of Early Persons in Chapter 3 together with the sums paid. The total Summa collected was xlix s v d qr Two pounds nine shillins and fivepence farthing. Toppesfelde collected Four pounds three shillings showing this same ratio of just less than 2:1 that applies to so many comparisons of the two parishes.

Several of the taxpayers appear in other charters.

  • Willelmo Baldwin [1/6 ob] is a descendent of Baldwin de Wytstrand who owned the other manor of Moone Hall; it must have been much reduced by 1327.
  • Matilda Mot [2/2d] will have been the owner of Mot’s Farm in the fourth area by Stambourne Green, now erroneously called Moat Farm.
  • Nicholas de Ryvyle/Ryville [14d] will have owned what is now Revells Farm in the area represented by Domesday Nortuna.
  • Robert de Burstelere [9/2d = 16.5%] is the most likely candidate for the Stewardship of the Stambourne Manor itself. It was held of the King by Wm Pevers the younger from circa 1300-30 but I have found no evidence that any of this important family ever came to the village.
  • Sewalls le Kyng is another possibility but as he only paid sixpence halfpenny it is more likely that, if his name has any significance in this regard, he oversaw some other fragment beholden to King Edward III (1327-77). As this was the year of the King’s accession he probably did have an agent here, perhaps for the purpose of levying the subsidy.

Six of their names still appear in the much later Parish Registers which began in 1559.

  • The Bacon family continued until 1746. That there were three of them in 1327 , paying between them 4/4d ob suggests that there may once have been a considerable hogbreeding industry.
  • Brown is a common name
  • le Hale appears as Halls
  • Le Kyng appears as King but after an interval
  • Ryville appears as Ryvet & as Ruell
  • Serle appears as a bridegroom from Gt Bardfield

None other seems still to have had descendents here by 1551.

Among the Redeswell entries – Summa 43/9d ob appears that of :

  • Johanne de Stamborne who paid sixpence. This will have been in Ridgewell Norton so three of the landowners there can be identified paying in all 3/10d = 7.75%

Three lady landowners out of 21 the third is Elizabeth de Croxstone paying 2/4d is an unusually high proportion for the early middle ages: together they paid 15/4d, 31 %, also a disproportionate amount.

I do not see any other relevant data in the records of nearby villages; nor do the origins of the surnames or the national biographies cast any further light.

The Hearth Tax & those who paid it

The first annex to this chapter is an SS Tabulation of Hearth Tax records 166466 together with an SS listing of all these records that I have encountered in both the PRO & ERO. There seems to have been a pattern, first of full assessments; these are followed by updating in alternate years. Paupers were exempted in some years but Ministers of Religion never were.

There is no direct relationship of the number of hearths to population density but a calculation has been made that the best estimate is to multiply that number by 4.04. This gives the number of souls in Stambourne as 315 372 in 1662-70.

The tax was levied from 19 May 1662 until 1689 & was collected in two instalments:

  • @ Michaelmas [S Michael & all Angels; 29 September]
  • Lady Day [Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 25 March]
  • (Lady day was the first, not the last, day of the Gregorian year)

It follows therefore that :

  • there may well be two records for any one year
  • & the first payment was due only one month from the Bartholomew Act of 23 August 1662
  • & a payment dated Lady Day 1666 relates to an assessment in 1665 o.s.

Records were variously kept centrally & by local people. Those with accompts that I have seen relate to on-payments by collectors when the house-owners had to pay up is not clear. A substantial number of records still exist. Effectively none is clearly dated and their origins have been derived by JBE from internal evidence.

There are extremely few abbreviations: Willm does appear but not Jno or Thos or Wm which JBE has used extensively in his attempts at unravelling these difficult documents.

1662 Q/RTh1 is a card index in the ERO. It is derived from a document described as:

Assessment (Hearth Tax) Imperfect Names 72 ms.

It contains a dozen persons named Havers in Essex: their parishes are identified by arabic numerals:

  • Henry & Joseph in Colchester St Peter [the parish code is 271]
  • Philip & William in All Saints [278]
  • Richard in Bishops Wood [148]
  • Edward in Harlow [192]
  • Richard in Great Waltham [80]
  • William in Havering [180]
  • William in Margaretting [278]
  • C (t.c.) in Saffron Walden
  • William in St Runwald [272]
  • In parish # 97 & in Stambourne [222], the occupant is not even given an initial.
    • The man in Stambourne is clearly our HHI; he is recorded simply as:
    • (space) Havers Gent.
    • [In three of the records of 16626 that I have seen he is referred to thus: in the other he is]
    • Mr Havors;
  • This appears to have been a deliberate Cavalier slight to a Puritan cleric, for when the next Rector appears he is dignified as:
  • Robert Cock cl’icus [= clericus]

Since the entries are made at Michaelmas it is quite probable that the ejection of HHI had not had time to become effective in the few days elapsing since 23d August.

It records 92 hearths in 31 messuages in Stambourne [There are 169 in 57 in Toppesfield].

In the P R O all the records are grouped under the prefix E 179.

1662246/8 is a single sheet It is described as : Assessment (Hearth Tax) Imperfect Names 72 ms
1663Q/RTh2 is a revision in the ERO. I still have not seen it but it is said to be the same.
1664E179 246/26 seen in the PRO. There is no date on it . It is indexed as
Chas II Mich 1664 Return (Hearth Tax) Names 32 ms (it is actually 33pp)

I agree it is of 1664. The cover says it is a Lay Subsidy. I made a copy in pencil & have transferred my notes with errors, omissions & illegibilities to column 1 of the large table in the Annex 1.

The largely illegible contemporary paragraph @ its head, which does not help to date it, may be:

…….. b____ not
in his geh ________writt att
bottome of the brief  in the
same in
Hinckford Hundred

By analogy with other entries this is probably a note by the tax collector recording handing the money over to the agents Car II on Lady Day but the year is not given.

112/687 has the list of names and a column of numbers of this year but, importantly, two columns of alterations which I deduce to be 1666; it is described in the paragraph on that year, below.

1665 246/20 seen & copied in PRO: it is the nicest of the records there. It covers Hinckford & 7 other areas. It is entitled:

Returns (Hearth Tax) Names 104ms

It is of parchment 40 x 10 cms bound with leather thongs but without a hard cover. It is a new assessment with some alterations in a separate RH column, apparently all done at the same time.

It is endorsed at the beginning by a Mr Horsmell [was this really the tax collectors name ?] with an accompt date of Lady Day 1666 for

onehalf of duty sent by him due to his M..illegible..;

as this is the first day of the new o.s. year the record must be of data collected in Michaelmas 1665.

At the end it has another payment note:

I figud that slow hath bin pd by this
Accomptant into the late ffarmo
Treasy, upon accompt this hab
yr duty the somme of four [in so far as JBE can read it]
hundred pounds
Ex squiggle Witt Webb 1671
Aug 11 1671

It presumably describes late payment of the Michaelmas 1666 dues for 1665 assessment.]

I have typed from my pencil copy on to column 2 of the large table.

1666 112/687 seen & copied in PRO and referred to under 1664, above. Again there is no sure date. It has been indexed: Hinckford Assessment (Subsidies) Names 28fs. It is a heavy paper folio stitched with a later vellum cover which was marked Michaelmas 1664 in pencil sometime in this century. The Title says

CAR I (sic) Essex Hundred de Hinckford Subs Firehearths

on the outer cover with a steel pen. From internal evidence I deduce it must contain some records from dates later than 246/20. It has a column of names between two columns of figures and a complex one of comments on the RHS.

I now think that the names are a copy of 246/26 of 1664; they are in the same order save that John ffrench & Jas Smith are missing from the former. We have no record of the demise of ffrench in the Anglican Registers but Smith was buried in 1668. The numbers of hearths in the main column (in good dark ink, as are the names) are identical save that Thos ffitch has ii, not i & Daniel Smith has iii, not iv. It is recorded that D.S. demolished one in 1665: there would be no call for a note saying that J.S. had built another provided he paid up.

I conclude that these figures in original dark ink are a scribes copy of 1664 data.

In a faded ink to the LHS of the names is a list of hearths in which six residents claim a smaller number than in 1664. In a column containing a dozen comments in very pale ink placed to the extreme right of the dark figures Wm Deekes admits pulling one down & Daniel Smith had

‘one stopped up by his sonne’

Five of the comments record changes of ownership; all of them imply the last column is the latest of these records.

I hypothesise that this complex & untidy record represents reuse of a spare copy of the 1664 data (or one made for the purpose) in Michaelmas 1666 to levy the tax then due.

There is an untidy note at the bottom of the page which may refer to Widow Deek and may have some figures in it I think I can see a cipher representing one half suggesting it too may refer to a payment as on the previous record.
The appearance & disappearances of eight persons, three of them widows, in the three columns of names, are consistent with these hypotheses: the ten relevant entries in the Parish registers are also consistent.

112/705 is a single imperfect ms in the PRO indexed as 18 Chas = 1666 Hinckford Duplicate assessment (Poll Tax). It does not help but does support the suggestion of copies being made of these lists.

The importance of establishing this sequence lies in the top line which in all of them credits

….. …Havers gent or Mr Havors

with vii hearths. At the very end of this top line is added

now Robert Cock Clicus.

If my deductions are correct this implies he did not enter into his rightful place in the Rectory House until after Michaelmas 1665 or even 1666.

Against this interpretation is a record of a Primo Visitatio Generalis Humfredo Henchman to Hedingham Decanat on 6 September 1664. Robert Cook (sic) attended and the document appears to bear his own signature. Did he stay elsewhere in Stambourne for a year or so ? Alternatively was he, Cocke, a local man who & retained his domicile in another nearby village to avoid conflict ? The name does appear both in Sturmer & Steeple Bumpstead. This may even explain why we have no burial record for him.

The 1665 record also records a dozen alterations in a separate column. The top two lines recording Mr Havors & Thos Pannell are bracketed together as:


Taken together these alterations do suggest that they were made later, perhaps as late as 1667. They do however recall that though Grace Cock was buried in 1668 there is no record of Robert’s burial though he was certainly dead by 1667. I wonder if he were already dead, perhaps from the plague and there was no other literate person in the village able to record his burial.

1668 Q/RTh3 in ERO is on vellum (or more likely porcum) with the Stambourne entries written on a very rough piece [perhaps in an armpit] and almost illegible.

It records in Latin [in which language focus,i is a fireplace, hearth, house or family]:

  • Multiplicatii foces
  • Jethro Green junr iii
  • ditto Choat iii
  • Diminued foces
  • Thomas Barnard i
  • Daniel Smith i
  • Ricd Marriott coffii??
  • John E……themplate?? [possibly Edwards or Elliston ; it looks like Etronil]

This must be a revision; none of our Rectors is mentioned in it. No addresses are given.

  • 1669 QR/Th4 in the ERO is indeed said to be a revision
  • 1671 QR/Th5 is in the ERO. It gives 86 hearths in 30 messuages (Toppesfield has 203 in 63)
  • 1672 I deduce 246/12 in the PRO to be of this year. It is labelled 25 Ch II which has been corrected from 15 Ch II.
    It is of 35 ms entitled: Assessment (Hearth Tax)
  • 246/29 is indexed as Chas II with no other date; it is of 4 ms of ‘County Fragments’ perhaps c. 1670

The Essex Freeholders of 1734

The earliest Essex Freeholders book of 1734 was reprinted in 1982 by The Friends of Historic Essex: it is E.R.O., Q/RJ 1/1. It was published under and Act of 7 & 8 Wm III, c.32 (1696).

It lists men between 21 & 70, quoting what they said their ages were, who owned freehold property worth more than ten pounds per annum. 3 Geo II (1730) extended the liability to jury service to long-term leaseholders of twenty or more pounds.

Some jurisdictions, including Colchester, Harwich, Maldon & Saffron Walden were exempt & are not included. About threefourths of the entries give occupation and rank.

Stambourne has two entries under Hinckford Hundred.

The first is the word “none” printed against the village name, improbable as this may seem. In fact there are 26 Ecclesiastical parishes so designated out of the total listed of some 500, a proportion of about one in twenty. As we have always been one of the smallest villages, have never had a very large house and ordained ministers will then, as now, have been exempt, it is conceivable that noone living here did qualify. Moone Hall & Grenvilles were by now much reduced & the Hall may well have been empty or let. The last clearly recorded owner, Shelley Wankford, died in 1731. The succession is described by Morant as going to Luke Jackson, who predeceased him in 1721, “or to Mr Gosling” of whom nothing else is known; he was perhaps a tenant or agent.

The second entry is under Sturmere (sic) and is that Thomas Crisp, aet 51, had an estate of £12 in our village. Thomas Todd, Lord of the Manor of Sturmer, bz 8 Dec 1669, had married Dorcas, the (probably elder) sister of Shelley Wankford. This marriage, of about 1700, is not recorded in our register. Robert, Shelley’s father, lived in Berwick Hall for some time so it is probably in the Toppesfield records. It is quite probable that a daughter of the Todds had married Thomas Crisp and that this £12 estate was our Hall. The shadowy Mr Gosling could well have been maintaining the Hall for them.

The 26 parishes said to have noone holding an estate of more than £ 10 p.a. are:

Bowers Gifford CHAFFORD
Horndon West Stifford
CHELMSFOR Wennington
Hanningfield S CLAVERING; nil
Fambridg Chickney
Wayland Little Dunmow
Middlemead Hamlet FRESHWELL; nil
Steeple HARLOW; nil
Forearck(sic) ONGAR; nil
Little Henny
Stambourne [but Thos Crisp of Sturmer had a £12 estate here]
Little Yeldham [curious: Peter Muilman Senr bought the manor in 1749 but I dont know who lived here in 1734]
Walton Paglesham
THURSTABLE; n1pil Gt Stambridge
WINSTREE Little Chishall [Chrishall]
Mersea East Wendens Lofts
Virley Fairstead
Little Wigborough

It is noteworthy how similar many of these villages are in size & character to Stambourne.

Land Use in 1810 to 1837

These years have the most informative records of who farmed in the village. Jas Hopkins was appointed Rector in 1809 and promptly produced a manuscript list of what he found. This bears some notes on property values & successions and was added to several times, notably 1813 & 1815. I have transcribed his notes but not his lists of which in 1988 NJE made this summary:

The 15 farmers named are, in order of the size of their holdings:

Mr Edward Jarvis of Church Farm219 
Mr [Wm] King of Tagley2162
Mr Barker Myall of Robin Hood End & Stambourne Green2122
Mr [A] Myall[s] of Stambourne Hall193 
Mr Hill [John Hills perhaps]1441
Mr [Isaac] Piper of Harriss Farm107 
Mr Richd Chaplin of Three Chimnies752
Mr Unwin of Hill Farm & Schoolhouse Farm70 
Mr John Ralling of Messings Farm35 
James Clark of the Slough32 
Mr Jos Jarvis of Botsford311
Mr Wm Brown of Elms30 
Mr Beddoe of the Meeting Farm [Little Collins]26 
Mr Piggott of Ridgewell Norton20 
Joseph Choat11
The total recorded by the Rector is14131

Mr Hopkins of course owned the Rectory lands but they do not appear here or in the 1837 listing. Noticeably the Congregational Pastor’s lands do.

Thus there are:

3with over200 acres

I have calculated in Chapter 2 that the total present size is some 2000 modern acres. The 1837 tithe map calculators listed some 1815 acres. These figures are in good agreement.

Under the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 Tithes could be commuted to a Rent charge. The Commissioners caused a most detailed survey of Stambourne to be made and recorded on a fine map of some 6″ to the mile. On it all the fields were numbered and lists were produced; they shewed the names of the fields according to their numbers and arranged by farms; they also listed those who worked or owned them. The copies we have of microfilm records are somewhat indistinct but mostly we have been able to decipher the details and name nearly all the fields on the map. These are the annexes 5 & 6 which I propose to recast on a spreadsheet.

Central Part of the Tithe Map of 1837 with the addition of some field names

Central Part of the Tithe Map of 1837 with the addition of some field names
Central Part of the Tithe Map of 1837 with the addition of some field names

Stambourne Church of England School 1861 to 1958 & The Village Hall

The school was built by private subscription in 1859-61 on land donated by the Quaker Fry family in the extreme SW corner of their estate by the Dyers End junction. A school house was contiguous with the original building. Further land was donated in 1911 and some enlargement made.

Some three generations of Frys occupied the Hall over this period. Though an Elisabeth Pease Fry was one of the donors this was not the Prison Reformeress, Elizabeth Gurney Fry [17801845], though they probably were related by marriage.

I have seen no records of the future development of the building though there were said to be some in the Bank in which the title deeds are kept. What follows is based on oral tradition in the village and only the church records have been verified.

The pupils originally paid four pence [£ s 4d] per week. This is equivalent to about one third of a days wages of a farm labourer and to £15 per term in today’s money.

The known teachers are:

  • Mrs Emily Jenny Bowyer who married Albert Edwin in 1872 [see Bowyer annex]. Both are 32 in 1881
  • Miss Sarah [Sally] Garnham for 25 y; she died aet 93 in 1937 (so was 65 in 1909) and is buried by the Lych Gate
  • Sutherland
  • McBride
  • Mrs Baillie
  • Mr & Mrs Tozer
  • Mrs Annie Drew who married Arthur Drew & died in the School House in 1986

A Mr Burleigh is mentioned by C H Spurgeon as a schoolteacher but he probably was not here.

On the closure of the School education of local children was continued in the much larger and newer building in Toppesfield. Our building was, after a few years, converted into The Village Hall. An attempt was made to get permission to put a purpose-designed building combining a Pavilion, on the Playing Field. This failed because the land was protected by a covenant made by the donor, the late Mrs Peat, which was maintained by the then owner. The trustees paid £475 [or £600] for the building of which £400 was donated by Mr Turner of Brook House. The conversion cost £300. Water had been installed in 1954.

The Village Hall is now most actively used indeed on most days and is in my view excellently suited to its purpose. It has recently been greatly refurbished with new hardwood flooring and effective heating, though this is sadly garish. It provides a good epitaph for the school and sound preservation of this pleasant domestic Victorian red-brick building.

The Playing Fields

These were donated by the owner of the Hall in 1957. Water is said to have been laid on in 1954 so probably they were used ad hoc before that time.

There are few team games now though for years the Cricket Team and a Football team combining with Toppesfield were active & successful. For a short period in the 1980s there was an Archery Club which met on Sundays in conformity with the Act of King Henry VIII which has never been repealed. A children’s playing area is well stocked & is maintained to the highest safety standards.

Recently a fine Car Park has been surfaced with a gateway to the Churchyard for use during services. Sadly it has been found necessary to lock & bar it at other times despite its provenance for the use the villagers.

Pavilion was built in Essex boarding to the West of the Playing Field in 1978 for £ 1500. The Parish Council had wished to build a Village Hall here to serve this purpose too. v.s.

Other Lay Buildings

Church Farm House

It is opposite the church in the corner of Rectory Lane & Church Road. Until quite recently it had several outbuildings but has long since lost it lands which were some 128 acres in 1837 farmed by Wm Ruffle. The enormous barn immediately facing the church was probably part of its messuage; this was converted to a private dwelling in 1995 following the failure of numerous attempts to find a commercial function for it.

It is a pleasant building of Georgian appearance but the timbers inside, particularly in the dairy, show it to be much older.

The known owners are:

  • 1837 Wm Ruffle
  • 1877 Wm John & Mary Ruffle
  • 1878 Wm Freebone Burleigh [there is a note of his being connected with schooling & Mr Spurgeon]
  • 1879 Arthur Garratt [he is not related the later churchwarden]
  • An Unwin probably held it at about this time
  • 1965c.75 Timothy & Widget Finn recovered it from a ruinous state
  • Drydens
  • 1976-1992 Christopher & Margaret Jones [now both ordained in the Methodist Church]
  • Various Tenants
  • 1993 till the present Richard & Susan Day

Hill Farm

It is a solid genuinely Georgian yellow Brick building at the bifurcation of the Ridgewell & Cornish Hall End roads. It is one of the few remaining working farms in Stambourne and is probably much the same size as the 94 acres Wm Gibbens farmed in 1837.

In about 1990 a massive barn & drying plant was built, ostensibly for its own use, but which has clearly been in use to store grain carted in from far away; it is effectively part of the grain mountain.

It was owned by the Unwins in the last century and is now worked by the Argent family who bought it in about 1965.

Post Mill [House]

It is nearby and is now a livery stable with little land. It appears to be quite an old building which has a very recent addition. It is of importance since some of its deeds survived until their recent export to America and which tell us much of the history of that area. With them is the record of the grant of land in 1710 HHII on which he build his chapel. They are listed in Annex 9; I have prepared copies and the translations I have made of the deeds are in my library.

A mill of unknown type stood between these two properties; there stands here now a mainly Victorian partlythatched house named Mill House. The western end of it is clearly very old.

There was also a fine Post Mill hereabouts within this century; it was destroyed in 1909. The probable site of it is on the W side of Mill road. This is now occupied by Castle Bungalow, built c1980 by Mr Argent. He presently owns Hill Farm, which is occupied by his son Ronald. There are some pleasant brick byres surrounding the site, probably built from Stambourne Bricks.

It is not clear how any of these sites relates to the present private dwelling called Post Mill or to the site of the mill itself.

Pound House

Was leaning at a ramshackle angle at the Dyers End corner in 1963. The Elizabethan chimney was @ some 15° to the vertical; it was shortly pulled down. It is described in the RCHM and was of considerable Antiquity.

Pound Cottage

Opposite was completely stripped in about 1970 and a series of photographs of the skeleton exist. It was restored by Col Brenneman of the US Army and Norma who occupied it until 1995. They were staunch supporters of the Church and Mrs Brenneman has left a trust in her will for its future maintenance which will become operative on her death.

Revels Farm

In Cornish Hall End now owns most of the land in that fourth part of the village. Its attached Revels Cottages were until recently called Stambourne Green Cottages.

Slough Farm

With its small but fine old house that features in the deeds of Moyns Park in 1550 and Green Farm are both still working small agricultural units.

Stambourne Receiving Office

Was established in 1875on the site now occupied by Mr Pyman’s transport garages. DRHJ has a photograph of a postman wearing a shako hat. There has been a sub-post office in roughly the same area of the village ever since, some times, but not now, associated with a shop. The first mention of any shop was in 1710 when HHII lived there; the last functional general store was operated by Mrs Jennifer Sewrey and closed in c.1984.

Pump House

The whereabouts of which I do not know, was subject to flooding.

The Bakehouse

Was a ruin in the dip by Mill Farm in 1963. It worked during the last war and was pulled down about 1970; it was from here that the pump presently in Wesley End was derived.

Brook House

On the Finchingfield Border was originally five cottages; it is noted on the tithe map and was the home of the child who died of diphtheria.


Is a fine large thatched house in the Finchingfield Road; it has a copy of an original Elizabethan deed. Next to it is its Cottage of similar age.

Parish Council from 1894 onwards

The local Government Act of that year set up the Councils. The note reproduced as Annex 10 was typed on an early machine. It is of unknown provenance. It was probably written around 1970 and altered after 1972. It lists the original members who were:

  • Robert Henry Bedford
  • John Joseph Smee
  • James Metson
  • John Fitch
  • Daniel Unwin was elected District Councillor.

I have found no complete record of the Lay Parish Clerks. Those known to me are:

  • Elsie Hillier September 1977 March 1987
  • Jill M Sager March 1987
  • Jane Pickess March 19923
  • Fiona Bayley July 1993 to present time