Project Purley

The Local History Society for Purley on Thames

Plantagenet Days


The period in which the Plantagenets ruled England was the period in which England moved from being a newly born and minor country on the fringes of Europe to Europe’s most powerful nation. The Plantagenets ruled England and Wales, parts of Ireland and Scotland and most of what is now western France. It was the period that saw the Renaissance and the beginnings of the Reformation which had such powerful effects upon the minds of men. But it was also a period in which the social structures established as far back as Alfred’s times hardly changed.

  The names changed but the people and their relationships, one to another, were essentially the same as they had been in Saxon times. There were the same courts, the same manors, the same tools, the same foods and the same grinding poverty for all but a few privileged people who acted out and wrote down all the history. From the history books one learns of Kings and Wars of dynasties and intrigues, but for the vast bulk of the population life just carried on much as before. They played little or no part in history. They might be drafted to fight for one party or another against another party, for a cause unknown. Their homes were occasionally burned to the ground as a power struggle swept by them. But it was all much of a muchness. Food was short for most of the time, but every few years there were disastrous harvests and many starved to death and every now and again disease ravaged the population. And so the struggle for life went on. The period saw wars with France and the Black Death and it was the latter which sowed the seeds which put an end to feudalism as labour became scarce and labourers could demand higher wages or escape to the towns to make a better living for themselves and their families.

  The principal change that did occur was the growth of the towns. It was the division between town and country that laid the basis for the tremendous political changes that took place in the seventeenth century. This was one area where there was a possibility of escape for the common people, from the town to the country or vice versa. For the people of Purley this was an important factor as Purley lived within the shadow of Reading which in its turn was dominated for most of this period by its Abbey. The town was within easy walking distance, its influence was pervasive and its trade passed by the village.   We know very little about everyday life in Purley, although we do get a few glimpses, particularly towards the end of the period, from wills. We know a lot more about land ownership, because this was recorded regularly in charters and other documents.

  For most of the time there was the struggle between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses as well as the protracted wars with France, but on n Sunday August 21st 1485 was fought the Battle of Bosworth in which King Richard III was killed. This victory by Henry VII settled the Wars of the Roses and ushered in a new society in which trade and commerce flourished and the discovery of the New World would open the way for the first British Empire.


Land Ownership

Outside of the towns the possession of land was the dominant issue for the gentry. In theory all land belonged to the king and thus the idea of ownership as we know it today was unknown. Land generated profits and what was at stake were the profits. These went to the person who effectively controlled the land. The term used was ‘siezed’. A man was said ‘to be siezed of a piece of land’ which meant that everyone who owed dues based on land acknowledged that it was this man to whom the payment should be made.   On a person’s death his heirs were quick to register their rights by paying a fine to the king. Sometimes these rights lasted only for the heir’s lifetime and sometimes they belonged to the family in perpetuity. Thus for example a widow had the right for her lifetime to a third of the husband’s land, but upon her death it reverted to the eldest son or whoever had suceeded the husband. It was in fact not possible to ‘sell’ land only to sign away some of the rights for a temporary period.

  The records of the middle ages are filled with disputes over land and these almost invariably revolved around the question as to whether or not a person held the land in law (de jure) or whether he held it in fact (de facto). The major families of the land seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort wrangling over such issues, spending months hanging around the king's court trying to get him to agree to a piece of parchment. Most of the disputes were as a result of one member of a family who had temporary possession, granting a right to a third party and then having that grant disputed by the remainder of the family.

  For the most part Purley was but one of several small parcels of land listed amongst many others as being in dispute. Its ‘owners’ rarely visited the village and it was even rarer for them to actually live here. The parish was spanned by three manors: La Hyde which was centered around Purley Hall; Purley Magna, centered around the church and Purley Parva centered around Westbury Farm (to use modern locales) It is not possible to draw clear boundary lines between the lands of the three manors and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that there were other parcels of land belonging to none of them. This was further complicated by the fact that there were parcels of land forming parts of Sulham and Whitchurch parishes entirely within the Parish of Purley.

  In general it was not possible to evade ones responsibilities as a landowner, which were both to one's tenants and to one's lord. The obligations were handed over from father to eldest son or sometimes to the husband of the eldest daughter. The land was entailed, that is it could not be disposed of and although occasionally it might be held by someone else, (eg a widow was entitled to a third share of her husband’s estate as her dower for life.) on the death of that other person the land reverted to the original direct line. Thus many charters refer to a transaction with ‘reversion to the heirs of the body’. On a person’s death the new owner had to register his or her claim and pay an appropriate fine. Even gifts had to be re-confirmed. The records of these transactions may be found in many different places and they tell us of the controversies and feuds which raged but also gave us names, albeit only of the gentry as a rule.


Mediaeval Knight’s Fees in Purley

In most cases land was held in lieu of service to the King. The Saxons under Alfred had developed the idea of the Burgh and the obligation of all the people protected by the Burgh to defend it in the face of invasion. Obligations came in fives, one knight and four men at arms was usual for an average sized community and the territory defined as 5 hides. The Normans took care to spread land holdings around so that any particular landholder did not have control of a large area as had happened with the Saxon Earldoms. They developed the basic idea but provided the option for the knight to be rented in return for a fee. Thus developed the feudal system where obligations and fees could be interchangeable. The same amount of land would be regarded as equivalent to an obligation to supply a Knight for a fixed period of time when the King so desired it. This would be known as a Knight’s Fee. This obligation could be discharged in several ways. The landowner could turn up and perform the duties himself, he could send one of his sons or tenants or he could pay a fee which enabled the King to hire a mercenary. It was also a convenient way of raising a tax for the benefit of the king.

    With manors and landholdings crossing traditional community boundaries it was much more useful to refer to a particular land holding  as worth either a multiple or a fraction of a Knight’s Fee. It was obviously in the King’s interest to keep a close record of these obligations and periodically lists would be compiled known as Feudal Aids.  These would be used to check that either the service had been rendered or that a fee had been paid. The record of fees was usually kept separate, eg in the Red Book of The Exchequer. The original rolls in which the early entries of Knights fees were made have not survived, they are reproduced in a document which was delivered to the exchequer in the summer of 1212. It is instructive to list the entries relating either directly to Purley or to land in Berkshire which is believed to include Purley.  

1160 - William de Sifrewast held one knight’s fee for two marks in Berkshire.

1166 - Gilbert Huscarle held three knights fees in Berkshire in the Honour of Wallingford. 1167 - William de Sifrewast paid one mark in Berkshire

1171 - William de Sifrewast paid twenty shillings in Berkshire.

1176 - Richard Huscarle was due five marks. He paid two and a half marks into the treasury and owed two and a half marks.

1186 - Robert de Sifrewast and Holnad de Sifrewast each paid twenty shillings in Berkshire

1190 - Halnod de Sifrewast held one knights fee for which he paid ten shillings in Berkshire.

1194 - Halnod de Siffrewast paid twenty shillings for one knight’s fee.

1195 - Ralph of Purley paid one mark for recognition of his possession against William de Sifrewast

1196 - Halnod de Siffrewast paid twenty shillings for one knights fee in Berkshire

1196 - Richard de Sifrewast paid twenty shillings for one knight’s fee in Berkshire.

1199 - Halnad de Sifrewast paid two marks in Berkshire

1199 - Roland Huscarle, heir of Richard is mentioned in the Curia Regis roll

1202 - Gervase de Henton and Robert de Purley paid ten shillings and eight pence.

1212 - Halnoth de Sifrewast held one knight’s fee in Berkshire.

1212 - Thomas Huscarle held three knight’s fees in Berkshire.

1212 - Thomas Huscarle had succeeded Richard Huscarle

1220 - two carucates of land were held for a fee of four shillings in Purley within the Hundred of Reading, four and a half carucates held for nine shillings in Purley within the Honour of Wallingford and four carucates held in La Hyde for eight shillings also within the Honour of Wallingford.

1235 William Huscarle held one fourth of a knights fee in Berkshire in the Honour of Wallingford.

1242 - William de Sifrewast held eight parts of one knight’s fee in Purley in the hundred of Reading.

1242 - William de Sifrewast held one fee for Hampstead, Aldworth and Purley.

1242 - Roger de la Hide held one of the fees of Hugh de Vivun in East Hanney.

1293 - Richard de Sifrewast paid twenty shillings per annum at Windsor Castle for one knight’s fee

1293 - William de Sifrewast paid twenty shillings per annum at Windsor Castle for one knight’s fee

1401 - Reginald Malyns held Purley Parva for one knights fee.

1401 - Thomas Walshe held one knights fee in Purley Parva which Edmund Malyns had held

1401 - Nicholas Carew held a third part of one knight’s fee in Purley Huscarle (Magna) which Thomas Huscarle had held.

The Manor of Purley Magna

In general this can be recognised by being what is now the built up part of Purley. It occupied the eastern part of the parish and had its manor house adjacent to the church. Before the Conquest the land had been held by Brictward who held it from King Edward. At the time of Domesday it was in the hands of Roger, son of Siegfried. He also held Berkshire lands at Clewer (which included where Windsor Castle stood) and Fulscot.

  By 1166 the manor had come into the possession of the Huscarle family. It is assumed that the name was derived from ‘House Carle’ the word for a group of knights who provided permanent service to the king. There were certainly such a group at Wallingford Castle in the earlier period and it would be highly likely that the family would be granted lands in the area. The actual evidence is merely the certain later association of the family with the village when in 1224 Thomas Huscarle granted a virgate of land in Purley, which his father had given him, to the Abbot of Thame . However in the early days all we know is that various members of the Huscarle family held three knights fees in Berkshire under the Honour of Wallingford.

  It remained in the Huscarle family until 1369. Sir Thomas Huscarle had died in 1354 and his widow Lucy remarried to Nicholas Carew. Her son Thomas Huscarle eventually succeeded before 1366 when he came of age but he died without issue in 1369 and the trustees of the estate granted the manor to Lucy’s new husband, Nicholas Carew. Thus the manor came into the hands of the Carew family, all of whom were called Nicholas and who held it for just over 100 years until 1485 when the fifth Nicholas died without issue. The manor went to his sister Sanchea who had married Sir John Iwardby. Her daughter Jane had married Sir John St John of Lydiarde Tregoze in Wilts and had a son John. It was the son of this son, Nicholas who established the manor under the St John family which held it for nearly 300 years.


The Huscarles

 To see about the Huscarle family CLICK HERE


The Carews

To see about the Carew family CLICK HERE

The Manor of Purley Parva

Purley Parva or Little Purley comprises the majority of the farm land to the west of the modern area of settlement and north of the main Oxford Road. It has remained almost untouched by development and the original hamlet which was situated around where Westbury Farm now is was effectively deserted in the 18th century, leaving only the two farm houses and a few farm cottages. At the time of Edward the Confessor it was held by another Edward and it rated half a hide for which 40s was paid. After the Conquest it came into the hands of Theodoric the Goldsmith and was rerated at 50s. It is believed that the manor came into the hands of the de Sifrewast family in the early twelfth century. They were considerable landowners in Berkshire and were involved in many land transactions in the twelfth and thirteenth century.

  In 1424 a second sale took place when it passed temporarily to Thomas Walshe but it soon reverted to the descendants of the Malyns family but due to an obligation thought to relate to a gambling debt, a further transfer to the Norris family took place in 1462.


The Siffrewasts

William de Sifrewast was recorded as a Berkshire landowner in 1160.

  William de Sifrewast was still a landowner in 1167, having paid one mark re his lands in Berkshire.  He paid another twenty shillings in 1171 By 1186 William de Sifrewast had been succeeded as Lord of the Manor of Purley Parva by Halnoth de Sifrewast, possibly his grandson. Halnoth was recorded  in the Red Book of the Exchequer as paying 20s 

  Halnoth de Sifrewast paid 10s and one knights fee in Berkshire in 1190 and 20s and one knights fee in Berkshire in1194 when for some reason his lands (in Purley, Aldworth and Hampstead Norris) were temporarily  forfeit  His sister Isabella was a also active in the courts (see below). Halnoth seemed intent on collecting in his debts and in 1195  Ralph of Purley paid one mark which he had owed to William de Sifrewast. The next year Halnoth again paid 20s and one knight's fee in Berkshire.  Again in 1201 his lands were temporarily forfeit to the Crown   Halnoth de Sifrewast was still Lord of Purley Parva,  in 1212 when he held one knights fee in Berkshire.

  Halnoth de Sifrewast is presumed to have died in 1217 and been succeeded as lord of the manor of Purley Parva by his son William who did homage and received seisin of his lands on payment of a relief of 100s.  William de Sifrewast examined and confirmed the charter which had been made by his aunt Isabella in 1194(?) by which she gave a half virgate to Reading Abbey. The reason was that it had been given to her as a wedding portion and might otherwise have been thought of as properly reverting to the donor or his heirs on her death.  The Great Assize came to Berkshire in 1220 to examine witnesses, among whom was Gilbert de Aubern, about conflicting claims by the Abbot of Hide and William de Purle (presumably William de Sifrewast) about a half virgate of land in Purley. It was decided that William had the greater right but that he should hold it from the Abbot in perpetuity. William de Sifrewast held one knights fee in 1229. He accounted for 20s  re Ada de Muntsorel. He paid one mark and owed 2½ marks 

    Also in 1229 a Richard Sifrewast paid 12s for 'escambio terre sue'  Later in the year he rendered account for 8 marks as a levy for his son to hold the office of a painter.  He paid 2 marks and owed 6 marks   William de Sifrewast stood surety in 1233 for Simon de Fissburn and Ranulf de Whatvil  who were imprisoned for going around armed, contrary to the King’s peace. In 1234 William de Sifrewast had paid a fine of 100s for the lands of Roger of Hyde at Hyde and the bishop of Winchester instructed the holder of the Honour of Wallingford not to trouble William further. Roger was William's brother and he and his other brother Richard seemed to be feuding about land all the time. It would seem that Roger had been in residence at La Hyde and moved to Purley Magna on his brother's death.

  In 1242 William de Sifrewast held a writ to confirm that he had paid his scutage in Berks, Oxon, Essex and Southamptonshire  and  held 8 parts and one fee in Purley and also had lands in Hampstead and Aldworth   He died in 1242.  the wardship of his heir Nicholas was given to Bartholemew Pecche. He held one fee in each of Aldworth, Hamstead Norris and Purley which he had inherited from his father Halenoth. Why the wardship should have been given to Bartholmew is unclear, as Nicholas' uncles Richard and Roger were still alive, it could be because the two of them could not agree.

  The brothers Roger and Richard de Syfrewast were in hot dispute about their inheritance (from their brother William). It had been agreed that the inheritance would be halved, as would the legal fees of acquiring the inheritance. The manor of Herriard should have been part of the inheritance and Roger had sued Fulk of Coudrai for it. He claimed that Richard had given Fulk a Quitclaim for his rights and this had cost Roger £100. Richard had denied he had issued a quitclaim. It was adjudged that ’Richard is without day and Roger is in Mercy’   Richard de Syfrewast was summoned to appear at Westminster in 1247 to answer Roger de Syfrewast and explain why he did not appear on 27th Jan. Roger was apparently living at Purley and was otherwise known as Roger de Purle. He appeared several times as a juror in the Berkshire Eyre. In 1248 there was a dispute between John, Vicar of Purley and Roger of Hyde who had complained that John had disseized him of a quarter of an acre of pasture which he had used to graze his beasts. Roger was given back his grazing rights by an Assize of Novel Disseisin   The dispute over Roger de la Hyde's land had still not subsided by 1256 as he appointed John Hirdman as his attorney in a case he brought against Laurence, parson of Tidmarsh and Juliana de Bendeng at Windsor concerning tenements at Pangbourne and Lething.

  In 1253 Nicholas de Sifrewast finally succeeded to the manor of Purley Parva , presumably because he had come of age. He did homage at Windsor on Jan 25th 1258 for all the lands which he had inherited from his father William In 1266 he was granted a licence for life to hunt with his own dogs the hare, the fox, the badger and the cat through all the forests in the counties of Oxford, Berks and Southampton. In  1270 he obtained from Thomas de Clare, to whom he had sold Hamstead, a Quitclaim of  'all rights in the manor of Porleye which Alice Punchardon holds'.  In return Thomas de Clare had a promise that when Nicholas died, the manor of Aldworth would revert to the de Clares 

    Richard de Sifrewast died in 1274 and his widow Elizabeth was given as her dower a great chamber with a little stable and a little garden on the west side and with a third of a fishery, a dovecote and a wood on the south side. She was also given a third of the rent of assize of the free tenants including 2s from Ralph of Purley

.   William de Sifrewast paid 20s pa for one knight's fee in Berkshire in 1293 so we assume Nicholas had died by then.  In 1302 he enfeoffed Henry Buskre de Malines and Cecily his wife, as Lord of the Manor of Purley Parva.   Henry Buskres de Malines was a merchant from Belgium, and this lease seems to have turned into a sale although sales of land were virtually impossible to arrange in that period due to the laws of entailment. However the deal held and there were a number of quitclaims whereby other members of the original family formally renounced any claims.

  Isabella de Sifrewast and Thomas de Markant were granted a Papal dispensation in January 1347 to enable them to remain married even though they were in the third degree of affinity


Isabella de Sifrewast’s gift

An earlier Isabella de Siffrewast was the aunt of William de Siffrewast who was lord of Purley Parva from 1217 to 1244. She was presumably the sister of Halnoth de Sifrewast (lord from 1186 to 1217). Her father was Robert de Sifrewast and her mother's name was Emma. Isabella de Sifrewast, with her husband Michael de Baseville, brought an action in Dorset against Richard de Sifrewast concerning the dower given her by her former husband, Simon, son of Robert Sifrewast    It would seem she had been given some land in Purley as her wedding portion and she granted a half virgate of land to Reading Abbey around 1195 in memory of her parents and husbands all of whom were buried in Reading. One of these husbands, Michael de Baseville,  is known as in 1194 he and Isobel brought an action against Richard de Siffrewast re the dower she had been left by her former husband Simon son of Robert. Her nephew William inspected the charter around 1230 as he suspected that as the land had been a marriage portion it might revert to the donor's heirs in due course. However the land seems to have remained with the Abbey as a similar portion in Purley was among the lands sold after the dissolution to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick in 1550. It lay just to the west of Purley Lane.

  The land in question had been held in villeinage by Osbert son of Gilbert the fisherman, free and quit from all custom and exaction and demand and immune from all secular service. It was left to the monks of Reading Abbey to determine whether he could continue in villeinage or pay an annual rent for the land. Osbert seems to have established an early connection between Purley in Berkshire and the area which was later to become Purley in Surrey. His son William was granted 'a moiety of a wood in Nithea in the manor of Saunderstead' sometime in the 12th century by the Abbot of Hide.  Saunderstead was held by the Huscarles as their main manor and one can assume that William had gone from Purley, one of the Huscarles manors to work there for them.


The Malyns Family

In 1312 Henry de Malyns paid a Fine of 100s which entitled him not to take up arms as a knight for two years. There was a covenant for warranty of lands in Little Purley in 1315. John Romayn of Willenhale recognised that he was in bond to Henry de Malyns for £22 in respect of a transfer of land consisting of one messuage with curtilage a croft with 13 acres of arable land and 3 roods of meadow in Purley   Henry de Malyns complained in 1316 that his name had been wrongly returned to Chancery as of one having lands to the yearly value of £50 and hence liable take knighthood. He held lands and rent in Little Purley to the value of £4-15-8 

  Henry Malyns died in 1323 and on June 22nd the Escheator was ordered to take all his lands into the King's hands. The Escheator, John Walewayn, was removed from office and replaced by Richard le Wayte who was again ordered to take the lands of Henry Malyns into the King's hands as his predecessor had failed to obey the order of the previous year.

On May 13th Richard le Wayte,  was ordered not to meddle with the manor of Little Purley, as it had been determined that Henry Malyns and Cecily his wife held that manor of the King in Chief by Knight Service of 5 shillings yearly at Windsor Castle. All Henry's other lands had been held of other lords Henry Malyns was succeeded as Lord of the manor of Purley Parva by his wife Cecily who held it as her dower for her lifetime. His son Edmund was recorded as being '28 years and more' at the inquest. It was reported that 'he was seized in Purley of a capital messuage with dovecote, worth six shillings and eight pence; 180 acres of land worth 60 shillings; 15 acres of meadow worth 30 shillings; ten and a half acres of pasture worth 5s 3d and rents of assize to the value of 10s'

    Cecily Malyns died in 1331 and the heir to the manor of Purley Parva was her son Edmund, said to be 38 years of age. In 1339 Edmund de Malyns gave notice to all his tenants in Purley that he had enfeoffed his son Reginald and Edmund de Hampden of his manor of Little Purley and that thereafter they were to render all services and pay all dues to them or their attorneys. In 1346 Edmund de Malyns paid a fine of 25s re the manor of Purley Parva which he held by the service of a quarter of a knight's fee. Reginald Malyns returned to England in 1367 from France after his father's death to look after his estates which included Purley Parva

  Reynold (Reginald) Malyns died in 1383 leaving the Manor of Purley Parva to his son Edmund. He had been made a Knight and acquired lands in Oxfordshire. The manor was said at the time to be held of Sir Robert Ferrers who appears to have been the head of the Sifrewast Fee in Berkshire. Reynold's widow was Florence. Edmund Malyns died in 1386 leaving a widow Isabella. The manor of Purley Parva passed to his grandson Edmund, younger son of Sir Edmund Malyns  The estate was settled on the young Edmund for life with reversion to his father's heirs and contingent remainder to Thomas Barentyne and his wife Joan (who was a daughter of Sir Edmund) for her son Reynold.

  One third of the Manor of Little Purley was ordered to be given in dower to Isabel, wife of Adam Ramesey and widow of Edmund Malyns in 1388. Isabel had recovered this from Thomas Barentyne, John Harewedaun et al. Edmund Malyns had apparently sold the manor to Thomas Barentyne without licence of the King. Adam and Isobel were pardoned for having married without first getting the King's permission. Thomas Barentyne was pardoned in 1391 for acquiring the manor of Purley from Edmund Malyns, deceased. He was given licence to Quitclaim two thirds of the manor to Edmund, younger son of Edmund Malyns, and one third to Isabel, Edmund's widow. Edmund Malyns died in 1399 and was succeeded as Lord of the Manor of Purley Parva by his eldest brother Reynold.

  Reginald Malyns paid 10s re the Manor of Purley Parva in 1402 which he held from the King for half a knight's fee. In 1424 Reynold Malyns conveyed the Manor of Purley Parva to Thomas and Alice Walsh and their son John, but on 5th Sept he appointed William Hynde and Thomas Rothwell as his legal representatives in a lawsuit against the Walshes concerning 3 acres of land and two acres of meadow in Purley Parva  Thomas Walsh and his wife Alice and son John were pardoned in 1427 after paying five marks (in the hanaper) for acquiring to themselves and their heirs from Reginald Malyns, and entering without licence, the Manor of Little Purley. A licence was  granted to the Walshes to have and to hold the premises.  Thomas Walshe was still holding the Manor of Purley Parva  in 1435.

  By 1433 the manor of Purley Parva had passed to Reynold Barentyne, the son of Thomas and Joan Barentyne, who had been named in the settlement  of 1386. Drew Barentyne succeeded his father Reynold as Lord of the Manor of Purley Parva in 1451. In this year he granted the manor to John Norreys as security for the payment of an annual rent of ten marks from the manor of Chalgrove in Oxfordshire. John Norreys settled the manor of Purley Parva on himself and his wife Margaret in 1462. Apparently the payments agreed to in 1451 had not been made by Drew Barentyne.

  John Norreys died in 1467, he was succeeded as lord of Purley Parva by his son John Norris by his first wife Alice. Sir William Norris was fined six pence for not attending a court. He had succeeded to the manor of Purley Magna either in late 1478 or early 1479.


The Manor of La Hyde

This manor seems to have spanned parts of the parishes of Pangbourne, Purley, Sulham and Whitchurch It covered the western parts of the parish, around where now Purley Hall stands. Domesday records a holding of one hide by Baldwin in Sulham and six hides in Pangbourne in the time of King Edward.These holdings had come into the hands of Miles Crispin by 1086. The land is recorded under the de la Hide family before 1234 and the de Sifrewasts from 1234. Later on in the thirteenth century the St Philibert family were in control.

  In 1233 The Sheriff of Berkshire was required to give full possession of the manor of Hyde to John de Talbot which Roger de la Hyde had held from Aumericus de Sulham

  Hugh de St Philibert who held the manor of La Hyde in 1283 also held the manor of Cressewelle by the serjeantry of bringing measures of wine to the morning meal of the king. This service was known as 'La Huse' 

    In 1292 Richard de la Hyde gave power of attorney to Richard of Pangbourne, clerk, to give possession to Hugh de St Philibert of lands in Purley. They were described as a field called Oxencrofte, land called Hugemead, his meadows in Greater and Lesser Purley (except what his villeins held in villeinage) and a field variously known as Hurland, Hegecroft and Rudinge. The use of the term croft in two of the fieldnames indicates a very early enclosure

  Hugh de St Philibert died around Nov 30th. 1304 He had inherited the Manor of Sulham from his mother Euphemia, who was probably the daughter of William of Sulham. He had also acquired possession of the manor of Purley La Hyde. Both manors had been granted to Benedict de Blakenham for his life subject to an agreement that if Benedict alienated the property or committed any waste, Hugh should be allowed to re-enter. Hugh's son John therefore did not inherit and had to wait until 1317.

  The early fourteenth century saw some protracted legal cases with ownership see-sawing between the St Philiberts and the de Somerys. By 1352 the disputes seem to have been settled by selling it to Walter Haywood who sold it on to the Carew family who also held Purley Magna. Upon the death of Nicholas Carew the fifth in 1485 it went to another sister, Elizabeth who had become the wife of Walter Twynhoo.

  Richard de Byrlaunde was presented to Sulham church on 17th July 1305 by the king acting as custodian of the estate of Hugh de St Philibert and  later in the year William de Wheteleye was presented by John de Drakensford and the archdeacon of Berks after an enquiry revoked the earlier presentation .

    The Manor of Sulham, which included La Hyde, was alleged to have been sold in fee to Agnes de Somery by Benedict de Blakenham. This was in contravention of the terms of the grant to Benedict. The heir of Hugh de St Philibert was then under age and in the king's custody. As a result an inquisition was held and part of the manor was taken into the king's hands.  On July 6th 1305 at his Court in Canterbury, King Edward I was shown a Quitclaim made to Benedict and his heirs of half of the manor of Sulham and a Charter made later to Agnes and her heirs by Benedict. Agnes claimed her half of the Manor of Sulham and specifically said that she had no claim on lands in La Hyde and Tilehurst, except insofar as Benedict had asked her to look after them for Hugh de Philibert's son. As a result the king ordered that Agnes's other lands in Purley, Pangbourne and Leghyng which had also been put into the king's custody should be returned to Agnes  On July 13th the King asked the Sherriff of Oxford and Berks to enquire as to who could testify to the circumstances of the Quitclaim. Alice (Agnes?) and Benedict were invited to be. Benedict and Agnes duly turned up on the Thursday after the feast of the Assumption (Aug 20th). It was ascertained that the Quitclaim was executed at Eton on a Saturday near to November 30th, 1304 and that Hugh died on the Monday following. The Quitclaim had been made because Hugh owed £100 of the £60pa that he was bound to pay Benedict for rents of lands in Berkshire. Agnes de Somery was in possession of La Hyde when she died in 1308 and it passed to her son and heir John de Somery

  In 1309 John de Drakensford was appointed Guardian of the land and heir of Hugh de Philibert. He was also awarded the right of presentation to Sulham Church to which Walter de Maydenhache and Henry Stately had been presented earlier in the year by Sir John de Somery but refused admission. On 11th May Walter of Maidenhatch was presented to the Bishop of Sarum by Sir John de Somery for the living of Sulham. A few days later Sir John de Drokensford presented Henry Staly. The dispute was taken to the King in June who ruled that no-one could be admitted until the dispute between the heirs of Hugh de St Philibert and Sir John de Somery were settled.

  In 1313 Adam de Shobenham was given the wardship of the manor of La Hyde at a rent of 100s

  John de St Philibert obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands in Sulham in 1317

  On Feb 15th 1322 King Edward II ordered John de Somery to provide as many footmen and men-at-arms as he could muster and come to meet him at Gloucester. However Edward had left for the north before the end of January so no doubt John had to follow him. It is not clear whether John and his men managed to reach Boroughbridge by the 16th March to take part in the battle which defeated the Lancastrians. On May 6th John Somery made a request that Richard de Pyryton and Henry le Bande of Newport Pagnell should be released from their imprisonment as rebels. The request was granted so presumably John was on good terms with the king.

  John de Somery died sometime before November 15th 1322, still holding land in the manor of Sulham. His two sisters Margaret and Joan appointed advocates to obtain their inheritances. On November 22nd the King ordered that John de Somery's widow Lucy should hold the manor of Sulham and others as her dower. This was by the assent of the husbands of Margaret de Sutton and Joan Botetourt, who as John's sisters were his heirs. The manor of Sulham was valued at £4-9-6½ 

  John de St Philibert settled the manor of Sulham, including La Hyde, on himself, his wife Ada and son Thomas in 1329 and William de Barentyn, nephew and heir of Drago de Barentyn, acknowledged a debt of £600 to John de St Philibert, set against lands in Essex.

  A mill worth 20s belonged to the manor of La Hyde in 1332. It was probably on the same site as the disused mill adjacent to Home Farm Sulham.

  On April 27th 1333 Robert Selyman, escheator of Berks, was ordered not to meddle further with the manors of Sulham and La Hyde and to restore the issues to Ada, wife of John de St Philibert and Thomas their son. All three had held the manor jointly on the day John died by the gift and grant of Henry, parson of Sulham and Richard Thurstayn by a fine levied in the court of Edward II. The manors were held as half a knights fee of the Earl of Cornwall as of the Honour of Wallingford  John de St Philibert died. His wife Ada survived him but his first son Thomas did not. His heir was his second son John, then six years of age. John de St Philibert sold the manor of Sulham, including La Hyde, to Walter Haywode for 200 marks in 1352. Walter Haywode settled the manor of Sulham on himself and his wife Joan and their heirs in 1364. In 1398 Walter Haywode conveyed the Manors of Sulham and La Hyde to Stephen Haym and Nicholas Carew. Nicholas and Hayme's daughter Mercy were married and the estates joined to Purley Magna.

The Church

The registers of the Bishop of Salisbury provide tantalising snippets of information about Purley and neighbouring parishes. In 1249 Bishop Robert Bingham confirmed the pension of 2s payable by Purley to the Abbot of Reading, but made it clear that the Abbey had no rights of advoweson in the church.

  Bishop Robert de la Wyle founded the College of St Edmund in Salisbury in 1269. It later came to own the benefice of Purley

  In 1290 Pope Nicholas required that all benefices should pay a tax towards the cost of defraying an expedition (Crusade) to the Holy Land. This tax known as Pope Nicholas' taxation was assessed at one tenth of the advowson and was to be paid for six years. In Purley's case the advowson was valued at £4-6-8 and the tax was therefore 8/8. The assessment made as the basis of this tax was used for several centuries thereafter until the reformation. The Abbot of Reading was patron of a number of benefices and cells (minor monasteries) which each paid him a pension. Purley paid two shillings a year but as Bishop Bingham had made plain earlier this did not give the Abbot advoweson.

  William de Cokham was instituted as the incumbent of Tidmarsh on 20th Dec 1298. Robert de Daleby was admitted as incumbent of Tidmarsh by John of Tidmarsh on 24th Feb 1304. He resigned later in the year and was replaced in October by John de Ely

  William de Montford, rector of Pangbourne, was given licence to live with the Abbot of Reading on 1st Dec 1301 . This was renewed again twice in 1303. The Abbot's country house was at what is now Bere Court in Pangbourne so presumably this is where they lived.

  Thomas de Baudak was ordained as a curate of Swindon, whilst the bishop, Simon of Ghent, was visiting Purley in 1306 and later that year James de Hynnecumbe was presented to the Bishop at his Palace at Sonning on 26th June and was instituted at Purley on 11th July as rector of Upcerne in Wilts by Bishop Simon

  All ecclesiastical goods were assessed at a farthing in the pound to support a teacher of Hebrew at Oxford University. The money had to be collected by the Archdeacon of Berkshire and delivered to the Prior of Holy Trinity in London by 7th July 1321. In the event the Archdeacon delivered 27s 6d from Berkshire.

  Walter Fachel, parson of Purley, owed 22 marks to James de Ispan in 1329. The bishop, Roger Martival, managed to extract one mark (13s.4d) which he sent to James by messenger. The debt was still owing a year later. In 1332 Ralph Scarpe was appointed Curate to Purley as Walter Fachel had gone blind.

  In 1334 Henry de Oxonia was granted a reservation of a benefice in the gift of the Abbot and Convent of Eynsham valued at 25 marks with cure or  15 marks without. A condition was that he resign the living of Pangbourne valued at 9 marks 

  Roger, Bishop of Bath and Wells, granted a Charter in 1337 which was witnessed by Walter de Purle - was this the Walter Haywode who acquired La Hyde in 1352?

  Bishop Robert Wyvill held an enquiry into the affairs of the College of St Edmund in Salisbury. He reported that although there were supposed to be 12 priests in residence no more than seven had ever been in residence at one time and the revenues could barely support even the seven. Peter de Wymbourne had been appointed Provost in 1335 and he set about increasing the revenues of the college, mainly by acquiring benefices, of which that of Purley eventually fell into his hands. Robert Yonge was made Vicar of Purley in 1361. Later in the same year he was replaced by Robert Farnetby. They were both presented by the Prior of St Edmund's College Salisbury. Thus some time previously the Advowson must have been sold to the college by the Lord of the Manor of Purley Magna, or possibly it was left to the College in Sir Thomas Huscarle's will

  Walter, Rector of Purley was excommunicated by Robert Wyville, Bishop of Salisbury in 1373 for having failed to pay the dues ordered by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. He was named with several others, most of whom were accused of usurping church revenues. The rectorship was held by the Prior of St Edmunds who was Walter Childenham.

  Roger Watford left Purley in 1383 and William Battesford became Vicar. They exchanged the livings of Purley and Wymering, Hants (near Portsmouth). The patron was Adam Charles, the Prior of St Edmunds in Salisbury. William Battesford exchanged the living of Purley with Adam Wrockwardyn of Tytherington, near Thornbury in Gloucestershire in 1384. Adam came from a well known family with seats in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. They eventually became famous as the namesakes of Throgmorton St in London

  William Smith became vicar of Purley in 1387, having exchanged livings with Adam Wrockwardyn who became vicar of Hannington near Kingsclere. Thomas Bonelythe came to Purley as vicar from Chobham, Surrey in 1390, having exchanged livings with William Smith. Stephen Atte Walle became Vicar of Purley  in 1391 having exchanged livings with Thomas Bonelythe who went to Hanefield in Sussex. Stephen Atte Walle was summoned by John Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, to appear before him at Sherborne Castle on August 17th 1394. He was to answer the charge that he held a lady named Rose at the Vicarage in Purley as his concubine. Stephen went to Sherborne and affirmed that he had not touched her for over six years. However the Bishop instructed him to abjure her completely on pain of deprivation of benefice and confirmed an earlier order that Stephen should appear again at Sherborne on Sept 1st to do penance. In 1405 Stephen atte-Walle exchanged livings with John Miderhill who had been vicar of St Peter's, West Clffe, near Dover since 1401. Stephen remained at West Clffe until 1416 

  John Midderhill exchanged livings in 1406 with Richard atte-Water, vicar of St Rumwold's Church in Winchester. Thomas Geoffray was instituted as vicar of Purley by the Archdeacon of Berkshire in 1413. He had exchanged livings with Richard atte-Water who went to Stantonbury (Bucks) near Wolverton. Thomas Geoffray exchanged livings with John Ferby, vicar of Little Bookham in Surrey in 1433. He remained there until he died in 1466.

   By 1436 the vicarage of Purley had been vacant and priests from Pangbourne and St Laurence in Reading had been ministering there. William Bolton was appointed as Vicar on the presentation of William Spaldyngton,  provost of St Edmund's College in Salisbury  He resigned in 1439 to be succeeded by  Richard Cotton.

  John Braace became vicar of Purley after Richard Cotton resigned in 1444.  He had been vicar of St Mary le Butts in Reading. In 1458 Henry Cooper, husbandman of Great Purle, was pardoned for not appearing before John Pryscot, Chief Justice, to answer John Braace, Clerk,  touching a debt of £17. John Braace died in 1463 and Richard Fesant deputised for him. Richard was finally confirmed as vicar of Purley in his place and instituted 'to reside there personally and continuously"

  William Stele became Vicar of Purley in 1472 after the previous vicar John Strete had resigned. John was later granted a Papal dispensation to hold Hinton St George in the diocese of Bath and Wells and one other living. John Conyng, rector of Pangbourne was granted a Papal dispensation to hold Pangbourne and one other benefice.


The Weather

It is not often that one hears of weather conditions in this period, but in 1205 the Thames froze over in a spell of cold weather which lasted from 1st Jan to 20th March. The big freeze effectively put an end to any arable farming as the land could not be tilled.  It was also reported that wine and beer were sold by weight in Reading as they had all frozen solid.

  There had been a very hard winter 1341/42 which had resulted in a lot of sheep disease. The lent corn had then failed.


The Irrigation Canal and the weir

In 1366 the Lord  of the manor of Purley Magna conceived the idea that an irrigating ditch to convey water to his farms would increase the weight of his hay crops. Unfortunatley for him the Lord of Mapledurham owned both banks of the river and complained that water was being drawn from his mill. The matter went to court and the Lord of Purley, Sir Thomas Huscarle, was twice fined 200 marks for failing to meet deadlines to fill in the ditch. The remains can be still seen today running from the lock across the meadow towards Wintringham Way, especially when the river is high and the channel becomes flooded.

  The King ordered John Grey of Rotherfield to enquire into the state of weirs on the Thames  between Henley and Streatley in 1369. He was particularly asked to comment on whether or not they were obstructing navigation. The major problem reported was at Sandford Lock.

  An entry in the Court Roll dated 7th May 1416 reported Nicholas Carowe and Richard atte-Lee have a lokke and a sewer at Purley'


Parliament and Taxation

The dues due to Henry III from Purley in 1220 were assessed as 4s for 2 carucates of land in the Hundred of Reading and 9s for  4½ carucates in the Honour of Wallingford. Also in the Honour of Wallingford was 8s for 4 carucates in La Hyde.

  The first Parliament was called to meet in Oxford on November 15th 1213. No returns have been found so we do not know who represented Berkshire. The first recorded MPs for Berkshire were Ricardus de Coleshull and Rolandus de Erele who were summoned to the Parliament at Westminster on 15th July 1290. Ricardus de Coleshul and Ricardus de Windlesore represented Berkshire at the Parliament at Westminster between 13th and 27th November 1295.

  Adam de Brumpton and Hugo le Blund were Berkshire MPs at the London Parliament of 6th March 1299 

  John de Purley was recorded as the manucaptor of Robertus Siward who was returned as a burgess for Reading to the Parliament called on 13th October 1307

  Thomas Huscarle was called to be one of the two Knights of the Shire representing Berkshire at the Parliament held on 13th Jan 1352

  33 people in Purley paid a Poll Tax totalling £1.13.0 in 1381. This was a considerable sum of money at the time and explains why the Poll Tax was so unpopular. 

  On July 12th, 1451 Thomas Broune of Great Purley obtained from John Purey and Thomas Kempston, a Recognisance for 200 marks to be levied in Berkshire. This is probably a continuation of the practice of the king raising money by by-passing Parliament, instituted by Edward III in 1340. A Protection with Clause Volumnus for one year was revoked in 1452 after having been granted to Thomas Broune, late of Great Purley, as staying in the company of Gervase Clyfton, treasurer of Calais, because he tarried too  long there


Other Vignettes

Over the years there were many other mentions of Purley in the records, but it is not easy to identify many of the people named or exactly what their role was.

  In 1202 Robert of Purley owed money to Gervase de Henton

    In 1227 Walter de Purleia attested to a grant by the Dean of Salisbury of a messuage at Mere to Reginald son of Edith 

  Walter de Purl was witness to the grant of the church of St Martin and all other churches in Salisbury to one Hervey on Jan 26th

  Tenants in Chief of the Church of Sarum were declared fee from tolls and other customs in the town of Reading. Among the people specifically listed were William Sifrewast and Thomas Huscarl

  The Black Death reached a peak in the area in 1239 and very severe again in 1348, when about a third of the population of Berkshire died between 1348 and 1349

  In 1274 Ralph and William both of Purley and others stood surety for four persons accused of the death of Philip de Hakeford who had been imprisoned in the Fleet prison (ref 44-1274-98)

  In the Hundred Roll for Mapledurham Chausey it is recorded that the Lord has 'a free fishery across the Thames for a length of one furlong.  The Lord at that time was John de Chausy 

  Hubert le Constable died siezed of an estate in Purley in 1335. It is not clear who he was or which estate he held.

  Roger Zepeswych and William Kendale were administrators of the estate of John Rothewelle who had died intestate. In 1381 they obtained a writ of Supersedeas by Mainprise of Reynold Sheffield, Henry Persones of Basildon, William Stynt of Basildon, John Percy of Purley and John Warde of Purley in favour of Adam Whelere of Basildon and Walter Croppethorne of Purley for render of 40 shillings

  William Langespey was murdered by John and Gilbert Percy at Purley in 1409

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