Monday, March 31, 2014

Pedigree of John Goien in medieval Amesbury, Wiltshire

Pedigree of John Goien in medieval Amesbury, Wiltshire

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

An undated document, written in English, from the end of the fifteenth century gives the pedigree of John Goien. The document says that John Goien had two children: Robert and Christine. Robert Goien died without issue and Christine married John Saucer and was the mother of Robert and Thomas. Robert Saucer married Alice Lytelcot and had issue Isabella, Anne and Joan.

Isabella Saucer married Walter Messenger and had issue: John Messenger, a priest and Ede Messenger who died without issue. Anne Saucer married Thomas Hobbes of West Amesbury while Joan Saucer married Geoffrey Rolfe and died without issue. Anne and Thomas Hobbes I had a son called Thomas Hobbes II who was living at the end of the fifteenth century.[1]

This article sets out to find further information on these people and thus bring them back to life for a modern generation.

The early generations

The manor of West Amesbury was held around 1242 by Patrick de Montfort from Patrick, Earl of Salisbury. By sale, purchase and inheritance the manor came to James and Elizabeth Dawbeney in around 1510.[2] John Goien lived in the area of Great Amesbury and West Amesbury in the second half of the thirteenth century. We don’t know if he ever visited the ancient monument of Stonehenge which lies in the parish of Amesbury. What impact the death of Queen Eleanor of Province on 24/25 June 1291 had on John Goien is equally unknown.

Instead much of the information that we know about John Goien and his descendents comes from property documents. During his life time he gave a tenement with a croft in Great Amesbury to Alexander de Wylegh to hold for life. Alexander de Wylegh was still alive in September 1331. John Goien also gave a tenement and croft in Great Amesbury to Ralph le Pope to hold for life. This Ralph le Pope was also still alive in 1331.[3]

In his lifetime John Goien was a witness to the land deeds of his neighbours. An undated deed that he witnessed was between Ralph the baker, son of John the baker, and William the baker, both of West Amesbury, for a grant of 25 pence of rent which Ralph used to get from Clarice the washerwoman. John le Saucer, his son-in-law, was also a witness to this deed.[4]

Sometime before November 1290, Robert Goien, son and heir of the late John Goien, made a gift with warranty, for 7 marks, of 4 acres of arable land at West Amesbury along with a meadow and a close to John le Saucer of West Amesbury and Christine Goien, his wife.[5] In 1299 Robert Goien gave a messuage and one virgate of land in Durington to the Prioress of Amesbury.[6]

As John Goien, father of Robert, was dead by 1290 it therefore seems that the second person called John Goien, who was witness to a number of deeds in West Amesbury, between 1321 and 1330, must be a son of John Goien the first by second marriage or a cousin of same.[7] The second John Goien was married to Alice and was connected with a person called William Goien. John and Alice Goien had a messuage and a carucate in Great Amesbury in 1312.[8]

As said previously, Christine Goien succeeded to the property of her childless brother Robert Goien and married John Saucer. They had two sons, Robert and Thomas Saucer. In September 1361 Thomas Saucer was witness to an inquisition post mortem at West Amesbury.[9] Thomas Saucer married a woman called Christian and had one son called Robert and a daughter called Christian. In August 1437 these two children were unmarried and so the gift with warranty by Thomas Saucer of property to John Marmell was made successive to the Isabel Messenger and Anne Hobbes, daughters of his brother, Robert Saucer.[10]

Robert Saucer married Alice Lytelcot and was dead by October 1393. On 9th October 1393 the trustees of the late Robert Saucer gave to his widow, Alice, her due dower lands, tenements and rents in West Amesbury.[11]

West Amesbury, Wiltshire from the 

On 15th January 1428 the dower lands of Idonia, wife of Thomas Saucer were divided equally between Isabel, wife of Walter Messenger and Anne, wife of Thomas Hobbes I, daughters of Robert Saucer.[12] The division of the property gives an interesting picture of the property of a strong farmer in the fifteenth century.

Walter Messenger and Isabel got thirteen separate plots of one acre each and one plot of half an acre. Thomas Hobbs and Anne got fourteen separate plots of one acre each and two half acre plots. The difference in acreage is not a problem as the division of the property was on the bases that each side would have a share of equal monetary value. Some of these one acre plots appear to have been originally two acre plots. For example both sides got a one acre plot of land in Dedeforlong between the lands of John More and Walter Paunsfote.[13]

These nearly thirty separate plots of land of one acre each would drive a modern farmer mad. My own farm is in two divisions separated by five miles and even with modern transport and machines it still takes a lot of time to get round to all the jobs. To get round to thirty different plots would like take forever. Yet our notions of the one person farmer didn't work in medieval times. In medieval times people held possession of individual plots, but all the differently owned plots in a large field, of say fifty acres in size, would be worked in a communal manner. This joint effort helped get the work done with hard working farmers and lazy farmers playing their part together.

It is difficult to know which plots were held by John Goien in the time of King Edward I from the list made in 1428. Various plots were likely to have been brought and sold over the intervening years. The marriages of the descendants of John Goien also brought unknown amounts of land into the big pool.  

In March 1455 Walter Messenger and Thomas Hobbes were witnesses to a grant of a messuage with curtilage and garden in Amesbury and the release of same by way of a lease for life.[14]

The family after 1500

R. B. Pugh in his introduction to the Calendar of Antrobus Deeds (page xiii) said that the pedigree of the Goien family, drawn up at the end of the fifteenth century was “not wholly trustworthy” and the “affiliations between Goien, Saucer, Hobbes and Ballet are extremely difficult to unravel”. Pugh gives the heirs of Thomas Hobbes I as three daughters and Thomas Hobbes II as a son who died without issue. My own interpretation is that the three daughters were the children of Thomas Hobbes II.

The Goien family pedigree made at the end of the fifteenth century described Thomas Hobbes II as then living. By 1502 Thomas Hobbes II was deceased. A detailed extent of the lands belonging to the late Thomas Hobbes II was made about 26th September 1502. This extent listed eighteen plots of half acre each; sixty-six plots of one acre each; eight plots of 1½ acres each; fourteen plots of two acres each; one plot of 2½ acres; seven plots of three acres each; one plot of 3½ acres; one plot of four acres and one plot of 4½ acres. There were five other named plots but no acreage figure was given for these. The grand total is something just over 150½ acres.[15] In modern farming this would be a good sized farm. Yet the one hundred and seventeen different plots and not all in one area (a few miles between plots in some cases) would be a nightmare.

What the 1502 extent does show is that in the modern Tudor age the landscape of the medieval countryside was still visible. Many of these plots would not have a separating hedgerow. People would know by custom and numerous law actions at the manor court where the boundaries were. There were some hedgerows in existence but the patchwork quilt of fields and hedgerows we see today are mostly the result of the enclosures of the medieval open fields which were made in the eighteenth century.  

As said Thomas Hobbes II of West Amesbury left a number of daughters as his heirs. One daughter, Avise Hobbes married John Silverthorne. By 1517 Avise and John Silverthorne had a mature son called William Silverthorne. On 23 April 1517 William Silverthorne made a gift to Gilbert Beckington of lands, rents, reversions and services in the town and fields of West Amesbury.[16]

Another daughter, Christine Feyth Hobbes, married John Ballet and they had three daughters. Agnes Ballet married John Stephens; Edith Ballet married William Stephens; and Elene Ballet remained a signal woman living in Baberstock, Wiltshire. On 20th May 1526 the three daughters and their husbands sold all their property in West Amesbury and Great Amesbury to William South of West Amesbury.[17] The sale was made possible by a settlement made two days before (18th May 1526). On that day Robert South of New Salisbury, Wiltshire made a bond of £40 to obey a judgement of Sir John Fitz James, chief justice of the King’s Bench. The judgement related to a dispute between William South (brother of Robert) and Gilbert Beckington on who had title to the lands in West Amesbury.[18]

Before October 1538 John Beckington, son of Gilbert Beckington, filed a claim before the courts that William Silverthorne, son of John Silverthorne and Avise, his wife, daughter of Thomas Hobbes II, had sold various parcels of land in West Amesbury to his father Gilbert Beckington. The court decided that such a sale was properly made and drew up an agreement to divide the lands between John Beckington and William South.[19]

The lands at West Amesbury continued in the South family for a number of generations and were enlarge by other purchases.[20] The lands acquire by the Beckington family also continued to be held by them.[21]
The Silverthorne family does not appear in the Wiltshire taxation list for 1545 but a number of members are listed in the 1576 taxation list. In 1576 William Silverthorne the elder and William Silverthorne the younger lived at West Ashton. It is possible that William Silverthorne the elder could be the same William Silverthorne of 1538. Also living there were John Silverthorne and Joan Silverthorne who was a widow.[22]

Further information on the Silverthorne family is difficult to know. The surviving medieval documents relating to property are concerned mainly with who owns the property, how much is it worth and how much do the tenants owe to the landlord. When a family sells land their subsequent history is of little concern to archivists working between the land sale and our own time. Thus our present history draws to a close until some new document surfaces sometime, somewhere.   

Medieval history is usually about royalty, great abbeys and the great barons who left behind them tons of documents. This article began with one undated document from the latter quarter of the fifteenth century. The pedigree of John Goien, contained in that document, was somewhat straightforward but also difficult to interpret properly. Yet that document, and the other surviving documents, allowed us to get a partial look in at an ordinary family who lived in West Amesbury nearly three hundred years and that is extraordinary. Although in the end the family severed their connection with West Amesbury with a bill of sale that end was with a bill of sale and not some eviction by a hungry landlord or war or plague and that is nice to see.


End of Post


[1] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625 (Wiltshire Record Society, vol. 3, 1947), no. 76
[3] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 18
[4] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 3
[5] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 5
[6] Edward Alex Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Wiltshire Inquisitions Post Mortem in the reigns of Henry III, Edward I & Edward II, 1242-1326 (British Record Society, 1908), p. 240
[7] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, nos. 9-16, 18-20
[8] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Abstracts of feet of fines relating to Wiltshire for the reigns of Edward I and Edward II (Wiltshire Record Society, vol. 1, 1939), p. 82
[9] Ethel Stokes (ed.), Abstracts of Wiltshire inquisitions post mortem in the reign of Edward III, part 2, 1354-1377 (British Record Society, 1914), p. 344
[10] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, nos. 49, 50
[11] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 36
[12] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 45
[13] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 45
[14] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, nos. 59, 60
[15] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 78
[16] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 80
[17] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 85
[18] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 84
[19] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, no. 88
[20] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, nos. 92, 112, 130
[21] R.B. Pugh (ed.), Calendar of Antrobus Deeds before 1625, nos. 107, 109, 139, 145
[22] G.D. Ramsey (ed.), Two sixteenth century taxation lists 1545 and 1576 (Wiltshire Record Society, vol. 10, 1954), p. 139 

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