A House on Rayleigh Road

A Document to Evoke History

1802 deeds of a house built on the assart in the Rayleigh Road…
Neal Warren (Photo Tessa Hallmann)

The Manor of South Bemfleet
And Jarvis Hall in the County of Essex

The General Court Baron and Copy Hold Court of Swan Tabrum Gentleman Lord of
the said Manor holden in and for the same Manor on [?] Tuesday the twenty fifth day of May in the forty et second year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King Defender of the faith and in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and two [1802] Before Robert Tindal Gentleman and Steward thereto.

At this Court the Lord of the said Manor with the Consent of the Homage and of her Tenants of the said Manor did upon the humble petition of Robert Wiltshire of Thundersley aforesaid Labourer of his especial grace and favour by his said Steward grant unto the said Robert Wiltshire and deliver to him [sersin?] by the rod of all that piece or parcel of the waste Soil of the said Manor containing thirty rodd or thereabouts lying in Thundersley aforesaid adjoining the Turnpike road leading from Rayleigh to Hadleigh with liberty to erect and build a Cottage or Tenement thereon. To have and to hold the said piece or parcel of waste and premises with the appurtenances unto the said Robert Wiltshire his Heirs and assigns for ever of the Lord by the Rod at the will of the Lord according to the custom of the said Manor in the nature of Copyhold by Copy of Court Roll ffealty suit of Court from three weeks to three weeks and the yearly Rent of one Shilling payable at the ffeast of Easter in every year and the said Robert Wiltshire gave to the Lord for a ffine for this grant as appears etc and so was thereof admitted Tenant and his ffealty was respited.

At this Court the said Robert Wiltshire
Surrendered to the use of his Will
                                                                              Examined by
                                                                                  Robert Tindal
                                                                                              Steward

Swan Tabrum acquired Jarvis Hall ‘by purchase’ in 1787. The Manor of South Benfleet had been sold by the Dean and Chapter of St Peter in Westminster (alias the Abbey) in 1779-80. The two manors were rivals where their jurisdiction crossed or was uncertain. Swan Tabrum’s Court was the more active, yet it was the Benfleet Court that began settling people on wasteland like Daws Heath in 1751. Sometimes grants were given when squatters’ cottages had already been built.

Swan Tabrum, settled quite a few people on land that wasn’t really his, but he was in charge. They even called his Court a ‘pretend Court’. Settling local people there did help to tame the Heath and it stopped some of the lawlessness like the brawling and smuggling that had been endemic there. In 1792 Swan Tabrum granted roadside waste to Roger Webb and Willliam Gilman. More grants followed, converting common land to private property by both South Benfleet Manor and Jarvis Hall, even Thundersley Manor got involved.

Of the plots granted on the Heath between 1796 and 1804 twenty-five went to labourers, others to a shoemaker, a butcher, a victualler, a schoolmaster and a spinster. In 1799 South Benfleet and Jarvis Hall Manor were involved in a dispute when Swan Tabrum enclosed part of Hopes Green. More grants were made along the Rayleigh Road to labourers, including John Perry, John Dorking, Robert Wiltshire, William Wright and Thomas Wright.

From 1794 to 1796 Swan Tabrum was also churchwarden at St Peter’s Church.

According to historian Philip Benton, Swan Tabrum disposed of the seat of the Appletons to Abraham Bullen in 1806, who resold it to the Perrys of Moor Hall, Harlow.

Of interest here is the mention of Robert Wiltshire, for this 1802 document proves his ownership on the assart of the Rayleigh Road. Present owner Neal Warren has kindly let me transcribe and photograph the deeds, which still grace a wall in the house.

Robert and Hannah Wiltshire baptised three girls at St Peter’s, Thundersley, between 1798 and 1808. In 1851-1863 one Zachariah Wiltshire resided at ‘the Woodman’s Arms’. In New Thundersley, close by Thundersley Hall, in 1979 Zach Willsher was adopted as the name for a new hostelry in Church Road.

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