The Fifteenth Century

                                                    THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY ~ BY DATE

1401 - In order to ensure that they had undisputed right to the land, a charter was obtained from the then Earl of Oxford, giving all rights in the manor of Westwick to the Abbey at St. Albans. [VCH, Vol..2 p.394,] The fact that the Abbey were at such pains to secure their rights to the land, suggests to me that it was of value to them. The extent of the manor stretched as far west as Green Lane, and therefore we can safely presume that during this part of the middle ages, much of the land within the Leverstock Green area was prized either as farming land or as a source of timber, as the evidence of the field boundaries coupled with the evidence of the desirability of that land within the manor of Westwick, shows.

July 1424 -  William Palmer senior surrendered a messuage etc. and 18 acres of land called Palmerslond to his son William Palmer Junior. (This farmstead was known as Three Cherry Trees Farm earlier THIS century, and was just inside the Redbourne parish boundary to the north of Buncefield. Much of the land associated with the farm was in the Buncefield area. Today an oil storage tank stands on the site. [See map of principle properties] The property had at some time previously belonged to a Thomas Palmer.  William Palmer senior and Margery his wife were to hold for life certain rooms in the house, including "le deys hall". [HALS II.O.2; GORHAM, vol. II page 230.]

1446 - The Abbey of St. Albans again sought a charter from the Earl of Oxford, this time the successor to the Earl of 1401, granting them rights to the lands of the manor of Westwick.  The manor remained the property of the Abbey until the dissolution of the monastery in 1539. [ VCH, Vol..2 p.394 ]

12th January 1472/3 - Agnes Bune, widow, of Westwick made her will. Probate was granted just over a month later, on 12th February 1472/3.  The Bune family were important in our area in medieval times, giving their name to the Buncefield area.  According to the probate registers 1 held at the Hertfordshire Record Office the will read as follows:

    "My body to be buried in St. Michaels churchyard next to the grave of my husband.  To the high alter if the said church 6d.  For candles and lights in the said church 20d.  To the vicar of St. Michael one two gallon brass pot.  To my son Thomas my best brass pot and best bowl.  To Margaret, wife of my son Giles, one garment coloured blue called a `friend'.  To Agnes, wife of my son Thomas, another `friend'.  To the wife of Thomas Turner `a blew kyrtyll'. To Agnes, daughter of my son Giles,` a posnete trelasse' 2  and one sheep namely `a puge'.  To Alice Cottrell a green gown, `a posnete' and one sheep, a good capon and a rosary.  To Isabella Dover `a petycote'. To Agnes Dover my goddaughter, one sheep.  To the wife of Giles Smyth a red `kyrtyll'.  To each of my godchildren 4d. To Alice, daughter of my son Giles a `huke'.  I wish that my cow be leased out each year to farm for the best price.  The money received from such hire shall be distributed each year in my mourning and in good works for the salvation of my soul and the souls if all the faithful departed at the discretion of my executors, or their representatives, rigtfully appointed.  When the cow becomes old it should be sold and another purchased with the money and leased to farm for as long as the agreement should continue.  I wish that my wheat lying in the barn and growing in the fields should be sold to pay the remaining bequests to my godchildren.  If any should remain it should be distributed for the salvation of my soul and the souls of all the faithfull departed.  I appoint my sone Giles Bune and Thomas Bune as my executors.  Witnessed by George Armestrong and Edward Wylyngton."    [S232,29]

12th November 1473 - William Godeman drew up his will (as probate was given two weeks later he must have died soon after). In his will he left to his wife Joan:  
      "all those lands with hedges, woods and ditches and all the appurtenances called "Dyves" in  Westwick  in the parish of St. Michael."       [S232,39]

10th March 1473/4 - John Stoneham of Westwick made the following will upon his deathbed.  He must have died shortly afterwards as the will received probate 16 days later. It read as follows:

    "I John Stonham of Westwick in the parish of St. Michael of sound mind and whole memory fearing to be in danger of death make my testament in this way.  First I give and bequeath my soul to Almighty God, my Saviour and my body to be buried in St. Michaels churchyard.  I leave to God and the High Altar of the said church for remission of my sins, for which my past payments have not fully recompensed, 20d.  To the holy rood light in the said church 4d.  To the other lights in the said church 6d.  To the lights, or for repair of the torches in the said church, 6d.  To my son Thomas one acre of wheat.  To my son William an acre of wheat.  To my daughter Margaret one sheep.  To my daughter Agnes one sheep.  To John Stonham my grandson, one sheep.  To my son Adam two sheep for his labour in the supervision of my will.  The residue of my goods I give and bequeath to my wife Ellen so that she can pay my debts and legal expenses.  I appoint Ellen as my executrix and my son Adam as my executor and overseer."  [S232, p.44]

Although I have as yet been unable to confirm the supposition from other documents such as the parish registers and early court rolls, it seems possible that the Stoneham family gave their name to Stones Hall, (now known as Hill End Cottage). Although the listed building schedule dates the present property to the 17th century, it is frequently the case that a new building replaced previous property on the same site as at Breakspears and Bennetts End.

12th April 1477 - John Stepneth granted to John Merston and Alice his wife and their son George Merston two crofts in St. Michael. ( See also entry for 23rd Aug. 1487) [HALS IE3a]

1478/79 - A Manor Court Roll of the Manor of Gorhambury showed that Richard Dolle was granted the 20 acres of land known as Everesdonland (between Westwick Row and Westwick Hall).  It would appear that the land got its name from the previous holder of the land John Everesdon. [HALS. 1L 13]

6th April 1479 -  John Sare junior, of St. Michaels, died intestate.  The Sare family owned land in the centre of what is now Leverstock Green in the 15th and 16th centuries. (Principally Stonerds, and much of the land between Green Lane and Pancake Lane.)  Sir John Garnet, chaplain was granted the administration of his estate. [S232,p.160]

July/August 1479 - A summer outbreak of plague attacked St. Albans, which may well have effected the local inhabitants, particularly those of Westwick. [S232,p.ix]

27th December 1479 - The will of Richard Turnour from the parish of St. Michael was made. Although I have no evidence as yet to suggest he may have lived within our area, several of the bequests were made to members of the Bunne family and to the children of John Merston ( or Marston.)  Earlier in 1479 John Merston had possession of Bromley Croft, which was just on the eastern border of our area, and later in 1549 his grandson John  acquired Hill End. The will read as follows:

    "My body to be buried in St. Michael's churchyard.  To the high altar of the same church 12d and to each light 2d.  To my father 6s 8d.  To John and Cecily, children of John Merston, each 20d. To Helen Rassh for mending a tunic 3s 4d.  The residue to Thomas Bunne whom I appoint as my executor and I bequeath 20d to him for his labour in levying and collecting my debts as follows: 24s from Giles Bunne for money borrowed from me,  from Henry Harrys for threshing 14 quarters of grain not paid for (amount not given). Witnessed by Sir John Garnet, vacar of St. Michaels, Thomas Welles, parish clerk, Giles Bunne and many others." [S232,126; HALS IE6]

3rd January 1479/80 - In the will of George Armstong, an official and practising civil lawyer, he bequeaths to Giles Bunne his  `bestbyll' and to Thomas Bunne his second `byll'.3   Thomas and Giles were the sons of Agnes Bunne of Westwick who died in January 1472/3. George Armstrong had been one of the witnesses to her will. [S232,123]

13th March 1479/80 - William Gunne quit claimed (i.e. released any rights he had over the property) "to John Merston and Alice his wife and their son George Merston, their heires and assigns, two crofts in St. Michaels", which he had jointly with John Stepneth by feoffment. (i.e. it had been freehold land.)  See also entries for 12th April 1477, 27th Dec. 1479,& 23rd August 1487. [HALS IE4]

1st October 1482 - Kettlewells, or Wards, known then as Wardelonds, was known to have been in existence at this date. [ GORHAM,Vol..1 P.89 ]

26th August 1484. - Alice Harryes, widow of Henry Harrys of Westwick was granted the administration of his estate, as he had died intestate. (See entry for 7th Sept. 1485.) [S232,159]

7th September 1485 - Alice Harryes of Westwick made her will, dying shortly afterwards as Probate was granted on 24th September. Alice was the widow of Henry Harryes who had died the previous year (see entry for 26th Aug. 1484).  It is difficult to say with certainly that she was a resident of our study area, as her husband was referred to Henry Harryes of "Gorhams".  From the contents of the will, and from other wills of members of the same family living elsewhere in St. Albans, it would appear that they were very `well-to-do'.  As the manor of Westwick at this time had reverted to the monastery at St. Albans, it seems possible that Alice's Husband had been a wealthy tenant of the Abbey, possibly it's steward, residing at Gorhams i.e. the medieval farm now acting as a manor house.; having superseded the original manor house situated at Westwick Cottage, Westwick Row.  It was probably the medieval farm/manor excavated at Gorhambury by David Neal & Jonathan Hunn.

However, upon her husband's death it is quite likely that Alice would have moved to a different property within Westwick, and probably along or near to Westwick Row. (If she were still residing in her husband's house she would have referred to herself as being `of Gorhams.')  Five hundred years after the event it is difficult to prove whether or not she belongs in the Chronicle, but I shall include her entry on the probability.  The will read as follows:

    "The 7th day of September the eve of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary 1485 and in the first year of our lord King Henry VII. I Alice Harryes of Westwick in the parish of St. Michael in `Kyngesbury', widow and relict of Henry Harryes of Gorhams, of sound mind and good memory, make my testement as followes.  First and before all I bequeath my soul to Almighty God, my ceator and Saviour, Blessed Mary, His mother etc.  My body to be buried in St. MIchael's churchyard at the footpath there which leads from the north gate of the said churchyard to the priest's door of the said church, that is in the middle of the said footpath opposite the high altar.  I bequeath to the high altar 12d and to the roodlight and Sr. Mary's light in the same church 8d that is 4d to each light.  To St. Peter's church 20d towards a white cope in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  To the Dominican Friars at Dunstable 10s for celebration of a St. Gregory trental after my death for my soul and the souls of my husbands, my parents and the faithful departed. I bequeath 14d to be distributed to the poor on the day of my burial and at my month's mind or anniversary in  St. MIchael's church using the income from the increase of 12 of  my sheep for however long they may continue.  To each of my sons and daughters 4d.  To my sister Elizabeth Redhode my russet gownand my blue girdle inlaid with silver and two sheets.  To John Fledder, a kinsman of my husband Henry Harryes, one ewe, one `coverlite', one `blanket', two sheets, one `braspot', one `braspanne', one `pewter plater', one `pewter dyssh', and `my blak cofer.'  To Elizabeth Hewster one sheet, one dish, one pewter plate and 12d in money.  To my son John Beche my great brass bowl and `le paynted cloth' with the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on it, one `pewter plater', one `pewter dyssh', two silver spoons and a green gown.  To my son Thomas Beche my violet gown and two silver spoons.  To my son Richard Beche a hanging brass ewer, a glass, one `pottehangull', closth sufficient for a gown for himself and two silver spoon.  To my daughter Joan Beche a basin and one brass ewer, my violet gown ( this is the 2nd time this had been mentioned!!), three silver spoons and my chair.   To my daughter Cecily Westby one basin with a brass ewer, my blue gown, two silver spoons and my cupboard.  To the wife of Thomas Beche my black gown and my best coat.  I bequeath 40s for a suitable priest to celebrate [mass] in St. Michael's church for six months for my soul, the souls of my husbands, my parents and the faithful departed.  The remainder of my good I give and bequeath to John and Walter Beche whom I appoint as my executors and Bartholomew Westby as supervisor.  I leave to each of John, Walter and Bartholomew 6s 8d for their labour in this matter." [S232,159]

23rd August 1487 -  John Merston senior, of Hillend made his will.  Probate was granted on 22nd September, so his death must have occurred shortly afterwards. (Also see entries for 12 April 1477,& 13 March 1479 & 27 Dec. 1479).  The will read as follows:

   "I John Merston, senior, of `Hylend in Westwick' in the parish of St. Michael bequeath to the high altar 12d and to each light in the same church 4d.  To each of my godchildren one sheep.  The remainder I give and bequeath to my wife Alice whom together with my sons George, Christopher and William I appoint as my executors and William Russell as supervisor." [S232, 186]

1490/1491 - According to a court roll dated 6th Henry VII, the block of fields which had been known to have belonged to a Thomas Howes, and at one time to Peter Griggs, " did together yeld unto the Lorde an herriott".  That is a fee - possibly in the form of a horse, harness or weapons - was paid to the Lord of the manor to admit the new copyholder upon the death of the previous owner. (It was the medieval equivalent of the legal contracts signed by all parties today when transferring the ownership of a leasehold flat. The Heriot was then recorded in the Manor Rolls and a copy of it given to each party.)

The land in question included the original Tudor dwelling on the site of what we now call Westwick Farm, and the block of fields running from the farm, up to Twichel Lane (Pancake Lane) and down to Leverstock Green.  The land also included land on the other side of  Twichell Lane (Pancake Lane), and on the opposite side of Westwick Row from the farm.  (See small inset map showing the holdings in question.)  From the wording in the 1569 survey it would appear that it was Peter Griggs who had died in 1490/91.

However, by the survey of 1569 the land had been split and there were at least two references dating back to 1490/91.  The one at the end of the section referring to the copyhold lands of William Ewer is particularly amusing. It said:

    "And by the saide Courte Roll viz Anno Sexto Hennri Septican it appeareth that all the said landes were granted by coie by diverse particular names where be not here remembered for xlvi acres in the whole and Anno primo Regine Elizabeth likewise." (See entry for 1569; HALS XI2; also S93, p.21; S202]

27th March 1492 - John Halgoode from the parish of St. Michaels made his will. We know from many other later documents that the Hawgoode 4 family  owned Megdells and the land around it, and had done so for many years. John Halgoode must have died almost straight away as Probate was granted on 11th April 1492.  The will read as follows:

    "My body to be buried in St. Michaels churchyard.  To the high altar of the same church 12d.  For maintenance of the rood light 4d and St. Mary's light 4d.  For the lighys of St. John the Baptist, St Katherine and St. Thomas 6d shared between them.  For St. Michael's light a sheep.  For maintanance of the torches 12d and for the bells 6d. To Thomas Wellys, clerk, a sheep.  To my eldest son and his heires my lands and houses according to the custom of the manor.  If he dies then I wish the property to pass to my youngest son and his heires provided my wife Alice holds the lands for a period of 12 years following my death.  If Alice or my sons should die without heires before the 12 year term then I wish the property to be sold to my executors or their assigns and the money given to the vicar of St. Michael.  If Alice should remarry then she must pay to Walter Beche and John Kentyssh 40s for my youngest son.  The residue of my goods I give to Alice and John Kentyssh whom I appoint as my executors." [S232,220]

1493 -     A property called DIXIES in Westwick belonged to Robert Stodley.    [ VCH p. 401 ]

This page was last updated on: April 11, 2009
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