The Seventeenth Century

Tillinghurst & Borough English
The Civil War
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Holders of Land circa 1667
The Close of the 17th Century

Tillinghurst & Borough English

In our last instalment allusion was made to the various manors which held the land in Ardingly and as rival powers kept one another in check and so perhaps allowed a certain independence not always possible in medieval times. Sir Edward Culpeper added much to the family estate, so that practically the whole of Ardingly was in his hands, and yet he could not alter the customs by which the lands were held in the various manors to which they belonged. At instance may be given in Tillinghurst, a farm which belonged to the manor of Plumpton Boscage. Records of its existence go back as far as we know anything of Ardingly, and from its Saxon name and its position along the line of the Roman road, we may guess that it has been in cultivation long before any extant records. The name of two of its fields, Great and Little Sarrups, is an interesting puzzle, and it is worthy of record that on those fields stone implements are said to have been found.

Land belonging to the Manor of Plumpton Boscage was held by the custom of Borough English, that is to say, on the death of the farmer the holding went to his youngest son. The origin of the custom lies in the very early settlement of Britain, and is said to have arisen from the fact that the elder sons were generally able to fend for themselves by the time of the father’s death, and therefore provision was made only for the youngest. The custom is called Borough English to distinguish it from the later Norman custom of the eldest son being the heir, and is proof that the manor was in existence before the Norman Conquest.

Sir Edward Culpeper bought Tillinghurst from William Newnham in 1616, since which date it has always been held with Wakehurst, though following the custom of Plumpton Boscage, until legislation put an end to Manorial tenure.

It may be well to group here some of the known references to Tillinghurst:

  • 1296: Lay Subsidy William de Tytyngehurst 16d
  • 1327: Lay Subsidy Johne de Tytyngeherst 1/s
  • 1332: Lay Subsidy Johe de Tytynghurst. Taxator.
  • 1342: None Inquisits John de Tydingehurst. Juror.
  • 1379: Poll Tax Richard Tytingehurst 1/s (married?)

Memorandu. that Abraham Nicholas and Thomas. Newenam of West Hill are chosen Churchwardens this xxvth day of December ao. doi 1604. Left in their hands. vi’. They have given up their accompt and the parish is a xi” in their debt.

Memorandu that Thomas Susan and Roger Comber were chosen churchwardens this first of Aprill 1605.

Memorandu that John Baxshal ye elder and William Rusel were chosen Sidesmen for the year 1605

Memorand. that John Comber and Anthony Miliam were chosen for noysome fowle.

Memorandu that John Virall the younger and John Balcombe of Strudgate were chosen churchwardens this yeare.
Memorandu that Thomas Suzan and Roger Comber churchwardens have given up their accompte this xith of May 1606 and that they have delivered up unto the new churchwardens John Viral and John Balcomb the sume of ixs xid

Anno dom. 1607.
Memorand. that John Adkins and John Bursty were chosen Churchwardens this Easter An° dom. 1607.
Memorandu yt John Virall and John Balcomb have given up their accompte and they have given to the new churehwardens John Adkins and John Bursty of Avens—and they have laid out as much as they received.

Anno dom. 1608.
Memorand. that Georg Linfield and Georg Chesman are chosen Churchwardens this 28 of March Anno pd.

Ano Born. 1609.
Memorand. that John Pilbeam and Richard Crips Junior are chosen churchwardens April 23. 1609.
Memorand. that Georg Linfield and Georg Chesman have given up their accomptes this last of April 1609 and they delivered y’ which was left vis ijd
Memorand that John Wheler and Edmond Morer were chosen Churchwardens this ix of Appril 1610.
Memorand that John Pilbem and Richard Crippse have given up their accompte for their yeare and delivered to the new Churchwardens ijs’. iiijd
Memorand that this year ther is set out for the collection (?) for Richard Paine iijs iiijd

Item he hath received out of the Churchwardens reckoning xxiijd

The old document, the fifth portion of which is printed above, calls for some comment to bring out its full interest. Points to notice are (1) that no Churchwarden, Overseer of Highways or noisome fowl served for more than one year, (2) that no squire or gentleman appears in the list. The men who served their Church and parish were all of the farmer class. An Act of Henry VIII forbad Churchwardens to serve for more than one year, and in addition the amount of business which fell on them was so great that no man who had his living to get could spare the time for longer. The whole provision for the poor, for disabled soldiers, poor prisoners and hospitals, the upkeep of roads and bridges and the assessment and collection of rates, the maintenance of good order, the prevention of the spread of disease, and the collection of fines from those who went astray, all fell on the shoulders of these unpaid officials, who, with the petty constable (also an annually – elected amateur), were responsible for the good behaviour of the parish as well. Is it surprising that one year was sufficient?

The squires served as Justices of the Peace to whom churchwarden and petty constable had recourse at any moment to confirm them in their actions, and who also could fine those luckless officials heavily should they fail to carry out their duties properly.

The methods of parish business in those days resulted in a large number of persons being educated in responsibility and becoming acquainted with the work of the State. Men who would otherwise never have left their native village had to travel to Lewes for the Assizes or even to London on parish business. They were in fact the direct agents between the government and the people and knew the working of the law by having to put it into operation. They were brought by their office into touch with men of more education than themselves and we may be sure that all the news brought from outside was well discussed at the monthly meeting of the parish officers.

Precautions against infectious disease were especially needful in the 17th century when there were many outbreaks of plague. Ardingly did not escape. The Registers tell us that on “Sep. 10. 1610, John, son of Nicholas Chatfeild, was baptised at Linfield because the plague was then in Ardingleigh and at that time ther were no praiers at the Church for two Sundayes.”

There were twenty burials between August 30th and October 8th in 1610.

The unusual occurrence of the Churchwardens not being elected till December 25th in 1604 is probably due to a vacancy in the living, Richard Kitson being appointed in the following year.

Anno Dom. 1617.
Memorand that Mr. John Choimley and Robert Picknoll were chosen Churchwardens this 21. of Aprill 1617.
Mernorand that John Killingbeck and John Ashfold were overseers for the poor this xxi of Aprill 1617.
Thomas Busty and James Pike were chosen surveyers this xxi of Aprill 1617.

Anno Dom. 1618.
Memorand that John Killingbeck and Richard Crippes were chosen Churchwardens this yeare 1618.

Memorarid that the xixth of April 1618 Robert Picknoll churchwarden gave up his accompte to the new churchwardens and delivered into their hands xijd

Memorand that Henry West and William Nicholas were chosen overseers Anno 1618. Thomas Suzan and Ninian Jenkin were surveyors 1618.

Mernorandn that Edmonde Moorer and Richard Payne were chosen Churchwardens this yeare Anno Doni 1619.

Memorandn that George Chesman and Thomas Bridges were chosen overseers Anno 1618 (1619?). Roger Comber and Richard Burstie were surveiors in anno pdicto.

Memorand yt Ninian Jenkin and William Nicholas were chosen Churchwardens this year 1620. Memorandn that Thomas Payne and Willm Leigh chosen overseres for this yeare 1620. Memorandn that Richard Willerd and John Glover were chosen surveiors for this yeare above said.

Memorand yt John Ashfold and George Cheseman were chosen Churchwardens this Easter 1621.
Memorand yt Richard Lepd and Thomas Chesman were chosen surveyors 1621. Robert Bowen chosen for noysome fowle for this year 1621.

Memorand that Thomas Tullie and Richard Willerd were chosen Churchwardens this Easter 1622 Memorand that Edmond Moorer and Roger Comber overseers for Anno 1622. Owen Botting and John Geale chosen surveiors for this year 1622. Thomas ffeorall for noisme fowle. 1622.

Memorand, that William Leigh and Edward Paine were chosen churchwardens the 14 of Aprill 1623.

Memorand yt James Pike and John Geale were chosen overseers this 14 of Aprill 1623. Edmond Moorer and Robert Browne were chosen surveiors 1623. Henry Davie for noysome foule.

Memorand yt Thomas Pilbem and Richard Comber were chosen Churchwardens Anno. 1624.

Memorand that Richard Cripes and Owen Bottinge were chosen Overseers anno Domini 1624. for Surveiors that yeare aforesaid are Thomas Bridges and Roger Comber for Noysome foule Alexander Iliman anno pdto

Memorand that Ninian Jenkin and Henrie Davie chosen Overseers this xviiith of April 1625 for the poore of Ardinglie. John Killingbeck and Thomas Burstie were chosen Churchwardens for Ardinglie the daye and yeare abovesaid.

John Killinbeck and William Nicholas were chosen surveyors the daye and yeare abovesaid. for noysome fowle were chosen Owen Bottinge and Richard Comber Anno dni 1625.

Memorandn this xxvi of March Anno Dni 1627 were chosen to be Churchwardens for the parish of Ardinglie Michaell Martin and Jeremiah Jenner.

Overseers for the said parishe poore Thomas Pilbeame and Richard Payne of Hooke. Surveiors Richard Infield John Killinbecke. For Noysome foules Ninian Jenkin Francis Weller.

Anno Dom. 1628. April 14.
George Cheeseman and …. Churchwardens

Frauncis Paine and Thomas Gerard Overseers for the poore

Ninian Jenkins, John Virroll Surveyors for the highwaies

Richard Payne, Alexander Ilman Suryvisors for the destruction of noisome

The Civil War

In writing of the 17th century one’s first thought is to look for some traces of the Civil War, Although no great battles were fought in Sussex the county played its part, and the battle of Haywards Heath in December, 1643, brought the fighting to our own borders. Doubtless some of our people were there too, especially as their feelings had been considerably ruffled by the high-handed procedure of the Puritan Committee who had sent a company of Dragoons only a few days earlier to eject the Rector, Richard Teynton, for his loyalty to the King.

The method pursued by the Committee was to bring accusations against any parson suspected of loyalty to King and Prayer Book in the District where Parliamentary forces prevailed, to sequestrate the benefice, eject the accused, and appoint a Puritan minister, who probably in his turn had been ejected by the Royalist Army in other parts.

The charge brought against Richard Teynton, after rehearsing the personal accusations common in such circumstances, runs as follows :—

“that he hath read in the said Church (Ardingly) declarations in his Majesties name for the raising of horse and money to maintaine warre against the Parliament and against the Militia, and hath stirred up his parishioners to joyne with the King’s forces and hath affirmed that he would bear out his curate in refusing to deliver the Sacrament to such of his Parish as would not come to the rails to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.”

At the end of one of our Register books is this entry :—

“Richard Teinton was voted out of his late Parsonage by the Hble Committee of the house of Commons in Parliament August 16, 1643. The cause why hee was thus voted is manifest to the world. Hee the said Richard was ejected Novemb. 29th by a Companie of
Dragoniers sent by the Command of Captaine Symon Querenden do Lewis.”

Tradition has it that the villagers opposed the Dragoons to the best of their ability with their backs to the churchyard wall, a tradition which is supported by the fact that there was a wall on each side of the chief gate up till quite recent times.

Sir William Culpeper was the patron of the living, but he being Royalist his rights were ignored and the Committee sent their own nominee.

“Mr. John Wing a plunder’d Minister some time Parson of Elmdon in the County of Warwickshire, was approved off by the reverent Assembly of Divines and sent by Order from the Hble. house of Commons to officiate the Cure de Erthingleigh, and had possession of the said Church Oct. 29, and allso took possession of the parsonage house November 29. 1643.”

But Mr. John Wing for causes which, though not recorded, can be imagined from after events, found it desirable to leave this parish very shortly, and in 1644 Sir William appointed the Rev. George Bladworth, formerly Vicar of Lindfield. The Committee immediately retaliated by sequestrating the living and appointing John Braine. This was too much for Ardingly, and John Braine had such a bad time that he applied for protection on three separate occasions in 1645 to the Committee then sitting at Lewes. They sent to Robert Spence, Magistrate at Nayland, Balcombe, stating that Braine “was much vilified and contemned by certaine turbulent persons” and desiring Spence to protect him “from such riotous and abusive practices . . . as it shall tend to the quiet of the said place.” But Spence’s efforts prevailed not, and a second letter to him states;

“that the violent and outrageous behaviour of divers ill affected psons bath not only much hindered and discouraged in the exercise of his ministry but hazzarded his pson also—the violence of them is for still soe high” that the Committee desire “that such psons whome you shall find contemners of the authoritie of Parliament, in hearing contynued disturbances of him, you would retorne their names to the Committee Aug. 19. 1645.”

On the third occasion the opposition of the parishioners the Committee “conceive doth arise chiefly by the great opposicon of Sir Wm Culpeper.

The contention was still further complicated by Bladworth’s claim to a portion of the income as due to him on his deprivation in 1644.

Eventually a compromise was arrived at by a fourth Rector being appointed. In Ralph Rotherham a man was found who was acceptable both to Sir William and the Committee. He entered in 1645, was confirmed in possession of the Rectory at Easter, 1646, but not inducted till the Restoration in 1660.

Thus ended an unseemly position typical of the struggle for religious domination then prevailing throughout the country and one that must have harmed our parish greatly.

The Commonwealth

One of the results of the Puritan ascendancy was the passing of an Act of Parliament directing the appointment of a Registrar in each parish to take the parson’s place in publishing banns of marriage and to register births and burials. After publication of banns in Church, Chapel or Market Place, the marriage was to be performed by some Justice of the Peace. Thus the religious side of marriage was ignored altogether and the civil contract was all that mattered.

The first Registrar for Ardingly was Thomas Basset, a tailor, who had lived here for some 19 years. He was elected by parishioners and confirmed in his office by Thos. Chaloner, of Kenwards, Lindfield, Feb. 27th, 1653/4. He only I held office a short time. George Cheeseman, one of many of that name who served this parish between 1575 and 1747, was next elected. The George Cheeseman in question was sworn in on June 28th, 1655, by Robert Spence, the Magistrate, of “Neyland,” Balcombe (see – Civil War).

Our people do not seem to have made much use of the Commonwealth’s arrangement for civil marriage. There are four entries in Lindfield register of Ardingly persons being married by Major Chaloner at Kenwards. He also signs the Ardingly Registers on two occasions, one being that of George Cheeseman’s own marriage, on June 11th, 1655, with Anne Teynton, doubtless a daughter of the Rector ejected in 1643.

Owing to the troubles in 1643-5 and the action of the Commonwealth rulers, our Registers are very imperfect during this period, no entries at all having been made during Thomas Bassett’s time of office.

The following entries in Cuckfield Register are interesting, as mentioning an Ardingly parson not otherwise known:

“1654. Dec. 4. William Spirling husbandman and Anne Myles md at Ardingly by parson Hull.” “1655. Ap. 14. William Burrell husbandman and Anne Fairehall spr md by Parson Hull of Ardingly.”

The Restoration

The close of the 17th century saw the fall of the Culpeper family, which for 240 years had played the chief part in the history of Ardingly.

Sir William Culpeper, the first Baronet, died in 1678, and the entry of his burial runs as follows :—

“ Dec. 6. Sir William Culpeper, an Antient Baronet, was Buryed under the great stone close to the south window in the Chancell.”

Benjamin, his eldest son, had died eight years previously (1670), therefore the title and estates went to William, Benjamin’s son by Judeth, his second wife, who at the time of his grandfather’s death was but a child of ten.

It is to Judith, second wife of Benjamin and mother of the last Culpeper of Wakehurst, that we owe the fine Church Plate which is in use at the present time.

At the end of the 2nd Parchment Register are the following notes :—

“May. 18. 1673. Memorandum that Mrs Judeth Culpeper widow of Benjamin Culpeper Esqr deceased did then give unto the Parish of Ardingley A silver flagon Cup and Cover weighing 52 ounces for the use of this Church in the Administration of the Holy Sacrament of the Lords Supper, witnesse Her Hand.
Judith Coulpepr.

In consideration of this Gift we the parishioners of Ardingley doe give the disposal of the old Cup and Cover with a Pewter Flagon to the above named Judeth Culpeper. April 20. 1674.
Witnesse John Wheeler, Thomas Pilbeame – Churchwardens.

Succeeding generations have used these gifts, as they have used our Church, in seeking God’s grace with which to meet the difficulties of their time. We stand on the foundations which they wrought and it is for us to add our share. In a time like the present, which bears much similarity to that which followed the strain of the Civil War in the 17th century, it is up to each one of us to be steadfast, that the face of the nation may be set towards upright dealing and against selfishness.

Young Sir William was one of those who succumbed to the temptations of a gambling and lascivious age. Perhaps for want of a father’s discipline, perhaps for the “blind fondness” of his mother, he very early showed signs of a wilful, extravagant nature, which all the efforts of his relations failed to check. He came of age in 1689, and so wasted his property in gambling and extravagance that he was obliged to sell Wakehurst and the Ardingly estates five years afterwards (1694). The rest of his life he spent in London, despised and dishonoured till his death in 1740. Thus was the family of Culpeper of Wakehurst brought down from its high estate by the foolish wilfulness of one young man.

The diary of Giles Moore, Rector of Horsted Keynes, gives a good deal of information about these times. The following concern Ardingly :—

“1657-8. I received of Edward Wickham of Ardingleigh for the keeping of 5 ewes and 5 taggs from 3d Decr till Lady Day besides the giving him a cwt. and ½ of hay in the snowe for which I took nothing. 16.6.”

“On 16. April 1660 being Palm Sunday Madame Culpepper was buried in the chancell at Ardingly. I went thither to hear Mr. Rotherham preach leaving my owne church unserved but I both preached and gave the sacrament that day.”

The Madame Culpeper here mentioned is doubtless Benjamin’s first wife, there are several other references to her in the Diary. No burial is recorded in the register between March 1660 and 1664.

Holders of Land circa 1667

The following list is taken from the second Register Book (1652-89), at the end of which it is entered without any date. Judging from internal evidence it is prior to 1669.

A rate and valuation of the lands within the Parish of Ardingleigh, according whereunto the severall taxes and assessement for the Church and for the poore and for all other uses are to be made and raised from time to time when need shall require a fourth part of the due valew of the said lands being abated.

Sr William Culpeper, for Wakehurst and the Parke and Piercelan and Forccs farme…15000
Walter Burrell, Esqr for Rivers Wood410
John Spence Esq’ now tenant to Ardingleigh hammer1010
Anthony Holdford, for Bursty farm
for his home land
Francis Hamlin, Senr for Bauldeigh
for the Fulling Mill land
John Streat for Tettinghurst2700
Francis Hamlin Junr for Avens
for Hornes land
George Pilbeame for Townehouse3600
John Tully for Knowles
for Cleeves farme
for Paines farme
for Jenners farme
Richard Gibb for Stoneland and Willings1500
Thomas Chapman for Upper Lodge1015
Thomas Chapman and John Grames for Davies, sometimes John Chatfields, Senr2210
John Chatfield for Sause land2400
William Chapman for his part of Liod and Withyland3710
John Wheeler for the other part of Liod3300
Abraham Nicholas for Stonehouse1300
John Jenkin for Hickpotts and Merces2110
John Piggott for West Hill. sometimes Martins, cald Perimans2210
Edward Newnham for West Hill2210
William Brooker for Strudgates Farme175
John Cheesman for his farme of Sir W. Culpepers265
Elias Vinoll for Dewes145
William Terry for Hookehouse710
John Paine for Tinkers310
George Firghall alias Virgoe for Nutfields300
Nicholas Martin for Lower Awell and his home house1610
Stephen Comber for Rivers farme
for Ryeland
Richard Bridges for [blank]55
John Kilhingbecke for the Lower Lodge
for the Berry
George Leopard for the Copyhold410
Richard Russell300
Richard Buttenshaw for Awell and Homewood feild900
John Grames for his land in Ardingleigh15
Widdow Feidwicke for the land lying in Ardingleigh1500
Francis Comber for the Mill10
Andrew Browne for his feud in Ardingleigh10
Edward Balcombe for his house and land200
George Cheesman16
John Garrett for his land in Ardingleigh5
Wheeler’s feild300
Henry Bray for his home land315
Sum totald of this valuation 76816

SOME YEARS AGO a token issued by George Cheesman, of Ardingly, in 1667, was found in the parish which had not previously been recorded by collectors. Another has recently come to light with the same inscription, but octagonal in shape, and dated 1668. It is unusual for two to be issued by the same trader at such a short interval of time. There is only one other octagonal token issued in Sussex.

The Close of the 17th Century

Before dealing with the 18th Century, which is practically modern history, it may be well to try and picture Ardingly as it was when medieval customs were breaking down and new forces were soon to effect great changes.

At the close of the 17th century the population was very small. In a religious census (there was no other) taken in 1676 there were 120 people of 16 years and upwards, so that about 200 would probably be the outside total. They lived in about 30 scattered farms and in three small centres, Wakehurst, Ardingly Street near the Church, and Hapstead. Many of the farmhouses are much the same now as they were then, but the few cottages that there were, being of daub, wattle and thatch, have since gone to decay. The land, with the exception of that surrounding the farmsteads, was mostly unenclosed. Roadside hedges were non-existent and the roads themselves shifted and turned to avoid bad places which made wheeled traffic dangerous and walking impossible. Cultivation of the land was on the three-field system, one lying fallow every year. The custom of cultivating certain fields by the villagers in common was one of those methods which was dying out as no longer practical, but the name Hapstead Field, part of which is now the Recreation Ground, no doubt marks the spot where Hapsteadians of former days cultivated their strips with a plough, which was common property. Oxen were then the tractors and they held their own in Ardingly down to 1860. After the crops were off the temporary fences were thrown down and the cattle belonging to the tenants of the manor roamed at large over the fields during the winter, a disastrous method for all concerned. There were also the Commons and Greens for pasturage, but it is a mistake to suppose that these and the waste of the Manor were open to all and sundry. The tenants of the Manor had the right of pasturage according to the custom of their respective holdings, and were often strictly limited as to the number of beasts they were allowed to feed on the open spaces. Anyone who exceeded his rights in this way was called to order by his brother tenants at the Manor Courts and often fined. We had Hapstead Green, Bingham’s Green and Lywood Common, and certain farms held of Ditchling Manor had the right of pasturage on Ditchling Common. Lywood Common is the only one now unenclosed and that does not seem to have been open to Ardingly but reserved to the tenants holding of Streat Manor—such as Berry, Lywood, and Withylands.

In some old maps there are scattered spots in the parish called in each instance “Part of the Hundred Acres,” a name that Archaeologists may interpret as a link with the time when the Hundred was a live institution. Although Ardingly was purely an agricultural village it was self-supporting after the manner of those days. Home-grown corn, timber, iron, leather, wool and flax were also home-manufactured. The earliest record is of a wheelwright, but miller, weaver, glover, fuller and shoemaker all pursued their trade here. There is a record, too, of one George Jenkins “Traveller and Harper.” But all this was to be swept away by the economic forces which were sapping the old order. Perhaps the change is well epitomised by the fact that for the first time in its known history Wakehurst and its Manor changed hands for Money. In 1694, for £9,000, the inheritance of the Wakehursts and the Culpepers passed to Dennis Lyddell, a man who was a Commissioner of the Navy and had, after the manner of those days, gathered wealth in consequence.

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