As we come south along the eastern boundary of the parish the next name of interest is Hickpotts. It is a very old name, and has not varied very much in form since our first available reference to it, when it appears in the Sussex Assize Roll of 1278 as Hykeport. The meaning of the name is under discussion. It may come from ‘Hig’-‘high’ or from its ownership by one Hicca, a common name in Saxon times.

At the Assize of 1278 the jury had to decide whether Humphery of Hykeport was possessed of 17 acres of land and 1 rood of meadow in Erthingley, and whether William of Wakehurst was his next heir. Their verdict was in the affirmative on both points. The fact that the field opposite Hickpotts (through which runs the path to the Church) is still called Humphery’s field points to this field being part of the land in question. It may be noted that the way to the Church used to come straight across Humphery’s field and link up with the bridle road from West Hoathly which emerges on to the high road just to the south of Hickpotts. It was along this road that the first walking postman used to bring the letters from East Grinstead and trudge on to Balcombe via West Hill. This was before daily posts were possible.

Hickpotts was a separate farm held of the Manor of Wakehurst, the Rolls of which go back to l633. It had probably continued since 1278 under the lordship of the Wakehursts and Culpepers. No records of it are available for 300 years, but it turns up again in 1560, when John Paine, of Hickpotts, witnessed Jone Cheesman’s will. It was held by free tenancy, that is to say the tenants were practically freeholders. They had to pay a small rent, and do fealty to the Lord of the Manor, who also took a heriot on the death of a tenant, but their holding went from father to son or to the next heir so long as they kept their part of the covenant. They could not be turned out.

We find John Jenkin holding Hickpotts and Merces, otherwise Mercers, in 1665, and it appears under the head of Mercers in the Manor Rolls down to 1821. It reappears, however, as Hickpotts in the valuation list of 1803, in the possession of William Ward, who is also returned as its owner in the Church Marks List of 182l. From the 17th century we can trace its descent as a free tenancy from the Jenkins family through the Chatfield, Wicking and Allin families, to the Cliffords of West Hoathly, who alienated Mercers, and with it Hickpotts, to William Ward, which put an end to its descent by blood relationship. It had reverted to the owners of Wakehurst before 1840, and was purchased from them by the late Thomas Potter some fifty years ago. In the valuation list of 1874 Hickpots is returned as containing 66a.3r.27p., which includes Mercers. Of late years the land has been farmed with Stonehurst and Fulling Mill Farm, but the death of Mr. John Stuart has put an end to that arrangement.

Place Name Index