ID: GWG_CTN / Elaine Barker

TitleBrick House Farm alias Chestnuts, Great Wigborough
AbstractChestnuts Farm, Great Wigborough, formerly known as Brick House Farm, is situated North west side of and with a frontage to the road from Maldon to Mersea. It ceased being a working farm many years ago and most of the land was sold off to a local farmer. Up until the 1990s it used to advertise the services of a master upholsterer on a beautiful hand-painted sign hanging in the front garden.

In researching the history of the farm I was loaned the house deeds by the current owners. These deeds, which refer back to 1876, gave enough clues for me to find references to it on the Essex Records Office website, taking us back to the sixteenth century.

An 'Abstract of Title' was prepared for The Hutley brothers in 1948 upon their selling of Brick House Farm. To establish proof of title, this abstract summarises all previous conveyances going back as far as 1876 when trustees were appointed for the property, namely the steward of the Abbots Hall Manor, Frederick John Blake, and Henry Latham of the Chancery Registrar's Office at the Royal Courts of Justice. These trustees were on behalf of the descendants of Dr. Henry Cline who had been Lord of the Manor until his death in 1827.

Famously, the house was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1884 to the extent it had to be rebuilt. The house we see today was rebuilt on the site but not on the footprint of the old house, probably some time in the mid to late 1880s. Nowhere in the surviving deeds held by the current owner, does it refer to a rebuild except on one plan accompanying an indenture of 1958, see below (the lettering on the note is very faint). It reads

The new house and buildings have been resited and their positions are not as shown on this plan

Anecdotally, I am told by locals the house was 'turned round' in the rebuild.

The damage to the farm was recorded and photographed in a survey done at the time.

Chimneys were thrown down and roofs damaged at the surrounding farmhouses, Moulsham's, Seaborough, and Brick House. The latter, a substantial two-storeyed brick building occupied by Mr Charles Harvey, was much injured about the roof, the chimneys having fallen down, and the upper part of the brickwork of the front of the house just beneath the roof having been thrown down for a distance extending about half the length of the building leaving the ends of the rafters exposed. The East Anglian Earthquake Meldola & White

... at Brick House Farm, the residence of Mr C. Harvey, the house became a wreck, the roof falling so that no entrance was left to the upper part of the house, a circumstance which was the more painful through the illness of Mr Harvey. [Earthquake in Essex 1884]

[The book Earthquake in Essex does not give the source of this quotation].

When the farm became known as Chestnuts is not clear. In the house deeds, Brick House Farm is not named as such until 1929 and Chestnuts not until a 1948 conveyance. However, in Kelly's trade directory of 1894 it is named as Brick House, in 1899 as Chestnuts and in 1902, 1914 and 1929 as Brick House again!

In the transcription of the Wigborough Parish Registers by Mrs P.A.F. Stephenson, published in 1905, she refers to

a well-built house, called "The Chestnuts" formerly called "Brick House"

Charles Harvey, who was the unfortunate tenant of the farm at the time of the earthquake, is the earliest farmer listed in the surviving deeds. His and his wife Catherine's names are recorded as relinquishing the farm in 1888 - we do not know how long they had been there or when the farmhouse was rebuilt. The Harveys would have been manorial tenants of this copyhold farm, while the owners were the trustees of the late Dr Henry Cline, Lord of the Manor until 1827.

Copyhold properties were a kind of leasehold held by the Lord of the Manor, in this case, the Manor of Great Wigborough with Salcott or Abbot's Hall. When tenants took on a property they were 'admitted' at a Manorial Court involving a ritual ceremony, an oath and a financial transaction. Equally when they relinquished a property they 'surrendered' it at a Manorial Court, again involving a fee.

The Lord of The Manor between 1810 and 1827, Dr. Henry Cline, was an English surgeon, a president of the Royal College of Surgeons, a political radical (associating with leading supporters of the French revolution) and a farmer. It seems he acquired the Abbots Hall estate with the manorial rights after the death of Colonel John Bullock in 1810 paying £23,500 for the whole estate. He died in 1827 leaving his estate in the hands of trustees while his widow, Margaret, was to benefit from the estate for the rest of her life - she died in 1841. Following her death the estate was managed by the trustees on behalf of the Clines' descendents, which was still the case when the earliest surviving deeds for Chestnuts begin in 1876.

Portrait of Dr Henry Cline, English School, early 19th Century
Photo from Bonhams Auctioneers who advertised the painting in 2010

The Clines had two daughters, Frances Ann Cline and Amelia Cline. Frances Cline married a successful silk merchant, Huntley Bacon, and it is probably their grandchildren, whose names appear on an indenture of 1876 pertaining to Brick House Farm. The names of the steward of the Abbots Hall Manor, Frederick John Blake, and Henry Latham of the Chancery Registrar's Office at the Royal Courts of Justice, are among the fourteen names listed on the indenture. Henry Cline's granddaughter, Frances had married an Italian Count, Carlo Pellion di Persano, which explains the rather exotic list of names from the Italian nobility!

As for their tenant, Charles Harvey was born in Tolleshunt D'Arcy c 1825 and in the 1861 census was living in Peldon with his family and listed as a Corn Merchant. Some time between the censuses of 1861 and 1871 Charles Harvey and his wife Catherine had been admitted manorial tenants of Brick House Farm.

By the 1871 census they are listed as living in Great Wigborough and Charles was a farmer of 200 acres employing 6 men and 3 boys. The farm is not named but it is listed as Brick House Farm ten years later in the 1881 census, in his occupation with the same acreage

As we have seen, Harvey was the occupier of Brick House at the time of the earthquake in 1884 but by the 1891 census, he was living in East Road, West Mersea where he died the same year.

According to the deeds, following the surrender of the farm by Charles and Catherine Harvey, William Hutley Algar was, out of court, admitted tenant to Brick House Farm on 29th November 1888. This out of court admission essentially meant a visit to the manorial steward's office.

On 16th January 1889, a 'Deed of Enfranchisement' was agreed which records William H Algar paid £425 to render the property freehold not copyhold thereby no longer having to pay manorial fines, heriots, reliefs, quit rents or abide by manorial custom.

The Copyhold Act of 1852 allowed copyhold tenants to demand enfranchisement thus making their properties freehold or leasehold and this process of enfranchisement continued until the Law of Property Act in 1925 abolished copyhold completely.

The document lists in detail all the parcels of land and buildings which comprised Brick House Farm although the farm is not named as such. This list links these parcels of land to those listed in manorial court rolls from several hundreds of years earlier although few of the names have survived to the present day. [see Appendix 1]

ALL THOSE Copyhold or Customary lands and tenements held of the said Manor called Dodds Croft Melfield Goblett Edleys and Billetts with a messuage and buildings to the same belonging containing by estimation 50 acres more or less lying in Great Wigborrow aforesaid AND ALSO ALL THOSE two moieties of 40 acres of land called Gales holden of the said Manor by copy of Court roll AND ALSO ALL THOSE customary lands and tenements upon which a Barn formerly stood with the appurtenances called Starfords holden of the said Manor AND ALSO ALL THAT messuage or tenement called Hankin Kings with the lands and appurtenances to the same belonging customary and heriotable containing by estimation 20 acres more or less ALSO ALL THAT messuage or tenement and 3 acres of land more or less called Sharps which is likewise customary and heriotable situe lying and being in Great Wigborrow aforesaid AND ALSO ALL THOSE lands called Clarkes and garden Meadow lying in Great Wigborough aforesaid containing by estimation 20 acres more or less customary and heriotable holden of the said Manor AND ALSO ALL THAT messuage or tenement and certain lands and tenements customary and heriotable called Sowters containing by estimation 34 acres more or less in Great Wigborough aforesaid and holden of the said Manor by copy of Court roll and all & every (if any) other the messuages lands tenements and hereditaments whatsoever to which the said W H Algar was admitted tenant on the 29th day of November 1888

Executed by the said H Latham and F J Blake and attested [Deed of Enfranchisement 1888 from deeds in private ownership]

William Hutley Algar was born in Hatfield Peverel c 1864. He spent some of his working life in Hertfordshire, he was a grocer, and was to end his life in Suffolk in 1935.

William's middle name 'Hutley' was in fact his mother's maiden name and on 5th April 1895 an Indenture recorded William H Algar passing on the farm in trust to Charles Hutley, his uncle, a farmer who was already farming at Brick House.

Charles Hutley was born in Witham c 1841 and died in 1927 in Great Wigborough. He came from a family who farmed 520 acres at Powers Hall Farm in Witham employing 21 men, 7 boys and 2 women. Clearly the Hutleys were a noted family and employer in that area, there is today a 'Hutley Close' in Witham.

The family had long connections with Great Wigborough, Charles's father, William, had farmed acres of land in Wigborough much earlier. The tithe awards (which are dated 1844 for Wigborough) reveal William Hutley had been the occupier of a vast acreage in Great Wigborough which included both Abbot's Hall Farm (he is listed as Margaret Cline's manorial tenant) and the parcels of land which were to comprise Brick House Farm. He was farming over 500 acres, plus more than 120 acres of saltings at Abbot's Hall and 121 acres on Samphire Island. He also appears in the Kelly's trade directory of 1855 listed as a farmer in Great Wigborough.

By 1871, William's son, Charles Hutley, had moved to Abbots Hall Farm in Great Wigborough where, aged 30, and as yet unmarried, he was farming 706 acres employing 31 men and 8 boys. In 1881 he was still at Abbots Hall employing 29 men and 12 boys. By now he was married to Rebecca and 4 sons and 2 daughters, all born in Wigborough, are listed in the census.

In 1891, Charles and Rebecca Hutley were at Brick House with 6 sons and 3 girls at home. They are also listed living there in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

The Hutleys had 8 sons and 4 daughters in all, not all survived; their son Frederick died on 30th June 1916 in WW1 and is commemorated on the war memorials in both Beccles, where he was living and working as an auctioneer, and St. Stephen's Church, Great Wigborough. He is also commemorated in France on the Loos memorial at the Pas de Calais.

The memorial in St. Stephen's, Great Wigborough

Only months after Frederick's death in France, World War 1 was dramatically brought to Wigborough on 24th September 1916, in the shape of the German zeppelin L33 which crash landed and was torched by its crew, straddling the road at New Hall Cottages, Little Wigborough.

The enormous crowds the skeleton of this burned out leviathan attracted were seen as an ideal opportunity by the Hutleys to collect money for war-time charities

To get easier access many people walked down Coopers Lane where at the bottom Miss Gladys Hutley charged them to cross her father's land and raised a hundred pounds for the Red Cross. [Eyewitness account of Frederick Pooley 1885 - 1975 recorded by his grandson Richard Williams in 1971]

Mr and Mrs Robert Hutley and Miss Gladys Hutley, landowners and farmers with the crew of the Royal Naval Architects who were there to investigate the design of the zeppelin before it was dismantled.

The official story appears on a framed account hanging in Great Wigborough Church - the frame being made out of part of the zeppelin's structure.

Through the efforts of Mr. Charles Hutley of Great Wigborough a sum amounting to £74 4s 10d was collected from the visitors on behalf of the Red Cross Society and other War Charities

No doubt these were charities dear to the family's hearts having lost Frederick in June that year.

Charles Hutley died on 24th October 1927 and an obituary appeared in the local newspaper

Death of Mr C. Hutley
The death took place on Monday of Mr Charles Hutley of Brick House Farm, Great Wigborough. The deceased, who was 86, had been in failing health latterly. He was a son of the late Mr William Hutley of Powers Hall, Witham. The widow, five sons and four daughters survive; one son is in Australia and one daughter in Vancouver. Mr Charles Hutley began farming in 1862 at Abbott's Hall, Great Wigborough, at the age of 20, and farmed upwards of 1,000 acres of heavy land, mostly arable, in the parish for over 60 years. He was a most skilful cultivator of heavy farming.
The deceased was a member of the Lexden and Winstree Board of Guardians and Rural Council until he retired in 1925, having rendered upwards of sixty years' valued service on that authority. For many years he was chairman of the Tollesbury and Mersea Oyster Fishery Co.

Charles Hutley's will, which was proved on 22nd March 1928, appointed his wife Rebecca Clarke Hutley and his sons William Charles Hutley, Robert Hutley, Edward Hutley and Harold Ernest Hutley trustees

and declared that if and when his son Arthur Hutley who was residing abroad returned to England with the intention of permanently residing in this Country he should be an additional executor and trustee ... after certain pecuniary & specified legacies [the] testator devised all his real estate except copyholds

Charles bequeathed all his estate to his trustees and ordered it to be sold. A codicil stipulated if any trustee wanted to buy any of the property by private treaty not auction, two valuers should be appointed.

It would appear that his son, Arthur, did not return home from Australia during his life-time, but is commemorated on a gravestone among the family's memorials in the churchyard of St. Stephens, Great Wigborough. The burials' register records that he died in Sydney, New South Wales in 1953 and his cremated remains were returned to this country and interred in the churchyard.

Meanwhile, in the 1928 electoral roll for Great Wigborough, Gladys Hutley is listed as occupying Brick House Farm while her brother, Edward and their widowed mother, Rebecca are listed as occupying Brick House and Coopers Farms. 

A deed of 17th October 1929 recorded the executors W. C. Hutley of Fressingfield MRCS., LRCP.,[physician and surgeon] Robert Hutley of [New Hall] Little Wigborough Farmer, E. Hutley of Gt Wigborough, farmer, and H. E. Hutley of St Osyth, farmer, assenting in the vesting in themselves of

All that freehold messuage farm buildings 3 cottages and lands known as Brick House Farm & the pair of cottages & farm buildings known as Coopers situe in the Parish of Gt Wigborough aforesaid & containing according to the OS (1923 edition) 204 acres and 39 perches or thereabouts

Agents Fenn Wright and Stanfords valued the property at £1600 prior to Edward and Harold Ernest Hutley buying the property and land.

On 18th October 1929 Edward and Harold bought the house and land as joint tenants presumably buying out their siblings. It is interesting to note that instead of the original 204 acres the area bought by the brothers was 35 acres. Presumably the rest of the land changed hands separately.

No on OSArea

Extract from plan of Conveyance of 18th October 1929

After nearly twenty years of owning the farm, on 31st May 1948, Edward and Harold Hutley sold the farm to Annie Osborne for £2,500. It is not named in the conveyance but an attached photocopied plan says P[ar]t Brickhouse.

In the meantime, the two farmers had clearly diversified, for in 1920 they founded Hutleys Caravan Park, in St. Osyth, Essex which still thrives today, being managed by members of the family.

Brothers Edward and Harold Hutley purchased our land and adjacent beach in 1920 and we are proud to have celebrated over 95 years of providing holiday facilities on the coast at St Osyth. If you want a holiday home away from the bustle of urban life and would prefer the more commercial holiday resorts, Hutleys provides the perfect setting with its well-maintained caravan areas supported by up-to-date services. Hutley's Caravan Park website

On 8th November 1948 Annie Osborne of Brick House Farm sold to Marion Agnes Page of Kestons Farm, Great Wigborough for £2,350 - for the first time the name Chestnuts appears in the deeds.


ALL THAT farmhouse with the farm buildings and lands thereto belonging until recently known as Brickhouse Farm but now known as The Chestnuts.

The field numbers and acreages are the same as above.

The Pages were pig farmers and were to stay at Brick House Farm for ten years.

On 29th September 1958 Marion Agnes Page of Chestnuts Farm sold to Brian Ralph Barrow of Walnut Tree Farm Cottage, Copford, a banqueting manager, for £6,000. The schedule is listed as above but the 4 fields 178, 164, 146 and 165 are all listed as being pasture and No. 177 as Pasture and Farmhouse.

Brian Barrow then applied several times for planning permission for different enterprises. On 14th March 1960 he applied for permission to use a room for the sale of ice cream, tobacco, confectionery and minerals. This and the subsequent appeal were both refused.

On 11th December 1961 he applied for an addition to the farm shop to expand its use to that of a general store with increased parking facilities, again the application was refused.

On 7th August 1962 the vicar of St. Stephens Church, Great Wigborough, the Reverend Roland Hall put in a planning application for the building of a new parsonage house on part of Barrow's field No. 178. This too was refused and finally on 2nd April 1965 Barrow's application for a residential development on the same piece of land was also refused.

Within two weeks of his last planning refusal, on 15th April 1965, Barrow sold Robert William Bruton all those parcels of land forming OS Nos 146, 164, and 165 containing 30.636 acres. Bill Bruton was a substantial landowner and farmer in Peldon and Wigborough. He farmed Games Farm and Harveys Farm in Peldon, then moved to The Hyde in Great Wigborough where the family has remained for over 50 years.

On 15th May 1969 Brian Ralph Barrow sold the farm, now with a greatly reduced acreage to Joseph Ronald Moore and Kathleen Bernice Moore of Redlands, Feering Hill, Kelvedon for £9,750.

ALL THAT piece of land part of Chestnuts Farm....North west side of and with a frontage to the road from Maldon to Mersea comprising Enclosures Number 177 and 178 and containing 4.27 acres or thereabouts

Joseph Ronald Moore died 22nd June 1972 and on 20th November 1972 Kathleen Bernice Moore sold to Gordon Archibald Mason of Profits Farm, Tolleshunt D'Arcy for £22,500. Kathleen Moore née Allen was to remarry on 17th August 1974. Her address is given as Hawfinch Rd, Layer de la Haye and her occupation as a seed packer On 28th June 1974 Gordon Archibald Mason of Chestnuts Farm sold to Derek Sheridan Pipe and Barbara Adele Pipe of 64, Eastwood Old Rd; Leigh-on-Sea for £21,000

Extract from plan of Conveyance of 18th October 1929

Derek Pipe died 14th May 1998 described on his probate as a retired Master Upholsterer.

On 30th July 2007 Barbara Adele Pipe sold to Hector Frederick William and Eva Barbara South.

Going Further Back.....

Dodds Croft, Millfield, Goblett, Edleys and Billets, Gales, Starfords, Hankin Kings, Sharps, Clarkes, and Sowters [Appendix 1] are all names of parcels of land which comprised Brick House Farm in the 1888 'Abstract of Title' deed. These names can be found in documents through centuries of manorial court rolls before the names Brick House Farm or Chestnuts were even thought of.

All these names can be found in a 1596 survey of the manor of Great Wigborough with Salcott; at that point generally farmed by different individuals and not all comprising one large farm.

It does seem, however, that some of these parcels had been farmed together by the end of the eighteenth century, by the Tillett/Davis family.

In the will of Thomas Tillett, a glover and breeches maker of Colchester, who died on 3rd April 1796 he leaves an unnamed farm to his niece, Sarah Davis, his sister's daughter.

I give and devise unto my niece Sarah the wife of Thomas Davis of Great Wigborough ...Farmer (late Sarah Abell spinster) All those my two Copyhold Messuages or Tenements and Farms with the Lands Hereditaments and Appurtenances thereto respectively belonging situate in Great Wigborough ...and now in the tenure or Occupation of the said Thomas Davis.... [E.R.O. D/ABW 113/2/23]

The will goes on to say, following Sarah's death, the property and land should go to her eldest son, John Davis.

On 4th August 1796 Sarah Davis was duly admitted to the property left her by her uncle at the Manorial Court of Colonel John Bullock, presided over by his Steward, William Bullock Esq. The outline of the contents of the document appears on the E.R.O. website as follows

Admission of Sarah Davis (wife of Thomas Davis), late Sarah Abell spinster, under Will of her uncle Thomas Tillett (dated 12 March 1796).
Lands called Dodds Croft Melfield Gobletts Edleys and Billetts with a messuage and Buildings belonging, containing 50 acres in Great Wigborough, and one moiety of 40 acres land called Gales; and the other moiety of same; and customary lands and tenements on which a barn formerly stood, called Starfords.
Court of Colonel John Bullock.
Steward: William Bullock esquire.
[ERO D/DGe 447]

Colonel John Bullock, Lord of The Manor at that time, was a member of a family who throughout the 16th century into the 17th century had made Great Wigborough their home and St. Stephen's their family church. In 1637, when the Colonel's ancestor, Sir Edward Bullock, bought Faulkbourne Hall, near Witham, the leading branch of the family left Great Wigborough and Faulkbourne became their family seat, remaining so until 1898.

In the eighteenth century, the Manor of Abbot's Hall came into Colonel John Bullock's ownership by virtue of a relative's advantageous marriage to an heiress. She was the daughter of Sir Mark Guyon of Coggeshall who owned extensive estates in Essex including Great Wigborough and through a relative's intestacy, the Colonel inherited the estate and the title of Lord of the Manor.

Famously painted by Gainsborough in the early 1770s Colonel John Bullock (1731 - 1809) served as a Member of Parliament for 56 years, and was Father of the House. He was colonel of the East Essex Militia and in 1802 the High Sheriff. [Appendix 2]

There is a reference to the estate at Wigborough during this time in Muilman's history of Essex who wrote in 1772

The Manor House [Abbots Hall] is large. John Bullock of Falkborn Hall now enjoys it.

It appears from the next relevant document held by the Essex Record Office that Thomas Davis was admitted to the same property and land on 28th December 1807 nearly nine years later. Why is not clear. Had his wife died? Subsequently he was to surrender the property to William Hutley of Powers Hall Farm in Witham. It was conditional upon Hutley making various payments. The conditional surrender was dated 4th July 1835 and the details of the parcels of land the same as above.
The final surrender is dated 13th August 1838. [E.R.O. D/DGe 447]

By now the Lord of the Manor was Huntley Bacon (junior) grandson of Dr. Henry Cline.

With William Hutley we come up to the earliest surviving deed when his grandson, William Algar Hutley bought the freehold of Brick House Farm from the trustees of Henry Cline and the farm was to stay in the family ownership for the next 60 years.

.... and further

As we have seen, most of the names of the parcels of land in the 1888 deeds appear in a survey of the manor of Great Wigborough in 1596 held at the Essex Record Office [D/DU 4/22]. Land and property was often named after its occupants and with the change of occupants so its name changed. In documents often both the former and the current names were written hence Sharpes alias Billets or Gales alias Edlis.

What is remarkable is that some parcels still contained the same or similar acreage nearly three hundred years later. In both documents Sowters contains 34 acres and Sharps alias Gales 40 acres. In 1596 Clerks contained 20 acres, by 1888 it was 16. Here is a table of the names from 1888 compared with those of 1596 showing the change in spelling and in some cases probably a change of occupiers,

Dodds Croftdowdes croft
Edleys and Billets     Gales alias Edlis
GalesSharpis alias Gales
Hankin KingsHawkin kinges
SharpsSharpes alias Billets

Most of these names no longer exist but there is still a Billets Farm on the Burnt Downs Causeway over the Abberton Reservoir. This farmhouse, erected after the reservoir was built in 1936, replaced a much older farmhouse and its barn, Billets Barn, was dismantled and submerged. I believe Gobletts/Gobetts is now Godbolts [Godbolts Farm on Paternoster Heath, now in Tolleshunt Knights but once in Great Wigborough] and Starfords could well refer to Staffords Corner, Great Wigborough.

More research into the names of the individual parcels of land by exploring all the manorial rolls for Great Wigborough will reveal much earlier occupiers, see Appendix 1 for an investigation into Sowters.

If any members of the Hutley family can fill in more detail and stories of their family's time at Great Wigborough, please get in touch with the Museum. Family photos would be the icing on the cake!

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

Thanks to
The South family
Carol Wyatt

Appendix 1


I was immediately struck by the fact that the acreage of Sowters remained the same between the court roll of 1596 and the deed of 1888; it is listed by name in Surveys of the manorial rents in 1596, 1722 and 1786 and appears in the wills of two sisters. This is not an exhaustive survey of all the references to it in the Manorial Rolls - Essex Records Office has Manorial rolls for Great Wigborough from 1479 to 1810 - but those looked at reveal an interesting story.

In 1596 the right honorable Sir Thomas Howard Knight Lord Howard was Lord of the Manor and it was a John Clerke who was the tenant of Sowters.

John Clerke holdeth one messuage and xxxiiij acres
j roode x perches of land medow and pasture Customary} xs
and heriotable called Sowtirs by the yearely rent of     j herriot * [E.R.O. D/DU 4/22]

* A heriot was a tribute paid to a lord out of the belongings of a tenant who died, often consisting of a live animal or, originally, military equipment that he borrowed. Later it was a monetary payment.

By the time of the 1722 survey a man called Burdox was the manorial tenant with a subtenant, John Dod, occupying the land, again paying a rent of 10 shillings.

M[aste]r Burdox       John Dod       For Sowters heriotable [E.R.O. D/DU 4/14]

Master Burdox bequeathed his interest in Sowters to (presumably) his two daughters Ann and Sarah, for Sowters appears in both their wills written in 1765 and 1769 respectively and it is clear from Ann's will both girls held a half share in Sowters.

Ann Vaughan née Sowter, a widow, and her unmarried sister, Sarah Burdox, were residents of Greenstead Hall, Greenstead, Colchester which Ann held on leasehold. Ann's daughter, Sarah, had died leaving two very young grandsons, George and John Alefounder, whom Ann and her sister were bringing up. She wills to her grandsons when they reach the age of twenty one

All that my Moiety or half part of All that Copyhold Messuage or Tenement Lands and Premisses with the Appurtenances thereto belonging Called Sowters or otherwise holden of the Mannor of Great Copy of Court Roll. [E.R.O. D/ABW 103/1/25]

The boys are to be tenants in common and therefore any surviving brother would automatically have her whole estate. During the boys' minority Ann's sister, Sarah, was to benefit from the rents and profits of Sowters and was charged with bringing up the boys,

She maintaining Cloathing and Educating them at School

Ann also suggests they should be put out to Apprentices to Such Trades they shall take a liking to

Ann's will was written in 1765 and she was to die on 23rd February 1768. The name Vaughan is crossed out in the 1769 survey of manorial tenants for Great Wigborough and it must be Sarah, [Mrs. Burdox] listed as the manorial tenant paying a 10 shillings rent. Her tenant is Jesse Ward, and barely legible the name of Dod ( the previous tenant) has been crossed out.

Sarah Burdox wrote her will in 1769 and it was proved on 14th November 1778. She is described as of Greenstead Hall and leaves Sowters to Ann's grandchildren.

... unto my two Nephews or Great Nephews George Alefounder and John Alefounder the Infant grandchildren of my late sister Vaughan who have been since her death and now are under my Care and Tuition, all that my Copyhold Messuage or Tenement and certain Lands and Tenements Customary called Sowters containing by estimation thirty four acres more or less situate lying and being in Great are now in the occupation of Jessee Ward or his assigns and are held of the Manor of Great Wigborrow with Salcot.... [National Archives PROB 11/1047/142]

Again the boys are to be tenants in common so if one dies the other will be entitled to hold the whole estate.

George Alefounder was born in 1756 and his brother John Alefounder in 1757. The boys therefore came of age in 1777 and 1778 respectively at about the time of Sarah's death c 1778.

A memorandum held by the Essex Record Office records a surrender of George's half of Sowters in November 1789. He was, by then, a farmer of Little Wenham in Suffolk. Witnessed by two of Wigborough's manorial tenants, John Hewes and Thomas Tillett, before William Francis, gentleman, probably the steward of the manor, George surrendered half of his share of Sowters. The ERO gives an outline of the document's content.

Memorandum of Conditional Surrender by George Alefounder of Little Wenham (Suffolk), farmer, (by William Francis gentleman, and in presence of John Hewes and Thomas Tillett, tenants), to use of George Wayland of Fingringhoe, gentleman; for £400.
One fourth part of: a messuage and 34 acres land called Sowters, in Great Wigborough, (to which George Alefounder was admitted under Will of Ann Vaughan, formerly Ann Burdox spinster, his aunt, on 29 December 1769); and also one other fourth part of the said premises, (to which George Alefounder was admitted on Surrender of his aunt Sarah Burdox, on 30 August 1779). 21 November 1789. [E.R.O. Office: D/DGe 446]

In 1795 George's brother, John Alefounder, died in India and, presumably, according to the terms of both their aunts' wills the share in Sowters held by John, who had no issue, was passed onto his brother George. No other documents have been found to prove this one way or the other. It is, however, possible that John parted with his Wigborough property before his death.

John Alefounder who was born in 1757 at Greenstead, Colchester to John and Sarah Alefounder née Vaughan was a portrait and miniature painter, he studied and exhibited at the Royal Academy and won a silver medal there in 1782. For further biographical information see

This website quotes a review of a comedy where a painting of the actor, Mr, Williamson in the role of Captain Ambush by John Alefounder was used as part of the scenery in performances of the comedy, The Young Quaker, by O'Keefe at the Haymarket

The review of the first performance (19 July 1783) in the General Evening Post, Saturday 26 July 1783 issue 7711 reads:

The comedy was remarkably well dressed, and got up with every possible assistance from the theatre. It had four new scenes to decorate it, and those extremely well painted. In one of them a portrait of Captain Ambush is exhibited, which presented a very happy likeness of Mr Williamson, by Alefounder.

In his will written in 1785 John Alefounder describes himself as a portrait painter, living in Bow Street, Covent Garden. He stated the reason for making his will intending shortly to depart to Bengal in the East Indies.

John died on Christmas Day 1794 in Calcutta, and was believed to have committed suicide in desperation at his financial situation - he was only 37 and had left a wife at home. His brother, George, lived to a good age and died in 1840 aged 84. George was buried in the churchyard at Greenstead next to Greenstead Hall, Colchester, where both boys had been brought up.

As for the purchaser, George Wayland of Fingringhoe was a major landowner locally and his will written in 1790 and proved in 1795 [National Archives PROB 11/1264/41] does list a property in Wigborough.

And to the best of my recollection... I and my Wife have been admitted to a Copyhold Farm and Estate at Wigborough for the term of our lives and the life of the longer liver of us remainder to the Heirs of our bodies 

His wife, Elizabeth, was from a family named Brabe who held property in Wigborough. This it appears from her father's will [The Will of John Brabe of Abberton proved in 1761 National Archives PROB 11-863- 486] was in fact the parcel of land called Hawkins Kings in Great Wigborough, bequeathed to her before her marriage to Wayland. Of course Hawkin Kings or Hankin Kings was another parcel of land belonging to Brick House Farm!

Interestingly, in the 1844 tithe awards, although Sowters is not named, seventeen fields, all arable except one pasture, are listed in the occupation of William Hutley and listed as Alefounder and Wayland.

So why do the later deeds still record the parcel of land as Sowters, not Alefounder and Wayland? One can only presume it was in order to provide continuity going back to all previous manorial documents.

Not an exhaustive look at one of the parcels of land that comprised Brick House Farm but a start ... and more may follow!

Appendix 2:

The portrait of Colonel John Bullock by Thomas Gainsborough
Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

This portrait of Colonel John Bullock, Lord of the Manor of Abbot's Hall, Great Wigborough with Salcott, was painted in the early 1770s, by Thomas Gainsborough. It shows the colonel in full uniform resting his left elbow on a pedestal which supports a classic urn.

The Gainsborough portrait has been at auction several times in the past 25 years: it made £1.2m in 1987, and then £2.65m in 2002, both times setting a world record for Gainsborough. Before the 1987 sale it had been in the same British collection for 90 years - for a long time it was on loan to the government, and hung at 10, Downing Street for two years.
Wikepedia 20 November 2022

AuthorElaine Barker
SourceMersea Museum