TitleHistory of Moor Farm, Peldon
AbstractHistory of Moor Farm, Peldon

Moor Farm Listed Grade II
C17 house, timber framed and weatherboarded, with red plain tile roof. Two storeys. Three window range double hung vertical sliding sashes glazed in margins. Two red brick chimney stacks Lean-to extension at rear with grey slate roof.

This article is essentially the middle one of a trilogy, all three about different aspects of this listed farm's history. It sets out to fill in what we know between the 16th/17th century Comyns family and the 20th/21st century family, the Martins, who have owned the farm exactly 100 years this year (2022).

The house known as Moor Farm, according to its listing, was built in the 1600s. During its history it has been known as Eybbenhams or Tibbenhams alias John Adams, *Comyns and then Moor Farm; all these names derive from some of its earliest owners.

* spelt Comyns, Comins and Commyns

Thanks to the documentation for a charity which still exists today, Comyns Charity, we know that a condition of ownership of the farmhouse, requiring a donation to Peldon and West Mersea parishes annually of £6, was established in 1613. [See Comyn's Charity / Elaine Barker ]

In his history St Mary The Virgin Peldon the Reverend Anthony Gough quotes the translated text of the relevant document

holden for the Manor Peet Hall on the 20th July, 11th James I, a messuage [house, outbuildings and land] and half a rod of customary land, called Eybbenham's, in South Peet, and a marsh called Richmond, were granted by the lord to John Comyn, his heirs and assigns, who was admitted to the same in trust that he, his heirs and assigns, should pay to the lord of the Manor 6l [£6] annually for ever by equal portions at Christmas and Midsummer, one half to be distributed among the poor inhabitants within Peldon and the other half among the poor inhabiting within the parish of West Mersea, on 2d February and 1st August, by the overseers and guardians of the parishes

The Reverend Gough goes on to say

Some Parliamentary returns of 1786, and our own Parish Overseers' Book, state the donor of the charity to have been Stephen Comyn.

The 1607 will of Margaret Commyns, a widow, of Peldon reveals she had sons called John and Stephen, so it is quite possible that the farmhouse and the charitable obligation was passed between the two brothers, hence the confusion between the two names. The will tells us Margaret had three sons, Stephen, John and Robert, and a married daughter, Margaret Jarman, with a grandchild, Gregory Jarman. It is quite likely that Margaret Commyns lived at the farm that bore her name. [ERO The Will of Margaret Commyns 1607 D/ABW 10/229]

In a later deed of the farm it becomes clear that Comyns subsequently became known as Moor Farm. This change of name was probably as a result of being held by a Manorial tenant, William Moor, who gave up the farm in 1729.

All the surviving documents for Moor Farm make it clear that it was owned by the Lord of Peet Manor (in more recent times spelt Pete) and all tenants were copyhold tenants (a kind of leasehold). Tenants would be admitted to the property at a Manorial Court after swearing an oath to abide by all the conditions of their tenancy. When they relinquished or surrendered the property, likewise they had to appear at the Court. Many tenants were quite well-off landowners themselves and holding the property was an investment rather than a home, so the farm was let to men who would actually live and farm there with their families.

Deeds for Moor Farm are held in Essex Records Office and comprise a bundle of 21 documents covering the period from 1729 to 1880. [ERO Deeds of Moor Farm D/DEt T47]

On 28th June 1780, an abstract was prepared for the admission of James Harrison, blacksmith.

The property is listed as being called

Comins otherwise Tibbenhams in South Peet and a marsh called Richmans and is held by the Manor of Peet Hall

The sequence of Manorial tenants is given in this abstract as follows

1729 Comyns was surrendered by William Moor to James Abbott (who was also admitted to Richmans Marsh formerly held by William Cevars then William Stacemore). The farm remained in the tenure of the Abbot family for almost fifty years.

By 1740 James Abbott had died and his widow Elizabeth Abbot was admitted tenant.

In 1778 George Watts and his wife Elizabeth who was the only surviving child and heir of James Abbott senior had agreed to surrender the property to Robert Harrison. In the intervening time Elizabeth Watts died and Robert Harrison died before he could be admitted to the property.

In 1780 James Harrison, Blacksmith, (Robert's brother) was admitted to the property with their father Robert acting as 'attorney' i.e. representative.

On 1st January 1825, Blacksmith, James Harrison of Abberton surrendered the farm to the Lord of the Manor of Peet Hall [ERO D/DEt T47]. It would appear he was borrowing £300 as a loan or mortgage with interest from Thomas Catchpool of Colchester, an ironmonger and brazier. If Harrison defaulted then Catchpool would become the manorial tenant.

The property was described in detail

All that one Messuage and half a Yard Land called
Comins Land otherwise Tibbenhams in South Peet and
now called by the names of The Moor Farm And also
one marsh called Richmans formerly of William Cevars
and late of William Stacemore Customary and *Heriotable
with their and every of their Appurtenances as the same
were late in the tenure or occupation of James Borrodaill
and are now in the occupation of James Brown his
Undertenants or Assigns (To which said Hereditaments
and premises the said James Harrison was admitted
upon the death and as eldest Brother and Heir of
Robert Harrison at a Court held for the said Manor on
the Twenty eighth day of July in the Year One
thousand seven hundred and eighty) and which said
Land called Comins Land otherwise Tibbenhams is now
Arable Land and divided into three fields and is situate
in the Parishes of Peldon and West Mersea on the road
leading from Colchester to Mersea Strood two of which
said Fields with the said Messuage and a Barn are
situate on the left side of the same road and the other of the
said Fields is situate on the right side of such road And which
said Marsh called Rickmans is situate at the back of the said
two fields and between Lands belonging to George Round Esquire
Together with all and singular houses outhouses barns stables
orchards yards gardens lands meadows pastures feedings woods
underwoods ways paths passages waters watercourses commons
privileges profits commodities casements advantages
hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever to the said Messuage
Land Hereditaments and Premises hereinbefore mentioned

*a heriot was a kind of death duty paid to a Lord of the Manor when a tenant died, often consisting of a live animal.

James Borrodell is listed above as the former occupier with James Brown the current occupier of the farm. There is an interesting connection between James Borrodell and the Harrisons for an illegitimate child named James Borrodell Harrison was born to Hannah Harrison, sister of our blacksmith, James.

James Harrison died in 1829 not having paid off the loan from Thomas Catchpool.

In the tithe awards for Peldon, surveyed and published between 1838 and 1840, Moor Farm's owner is listed as Jane Harrison with the occupant Samuel Cooke. Samuel is mentioned again the following year in the sales particulars for the farm. Whether Jane was the widow of James Harrison hasn't been established, but she was clearly related and they did have a daughter called Jane who could have been named after her mother.

In 1840 the farm was sold with a tenant, Samuel Cook. The auction was to be held at the Blue Posts Inn, Colchester on Tuesday 3rd March 1840 at one o'clock.

Called the "MOOR FARM"

Comprising a Farm House and Barn, and TWENTY ACRES (or thereabouts) of very
superior arable and enclosed marsh LAND, eligibly situate on the high road from
Colchester to Mersea, in the parishes of Peldon and West Mersea, now in the occupa-
tion of SAMUEL COOK, as Tenant from year to year, at the RENT of
      £45 PER ANNUM
This desirable little Property is copyhold of the manor of Peet Hall; but being subject only to a
trifling fine certain on death or alienation, with a heriot on death, and the lord having no right to
timber, it is considered equal to freehold.
    There is an annual Fee-Farm Rent of £6 payable out of the estate to the parishes of West Mersea and Peldon; and it is also subject to a Land-Tax of £       and *Quit-Rent of £  

      [ERO Sale catalogue: SALE/B108]

* a quit-rent was payable to a Lord of the Manor by a tenant in lieu of other customary manorial services

The name of the copyhold tenant is not given but it is likely to be the Harrisons who had held the farm for 60 years by then.

In the poll book of 1830 John Chignall*, (whom we are about to meet as the next occupier of Moor Farm), was living in a house belonging to Thomas Creek in Peldon and he is still there in the tithe awards of 1838-1840.

* also spelt Chignell

In the will of Thomas Creek who died in 1839, Chignall is described as a shopkeeper.

From a letter in the local newspaper in 1840, written by Robert Eden, former curate of Peldon, it is clear Chignall was at the centre of a controversy about applying for a licence to run a pub at his house. Hitherto, Chignall had been running a beer shop which did not require a licence. The licence was refused in 1839 but awarded in 1840 and the pub has been running ever since, known as The Plough.
Eden's letter reveals the landlord to be Mr Osborne so it is probable Chignall needed somewhere else to live once his house had become licensed premises. [Essex Standard 18 September 1840, British Newspaper Archive]

It seems John Chignall was the successful bidder at the auction of Moor Farm in 1840 and he paid off Thomas Catchpool's loan.

The Peldon Plough circa 1900. This was the house where John Chignall ran a beershop until 1840 when the building was licensed as a pub; shortly after, he moved to Moor Farm.   [Photograph courtesy of Ron Green]

On 3rd (?) May 1841 John Chignall, described as an innkeeper of Peldon, appeared at the Manorial Court at Peet Hall. With Harrison's mortgage on Moor Farm paid off, Chignall then took out a loan from Benjamin Brand of Colchester (like Catchpool, an ironmonger) who was admitted to the property for the sum of £900. Chignall undertook to pay the loan back with interest.

This document records a change to the layout of the fields.

which said land called
Comins Land otherwise Tibbenhams is now arable land and
was lately divided into Three fields but now into Two fields

In the census of 1851 John Chignall (born in Peldon in 1781) is a farmer of 70 acres near to the Peldon Rose; was this Moor Farm with perhaps some additional land? He is living with his second wife, Sophia Matilda Sadler, whom he, a widower, had married on 11th September 1820.

On 30th July 1857 it was reported in the Suffolk and Essex Free Press that Moor Farm was sold with 23 acres of land, with a good farm-house and suitable outbuildings, subject to annual charge of 6l [£6] and having a right of Commonage on Peat Tye Common, to Mr Richard Hyem of Walton, Suffolk, for £950

The Essex Standard of 28th August 1857 advertises an auction

at the Moor farm on Fri Sept 11th. The good live and dead farming stock and household furniture etc of Mr John Chignell who has sold his farm and declines business.

Richard Hyem was admitted to Moor Farm on 29th September 1857 upon the surrender of John Chignall. Hyem held Walton Old Hall Farm, Felixstowe, and there is no evidence that he ever occupied Moor Farm. There is even a road named after his family in Felixstowe, Hyem's Lane.

Two years later, the Chelmsford Chronicle reports the death of the wife of John Chignell late of Moor Farm, Peldon [Chelmsford Chronicle 18.11.1859]

The census of 1861 lists the farm's occupants, an agricultural labourer, David Lockwood aged 27 from Creeting All Saints in Suffolk, his wife Hannah born in Copford and their 3 year old daughter, Sarah, born in Marks Tey. They also have an elderly lodger, Sarah Cotter.

The Essex Standard newspaper of 27th May 1868 advertises the farm as being

available for occupation or investment now in occupation of Mr J Digby at the annual rent of £50.

On 29th September 1868, Richard Hyem and his wife Ann Maria were paid £950 for Moor Farm by Robert Adams Newman but it was not until 14th March 1873 that Newman appeared in the Chelmsford Office of John Copland, the Lord of the Manor's Steward, to be officially admitted to the property.

Robert Adams Newman was a farmer and landowner who lived on North Hill in Colchester. He clearly kept on the existing tenant at Moor Farm, Joseph Digby.

Digby's landlord, Robert Adams Newman, died in 1879 and later in the same year, tenant, Joseph Digby, clearly decided to retire. Details of an auction are advertised in the Essex Standard of 25th October 1879.

Live and Dead Stock auction by direction of Mr Joseph Digby who is retiring from business

The Digbys were a family of millers who originated in the village of Birch, and ran the bakery near Peldon Church and the Strood Mill. The Mill stood almost opposite the Peldon Rose Inn until its demolition in 1906. Moor Farm was close by, to the north on the Mersea to Colchester main road.

In 1864, Joseph, who had occupied the freehold premises of Strood Mill for nearly 30 years and lived in Mill House offered it for sale together with the mealing business and oat, corn and pork butchery trades.

The superior Strood Mill has three pairs of stones, modern iron bridgings and going gears, a pair of patent sails, self-acting winding apparatus' and a substantial brick roundhouse.

Strood Mill

By the 1871 census, having sold the mill to William Went, Joseph's family were living in Moor Farm although Joseph wasn't at home on the day of this census.

It is clear he had turned his hand to farming, hence the live and dead stock auction upon retirement in 1879.

By 1881 the family had moved to Camberwell and Joseph aged 65 is described as a retired farmer. He died in 1884.

An Indenture dated 1st December 1879 records the purchase of Moor Farm by William Alderton, a coachman of Colchester, from the four sons-in-law and executors of the will of Robert Adams Newman. He pays £900.

There is an interesting note in amongst the deeds for Moor Farm dated 9th January 1880. Written by the Steward of Peet Hall Manor to another solicitor it is clear there has been a query about the obligation to pay a heriot. Increasingly, it seems that Manorial customs were being challenged and phased out, documents of this period are already excusing tenants from swearing allegiance to the Lord fealty is respited.

Messrs Turner Deane & Co
Without prejudice
9 Jan 1880
Dear Sirs     Peet Hall
Heriot custom is established in this manor by custom which can be shown to have existed for upwards of 350 years by documentary evidence. By the same evidence\of a specific custom/ it can be shown that a Break of the Heriot custom by a Copyholder or his Representative causes an absolute forfeiture of the copyhold estate in respect of which the Breach occurs, to the Lord. I think therefore that your client is concerned to have this Heriot question set right - I have intimated to Mr Smith \White/ that I am open to receive an offer to compound & if you can hasten him in arriving at a satisfactory proposition your business will not be long delayed
J Albert Copland

A marriage announcement in the Bury and Norwich Post of 22nd June 1880 refers to new tenants of Moor Farm not long after the Digbys' departure.

On the 10th instant at Layer Breton, Mr Joseph Snow of Moor's Farm, Peldon married Sarah Ann Parmenter of the same place

The newly married couple are to be found living in Moor Farm in the 1881 census. Joseph Snow is listed as a farmer in both Mundon and North Benfleet in previous censuses but in 1881 he is described as unemployed. Given he was to die only a few years later in 1886 perhaps his health was already failing.

In 1891 the widowed Sarah Snow née Parmenter is living with relatives in West Mersea, the family of George Smith, Mersea's Miller and Baker.

On 9th December 1880, William Alderton applied to the Copyhold Commissioners to officially make Moor Farm a freehold property. This was part of a national move to dispense with copyhold and replace it with leasehold or freehold. Alderton paid £61 11s to the Copyhold Commissioners to free Moor Farm from its copyhold and he was also to be exonerated from any fines, heriots or quit rents. Much of what we have seen before in earlier documents is recited here and I include the acreages

The Schedule hereinbefore referred to

All that one messuage or farm house and barn and half a yard land called Comins Land otherwise Tibbenhams in South Peet and called by the name
of "The Moor Farm" And also one Marsh called Rickmans formerly William Cevars and afterwards of William Stacemore as the said premises were formerly in the tenure of James Borrodaile after that of James Brown then of Samuel Cook late of John Chignell and then of Joseph Digby his undertenents or assigns which said land called Comins Land otherwise Tibbenhams was formerly divided into three fields but then into two fields only and situate in the parish of Peldon on the Road leading from Colchester to Mersea Strood one of which said two fields with the said messuage and barn is situate on the left side of the same Road and the other of the said fields is situate on the right side of the said road and known by the respective names and contain by a late admeasurement thereof the respective quantities hereinafter mentioned namely the site of the said messuage and buildings and the Great field here tofore in two fields and called respectively the Ten Acres estimated to contain Eleven Acres more or less and The Three acres estimated to contain four acres little more or less containing together Sixteen acres one rood and eighteen perches be the same more or less and the Four Acres with the waste land next the road containing together four acres two roods and seven perches be the same little more or less and which said Marsh called Rickmans is situate in the Parish of West Mersea at the back of the said first first mentioned fields between lands lately belonging to George Round Esquire deceased and the same contains by a recent admeasurement One acre three roods and one perch\more or less/ which said hereditaments are now better known by the description following namely All that messuage or tenement and farm called "The Moor Farm"situate in the Parishes of Peldon and West Mersea in the County of Essex containing in the whole Twenty two acres three roods and five perches or thereabouts as the same divided into the several inclosures following that is to say

No. on DescriptionQuantity
Tithe Map Ar  p
In the Parish of Peldon
307Three Acre Piece3332
308House and Yards"110
309Four Acres41  3
310Ten Acres12"16
310aPart of streaming water""38
  In the Parish of West Mersea  
32Rickmans Marsh1326
Total Quantity223  5

To all which premises the said William Alderton was admitted tenant on or about the Tenth day of February One thousand eight hundred and eighty

This is where the deeds to Moor Farm come to an end. They have taken us from 1729 to 1880, just over 150 years. It is not known how long Alderton kept Moor Farm but it is clear he never lived there. He raised a family of two girls and three boys with his wife and can be found in Colchester in the 1881 and 1911 censuses although in the intervening years they spent some time living in Kensington. William died in 1918.

Moor Farm's tenants can be found in the next three censuses. In the 1891 census Moor Farm is listed as housing two families, James Claydon, an agricultural labourer and his wife Emma, and the Baldwin family. Robert Baldwin was a groom and gardener and living with him were his wife Emily and three children. The five year old was born in Peldon which might indicate the family had moved to Moor Farm by about 1886.

In 1901 there are two families in the farmhouse, farm labourer James Claydon and his wife Emma are still there, and the Green family have moved in. George Green and his son, Herbert, are both horsemen on the farm while Elizabeth Green, George's wife, is listed as a tailoress working from home. Working as a tailoress doing piecework at home was a very common employment for agricultural labourers' wives in the villages around Colchester at this time. Often material would be sent out from the clothing factories in the town by carrier to the women, to be returned by the same means once finished.

In 1911 Moor Farm was occupied by two different households; Harry Firmin from Fingringhoe, a horseman on the farm and his wife Rhoda and the Goodrum family, James, Ellen Maria, their daughter, and a granddaughter. James, born in Norfolk, was being employed as a engine driver engaged in threshing.

It was not until the Martin family moved into the farm in 1922 that Moor Farm was to have owner occupiers and by then the farm would have been free of all Manorial custom.

On 29th September 1922, Edward Arthur Martin and his wife, Rose, moved to Moor Farm where they were to set up and develop a successful business growing plants for seed as well as keeping poultry. The story of the next hundred years to the present day charts four generations of the Martin family of Moor Farm [See The Martins of Moor Farm ] as well as telling the story of how the farm fared in the 1884 earthquake!

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

Read More
Comyn's Charity
The Martins of Moor Farm
The Mills and Millers of Peldon

SourceMersea Museum