ID: PH01_RES / Elaine Barker

TitleRansomes Farm, Peldon
AbstractRansomes Farm

Ransomes farmhouse situated on the Wigborough Road between Peldon and the Wigboroughs is a chocolate box Essex farmhouse surrounded by large beautiful gardens and backing onto fields which offer views of Copt Grove, Little Wigborough, and in the distance, Mersea Island. It ceased being a working farm some years ago, with much of the land sold off to other landowners and is now run as a bed and breakfast business. The Ransomes website adds a little more detail.

Located in the village of Peldon, close to historic Colchester, Mersea Island and the North Essex Coast, Ransomes Bed and Breakfast was a traditional farm house built in the 17th Century and boasts timber beamed ceilings. The house has been sympathetically extended and the large kitchen houses an Aga for wonderful breakfasts!

The name, Ransomes or Ransoms, (with or without the apostrophe!) probably derives from a farmer's name, John Ransom, listed in an 1830 poll book and in the tithe awards for Peldon (dated 1840) as an absentee landlord.

The most likely candidate for 'our' farmer is a John Ransom who, for many years, lived in and farmed Bockingham Hall in Copford. He was born circa 1777, married Catherine Wheeler in Birch in 1806 and had at least six sons. The first four, John (bapt.1807), James (bapt.1809), George Daniel (bapt. 1812), and William (bapt.1816), were all christened in Birch. Henry (bapt. in 1818) and Septimus (bapt.1825) were both christened in Copford. This indicates the family's move from Birch to Copford was between 1816 and 1818.

A John Ransom, described as a 'faithful servant' in the 1809 will of the Reverend James Round of Little Birch, is left a small farm in Peldon and a generous bequest of farm animals, produce and household furniture.

all that my Messuage or Tenement and Farm with the Lands Hereditaments and Appurtenances thereto belonging situate lying and being in the Parish of the occupation of Joseph Cooke his undertenants or assigns at and under the yearly rent of forty pounds.

Ransom is also left £100 and

my best Waggon my best Tumbril my best Plough my three best Cart Horses my two best Cows my ten best Sheep two tons of my best Hay two Loads of my best Oats and all the household Goods Furniture and Linen which shall be in and about my Farm House at Birch [The Will of The Reverend James Round, National Archives PROB 11/1493/247]

The connection with Bockingham Hall, Copford, (which the Reverend Round bequeathed to his two sisters) would indicate this is the John Ransom whose name the Peldon farmhouse still bears today. As for the tenant mentioned in the Reverend Round's will, Joseph Cooke, it would appear he died later the same year as his landlord. London's Archdeacon's Court notes that on the 10th July 1809 Joseph bequeathed his granddaughter, Sarah Smith,

Fifty pounds, his Silver Watch, six Tea Spoons and two Silver Table Spoons and one pair of Silver Buckles And after his wife's decease his best Bed and Furniture and fifty pounds to be paid her at twenty one Years. Interest in the meantime to be applied for her maintenance. Abstract of Will [National Archives IR 26/387/373]

The administrators are his widow, Mary Cooke and Samuel Bullock of Peldon, farmer.

Ransom's benefactor, the Reverend James Round, was a member of a wealthy land-owning family and they often married well becoming one of the leading families in Colchester in the nineteenth century. Thamar, Reverend James Round's mother, was from another eminent family, the Creffeilds (also spelt Creffield), and was sole heiress of her family's fortune. I believe the farm we know as Ransomes is that originally bequeathed to Thamar's father, Peter Creffeild, in his father's will of 1723.

I give and bequeath to my Son Peter Creffeild and to his Heirs forever all that Messuage or Tenement and Farm with the Lands and Appurtenances thereto belonging lying and being in or near Peldon in the County of Essex and now in the occupation of Chapman the Rents whereof I give to my said Wife untill the said Peter shall Attaine his Age of Fifteen years ... [The Will of Sir Ralph Creffeild National Archives 1723 PROB 11 595]

The farm, it would seem, had been in the Creffeild family's possession through several generations and was brought by Thamar Creffeild to her marriage with James Round before being passed on to their son, the Reverend James Round.

John Ransom who inherited the farm from the Round/Creffeild dynasty in 1809 next appears in the 1830 poll book for Peldon which lists landowners who voted in the Parliamentary election. Ransom is listed as owning land in Peldon and his tenant is named as William Harvey.

The Peldon tithe awards, dated 1840, confirm John was renting out Ransomes farmhouse and land as an absentee landlord, and is listed as the owner of properties and land, all occupied by tenants. Four of his arable fields were in the occupation of farmer, Joseph Harvey, who lived in Harvey's Farm on the opposite side of the Wigborough Road in Peldon; I believe Joseph was the brother of William Harvey, Ransom's tenant in 1830.

How long the farm remained in Ransom's ownership is not clear. The tenant, Joseph Harvey, is listed in electors' registers from 1841 through to the late 1850s as occupier of the land at Ransome's Farm with no mention of Ransom as landlord (but that does not mean he wasn't!)

John Ransom died at the age of 89 at Bockingham Hall on 31st December 1865 having, I believe, taken on the Copford farm as a tenant of the Round family circa 1823/4. It is clear he never lived in Ransomes Farm in Peldon which remained tenanted throughout his ownership.

[For more biographical information on the Ransom family of Copford see Appendix 1]

Turning now to the censuses, which began in 1841. Often early censuses do not name properties and it is not until that of 1861 we find the farmer of 'Ransoms' is Moses Bumby farming 20 acres and employing one man. Born in Great Wigborough in 1823, Moses died at the young age of 42 in 1865. Who took on the tenancy of Ransomes after his death has not so far been discovered. In 1871 his widow, Jane is still living in the vicinity in an unnamed 'cottage'. Did she stay in Ransomes, the farmhouse possibly divided into two or more dwellings for agricultural workers as was often the case and is borne out by the next census?

By 1881 Simon Russell, a Norfolk-born blacksmith, his wife, Julia and two daughters are living in one half of the farmhouse, 'Ransome's Farm' while the other half is listed as being empty.

In 1893 the Peldon Methodist Chapel was built in Lower Road, Peldon. According to Ben Cudmore who wrote a history of the chapel

the sect of Wesleyan Methodists in the village was first brought here by mission bands, who came in from Colchester, on foot, singing hymns and sacred songs as they tramped along. As time passed many meeting places were used... a farmhouse known as Ransomes... a barn at the top of Malting Hill.

One can only presume an occupant of Ransomes prior to 1893 was a non-conformist and made their premises, probably the timber and thatched barn mentioned in the sale particulars below, available for local Methodists to have their meetings.

The current owners have a sale catalogue for 1900 which gives the tenant as Daniel Harvey and gives the details of the property. Sadly they do not have the plan mentioned in the particulars.


Ransome's Sale Catalogue 6th July 1900
Particulars and Conditions of Sale
Ransome's Farm
Lot 1
(Coloured Green on Plan)
The Valuable Freehold Farmhouse,
Well situate at Peldon, on the High Road leading from Peldon to Great
It contains Two Large Sitting Rooms, Pantry and Kitchen on the ground floor,
and Two Bedrooms upstairs:
As now let to Mr. Daniel Harvey, a yearly tenant, at £5 5s. per annum
landlord paying rates,
Together with another Garden, as now occupied by the Vendor, possession of
which can be obtained upon completion of the purchase,
The whole comprising an area of 0 acres 1 rood 6 poles

(coloured Yellow on Plan)
With Brick and Asphalte Floors, Brick and Tiled Cart Horse Stable, Timber
and Tiled Cattle Shed, Yard and Cart Shed, also a Timber and Corrugated Iron
Cart Lodge, together with
Also a Pond of Good Water
APPORTIONED TITHE £4 3s 10d VALUE FOR 1900 £2 16s..0d

The local newspaper announced that the auction of Ransomes was to be at The Rose Inn on 6th July on behalf of George Christmas, presumably Daniel Harvey's landlord. There is then a subsequent Live and Dead Stock auction advertised to be held on Wednesday 18th July. George Christmas's stock comprised a Capital Bay gelding, good road waggon, tumbril, iron plough, double tom, horse hoes, harrow, dressing machine, chaff cutter, ladder etc. Also included in the auction were the growing crops of wheat, oats and beans, the produce of 15 acres, a Stack of Straw, a Part Stack of Hay and other effects. [East Anglian Daily Times 17th July 1900]

Christmas is a very common name in this area and the same Christian names repeatedly appear making it difficult to be sure who this George Christmas was. There is a George Christmas born to a farming family in West Mersea in 1828. Later in life after being a hotel keeper for many years in London, he returned to his home area and married his second wife in Peldon Church. They can be found in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses living at Rose Cottage in Peldon which George bought in 1887. Listed as a farmer in the earlier two censuses and as a retired farmer by 1911 it is possible he was farming Ransomes, and the timing of the farm sale would fit in with what the censuses tell us.

In the 1901 census, the farm is named Ransomes Farm. It is occupied by Ipswich-born farmer, George Farrow, aged 40, listed as Farmer working on own account. Whether a tenant farmer or the purchaser we do not know. Living with him are his wife, Elizabeth, and three children whose places of birth reveal several moves in their short lives. Six year old Alfred 6 is listed as being born in Argentina, Harold aged 1 in Leytonstone and Wilfred aged 9 months born in Ipswich. George's widowed mother-in-law is also living with the family.

In 1911 farmer William Henry Sheriff Shirley aged 65 and born in Westminster is living at the farm with his wife, Clara Ada and three adult children, Gordon, Lillian Edith and Oscar Cecil.

The short newspaper obituary of Mr. Shirley indicates that the family moved out of Ransomes about 1918.

A GENIAL PARISHIONER, Mr William Shirley of Rouse's Farm, passed away somewhat suddenly at the age of 87. After the death of Mrs. Shirley 14 years ago at Ransome's Farm, Peldon, the family moved to Great Wigborough. Essex County Standard 2.9.1932

In the 1918 electoral roll William and Catherine Smith are listed as living at Ransomes. Also a family member, Daniel Smith, appears on the register of absent voters which was taken in 1918 during WW1; Daniel was no doubt in the forces.

In the 1929 electoral roll the occupiers are William Edward Corke and Mary Ann Corke. In July 1933 at a 'flitch trial' at the 5 Parishes Show, Mr and Mrs 'Cork' were one of two couples entering - the flitch was divided between the two couples. Clearly a long and happy marriage, they celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 1934 as reported in the local newspaper.

DIAMOND WEDDING - Mr. and Mrs. William Edward Cork, of Ransoms Farm, Peldon, celebrated their diamond wedding on Friday, having been married in 1874 at Hoxton. Both are natives of London, and they have lived in retirement at Peldon for the last 15 years. They have eight surviving children, 54 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Both are 79. Essex County Standard 7.9.1934

Only months later the report of William's funeral was in the Essex County Standard on 11th January 1935 where we learn he died in 'Ransome's Cottage'. During his working life he had been a cabinet maker as had Mary Ann's father and they had spent most of their life in London.

In 1934 the Peldon Hall Estate came on the market and an auction was advertised by Fenn, Wright & Co. to be held on 28th July 1934. The plan clearly shows that Ransomes' land and barn were included in the Peldon Hall Estate but not the farmhouse or garden. Could the barn be where the Methodists used to hold their meetings?

In 1939 Mary Ann Corke née Rowland, now widowed, is still there living as are Samuel Head, a crane driver, railway porter and a horse and motor driver along with his wife, Miriam J Head. There is also a schoolchild Esther W Levy born in 1926 (possibly an evacuee) with two further names blanked out who will be children.

Dates and names of more mid to late 20th century residents will no doubt be discovered when the deeds to the house become available but we do know Major Norman and Vera 'Dimpie' Ralph moved into the farmhouse in 1966 having moved there from Layer de la Haye. Sadly Norman Ralph died in 1972 at the young age of 56 but Dimpie stayed at Ransomes until her death in December 2000 - a total of 34 years. This tribute to Dimpie in the parish magazine fills in more detail

Ransomes was the home she had longed for having been a service wife for many years and having been posted with Norman to different parts of the world .... she has been the driving force for many of the events that have taken place in Peldon over the past years. She was devoted to the Church and was a powerful member of the PCC for many years. She instigated the Church Kneeler Fund and because of her we have a church proudly displaying many colourful kneelers beautifully embroidered by members of the village under her guidance. She started up the waste paper collection and has raised a considerable sum, which has been used to decorate and re-carpet the church over the years. Dimpie was also responsible for many years for getting together willing ladies to decorate the church and was always to be found sweeping up and making sure everything was in perfect order. She has been a member of the Village Hall Committee and was never afraid to speak her mind if she felt she needed to. She has also been a stalwart member of our Meals on Wheels team. Dimpie was also a member of the Peldon Flower Club which she loved. She was a founder member of the Peldon Hospice Support group and over the years worked so hard to help raise a great deal of money for the St Helena's Hospice. For many years she has been running the Army Thrift Shop in Meanee Barracks.... [Tribute to Dimpie Ralph by Marilyn West, Peldon News January 2001]

Dimpie, her husband and her son (killed in a road accident at the age of 29) are all buried in Peldon Churchyard as are her parents, Vere and Dorothy Hessey who lived in Church Road in Peldon.

M.B.E. TD RDYA [Retd]
10. X 1917 - 16 VII 1972
20 V 1944 - 9 XI 1973
19 IX 1920 - 11 XII 2000

The current owners bought Ransomes from Dimpie's executors. Referencing the old barn they tell me

when we first came to Ransomes there were literally 2 half walls of an old barn held up with ivy, we pulled it down and the Annexe is in its place. We keep digging up old bits of the barn in our flower beds!

We have established the farm was probably named after the owner, John Ransom, who inherited the farm in 1809. What the farm was called prior to this has not so far been discovered and is crucial to delving further back into its history but it does seem from at least the beginning of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th centuries the owners were the Creffeild and Round families.

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

The picture below is of a plaque unearthed in the garden by the current owners of Ransomes. Corroded but legible it reads

Presuming it must have fallen off a farm vehicle many years ago it poses a number of questions.

Pattiswick Hall was in the occupation of three generations of the Smith family, Joseph Smith Senior (1813 - 1904), Joseph Smith Junior (1840 - 1921) and Harris Smith (1869 - 1965). The Smiths were tenant farmers of Pattiswick Hall from approximately 1837 to 1927. It can only be presumed their farm vehicle lost its plaque some time during that period and why it was at Ransomes has not been discovered!

A valuation book at the National Archives, dated 1867, gives valuations for farms the family held all over Essex including, locally, Abberton and Layer Breton but also in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Sussex and Ireland. By the 1920s the holdings of the family company, 'Joseph Smith (Farms) Ltd of Pattiswick Hall' stretched across the county of Essex from Great Bardfield to Clacton-on-Sea.

An interesting footnote is a daughter of Joseph Smith (Senior) of Pattiswick Hall, Charlotte Fell Smith (1851 - 1937), pursued a literary career and wrote history articles for the Essex Review for half a century, being its editor for 34 years. She also wrote history for the Victoria County History and published several books including one on James Parnell the Quaker martyr, a subject close to her heart coming from a strong Quaker family.

Appendix 1

The Ransom Family
In the 1841 census, John, aged 60, is living in Copford with two of his children, two grandchildren, Susan and James Ransom. John's son, the father of these two children, James Ransom, was a publican, at one time landlord of The Marlborough Head in Dedham. With his wife Catherine's death the year before, John is a widower and his sister-in-law, Sarah Wheeler, is living with him as housekeeper along with a female servant.

The 1851 census always gives more detail than the earlier one in 1841 and we discover John was born in Suffolk, (a later census tells us it was in the village of Bentley). The farm where he is living is named as Bockingham Hall, Copford, and he was to stay there until his death in 1866; his son, William farmed there until his death in 1890.

Bockingham Hall Farm on the road between Hardy's Green and Copford, courtesy of Robert Edwards

The Essex Record Office holds a will for John's eldest son, also John, [E.R.O. D/ABW 141/1/22] who is described as a farmer of Copford. He died in 1854 at the age of 46 predeceasing his father who waas his sole beneficiary and executor.

In the 1861 census for Copford, John's son, William, is head of the family, farming Bockingham Hall, with 220 acres employing 8 men and 3 boys. John, a retired farmer at the age of 84 and his sister-in-law, Sarah Wheeler, are living with William and his wife along with a female servant.

Five years later at a grand old age of 89, John died making three of his sons his executors. George Daniel Ransom lived in Tolleshunt Knights and ran the mill there, while his brother Henry was also a miller in Great Braxted. The third executor was William who as we have seen had taken on running Bockingham Hall in Copford when his father retired.

The death notice for John in the local papers reads

RANSOM: 31st ult at Bockingham Hall Copford, much respected John Ransom in his 90th year Chelmsford Chronicle 12th January 1866

William Ransom was to die in 1890 at the age of 73 and his obituary reveals some of the family history. By my calculations according to this obituary, his father first took on Bockingham Hall circa 1824

regret to have to record the death of an old and
respected inhabitant of Copford in the peron of Mr.
William Ransom of Bockingham Hall Farm. The
deceased, who passed away at the age of 73 years,
was an excellent neighbour and friend, and a kind
employer, and he was held in high esteem by a large
circle of acquaintances, by whom he will be much
missed. The sad event, indeed, occasioned quite a
gloom in the parish and neighbourhood, which was
intensified by the fact that Mrs Ransom was known
to be lying seriously ill. Mr Ransom some years
since, succeeded his father in the occupation of
Bockingham Hall (which belongs to Mr Round, MP),
the father having taken first taken the farm sixty-six years
ago last Michaelmas. The funeral took place at
Copford Church on Wednesday afternoon...

There were early eighteenth century Ransoms in Peldon, Edward Ransom and Elizabeth née Bennet who married in 1754. He was a butcher in Peldon and she was from a farming family at East Mersea. Their only surviving son, also Edward, is probably the Edward 'Ransome' listed in the Land Tax redemption book of 1798 a tenant of landowner John Ward. There is a marriage between Edward Ransom and Elizabeth Martin in 1768 in Peldon but it has not been possible to link these Ransoms who originated in Peldon with those in Bentley, Suffolk where John Ransom was born.

AuthorElaine Barker
Published24 May 2024
SourceMersea Museum