East Hook farm: a window into the history of South Pembrokeshire
Why is there a Friends (Quaker) cemetery 1661 situated just off the road from East Hook farm to Portfield Gate?
This question sparked off a line of enquiry which illuminates the history of the Haverfordwest area through the Civil War and a lot further back.
Jen Patrick has compiled a folder including a list of agreements relating to East Hook farm through the period 1624-1779. The census data from 1841 onwards, also included, gives a good history of the farm and property later.
The agreements follow 2 main series:
- Relating to the Wilkin family leasing the “capital messuage” and some land from the Lort family.
- Relating to the Wogan family of Boulston leasing the “messuage” to George Adams and later to the Bateman family, with separate agreements relating to the Batemans at East Hook leasing a property in Goat Street in Haverfordwest.
There are other agreements securing the water supply to the water corn grist mill in the Bateman messuage. These are with further Bateman relations, some of whom owned Honey Hook upstream from East Hook.
By 1718, John Lort is involved in the marriage settlement of William Bateman and Elizabeth Pember and in 1730 John Lort is a party to the agreement to the reversion of the messuage of East Hook back from the Bateman family. By 1773, a John Lort is leasing the messuage and fields to farmers.
(The agreement shown for 1771 for the Batemans is a misreading of the date; it is part of the 1701 series involving William Bateman and his mother Frances).
With the help of wills at the National Library of Wales, viewable online, these agreements can be explained. “Capital Messuage” in the Wilkin-Lort agreements always refers to the Manor House (the Welsh Longhouse) and lands, which 1 agreement specifies as 1 ploughland. The “messuage” referred to in the Wogan-Bateman agreements does not contain the Manor House but does specify the corn mill, which would be in addition to property implicit in a messuage.
The leases referred to in the agreements, and clarified by some of the wills, are of a standard type for this period covering 3 “lives” (generations) of the tenant family. Together with the passing of the Wogan’s Boulston estate to Wogans of Norfolk in 1715, the sequence of events can be traced in the following family narratives.
The Wogans take us right back to the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the Flemings (people from Flanders which then included areas around Calais and Boulogne, as well as present day Belgium to Bruges and beyond). From at least 866 onwards, there were close trade links between Flanders and England and family ties between the Counts of Flanders and the Godwins and other major families in England (Grierson). Count Baldwin V of Flanders’ daughter Matilda married William the Conqueror and the Flemings were the largest group outside Normandy supporting his conquest of England and Wales. As a result, Flemish lords were rewarded with lands in the North and West. One of these lords, “Gwiz-o-Wizo” established the village of Wiston. His name probably reflects his origin in Wissant, the main southern Flemish port of trade to England from 950 into the medieval period (Grierson).
In ca. 1100, Henry I of England encouraged large numbers of Flemings to settle under the lordships of people like Wizo, with grants of land and burgess status. They may have come from Flanders or Northern England (the large house at Wiston is in the Northumbrian style).
One of the Wogans married a descendant and heiress of Wizo to establish one of the major families of south Pembrokeshire (DWB). Flanders was famous for its weavers, who often used wool imported from England and Wales. Flemish weavers at Wiston and other villages in the area undoubtedly contributed to the wealth of south Pembrokeshire and would later contribute to the rise of the Batemans, mercers i.e. traders in fine cloths and other cloths.
One of the early Wogans married Joan, heiress of the Pictons. He was a justiciary of Ireland in the late 1200s and had Picton Castle built in the Irish-Norman style. The Wogans continued there until it passed by marriage through the Dwnns in the 1400s to the Philipps in the 1500s (Von Friesen).
The Wogans of Boulston were established in the 1400s when the son of a Sir John Wogan of Wiston married Margaret Dyer of Boulston (DWB). In the 1470s, Henry Wogan of Boulston became prominent in the lordship of Haverfordwest, including keeper or approver of mills and responsibility of their upkeep – did this lead to the inclusion of the East Hook water corn grist mill in their remit?
The deed of 1632 by Sir John Wogan of Boulston made provision for the use of East Hook messuage for himself, his wife Margaret, his daughter Frances and her heirs and his son Sir Peter Wogan of Carew and his heirs, a typical 3 lives agreement. The agreement was with 2 prominent citizens of Bristol. Much of the wool, cloth and other trade from Haverfordwest was with Bristol, particularly with Puritan merchants from Bristol. Strong links were kept with Parliamentarian Bristol during the Civil War from 1642-1649 (E. Davies vol. 2 and Terry John).
The Batemans were involved with attempts to keep Haverfordwest out of harm’s way through the Civil War. They were also involved in the suffering of Quakers especially with the Restoration of Charles II in 1661 (see below).
After the death of Sir John (probably ca. 1632), his wife Dame Margaret, moved to Penrice in the Gower, adjacent to the lands of the Price family of Cwrt-y-Carnau. Her daughter Frances had married John Price of “Court Carney”, which was in the diocese of St. Davids. He was one of the family who established iron founding in the Neath valley; earlier the Abbey lands there produced high quality wool traded with Flanders and Italy (Google Cwrt-y-Carnau for information). Much later in 1799, Joseph Tregelles Price, Quaker and ironmaster from Cornwall, moved to become manager of the Neath Abbey Iron Works “in which they were interested with other Quaker families” (DWB). Had Frances married into a Quaker family?
When Dame Margaret with her daughter Frances and son-in-law John Price entered into an agreement with William Bateman, mercer, in 1661, they were helping a man who had at least sympathised with the Quaker cause in Haverfordwest.
The Batemans are referred to as a long-standing family in Haverfordwest before 1500 (E. Davies v.2). Certainly Haverfordwest started to see renewed prosperity from ca. 1480. This was enhanced in 1534 when Henry VIII created Haverfordwest as a separate county (and effectively the county town) under the 2nd Act of Union. The town had the lowest bridge on the W. Cleddau river but the highest point to which ships of up to 40 tons could sail on the tide (Brian John). They could moor at Haverfordwest quay, enabling its merchants to import and export goods particularly from the important port of Bristol. The Batemans, as merchants of fine cloths, became relatively wealthy, well known and well respected.
A typical Medieval Merchant’s House from Haverfordwest near the quay has been re-erected at St. Fagan’s National History Museum. This was reported by BBC News Wales with an impression of Haverfordwest at that time (Google).
In 1583, Richard Bateman, mayor, had the quay built and in 1616, John Bateman, mayor, had it re-built (Miles).
In 1602/3 James Bateman purchased Honey Hook: it stayed in his family’s possession for over 100 years; it would have been his family which secured the watercourse for the Batemans at East Hook. The seal of Benjamin Bateman, “late of Haverfordwest but now of Honey Hook” was attached to a 1733 deed at Picton Castle.
Early in the Civil War in 1643, Mayor Richard Bateman and members of the Council entertained both Parliamentary and Royalist commanders, at different times, to prevent them attacking Haverfordwest. In August 1643, a Royalist vessel was forced aground near Boulston; Richard Bateman entertained the captain and helped repatriate the crew (Terry John). After the execution of Charles I in 1649, Parliament demanded rates from Haverfordwest; the mayor and councillors wrote to request a reduction stating that there were no more than 200 houses in the town with 2/3 of the inhabitants very poor due to the drastic decline in the cloth industry (Miles). Two years later Bubonic plague hit the town, carried by a ship docked at Milford Haven.
The Civil War also brought with it much religious intolerance. In 1649, Richard Bateman not being prepared to pay anything for the repair of the Anglican church. In 1651, William Bateman “mercer and burgess of long-standing” attended the meeting at St. Thomas Green to express dissatisfaction with the tone of services at St. Thomas’ church (E. Davies v.3). By 1660, the majority or moneyed controlling minority in Haverfordwest would no longer support the state church which practised extreme Puritanism. On the Restoration of Charles II in 1661, the repressive laws of the Clarendon Code were passed against Nonconformists. In 1660 and 1661 many Quakers were imprisoned in Haverfordwest. William Bateman and his wife were tried for attending Quaker meetings and 3 men were also caught at a meeting in their house. Because of the family’s good standing, they were treated more leniently than “fellow Quakers”, suffering a fine with seizure of goods (Griffith).
So it was that the Wogans gifted the use of their East Hook messuage and mill for the use of William Bateman, his wife Sarah and his family for 3 generations. This would enable them to set aside the space for the Quaker cemetery in 1661, quietly away from Haverfordwest beyond the 1000 acre common grazing land of Portfield Common.
William lived to a good age. He made his will in 1691, appointing his first son William executor (NLW wills). The inventory of 1692 totalled less than £67, referring to goods in rooms of a moderate size property.
The will of his son William in 1698 refers to his wife Frances and their son William. It would have been this 3rd William and his widow mother Frances who were party to the agreements in 1701. Their son William married Elizabeth Pember in 1718. As the 3rd generation, tenancy of the messuage could only rest with them and William’s siblings before passing back to the new owner, John Lort of Prickeston.
The Lorts first came to Pembrokeshire in 1567 when George Lort from Staffordshire came as steward of the Stackpole estate (DWB). He later bought the estate. His son and heir Roger died in 1613 and it was Roger’s son Henry (sheriff in 1619) who was party to the agreement with Thomas Wilkin in 1624. The other party, Griffith White of Henllan, was brother-in-law to Henry through his sister Judith, whilst his son Griffith was married to Henry’s daughter (John Terry). The Whites were an old Welsh family descended from the Einion family and Henllan was one of the few villages in the area to preserve its Welsh name. (Pembs. Historian).
Of Henry Lort’s 3 sons, Sampson married Olive Philipps of Picton, his oldest son Roger lived at Stackpole, his daughter marrying Hugh Phillipps of the Picton family. Youngest son John Lort of Prickeston was party to the 1662 agreement with Jonathan Wilkin; a John Lort of Prickeston was party to the 1718 and 1730 agreements with the Batemans and (probably a further descendant) John Lort was party to the agreements with farmers in the 1770s. It was probably this John Lort who had the Georgian house built in front of the Welsh Longhouse.
The Lort brothers were described as “great ambidextors” in the Civil War, changing sides to financially benefit. Certainly they appear to have done very well financially between 1567 and the late 1770s, partly through judicious marriages. It may well be the passing of the Boulston Estate to a Norfolk Wogan family in the early 1700s which enabled John to obtain the other part of the East Hook estate. Certainly the will of the John Lort of Prickeston who died ca. 1673 totals over £1650 including over £1000 of debts owed to him, which implies land holdings (NLW wills). George Lort of Prickeston’s will in 1711 includes reference to real estate as well as large amounts of money to pass on to the family.
Interestingly, the Lort family entry in the DWB suggests that Sampson Lort’s daughter married a Quaker, which could have smoothed the way for the setting up of the Quaker cemetery in 1661.
The Wilkins do not have an entry in the DWB but the will (NLW) of Thomas Wilkin in 1660 clarifies their relationship to the Lorts. Thomas appointed his son Jonathan (of the 1662 agreement) as his executor. He refers to his other 5 children and to his wife Ann. He refers to the tenement and Manor House (and belongings) known as Ness Hook in the parish of West Walton, as held by virtue of a lease from his mother Ellinor (wife of father Thomas in the 1624 agreement). There are no references to real estate in the will but the contents of the rooms listed suggest a much larger property than that of the Batemans and the total is larger.
This all points to the agreement of 1624 being a 3 lives agreement, making Jonathan the 3rd generation. The Wilkins would then have had to vacate the property with the death of Jonathan’s generation. In Thomas’ 1660 will he appoints John Lort “his trusted friend and kinsman” to look after the interests of his 4 children who were still in their minority. Kinsman implies a relative and suggests that Thomas’ mother Ellinor was a Lort before her marriage to Thomas senior ca. 1624.
The journey of discovery arising from the original question about the Quaker cemetery has been fascinating and thrown light on a unique part of Wales. But this is just the first step into related topics, like the Quakers across Wales, Flemings in Britain and their contributions to the Cloth and wool trade, the ironmasters of the Neath valley, the impact of the Civil War in Wales and many more.
The journey goes on!
E. Davies, B. Howells: Pembrokeshire County History. Vol. 2 Medieval
Vol. 3 Early Modern.
P. Grierson: Relations between England and Flanders pre the Norman Conquest in: Trans. Royal Historical Soc., 1941, 4th Series, v.23, 71-112
S. Griffith (2004): A History of Quakers in Pembrokeshire.
Brian John: Pembrokeshire 2000: Land and People.
Terry John (2008): The Civil War in Pembrokeshire.
D. Miles (2007): A Short History of Haverfordwest.
National Library of Wales (NLW): Dictionary of Welsh Biography (online).
NLW: Welsh Wills online (Diocese of St. Davids).
Pembrokeshire Historian (Journal), 1974, v. 5, 57-78.
Hero von Friesen, L. Thomas: The Families of Picton (Picton Castle Trust).
Malcolm Roberts. June 2015.