Property transactions in England in the 1600s

In my recent foray into my genealogy, I was sent a lot of details about legal documents from ancestors in the 1600s and 1700s. A number were wills, but there was this interesting lawsuit, which gives an insight into the way property transactions may have been done 350 years ago.

"In 3 December 1661, DEGORY BEWES commenced legal proceedings by making a Complaint to the Court of Chancery against EUSTICE ORCHARD and his son STEPHEN ORCHARD of Egloshayle. DEGORY's Complaint recites that JANE PEPPERELL was tenant ofa tenement called Undertowne, and the meadow adjoining, in the parish of St Stephens, for a term of ninety-nine years, dependent upon the lives of NICHOLAS DODGE and PHILIP DODGE. By deed dated 7 October 1657, Mrs PEPPERELL assigned the lease to EUSTICE ORCHARD and his son STEPHEN ORCHARD of Egloshayle, and authorised them to sell the premises for the benefit of the children of WILLIAM PEPPERELL, her deceased husband. On 5 May 1661, they offered the premises to the best profferor, which DEGORY claimed was himself, and his offer of £60 was accepted. He paid twelve pence as a token of his earnest, and agreed to pay £20 shortly thereafter, £20 after six months, and £20 after twelve months. Subsequently, however, they then steadfastly refused to sell the premises to DEGORY BEWES, and indeed sold them to THOMAS HORWELL, the elder of St Stephens by Launceston, for less money. DEGORY asked the Court to rule that he should be permitted to fulfill his Contract and take possession of the property. "

[ Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London Ref: C9/404 - 103 ]
 
In my recent foray into my genealogy, I was sent a lot of details about legal documents from ancestors in the 1600s and 1700s. A number were wills, but there was this interesting lawsuit, which gives an insight into the way property transactions may have been done 350 years ago.

"In 3 December 1661, DEGORY BEWES commenced legal proceedings by making a Complaint to the Court of Chancery against EUSTICE ORCHARD and his son STEPHEN ORCHARD of Egloshayle. DEGORY's Complaint recites that JANE PEPPERELL was tenant ofa tenement called Undertowne, and the meadow adjoining, in the parish of St Stephens, for a term of ninety-nine years, dependent upon the lives of NICHOLAS DODGE and PHILIP DODGE. By deed dated 7 October 1657, Mrs PEPPERELL assigned the lease to EUSTICE ORCHARD and his son STEPHEN ORCHARD of Egloshayle, and authorised them to sell the premises for the benefit of the children of WILLIAM PEPPERELL, her deceased husband. On 5 May 1661, they offered the premises to the best profferor, which DEGORY claimed was himself, and his offer of £60 was accepted. He paid twelve pence as a token of his earnest, and agreed to pay £20 shortly thereafter, £20 after six months, and £20 after twelve months. Subsequently, however, they then steadfastly refused to sell the premises to DEGORY BEWES, and indeed sold them to THOMAS HORWELL, the elder of St Stephens by Launceston, for less money. DEGORY asked the Court to rule that he should be permitted to fulfill his Contract and take possession of the property. "

[ Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London Ref: C9/404 - 103 ]

So Degoryties up a property under instalment contract with a deposit of less than 1/500th of the price and when he can't settle sues on it- sounds like your average flipper or speculative PI. So little has changed in 400 years.
 
. He paid twelve pence as a token of his earnest, and agreed to pay £20 shortly thereafter, £20 after six months, and £20 after twelve months. Subsequently, however, they then steadfastly refused to sell the premises to DEGORY BEWES, and indeed sold them to THOMAS HORWELL, the elder of St Stephens by Launceston, for less
Does not sound any different from today only the numbers ..willair..
 
So Degoryties up a property under instalment contract with a deposit of less than 1/500th of the price and when he can't settle sues on it- sounds like your average flipper or speculative PI. So little has changed in 400 years.
I think it is rather much different.

Degory puts the equivalent of a good faith deposit to seal the deal. He then needs to arrange £20 for the first instalment.

Several things are to be noted here.

One is that it is a very big sum. Some of the wills has people leaving £1 as their total cash to their children. Some have amassed a fortune of £10. So he would not have been able to get that sort of money quickly.

Another feature is the 99 year lease which appears to be common in several of the wills. I don't know how that fits in with the buying and selling of this property.

Another thing is that the whole sum was to be paid in the course of just one year. It may well be that no lending was involved. Mr Bewes would probably have had to sell off some assets or to raise the money in another way.

In fact those generations of Bewes apparently were astute business people and extremely well off. That's probably why that branch of the family tree has been traceable. The poorer ancestors did not leave good records of their lives behind.
 
Several things are to be noted here.

One is that it is a very big sum.


An interesting read Geoff. That's certainly going back a fair way.


So what type of property was he trying to purchase for such a large sum ?? The extract only mentions a "tenement called Undertowne, and the meadow adjoining".


Am I correct in assuming it is an entire 'town' for that large sum ??
 
Does not sound any different from today only the numbers ..willair..

Has anyone worked out the average wage back then?

If what geoff is saying is correct, the average person would not be able to save this amount of money in a life time...or 10!:eek:

No wonder it was well documented.

Regards JO
 
did Degory end up with the property?
I don't know. But he had a lot of property, which he passed onto his son, Degory (or Digory). Father and son both tarded property and goods- the appear to be very well off.

The will of son Digory is quite interesting. Not only with the amount of property, but with the conditions in the will.

ffirst, I give and Devise unto my son HENDRA BEWES the THREE VULVERS NEW HOUSE and the houses late JEFFORD SECCOMBE'S, the houses in possession of DEGORY GLANVILL and WILLIAM LUMS. I also give him the severall houses formerly the Land of NATHANIEL SECCOMBE, and now in the possession of THOMAS BALLAMY, MARGARETT CALLARD, MARGARETT STEPHENS and JOAN GAWMAN. Also those two fields called HOGGSCROSS now in lease to LEONARD PETHICK aand BUTLER's two fields, all situate lyeing and being within the parish of St Stephens near Lanceston. To have and to hold unto the said HENDRA BEWES for the Term of ninety nine years if he so long live PROVIDED he never hereafter live and Cohabit or keep any Society with MARY BINES, formerly my Servant, and who pretends to be married to my said son. And in case my said son HENDRA shall at any time hereafter Live Cohabit or keep any sort of Society with the said MARY BINES It is my will and meaning that the said Legacy hereby devised unto him shall be utterly void and of none Effect Imediately upon such Cohabitation.

Likewise I give and Devise unto my said son HENDRA BEWES upon the same Termes and conditions before mentioned, that he do not Cohabit with the said MARY BINES, All the houses and stable MALT HOUSE WARRENS and LOBBS MEADOW at East Looe for the term of his life if the estate I have therein so long continue, to commence and begin from and after the death of my wife EDITH on whom the same are settled for her life.

...
And whereas there is now a Suit depending in the Consistory Court of Exon concerning a pretended Marriage between my said son HENDRA and the said MARY BINES, it is my will that if at any time hereafter it shall be adjudged and determined that the said HENDRA and MARY are man and wife I do hereby declare all the Legacys hereby devised unto him to be void and of no effect.
 
Sounds just like WA saga with mining magnate Lang Hancock and his maid Rose Porteous.....except much to Gina Reinhart's (his daughter) chagrin, Rose got plenty out of him.......
 
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fascinating reading - do you know if he tossed mary for the sake of the property?

i too was wondering who won the lawsuit - but obviously the path goes cold.
 
lodge a claim for the land, sounds like ancestral stomping ground
I wouldn't mind! Two reasons why I wouldn't.

1. That was 10 generations back. There are a LOT of descendants.

2. No doubt a lot of that property was disposed of. One of Degory's grandsons had to dispose his property in respect of debts in excess of £4000. (And I've just found out- that was in spite of a pre-nuptial settlement ten years before in 1740. Pre-nups are nothing new).
 
fascinating reading - do you know if he tossed mary for the sake of the property?
Although there is no mention of the court case mentioned in the will, the notes I've been given do give mention:
In early 1717, DEGORY's son HENDRA BEWES ran off with one of DEGORY's servant girls, MARY BINES, and married her without his father's consent at the neighbouring parish of North Tamerton on 27 February 1717. Within four months a baby son was born, and was christened JOHN BEWES at North Tamerton on 24 June 1717. It is very clear from the way in which DEGORY expresses himself in his Will (see below) that the entire matter upset DEGORY very much indeed. An action was commenced in the Consistory Court of Exeter challenging the legality of the marriage. At present we do not know the outcome of this case. DEGORY makes it clear, however, that HENDRA should not receive his inheritance if the legality of the marriage should be confirmed by the Consistory Court. We have not been able to establish what became of MARY BEWES / BINES or of their young son JOHN BEWES. Neither receives any mention in HENDRA's Will, or the Wills of any near relatives, other than DEGORY's spinster daughter, JOAN BEWES who, when making her Will on 5 March 1724/5, said

"Item All my Messuages, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments whatsoever or wheresoever the same are situate lyeing or being I give Devise and Bequeath unto my brother HENDRA BEWES for and dureing the term of his natural life without impeachment of waste. And if the said HENDRA BEWES shall happen to survive his now wife and marry any other woman and have issue lawfully begotten on the body of such second wife, then from and after the decease of the said HENDRA BEWES I give and devise the said Lands to such Issue and their Heirs for ever, and if the said HENDRA BEWES shall dye without issue by such second wife then I give and Devise all my said Messuage Lands and Tenements unto my Cousen GEORGE WARMINGTON BEWES and his heirs for ever."

From the way in which this clause is expressed it is reasonable to assume that the marriage of HENDRA BEWES to MARY BINES was adjudged valid by the Consistory Court, and at the time of the drawing up of the Will, HENDRA's wife MARY BEWES was still alive.
George Warmington Bewes, also mentioned in the will was the one who had to dispose of property (previous post).
 
Has anyone worked out the average wage back then?

If what geoff is saying is correct, the average person would not be able to save this amount of money in a life time...or 10!:eek:
I don't know, I'm only guessing. But I'd suspect that the "average wage" would be not meaningful. I'd suspect that there was a huge difference in income between the landed gentry and the tenant farmers and workers.

That many generations back, I should have over 1000 ancestors. Some very patient relatives have found perhaps 10. Probably the other 990 were too poor to have any records at all.
 
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