|Administrative / biographical background:
Hickstead Place, situated in the east of the parish of Twineham, on the Pyecombe-Bolney road (A23), formed the nucleus of an estate which included properties in several parishes on the border of East and West Sussex. Since the early 16th century three families, the Stapleys, Woods and Davidsons, have been associated with the house, and these are represented in the archives listed in this volume.
THE EARLY HISTORY OF HICKSTEAD
The earliest documentary references to the name "Hickstead" are in the 13th century, when the variants "Hicstede" and "Heghestede" appear in the Assize Rolls and Subsidy Rolls. (See A. Mawer and F. M. Stenton, The Place Names of Sussex, Part II, p. 279, for the derivation of the name). A cartulary of lands belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Cotton MS. Nero EVI, in the British Museum.) gives details of their property in the Hickstead area which formed part of the Manor of Saddlescombe. (For the descent of this manor see V.C.H. Sussex vii, pp. 207-8 and A. O. Jennings, "Saddlescombe Manor" in S.A.C. LXVI, pp. 181-207). The cartulary states that Matthew de la Cumbe, (Matthew de la Cumbe appears from the Lewes Cartulary to have been living in 1260 (S.R.S. XL, pp. 34, 61), living in the 13th century had given "all his land of Hecstede" to his brother Richard, who was in turn succeeded by his son Matthew. At this time it seems Hickstead had some sort of manorial status for the phrase "for suit at my court at Hegstede saving suit at the hundred of Saddlescombe", occurs. The cartulary also mentions Ralph de Hecsted, Hugh de Hicksted and William de Hickstead and the same family also appears in the Court Rolls of the Barony and Rape of Lewes in the 13th century (S.R.S., XLIV, pp. 38, 43, 48) and the Subsidy Roll of 1296. (S.R.S., X, p.47).
From architectural evidence it seems probable that Hickstead Place was built in the 15th century but owing to the absence of title deeds before 1665 and the use of "Hickstead" in documentary evidence to describe the settlement and not just the house, it is impossible to discover who built it and who were its first owners. Mark Antony Lower (S.A.C., XXIV, pp. 10 and 11) and Rev. Edward Turner (S.A.C., II, p. 102 and XXIII, p. 43) basing their arguments on the existence of several representations of the De La Warr badge in Hickstead Place and Twineham Church have suggested that the house was owned by Thomas, Lord De La Warr (1457-1525). However, no documentary evidence for this has been discovered. No Twineham property is mentioned in the grant of 1485, in which Henry VII rewarded Lord De La Warr with extensive lands in Sussex in return for support, (Letters Patent, 1 Henry VII, pt. IV) or in his will (P.C.C. 2 Porche) and inquisition post mortem. (S.R.S., XIV, p. 235). What does seem likely, however, is that by the early 16th century the house was in the ownership of the Heigh family. From deeds in the collection (Hickstead MSS 37, 38) we know that from 1471 William Heigh held certain copyhold property of the Manor of Saddlescombe, called the East and North Laines, close to Hickstead Place which itself is known from later evidence to have been a freehold of the same manor. This copyhold property descended to Richard Stapley through Eleanor his wife who was the daughter of William Heigh and in 1518 he tried to claim in the same right another Heigh property in Twineham, described as "a messuage and 92 acres of land". (See below, p. ix) This description tallies very closely with the earliest known description of Hickstead Place in 1608, as "a capital messuage and 93 acres" in Twineham. (Inquisition Post Mortem quoted in V.C.H. Sussex, VII, p. 190).
THE STAPLEY FAMILY
The origin of the Stapleys of Hickstead is unknown. M. A. Lower in his "Patrononymica Brittannica" assumes the Sussex Stapleys to be descended from the Cheshire Stapleys since they bore the same arms but Sir Harry Stapley thinks the reverse was possibly the case. (Stapley Papers (1905) p.1). Stapleys are to be found in parts of Sussex in the Middle Ages, (See Subsidy rolls for 1296, 1327 and 1332 in S.R.S., X) but they are especially prominent in Rotherfield from the late 15th century, (Dyke Hutton MSS. 362-397 in E.S.R.O) and near Battle where there is a hundred called Staple. However, it is probable that the Hickstead Stapleys came from Buxted: Richard Stapley I left considerable lands in that area and may have lived there. However, he is described in his will (P.C.C. 29 Holgrave) (1505) as of Twineham and he left his wife the livestock and corn on his lands there, which are unfortunately unspecified. He also left lands in Uckfield, Rotherfield, Maidstone and Ditchling, and a farm called Palmers which he was renting. The name of Richard's first wife is unknown but he married secondly Katherine, widow of William Heigh of Withyham. (See Hickstead MS. 38. Katherine is not named in Richard's will). Richard's second son, William, who inherited Andrewes, Uppelande, Brodfield, Netherbarnes (A freehold of Buckhurst Manor. See S.R.S. XXXIX, p. 5) and Nogretts probably in Buxted, was the founder of the Framfield family of Stapley. (For a pedigree of the Framfield Stapleys see S.A.C., II, p. 105).
It was Richard's elder son, Richard II who substantially built up the Twineham estates. Although he inherited the Buxted, Rotherfield and Maidstone lands, his interests seemed to lie further west and there is evidence that he owned land in Henfield and Woodmancote, including Bollands, Wolbeley, Cattsland Brokes, Cattslands Herds and Hempstalls. (For deeds of these properties, see S. 121-126 in S.A.S). In Twineham itself he acquired in 1522, through his wife Eleanor on the death of her mother (Katherine, widow of William Heigh (Katherine was both stepmother and mother-in-law to Richard Stapley II since her daughter by her first marriage became his wife and she herself after her first husband's death married Richard Stapley II's father. See below p.6) the East and North Laines property, copyhold land of the Manor of Saddlescombe. (See Hickstead MS. 38). In 1542 Richard purchased Twineham Manor with tenements in Twineham, Bolney and Portslade from Sir Robert Southwell and Margaret, his wife. (See Hickstead MS. 1A and S.R.S., XX, p. 449).
As we saw above, it seems likely that the "messuage and 92a. of land in Twineham" claimed by Richard Stapley in the right of his wife, Eleanor, the daughter of William Heigh, was Hickstead Place. This claim led to a suit in Chancery between 1518-20, (For notes on the case see. Add MS. 4758 in E.S.R.O.) in which he tried to compel Heigh's feoffees, John Chaloner and John Michell, to release the property to Eleanor. However, Heigh had settled the reversion of his estates, after the death of his wife, on Eleanor and her heirs by her first marriage, to John Strowde. The daughter of this marriage, Joan, who married Thomas A Wood, was therefore William's legal heiress, and not the children of her second marriage to Richard Stapley. The case seems to have been dropped and in 1542, John A Wood, son of Thomas, in an attempt to settle the long drawn out dispute quitclaimed to Richard not only this land but other Heigh lands in Bolney, Cowfold, Shermanbury and Hurstpierpoint amounting to 185 acres. (See Add MS. 4755 in E.S.R.O., notes on John A Wood).
John Stapley I, Richard's only child, besides the estates inherited from his father, had a house in the Cliff in Lewes, which he sold to Stephen Chatfield, (Will of Stephen Chatfield, 1536. Lewes Archdeaconry, Ala, p. 21) land called Skynners in Henfield, (See S.A.S., S. 127) and part of Berrymead and Berryland in Hurstpierpoint which he purchased in 1555. (See Hickstead MSS. 217, 218). He married Elizabeth daughter of William Apsley of Thakeham, and in 1548, he, John Apsley and Nicholas Eversfield received a quitclaim of the Manors of Canneshorne, and Hodore and tenements in East Grinstead and Hartfield. (S.R.S., XIX, p. 88).
William, the eldest of John's 10 children, inherited lands in Twineham, Hurstpierpoint, and Portslade and in 1592 he sold part of East Hookers in Twineham to Robert Woolgar. (See Hickstead MS. 69). William is the first Stapley who is definitely known to have possessed Hickstead. (See Saddlescombe Court Book in S.A.S., 2/F, for his son's admission and William's inquisition post mortem in S.R.S., XIV, p. 216). By his first wife, Joan, daughter of John Culpepper of Wakehurst, there were 8 children. His fourth son Drew (1568-1637) is described in 1639 (Inquisition post mortem, S.R.S. XIV, p. 216) as of Worth and Southwark, citizen of London and he left lands in Crawley, Ifield, Chiddingly, Wisborough Green, Worth, Southwark and Guildford. William's second wife was Bridget, widow of John Eversfield of Worth.
John Stapley II, William's eldest son, who inherited the estate in 1602 died only 4 years after his father. By his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Stapley of Framfield, he had a son, John and a daughter Elizabeth who married firstly Henry Coulthurst of Cuckfield and London, citizen and secondly Hall Ravenscroft of Horsham. John left Elizabeth, Hurstlands or an annuity in his will. (P.C.C. 99 Windebank and extracts in Add. MS. 4731, in E.S.R.O).
His son, John Stapley III, who was the captain of a trained band, succeeded to Twineham Manor, Hickstead Place, Puryland and other lands in Twineham and Hurstpierpoint in 1606. (Inquisition post mortem, S.R.S. XIV, p. 216) It was probably (For notes on the case see. Add MS. 4758 in E.S.R.O) this John Stapley who owned a house, formerly Chambers in Lewes (See S.R.S., XXXIV, p. 9) and in 1627 he purchased the Manor of Legh in Cuckfield (S.R.S., XIX, p. 269). though when he died he left instructions for it to be sold. (S.R.S., XIV, p. 217.) John married Mary, daughter of Samuel Boys, esq., of Hawkhurst, co. Kent.
John's eldest son, Anthony Stapley I is more fully represented in the archives and since the title deeds of Twineham Manor and Hickstead Place survive from his time it is possible to see which properties made up the 440 acres Twineham estate. Educated under Mr. Ketelby as a lawyer, Anthony practised in London in the earlier part of his life and is described in the Journal of Giles Moore as "Mr. Justice Stapley of Cowfold". (S.A.C., II, p. 107.) He seems however to have abandoned the law in order to run the estate which had been left to his mother in trust for him, and which now included Culpeppers in Southwick. (Inquisition post mortem, S.R.S., XIV, p. 217.) In 1659 he was admitted to the East and North Laines property which his younger brother John had held since 1649. (See Hickstead MS. 46.) Soon after the death of his mother he sold a farm and lands called Parklands in Twineham to John Spence, (See Hickstead MS. 1085. Parklands was part of the Park in Twineham.) and in 1661 some property at Twineham Green. (See Hickstead MS. 130.) The farming account books which Anthony kept from 1642 to 1665 bear witness to his diligence and personal interest in the running of the estate. (See Hickstead MS. 467.) He married firstly Rose, daughter and co-heir of John Pellatt of Bolney, who brought with her one third of the Manor of Sandore Sutton in Seaford, (sold by Anthony in 1648 (S.R.S., XX, p. 385.) and one third of the Manor of Truly in Edburton (sold in 1665 (S.R.S., XX, p. 448.). There were 2 sons of this marriage, John who married Barbara, daughter of John Michelborne, and William. By his second wife, Jane Stonestreet, Anthony had 4 children. Richard, the third son, received a moiety of Hurstlands and Westlands in Twineham in his father's will (See Hickstead MS. 746.) and in 1673 he was admitted to the East and North Laines property. (See Hickstead MS. 49.) He lived with his brother at Hickstead Place from about 1693 until his death, and from the diary which he kept between 1682 and 1723 it would seem that he played an important part in the running of the Hickstead estate. (Extracts from this diary, which is in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Davidson, appear in S.A.C., II, pp. 102-108. A transcript of the rest is available in E.S.R.O.)
To Richard's elder brother, Anthony Stapley II, went the largest part of the Hickstead estate, (Anthony's sisters Anne and Elizabeth inherited Perryland, Slipefield and Slipemead.) which was further increased in 1726 on his admission to the East and North Laines property on the death of Richard. Anthony's diary (1681-1732) (This diary is also in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Davidson. is less full than his brother's largely because he entered memoranda of a personal and local nature in his farming account book. (See Hickstead MS. 467.) From these accounts, it would seem that he took an active interest in local affairs, and some of the parish papers which have survived in the collection may have been accumulated by him, as land tax assessor and churchwarden. Anthony who married Jane Allen at Wadhurst in 1675 had 5 children.
When John Stapley IV, Anthony's eldest son, married Sarah, daughter Samuel Savage of Cuckfield, he acquired the copyhold lands and tenements called Biggs, (See Hickstead MS. 9.) a tenement called South Riddens and other freehold lands in Cuckfield (See Hickstead MS. 307.). John probably lived in Cuckfield, until 1730 when his father agreed to let Hickstead Place and farm to him for one year, while retaining accommodation for himself. (See Hickstead MS. 773.) In 1733 he inherited most of the estate from his father. (Will of Anthony Stapley, Hickstead MS. 751.) From his account book it seems that John, like his father, took an interest in local affairs. (See Hickstead MS. 472.) John's son John probably lived at Perrylands and when he died in 1748 he left Hurstlands, which he had inherited from his grandfather, to Samuel, his brother (Will of John Stapley, Lewes Archdeaconry, A57, p. 604.). John probably helped in the running of the estate for entries in the account books between 1743 and 1748 seem to be in his hand (See Hickstead MS. 474.).
John's elder brother, Richard Stapley IV, probably lived at Cuckfield as a young man. He was leasing a property there called Pellings Gardens in 1733 (See Hickstead MS. 310.) and he married Martha, daughter of Richard Burt of Cuckfield. Richard inherited the East and North Laines property in 1733, from his grandfather, (See will of Anthony Stapley, Hickstead MS. 751.) and the rest of the estate from his father in 1743. That he took an active interest in local affairs, as churchwarden and land tax assessor and collector, is shown in the account books and in the various parish papers he accumulated. When Richard died at the age of 48 he left daughters only, and so the male line of the Stapleys became extinct. Martha, the elder daughter, succeeded to Twineham Manor, Hickstead Place and the East and North Laines property (Will of Richard Stapley 1762, Lewes Archdeaconry, A60, p. 542.). Sarah, the younger daughter, who married Henry Tuppen and probably lived at Froyles in Lindfield, inherited South Riddens, Biggs and Great Waters in Cuckfield and Brookes, Sevelands and Govelands, Hammonds and Martins Croft in Laughton. In 1766 Martha married James Wood of Twineham who had acted as executor to her father.
THE WOOD AND DAVIDSON FAMILIES (See also Leslie Wood's notes on the Wood family. Add MSS. 4694-4780 in E.S.R.O.)
The Woods of Twineham were probably descended from Nicholas Awood of Ditchling (Comber in Sussex Genealogies, Horsham Centre, p. 377, traces the Twineham Woods from those of Ditchling, though Leslie Wood suggests that they were descended from Thomas A Wood, a member of a younger branch of the first Woods of Ockley, who is known to have moved from Clayton to Twineham between 1572 and 1576.). His son Henry Wood is described as of Ditchling, Cuckfield and Twineham and Henry Wood, possibly his son, was occupying Twineham Place in 1655. (List of Twineham lands subject to tithes, Hickstead MS. 1100.) James Wood I, probably the son of Henry the elder, also lived at the Place and rented Hurstlands and Poynings Wish in Twineham from the Stapleys. James, who was an anabaptist, married firstly Ann, daughter and coheir of John Sander of Parkhouse in Charlwood, co. Surrey and secondly Mary, daughter of Peter Marchant of Ditchling. Peter, the eldest son by the second marriage, is the first Wood known to have lived at the Park in Twineham which he leased from the Spences.
James Wood II, the son of the first marriage, also lived at Twineham Place, his step-mother having renewed the lease in 1678. (See Hickstead MS. 166.) He further built up the Twineham estate by purchasing Myfields (See Hickstead MS. 127.) and Slipe and Millands (See Hickstead MS. 187). in 1713, and Slipe field and Slipe mead in 1720, and he was overseer in the parish. James also inherited a moiety of Park House in Charlwood, co. Surrey and lands in Ifield through his mother and purchased the other moiety from George Ede, her brother-in-law. By his marriage to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Michael Marten of Franklands in Keymer, there were 2 sons.
James Wood III, the elder of the two, settled at East Mascalls in Lindfield and married Susan, daughter of John Dennett of Bolney Place. In 1718 he purchased Ockley Manor from the Luxfords. (See Hickstead MS. 353.) Another branch of the Wood family had originally held the manor but John A'Wood, on account of financial difficulties, had been forced to sell it in 1602 to the Barnham family (See Hickstead MSS. 319a-322.) who in turn, sold it in 1615 to the Luxfords. (See Hickstead MS. 324b and S.R.S., XX, p. 327. For an account of the descent of the Manor, see V.C.H. Sussex VII, p. 180.) In 1727 James inherited the Charlwood and Ifield lands (Will of James Wood, Hickstead MS. 779b.) and in 1739 he purchased the advowson of Rusper for his son, John Wood II who succeeded him in the Ockley estate.
John Wood I, the younger son of James Wood II, inherited the Twineham estate which he extended by the purchase of Chapell Crofts in 1732, (See Hickstead MS. 183.) Windham and Mercers in 1736, (See S.C.M., 11, 1937, p. 215.) Furzeland Lane in 1744 (See Hickstead MS. 59.) and Wapses and Collwells. (Land Tax Assessment for 1745, Hickstead MS. 709.) In 1729 he purchased East Ridge in Shermanbury (See S.A.C., LXII, p. 145.) and in 1748 the Manor of Wantley in Henfield and Woodmancote. (See S.R.S., XX, p. 463.) In 1740 he inherited Hilders in Cuckfield from his uncle, Peter Wood of Park, and in 1746 acquired Lofield also in Cuckfield. Probably something of a business man, John was mortgagee of Pakyns Manor with lands in Hurstpierpoint and Albourne in 1757, (See Hickstead MS. 278.) and Rowhill Farm in Cuckfield in 1762. John married as his first wife Anne, daughter of John Norton of Chestham in Henfield. In 1760 he retired to West Tarring, leaving the Twineham estates to his eldest son, James Wood IV. Nicholas Wood who appears in the Perryland deeds and who also occupied East Hookers and Chates was probably another of his sons. Henry, the youngest son, inherited the Woodmancote, Henfield and Shermanbury estate.
It was during the life time of James Wood IV that the Wood estates reached their greatest extent. The Twineham properties which he inherited in 1764, were greatly extended in 1766 on his marriage to Martin Stapley, who had succeeded to the Manor of Twineham, Hickstead Place and other lands in Twineham in 1762. He leased Westovers and Park Farm (See Add MSS. 47834786 in E.S.R.O.) in Twineham from Luke Spence and Newhouse (See Add MS. 4788 in E.S.R.O.) in Hurstpierpoint. In 1759 he acquired Drewitts in Cowfold (See Hickstead MS. 293.) and to the Cuckfield estate inherited from his father he added Broomfield. Finally in 1791 he inherited Ockley on the death of his cousin John Wood II, the Rector of Rusper. That he took an active part in the running of his substantial estate can be seen in the account books. (See Hickstead MSS. 467, 471 and 474-80). He was overseer of the poor, and commissioner for land tax and in 1767 was appointed sheriff. The numerous papers which he accumulated as executor give an indication of his wide business activities. He was also mortgagee of many properties, including Brookhouse, Lockiers, Lanners or Bedlelands (1777), Biggs and Great Waters (1777) and Seamans and Coopers (1789), all in Cuckfield. He probably retired to Cuckfield about 1801, where he died in 1806. (For extracts from his will see Hickstead MS. 783a.)
James Wood V, the eldest son, inherited most of the Twineham estate, which he had been running during his father's retirement, as well as the Cowfold and Cuckfield estates. He too is represented in the account books (See Hickstead MSS. 471, 474, and 479-81.). Like his father, he was a business man, and many of his executorship papers have survived. James, who was also an overseer and land tax commissioner, married Barbara, who may have been the daughter of John Borrer of Ditchling. (See Add MS. 4697 in E.S.R.O.)
James' younger brother, John Wood III, inherited the Ockley estate, Drewitts in Cowfold, and Windham and Mercers, Wapses and Collwells, and Furzelands in Twineham and in 1797 purchased Twineham Park. (See Add MSS. 4785 in E.S.R.O.) By his marriage to Catherine, daughter of Anthony William Hodson of Westmeston Place there were 5 daughters and 2 sons.
The elder son, James Wood VI, inherited the Ockley estate, (See will of John Wood, Hickstead MS. 783b.) and married Harriet, daughter of George Packham of Eu in France. The younger son, John Wood IV, inherited Wapses and Collwells in 1818 (See ibid.) and the Hickstead estate in 1832, on the death of his uncle James Wood V, (See will of James Wood, Hickstead MS. 783d.) without issue. By his marriage to Charlotte, another daughter of George Packham, he had one daughter, Charlotte, who predeceased him. The Hickstead estate therefore went to her husband, William Davidson, son of Dr. Thomas Davidson of Muirhouse, Midlothian, on the death of his father-in-law. Randall George Davidson, the son of William and Charlotte, inherited the Ockley estate in 1910 on the death, without issue, of Harriet, widow of James Wood VI, his maternal great uncle. (See will of Harriet Wood, Hickstead MS. 793g.) In 1949 Randall vested Ockley Manor in his son, Thomas Randall Davidson, who sold it in 1951. Hickstead Place had passed to Blanche Maud Davidson, daughter of William and Charlotte in 1916, and on her death, to Thomas Randall Davidson, her nephew, who sold it in 1959.