Catalogue description The Goddards of North Wiltshire

This record is held by Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Details of 1461
Reference: 1461
Title: The Goddards of North Wiltshire



These are deeds of conveyance and other legal instruments relating to properties and matters in the following topographical groups:-


(a) Swindon


(b) Stratton St. Margaret


(c) Wroughton


(d) Wanborough


(e) Wellow, Steeple Ashton, etc.


(f) Chelworth, Cricklade, Stanton, etc.


(g) Rudlow.


(h) Chippenham


(i) Miscellaneous


More than half of these deeds relate to properties in Swindon. The earliest is a grant of a tenement in Newport Street which is dated 1346, but the great majority of these documents are of the late 16th century and onwards. Deeds relating to the acquisition in 1563 of the manors of Swindon by Thomas Goddard of Upham, letters patent by Charles I granting a market and fair in Swindon, and a lease which refers to the conversion of the church house into a market house, are examples of conveyancing instruments which appear among the collection of title deeds.




Business papers concerning the management of the estates of the Goddard family include abstracts of title, drafts of deeds, legal opinions and accounts which relate to conveyancing matters, accounts of rents, and many miscellaneous documents of an administrative nature. Amongst such miscellaneous papers relating to estate matters is found, for example, a letter from Humphrey Repton, landscape gardener, quoting fees for a visit. Papers relating to more general business interests of the family include some documents of canal undertakings.




These comprise papers originating in law suits and also wills and other documents relating to testamentary matters. Papers of a legal nature which concern conveyancing or are not directly attributable to a law suit will be found in the preceding classes.


Of the many legal actions in which the Goddards were involved, directly or indirectly, in local or central courts, three are outstanding in the number of papers which have survived: a suit in the court of Chancery commenced in 1745 by Edmund Goddard against Ambrose Goddard which led to a division between them of some of the estate; an Exchequer action in 1775 by the vicar of Swindon concerning tithes in the parish; and a Queen's Bench action in 1853 concerning the recovery of a piece of manorial waste in the High Street. Included also in this class are many writs, mainly of no local interest, in which a Thomas Goddard acted as attorney in the years 1701-7.




These relate mainly to the manors of Swindon but some manorial documents of Stratton and Wanborough are included. The Court Book, in which is entered copies of court rolls of Swindon from 1644 to 1860 (with a gap between 1684 and 1743) is already quite well known, and extracts have already appeared in print. Court files often supplement information in the Court Book, and, together with the many rentals, provide lists of names of many Swindon inhabitants in the 17th century and later.




Poor law, highways, and land tax are the main subjects of documents in this class.




This class includes a miscellany of manuscript and printed papers, some probably of little interest, which either are of a personal nature or cannot be classified elsewhere. Documents here range from a theological treatise printed in 1580 and bound in a vellum cover which is part of a medieval manuscript of a Latin text on Logic, to correspondence concerning parliamentary elections in the 19th century. Other documents preserved in this class include Long Rolls of scholars of Winchester College, various commissions to serve in militia regiments, and papers relating to the Swindon Free School.




A few papers relating to the administration of this hospital have been included in this separate class.




Tradesmen's bills and other domestic accounts.




Deeds and other documents concerning properties in Wales, mainly in and near Carmarthen, which came into the hands of the Goddard family as the result of the marriage, in or about 1776, between Ambrose Goddard and Sarah Williams, daughter of the Reverend T. Williams. The earliest documents in the whole collection (dated 1336) is in this class; there are also many more early 16th century deeds here than amongst the Wiltshire deeds. The Welsh documents have been calendared more briefly than the remainder.




There is direct and indirect evidence that most documents in the collection relate to properties held by members of the Goddard family, or the estates in which they had interests as trustees, etc. There are, however, some groups of deeds and other isolated documents which have no obvious connection with the family. The possibility cannot be ignored therefore that the collection includes some strayed documents which have no Goddard connection.

Date: 1336-1936

The documents are now in the custody of the Swindon Public Libraries and the responsibility for their cataloguing and arrangement have been undertaken by the Libraries for the Borough Council, and with the assistance of Captain J. W. H. Goddard, the heir and present owner of the Goddard estate, and the family solicitors, Messrs. Townsends of Swindon. The bulk of the catalogue is the work of Mr. A. W. Mabbs of the Public Record Office.

Held by: Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Goddard family of Swindon, Wiltshire

Physical description: 2752 files
Administrative / biographical background:

The Goddards of North Wiltshire have been Lords of the Manor of Swindon for almost 400 years, but the name was well-known in the district long before Thomas Goddard of Upham acquired the Manor in 1563. Much of the family story is to be found in the documents of which this is the catalogue. The earliest item bears the date 1336 and is to be found in the group devoted to the Welsh properties, but there is one for Swindon which is dated a mere ten years later.

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