Gildredge Estate in Eastbourne, Hailsham and Willingdon, purchased by Nicholas Gilbert II from the heirs of Nicholas Gildredge

This record is held by East Sussex Record Office

Details of GIL/1/4
Reference: GIL/1/4
Title: Gildredge Estate in Eastbourne, Hailsham and Willingdon, purchased by Nicholas Gilbert II from the heirs of Nicholas Gildredge

Manors of Eastbourne Gildredge and Pashley, mansion house (previously called James's tenement); pigeon house, moat barns and stone walled close adjoining the Moat Croft (2a), Pigeon House Croft otherwise Old Orchard (5a), Millfields (22a), Upper Park (8a), Lower Parks (7a), the Dools (2a), Millers Marsh (3a), Pashley Marshes (6a), Pashley Brook (3a), Court Marsh (11a), Elphicks Field (6a), Burrow Laines (33a), beyond the mills several small pieces of arable (17a), in Sparrow Laine (1a), in Hartfield (10a), in Easthill (9a), the Old Lands (4a), the Newfield adjoining Old Lands (8a), Fletchers Field (24a), 5 roods of land in Sir George Parker's marsh, sheep pasture on Pashley Down and Town Down, water corn mill and 3a called the Millers Field, 12½ a arable in the south part of Eastbourne and certain tithes.


16 acres of pasture and 16 acres of woodland called Ocklinge Wood in Hailsham (1697) The early deeds of the estate, together with transcripts of court rolls, were copied into a cartulary (1) compiled for Thomas Gildredge in 1574 with additions by James Gildredge up to 1591; see the end of GIL/1/4 for a detailed list of its contents.


Thomas Gildredge purchased one third of the manor of Eastbourne in 1554 from Henry [Manners], Earl of Rutland, the other two parts being sold to John Selwyn of Friston and James Burton of Eastbourne (1, 8, 9). In 1574 a partition was made by Thomas Luxford and the three owners thereafter held their respective portions as quasi-manors under the names of Eastbourne Gildredge, Eastbourne Selwyn (late Parker) and Eastbourne Burton (later Wilson). Certain rights, notably the court leet, the waste and the right to take copperas stones from the beach, remained in common (10-12).


In 1572 Thomas Gildredge purchased the manors of Hartfield and Pashley from Richard Browne. In 1575 he purchased two houses, a pigeon house and four acres of land in Eastbourne, formerly belonging to William James, from John Burton. On his death in 1581, his property passed to his son James Gildredge, aged 25, who received livery of his lands on 7 February 1581 (13)


James Gildredge added to the estate in 1585 by purchasing Ocklinge Wood (66a) in Hailsham, jointly with John Burton of Eastbourne, esq, from John Lopdell of Eastbourne, tailor. In 1590 Lopdell's grandson James Payne of Eastbourne released his right to Gildredge in return for a lease of the pasture of 75 sheep and three horses. The wood was divided between Gildredge and Edward Burton of Eastbourne, esq, in 1592 (1).


In 1591 James Gildredge purchased a portion of tithes (which had previously belonged to Ann of Cleves and before to Lewes Priory) from John Welles of London, writer and Hercules Witham of London, gent. It was occupied by William Kendall and subject to a 21-year lease at £35, granted by the crown to William Braban in 1578 (1).


In 1603 the manor of Eastbourne Gildredge and the capital messuage called Jame's tenement and all houses and lands in Eastbourne and Willingdon were settled by James Gildredge on the marriage of his son Nicholas with Mary, daughter of Ralph Pope of Hendall in Buxted. The settlement gives details of outstanding leases, including two chambers over the great parlour and study leased to James's mother Alice Gildredge (14-15).


In 1630 Nicholas's son Nicholas Gilbert, shortly after the death of his wife Katherine, daughter of Sir Edward Burton, settled the manors of Eastbourne Gildredge, James's tenement, the manor of Hartfield Pashley and a moiety of Ocklinge Wood in Hailsham to the uses of his will: Sackville Pope of Hendall in Buxted and John Foster of Eastbourne were to act as trustees for his only surviving child, his baby daughter Katherine; a superseded will also survives (16, 17). Also present are a copy order of the Court of Wards and Liveries of 1635 enforcing the payment of the dowry promised by Sir Edward Burton when his daughter Katherine married Nicholas Gildredge, the quitrents on ten tenements held by Burton of Gildredge's manor of Hartfield Pashley and for the return of a diamond ring, and articles of agreement between Gildredge and Edward Burton of Eastbourne, DD, putting the order into effect (18, 19). Notes by Thomas Willard of c1730 and a draft letter from Nicholas Gilbert concerning his rights to quitrents from the same tenements in 1744 are also present (20, 21).


Presumably because of his impending second marriage to Ann Thorpe, Nicholas Gildredge resettled the estate by a common recovery in 1639 (23).


Nicholas Gildredge died in 1668 (24) leaving six daughters by his second marriage but no issue of his 3rd marriage to Sarah Willock. The estate was settled in accordance with his will to be divided equally between five of his daughters: Jane, Ann, Elizabeth, Katherine and Frances; his daughter Mary, who had married Francis Beard without his consent, being excluded. However, disputes arose over the trust and were eventually compromised after action in Chancery by a decree of 4 July 1674 (25).


In 1675 Elizabeth Gildredge married Nicholas, son of John Eversfield of harlton in Steyning (26-27).


As early as 1637, when the opinion of serjeant [Edward] Henden was taken (20), there had been disputes concerning the holding of courts leet and the share of royalties which remained unpartitioned by the division of the manor in 1574. They came to a head over Sir William Wilson's seizure of wine from a wreek between Gore Furlong and Red Dyke as lord of the manor of Meads (which was within the lordship of the manor of Eastbourne) in about 1682, which resulted in a suit in chancery (28, 29).


In 1684 the three surviving co-heiresses of Nicholas Gildredge - Elizabeth Eversfield, Jane wife of Nicholas Townley of Eastbourne and Ann wife of John Attwood of Waldron - together with the trustee Thomas Bromfield of Lewes, reached an agreement with Sir William Wilson of Eastbourne and Sir Robert Parker of Ratton, the lords of the other two parts of the original manor of Eastbourne, by which Wilson renounced his claim to wreek as lord of the manor of Meads, but by which the existing tripartite division of the unpartitioned rights was confirmed (28,29).


By 1694 one sixth of the estate had come to Ralph Beard of Eastbourne, gent, son of Nicholas Gildredge's daughter Mary (30, 31). In 1697 Nicholas's widow Sarah mortgaged her share in 43 acres (Pigeon House Croft otherwise Old Orchard, Motecroft, the Millfields, the Lower Parks, the Dooles and Pashley Marshes) to Ralph Beard (now described as of London, ironmonger) and Nicholas Gilbert II of Eastbourne and his wife Mary, the daughter of Gildrege's daughter Elizabeth Eversfield (32, 33).


This was the start of Nicholas Gilbert's gradual acquisition and reconstruction of the title to the old Gildredge estate. The share held by his wife as daughter of one of the co-heiresses was conveyed to him in 1697 (34-38). Shortly afterwards he obtained Ralph Beard's share for £540 (thought the final payment was made to his widow, Mary Beard of Cuckfield, in 1720) and Ann Wood and her son John Wood's share for £900 (39-46). In 1698 he purchased the share which had passed to his wife's sister Jane Eversfield of Eastbourne for £450 (47-50). Nicholas Gildredge's widow mortgaged her share of the 43 acres mentioned above to her stepdaughter Jane Townley of Eastbourne, widow in 1704 (51). In the same year Jane, together with her son-in-law William Wilson of Eastbourne and her daughter Jane, sold their share of the estate to Nicholas Gilbert (52-59), thus completing the reconstitution of the title. In 1706, Nicholas Gilbert granted his wife an annuity out of the estate if she survived him (60).


Nicholas Gilbert II died in 1713 (for his will see GIL/4/9/2-3), leaving the estate in trust for his son Nicholas III who was under age. Although the Gilbert estate in East Blatchington and the manor of Iden were sold to pay debts, this was not sufficient and in 1713 his creditors - Francis Green, gent, Walter Banks and James Golding - preferred a bill in Chancery.


As a result in 1719 the executors (Charles Eversfield of Denne in Horsham, Robert Rochester of Wannock in Jevington, gent and Thomas Willard of Eastbourne) were forced to mortgage the estate for £1045 to Thomas Friend of Lewes, mercer (61). In 1728 this mortgage term was assigned to John Bromfield of Lewes and Thomas Langstaffe of Eastbourne, gent in trust for Nicholas Giilbert of Horsham, gent (63)


In 1731 Nicholas Gilbert III employed Samuel Cant of Eastbourne to map his in Hartfield Laine, which amounted to 47 acres. The map also shows the mil house and pond and Upperton Farmhouse (64). Three years later Cant surveyed the Lower Mill field (65) (204-5 on GIL/3/17/1), and in 1747 Christopher Mason mapped the Upper and Lower Parks (66) (402 on GIL/3/17/1).


In 1772 Nicholas Gilbert IV married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Barton of Eastdean, clerk. Nicholas Gilbert III died in 1774 and the property formed part of a larger estate settled in the following year in accordance with the marriage contract; Barton was now of Waldron, clerk (67). When Nicholas IV died without issue in 1797 the estate passed to his brother, the attorney Charles Gilbert of Lewes (68-70).

Date: 1697-1704
Related material:

For Charles Gilbert's purchase of the Burton moiety in 1799, see GIL/1/27 below.

Held by: East Sussex Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Former reference in its original department: GIL/1/4
Language: English

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