THE COWDRAY ESTATE RECORDS
Practically nothing is known about the early history of the Cowdray estate records, nor is it clear where they were originally kept. The deed of purchase of the manor and advowson of Bepton in 1568, for example, required the muniments to be delivered to Viscount Montague's house at Southwark (Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 37; entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 98), whilst that of the manor of Lurgashall in 1580 required the muniments to be delivered to Cowdray House (Deed entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 153v), but in considering these points it must be remembered that the vendor in the case of Bepton was an Essex man, whilst Lurgashall was bought from Sir Thomas Palmer of Parham. Nevertheless the 1st Viscount in his will (dated 1592) directed that all his letters patent, charters, deeds, muniments, court rolls and other writings should be kept in the Jewel House otherwise the Evidence House at St. Mary Overies, his residence in Southwark, 'where they nowe be and haue vsed to remaine' (P.C.C. 22 Nevell. The probate copy is Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 67. The site of the priory of St. Mary Overies, Southwark, had been granted to Sir Anthony Browne in 1544 (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 19, pt. 1, p. 637. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 35v.). For a brief account of this property, subsequently known as Montague House, see Bankside (L.C.C. Survey of London, vol. 22), pp. 43-44.). The house was sold by the 2nd Viscount and his trustee in 1625 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C. 54/2637, no. 17. The property was among those transferred to trustees in 1611 (see above, p. xi), and the trustee in question had therefore been appointed by the Act of 1624.), at which time, if not earlier, the estate records must have been transferred to Sussex, either to Cowdray or Battle.
The next century and a half have unfortunately to be passed over in silence, and we know of nothing further to record until we find Sir William Burrell using the documents for his collections for a history of Sussex. He notes that in May 1781 he was transcribing from a deed in Lord Montague's possession (B.M., Add. MS. 5684, f. 71. The 'deed' was in fact the will of Michael de Ponyngges, 1368, now apparently at Althorp House, Northamptonshire; see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 77, p. 256), and that in 1782 he copied the original counterpart of a deed of the lawday court among the muniments of the borough of Midhurst (B.M., Add. MS. 5690, f. 20v. Burrell does not say that the deed was at Cowdray House, and it might well have been in the offices of a local lawyer); he was apparently at Cowdray copying some of the records in 1790 (B.M., Add. MS. 5679, f. 44v) and again in March 1791 (B.M., Add. MS. 5679, f. 35; Add. MS. 5684, f. 57v.; Add. MS. 5689, f. 85v). In view of their subsequent history we may be grateful that he did so (Nevertheless it must be admitted that most of the records from which Burrell copied seem to survive somewhere).
The muniment room at Cowdray House was in the Kitchen Tower and so survived the fire which destroyed the main part of the building in September 1793 (W. H. St. John Hope, Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, pp. 82-83). No attempt was however made to rescue the documents which which for something like half a century seem to have been left entirely to the mercies of the weather and human intruders. In 1834, for example, manuscripts were said to be lying 'in heedless heaps on the floor, or ... scattered on the shelves, and some, more ancient, and known by their rightful owner to be more curious than the rest, are set apart for the vacant gaze, and rude treatment of those who cannot read them' (Gentleman's Magazine (n.s.), vol. 1, p. 37. A similar account was published in the following year by H. D[udley], a pupil at Midhurst Grammar School, Juvenile Researches, p. 58 (or p. 57 in the second edition, also published in 1835), who noted that 'the floor [of the room above the kitchen] is covered with ancient deeds, valuable MSS., and private letters, which are suffered to lie about in wild confusion, submitted to the inspection of every visitor'. It must be remembered that W. S. Poyntz was still alive at the time). This public revelation clearly did not have the desired effect for in January 1845 it was reported to the Central Committee of the British Archaeological Association that a number of papers were stored in a room at Cowdray which had become ruinous and unsafe, that many of them 'having been carried away by persons who chanced to visit the ruins, the remainder had been thrown into the closets which surrounded the room, which were then nailed up, and the papers left to decay', and that since the state of the chamber was such that it must shortly fall, the documents would probably perish (Archaeological Journal, vol. 2, pp. 79-80; quoted by Mrs. Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, p. 137). At the next meeting of the Committee, held the following month, Thomas King of Chichester 'stated that the said documents had been stored away in a detached dovecote, at the time of the conflagration, and that they related to the times of Elizabeth, James, and the Protectorate', and that the 'papers had been wantonly destroyed, and used as wrappers, or for kindling fires, but the Earl of Egmont has recently purchased the estate, and the ruins will no longer be accessible to mischievous idlers'. King seems, however, to have had no compunction about taking a few for himself (although he would no doubt have maintained that he was performing a public duty by securing their preservation), for the Committee was told that some were 'in his possession, one of which is a detailed account of expenses for liveries and tailors' work, during Elizabeth's reign: he has also court rolls and other documents, of the time of James I' (Archaeological Journal, vol. 2, p. 84; quoted (not very accurately) by Mrs. Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, p. 137.).
In 1863, Sir Sibbald Scott wrote that 'some years ago ... the floor [of the upper chamber in the tower at Cowdray House] was strewed with parchments and papers; some had been thrust by handfuls into the cupboards, and many were gathered in little heaps in corners where gusts of wind had probably driven them, and where the damp had caused them to adhere in masses, rendering many of them illegible, for small traces of glazing remained in the wide casements, consequently the rain could penetrate from any quarter; the ivy, moreover, had thrust its way to the ceiling, and jackdaws had evidently learnt to look upon this apartment as their own, and one well adapted for the education of the young. ... But more ruthless still than the rain, or damp, or jackdaws, had been the spoiling hands of casual visitors, before the door had been closed to the public. The collectors of autographs and seals had in frequent cases torn off these appendages; doubtless many documents had been carried away wholly, but generally they were thus mutilated, and then flung down on the floor as valueless.' Sir Sibbald claimed to have seen 'obsolete leases', the oldest 'not earlier than the reign of Elizabeth', 'receipts for work done upon the estate, from A.D. 1500', and 'piles of letters to and from different members of the family', whilst 'Rolls of Courts Baron ... were in abundance'. In a footnote to this article the author says that Alexander Brown, the agent, had had the papers cleared out soon after the sale of the estate (Sir S. D. Scott, 'On Some Old Papers Found in a Tower of Cowdray House', in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 15, pp. 67-73; referred to (and quoted from) by Mrs. Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, pp. 137-138, who says that Sir Sibbald's visit took place in 1856, but this does not fit in with the remark in the footnote. Sir Sibbald apparently removed some of the documents himself; see below, p. xxxi.). Brown, in fact, kept a number of them, and its seems almost certain that the documents which in 1912 passed to the Hon. W. Harold Pearson (later 2nd Viscount Cowdray) (W. H. St. John Hope, Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, p. 83. These documents are now catalogued as Cowdray MSS. 1-45.) came from this source since two of them are known to have been in his possession (The draft will of Sir David Owen (Cowdray MS. 12) and the Book of Orders of the 2nd Viscount Montague (Cowdray MS. 18); see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 7, pp. 28, 173; vol. 15, p. 68: Mrs. Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, p. 6. Nothing that we have said is in any way intended to reflect discredit upon Brown, who undoubtedly felt that he was preserving something of value, and indeed Mrs. Roundell says that the word 'Useless' which appears on the back of Owen's will in an early-nineteenth century hand was written by no less a person than the estate solicitor.). At a later date Mr. Pearson acquired further documents which may well have had the same origin (These documents are now catalogued as Cowdray MSS. 85-238, but it will be seen that some of them (e.g. Cowdray MSS. 105-108, 169, 181) clearly could not have come from the ruins of Cowdray House.).
The full force of this unhappy tale of neglect and mismanagement becomes apparent when we recall that only once was the estate sold between the late-twelfth century and 1843, and realize that its records ought therefore to stand comparison with those of any other estate in the kingdom - indeed, if we can believe Sir Sibbald and his fellow-critics, might certainly have done so (References to the estate will of course be found in appropriate official records, and searchers may like to be reminded of the detailed particulars of their properties, which the 5th and 6th Viscounts registered, as Roman Catholics, with the Clerk of the Peace; see W.S.R.O., QDR/5/WE1, WE2, WE5, WE6, W9, and East Sussex R.O., QDR/5/E3, E4, E7, E8.). Even more surprising and exasperating is the fact that the destruction of the estate records seems to have continued, for only one or two isolated documents of estate administration are left to testify to the ownership of Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz. It is clear therefore that a detailed history of the estate is now past praying for, and indeed we ourselves, when patiently searching the indexes at the Public Record Office in order to produce for this Introduction nothing more spectacular than the barest outlines of the acquisition and sale of some of the larger properties, have often felt that we had been sentenced to make bricks without straw to expiate the misdeeds of our predecessors. But whilst lamenting the losses (what, for example, became of the large vellum pedigree dated 1628, which Burrell saw?) (B.M., Add. MS 5689, f. 86v.), we must be thankful for two things. First that the court rolls survived, that the title deeds to the estate are apparently complete from 1717/8 onwards, and that the estate maps form a representative series, presumably because all these documents were at the time of the fire still required for current administration, and may not even have been in the muniment room at all; and secondly that the borough of Midhurst did not, as already mentioned, then form part of the estate, otherwise its records too might well have suffered. A number of documents do however exist elsewhere either in private or official custody:-
(i) some 300 deeds of the estate, 1505-1868, were presented to the Sussex Archaeological Society in 1934-35 by the Honorary Curator, the Rev. W. Budgen (Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 76, p. lxiv, where they are merely described as 'Two hundred and fifty deeds (Midhurst, Easebourne, &c.)', without further identification. These documents have been fully calendared, and a copy of the entries for those which specifically mention West Sussex is available in W.S.R.O.), and are now catalogued as Sussex Archaeological Trust Deeds BA 1-291. Unfortunately it is not known how Budgen acquired them. They have been subsequently deposited at WSRO.
(ii) a volume with the modern title of 'Title-Deeds of Viscount Montagu', sold, so Mrs. Roundell says, as waste paper (Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, p. 22.), was purchased by the British Museum (according to a note on the fly leaf) from Mrs. L. Danby on 13 May 1882, and is now catalogued as Add. MS. 31952. It contains copies of about 170 deeds and other documents dating from at least the thirteenth century to 1586/7, and although these naturally include letters patent, final concords and deeds which are enrolled in chancery or elsewhere, a large number, including copies of medieval deeds relating to Waverley abbey, would seem to be otherwise unrecorded. The volume has of course been of particular importance for the section of this Introduction dealing with the early history of the estate. Indeed since it is much more convenient to use than the originals, even where they are known to have survived, we have been at particular pains to indicate if it contains a copy of any document that we have had occasion to note. A full list of its contents is available in the West Sussex Record Office (W.S.R.O., MP 184.).
(iii) some 50 documents relating to Sussex, which clearly came from the Cowdray estate records, are now among Lord Spencer's muniments at Althorp House, Northamptonshire, presumably because of the marriage of Georgina Elizabeth, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz, with the future 4th Earl Spencer (L. F. Salzman, 'Sussex Deeds at Althorp', in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 77, pp. 254-258, prints the entries for these documents from their calendar. There may, of course, be other Cowdray deeds at Althorp which do not relate to Sussex.).
It seems almost certain that other documents remain in private hands, and indeed 'the items of local interest', including the 'Inventory of Cowdray House in MS dated 168?', which formed lot 995 at the sale of the contents of Hill Top, Midhurst, in June 1958, clearly came from the estate archives (For the sale particular, see W.S.R.O., SP98. A letter, 'in the possession of Mr. Richard Fisher, of Hill Top near Midhurst', is printed by Mrs. Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, pp. 103-104. Other documents printed by Mrs. Roundell, pp. 49, 96-99, and at one time apparently in the possession of Sir Sibbald Scott, have now found their way back to the estate records (Cowdray MS. 5128).).
In addition a small group of papers, mainly drafts, relating to the sale of the estate in 1843 is among the Marquess of Exeter's records at Burleigh House, Northamptonshire, presumably because of the marriage of Isabella, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz, with the 2nd Marquess (We are indebted to the Archivist, Northamptonshire Record Office, for calling our attention to these. Anyone wishing to see them should write to him in the first place.).
Other documents which at one time formed part of the Cowdray MSS. have of course been quite properly handed over upon the sale of some particular property (Quite by chance, for example, we discovered during the compilation of this Introduction that a number of court rolls of, and title deeds to, the manor of West Horsley, both before and after its sale by the 3rd Viscount Montague in 1655/6, are in the John Rylands Library, Manchester; see R. Fawtier, Hand-List of Charters, Deeds, and Similar Documents in the Possession of the John Rylands Library, [vol.] 1 (Documents of which the Provenance has been Ascertained), pp. 20-24 (reprinted from Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 8, pp. 276-280). And yet the conveyance of the manor by the Viscount, which chronologically should be among them, is in the Guildford Muniment Room.), and we should especially like to remind readers of the numerous records of the Battle area, transferred to the new owner in 1721, which were offered for sale by a bookseller in 1835 (T. Thorpe, Descriptive Catalogue of the ... Muniments of Battle Abbey ... Also, a Great Mass of Papers Relating to the Family of Browne, Ennobled as the Lords Viscount Montague. Not all the documents in the Catalogue, however, came from Cowdray, and a number of them relate to the Webster family, the subsequent owners of Battle abbey.). They have now found their way to the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California (They were purchased by Mr. Huntington in August 1923; see Huntington Library Bulletin, no. 1, p. 74. For other accounts of these documents, see Sir W. Beveridge, 'Some Explorations in San Marino', in Huntington Library Bulletin, no. 2, pp. 67-85, and J. M. Vincent, 'The Battle Abbey Records in the Huntington Library', in American Historical Review, vol. 36, pp. 63-68, from all of which it is clear that the steward's account book, and probably therefore the other non-Battle records, is amongst them. The articles by E. Swift, 'Obedientiary and Other Accounts of Battle Abbey in the Huntington Library', in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 12, pp. 83-101, and 'The Obedientiary Rolls of Battle Abbey', in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 78, pp. 37-62, deal of course only with pre-dissolution records.). Amongst them are a few which do not relate to Battle (and which presumably ought never to have been handed over), including the deeds of Lenham (which we have had occasion to mention), and the estate steward's account book, 1657-1658 (A few of the interesting items from this book are given by Thorpe in the Descriptive Catalogue, pp. 159-160, some of which are repeated by Mrs. Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, pp. 82-83, and E. V. Lucas, Highways and Byways in Sussex (1904), p. 7 (or p. 6 in subsequent editions).).
Very little use seems so far to be made of the Cowdray estate records. Sir William Burrell, as we have seen, copied a certain number of the documents into his MS. collections for a history of Sussex, which have proved a useful quarry for later searchers (These are now B.M., Add. MSS. 5679-5690. We have counted 99 occasions when Burrell quotes from documents in the Cowdray muniments (or in the possession of Viscount Montague, or identified by some such equivalent phrase). Of these 18 refer to the rape of Hastings (Add. MSS. 5679, 5680), 4 to the rape of Pevensey (Add. MSS. 5681, 5682) 7 to the rape of Lewes (Add. MSS. 5683, 5684), 1 to the rape of Bramber (Add. MSS. 5685, 5686), 10 to the rape of Arundel (Add. MSS. 5687, 5688), and 59 to the rape of Chichester (Add. MSS. 5689, 5690). These figures are only given, of course, as a rough guide, and too much should not be made of them, especially as one document may yield references for several parishes. The volume which is now B.M., Add. MS. 31952 (see above, p. xxx) has, for example, been quoted on 57 occasions, from 49 documents. Burrell had the helpful, if reprehensible, habit of leaving his initials on those documents which he had seen, if not actually used for his collections, and we have noticed these on Cowdray MSS. 6, 14, 20, 306, 4346-4349, and 4758, f. 21, and there may very well be others. (Burrell could not of course have seen Cowdray MS. 4758 at Cowdray, and one suspects that Cowdray MSS. 4346-4349 were also seen at Petworth after the sale of the burgage tenements to the Earl of Egremont, rather than at Cowdray.)), but the only writer who (as far as we know) claims to have used the Cowdray MSS. as such (distinct of course from any which had strayed from their proper custody), and then on two occasions only, is the nineteenth century historian of West Sussex, Dallaway (J. Dallaway, A History of the Western Division of the County of Sussex, vol. 1, pp. 204, 290. He has however used on several occasions Burrell's notes from the Cowdray records.). They do not seem to have been used by V.C.H. Sussex, which is particularly unfortunate, since the volumes so far published include that for the rape of Chichester where the bulk of the Cowdray estate is situated.
|Administrative / biographical background:
COWDRAY is in Easebourne, a West Sussex parish which adjoins the small town and former parliamentary borough of Midhurst, some ten miles north of Chichester. The ruins of Cowdray House, burned out in 1793, stand in fact only 600 yards from the centre of Midhurst, with the river Rother, the parish boundary, flowing between them. The present house, Cowdray Park, built by the 7th Earl of Egmont, c. 1875, is about ¾ mile further eastward, 500 yards south of the Midhurst-Petworth road (A.272).
THE COWDRAY ESTATE
Cowdray as a place-name is not apparently known earlier than 1284/5 when an inquisition found that the sub-escheator of Sussex had sold wood in the wood called la Codray (Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, vol. 1, p. 392. A. Mawer and F. M. Stenton, The Place-Names of Sussex (English Place-Name Society), pt. 1, p. 17, note however the personal name, John de la Coudreye, in 1279.). A house called la Coudreye is mentioned in 1320 (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1317-1321, p. 539. The word 'manor' would in this context refer to a house.), and the manor of 'Coderay' is used as an alternative name for that of Midhurst in the inquisition post mortem on Cicely, widow of Sir John de Bohun, in 1383/4 (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, [vol. 15,] p. 373 (not yet published, but page proofs available in the search room at the Public Record Office); the original document is C.136/31/7. The name is incorrectly printed as 'Coderey' in Calendarium Inquisitionum Post Mortem sive Escaetarum (Record Commission), vol. 3, p. 58.).
The earliest known reference to what was subsequently called the Cowdray estate seems however to occur in a charter of Henry II of c. 1160 confirming an agreement between two brothers, Geldwin and Savaric FitzSavaric, for the division of lands lately belonging to another brother Ralph, by which Geldwin was to have, among other properties, the manor of Easebourne with Midhurst, and the vill of Rustington. Geldwin seems to have held these until c. 1185, when they passed to his son Frank, called de Bohun, who was confirmed in them by Richard I in 1190. The estate then descended in the family until 1492 when it passed upon the death of John Bohun without male issue to his daughter Mary, wife of Sir David Owen, who sold to Sir William Fitzwilliam in 1529, at which point the medieval history of Cowdray may be said to have ended (There is no fresh information in the Cowdray MSS. upon the medieval history of the estate, for which, see V.C.H. Sussex, vol. 4, p. 77; W. H. St. John Hope, Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, pp. 1-10; W. Farrer, Honors and Knights' Fees, vol. 3, pp. 65-69. For the Bohun family, see G. W. Watson, 'The Bohuns of Midhurst', in The Genealogist (n.s.), vol. 28, pp. 1-16, 114-123, 173-174; C. E. Snowden, 'The De Bohuns of Midhurst', in Sussex County Magazine, vol. 7, pp. 307-313; G.E.C., Complete Peerage, vol. 2, pp. 199-202. The last John Bohun seems to have left two daughters, and it is not clear why the estate passed to the elder. The circumstances of the conveyance from Sir David Owen to Sir William Fitzwilliam, which were somewhat unusual, are set out in great detail by St. John Hope, pp. 17-20, but he appears to have overlooked a mid-sixteenth century statement, 'A remembraunce of the assurance of the Manor of Mydhurst otherwyse called the Manor of Cowdrey', in the register of title deeds of the 1st Viscount Montague, B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 69.).
The modern Cowdray estate (a phrase used here and throughout to comprehend all properties, wheresoever situated, which belonged to the owner of the estate) dates from the second quarter of the sixteenth century (royal licence to make Cowdray Park and to enclose the house with embattled walls was granted in 1532/3 (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 6, p. 44. The licence is printed by W. H. St. John Hope, Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, p. 29. The original letters patent are apparently at Althorp House, Northamptonshire; see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 77, pp. 255-256.), and the new Cowdray House was begun about the same time). The estate was initially made up of the following three groups of properties:-- (It must be understood that this is an introduction to the Cowdray MSS., not a history of the Cowdray estate, and no reference is therefore made to properties not mentioned in the documents. Most of these properties were in Surrey, and details may be found in the relevant volumes of the V.C.H. of that county.)
(i) the estates of Sir William Fitzwilliam, created Earl of Southampton in 1537. His purchase of the Cowdray estate had brought him the manors of Cowdray, Easebourne (From about the middle of the sixteenth century this manor has been known as Easebourne Priory, and it may be worth emphasizing that at no period did it ever belong to the priory.), and Rustington, the lordship of the borough of Midhurst, and the advowson of Easebourne. Then in 1536 he received a grant from the Crown of, first, the site of the dissolved abbey of Waverley in Surrey, together with some of its possessions, including the manors of Waverley, Wanborough, and Markwick and Monkenhook (in Alford), all in Surrey, and the rectories of Waverley and Wanborough; the manors of Neatham (in Holleybourne), Swarraton, and Boyatt (in Otterbourne), all in Hampshire; the manor of Dockenfield (in Frensham) in Surrey and Hampshire; and the manor of Shaw [Grange] in Berkshire: and, secondly, the site of the dissolved priory of Easebourne, with some of its possessions, including the manor of Worthing, the rectory and advowson of Compton, and the advowsons of Midhurst, Fernhurst, and Lodsworth (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 11, p. 88 (which however omits the advowson of Compton); Cowdray MS. 912. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 27. The word 'grant' here and in succeeding paragraphs is used in its more popular sense to indicate a transfer of property from the Crown, but the majority of these were in fact conveyances for a valuable consideration and not gifts. In this particular case, it will be seen that, although no consideration is mentioned, the Crown reserved a rent of one-tenth of the annual value of the properties, which was bought out in 1672 (deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/4362, no. 4).). This was followed in 1541 by a grant from the Crown of the manor of St. John, by the name of the manor of Midhurst (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 16, p. 463; Cowdray MS. 14. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 20v.), a small area in the town, formerly belonging to the dissolved order of St. John of Jerusalem (but outside the area of the borough, and therefore exempt from the jurisdiction of the borough officials), together with the chapel. The Earl of Southampton died in 1542 without issue, and his properties, in accordance with the terms of a previous settlement, and subject to the life interest of his widow, passed to his half-brother Sir Anthony Browne (The deed of settlement, entered in the register of title deeds, B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 71, was made in 1538, and does not therefore mention the manor of St. John. The Countess lived until 1550, but Sir Anthony Browne seems to have entered upon the properties at once; see W. H. St. John Hope, Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, p. 22.)
(ii) the estates of the Lady Lucy Browne, fourth daughter and coheir of Isabel, Marchioness of Montagu. By Act of Parliament of 1530, Lucy was granted, first, the dissolved abbey of Bayham in the Sussex part of Lamberhurst, and its manors of Bayham, and Lewis Heath (in Horsemonden, Kent), and, secondly, the dissolved priory of Calceto in Lyminster, with its manors of Calceto, Selham, and Bourne or Westbrook (in Westbourne), as her share in an annuity of 500 marks granted by the Crown in 1339 to Thomas de Bradeston until such time as he or his heirs should receive in fee an equivalent of land or rent (Statutes of the Realm, vol. 3, pp. 352-355. An undated inspeximus is entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 8v. For the grant to Thomas de Bradeston, see Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1338-1340, p. 395. The descent of Lady Lucy Browne from de Bradeston is conveniently summarized in G.E.C., Complete Peerage, vol. 2, p. 273.). In her will, proved in 1534, Lucy left these properties to her sons, the above William Fitzwilliam and Anthony Browne, and to the survivor (P.C.C. 15 Hogen.), so that the latter acquired the whole of these properties in 1542 upon the death of his half-brother (The subsequent history of these properties is however obscure, for in 1606/7 the King granted them, except for Bayham abbey and the manor of Bayham, to the 2nd Viscount Montague (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1700; Cowdray MS. 20), following this in 1607 with a second grant in similar terms (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1734; Cowdray MS. 924). (The first of these describes the properties as having devolved upon the Crown through the attainder of Wolsey, but this phrase is omitted from the second; the earlier grant is not however vacated upon the Patent Roll. Moreover both these grants include the manor of Lewis Heath, although the 2nd Viscount had sold this in 1604, and both wrongly describe this manor as a former property of Calceto.) The confusion seems to have originated because of the former monastic ownership, and in 1584/5 an Exchequer Special Commission (P.R.O., E.178/3116) had reported the manors of Calceto, Selham, and 'Bourne alias Bywashe' as 'concealed lands'. The first of the two grants is dated five days before the 2nd Viscount Montague sold the manor of Bayham, and it may well be that the investigation of the title for this conveyance brought to light the alleged defects.).
(iii) the estates which Sir Anthony Browne had acquired before he succeeded his half-brother. In 1537 he had received from the Crown a grant to himself, his wife, and his heirs male (the only one in fact of all the various grants connected with the Cowdray estate which had this limitation, and a point which was to become of significance some 250 years later) of the manors of Poynings, Perching (in Edburton), Preston Poynings (in West Firle), Pangdean (in Pyecombe), Ashcombe (in Lewes), Waldron, and Chinting Poynings (in Seaford), all of which had recently been conveyed to the Crown by the Earl of Northumberland (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 12, pt. 2, p. 472; Cowdray MS. 914. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 15. The conveyance from the Earl of Northumberland to the Crown is enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/403, no. 11, and entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 13.). Then in 1538 there followed a grant from the Crown of the dissolved abbey of Battle, together with the manor and rectory, and unspecified lands, which seem to have included the manors of Agmerhurst (in Ashburnham) and Swyneham (in Ninfield and Hooe) (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 13, pt. 2, pp. 98-99. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 17v.), and in 1539 a similar grant of the manors of Barnhorne (in Bexhill) and Maxfield (in Guestling), two other properties of Battle abbey (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 14, pt. 2, p. 220. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 19v.). In 1541 Sir Anthony received a further grant from the Crown of properties which included the manor of Saddlescombe (in Newtimber) and the advowson of Hastings, St. Clement, in exchange for lands in Kent, and the surrender of the constableship of Harlech castle in Merioneth (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 16, p. 461. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 25. A deed of exchange between the King and Sir Anthony Browne, dated a few weeks before the letters patent, is entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 22.).
All the above properties, subject to the life interest of the Countess of Southampton in those of her late husband, came together therefore in 1542 in the hands of Sir Anthony Browne, and the three groups which formed the pattern of the estate for nearly two centuries--the lands in the immediate vicinity of Cowdray House, a block in the centre of the county in the area of Poynings, and further to the east those in the neighbourhood of Battle and Hastings--were already beginning to emerge.
Sir Anthony Browne continued in the royal favour, and his estates were further increased by the grants of the manor of Send in Surrey in 1544 (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 19, pt. 1, p. 616. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 29v. The manor of Ripley seems also to have passed by this grant, although it is not mentioned by name.), of Shulbrede priory with its demesne lands, of which he was already the lessee, in 1545 (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 20, pt. 1, pp. 304-305; Cowdray MS. 916. The original letters patent are apparently at Althorp House, Northamptonshire; see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 77, p. 258. They are entered in B.M., Add. MS 31952, f. 37v.), and which would seem to have comprised what was subsequently called the manor of Linchmere and Shulbrede (Cf. V.C.H. Sussex, vol. 4, p. 69. This property had been granted by the Crown in 1537 to Sir William Fitzwilliam and his heirs male (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 12, pt. 2, p. 352; this however omits the words of limitation which have been supplied by reference to the original Patent Roll, P.R.O., C. 66/673, m. 21), and reverted to the Crown in 1542 upon the death of Fitzwilliam, then Earl of Southampton, without issue.), of some of the properties of the dissolved college of Hastings, including the advowson of Hastings, St. Mary, the rectory of Peasmarsh, and the advowson of West Thurrock in Essex, in 1546/7 (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 21, pt. 2, pp. 409-410. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 39v.); and of the manors of Verdley (in Fernhurst) and Lodsworth, with the Surrey manors of West Horsley and Effingham, and a house called 'le Neate' in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, in 1547 (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1547-1548, pp. 240-241; Cowdray MS. 918. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 45.).
Sir Anthony died in 1548. The estates passed to his son, another Anthony Browne, who was raised to the peerage in 1554 as Viscount Montague (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1554-1555, p. 88. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 48v. The spelling 'Montague' has been checked with the original Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/885. A number of authorities (including G.E.C. Complete Peerage, vol. 9, pp. 97-103) give the form 'Montagu', but the 'Mo(u)ntague' used by all the Viscounts except the 4th, whose 'Montaigu' is clearly eccentric, would certainly appear to be preferable. It is perhaps unfortunate that the 'Lists of Creations of Peers and Baronets', which form Appendix No. 6 to the Forty-Seventh Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, should have given (p. 93) 'Montagu', but an explanatory note (p. 78) says clearly that 'the usually accepted spelling has been adopted as regards Titles'.), receiving in 1554/5 a grant from the Queen of further lands, including the two Surrey manors of Stockwell (in Lambeth) and Pirbright, for the better support of his new estate and rank (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1554-1555, p. 314. The letters patent are entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 49v. Sir William Fitzwilliam in 1520 and Sir Anthony Browne in 1543 had each received from the Crown a grant for life of the manor of Pirbright (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol. 3, pt. 1, p. 414; vol. 18, pt. 1, p. 284).). In 1556/7 he sold 'le Neate' (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/525, m. 23.), and then, during the following decade, seems to have begun a conscious policy for the disposal of his outlying estates, for he sold the manor of Swarraton in 1564/5 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/525, no. 41.), the manor of Boyatt (Licence to alienate granted in September 1566 (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1563-1566, p. 403 (not yet published, but page proofs available in the search room at the Public Record Office); the original roll is P.R.O., C.66/1022); final concord levied in Michaelmas Term 1566 (P.R.O., C.P.25(2)/208/8 & 9 Eliz. I Michaelmas).) and the manor of Shaw [Grange] (Deed enrolled on the Common Pleas Plea Roll, P.R.O., C.P.40/1253, deeds rot. 17v.), both in 1566, and the advowson of West Thurrock in 1567/8 (Licence to alienate granted in January 1567/8. (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1566----, p. 189 (not yet published, but page proofs available in the search room at the Public Record Office); the original roll is P.R.O., C.66/1044); final concord levied in Easter Term 1568 (shown in the contemporary index at the Public Record Office, although the original is missing).) On the other hand he clearly set out to consolidate his estates in the vicinity of Cowdray, indeed the solid block of territory in this area is essentially his creation (It is perhaps only right, if not strictly within our own rules of relevance, to mention that the 1st Viscount nevertheless sold in 1577 the manor of Heyshott (E. H. W. Dunkin (ed.), Sussex Manors, Advowsons, Etc., Recorded in the Feet of Fines, vol. 1 (Sussex Record Society, vol. 19), p. 208), which his grandfather, Sir William Fitzwilliam, had bought in 1534, and which is only a mile or so from Cowdray House.), for he purchased the manor of Pitfold in Frensham (Surrey) in 1566 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/707, no. 32, and entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 91v.), the manor and advowson of Bepton in 1568 (Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 37; entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 98.), the manor, park and advowson of Lurgashall in 1580 (Deed entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 153v. The advowson is not specifically mentioned, but seems to have passed under general wording.), the manor and advowson of Linch in 1581 (Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 44.), the manor and advowson of Cocking in 1583/4 (Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 48.), and the manor of Stedham in 1587 (E. H. W. Dunkin (ed.), Sussex Manors, Advowsons, Etc., Recorded in the Feet of Fines, vol. 2 (Sussex Record Society, vol. 20), p. 416.). In the meantime he had received in 1574/5 a grant from the Crown of River Park in Tillington and Lurgashall, together with the mansion house (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1129; entered in B.M., Add. MS. 31952, f. 137v. The original letters patent are apparently at Althorp House, Northamptonshire; see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 77, p. 258. The grant was subject to the life interest in the offices of parker, keeper and underkeeper of Sir Thomas Palmer, who died in 1582 (cf. Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1557-1558, pp. 370-371). The reference to the Earl of Arundel in the footnote on p. 95 below of this Catalogue is unfortunately wrong, and must be deleted.), and then in 1588 bought a moiety of the manor of Clayton, which adjoined his estates in central Sussex (E. H. W. Dunkin (ed.), Sussex Manors, Advowsons, Etc., Recorded in the Feet of Fines, vol. 1 (Sussex Record Society, vol. 19), p. 105.), but parted with the rectory of Peasmarsh, probably in 1587 (Licence to alienate granted in September 1587 (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1303).), the rectory and advowson of Compton in 1588 (Licence to alienate granted in April 1588 (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1303); final concord levied in Trinity Term 1588 (E. H. W. Dunkin (ed.), Sussex Manors, Advowsons, Etc., Recorded in the Feet of Fines, vol. 1 (Sussex Record Society, vol. 19),p. 111).), and the manor of Waldron in 1590 (Recited in a pardon for alienation, Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1350.).
The 1st Viscount died in 1592, leaving the bulk of his properties to his eldest grandson. Anthony, who succeeded him in the title. Waverley abbey and manor were however left to his second grandson, John, and the manor of Pirbright to his third grandson, William, with a proviso in each case against alienation (P.C.C. 22 Nevell; the probate copy is Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA67. Waverley abbey and manor were sold in 1605/6 by John Browne (deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/1845), and passed out of the family. Strangely enough, in view of the provision in the will against alienation, the 2nd Viscount was not a party to this transaction, but both he and John Browne were parties to a fine levied on the next conveyance of this property in 1608/9 (P.R.O., C.P.25(2)/359/6 Jas. I Hilary), although neither is mentioned in the deed of bargain and sale (enrolled on the Recovery Roll, P.R.O., C.P.43/104, deeds rot. 17v.). The rectory of Waverley presumably passed with the manor.), but Pirbright seems to have returned to the estate in 1610, when the 2nd Viscount joined William Browne in a conveyance to trustees (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2026. No trust is actually mentioned, but the purchasers acted as trustees for the Viscount on other occasions. William Browne is said to have been a Jesuit.). The manor of Ashcombe ceased to be part of the estate about the 1590s (The position is not entirely clear, for, although in 1591 the Crown granted the reversion of the manor to Thomas Sackville, 1st Baron Buckhurst (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/1373, m. 24), this could not have become operative (could not in fact have done so for another 200 years) for the manor had been granted to Sir Anthony Browne and his heirs male in 1537. Nevertheless there would seem to have been some arrangement which we have not discovered, for the manor is not mentioned in the inquisition post mortem upon the 1st Viscount (P.R.O., C.142/235/110; for a copy, see Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 68), and Sackville, then 1st Earl of Dorset, certainly owned it at his death in 1608 (inquisition post mortem, Court of Wards and Liveries, P.R.O., Wards 7/34/202, which is far more legible than the original in Chancery, P.R.O., C. 142/311/110). Unfortunately F. W. T. Attree, Notes of Post Mortem Inquisitions taken in Sussex (Sussex Record Society, vol. 14), p. 72, does not list all Dorset's manors, and Ashcombe is concealed under a somewhat unsatisfactory 'etc.' The future 2nd Viscount had married Sackville's daughter in 1590/1 and one is tempted to think that the conveyance was part of the settlement, for the manor of Ashcombe adjoined the Sackville family's estates in the Lewes area.), and the 2nd Viscount disposed of the manors of Stockwell in 1598 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/1602.), Lewis Heath in 1604 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.43/86, deeds rot. 13.), and Bayham in 1606/7 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/1878.).
The next event of importance seems to have been the transfer by the 2nd Viscount in 1611 of a number of manors and other properties to trustees for sale to provide his daughters' portions and pay off his debts (The transfer was effected by two deeds respectively enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2091, no. 38, and P.R.O., C.54/2070, no. 12. Strangely enough no trusts are mentioned in either of these deeds, but are recited in the Act of 1624 mentioned below (and see Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 72). The debts included £6,000 due to the Crown. The whole transaction appears to have been unfortunate and to have led to litigation; see chancery decrees, P.R.O., C.78/533, no. 3, and P.R.O., C.78/205, no. 11.). The trustees accordingly sold the manors of Stedham in 1611 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2098, no. 23. This deed omitted mention of the rents, heriots and services of the manor, and a further deed (enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2182, no. 25) was necessary to rectify the mistake.), Wanborough (with the rectory) in 1612 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2145, no. 5. The manor of Wanborough was one of the two properties whose sale was to discharge the debt due to the Crown, but, although the consideration was slightly more than the necessary £6,000, only £4,000 went to the King to discharge an unspecified bond.), Dockenfield in 1613/4 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2155, no. 1.), Rustington in 1614 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2236, no. 39. The manor appears to be that of Rustington Eastcourt (see Cowdray MS. 306, f. 53), but we do not know how far this represents the medieval manor of Rustington.), and Bourne by 1616 (A court was held in April 1616 in the name of Nicholas Westbrooke (Diocesan Record Office, Chichester, Cap. I/38/1, f. 18v.).). The Viscount in the meantime sold the chapel of St. John in Midhurst, which was not vested in the trustees, in 1613 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2179, no. 12.), and subsequently the manors of Effingham, probably in 1617 (Licence to alienate granted in November 1615 (Patent Roll, P.R.O., C.66/2087, no. 90); final concord levied in Easter Term 1617 (P.R.O., C.P.25(2)/360/15 Jas. I Easter).), and Markwick and Monkenhook in 1622 (Deed enrolled on the Recovery Roll, P.R.O., C.P.43/157, deeds rot. 14v.). Fresh trustees of the remaining lands transferred in 1611 were appointed by private Act of Parliament in 1624 ('An Act for settling of certain Mannors and Landes of the Right Honourable Anthony Viscounte Mountague towardes the Payment of his Debts and the rayseinge of his Daughters Porc[i]ons' (Private, 21 Jas. I, no. 14 on the Chancery Roll, no. 48 on the Parliament Roll), apparently not in print.), and the manor of Chinting Poynings was sold in 1628 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2760, no. 29.).
The 2nd Viscount died in 1629, and was succeeded by his son Francis, who sold the manors of Preston Poynings in 1632 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2949, no. 14.), and Neatham in 1632/3 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/2920, no. 12.). At a slightly later date he apparently bought the manor of Lenham in Kent (No instrument of conveyance has been traced, but, although E. Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, vol. 2 (1782), p. 440, suggests that it was bought by the 2nd Viscount of Henry Wilford at the 'latter end' of James I's reign, it would appear from T. Thorpe, Descriptive Catalogue of the ... Muniments of Battle Abbey, pp. 219-221, that Wilford was still interested in the property (which by error is described as in Essex) as late as 1635. There are no references to Lenham as such among the Cowdray MSS., but these facts are necessary to explain the presence of the general pardon to Henry Wilsforde [sic] (Cowdray MS. 19).). The Cowdray estate seems to have suffered severely during the Civil War. It was sequestered in 1643, and the House occupied by the parliamentary forces (For the history of Cowdray House during the period of the Civil War and the Commonwealth, see W. H. St. John Hope, Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, pp. 24-25, but he appears to have overlooked a few references in the Journals of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons.), and it may well have been these difficulties that caused the sale of the manor of West Horsley in 1655/6 (Original deed, Guildford Muniment Room, 45/1/14.). The manor of River in Tillington and neighbouring parishes was bought in 1662/3 (Deed copied by Sir William Burrell, B.M., Add. MS. 5690, f. 83v. It will be recalled that the Cowdray estate had had an interest in this area since 1574/5, when River Park, described as part of the manor of River, had been granted by the Crown to the 1st Viscount Montague, whilst in 1581 the same Viscount had received from the Crown the right to take wood within the manor and a grant of the iron there (omnes illas ferreas miner' nostras & lez vaines ferri vocat' Iron myne alias Iron Ore) for 21 years (P.R.O., Patent Roll, C.66/1202).), and the other moiety of the manor of Clayton in 1678 (E. H. W. Dunkin (ed.), Sussex Manors, Advowsons, Etc., Recorded in the Feet of Fines, vol. 1 (Sussex Record Society, vol. 19), p. 105.), but the manor of Pirbright is said to have been finally alienated in 1677 (V.C.H. Surrey, vol. 3, p. 364.). The rents which had been reserved by the Crown on some of its grants were bought out in 1672 (Deeds enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/4362, no. 4, and P.R.O., C.54/4364, no. 21.).
Francis, 3rd Viscount Montague lived until 1682. In his will he bequeathed the manor of Lenham to Henry, his second son, but the rest of the estate, like the title, passed to his eldest son, Francis (P.C.C. 136 Cottle; the probate copy is Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 125.). Henry however succeeded to both upon the death of his brother in 1708, and immediately seems to have disposed of the manor of Lenham, which had momentarily rejoined the estate (Elizabeth Hamilton in her will [P.C.C. 68 Smith] refers to her settlement in June 1709 of the Lenham estate, 'purchased of ... Henry Lord Viscount Mountague and the Honourable Anthony Browne his Son and Heir Apparent'. Henry succeeded to the title in April 1708 and so must have sold Lenham between this date and June 1709.). He then sold the manors of Send and Ripley in 1712 (Deeds enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/5034, no. 19.), apparently to discharge the debts of his father and brother (Cowdray MS. 309; Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 164. Francis, 3rd Viscount Montague in his will [P.C.C. 136 Cottle; the probate copy is Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 125] had empowered his trustees to sell Ripley and Send to discharge his debts, which he put at £20,000. As early as 1664 these manors, with others, had been vested in trustees to pay the 3rd Viscount's debts; see the 'Act for vesting in Henry Arundel, esq., and his heirs, the trust in the estate of the lord viscount Montague which is vested in her Majesty by the attainder of John Caryll, esq., for high treason' (Private, 9 Anne no. 13).). Henry died in 1717, and his son and successor, Anthony, 6th Viscount, sold all the Battle and Hastings properties (including the manors of Battle, Barnhorne, Agmerhurst, and Swyneham, the rectory of Battle, and the advowson (presumably both St. Clement and St. Mary) of Hastings) in 1721 (Deeds enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/5192, no. 9. There are in all five deeds on this particular roll concerned with the conveyance. The manors of Hastings and Stone included among the properties sold are probably nothing more than dignified titles for some of the lands in the crown grant of 1546/7. The manor of Bexhill, also mentioned, is probably a myth.), in the hope that this would finally free the estate from debt (Sussex Archaeological Trust Deed BA 180A.). The manor of Maxfield was apparently also sold about this time, although no conveyance has been traced (Cf. V.C.H. Sussex, vol. 9, p. 180.). Anthony had in 1720 married Barbara, daughter of Sir John Webb, 3rd bart., of Canford (Dorset) (For the marriage settlement, see Cowdray MS. 313.), and in 1743 the mansion house of Muntham and lands in Findon were purchased upon the trusts of the marriage settlement, but this property did not remain long in its new ownership, for it was sold in 1765 (Deed enrolled on the Close Roll, P.R.O., C.54/6169, no. 15. This deed recites both the marriage settlement, and the purchase and settlement of the property in 1743.). In 1753 the manor of Burningfold in Dunsfold (Surrey) was likewise added to the estate (The conveyance is one of a group of title deeds to the manor deposited in W.S.R.O. on the very eve of our going to print, thereby causing a hasty rewriting of both text and footnote, but bringing a search of some two years or more to an eminently satisfactory conclusion. It appears from another of these deeds that the manor was bought with money that was the subject of a decision of the Court of Chancery, 29 March 1739, in a suit between Sir Thomas Webster and another v. Viscount and Viscountess Montague and Hon. Anthony Joseph Browne, but unfortunately we had not previously known of this, and time did not permit us to find out what it was all about.).
The 6th Viscount Montague died in 1767, and was succeeded by his son Anthony Joseph. The title deeds to the estate have survived from this time onwards (See below, p. xxx.), and its history can now be considered in greater detail. The 6th and 7th Viscounts each charged it heavily, both by family settlements and mortgages, so that upon the death of the latter in 1787 at least £46,600 was owing upon security of various properties (£18,000, £10,000, £6,000, £6,000, and £1,600 were still due upon mortgages (originally created by Cowdray MSS. 364, 323, 331, 323 (second endorsement), 351), and the portion of £5,000 charged upon the estates upon the marriage (some 25 years before) of Mary Browne (who had now been dead for almost 20 years) with Sir Richard Bedingfeld, 4th bart. (Cowdray MS. 321) was still unsatisfield, although admittedly it had not fallen due until 1767 (the other £5,000 did not become payable). In addition an annuity of £600 had now to be paid out of the estates to the Viscount's widow (Cowdray MS. 325.), and the Viscount in his will left all his real estate to Sir John Webb, 5th bart. (his mother's relation), and Sir Richard Bedingfeld, 4th bart. (his brother-in-law), in trust to raise by sale, mortgage or lease such sums as should be necessary to pay his debts (P.C.C. 84 Calvert; for the probate copy, see Cowdray MS. 368.). Accordingly, Sir Richard (the only acting devisee since Sir John declined the trust) (Cowdray MS. 369. This deed is enrolled on the Recovery Roll, P.R.O., C.P.43/818, deeds rot. 138.) sold, first, in 1788 the borough of Midhurst and about 150 burgage tenements for £40,000, of which £18,000 went to discharge a mortgage debt to Messrs. Drummond (Cowdray MS. 1948. This deed is enrolled on the King's Bench Plea Roll, P.R.O., K.B. 122/568, rot. 1410. For the mortgage to Messrs. Drummond, see Cowdray MSS. 364-367. It would appear that all the burgage tenements owned by the late Viscount were conveyed, but they included, amongst other things, the meadow land between Cowdray House and Midhurst town, and, on the next day, Sir Richard took a lease of this and other properties for 10,000 years (Cowdray MS. 623.), and, secondly, in 1790 the manor of Burningfold, with related property, for £14,021 (Deed enrolled on the Recovery Roll, P.R.O., C.P.43/829, deeds rot. 257.). One other mortgage, for £10,000, was paid off (Endorsement on Cowdray MS. 330.), but this only cancelled out a mortgage of the same sum raised to satisfy certain of the late Viscount's bond debts (Cowdray MS. 372.), so that when in 1791 the estate was reconveyed by Sir Richard Bedingfeld to George Samuel, 8th Viscount Montague, who had succeeded his father, a total of £28,600 charged upon the estate still remained outstanding (Cowdray MS. 378. The mortgages and other charges are listed in a schedule to this deed, but the marriage portion mentioned in footnote 7, p. xiii above, was however subsequently paid by the 8th Viscount out of his personal fortune, and not out of the estate (Cowdray MS. 332). By an oversight the lease of the burgage tenements mentioned in footnote 10, p. xiii above, was not assigned at the time of the reconveyance; in fact this did not happen until 1824 when assignment was made by Sir Richard Bedingfeld, 5th bart., as administrator of the goods of his father (Cowdray MS. 625). The omission was presumably discovered when the title to the estate was investigated in preparation for the settlement of that year (Cowdray MS. 397), and even so on the very next day a further £5,000 was raised (Cowdray MS. 379. This mortgage was ultimately used for the maintenance and education of an illegitimate son of the 8th Viscount (Cowdray MSS. 381-389), whose existence does not hitherto seem to have been noticed.).
The 8th Viscount died unmarried in 1793 as the result of a foolhardy escapade in Germany, and the title passed to Mark Anthony, his fourth cousin once removed, a friar at Fontainebleau in France, who forthwith obtained dispensation to marry. To the new Viscount passed, also, the manors of Poynings, Perching, and Pangdean, the survivors of that group of property granted in 1537 to Sir Anthony Browne and his heirs male (See above, p. vii.). The rest of the estate the 8th Viscount left to his sister, Elizabeth Mary, but further charging it with an annuity of £400 (P.C.C. 561 Dodwell; for the probate copy, see Cowdray MS. 390.). A few weeks before his death, Cowdray House was almost completely destroyed by fire.
In 1794 Elizabeth Mary Browne married William Stephen Poyntz, son of William Poyntz of Midgham, Berkshire (For the marriage settlement, see Cowdray MS. 391, and for the Poyntz family, see Sir J. Maclean, An Historical and Genealogical Memoir of the Family of Poyntz (privately printed 1886), pt. 2, pp. 201-227. William Stephen Poyntz succeeded his father in the Midgham estate, the records of which are now in the Berkshire Record Office (see F. Hull, Guide to the Berkshire Record Office, p. 83), in 1809.). Although they resided upon the estate in a converted keeper's lodge for the rest of their lives, no attempt was made to rebuild the House. There was however a determined effort over the next quarter of a century to place the estate on a sound financial basis. In 1799 they obtained an Act of Parliament to enable it to be charged with the sum of £12,000 to be spent on improvements, the preamble alleging that 600 acres required draining and fencing, that other parts were lying waste, that some roads were impassable with loaded carriages, and the greater part of the farm houses very ruinous. It also empowered the exchange, subject to the approval of the Court of Chancery, of Lurgashall Park Farm, the River Park Farm, and the River Park Lodge Farm, both in Tillington, Lodsworth and Lurgashall, Green Gate and Daubings Farm in Lurgashall, and Lurgashall Mill Farm, together with the mill, for other properties in Sussex ('An Act for enabling William Stephen Poyntz Esquire, and the Honourable Elizabeth Mary his Wife, to charge the Estates, late of the Right Honourable George Samuel Lord Viscount Montague, deceased, in the County of Sussex, with a competent Sum of Money, for improving the same; and for other Purposes' (Local & Personal, 39 Geo. III cap. 79); for a copy, see Cowdray MS. 410. A schedule gives the annual rental (including a valuation of the lands in hand) of the estate in Sussex as £4,981 17s. 8d., and the annual average produce of timber, fines, heriots, quit rents and tithes as £5,020 5s. 9d., making the total income £10,002 3s. 5d. The annual charges upon the estate (by way of interest upon mortgages, land tax, family settlements, etc.) are given as £4,417 4s. 4d., leaving a clear annual produce of £5,584 19s. 1d. It should however be noted that (i) £500 of the annual charges were to be levied upon the crown estate; and (ii) that only Sussex properties (and so not Pitfold) are included.). But in 1805 a further Act revoked this exchange clause, and authorized the sale or exchange not only of these properties (none of which had in fact been disposed of) but also of (inter alia) Clayton and Constablewick Farm in Clayton, Aberton Farm in Edburton, Saddlescombe Farm in Newtimber, the manor of Calceto and Calceto Farm in Lyminster, Woodsums Farm in Billingshurst, Fromans Farm in Linch, and Hurlands Farm in Lodsworth, all of which lay from three to about thirty miles from Cowdray Park and House. The properties received in exchange, or purchased with the monies received from the sales, were to be 'lying more compactly together' or more conveniently situated to the principal part of the estate ('An Act for effecting the Sale or Exchange of certain Real Estates and Hereditaments late of George Samuel Lord Viscount Montague deceased; and laying out the Money thence arising in the Purchase of other Real Estates' (Local & Personal, 45 Geo. III cap. 85); for a copy, see Cowdray MS. 446. Strangely enough the manor of Worthing, despite its distance from Cowdray House and its isolation from the rest of the estate, was not included in the list of properties which could be sold or exchanged.), In the following year, William Stephen Poyntz and his wife took a lease (The lease is enrolled in the relevant Entry Book of Leases, P.R.O., E.369/89, pp. 121-146. For the preliminary negotiations, see Third Report of the Surveyor General of His Majesty's Land Revenue (1806), pp. 12-14, 74-85, the terms of the lease being set out summarily on pp. 50-51 of this Report. (The four Reports in this series were reprinted in 1812 with a consecutive pagination, the relevant references in this edition being pp. 116-117, 151-159, 136-137. All the foregoing page references are taken from the copies in the sessional volumes of Parliamentary Reports in the British Museum, but we have seen a copy of the 1806 Report with a completely different pagination.) It was not realized that four of the manors in the original grant to Sir Anthony Browne had been sold off, and it is amusing to read that 'The names of Preston-Ponyngs and Chyntyng-Ponyngs, mentioned in the original Grant, appear to be only different denominations of the Manor of Poynings', and that 'The Manors of Ashecombe and Walderne, named in the Grant, are stated by Mr. Poyntz to have been members of Poyning's Manor, or denominations of smaller Manors within the limits of the greater; and it is affirmed by him, that no such Manors elsewhere are known to be in existence'. The Act 'for the better Support of Her Majesty's Household and of the honour and dignity of the Crown' (known since the Short Titles Act, 1892 (55 Vict. cap. 10), as the Crown Lands Act 1702, but previously often called the Civil List Act) (1 Anne cap. 1 (st. 1 cap. 7 in Ruffhead) section 5) precluded another grant in fee, and in fact 31 years was now the longest period for which crown lands could be leased. This Act had in addition completely prohibited the leasing of crown livings, so that Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz's lease could not include the advowson of Poynings, which seems to have been enjoyed by Sir Anthony Browne and all the Viscounts Montague by virtue of general words in the grant of 1537.) for 31 years from Old Michaelmas 1804 of the manors of Poynings, Perching, and Pangdean, which had passed to the 9th Viscount in 1793, and reverted to the Crown at his death in 1797 upon failure of the heirs male of Sir Anthony Browne.
The next few years saw the sale and purchase of properties as authorized by the Act of 1805. There are no copies of the deeds of sale among the Cowdray MSS., and since the Act vested the properties in trustees freed from all encumbrances, there are not even final concords to come to our rescue. Nevertheless by August 1806 the Court of Chancery had approved of the sale of certain unspecified marsh lands for £7,937 6s. 0d., the manor and farm of Calceto for £6,708, and part of the River Park Lodge Farm and Green Gate and Daubings Farm for £4,882 8s. 6d., whilst certain copyhold lands had been enfranchised, also under power in the Act, for £257 1s. 11d (These details are all recited in Cowdray MS. 448. The deed of conveyance of part of River Park Lodge Farm and Green Gate and Daubings Farm to the Earl of Egremont, which took place in January 1807, is in Petworth House Archives, F.H/KKa/15, and it appears that for a further £326 13s. 9d. there was additional sale of small properties in Lurgashall, and release of quit rents and heriots due to three manors of the Cowdray estate. It may also be appropriate at this point to note that no trace has been found of William de Albini's [perhaps more happily d'Aubigny's] deed of gift to Calceto priory of (inter alia) the fishing on either side of Arundel bridge, which the Rev. E. Turner in 1859 (Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 11, p. 94) said was 'supposed to be', and which G. W. Eustace in 1922 (Arundel: Borough and Castle, p. 39) said was 'believed to be', among the Cowdray estate muniments.). In addition the Land Tax Assessments show that Woodsums Farm in Billingshurst (W.S.R.O., Q/DE/2/1/W14.) and Fromans Farm in Linch (W.S.R.O., Q/DE/2/1/W93, where the property is referred to as Stents.) were both sold during the financial year 1805-1806, and Hurlands Farm in Lodsworth during that of 1808-1809 (W.S.R.O., Q/DE/2/1/W96.). With the monies received from such sales were purchased the manor, farm and lands called Moor in Easebourne and South Ambersham for £16,996 6s. 0d. in 1806 (Cowdray MS. 448; for a further £187 6s. 8d. the Cowdray estate bought out a few payments due to the honour and manor of Petworth.); the manor and farm of Buddington, then in a detached tithing of Bignor, but now in Easebourne, for £6,800 (Cowdray MS. 478. This might perhaps be described as a reunion with the Cowdray estate, since the manor of Buddington belonged to Sir David Owen in the sixteenth century (see Cowdray MS. 12).), and Vinings otherwise Wigmores Farm in Easebourne for £2,000 (Cowdray MS. 554.), both in 1807; Lythland Farm in Easebourne for £1,200 (Cowdray MS. 515.), and two pieces of meadow land in Midhurst for a total of £420 (Cowdray MSS. 527, 529.), both in 1808; and Madams Farm in Easebourne for £2,500 in 1809 (Cowdray MS. 503.). All these properties lay within a mile or so of Cowdray House.
Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz had two sons and three daughters, but the two boys, then aged 14 and 9, were drowned in a boating mishap at Bognor in the summer of 1815 (Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 85, pt. 2, p. 79, which appears to be the basis of all subsequent accounts. It is repeated by Sir J. Maclean, An Historical and Genealogical Memoir of the Family of Poyntz, pt. 2, pp. 224-225; Mrs. Charles Roundell, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, pp. 108-109; T. G. Willis (comp.), Records of Chichester, pp. 253-254. The fullest account known to the present writer is in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser, 10 July 1815.), a disaster made even more tragic because it happened just when the first steps to put the estate on a sound footing had been successfully completed; for in the very next year the Court of Chancery, under the provisions of the Act of 1799, authorized the raising of £12,000 by mortgage or charge upon the estate, in consideration of the expense of the improvements carried out (P.R.O., C.33/628, f. 1181v.; for a copy, see Cowdray MS. 413. The actual expenses are set out in a schedule to the report of the Master in Chancery to whom the matter had been referred (P.R.O., C.38/1125; for a copy, see Cowdray MS. 412). For the deed of charge, see Cowdray MS. 414.). The loss of their sons clearly caused Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz to abandon the attempt to revive the past glories of Cowdray, and although in 1824, when one-third of the estate was settled upon each of their daughters, there was provision for the further purchase of property, wherein preference was to be given to certain farms and lands which Poyntz had purchased from his personal fortune, there was also provision for the sale of further parts of the estate (Cowdray MS. 397. The farms in question, which, with the other properties, were purchased by the trustees of the settlement in 1825 (Cowdray MS. 622), were Loves otherwise Vyning in Easebourne, Heath End in South Ambersham and Selham, Moorelands in Lodsworth, and Vinings and Lower House, both in South Ambersham. One-third of the Midgham estate was also settled on each of the daughters in 1824; see Cowdray MSS. 403, 405, 407.). Accordingly the manors of Saddlescombe (Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 66, p. 192; V.C.H. Sussex, vol. 7, p. 208. A group of relevant papers is in Petworth House Archives, H.8/4. The actual deed of conveyance was handed over upon the subsequent sale of the manor of Saddlescombe, but among these papers is the receipt given on that occasion, which gives the date of the sale by the Cowdray estate as January 1825. For a copy of the particulars of sale of both the manors of Clayton and Saddlescombe, see W.S.R.O., SP 158.) and Clayton (E.H.W. Dunkin (ed.), Sussex Manors, Advowsons, Etc., Recorded in the Feet of Fines, vol. 1 (Sussex Record Society, vol. 19), p. 105. See also the above note.) were sold in 1825, the manor of Pitfold in 1831 (A copy of the conveyance, dated November 1831, is entered in a volume of precedents made by a trainee lawyer, which is now in the strong room at the County Hall, Northampton (for which information, and for other assistance, we are greatly obliged to Mr. P.I. King, the Archivist, Northamptonshire Record Office). The date is confirmed by a final concord levied in Hilary Term 1832 (P.R.O., C.P.25(2)/ 1563/2 Wm. IV Hilary), to which however W. S. Poyntz was not a party, only the three daughters and their husbands being named as deforciants.), and the lease of the Poynings properties not renewed upon its expiry in 1835, the Crown in fact purchasing Constablewick Farm and Aberton Farm which lay intermixed with its own lands (Fourteenth Report of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings (1837), pp. 7, 27.).
Mrs. Poyntz died in 1830, but her husband, who under the settlement of 1824 was tenant for life, lived until 1840, and had the satisfaction of seeing all the mortgages and other charges paid off (The last appears to have been paid off in 1838; see endorsement on Cowdray MS.419.). At his death the estate passed to the three daughters, none of whom was presumably able or willing to buy out the shares of her sisters, and in 1843 (apparently with the sole exception of the manor of Worthing) it was bought for £330,000, on behalf of the 6th Earl of Egmont, by the trustees of the will of his father, Baron Arden (He was 2nd Baron Arden [I.], created 1770, and 1st Baron Arden [U.K.], created 1802. The contract for sale, signed in June 1842, provided that the purchase was to be completed by, and the purchasers entitled to possession at, Michaelmas of that year, or to receive interest on the consideration money (Exeter (Burghley) MS. 47/13/10; see below, p. xxxi), and the Cocking tithe award, which is dated October 1842 (although admittedly not sealed until much later) already shows Lord Egmont as the owner of the Cowdray properties in the parish. The statement in V.C.H. Sussex, vol. 4, p. 67, that the rectory of Linch was 'in the hands of' Lord Arden in 1826, is based on a complete misunderstanding of Dunkin's notes. The three daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz sold the Midgham estate in 1842 (endorsements on Cowdray MSS. 403, 405, 407).), who on his death in 1840 had left the residue of his personal estate in trust to be laid out and invested in the purchase of freehold property (P.C.C. 621 Arden. For an abstract, see Cowdray MS. 5063. Lord Egmont succeeded his father as Baron Arden in 1840, and his cousin as Earl of Egmont in 1841.). Later in the year the three daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz sold the manor of Worthing for £650 (W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 466.).
Such records as have been deposited scarcely carry the story further than this date, but it appears from some of the correspondence of the 6th Earl of Egmont (Cowdray MSS. 1905-1909.), from a number of draft deeds (Cowdray MSS. 4978-5043.), and from sale particulars (Cowdray MS. 1917.), that there was a continuous adjustment of the estate boundaries by the purchase and disposal of individual properties. The estate remained in the ownership of successive Earls of Egmont until 1909, when it was bought for £340,000 by Sir Weetman Pearson, 1st bart. (subsequently Baron and Viscount Cowdray) (The year of the conveyance has been kindly supplied by Mr. P. D. A. Clarke. It is usually given as 1908, but this would seem to refer to the contract for sale (see J. A. Spender, Weetman Pearson First Viscount Cowdray 1856-1927, p. 181).), who in the next year purchased the lordship of the borough of Midhurst which had been sold off in 1788 (See above, p. xiii.), thus bringing back to the estate one of the most ancient of its properties, together with its important series of records.
THE BOROUGH OF MIDHURST
The lordship of the borough of Midhurst descended as part of the Cowdray estate from medieval times until it was sold in 1788, together with about 150 burgage tenements, to George Obrien, 3rd Earl of Egremont, subject nevertheless to a right of repurchase within five years by the 8th Viscount Montague (Cowdray MS. 1948. This deed is enrolled on the King's Bench Plea Roll, P.R.O., K.B. 122/568, rot. 1410. For the circumstances of the sale to the Earl of Egremont, see above, p. xiii. There appears to be no truth whatsoever in the statement that at some time in the eighteenth century the lordship of the borough was bought by John Meeres Fagg for his son-in-law Sir John Peachey, which has been made by sundry writers from Dallaway in 1815 to V.C.H. Sussex in 1953, and which, if it has any substance at all, can clearly only refer to the purchase of a number of the burgage tenements. And whilst in this iconoclastic mood, perhaps we could also point out that the Act of Parliament of 1760 which Dallaway alleges on one occasion to have settled the borough of Midhurst and on another to have conveyed to Sir William Peere Williams lands and tenements settled upon Sir John Peachey, does not mention Midhurst at all! (We must however in charity admit that Sir William Burrell had earlier noted this Act under Midhurst (B.M., Add. MS. 5690, f. 19v.), although without attempting any details.). This provision never operated (the Viscount himself being dead before the five years had elapsed), and in 1795, Egremont sold the borough and the burgage tenements for £34,000 to Robert Smith, a member of the well-known family of bankers (Cowdray MS. 1953. Egremont had presumably bought the borough in order to provide seats in parliament for his brothers, Hon. Percy Charles Wyndham and Hon. Charles William Wyndham; see Cowdray MS. 4818.). In 1801, Smith, who in 1796 had been raised to the peerage as Baron Carrington, sold these properties for £34,500 to his brothers, George and John (Endorsement on Cowdray MS. 1953.). George died in 1836, and the lordship of the borough then remained with John (who died in 1842) and his descendants, until his great-grandson, Gerald Dudley Smith, sold it to the 1st Baron (later Viscount) Cowdray in 1910.
Although no foundation charter is known to us, Midhurst seems to have enjoyed borough status from quite early times (It must be remembered that, at least during the period for which the records survive, the borough of Midhurst was not coextensive with the parish. The manor of St. John lay outside the borough, and the manors of Cowdray and Easebourne Priory both had properties in Midhurst.). In 1279, for example, it was said to have been a free borough from time beyond memory (Placita de Quo Warranto (Record Commission), p. 756; paper no. 2 in Cowdray MS. 4734.), and we know that a market had been established by 1223 (Curia Regis Rolls, 7-9 Henry III, p. 180.). A common seal was in use in the fifteenth century (Cowdray MS. 4455.). No original medieval records of the borough are however among the Cowdray MSS., and, as the court records have only survived from 1588, the early development of the borough as an institution does not concern us here. Nor do we propose to consider the relationship between the manor (if any) and the borough, because although the lords, right into the twentieth century, spoke in official documents of 'the manor of the borough of Midhurst', all the courts were held purely in the name of the 'borough of Midhurst', and in any case, as we have seen, there is evidence from the fourteenth century that the medieval manor of Midhurst was identical with that known as Cowdray in later times. But from the time when the surviving records commence three separate courts were held:
(i) the capital court baron meeting annually, usually at the end of August or the beginning of September, at which changes in the ownership of burgage tenements were presented, fealty received from the new owners, and the king's (or, as appropriate, queen's) bailiff (who served all processes directed to him by the sheriff, acted as returning officer at parliamentary elections, and collected tolls from the market and fairs), the lord's bailiff (who collected the burgage rents, and levied profits of the courts), and the aletaster appointed (For the records of the capital court baron, see Cowdray MSS. 1957-1963, 1967-1999.).
(ii) the court baron meeting frequently (every three weeks by 1737) to deal with civil actions, chiefly debt (For the records of the court baron, see Cowdray MSS. 1957-1961, 1964-1986.).
(iii) the court leet or view of frankpledge meeting twice yearly until 1767, and thereafter annually, at which the minor officers (the constable and hayward) were appointed, and minor offences, such as nuisance and encroachment, dealt with (For the records of the court leet, see Cowdray MSS. 2000-2007.).
The real importance of Midhurst lay however in its status as a parliamentary borough, for it had returned two members to the House of Commons since the early fourteenth century (For the names of the members, 1301-1880, arranged under parliaments, see Return of the Name of every Member of the Lower House of Parliament of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with Name of Constituency represented, and Date of Return, from 1213 to 1874 [subsequently continued to 1880] (Parliamentary Papers, 1878, vol. 62, pts. 1-3; 1890-91, vol. 62), which is the basis of the lists printed down to 1800 by A. H. Stenning in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 30, pp. 161-189; vol. 31, pp. 95-122; vol. 32, pp. 141-166; vol. 33, pp. 69-100; vol. 35, pp. 127-164; vol. 51, pp. 126-152. These lists are much more satisfactory than that given by T. W. Horsfield, History ... of the County of Sussex (1835), vol. 2, appendix pp. 51-52, who unfortunately seems to know little or nothing about members returned at bye-elections.). The right of voting belonged to the owners of the various burgage tenements (although no one could vote in respect of more than one burgage). Little seems to be known about elections at Midhurst before the eighteenth century, when the total votes was about 160, which could not be increased after 1696 by dividing the existing burgages (By section 7 of the Act, 7 & 8 Wm. III cap. 25, usually referred to as 'the Splitting Act'.). Midhurst was not therefore a 'rotten' or even a 'pocket' borough, but the small number of potential voters made it an easy field for political bargaining, and during the earlier part of the eighteenth century, efforts were made by various political interests to capture the two seats by buying up burgage tenements, and arranging that a trusted nominee should, on the day of a parliamentary election, be able to produce to the satisfaction of the returning officer a legally valid title to each property (These activities are not of course peculiar to Midhurst, and were almost certainly repeated in every other borough of comparable size and constitution. For similar happenings (although at a slightly later date) not twenty miles away, see W. Albery, A Parliamentary History of ... Horsham 1295-1885, pp. 118-245.). No other formalities were required, not even the presentment of an alienation by the homage at the appropriate court. Three methods (really variations upon a single theme) seem to have been used:
(i) to purchase a burgage property, but only to take a conveyance of the reversion after the death of the vendor, who remained in possession on condition (since a life estate is a freehold estate) that he exercised the parliamentary vote attached to the property on behalf of the purchaser. This would naturally be accompanied by some sort of arrangement, such as a bond to convey his life interest if called upon, an essential safeguard of course in case he failed to vote as required (This method was used by Bulstrode Peachey alias Knight, member of Parliament for Midhurst from 1721/2 to his death in 1735, who acquired a number of the burgage properties. It is said that he, nominally at least, took a mortgage of the life interest, the intention being that repayment would not be demanded so long as the mortgagor voted as required (see paper no. 4 in Cowdray MS. 4775; for an example, see Cowdray MS. 2906, which should however be considered in the light of the statements in Cowdray MS. 4760, ff. 34-36).). There seem to have been legal difficulties over these life estates (There was doubt, e.g., whether the conveyance of the reversion would hold good against the heirs of the deceased holder of a life estate (paper no. 4 in Cowdray MS. 4775), and (although this has strictly nothing to do with parliamentary elections) it was presented at the capital court baron in 1751 that persons with life interests only ought not to be sworn upon the homage (Cowdray MS. 1962, f. 893v.).), and this method was abandoned in favour of one of the following which involved a nominal conveyance in fee simple.
(ii) to purchase a burgage property (often granting the existing owner a lease for a long term of years at a nominal rent, thereby preserving to him for all practical purposes the same security of tenure as before) (For articles of agreement for sale with provision for an immediate lease to the vendor for a long term of years at a nominal rent, see Cowdray MS. 4195.), and then convey the freehold to a trusted nominee who exercised the vote, but who, at the same time, must have been required to give some undertaking to reconvey when called upon.
(iii) to purchase a burgage property, but to convey to the nominee just before an election, and take a reconveyance immediately afterwards (See, e.g., Cowdray MSS. 2415-2456. Robert Bootle, owner of twenty burgage tenements, conveyed nineteen of them to nominees by lease and release dated 2, 3 April 1754. They were all conveyed back to him by lease and release dated either 3, 4 June 1754, or 16, 17 June 1754. (Only nineteen burgages were conveyed, Robert Bootle voting himself in respect of the twentieth.) The election took place on 18-20 April 1754, and it will be seen from Cowdray MS. 4814 that eighteen of Bootle's nominees (there seems to have been one absentee, William Chalcraft) duly voted for Bootle himself, who was one of the candidates, and Richard Mill.).
Inevitably burgage properties came to be regarded in terms of votes rather than of houses or lands (Thomas Hollist of Lodsworth in his will (dated 1738) quite cheerfully bequeaths his 'Vote lying & being in the Borough of Medhurst [sic] and also all other my Estates' (W.S.R.O., STC I/37, p. 317; for a relevant extract, see Cowdray MS. 4040), and more than one conveyance of a burgage property is endorsed with some such phrase as 'Release ... of the ... Vote' instead of the conventional 'Release of a Messuage' (see, e.g., Cowdray MS. 2743). In fact, even the formal court book records on one occasion that at a capital court baron 'the Homage present the Death of his Grace the [Charles, 6th] Duke of Somersett for whose Votes which were Supposed to be Seventeen ...' (Cowdray MS. 1962, f. 891).).
This system placed a great deal of authority in the hands of the king's bailiff, and his appointment for a year in which an election was expected was of particular importance. Here however the lord of the borough could exert the decisive influence, for not only was the homage, which in theory at least made the appointment, selected by the steward, whose own office was held entirely at the will of the lord, but, since its numerical composition had never been settled by a court of law, the number of jurors varied considerably from year to year, although it was claimed that the number should not exceed twenty-three. Only burgesses actually resident in the borough, whose title to their property had been previously presented, and who had been admitted tenant, could sit on the homage, but it was alleged, although with what justification is not clear, that properties within the liberty of St. John, and the manors of Cowdray and Easebourne Priory, had been, through the connivance of the lord's steward, entered in the court books of the borough as burgage tenements (See, e.g., paper no. 1 in Cowdray MS. 4774.).
As lords of the borough, the Viscounts Montague had in theory the most powerful influence at Midhurst, but they do not appear to have used their position until the mid-eighteenth century, no doubt because, as Roman Catholics, they could not take their full share in political life. By about 1750, however, Anthony, 6th Viscount (possibly at the instance of his son, the future 7th Viscount, who subsequently conformed, and took his seat in the House of Lords) began to interest himself in elections, and in 1752 referred in a letter to the Duke of Newcastle to 'ye power of ye returning officer, which has been time out of mind in our family', promising that any two persons whom the Duke cared to name should have his interest at Midhurst for 'I always was convinced, my power, was superior to my adversarys, but little thought, it had been soe extensive, as I am convinced it is' (B.M., Add. MS. 32726, f. 48.). The Viscount had always been able to command a number of votes, because a group of burgage properties had been in the hands of his family for a long period, but his earlier inanition had allowed other political interests to operate in the borough. Between 1716/7 and 1744/5 some thirteen burgages were bought on behalf of Charles, 6th Duke of Somerset (This, and other figures given in this paragraph, have been compiled after examination of the relevant title deeds, and undoubtedly give in substance an accurate picture of the state of affairs. There is however always a possibility of numerical error, for (apart from mistakes due to carelessness in counting) many of the burgages were in fact vested in trustees, with the name of the real owner not appearing at all. Indeed when presenting the death of the Duke of Somerset at the capital court baron the homage could get no nearer the truth than to say that his burgages (they called them votes) 'were Supposed to be Seventeen' (Cowdray MS. 1962, f. 891).) and between 1721/2 and 1735 forty-one others passed to Bulstrode Peachey (alias Knight), whose family subsequently acquired a further eight. (The Peachey family of Petworth and West Dean provided four members for the borough in the eighteenth century. Bulstrode Peachey acquired his alternative name and the West Dean estate upon his marriage with the widow of William Woodward Knight.), On the death of the Duke of Somerset in 1748 his burgages passed by his will to Sir Thomas Bootle (P.C.C. 379 Strahan; Cowdray MS. 2411.), who died in 1753, leaving them, together with two others, to his brother Robert (P.C.C. 311 Searle; Cowdray MS. 2412.), who sold them, together with a further five, making 20 in all, to Viscount Montague in 1756 ('Before, I was in posession, I could not with certainty, apprize your Grace, I had bought Captn Bootles twenty votes, but, now I am, I would not delay any longer, acquainting your Grace, therewith' (Viscount Montague to the Duke of Newcastle, 12 Dec. 1755; B.M., Add. MS. 32861, f. 288). The conveyance of these burgages from Robert Bootle to John Howell, 17 June 1756 (Cowdray MS. 2458), must therefore have been in trust for the Viscount, whose name was never used in any deed by which he purchased burgage tenements. By 1761, for example, all the burgages were held in the name of George Onslow.). The Peachey family's burgages were bought in 1760 by Sir William Peere Williams, 2nd bart., who also acquired a number of others from so-called 'independents', persons who had not previously sold their burgage to any political interest. He died however in the next year, and his devisee sold these properties to Viscount Montague (Deed abstracted in Cowdray MS. 4349, f. 9.), who also bought six others from Thomas Parker (Cowdray MS. 3876. Parker, who seems to have been a lawyer of the Inner Temple, had in any case probably only held these on behalf of Sir William Peere Williams.), and thus acquired practically all the burgages, and therefore complete political control.
Once all these burgages had been concentrated in the hands of the lord of the borough, electioneering at Midhurst ceased. It became in effect a 'nomination' borough, whose members were appointed at the wish of the lord, who therefore replaced the burgage holders as the target of political pressure (It is particularly unfortunate that not only should almost all the contemporary references to Midhurst as a parliamentary borough refer to this period, but most of the modern ones as well. The best-known is the speech of Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond, in the House of Lords in 1780 (The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, vol. 21, p. 687; printed by D. B. Horn and M. Ransome, English Historical Documents, 1714-1783, p. 219): 'The boroughs in this country, he said, were, according to their present constitutions, dangerous to liberty, and the great engine in the hands of ministers to enforce measures the most opposite to the real interests of the state. They were the very sink of corruption; corrupt themselves, they enabled the ministry to corrupt others, and to buy and sell the dignity and honour of the nation. Some of these boroughs, which might perhaps have been formerly considerable, were now so sunk, that scarcely the traces of a house could be found in them. In one borough in particular, Midhurst, he had often remarked several stones marked 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. in the park wall of a noble lord then in his eye (lord Montague); having asked what was the meaning of them, he had been told that they were votes ! and returned members to parliament. He immediately perceived that they were very valuable stones, and that the noble lord would not part with them for a great deal of money'. These stones undoubtedly held a peculiar fascination for contemporary critics, but there is no evidence that there were more than the four which clearly indicated the position of burgage houses on the east side of the North Street, previously pulled down and the sites thrown into the Town Meadow (see Cowdray MSS. 623, 2014-2016). Even so, they represented only a fraction of the total burgage tenements, but this did not prevent T. H. B. Oldfield, An Entire and Complete History, Political and Personal, of the Boroughs of Great Britain (1792 edition), vol. 3, pp. 43-44, from saying that at Midhurst the 'right of election is in one hundred and twenty burgage-holds, the situation of which is distinctly marked at present by the position of a large stone upon each of them. There is no part of the town ... built upon these tenures'. This, no doubt, inspired the comment by Sir G. O. Trevelyan, The Early History of Charles James Fox (1880 edition), p. 145 (quoted by E. (assisted by A.G.) Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons, vol. 1, p. 229), that at Midhurst 'the right of election rested in a few score of small holdings, on which no human being resided, distinguished among the pastures and stubbles that surrounded them by a large stone set up on end in the middle of each portion', and though J. Drinkwater, Charles James Fox, pp. 26-27, is doubtless correct in saying that the 'only authority represented by the new member ... was that of Lord Holland's guineas' (Lord Holland was Fox's father), it is quite untrue to describe the borough as 'consisting of certain uninhabited acres that were farmed out by their holder in parliamentary just as they were in agricultural lots'. The four stones were removed in 1796 (see Cowdray MS. 4758, f. 52v., which has a diagram showing their respective positions).). From 1761, until the reforms of 1832 required voters to be previously registered instead of claiming their right on polling day, it was only necessary to grant the freehold of sufficient burgages to nominees to make a show of election (This was usually achieved during the lordship of the Smith family by grants for lives without limiting periods of years, which created freehold and not leasehold estates. It was also necessary of course to keep a number of the burgages granted out to ensure the functioning of the borough courts.).
Midhurst never became an incorporated borough, never indeed received a royal charter at all, but it continued to return two members to Parliament until 1832 when this number was reduced to one (2 & 3 Wm. IV cap. 45, section 2.), the boundaries of the constituency being then increased to include the whole of Midhurst, and some neighbouring parishes, to ensure a sufficient number of qualified freeholders (2 & 3 Wm. IV cap. 64, schedule (O.). By section 35, this was deemed to be part of the above Act, and the two Acts together are usually known as the Great Reform Act. The new parliamentary constituency also included the parishes of Easebourne, Heyshott, Chitburst, Graffham, Didling, and Cocking, and the tithing of South Ambersham, the detached tithing of Buddington in Bignor [now in Easebourne], and parts of the ancient parishes of Woolavington, Bepton, Woolbeding, Linch, Stedham, Iping, Trotton, Selham, and Lodsworth, and of the tithing of North Ambersham.). It lost its other member by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885 (48 & 49 Vict. cap. 23, First Schedule, Part I.). In the meantime the Municipal Corporations Act, 1883, had deprived it of any borough privileges which might have survived (46 & 47 Vict. cap. 18, section 2. The Royal Commission on Municipal Corporations not subject to the Municipal Corporations Acts, listed Midhurst in its Report (p. vii), issued in 1880, among corporations 'some [of which] appeared to us never to have been municipal, and others to have long since ceased to be such', and printed (Report, pp. 145-146) four letters from the steward about the constitution of the borough, which by error it describes as in Hampshire.), and the Charity Commissioners, under the authority of this Act, made an Order in 1908 vesting the town hall and market place in the Official Trustee of Charity Lands, and the silver gilt mace, two constables' staves, and the parish stocks in the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds, all these being alleged to have belonged to the dissolved corporation of Midhurst (Order of the Board of Charity Commissioners (1809/8), sealed 19 June 1908. The mace had been given to the borough in 1736 by Sir Henry Peachey, 1st bart., then one of its representatives in parliament; see Cowdray MS. 1962, f. 870.). This was however opposed by Gerald Dudley Smith, the lord of the borough, on the ground that no corporation had ever in fact existed (P.R.O., J.53/2246), but in 1909 the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice ordered the mace and constables' staves to remain vested in the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds, but deposited in a bank in the joint names of the lord of the borough and the chairman of the parish council and used at meetings of the borough court and parish council, and such other occasions as the Commissioners should approve, and the other properties mentioned in the Charity Commissioners' Order, together with the pound, to be regulated by a scheme (Enrolment Book of the Supreme Court of Judicature, P.R.O., J.15/3038, no. 1345). This was done by further Order of the Commissioners in 1910 vesting these properties in a Town Trust (Order of the Board of Charity Commissioners (332/10), sealed 4 February 1910). The scheme does not mention the borough records (unless they could be held to be comprehended by the phrase 'all other property') (Nevertheless in 1915 the Secretary to the Charity Commission informed the Secretary of the Royal Commission on Public Records that the scheme for Midhurst empowered the trustees to make regulations for the custody of documents (Report, vol. 3, pt. 2, pp. 86-87), but on examination it would appear that this phrase refers only to the trustees' own records. In fact the Clerk to the Town Trust reported to the Royal Commission that no records of the borough court were in the custody of the trustees, and that 'These records, with the Court Rolls of the Manor of the Borough of Midhurst, are probably in the custody of the Lord of the Manor ... or his agent' (Report, vol. 3, pt. 2, p. 25), as no doubt indeed they were).
THE VISCOUNTCY OF MONTAGUE
The title of Viscount Montague has, despite several attempts, not been successfully claimed since the death of the 9th holder in 1797, and we hope that a short note on the subject will not be wholly out of place, since, first, a successful claimant would be heir male both to the 1st Viscount, and to his father, Sir Anthony Browne, and therefore entitled to the Poynings and neighbouring properties by virtue of the limitation in the crown grant of 1537 (See above, p. vii), and, secondly, because there are two relevant documents in the Cowdray MSS (Cowdray MS. 108; undated note in Cowdray MS. 5129).
In 1818 one John Browne not only petitioned the Treasury for the delivery of the Poynings properties to him as cousin and heir male of the 9th Viscount (he claimed to be great-great-great-grandson of John Browne, 2nd grandson of the 1st Viscount), but commenced an action of ejectment against Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz. It was also alleged that he actually entered upon the lands and cut down one or more trees. Browne apparently abandoned proceedings, whereupon the Crown obtained 'a Judgment, as in the case of a Nonsuit' against him, the upshot being to involve the Crown as landlord, and Mr. and Mrs. Poyntz as lessees, in substantial legal costs (Fourth Report of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues (1823), pp. 16-17, 115-116. A copy of Browne's petition is among the Treasury Board Papers, P.R.O., T.1/1798, no. 4773). This petition was only concerned with the estates, and did not mention the peerage, but a claim to be heir male of the 1st Viscount Montague was implicit in a claim to be heir male of Sir Anthony Browne, and in 1823 John Browne duly petitioned the King for recognition as Viscount. He died two years later, and his son and heir, another John Browne, presented a further petition, but the Attorney-General, to whom the matter was referred, expressed doubts upon the genuineness of certain of the evidence. Browne continued his claim, but did not press the point after some of his papers had been destroyed in a fire in the office of a later Attorney-General. After his death in 1848 Henry Browne, his brother and heir-at-law, presented a further petition, which seems to have received support, and a monograph in his favour was privately printed in the following year (H. Prater, Statement of the Claim of Henry Browne, Esq., to the Dignity of Viscount Montague). The Attorney-General felt that the difficulties which had 'presented themselves to the mind of his learned predecessor' had now been removed and recommended that the petition be referred to the House of Lords (Case of Henry Browne, Esq., on his Claim to the Title and Dignity of Viscount Montague. Before the Lords' Committee for Privileges (1851), pp. 83, 144. All the details in this paragraph will be found in this work, but for copies of John Browne's case, and the then Attorney-General's unfavourable report, see Cowdray MS. 108).
It was however contested by Thomas Selby of 48 Sussex Square, Kemp Town, Brighton, who claimed to be heir male of the 1st Viscount Montague (Journals of the House of Lords, vol. 85, p. 630. He claimed to be great-grandson of John Browne of Bayhall (Kent) who took the name of Selby in 1783 by private Act of Parliament [23 Geo. III, no. 26], upon succeeding to the estates of Mote (Kent) under the will of William Selby. No other details of the descent are however given, either in the Journals or in the original petition, nor does Selby seem in fact to have claimed the title). No further references have been found, and Browne's claim seems to have been abandoned, possibly for lack of funds (A letter from H[enry] Browne, dated 18 June 1851, printed in The Genealogist (n.s.), vol. 1, p. 269, as part of a review of Mrs. Roundell's, Cowdray: The History of a Great English House, includes the sentence, 'I find all my movements cramped for the want of means').
The area round Cowdray House is not particularly easy for the topographer for, until the comparatively recent rationalization of boundaries, detached parts of parishes flourished (Cowdray MS. 1938, a printed map of Midhurst Union which marks clearly the parish boundaries without giving too much other detail, is a useful guide to these complications.). Bepton, for example, a downland parish, included a small area in the weald some six miles away; Linch, basically another downland parish, had three isolated portions in the weald, but the main part has now been added to Bepton, so that Linch Farm, obviously the initial settlement, is no longer in Linch at all, whilst the modern parish is centred on one of the wealden parts which has expanded to absorb a detached part of Woolbeding; Selham was in two pieces, the northern now in Lodsworth and the southern in Graffham, so that as a civil parish Selham exists no more; Woolavington was originally in four pieces, one at least nine miles from the parish church, the larger of the detached portions (i.e. the modern West Lavington) being formed into a parish in 1851; Buddington, only a mile or so from Cowdray House, was a tithing of Bignor parish eight miles further away; a tongue of land, comprising the detached tithings of North and South Ambersham in the Hampshire parish of Steep, penetrated about nine miles into Sussex, right through the heart of the Cowdray estate (North and South Ambersham were transferred to Sussex for parliamentary purposes in 1832 by the Great Reform Act (2 & 3 Wm. IV. cap. 64, schedule (M.)), and for all purposes in 1844 (7 & 8 Vict. cap. 61). They were transferred from the diocese of Winchester to that of Chichester in 1916 (London Gazette, 18 August 1916, pp. 8142-8145).); and we can assure our reader that we have by no means exhausted the list, though we may well have exhausted his patience. We have however tried to indicate the modern parish if different from that in the document, but, although this has presented no difficulties with the larger and more well-known properties, we could not possibly claim to have always achieved it in the case of the others.