Catalogue description Walker-Heneage and Button family and estate papers, Coker Court, East Coker

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Title: Walker-Heneage and Button family and estate papers, Coker Court, East Coker

It is seldom, I suppose, that the two sides of a family can boast of two collections of muniments dating from the twelfth century of such importance and interest as Major Godfrey Walker Heneage M.V.O., D.S.O. and Mrs Walker Heneage are happily possessed of. I had the honour two or three years ago of arranging and cataloguing the Helyar Muniments belonging to Mrs Walker Heneage's family which are safely housed in her Muniment Room at Coker Court, and now the muniments of Major Walker Heneage which were originally at his home, Compton Bassett Wilts having been by his sanction brought to Coker Court, I have been invited to treat them in the same manner as the Helyar collection. The present catalogue is the result, and the deeds have now been consigned to boxes and deposited in another room at Coker, which contains, as indeed the Helyar Muniment Room does, a handsome Exhibition Table in which are set out charters and other documents selected for their antiquity, calligraphy or intrinsic interest.


The collection has been called the Button-Walker-Heneage Muniments because, as will be seen by the following remarks, these three families by successive intermarriages combine to make up the family pedigree.


A short account of each of the three families is here submitted.


1. The Button Family took its name from the parish of Bitton about six miles E.S.E. of Bristol. Actually in the diocese of Gloucester it gives its name to an archdeaconry of Bristol and to a Prebend of Salisbury, the living being in the patronage of the Prebendary of Bitton in the last named cathedral. The earliest of the family to come into prominence was William Bitton or Button, Sub-dean and Archdeacon of Wells, and in 1247 Bishop of Bath and Wells; he was sent by Henry III in 1253 to Alfonso X King of Castile to ask for his sister Elcanor in marriage with his son Edward. He died in 1264. He found means during his episcopate to advance the interests of his family. A nephew William was also Archdeacon of Wells and Bishop, succeeding Walter Giffard in 1267. Other Buttons of this period held various ecclesiastical offices in the same cathedral, and one Thomas de Button became Dean in 1284 and Bishop of Exeter in 1292. It was he who built the fine chantry Chapel on the north side of Bitton Church.


But the Buttons who were the ancestors of the family under consideration do not apparently lay claim to direct connection with any of the three Bishops if we may judge from the Pedigree drawn up by Ralph Brooke, York Herald in 1649 now in the Muniment Room.


This gives, as the ancestor, Sir Walter de Bitton, Knt. who is said to have died in the twelfth year of Henry III [1227-8].


It was a family of Knights and that at a time when Kings best owed the rank of Knighthood for personal honour and distinction on the field of battle rather than for holding large possessions, though that fact was similarly recognized. Sir Walter's great great Grandson, Sir John Button, Knt., living in 1380 had by Joan Greenvill, two sons, Sir John Button, Knt. and Thomas Button. The Grandson of this Sir John who also bore the same christian name and was knighted, had no sons, but a daughter Katharine, who married Thomas Rougg, and thus passed out of the direct Button family. The younger son, Thomas Button, mentioned above, married the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Guy de Bryan and in all probability crossed the Severn and settled in Wales. This we may guess from the fact that his eldest son was christened Howell and married Gwenllian Turbeville, and also that his son and heir and grandson married ladies with Welsh names. The grandson, also Howell Button, married Ellen Griffith and their eldest son John was the first Button described as of Alton Priors. His will made and proved in 1491 [wherein his name is spelt Botton] will be found described in the present catalogue, Nos. 8, 9. It contains bequests to Salisbury Cathedral and the Friars of Marlborough, lead for the roof of Alton Pryors Church and to various other Churches in Wiltshire, where, doubtless, he had property.


From this point the family was resident at Alton, and the regular descent may be seen in the Pedigree given a few pages on.


During the sixteenth century the family acquired great property in Somerset and Wiltshire as a glance at Charters 227-238 will show. It extended from Twerton on the west, Bath with its hamlets of Ford, Hampton and Easton, now Bathford, Bathampton and Batheaston, [and spelt in maps as late as one hundred years ago Bath Ford, Bath Hampton and Bath Easton] in a north easterly direction, crossing the Wiltshire Border at Box, on to the Chippenham neighbourhood, Calne, Compton Bassett, Lyncham, Tockenham and many other places in that vicinity.


Passing on a couple of generations we come to Sir William Button, knighted in 1605, and created a Baronet in 1622. He had special livery to his father's lands in 1609 which, we may assume, fixes the time of his coming of age [his date of birth is not known]. In this case he received the honour of knighthood at the early age of 17. Two years after that, in 1607 he obtained from the King a passport "making travel his pretence". He had already started when it came to the knowledge of the King that his real object was to fight a duel, and a Privy Council letter was despatched to him ordering him to return "without proceeding further". Both the passport and the Council letter are in these archives, dated respectively the sixth and 9th July 1607. [Nos. 3003, 3129]. During the Civil Wars, says the Writer of the Article in the Dictionary of National Biography, he was a staunch Royalist and on this account his house Tockenham Court was twice stripped and his property carried off, the first occasion being in June 1643 by Sir Edward Hungerford, when his loss was £767, and the second in June 1644 by a party from Malmesbury garrison when it amounted to £526. 6sh. 8d. Lists of the goods taken will be found in No.3136. The Deed in this collection numbered 688 would seem to add yet another item to Sir William's losses. It is a warrant by Charles I dated at his court at Oxford 1st May, 1644, addressed to Sir Charles Finch complaining that some troopers of the latter's regiment had demanded and forcibly taken from Sir William Button and his tenants at Alton Pryors, "Hay, Pease and Poultry" and compelled "Theire waynes and teemes" to carry the same away, and instructing that the same be suitably punished for the same and be forbidden to repeat the offence.


In the November following his Estate at Tockenham was sequestrated after which he lived at his manor of Shaw near Overton. In 1646 he was fined £2,380 for delinquency. Many documents relating to these matters will be found in Appendix II. He died on 28th Jan. 1654 - 5 and was buried in the North Aisle of North Wraxall Church. By his marriage with Ruth Dunche of Avebury he left three daughters, and four sons, three of whom William, Robert and John became successive Baronets Sir William the second Baronet died in 1660 and left no heir. Thomas the next brother had died unmarried before that date. Sir Robert, third Baronet dying in 1678 left three daughters only, and Sir John, fourth Baronet died in 1712 without an heir when the Baronetcy became extinct.


Of the three daughters the eldest Mary had married in 1634 Clement Walker, esquire, of Charter House Headon, Co. Somerset, Chief Usher of the Exchequer, an office of which something will be said later. Ruth the second daughter married in about 1639 Robert Lambert and Jane the youngest married Richard Steward LL.D. Dean of the King's Chapel.


With these three sisters the Button line ends, but, before leaving it, attention must be called to a very interesting document, [No. 35] affecting Jane Button's husband Dr. Richard Steward, which will be found fully described and translated in its proper place in the catalogue. It is a document taking the form of Letters Patent by Charles II, just about a year after the tragedy of his father's death, issued at Castle Elizabeth in Jersey, granting to Dr.Steward permission to change his paternal arms by the conversion of a garter ermine which surrounded them, into an incscutcheon sable charged with the English Crown Imperial, etc. Unfortunately the Arms which the document states are depicted in the margin have not been filled in. The text records that the King has been led to grant this favour desiring to make it known that the Dean has adhered to the Crown of England with the highest fidelity and most perfect constancy [fide surma et constantia integerrima] in times black and fatal and fit to be marked with the blackest coal [temporibus atris et funestis et carbone plus quam nigerrimo denotandis] not only by the expenditure of his fortune but often even with peril of his life both under the rule "of our parent King Charles of most blessed memory and also after the said Crown devolved in undoubted right to our own royal person".


The interest of the Deed culminates in the royal seal attached, a magnificent example of the very rare pre-restoration seal of Charles II.


Only three other impressions of this seal have, up to the present, come to light viz. one in the National Collections at the British Museum, another at the Bodleian Library and the third in private hands. The British Museum specimen is a shapeless lump of wax, and is attached to a charter, dated 18th September 1649 [Add. Ch. 13,585], the Bodleian specimen was then discovered, or rather re-discovered, [it was noted in Dr. Macray's "calendar of the Clarendon Papers, Oxford, 1869 but since lost sight of] in a Volume of the Clarendon State Papers [MS. Clarendon 37, folio 94]. It is a good impression but the King's head is missing from the obverse. The date of the document is 10th May, 1649. An account and photographs of it are given in the Bodleian Quarterly Record, October 1915. This notice in the B.Q.R. brought to light the third specimen now in the possession of the Rev. A. Fuller, and his son Mr. A.W.F. Fuller. This is described as a perfect specimen though in a less fine condition than that in the Bodleian [B.Q.R. January 1916], the date being, 20 May 1650.


The fourth and last discovered impression is that in the present collection [No. 33] and is certainly the finest specimen of them all. Maj. Walker Heneage may be heartily congratulated on possessing it


It will be remembered that the last Royal Seal of Charles I was captured by the Parliament troops at Oxford in 1646, and defaced in Parliament in August of that year. Parliament thus being without a seal had another one struck [very similar to that defaced but bearing a new date] which was used until the King's execution on 30th January 1649. A fine specimen of this last named seal is attached to a pardon granted by the Parliament to William Helyar of East Coker, dated 6th November 1648, now among the Helyar Muniments at Coker Court [No.134]. By 8th February following, the new seal of the Commonwealth had been made and brought into the House, and the old Parliamentary rival of the King's seal was at the same time broken up.


Meanwhile the Prince of Wales, then an exile at the Hague, assumed the title of King of England and forthwith provided himself with a great seal of his own, of which the four known impressions have been here described. This great seal was lost in the defeat at Worcester in September 1651.


Dr. Richard Steward was the nephew of John Steward described as of the City of London and holding property at Patteshall, Co. Northampton, whose Will with codicil [probate dated 1633] is among the muniments [No. 24]. John was evidently unmarried and left his property among his nephews and nieces, Richard was named executor and residuary legatee. In the codicil his uncle bequeathed to him £100 which he "left [lent] him and a dosine of spoones and twoe silver bowles also lent him, and one dosine of guilt spoones more".


The Charles Steward who was executor to the Will of Anne, Lady Button [d. 1665] widow of the First Baronet [cf. No.1495] was doubtless another member of the family and may possibly have been a son of the Dean's.


II. The family of Heneage was originally of Hainton, near Wragby Co. Lincoln, and its pedigree which dates from the Norman Conquest, has been traced from Sir Robert Heneage who lived in the reign of Henry I. [1100-1135]. John Heneage, his direct descendant living in the middle of the 15th century had two sons, William who, settling in East Sussex established a family there, which is now extinct, and John who, remaining at Hainton had by his wife, Catherine Wimbish, four sons, and died in 1530. The eldest, Thomas [with whom his nephew Sir Thomas Heneage, the younger, Vice Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, is often confused] was in early life gentleman usher to Wolsey, became Gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber after Wolsey's fall, and actively supported Thomas Cromwell's ecclesiastical policy. While engaged in suppressing the Cistercian Abbey near Louth in October 1536 he was severely attacked by an angry mob, and the disturbance proved the prelude to the great rebellion known at the Pilgrimage of Grace. He was knighted on 10th October 1537 and received many grants of lands belonging to the dissolved monasteries. He died on 21st August 1553 and was buried in Hainton Church, where a monument with effigies in brass of himself and his wife still remains.


The second son George was chaplain to Wolsey and in 1526 became Dean and Archdeacon of Lincoln. Before 1544 he had resigned the Deanery but remained Archdeacon till his death in September 1549. He was buried in Lincoln Cathedral.


The third son John succeeded his brother Sir Thomas in the Hainton estates. We are not now concerned with the Hainton or main stem of the family, but the family still lives at Hainton and in 1896 Edward Heneage was created a Baron.


Robert, the fourth son, from whom springs the family in which are at present interested, left by his first wife Lucy, daughter and co-heiress of Ralph Buckton, a large family. He had held important offices, being appointed Auditor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Surveyor of the Queen's Woods beyond Trent.


Of his sons Sir Thomas Heneage called the younger to distinguish him from his uncle Sir Thomas of whom we have spoken above succeeded to his father's estates in 1556. Queen Elizabeth appointed him a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber soon after her accession and Treasurer of the Queen's Chamber in 1570. He was knighted at Windsor on 1st December 1577 and the Master of the Rolls appointed him, jointly with his youngest brother Michael, Keeper of the Records in the Tower about the same time. Elizabeth trusted Heneage and it is reported in 1565 that he was in such good favour with her as to excite the jealousy of Leicester. The Queen made him many valuable grants of land chiefly in Essex. In September 1589 he succeeded Sir Christopher Hatton as Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household and became a Privy Councillor. At his house in the Savoy he entertained the Queen on the 7th December 1594. It should be recorded that Qu. Elizabeth gave her miniature on some [perhaps this] occasion to Sir Thomas, and accorded him the privilege of bearing the knot known as the Heneage Knot on his shield of arms with the motto "Fast tho' united". Only three other families could boast of this distinction, the Earls of Stafford and the families of Bourchier and Wake or Ormonde. He died on the 17th October 1595. He was twice married and left, by his first wife Anne Poyntz an only surviving child Elizabeth who by her marriage in 1573 with Sir Moyle Finch became the ancestress of the Finches and Finch-Hattons, Earls of Winchilsea. By his second wife Mary, eldest daughter of Anthony Browne, first Viscount Montague and widow of Henry Wriothesley, second earl of Southampton whom he married in 1614, he left no issue.


Sir Thomas's only surviving brother Michael joint-keeper of H.M. Records with him, who married Grace Honeywood and died in 1600, carried on the line and as will be seen from the pedigree, the family ran on for three generations till it ended in three daughters Cecil, Phoebe and Bridget, the eldest of whom Cecil was married in 1692 to John Walker of Hadley, Co. Middlesex.


Sir Michael Heneage, Knt. grandson of the above Michael lived in Hatton Garden in the parish of St Andrew, Holborn and it is due to that fact and his connection with the Kaye family [his son Charles married Elizabeth Kaye] who lived in the same parish that many of the Deeds relating to London property find a place in this collection. Two of the most interesting of these are, [1] An assignment in trust to Sir Michael and others of Essex House in the Strand, the residence, in hundred years and more before, of Robert Devereux the celebrated Earl of Essex, sometime favourite of Qu. Elizabeth, and, [ii] "An abstract of church rents of St. Andrew's Church, Holborn with the workmen's accounts for building the church and four books of rates for paying the same", in about 1691. The name of Sir Christopher Wren appears as Supperintendent of the Masons. This church was one of the beautiful Gothic Charohes built by that famous architect, and though not perhaps one of his finest examples is said to possess a very fine interior [No. 2584]


III. The Walker family was one of weight and repute as early, at any rate, as the time of Queen Elizabeth. Thomas Walker, described as of Westminster, esquire, born in 1558 was the first of the name who held the office of Chief Usher of the Exchequer having purchased it from William Maddocks or Maddox in 1603 for £1475. [No. 136]. He was probably the son of Anthony Walker, of Co. York to whom was granted in the time of Qu. Mary I a patent to bear arms. This Patent adorned with a fine border in colours is now framed and hanging in the Muniment Room. His wife was Frances Byllesby, widow of John Maddox, both of which families held the office before Thomas Walker's acquisition of it. The connection between the three families will be better seen on reference to the pedigree. It was Thomas Walker's son Clement who married as his second wife Mary Button the eldest of the three daughters of Sir William Button, 1st Bart., and it was their son John Walker, of Hadley who married Cecil the eldest of the three daughters of Sir Michael Heneage, Chief Usher of the Exchequer. The Walkers, therefore, father and son appear to have done well for themselves.


This branch of the Heneage line had not altogether merged into the Walker line, for Charles the only son of Sir Michael was still living at the time of his sister's marriage, not dying till 1722. He left two daughters only, Elizabeth and Cecil, and it was the elder who being anxious to preserve the name of Heneage, instigated, in 1777, her kinsman John Walker grandson of John and Cecil to petition the Crown to be allowed to take the name of Heneage. The reasons as set forth in the petition were, that he John Walker, "being grandson and heir of Cecil Heneage, deceased, daughter of Sir Michael Heneage, knt., and also cousin to Mrs Elizabeth Heneage, of West Hall, Mortlake, who is the only survivor and sole heiress of Charles Heneage Esquire, son of the above mentioned Sir M. Heneage" and also "that as there are not any issue remaining of the above mentioned branch of the Heneage family except the said Elizabeth, she is desirous that the petitioner and the issue of his body may take, use and bear the surname, arms and crest of Heneage". The Licence was duly granted on 8th March, 1777 signed by George III and Henry, Earl of Suffolk, Secretary of State. [No. 3009].


This John Walker the grandson had married Arabella Cope, daughter of Jonathan Cope and of Lady Arabella Howard, the connection being as follows:-


Charles Spencer 3rd Earl of Sunderland married Lady Arabella Cavendish daughter of Henry, Duke of Newcastle


Their daughter Lady Frances Spencer married Henry Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle.


Their daughter Lady Arabella Howard married Jonathan Cope, son and heir of Sir Jonathan Cope of Brewerne, Bart.


Their daughter Arabella Cope married John Walker afterward Heneage.


Unfortunately there was no issue to this marriage, and there remained a danger of the name disappearing again, John's two brothers also died without issue but his eldest sister another Cecil was married to Thomas Calcraft, of whose several children Mary Dionysia was married in 1776 to the Reverend George Wyld, of Speen, Co. Berks, Vicar of Chlevely. It was he who was the means of procuring for the second time in fifty years a special Licence from the Crown to change the family name, this time to Walker-Heneage, not however, for himself but for his son George Heneage Wyld.


Curiously enough, this second change also was made at the desire of an aged female relative expressed in her Will dated 25th May 1813. This is clear from the wording of the Herald's College exemplification [dated 22nd August, 1818] which records that the Prince Regent by warrant under his Majesty's Royal Signet had signified to the Duke of Morfolk, Earl Marshal, that he had been pleased to grant to the Rev. G. Wyld "for and on behalf of his eldest son George Heneage Wyld a Minor" that he "and his issue might take, use and bear the surname and arms of the family of Walker-Heneage only, in compliance with the proviso and direction contained in the last Will and Testament of Arabella Walker-Heneage late of Compton House". The arms etc. depicted in the margin of this document [No. 95] now framed and handing in the Muniment Room, are thus described in the document. Quarterly first and fourth, HENEAGE, viz a greyhound current sable between three leopards faces, azure, within a bordure engrailed gules [a mullet charged with a crescent for difference]. Second and third WALKER, viz. Azure, a chevron engrailed ermine between three plates each plate charged with a trefoil slipped vert. Crest of Heneage, viz. on a wreath of the colours a greyhound current sable [difference as the Arms]. Crest of WALKER, namely, on a wreath of the colours a demi-heraldic tiger per palc indented argent and sable maned and tufted or.


Through the whole of this somewhat varied succession the family had enjoyed the office of Chief Usher of the Exchequer, even when the succeeding heads of the family were ladies, and as it was an important and interesting office, a short account of it will not be out of place.


The Office of Chief Usher of the Exchequer was an ancient and hereditary office, going back at least to the time of Henry I [1100-1135]. We have [No 126] letters patent of Queen Elizabeth exemplifying the Charter of Henry II granting to Roger of Warenguefort his servant and his heirs the ministry or office of the Ushership of the Exchequer to hold the same, as well and freely "as anyone held it in the time of Henry the King our grandfather". Thomas Madox, the legal antiquary, gives a full account of the office, its privileges and its duties in his History and Antiquities of the Exchequer [1711]. It was the Usher's duty, he says, to keep the Exchequer safely and to take care of the doors and avenues to its, so that the King's records which were laid up there might be in safety. It was also his duty to deliver to the respective sheriffs, the Writs of Summonses which issued out of the Exchequer for the King's debts. Among the records quoted by Madox is that of Thomas Walker which ran as follows; "You, Thomas Walker as in your own right, of a grant unto Roger Warringford and his Heirs by Henry II ...... of the Ministry of the Magistracy of the Usher of his Highness's Exchequer, with the appurtenances ..... whose interest by good and lawful means and conveyances is now come to you, Thomas Walker and your Heirs for ever shall well and truly serve the King's Majesty in the same office and all and singular the Record Books, Processes, and other evidences, bonds and writings whatsoever remaining in this court, within your guard and custody, shall cause well and safely to the uttermost of your power, to be kept and preserved to the King's majesty's use, his Heirs and successors, etc."


Thomas Walker acquired this office by purchase in 1603 from William Maddocks or Maddox. The latter was doubtless an ancestor of the Historian of the Exchequer and his father John Maddocks purchased the office from the Byllesby family for £1700 in 1594 [No. 128]. The Byllesbys had held it since 1444 [No. 112] having acquired it from the Kevermond family through Agnes heir of John Kevermond, wife of Thomas Billesby. The earlier descent of the office from temp. Henry II will be found in No. 220. Clement son of the above named Thomas Walker succeeded to the office in 1614 and his son John left by his Will the office of Usher to Sir Michael Heneage in whose family it remained till the early part of the nineteenth century.


The full designation of the office was "The office of Usher of the Court of the Exchequer, and of the offices of Marshalls, Ushers, and Proclamators [or Criers] of the Common Pleas and of the Marshalls and Ushers and Proclamators and Barriers before the King's Justices in Eyre". The fees were fivepence per diem when the Court is open, "with fees, rewards, etc. issuing from the same".


The Ushers, in right of their office, possessed "all the ground floor of the Exchequer fronting north to the New Palace Yard, and the ground before the said building, and also the ground before the Exchequer Court as far as the Square stone tower in the north front of Westminster Hall, and there are two Public houses erected upon it, the Royal Oak [John Walker leased the Royal Oak to a victualler in 1775, No. 2594] and the Coach and Horses and other buildings and ground there which were purchased of the Chief Usher by the Commissioners of Westminster Bridge in 1743". [No. 2190].


The latest-dated document on this subject in the present collection is the grant of a Messengership of the Court by Arabella Walker Heneage of Compton, widow, "Chief Usher of His Majesty's Court of Exchequer", in 1808 [No. 153].


There were no children to this marriage of John Walker Heneage and Arabella, but the office in spite of reorganizations of the Exchequer in 1783 and later seems to have been still retained in the family for we find George Heneage Walker Heneage holding it as late as the year 1852 when the posts were abolished, and Mr Heneage received an annuity of £585 for loss of his emoluments. This annuity was redeemed in 1887. [v. Article in the Times 3 Sept. 1887].


In the following short account of Compton Bassett the Wilt shire seat of the owner of these Muniments I have drawn considerably from the History of Calne by A.E.W. Marsh [pp. 300-302, etc.] but I have been able with the help of these deeds to which presumably the Author had no access to supplement his description of it.


At the time of Domesday, Compton is said to be held by Pagan and in 1230-1272 by the Bassett family, from whom the place derives its second name; but the Bassetts held it before that, for Alan Bassett held demesne there at the end of the twelfth century [Nos. 1003, 1004] Alan Basset's wife's name was Alina or Aliva, and as, according to Mr Marsh, the Manor was carried in 1271 to the Despencer family by the marriage of Aliva daughter of Philip Basset with Hugh le Despencer, Justiciary of England, she was probably the grand-daughter of the above Alan. Their son Hugh Despencer, afterwards Earl of Winchester, was beheaded at the instigation of Queen Isabella, by the garrison of Bristol Castle of which he was Governor in 1326. In the same year his son Hugh "the Younger Dispenser" was also seized by the Queen's followers and hanged at Hereford. The Despencers' estate was then confiscated and remained for some time in the hands of the Crown. There are no documents in this collection showing the Despencer connection with Compton.


The Manor was settled by Edmund De Langley, 1st Duke of York, [fifth son of Edward III] who then owned it, on his son Edmund 2nd Duke of York, to furnish funds for the building of the College of Fotheringay, after whose death at Agincourt in 1415 his widow held it until 1431.


The Blounts, who were possessed of the sub-manor of Compton Comerwell as early as 1405 [No. 1042], seem also to have held Compton Bassett in 1444 [No. 1046] to whom as owners of both Manors, succeeded the Husee's or Husseys. By John, Lord Hussey, and Sir William Hussey his son and heir, they were conveyed with other lands in 1531 to William Button for £2,000 [Nos.1049-1050]. These were Tenants under the Crown and in 1543 on the marriage of Henry VIII with Katharine Parr the manor was given to her as part of her dowry. On her death in 1548 it was sold by the Crown for £952 to Sir John Mervyn, of Fonthill. Particular attention is called to the Letters Patent of Edward VI conveying this manor to Sir J. Mervyn [No. 1052]; the upper margin of the Deed is elaborately written and ornamented and the initial E. contains a portrait of the King, a fine impression of the Grest Seal being attached. In 1663 Sir J. Mervyn's descendants, Mervyn Touchet, James Pouchet, Earl of Castlehaven and others sold the manor to Sir John Weld of Bindon, Co. Dorset for £5000 [No. 1062]. Sir John, who built the present house at Compton, dying in 1674, his grandson Humphrey sold the estate in 1700 to Sir Charles Hedges, of Richmond, Secretary of State, from whose heir, William Northey, son of Sir Edward Northey, Attorney General to Queen Anne acquired it in 1715. Compton House with the Park Gardens and Shrubbery, was agreed to be purchased by John Walker Esq. of Lyncham from W. Northey in 1758 for the sum of £8,000 apparently, though £4,000 is also given as the purchase money in the first page of the articles of Agreement [No. 1073.] The Manor itself seems to have remained in William Northey's hands as late as 1764 [Nos. 1074, 1090]. Mr Marsh [History of Calne] saya that the manor was sold to J. Walker Heneage "owner of Tockenham Court in Lyneham and of the small manor of Compton Comberwell and other properties in 1761".


The little manor of Compton Comerwell of Comberwell in Compton Bassett doubtless derived its adjunct Comberwell from a family of that name which sprang from Cumberwell in or near Bradford-on-Avon which also held property in Compton. The fact of this family holding lands in both Comberwells has made it difficult to distinguish between the two places. The Deeds assigned to Cumberwell in Bradford are numbered 1394-1324. According to Mr Marsh [History of Calne p.304] "the manor was for many years held under the barony of Castlecombe. In the partition roll of the barony [in 1340] two Knights' free were held together for several centuries". Two charters of the present collection however, seem to point to the division of the Knight's fee of Compton Basset, for in Nos. 1006, 1007 Robert de Halveknyete [or Robert , as his name appears in the latter charter] grants lands there in temp. Henry III [1216-1272].


The earliest mention of the connection of the family of Comberwell with Compton is an exchange of lands in Compton between Alan Basset and Hugh de Cumberwell to which I have assigned the date of late twelfth century, [No. 1003] and there are frequent allusions to the family in the Deeds which follow that number. It is probable that the family were lords of both manors Compton Comberwell, and Cumberwell in Bradford in the 12th and 13th centuries. The family then drops out from both places. The next owners of Compton Comberwell were probably the Berlegh family, the first Deed relating thereto being No. 1022 dated in 1327 in which Roger de Berlegh senior, is a principal party. Many transactions are recorded by him in the succeeding charters, among them being a lease of the manor in 1351 made with his consent by James Husee, of Hampton [No. 1036], and in Nos. 1037-1039 we find Roger de Berlegh's son also called Roger had married James Husee's daughter Sibilla to whom the elder Roger conveyed lands in Comerwell. By 1405 and perhaps earlier John Blount and his wife Willelma or whatever the female equivalent of William may be [she is once called Williame, but that is in a French charter] were lords of the manor [No. 1042] in those family it remained according to Marsh till 1476. Sir John Hussey had it in 1531 for in that year it passed with Compton Bassett from his family to the Buttons, as has been shown above.


The greater part of the other Button property in Wiltshire lay at Lyncham, Preston and Tockenham, the residence being Tockenham Court. Tockenham Manor was part of the possessions of Bradenstoke Priory and at the Dissolution remained in Crown hands till 1560. The earliest Deed herein relating to it is a Lease of the Manor from the Priory to Anne Devereux in 1532 [No. 1441]. The date of the Letters Patent of Queen Elizabeth granting to William Button Esquire, the reversion of the manor is 8th May, 1560 [No. 1448], and as will be seen in the records of the last court held under the Crown [No. 1443], the manor was then called Tockenham-cum-Lyneham. Henceforth the courts of the two manors were held separately.


The effort to bring order out of the chaos of these 3000 documents has been a great delight to me but lest, what seems to me orderly, may to the layman appear scarcely less chaotic than their original condition, I here put down what has guided me in their re-arrangement.


The first series consists of the purely personal documents such as Wills, Marriage Settlements, and the like, with some Royal Charters granting pardons, special liveries to heirs of properties, and including over a hundred records relating to the office of Heritable or Hereditary Usher of the Exchequer held by the Walkers and Heneages.


Then follow Deeds relating to General or mixed Estates, that is, estates in several counties mentioned in single Deeds.


Next comes the local arrangement, and as most of the lands concerned lie either in Somersetshire or Wiltshire those two counties are put first, the places in each being in alphabetical order, the arrangement under each place being chronological.


Properties in other counties than those two are treated next.


And as in such a collection as this it is almost inevitable that some will have been omitted from, or have been discovered too late to be inserted in, their proper place, it has been found necessary to take a short series called "Miscellaneous and Appendix".


At the end are placed "Manuscript Books" as distinct from documents. Among them particular attention is called to the beautifully illuminated MS. No. 3083, [now in the exhibition case] a Latin translation of Walter Hilton's "Ladder of Perfection" and other treatises, which having been described in some detail in its proper place in the catalogue need not here be more fully referred to.


After this catalogue was made and the Introduction drafted Mrs Walker Heneage discovered [18 Nov. 1917] at Compton Bassett several important MS. books and vellum and paper documents relating to the Button and Walker families, and chiefly to Sir William Button, 1st Bart. He was the well known Royalist and suffered much oppression at the hands of the Parliamentary Party. The vellum documents are [a] Patent of arms and crest from Garter to Anthony Walker of Co. York in the time of Qu. Mary I; - [b] Grant of the wardship of Sir W. Button [1604]; - [c] Passport for the same to travel, signed by James I [1607]; - and [d] Special livery to the same of his father's goods [1609].


The papers mainly relate to the proceedings of the Wiltshire Committee in the Civil War times, the doings of Sir William Button himself including two passes to him and his servant respectively signed [not altogether written I fear] by Sir Thomas Fairfax, General in command of the Parliamentary Forces on the surrender of the King's Army at Oxford. There are also warrants and orders from various Parliamentary Committees concerning Sir William's delinquency for which he was fined £2380 and in addition, £300 demanded for redemption of stock and goods seized from his Tockenham estate. This latter sum, however, was allows him again ultimately, on his petition and after many delays. Among some later documents are printed proclamations by Charles II, James II and William and Mary, a curious Decree of Oxford University against an apparently heretical book called "The Naked Gospel" in 1690, and a holograph letter from Sir Robert Harley [Earl of Oxford in 1711] on his appointment by Qu. Anne to the Chancellorship of the Exchequer; to his predecessor in that office, dated 10 Aug. 1710. The MS. books include the Now Testament in English, containing the Epistles of St Paul, [the Epistle to the Hebrews being here attributed to that Apostle] followed by the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and Sc. Jude and a part only of that of St. James. This MS. agrees with the Wycliffe version and may be dated late 14th or early 15th century. The others are described in their proper place.


In conclusion, the Editor hopes he may be allowed to congratulate Major and Mrs Walker Heneage on the conception and completion of this work, namely the safe-housing and -if it may be said with becoming modesty- the intelligent arrangement and cataloguing of their family Muniments. It is a work which they have contemplated for some years and they may now look upon their Muniment Rooms and Exhibition-Tables with a satisfaction and a pride as legitimate as it is commendable. Mrs Walker Heneage who has been the moving spirit of this enterprize in the absence of her husband, engaged in Military Duty abroad, has entered into the cares of the Editor with an interest and sympathy which has never flagged, and has moreover, entertained him on his frequent visits to Coker Court with a kindness and hospitality which will ever be to him a fragrant memory.


Addenda (ref. A/)


After the general catalogue of the Button-Walker Heneage muniments had been finished and bound in 1917, there was found at Compton Bassett a small collection of documents which had hitherto escaped attention. Again still more recently a box of Title-Deeds was returned to Lt. Col. Heneage by the lawyers of the Wiltshire Estates.


These are now all incorporated in the present volume under the Title of "Addenda to the Button-Walker-Heneage Muniments".


In the first lot discovered are some more family Wills, various papers relating to the estates, some interesting letters from Major Clement Walker Heneage, 8th Hussars when on Active Service in the Crimea, and afterwards in India, and other correspondence.


There are besides a few autograph letters from prominent public men, as the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Harry Smith, Bart., the victor of Aliwal over the Sikhs in 1846, and Governor of the Cape in 1847 (whose memory is perpetuated in the names of Harrissmith, Ladysmith, etc. in S. Africa), Louis Philippe, ex-King of France, and others.


In the collection returned by the lawyers in the present year, are the title deeds of property in Calne, Cherhill, Compton Bassett, etc., Co. Wilts and in Twerton in Co. Somerset, with several Wills (some original, some Probate copies) and Marriage Settlements.


The last four numbers (237-240) are personal documents affecting Lt. Col. Godfrey Walker Heneage, M.V.O., D.S.O., the first (237) being his appointment by King Edward VII. in 1904, to the Dignity of the Royal Victorian Order; the second (248) the bestowal by King George V. on him in 1917 of the Dignity of a Member and Companion of the Distinguished Service Order; and the third (249) a letter signed by the Rt. Hon. Winston L. Churchill, Secretary of State for War, notifying to Lt. Col. Heneage that he has been mentioned in Despatches of Field Marshal Douglas Haig dated 8 November, 1918.


These two last Honours were granted in appreciation of Lt. Col. Heneage's services in the Great War of 1914-1919.


The above record of "Mention in Despatches" is only one out of several similar distinctions awarded to Lt. Col. Heneage.


3130 - 3181 Collection of warrants, orders, letters and documents relating principally to Sir William Button, 1st Bart and to his position as a Royalist in the time of the Civil War. He was present at Oxford on the surrender of the King's forces to Gen. Sir Thomas Fairfax in June 1646. He was subsequently mulcted in £2380 for delinquency, his last payment for that sum being dated 4 May, 1649, and received his discharge on 23 June following. Other interesting documents are, [a] the particulars of stock, etc. taken from his house at Tockenham at the two raids in June 1643 and June 1644 [v. Introduction to this catalogue] ; - [b] Two passes signed by Sir T. Fairfax at Oxford in June 1646 - and [c] a holograph letter of Robert Harley [aft. Earl of Oxford] announcing his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1710. At the end are a few private papers of little importance.

Date: 12th cent. - 20th cent



1. Royal grants, Wills, Marriage settlements, etc. 1 - 106.


2. Deeds relating to the Ushership of the Exchequer, 107 - 220.




1. General Estates, 221 - 243.


2. Co. Somerset, 244 - 642.


3. Co. Wilts. 643 - 2456.


4. Co. Bedford, 2457 - 2458.


5. Co. Berks. 2459 - 2463.


6. Co. Bucks. 2464 - 2467.


7. Co. Cambridge, 2468.


8. Co. Denbigh, 2469.


9. Co. Derby, 2470 - 2473.


10. Co. Devon. 2474 - 2478.


11. Co. Dorset, 2479 - 2481.


12. Co. Durham, 2482, 2483.


13. Co. Essex, 2484 - 2494.


14. Co. Gloucester, 2495 - 2557.


15. Co. Hereford, 2558, 2559.


16. Co. Huntingdon, 2560 - 2562.


17. Co. Kent, 2563 - 2570.


18. Co. Lincoln, 2571.


19. Cos. Middlesex and Herts. 2572 - 2682.


20. Co. Norfolk, 2683.


21. Co. Northumberland, 2684.


22. Co. Oxon. 2685 - 2687.


23. Co. Southampton, 2688 - 2698.


24. Co. Stafford, 2699, 2700.


25. Co. Suffolk, 2701.


26. Co. Surrey, 2702 - 2749.


27. Co. Sussex, 2750.


28. Co. Warwick, 2751.


29. Co. York, 2752 - 2778.


30. Ireland, 2779 - 2787.




1. General Estates, 2788 - 2792.


2. Calne, Cherhill and Quemerford, 2793 - 2869.


3. Compton Bassett, 2870 - 2962.


4. Lyneham and Preston, 2963 - 2983.


5. Seagry, 2984.




1. Personal, 2985 - 2992.


2. Co. Somerset, 2993 - 2994.


3. Co. Wilts, 2995, 2996.


4. Co. Kent, 2997.


5. Co. Gloucester, 2998, 2999.




1. Letters, legal papers, genealogies, proclamations, etc. 3000-3075.


2. Maps and Plans, 3076 - 3082.




1. Medieval treatises, Poems, Commonplace Books, etc. 3083 - 3096.


2. Account-books, Surveys, Court-books, etc. 3097 - 3126.




1. Royal and other vellum documents, 3127 - 3129.


2. Warrants, letters, etc. [Civil War period, etc.] 3130 - 3181.


3. MS. Books, Wycliffe New Testament, Book of Prayers, etc. 3182 - 3189




1. Nos. 1 - 43.


2. Nos. 44 - 80.


3. Nos. 81 - 106.


4. Nos. 107 - 153.


5. Nos. 154 - 220.


6. Nos. 221 - 243.


7. Nos. 244 - 298.


8. Nos. 299 - 364.


9. Nos. 365 - 460.


10. Nos. 461 - 525.


11. Nos. 526 - 642.


12. Nos. 643 - 692.


13. Nos. 693 - 808.


14. Nos. 809 - 855.


15. Nos. 856 - 899.


16. Nos. 984 - 1002.


17. Nos. 1003 - 1075.


18. Nos. 1076 - 1108.


19. Nos. 1296 - 1378.


20. Nos. 1379 - 1440.


21. Nos. 1441 - 1500.


22. Nos. 1888 - 1951.


23. Nos. 1952 - 2021.


24. Nos. 2022 - 2076.


25. Nos. 2077 - 2144.


26. Nos. 2145 - 2217.


27. Nos. 2416 - 2456.


28. Nos. 2457 - 2483.


29. Nos. 2484 - 2557.


30. Nos. 2558 - 2596.


31. Nos. 2597 - 2623.


32. Nos. 2624 - 2682.


33. Nos. 2683 - 2749.


34. Nos. 2750 - 2787.


35. Nos. 2985 - 3075.


36. Nos. 3083 - 3096.


37. Nos. 3097 - 3104.


38. Nos. 3105 - 3112.


39. Nos. 3127 - 3189.




1. Nos. 505, 506, 900-983, 1109-1295.


2. Nos. 1501 - 1887.


3. Nos. 2218 - 2415.


4. Nos. 2788 - 2984.




Nos. 3076 - 3082, 3103, 3113 - 3126.




No. 1044 should have been placed with the Deeds of Cumberwell near Bradford.


Nos. 2083, 2084 should be with the Dorsetshire Deeds.


No. 2494 should be with the Wiltshire Deeds.

Held by: Somerset Heritage Centre (South West Heritage Trust), not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Physical description: c. 70 boxes
Immediate source of acquisition:

C/787 N/80

  • Button family, baronets, of Alton, Wiltshire
  • Walker-Heneage family of Compton Bassett, Somerset
  • Somerset
  • East Coker, Somerset
  • Wiltshire
Link to NRA Record:

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