Catalogue description Papers of the Hippisley Family of Ston Easton

This record is held by Somerset Heritage Centre (South West Heritage Trust)

Details of DD/HI
Reference: DD/HI
Title: Papers of the Hippisley Family of Ston Easton

Hippisley Family




Hippisley acquisitions in Ston Easton, Cameley and Emborough


Hippisley settlements, etc.


Hippisley Coxe mortgages


Settlements in favour of younger children


Properties disposed of by the Hippisley family


Various Somerset properties, arranged alphabetically by parishes, where the Hippisley involvement is slight or not clear


Deeds of Midsomer Norton, Ashwick, etc. (Hooper inheritance)


Testamentary records


Minor groups of out county deeds


Leases for years and lives, etc., Ston Easton, Emborough, Cameley


Short term leases, do. and mineral leases


Leases, Midsomer Norton, etc. (Hooper inheritance)


Leases, East Harptree (Yorke family)


Personal papers




Hippisley and associated families




Manors of Ston Easton, Cameley and Emborough


Maps and surveys for Ston Easton, Cameley and Emborough.


General estate administration papers


Estate (financial) administration


Hippisley-Coxe financial affairs


Household management


The interests and activities of John Hippisley (1804-98)


The later Hippisleys


Preston Family of Cricket St. Thomas




Deeds and leases for Cricket St. Thomas


Deeds, etc., for Combe St. Nicholas, Chard, etc.




Cricket St. Thomas, Winsham, Sidmouth, etc.




Preston family




Preston and associated families


Christopher and John Preston : local office


Northleigh of Peamore




Deeds and leases of Dodbrooke, Exeter, Heavitree, Exminster and Alphington


Other Devon and Cornwall parishes




Northleigh family




Manorial records, surveys, papers relating to the disposal of estates


Northleigh, etc., personal papers


Boodé and Associated Families


Boodé family


Bayntun family


Lutwyche family


Miscellaneous genealogical, literary and personal papers, printed works, photographs


Ston Easton and Cameley parish records


Some noteworthy features


Unusually for Somerset, but perhaps because of the early acquisition of the various Mendip estates, the family inherited significant holdings of medieval deeds for all 3 parishes: Cameley from c.1200, Ston Easton from c.1240 and Emborough from c.1297.


Although the estate was not particularly extensive and the family not ranked among the wealthiest or most prominent in local or public affairs of the county's landowning class, the records which survive provide a rich vein of material for local studies. The papers of John Preston (DD/HI/B/461-468), sometime sheriff, J.P., and M.P., have been used by both Barnes in his Somerset 1625-1640 and Underdown, Somerset in the Civil War and Interregnum. The 19th century, too, is particularly well represented in the papers of the long-lived John Hippisley ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones p.39), a man of many parts and one perhaps not easy to deal with, whose activities ranged from the promotion of mining and quarrying activities by way of local church and school affairs to his personal interests and in particular his correspondence with fellow astronomers (see DD/HI/A/335-393 passim). Individual items of note include the account book for Whitedown Fair in Cricket St. Thomas, 1637-49 (DD/HI/B/441), for which see Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society,vol. 112, 61-70, and the Uvedale and Preston law precedent books (DD/HI/B/469). There are also some unusual items, the provenance of which is not absolutely clear: these include an Oxford borough rental of c.1495-6 (DD/HI/D/563), probably received by way of the Gunter family, the previous owners of Whitnell, and the satirical verses and Pendle witches examination (DD/HI/D/564) and the Earl of Essex's fleet to Cadiz (DD/HI/B/460), all of which may have belonged to the Preston element.


An extensive genealogical history of the main and many subordinate branches of the family was published in 1952 (The Hippisley Family, ed. I. Fitzroy Jones), happily compiled before the Ston Easton registers, the source for much of the information, were lost. The page numbers of this book have been used in the present catalogue as a means of identifying and distinguishing the various generations and branches involved and, in particular, the many Johns. It has been possible to add a few marginal additions and corrections to the Somerset Record Office copy of the work, but its general accuracy has not been faulted.

Date: c1240-20th cent
Held by: Somerset Heritage Centre (South West Heritage Trust), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Hippisley family of Ston Easton, Somerset

Physical description: 569 Files
  • Preston family of Cricket St Thomas, Somerset
Administrative / biographical background:

This substantial accumulation of estate and family archives relates to the Hippisley family, which has lived at Ston Easton on Mendip for at least 450 years, and to the compact estate in Ston Easton, Cameley and Emborough largely acquired in the 16th century. Some relatively minor additions were made in subsequent centuries to this main estate, but inheritance in one instance and marriage to heiresses (two instances) brought significant additions not only of property but also of archives; so much so, that the two last named have merited separate treatment as sub-sections in the catalogue below (see sections B and C in the list of contents).


The manor of Ston Easton Major was granted to Bruton Priory in 1346 and held by it to the surrender of its estates to the Crown in 1539. The Prior had already made a life lease of the manor to John Hippisley ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones p.20) in 1525, who is described in compotus rolls from that date as farmer and collector of rents. A reversionary lease in favour of two sons of John had followed in 1537 and a Crown grant of the manor was secured in 1544 (DD/HI/A/3). There is evidence of the surname in the neighbourhood at least a generation before the 1525 lease, as a William was tenant of property in the manor of Whitnell in Emborough in 1496 (DD/HI/A/182). It is likely that he was related to, and could even have been the father of, the above John, but there is no evidence either way in this collection and nothing in The Hippisley Family.


The second estate acquired was that of the manor of Whitnell in Emborough in 1559 (DD/HI/A/64), purchased by John Hippisley ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones p.22) of Richard Gunter. This manor included properties at Tadhill in Downhead and/or Doulting, represented in this collection among the series of leases (DD/HI/A/189). Two years later (although the actual conveyance has not survived) the same John purchased the manor and advowson of Cameley from Polydore Watkins alias Vaughan (DD/HI/A/53). The estate was completed by his acquisition of the manor of Emborough from the Roynon family in 1570 (DD/HI/A/63). He died prematurely at the age of 40 in the same year, thus (according to Fitzroy Jones) cutting short the promise of a brilliant career in the law. There are indications of the patronage he enjoyed in the numerous grants, commissions and appointments in his favour (DD/HI/A/212), but nothing survives of a more personal nature as direct evidence of his activities.


The earliest known examples so far found in the Somerset Record Office of the West Country system of leasing for (long term) of years determinable upon (3) lives occurs in these records (DD/HI/A/152, under 1546), and it is tempting to place responsibility with him, but unless he was particularly precocious this seems unlikely.


A lesser manor in Ston Easton, known as Ston Easton Minor otherwise High Street, sometime held by the looker family of Midsomer Norton, then by John Mogg of Farrington Gurney and finally by Churchey seems to have been acquired between 1722 and 1724, but in the absence of main title deeds this is left to be deduced from leases and a schedule of deeds. Limited additions were made to estates on Mendip by purchase or exchange in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the major acquisitions, some inside and some outside the county came as a result of marriage or inheritance.


The first of these followed the marriage of John Hippisley ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones p.27) with Margaret, daughter and heir of John Preston, and brought in the manor of Cricket St. Thomas, which a Stephen Preston had purchased from Margaret Lady Hungerford in 1466. Cricket was eventually sold to Alexander Hood (later Viscount Bridport) in 1775 (Victoria County History, IV, 135).


The senior male Hippisley line ended with the death of Preston Hippisley ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones p.29) in 1723 and the estates passed by the marriage of his daughter Margaret to the Wiltshire family of Coxe, which prefixed Hippisley to its surname in the next generation ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones pp.117-119). One interesting feature of the later years of Preston Hippisley's ownership was the number of leases granted of cottages newly erected on manorial waste, but it is not clear whether this was part of a deliberate social policy or recognition of a fait accompli and the re-establishment of ownership - probably the latter. Preston, orphaned as an infant, allegedly spent little or no time thereafter at Ston Easton (see DD/HI/A/228). The Hippisley Coxe male line terminated in 2 generations with the death in 1795 of Henry Hippisley Coxe. Confusingly, his widow, who lived to 1843, married secondly Sir John Cox Hippisley, bart., a Bristol man but no relation of either family ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones pp.134-40).


The second major acquisition through marriage to an heiress came as a consequence of the marriage of John Hippisley Coxe with Mary Northleigh in 1739. She with her unmarried sister, Margaret, was joint heir to their father Stephen of Peamore. All the Devon properties were disposed of by 1800. The final inheritance was of the former Stedman estate based on Downside in Midsomer Norton. This passed to Sir Wm. Davie after his marriage to Mary Stedman in 1687 and then to their surviving daughter, Mary Hooper, who settled it on her Hippisley Coxe nephews (her sister Margaret being the wife of Stephen Northleigh). This estate also was sold hard after the death of Henry Hippisley Coxe.


Thus from c.1800 the estate reverted to the original 3 Mendip parishes and remained under her life interest with Dame Elizabeth Cox Hippisley until her death in 1843. It then passed under the terms of the will of Henry Hippisley Coxe by happy chance to a direct descendant of a younger son of the 17c. John H. of the main line ("The Hippisley Family" Ed. I. Fitzroy Jones p.27), into which Henry's sister Margaret had married.

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