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Chapter TitleNotes


Title :Notes on the Documentary History of Zeals
Author :John Batten
Book Type :General History and Topography
Publisher :Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Date :1896
Journal :Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, Vol. 28, Pages 203 - 210, 1896
Full Text :Notes on the Documentary History of Zeals.
By John Batten, F.S.A.

SEALS, or Seals, a tything in the parish of Mere, contained two manors called, after their ancient lords, Zeals Ailesbury and Zeals Clivedon.
Sir Richard Hoare [History of Modern Wilts, I., p. 31] observes that there is a wide gap in the records relating to Zeals until it became the property of the Chafyn family, but the following facts, gathered from the muniments of the present owner, Mr. Chafyn Grove, and other sources, will, it is hoped, help to fill up the gap to which the learned historian refers.
It is recorded in the reign of Henry III. [Testa de Nevill, p. 133] that Alured, or Alfred de Nichol, or Lincoln, held in "Seeles" one knight's fee of John Fitz Geoffry, and he of the Earl of Salisbury, and he of the King; and it may be presumed that this was the knight's fee held in 1168 by Alured de Nichol of the Earl Patrick [Liber Niger, by Hearne, I., 107]. Alured de Lincoln died about A.D. 1264, and we learn from the inquisition taken after his death that "he held of John Fitz John the manor of Celes, which formerly was given in free marriage with Matillda, his mother." His wife, Joan, survived him, but he left no issue, and his nephew, Robert Fitzpain (son of his eldest sister, Margery), Beatrix, his second sister (wife of William de Govis), and Albreda de Lincoln, his youngest sister, were his co-heirs [Esch. 48 Hen. III., No. 19; Rot. Fin. Extr. II., 412]. Beatrix must have died shortly after, as in the division of her father's estates the manor of "Seeles," the manor of Duntish, in Dorsetshire, and other manors in that county and in Somersetshire were allotted to her son, William de Govis, who received seisin thereof. [Esch. 48 Hen. III., No. 19].
The family of De Govis was of Norman origin, deriving its name from the ville of Gouvis, near Caen. Petronilla, the wife of William de Govis, was a Norman lady who seems to have lived entirely in Normandy, and their daughter Joan was born there. [Inq. 29 Edw. I., No. 190] Petronilla survived her husband, and after his death her claim to dower out of his lands in England was disputed on the ground of her being an alien. [Inq. Taken at Dorchester, 11th November, 19 Edw. III.] In the year 1272 (1 Edw. I.), i.e, before the statute of "quia emptores" which prohibited subinfeudations, William de Govis granted his manor of "Seles" to Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, lord of the manor of Mere, and his heirs, under the annual rent or render of 12d. or a sparrow hawk; and in the following year the Earl granted it to Walter de Ailesbury. Walter was, it appears, a special favourite of the Earl, who appointed him, some years after, Governor of the Castle and Honour of Wallingford, and also of the Honour of St. Valerie [Dugdale's Warwickshire, reprint 1765, p. 580]. Zeals continued for many generations in the de Ailesbury family, and in 1417 Sir Thomas de Ailesbury, two years before his death, settled it on his daughter Isabella, the wife of Sir Thomas Chaworth. [Esch. 6 Hen. V.] Sir Thomas Chaworth died about the year 1460, and it was found by inquisition that he held the manor of "Zeals Ailesbury" as tenant by the curtesy after the death of his wife Isabella, of the inheritance of William Chaworth, her son and heir, then twenty-eight years old, and also that the manor was held of William, Bishop of Winchester, as of his manor of Ambresbury, but was formerly the manor of the Earl of Salisbury [Esch. 37 Hen. VI.] In 1483, on the death of Thomas, son and heir of William Chaworth, without issue, the manor came to his sister and heir, Joan, the wife of John Ormond, Esq., of Alfreton, Co. Derby, and in the Church of that place there are brasses to their memory. Joan Ormond died in 1507 and left three daughters only, and by a settlement made by her, the manor was divided amongst them equally in tail, with remainder to her own right heirs. Joan, the eldest daughter, was married to Sir Thomas Dynham, Kt., of Sythorpe, Bucks; Elizabeth, the second daughter, to Anthony Babington, of Dethick (grandfather of Anthony, the conspirator against the life of Queen Elizabeth); and Anne, the third daughter, to William Meringe, Esq. Anne died without issue, by which event her one-third vested in her two surviving sisters. Joan and Elizabeth, but Joan seems to have acquired the share of her sister Elizabeth also. She survived her husband, Sir Thomas Dynham, and was married to Sir William Fitz William, Kt. Afterwards she and her husband levied a fine of the entirety of this manor, and in 1534 granted a lease of certain parts of it to Thomas Chafyn, Esq., for the lives of himself, Margaret, his wife, and Thomas, their son. Joan died in 1540, leaving two sons, George and Thomas Dynham, between whom were conflicting claims to the property. Thomas, the younger, sold all his rights (including the reversion of Chafyn's leasehold) to one Percy, but Chafyn refused to pay rent to Percy, setting up a title under a purchase from George Dynham. Percy being a poor man could not contest the matter, and therefore sold his right to Charles, Lord Stourton: he was not so easily satisfied, and when he could get no rent "thrust Chafyn out of possession," but he was soon reinstated by order of the Star Chamber, probably because his leasehold interest still existed. Upon Lord Stourton's attainder for the murder of Hartgill all his rights in the manor were forfeited to the person on whom the overlordship had descended from William Govis, the original grantor. This was proved to be Lewes, Lord Mordaunt, and in 1567 he proceeded by action of ejectment to recover it from William Chafyn, the son of Thomas, the lessee. It was necessary for Lord Mordaunt, in order to establish his title, to prove his heirship, and this was done by records produced in court. It was shown by Inquisition that William de Govis died in 1299 and that amongst his possessions he held a knight's fee in "Seles" in capite of Richard Fitz John, which fee Walter de Ailesbury held under him in socage under an annual rent of 12d., and that his heirs were his two daughters, Joan and Alice. [Esch. 27 Edw. I., No. 53.] Joan soon after was married to John de Latimer, and Alice became the wife of Robert de Musters, or Monasteriis, but died in 1311 without issue, leaving her sister Joan her heir, who thereby became owner of the entirety. It was proved also that the manor was held by successive generations of the Latimer family until the reign of Henry VII., when Sir Nicholas Latimer, who died in 1505, was succeeded by his only daughter and heiress, Edith, wife of Sir John Mordaunt, grandfather of Lewes, Lord Mordaunt, the plaintiff in the action, and a verdict was returned in his favour. It is known that his son sold the bulk of his paternal estates in the West, and there is no doubt that the manor of Zeals Ailesbury was then purchased by William Chafyn, Mr. Chafyn Grove's ancestor.
The other manor of Zeals Clivedon was at an early period held by a family called "de Seles" and was no doubt the half of a knight's fee which, in the reign of Henry III., Richard de Seles held of Avice Columbers, and she of the Earl of Salisbury, and he of the King. Avice was the wife of Michael Columbers, and a daughter of Elias Croc. [Coll. Top, and Gen., vii., 148] In the reign of Edward II., A.D. 1310, Richard had been succeeded by John de Seles, and by charter of this date, made at "Seles," he granted to Walter de Ailesbury one half part of all his lands in Over Seles, Nether Seles, and Wulliton, to be held as of his manor of Seles. This transaction looks as if de Ailesbury had previously nothing more than the overlordship, which may have included the whole of Zeals, of which the de Seles family were terre tenants. In 1315 John de Seles restored to his estate a messuage and mill in Seles, which Richard, his father, had sold to John de Cove, and in 1331 he made an agreement with Nichola, his daughter, late the wife of Robert Coterel, whereby he grants to her for her life certain lands in Seles, and covenanted to provide reasonable maintenance and clothing for Robert, her son, Nichola, in return, granting to her father all her lands in Caldecote, within the manor of Stourton. By the end of the reign of Edward III. the manor had come into the hands of Matthew de Clivedon, and it is clear that he acquired it by purchase. He was descended from a Somersetshire family, who derived their name from Clivedon, or Clevedon, on the Bristol Channel, a manor which in the Domesday Survey was held by Matthew de Moretaine, who is supposed to be their Norman progenitor. As the elder line of the family had ended in a female, this Matthew must have been a member of a collateral branch. He was married twice. By his first wife he had at least two sons, and to provide for his second wife and her issue a settlement was made by final concord of 50 Edward III., between John Wykying, John Pykering, and Robert Combe, plaintiffs, and Matthew de Clyvedon and Joan his wife, defendants, whereby the manor of "Seles" and five messuages, one carucate of land, 3s. rent, and rent of a bunch of cloves, in Mere, Caldecote, Seles, Wolverton, and Lyttel Ammesbury, Wiltes, and seven messuages, thirty acres of land, twelve acres of meadow, and thirty acres of wood, in Gayspore, Somerset, were limited to the said Matthew and Joan and the heirs of their bodies; remainder to Alexander, son to the said Matthew, in tail; remainder to Richard, brother of Alexander, in tail; remainder to the heirs of the body of the said Matthew to be begotten; remainder to John de Berkelee, Chiv., and his heirs. [John de Berkeley was probably the son of Thomas, third Baron Berkeley. He married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir John Bettisthorne, Kt., who was a large owner of property in Shaftesbury and Gillingham, which he inherited from Margery, his mother. On his tomb in Mere Church he is called the founder of the chantry there, but in fact, he only augmented the ancient chantry in that Church in honour of the Virgin Mary, of which he was patron, by increasing the number of chaplains from one to three, and giving additional lands for their support (Inq. ad q d., 22 Ric. II., No. 96). Benefactors to religious houses and societies were frequently honoured with the title of founders. The connection between the Berkeleys or the Bettisthornes and the Clivedon family remains to be traced.] We learn from the Zeals Court Rolls that after the death of Matthew he was succeeded by his widow, Joan, who held a court there 9 Richard II., and 8 Henry IV. John de Clivedon appears as Lord. He succeeded to the settled estates as the son of Matthew and Joan, and by charter dated at Nether Seles 30th April, 2 Henry IV. (1401, which was probably preliminary to a settlement on his own marriage, he granted to Richard Wortford, Robert Combe, Clerk, William Stourton, Thomas Bonham, and their heirs, one moiety of the manor of Nether Seles and also all lands, &c., which he held in Over Seles, Nether Seles, Wolverton, Scherewton, Ambresbury, Meere, and Stourton, Wilts, and in Gaspore, Somerset, "which sometyme were of John or Thomas Seles, and also which were of John Grenninge, which John Bonham doth there hold at my will on the new purchase of Matthew, my father. Witnesses, John Bonham. Peter Stanton, John Wyking, and others." He died before 29 Henry VI., and his wife, Ann (who had the manor for her jointure), kept the courts until 35 Henry VI., after which her daughters are styled ladies of the manor. With John de Clivedon the family name ended, at any rate in connection with Zeals, as he died without male issue. He died seised of large estates in different counties, -of the manor of Selys, which he held of John Lysse, or Lysley, Kt. [Lisle] [This was John de Lisle, a descendant of Michael and Avice Columbers, owners of the overlordship of the manors of Chisenbury and Clive (Clyffe Pypard], which were inherited by their two daughters Joan and Nichola, the wife of John de Lisle, as co-heiresses. The issue of Joan failed, and thereupon the entirety vested in Nichola and her descendants (De Banco Roll [16] Hillary, 14 Edw. I], as of his manor of Chute, Wilts, by knight's service, - the manor of Corton, also of one messuage and one hundred acres of land, six acres of meadow, and one hundred acres of pasture in Alkanning, and likewise of the manor of Wodeland, all in Wilts, and of the manor of Uphey [Upway], Dorset, and of three hundred acres of land in Heythorn in Southpederton, and of twelve messuages and two hundred acres of land in Northpederton, in the County of Somerset, all which manors and lands descended on his death to his three daughters and heiresses, Johanna, Elizabeth, and Isabella. [Exemplification, dated 29th of November, 24th Hen. VII., of Inquisitions and Proceedings in Chancery.] Elizabeth was married to John More, and Isabella to Robert Whiting, by whom she had three sons, George, Christopher, and John, and on her death her part descended to her eldest son, George Whiting, and, as both he and the next son, Christopher, died without issue, it came ultimately to John, the youngest son. The entirety of John Clivedon's estates thus belonged to John Whiting, John More, and Elizabeth his wife, and Johanna Clivedon; and in 1505 they made a partition by which the manor of "Selys" was (inter alia) allotted to More and his wife. Notwithstanding this, under the colour of an inquisition taken after the death of his brother Christopher, John Whiting set up a claim, as his heir to their mother's one-third part and it was seized by the Crown Escheator pendente lite. Upon the complaint, however, of More and his wife the authorities were satisfied that they were justly entitled to the whole, and pursuant to a decree in Chancery 24 Henry VII. The Crown gave up possession to them. They were succeeded by their son, Humphrey More, of Collumpton, Devon, who died 29 Henry VIII. seised of this manor and all the Clivedon lands in and about Mere, leaving John More his son and heir, from whom they were purchased by the Chafyns.
It is unnecessary to pursue the descent from Chafyn to Grove, as that is given in detail in the History of Modern Wilts. It may be observed, however, that no notice is taken in that work of the Free Chapel at Zeals: but it is clear there was one, for by letters patent, 27 Elizabeth, 1585, "All that the Free Chapel with one-fourth of an acre of land north of the Chapel situate in Zeals Clivedon" was granted to Edward Morrice and James Mayland, from whom it came to the Chafyns.

Abbreviations used:
  • WAM Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine
  • WNQ Wiltshire Notes and Queries



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