Christmas Tree Festival 2019

St James Church holds a Christmas Tree Festival every year to raise money for children’s charities.

June McAvoy very kindly donated and decorated this tree on behalf of our history group.

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

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Winchester College Muniments

The archives at Winchester College are very important for the history of Milton Abbey prior to the surrender in 1539.

We were fortunate to contact the archivist who gave us access to photograph some of the key documents in this fabulous resource. These are Court Rolls, Account Rolls and grants of leases by the Abbey, and all in superb condition.

We have found only one reference in the literature to these documents: ‘Milton Abbey: A Dorset Monastery in the Middle Ages’, Peter Traskey, 1978.

How the documents came to be in the possession of Winchester College is another story in itself.

We took high resolution images of 170 of the documents, and there are plenty more to do!

We need to transcribe these before we can understand the significance to the study of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in general, and Milton Abbey in particular. The grants of leases are an example of the general phenomenon in the years just before the surrender for monasteries to obtain cash. This cash was used as ‘inducements’ – a euphemism for bribes, to Thomas Cromwell, his commissioners, and the local aristocracy, in the hope that they would support the monasteries.

There are documents of the grants of leases in the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII held at The National Archives (SP/2).

We believe that this information would contribute significantly to a PhD on this particular aspect of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Please Contact Us if you are interested, or for more information.

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Bastardy Examination of Charlotte Vacher, 1829

We have just been given the original of this document. It is now transcribed and available for members to share. Her name is spelled Charlotte Vatcher in the document, and Charlotte Vacher on the reverse. John Sturmy is named as the father of the male bastard child.

The child was baptised in Milton Abbas in July 1829 and named as Stephen Vacher.

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The People who were paid for catching vermin

From an analysis of the names occurring in the Churchwarden’s Accounts 1750 – 1752, it seems clear that it was mostly children and a couple of housemaids who were being paid for catching vermin. These came from many of the households in the Old Town of Milton Abbas, and there are 80 different people paid in just these two years. The payments did not just go to the farmers and their children but to most families. The same family names also occur as paying church rates.

We will examine the Churchwarden’s Accounts further to discover if this remained true after the building of the new village.

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The People of the Parish, Katherine French, 2001

This excellent book uses pre-Reformation Churchwardens Accounts to show what life was like for the people of the parish, including rural parishes in the 14th, 15th and early 16th centuries. How the parish worked as a community, including of course all the religious ceremonies, plays, processions, holy days, dressing the church, candles.

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Overseers of the Poor

We are now working on transcribing Book 3 which covers the years 1818 – 1830. The way of accounting has changed from previous books – here the entries still include about 20 people being paid monthly on out relief, but there are many more bills being paid to tradesmen. The names of the tradespeople are given, but the goods and services are not identified. The “disbursements” are no longer named as such, they are included in the monthly payments. These were additional payments to those in need.

Although there are people on out relief, there was probably a poor house as well, and the bills are probably for supplies to this.

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Movie Clip in Milton Abbas

This 5 second video clip occurred in the middle of the BBC Countryfile program broadcast 1 Sep 2019. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the program which concerned evacuees of Word War 2.

We would love to know where the rest of the film might be, and what it was about. We will ask the BBC, but any information would be most welcome.

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The Will of Sir John Tregonwell 1563

This is the longest, oldest, and certainly the most tedious will that we have ever transcribed.

One of our transcribers has single-handedly completed the mammoth task of transcribing the 19 pages of tightly spaced, 16th century legal writing. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for this.

Although it is in English, the letters are not consistently formed, the spelling is such that Google docs spell checker has had a headache, and the sheer repetition of phrases is mind boggling.

This is an example chosen at random.
Our transcription is :
“the said John Tregonwell myne heire apparent to decease and die w[i]t[h]out heires of his bodie lawfully begotten, that then my said mannor of Estpullam [East Pulham] and all other my lands and tenements in Estpullam aforesaid w[i]th there appurtenances shall holie [wholly] remaine to theires [the heirs] males of the bodie of the said Jane Thornehill my Daughter and to theires males theire bodies lawfullie begotten, the remaynder thereof for lacke of suche yssue to the right heires of me the said Sir John Tregonwell Knight for ever, now my will mynd and intente is that yf the said Robart Thornhill Esquire do not”

The fluidity of spelling is amazing. Although this was written by a professional scribe at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, he can spell the exact same word in two different ways in the same sentence!

The transcribed document gives us entirely new information not found elsewhere. It includes the friends and relatives of Sir John Tregonwell, a room by room inventory, and the manors and estates in Dorset that were purchased between his purchase of the former Abbey of Milton from Henry VIII in 1540 and the date of this will of 1563.

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Wills, Inventories and Administrations

These documents are of vital importance for the history of people who lived in Milton Abbas.

Not only do they give us family relations: brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, nephews, nieces and cousins but also what people possessed in the way of ‘goods and chattels’.

So far we have transcribed 70, and we are about half way through. So there are plenty of opportunities for more volunteers.

It would be really useful if we knew some Latin. Many of the older wills have their probate grant, a final paragraph in Latin, which was probably of a standard formula.

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Exhibition at the Street Fair 27 Jul 2019

It was a sizzler in every meaning of the word! With clear blue skies and thousands of visitors, The Street Fair was busy all day long.

We had over 1000 visitors to our exhibition which was tucked away in the south aisle of St James Church. There was a continuous stream of visitors, and the space became quite crowded at times. Thanks to our stewards who were dressed in 18th century costume which added atmosphere to our displays.

Our most travelled visitors to our exhibition are from Melbourne, Australia. They planned their visit to England over a year before to coincide with the Street Fair.

Our youngest visitor was under one year old. His parents were much interested in the exhibition and let’s hope the young lad will be a historian someday.

We made plenty of new contacts, including some with Milton Abbas ancestors, which will keep us busy over the next few weeks contacting them by email.

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