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Manors. Witham (Chipping) and Newland.

When I was preparing the Post about the Town Hall, I started to write about  manorial records, and their value in local history. But this was breaking up the Town Hall story too much, and so I started this separate Post instead.

The customs of the “twin” manors of Witham (Chipping) and Newland were  unusual, in a way that is especially useful to us. The 18th-century historian Philip Morant wrote that they were “very extraordinary”. I began trying to explain why, but it was taking too big a bite out of the Town Hall. So I’ve started a separate post about those manors instead.

This was because of the role of those superior tenants who were known as freeholders. In most manors they really were free, and didn’t owe the lord of the manor anything, and so were not often mentioned in the Court records. where we look for our information. But in our two manors they often had to pay an entry fine for a “First Purchase”. You only escaped if you already belonged to the manor, either by being born in it, or having another freehold already. You can read the satisfaction of the Steward when he could firmly write “First purchase” into the Court Book, and claim the fine. Once you were a freeholder you would also be noted in the regular rentals or surveys of the whole manor.

This means that we can often trace the history of a plot of land or a building, back from the 1920s right back to medieval times. The Town Hall site is a good example, and most of the rest of Newland Street was freehold too. After 1680 the plots were numbered, which helped the process. Just note that other manors in Witham like Powershall and Blunts hall did not have this custom. And that a few parts of Newland Street, like Batsford, were in manors of their own.

Nearly all the relevant manorial documents are in the Essex Record Office, . I would like to put more about them on this website, but I could say that about many subjects.

Public Health in the 19th century

Public Health etc in Witham, in the 19th century

Summary by Janet Gyford, adapted from one first written for Dated Buildings Survey in 1992, re Faragon Terrace, 59-67 Bridge Street.
Retyped October 2002. 

See also notes on PRO MH 13/209, read since this was written.


Edward Cresy made a report to the General Board of Health in 1850 about Witham. About Bridge Street he said that ‘the stagnant open drains, and the absence of all arrangements requisite for decency, are still producing their usual effects – fever and demoralisation. Many other parts of the town were described in an even more stomach-churning fashion. The general arrangements were common to most towns before they had main sewerage and water supply systems. Cresy contrasted their inadequacies with the ‘neat fronts of the homes looking out onto the well-swept pavement’. There do appear to have been drains in a few streets, including about half of Newland Street, but these were probably mainly for collecting surface water; they were not flushed by any other water supply, and any matter that was able to move along them went straight into the River Brain. Waste from privies and from the few water closets usually went first into cess-pits, and may have been taken away sometimes, but more often overflowed and made its way along the ground to the nearest hollow or open ditch, and sometimes thence to the river. Water supplies came from wells, springs, and also from the same river; there was a public pump in the centre of the town, which was to be moved to the northern end near the Grove in the 1850s.

Cresy’s investigation was made under the 1848 Public Health Act, following a petition from 128 Witham ratepayers (nearly half the total). The result was the establishment of a Board of Health for Witham in 1852, with power under the 1848 Act to charge a rate for providing proper water supply and drainage. George Thomasin himself was a member from 1858 until his death. The Witham Board’s role in supervising the sanitation of individual new buildings proceeded as shown by the Building Plans in the ERO. Making arrangements for the town as a whole proved to be much more difficult.

In 1853 the Board commissioned plans for a water supply sand sewerage system for the whole town; the two aspects were linked, as sewers were needed to take away used water, and water was necessary to carry material along the sewers. During discussions about the proposals, it was noted that cholera had re-appeared in the country; in fact there were already several outbreaks in other parts of Essex. An earlier epidemic in 1848-9 had killed over 70,000 people in Britain as a whole, so this new outbreak was potentially very worrying; the Witham Board urged renewed and diligent inspection of nuisances. As a result of these country-wide epidemics, it became conclusively established for the first time that cholera was caused by contaminated water supply.

However, the Witham Board received a petition about its proposed scheme in December 1855 ‘expressing the hope and desire that no further outlay of money should be attempted’, and as a result, the plans were ‘laid aside’, ‘because of the great expense’. The petition came from ‘Thomas Tomkin Esquire and 93 other ratepayers and inhabitants of Witham’. Perhaps surprisingly in the circumstances, Thomas Tomkin was a doctor (he ran a private lunatic asylum in Maldon Road).

There was no further action for a full ten years. Then in 1865 there was yet more cholera in the county; the Witham Board received a letter from one of the inhabitants about the town’s drainage, and set up a Committee to consider the matter. During the following two years, several more enquiring letters were received, but there was no word from the Committee. At last during autumn 1867, some consideration was given to the revived plans from 1853, and to two new schemes by rival Chelmsford engineers, Jabez Church and Frederick Chancellor. Chelmsford was often referred to as an example during the Witham debate, as it was just completing its own new scheme after an earlier unsuccessful one. Chancellor was Surveyor to the Board there. Several other Essex towns had also completed new schemes in the 1860s.

In December 1867 a serious typhoid epidemic broke out in the parish of Terling, which adjoins Witham to the west. A report about it, written for the Privy Council, blamed the contamination of water supply by sewage, and also drew attention to the ‘filthiness’ of Witham. It suggested that the inhabitants of the town dared not complain for fear of reprisals, both from their landlords and from the Inspector of Nuisances, who was also Relieving Officer and therefore controlled the dispensation of poor relief. Particular attention was drawn in the report to ‘several groups of cottages belonging to a Mr Thomasin, a gentleman of a large fortune. He has a seat on the Local Board and yet so much has he neglected the dwellings of the poor which belonged to him that the magistrates have been compelled to summon him before them’. This summons was in January 1868, and related to Bridge Street, probably to a site adjoining the predecessors of Faragon Terrace (59-67 Bridge Street). It was for allowing a ‘foul and offensive privy, a nuisance and injurious to health’. Henry Risbury, a skinner at the tanyard, had reported that the overflow soaked under the foundations of his adjoining cottage, and Petty Sessions ordered Thomasin to make a proper brick cess-pool, with a cemented side next to Mr Risbury’s dwelling.

In February 1868, a representative from the Home Office visited Witham. As a result, the General Board of Health, namely the national body, threatened to take the provision of a town scheme into its own hands, which it was permitted to do under the Sanitary Act of 1866. At the same time, two noisy public meetings vehemently opposed the idea of a comprehensive scheme. At these meetings, timeless issues were discussed, such as the nature of democracy, represented in the relative powers of the elected Board of Health and of public meetings, and the principles of cost-benefit analysis, namely ‘a question of pounds shillings and pence against life, health and disease’.

The Board stood its ground against ‘the public’, although its members still had to argue about which engineer should be favoured. In August 1868 it was finally agreed to adopt the plans of Jabez church. These included a well, reservoir and pump, behind the Swan Public House in Newland Street (now no. 153); the water was to be pumped up to a water tower holding 100,000 gallons in the new Collingwood Road. The land for the latter was given by the owner, Reverend William M Oliver of Bovinger, in return for the setting out of the road across his land by the Board (an arrangement similar to that for the setting out of Guithavon Street in 1842). The sewage was to drain into a tank east of the Maldon railway line; further treatment of the sewage was still a thing of the future. £6,000 was to be borrowed to pay for the scheme, to be repaid out of the rates over 30 years.

Interestingly, the beginning of the work provoked scepticism from yet another doctor; this was the 81-year old Dr Henry Dixon, formerly of Witham, and then of Rivenhall. In January 1869 he wrote in his diary:

Witham is in an uproar. Contractors and navvies are cutting up the streets to form a culvert as a main drain to all the cesspools and other offensive matters from the dwellings … into which the householders will have to carry drains at their own expense. Water is to be pumped up by steam to flush the drains … The expense of this formidable work will be not less than £8,000 and this is so small a parish … will I expect be ruinous to many. I think £400 or £500 would if judiciously used be fully sufficient … I have a full knowledge of every cottage and locality … that required attention and furthermore know something of drainage.

In contrast, the short-lived scurrilous local newspaper, The Tomtit, was supportive of the scheme. Among other comments it included a ‘Song of the Drainage’ in eight verses, one of which urged ‘In the advance of time’s great changes, in the question of our health, list to what the Board arranges, tho’ little it affects your wealth.

The town’s new drainage and water system was completed in 1869. The Board took powers to enforce people to connect their properties. These powers were suspended temporarily as early as 1871 because of inadequacies in the water supply; these were overcome by new work on the well, and extra help with the pump, but the supply was still probably an intermittent one compared to that from a modern system, and several subsequent enlargements of it were needed in subsequent years.

Pubs. Woolpack, Chipping Hill

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

Click here to see all posts about pubs.

3rd January 2001
Known residents, from the census returns and directories
Year Publican or other Resident Relationship to Head and or Occupation Age Where Born Source
1839 Christopher Annett Collis Pigot’s
1845 John Lorkin Post Office
1848 John Smithman Lorkin White’s
1851 John Smithman Lorkin Innkeeper 37 Bocking, Essex Census*
Mary Ann Lorkin Wife 37 Braintree, Essex Census*
Phoebe Lorkin Daughter 7 Witham, Essex Census*
Albert Lorkin Son 3 Witham, Essex Census*
Ellen Lorkin Daughter 2 Witham, Essex Census*
Arthur Lorkin Son 7m Witham, Essex Census*
Charlotte Parker Servant 40 Witham, Essex Census*
Ann Smith Servant 20 Cambridge Census*
1855 J. S. Lorkin Kelly’s**
1861 John S. Lorkin Victualler & Baker 47 Bocking, Essex Census
Mary Ann Lorkin Wife 46 Braintree, Essex Census
George Lorkin Son, Baker 21 Braintree, Essex Census
Emily Lorkin Daughter 19 Witham, Essex Census
Phoebe Lorkin Daughter 17 Witham, Essex Census
Albert Lorkin Son, Bakers Assistant 14 Witham, Essex Census
Arthur Lorkin Son 12 Witham, Essex Census
Peter Lorkin Son 10 Witham, Essex Census
John Lorkin Son 6 Witham, Essex Census
Pershannah Butler Domestic Servant 21 Stisted, Essex Census
William Roberts Lodger, Jobbing Labourer 30 Witham, Essex Census
Octavis Gooday Border, Photographic Assistant 40 Terling, Essex Census
1862 John Smitheman Lorkin Baker Kelly’s
1870 John Smitheman Lorkin Baker Kelly’s
1874 Henry Ewin Baker Kelly’s
1878 Mrs. Thirza Ewin Baker Kelly’s
1881 Thomas Hood Baker & Innkeeper 38 Clayford, Kent Census
Betsey Hood Wife 42 East Malling, Kent Census
Thomas Hood Son, Baker 17 Ashford, Kent Census
Harry Hood Son 16 East Malling, Kent Census
Caroline Hood Daughter 14 East Malling, Kent Census
William Hood Son 12 East Malling, Kent Census
Ellen Hood Daughter 11 East Malling, Kent Census
Frederick Hood Son 8 East Malling, Kent Census
Ann Hood Daughter 7 East Malling, Kent Census
Arthur Hood Son 2m Witham, Essex Census
Priscilla Holgate General Servant 21 High Easter, Essex Census
Cornell Fitch Servant, Baker 16 Writtle, Essex Census
1882 Thomas Hook Baker Kelly’s
1894 Henry Clark Baker Kelly’s
1933 Frederick S. Rankin Kelly’s

* Provided by Angela Ward

** Provided by the Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England, 1801-1900

Pubs. White Horse, Chipping Hill

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

Click here to see all posts about pubs.

22nd June 2000
Known residents, from the census returns and directories
Year Publican or other Resident Relationship to Head and or Occupation Age Where Born Source
1839 Joseph Argent Pigot’s
1845 William Thornback Post Office
1848 William Thornback White’s
1851 Arthur Tuff Innkeeper 30 Witham, Essex Census*
Jane Tuff Sister 22 Witham, Essex Census*
Emma Soder Servant 16 Fairstead, Essex Census*
Walter Barker Servant 16 Henmill, Norfolk Census*
James Prance Lodger, Cabinet Maker 42 Bocking, Essex Census*
1852 A. Tuff Kelly’s**
1855 A. Tuff Kelly’s**
1862 Arthur Tuff Kelly’s
1870 Mrs. Jane Dorcas Burgess Kelly’s
1871 Mrs. Jane Dorcas Burgess Post Office
1874 Mrs. Jane Dorcas Burgess Kelly’s
1878 Mrs. Jane Dorcas Burgess Kelly’s
1881 Jane D. Burgess Innkeeper 70 Feering, Essex Census
Charles Henry Ballman Son, Corn Miller 32 Great Braxted, Essex Census
1882 Mrs. Jane Dorcas Burgess Kelly’s
1891 Charles Henry Bateman Publican 42 Great Braxted, Essex Census***
Harriet Bateman Wife 42 Wickham Bishops, Essex Census***
1894 Charles Henry Bateman Kelly’s
1898 Charles Henry Bateman Kelly’s
1917 David Lenney Kelly’s

* Provided by Angela Ward

** Provided by the Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England, 1801-1900

*** Provided by CG

Pubs. White Hart, High Street

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

Click here to see all posts about pubs.

9th January 2001
Known residents, from the census returns and directories
Year Publican or other Resident Relationship to Head and or Occupation Age Where Born Source
1822 John Crump Pigot’s*
1823-4 John Crump Pigot’s
1839 John Cook Pigot’s
1845 Mrs. Rebecca Cook Post Office
1848 Rebecca Cook White’s
1851 Rebecca Cook Innkeeper 37 Witham, Essex Census**
John Cook Son ?? Holbeach, Lincolnshire Census**
Rebecca Cook Daughter 7 Witham, Essex Census**
Denny Everett Daughter 5 Witham, Essex Census**
Eliza Beckwith Daughter 3 Witham, Essex Census**
Eliza Siverne Lodger, General Labourer 68 White Notley, Essex Census**
Mary Cottis Lodger, General Labourer 61 Witham, Essex Census**
William Potter Lodger, General Labourer 25 Thorpe, Essex Census**
William Rootkin Lodger, General Labourer 21 Marks Tey, Essex Census**
1852 Mrs. R. Cook Kelly’s*
1855 R. Cottee Kelly’s*
1862 Reuben Cottee Kelly’s
1870 Charles Brown Kelly’s
1871 Charles Brown Post Office
1874 Charles Brown Kelly’s
1878 Edward Fountaine Kelly’s
1882 Henry Chilman Kelly’s
1891 Robert A. Brice Innkeper 47 Stoke Goldington, Bucks Census***
Mary A. Brice Wife 43 South Fambridge, Essex Census***
William H. Brice Son 14 Southminster, Essex Census***
Mary L. Brice Daughter 12 Southminster, Essex Census***
Frederick H. Brice Son 8 Southminster, Essex Census***
Edward Brice Son 5 Southminster, Essex Census***
Arthur E. Brice Son 4 Southminster, Essex Census***
Frank A. Brice Son 2 Witham, Essex Census***
Kate Challis Barmaid 20 Tillingham, Essex Census***
Eliza Wilks General Servant 20 Tiptree, Essex Census***
Sarah J. Cooper Nursemaid 14 Burnham, Essex Census***
Arther Wager(?) Boots 15 Great Totham, Essex Census***
1894 Robert Alfred Brice Kelly’s
1898 Robert Alfred Brice Kelly’s
1917 Johnathon Edwards Proprietor Kelly’s
1933 Arthur Godfrey Corser Kelly’s

* Provided by the Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England, 1801-1900

** Provided by Angela Ward

Pubs. White Hart Tap, Maldon Road

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

Click here to see all posts about pubs.

Known residents, from the census returns and directories
Year Publican or other Resident Relationship to Head and or Occupation Age Where Born Source
1845 Robert Dodd Post Office
1848 Robert Dodd White’s
1851 Robert Dodd Publican 65 Pebmarsh, Essex Census*
Sarah Dodd Wife 64 Sudbury, Suffolk Census*
1891 Samuel Y. Banham Ostler 37 Stonham, Suffolk Census**
Sophia Banham Wife 38 Isle of Wight, West Cowes Census**
Ernest Banham Son, Ostler’s Assistant 19 Braintree, Essex Census**
? Banham Daughter 9 Braintree, Essex Census**
Edward Banham Son 7 Braintree, Essex Census**
Frederick Banham Son 5 Witham, Essex Census**
William Gibson Groom 34 London Census**

* Provided by Angela Ward

** Provided by CG

Pubs. Waggon & Horses, Bridge Street

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

Click here to see all posts about pubs.

Long since demolished.

Known residents, from the census returns and directories
Year Publican or other Resident Relationship to Head and or Occupation Age Where Born Source
1839 John Mann Pigot’s
1845 John Mann Post Office
1848 John Mann White’s
1852 E. Jarvis Kelly’s*
1855 M. Mecklenburgh Kelly’s*

* Provided by the Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England, 1801-1900

Pubs. The Angel, High Street

This is taken from the great history of Essex pubs that was compiled by the late Ian Hunter. Kevan now looks after it all. I’m very grateful to him for providing me with the Witham information, and allowing me to include it here.

Click here to see all posts about pubs.

Demolished around 1920**

Taken circa 1900. The Angel is the building on the right with what appears to be a flag pole on its roof**
Known residents, from the census returns and directories
Year Publican or other Resident Relationship to Head and or Occupation Age Where Born Source
1822 William Mayhew Pigot’s*
1823-4 William Mayhew Pigot’s
1839 James Turner Pigot’s
1845 George Appleby Post Office
1848 George Appleby Kelly’s
1855 R. Smith Kelly’s*
1862 William Brittain Kelly’s
1870 Abraham Medcalf Kelly’s
1871 Abraham Medcalf Post Office
1874 Edward Charles Watson Kelly’s
1878 William Fulcher Kelly’s
1881 William Mayhew Innkeeper 34 Rivenhall, Essex Census
Alice Mayhew Wife 33 Loughton, Essex Census
Herbert W. Mayhew Son 1 Witham, Essex Census
Ethel M. Mayhew Daughter 6m Witham, Essex Census
1882 William Mayhew Kelly’s
1886 Jesse Birkin Kelly’s*
1894 Charles Roberts Kelly’s
1898 Charles Roberts Kelly’s
1917 William Arthur Sherman Kelly’s

* Provided by the Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England, 1801-1900

** Provided by Janet Gyford