John Horwood and the 1703 Indenture


I mentioned previously in my account of the Horwood family, an Indenture of 1703 which appears to be connected to the purchase of land and properties in the parish of St James. Investigating this document further, several questions arose and I shall try and map out my ideas concerning it here. A full transcription of the document is at the foot of this article.

1703 Indenture Angell House 1 copy

Left-hand side of the 1703 Indenture

There are two parties to the agreement, on the one side, Elizabeth Skinner, Elinor Wilkes and Anne Hawkridge, all described as widows, of Bristol; on the other side, John Harwood, House Carpenter and Rowland Thruppe, Gent., also both of Bristol. The indenture goes on to explain that its intent is for “the settling and assureing of the severall messuages, Tenements Lands and hereditaments hereinafter mentioned”. It is presuambly therefore some form of conveyance or related to such a transaction.

Before listing the properties concerned, the main purpose of the agreement is stated; that the three ladies concerned will, in the Court of Common Pleas “acknowledge and levy” a fine “Sur Conizance de droit come ceo etc.” relating to the properties to be named, and the sum of five shillings had changed hands for this benefit. Now this was no great sum even in 1703, and the whole transaction and phrasing took some time for me to fathom.

What is happening here is part of an obscure legal process of property sale, dating from the Middle Ages, whereby land was transferred from one party to another by means of a fake legal dispute. The two parties agreed the details of the sale between themselves (there is often an actual conveyance document which rarely survives) and them the selling party ask the Court via the “fine” or concord to agree that the buying party now own the property involved. The phrase (in legal French) “Sur Conizance de droit come ceo qu’il a de son done” is the surest form of fine and was often used to break an entail, if one existed on the property. A separate document would have been issued by the Court, known as a Final Concord which was in three parts, again indented, one part each for the parites and one (the “foot”) for the Court. These final concords were written in latin until 1733 and give very little detail compared to what is given in our indenture. Below is one such document, also involving John Harwood, dated 1719 and which relates to property in St Philips and St Peter parishes in Bristol.

1719 Deeds involving John Horwood (Latin)

Not only is it in latin (with many abbreviations), but it is written in an archaic legal hand which makes its reading very difficult. Final Concords also normally give very imprecise information on the property changing hands and the price paid, which is often impossible to ascertain.

To return to our indenture, which is known as a ”covenant to levy a fine” I was interested in the parties involved. John Harwood the house carpenter has been discussed at length in my article on the Horwood family; Rowland Thruppe was a wealthy Bristol gentleman, the eldest son of another Rowland Thruppe who had died in 1689. Documents at the National Archive and Bristol Record Office show him involved in many property dealings and investments, as well as disputes. One can probably assume that he and John acted together in this instance with Rowland providing the bulk of the money and John the expertise in building and development. The fact that they were buying several properties from three widows in one transaction was puzzling at first, but I assumed that the women were related. The indenture mentions two of the properties being previously owned by one Peter Hiley, and on checking the wills in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury probate records, there is one for a Peter Hiley of Bristol, whitetawer who died in 1675. A whitetawer (modern spelling whittawer) was a person who manufactured or dealt in “white” leather, using tawing rather than tanning, which involved curing the skin in various substances which produced a lighter, more flexible form of leather. It also came to be used of one who produced harness leather and saddlery.

Peter Hiley was a wealthy man, for he bequeathed four messuages in Merchant Street, as well as property in Poole, Dorset and his own house on the Weare (modern Broad Weir) to his eldest son, John; six further messuages and two gardens “att or neare the Barrs in the parish of Saint James” to his unmarried daughter Rachaell, and the remainder of his estate. including other messuages to his widow, Joan. In addition he left £400 to Rachaell and £200 to a grandson, but what is most interesting are the small cash bequests (of either £5 or 40 shillings) to his remaining children, amongst whom are Elizabeth Skinner, Ellinor Wilkes and Anne Hawkridge. So we can assume that the three widows of 1703 are selling property they inherited from another member of the family, possibly their mother Joan or sister Rachael, and the nature of the fine used to convey the properties points towards the latter, as Peter’s will directed that the bequest to Rachel should pass to the heirs of her body, ie. entailled to her line. Further research will be required to establish what happend to Rachel, and how the properties might have passed into the hands of her sisters.

Turning now to the location of the properties involved in the transaction, there appear to be four distinct entities:

1) Angell House lying east of the Horfield road (a continuation of Merchant Street, later Barrs Street)

2) Messuage to the west of the same

3) Upper Garden with a lodge, south of St James Barton, but east of the Horfield road

4) Messuage near Rosemary Lane (later Rosemary Street)

The last is the most difficult to place, yet the most interesting as the indenture suggests this was transferred from Elizabeth Skinner to John Harwood directly. The indenture reads: “all that Messuage Stable & Splott of garden grounds thereunto adjoining and belonging going out of Rosemary Lane extending backwards to a Lane called by the name of the Horse Church Yard”. The latter lane is difficult to place; at first I thought it might be conected to St James Churchyard which lay to the north side of the Horsefair, but an old lease in the BRO relates to “Horsechurchyard Lane, later Rosemary Lane” so it would seem to be a lost highway, possibly to the north of Rosemary Lane.

Millerd St James parish
St James parish from Millerd’s map 1677

Looking at the map, I would suggest that property no.1 was in Barrs Lane (the continuation north of Merchant Street which led to the Barton) on the east, no.2 on the west of the same stretch and no.3 possibly the property south of “Hobsons Garden”. It may be “Hobsons Garden” itself, as in 1642 Peter Hiley had purchased “the great messuage at the Barrs” from a William Hobson. No.4 must be off Rosemary Lane.

It is instructive to compare Millerd’s map which was drawn 25 years before the indenture, with that of Roque which is dated 1750, in order to see the nature of the expansion of development in the area.

170 Roque map St James
Roque’s map 1750

Nearly all the gardens have gone and there is some renaming of streets, for instance Newfoundland Lane has become Milk Street, and to the east of the Barton, St James Square has been built. John Horwood was involved in the construction of two houses on Queens Square just six years later, so it is quite possible that the two properties on the east of Barrs Lane (which leads south off the Barton ie. “the Horfield road”) were purchased with a view to this development which took place about this time. One further possibility is that John constructed his own dwelling house in this area, either on the site of the properties transferred in the indenture, or another purchase. He was certainly a freeholder in St James parish, appearing in the poll books for the 1720s and 1730s. The land and window tax records for the parish show him living at several addresses in the parish, but
largely, after 1720, in Milk Street.

1721 Poll Book John Horwood
1721 Poll book for St James parish

1828 Ashmead map St James

Another map (Ashmead, 1828) shows the same area, and lying between Barrs Lane and St James Square there is a timber yard. A house carpenter would certainly require a large stock of timber, so is it possible that this is the successor of John’s yard? It certainly lies adjacent to Milk Street, and John’s property there may be the one described in his will as his “ Messuage or Tenement …in St James Square”.

Barrs Street

Barrs Street, early 20th century, with St James Barton in the distance, and the entry to a timber yard on the east side

Transcription of the Indenture

This Indenture made the First day of May in the second year of our Sovereign Lady Anne by the grace of god of

England Scotland France & Ireland Queen, def of the faith … Between Elizabeth Skinner of the City of Bristoll widdow Elinor Wilkes of the same City widdow & Anne Hawkridge

of the same City widdow of the one part And John Harwood of the said City House Carpenter & Rowland Thruppe of the City aforesaid Gent of the other part Witnesseth That the said Elizabeth Skinner

Elinor Wilkes & Anne Hawkridge for the settling and assureing of the severall messuages Tenements Lands & hereditaments hereinafter mentioned To and for the severall uses intents and purposes

hereinafter limitted Expressed & declared And in consideration also of the sume of Five shillings of lawfull money of England to them in hand paid by the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe

The receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged They the said Elizabeth Skinner Elinor Wilkes & Anne Hawkridge Have Convenanted and granted And by those presents do for themselves

Covenant and grant to and with the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe their heirs & assignes That they the said Elizabeth Skinner Elinor Wilkes & Anne Hawkridge shall and will before

the end of this present Easter Terme or Trinity terme next coming before her Maties. {Majesty’s} Justices of her Court of Common Pleas at Westminster in due forme of law acknowledge and levy to the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe

& their heirs or to the heirs of one of them One Fine Sur Conizance de droit come ceo etc to be pursued with proclamation according to the forme of the statute in that case made and provided

of All that messuage or Tenemt heretofore commonly called or knowne by the name of the Angell House and of the garden grounds thereto adjoining and belonging with the Appurts.

heretofore in the tenure of one Richard Gernige as Tenant to Peter Hiley deceased and now of (gap with name filled in different hand) Duckett Victualler situate lying and being betweene the highway leading from the weare

towards Horfeild on or towards the East side thereof And a messuage of the said Peter Hiley heretofore in the possion of one John Duckett and now of (long gap) on or towards the

west side thereof And also of all that garden ground with a Lodge thereon heretofore built by Henry Gibbs Alderman commonly called the Upper garden situate lying and being on or towards

the South side of a place there called the Barton the said Highway leading from the Weare aforesaid towards Horfeild on or towards the east side thereof And also of all that Messuage Stable & Splott of

garden grounds thereunto adjoining and belonging going out of Rosemary Lane extending backwards to a Lane called by the name of the Horse Church Yard All which said Messuage & gardens

Lands Tenements and hereditaments are situate lying & being in the parish of St James within the Suburbs of the said City of Bristoll And of all Shops Cellars Halls Parlors

Chambers Kitchens roomths Lofts Lights wayes easements paths passages profitts comodityes advantages emoluments and Appurtanances whatsoever to the said Messuages or Tenements

gardens and premisses belonging or in any wise apperteyning or therewith or with any part or parcell thereof or with or with any part thereof as part parcell or member thereof accepted

reputed held occupyed or enjoyed And of the rents revercions remainders and services thereof By the name of Two messuages One Cottage & One Stable and three gardens with

th’ Appurtenancies in the parish of St James in the said City of Bristoll and County of the same Or by such other apt and proper names quantities or qualities As by the

Counsell learned in the Law of the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe shall be advised & thought fitt Which fine so as aforesaid or in any other manner to be levied and

acknowledged by and betweene the said parties to these presents or any of them And all and every other Fine and Fines already levyed or at any time hereafter to be levyed or acknowledged

by or betweene the said parties to these presents or any or other of them or by or betweene them or any or other of them and any other person or persons of the said premisses above
mencioned or any part thereof either alone by itselfe or joyntly with any other Lands or Tenements shalbe and enure and shalbe adjudged esteemed and taken to

be and enure And the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe and their heires & all and every other person or persons standing and being seized or which at the time of

perfecting the said Fine or Fines shall stand or be ……for in the said premisses above mencioned or any part thereof shall at all times thereafter stand and be seized thereof and

of every part and parcell thereof with th’appurtenancies To and for the severall uses intents and purposes now ………. tted expressed and declared (that is to say) .. for and

concerning the said Messuage Stable and garden ground going out of Rosemary Lane aforesaid with th’Appurtenances and the rents revercions remainders and services

thereof To the only proper use and behoofe of the said Elizabeth Skinner her heirs and assignes for ever And as for and concerning All and singular other the

said messuages Tenements and premisses above particularly mencioned with th’Appurtenancies To the only proper use and behoofe of the said John Harwood his heirs

and Assignes for ever And to or for none other use intent or purpose whatsoever In Witness whereof the parties first above named to these present Indentures interchangeably

have sett their hands and seales the day and year first above written:
Elizabeth Skinner Eliner Wilks Ann Hawkredg John Harwood Row Thruppe

Note: one or two words missing as damaged in fold of parchment


1703 Indenture Angell House John Horwood signature

All maps documents and photographs courtesy of Bristol Record Office and Museums


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Stephen Bumstead

I'm retired and live in Devon, England. I have been researching my family for forty years and am also the OPC (online Parish Clerk) for Chewton Mendip in Somerset. I have helped transcribe registers for FreeReg and wills for Oxfordshire FHS.

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