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The parish of Selworthy in the county of Somerset, some notes on its history online

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into the fosse, and a part of the rampart heaped upon

But the mound in question is more likely to be the
result of some unsuccessful investigations conducted
here, under the auspices of Captain Fortescue, in
November, 1807. "We failed," says one of those
present at the time, " to find anything beside a little
charcoal, generally an infallible criterion to induce us
to think the mounds sepulchral ; though, probably, we
might not have fallen on the exact spot where the
urns or the interment, of whatever kind it might be,
were deposited, being ignorant of the science of barrow
opening." 1 It is a curious fact that an encampment
should have been mistaken for a series of barrows !

1. Tour in Quest of Genealogy, p. 131.



HE origin of parishes has been for
long a vexed question. Some have
traced back our parochial system to
Alfred, but it is more probable that
the division of dioceses into parishes
did not take place simultaneously.
The rural churches which were erected successively as
the needs of a congregation arose, or the piety of a
landlord dictated, were, in fact, a sort of chapels de-
pendent on the cathedral, and served by itinerant
ministers at the bishop's discretion, or by dependants
of the lord of the manor, appointed by the bishop or
at the lord's nomination. 1

" The bishop himself received the tithes, and appor-
tioned them as he thought fit. But a capitulary of
Charles the Great, founded on an ancient canon
apparently, regulates their division into three parts,
one for the bishop and his clergy, a second for the
poor, a third for the support of the fabric of the church.
Some of the rural churches obtained by episcopal
concessions the privileges of baptism and burial,
which were accompanied by a fixed share of tithes,
and seemed to imply the residence of a minister. The
i. Hallam's Middle Ages, vol. ii, p. 144, and note.


History of Sehvortky.

same privileges were gradually extended to the other
churches, and thus a complete parochial system was
established. But this was hardly the case in England
till near the time of the Conquest." 1

Manor of Selworthy.

The manor of Selworthy was in existence, probably,
before its church. But the fact of no church being
mentioned in Domesday is not conclusive evidence 01
none then existing, as Domesday was compiled for
purely fiscal purposes.

At the time of the Conquest, Queen Edith held the
manors of Luccombe and Selworthy. They had been
granted to her by her husband, and had been at an
earlier date the property of a certain Alric. Until
her death in 1074, Queen Edith held large estates in
Somersetshire, of a gross acreage of 30,468 acres, and
of the yearly value of £253. At her death, these
estates reverted, not by forfeiture, but as of right, to
the king. In Domesday, Luccombe and Selworthy
appear under the title of " Terrae Occupatae Rege,"
and are thus described : —

Saxon owner.

Value in Domesday. Tenant in Capite.


Edeva Regina.






Radulf de Limiseis.





Roger de Corcelle.


Edeva Regina.



R. de Limiseis.


II Taini.



Duas Nonnae in ele-


Aluric et Bris



R. de Corcelle.





R. de Limiseis. 2

1. Schmidt, p. 206. F. Paul, c. 7.

2. Eyton's Domesday.



Mention is made of a-hundred-and-fifty goats (caprce)
existing in the district of Luccombe, of seven eques
equestres 2X. Selworthy ; of a mill at Holnicote returning
a profit of twenty denarii. Regarding Allerford, we
have the note, " Ode filius Gamelino detraxit unam

Edith was the daughter of the famous Earl Godwin,
and was married to Edward the Confessor, very much
against his will apparently, in 1045. The historians
favourable to the Godwin family are lavish of their
praises, and speak of her as the " rose blooming in the
midst of thorns." She was, no doubt, a clever, ca-
pable woman, and something of a scholar. Ingulphus
tells us that when he was a boy, Edith would often
stop him as he came from school, and make him re-
peat his lesson, and, having examined him in his Latin
grammar, question him in logic. " I had always three
or four pieces of money counted by her maiden, and
was sent to the royal larder for refreshment." 1

But this " fair rose " appears to have been both cruel
and vindictive. She is accused, and in all probability
rightly, of having caused Gospatric, an opponent of her
favourite brother Tosti's tyranny in Northumberland,
to be murdered within the precincts of her court ; and
she took open part with Tosti against his brother
Harold. It is also by no means improbable that she
was in league with the Conqueror, At all events, when
the Conqueror marched upon Winchester (the possess-
ion of the queen) after the battle of Senlac, he treated
her with much respect, and claimed no further pay-

1. Lingard, i, p. 169. Ingulp., p. 62

1 8 History of Selworthy.

ment from the city beyond the taxes the citizens had
been in the habit of paying to the king.

Nor is it much wonder if this lady of the manor of
Selworthy had but little affection for a husband who
openly expressed his aversion to her, and who, when her
powerful family were obliged to fly from the realm in
105 1, at once stripped her of all her possessions and
imprisoned her in the convent of Wherwell.

Possibly earl Godwin added to the possessions
assigned to her in West Somerset by the king, as the
Godwin family possessed large estates in this district.
And it was his connection with this part of the world,
probably, which caused Harold to make his unsuccess-
ful descent on Porlock in 1052.

On the return of the Godwin family to power, Edith
was released from her convent and her possessions re-
stored to her. She remained in undisturbed possession
of her estates until her death in 1075, when the Con-
queror buried her with much pomp and circumstance,
beside her husband in Winchester Cathedral.

Selworthy is mentioned in Domesday, but a fuller
description of the manor is given in the Exeter
Domesday : —

" Ralph de Limiseio holds Seleurda, which was
held by Queen Eddiva on the day that King Edward
was living and dead, and it was assessed to the geld
for one hide. The arable land is sufficient for five
ploughs. Ralph has there in demesne half a hide and
two ploughs, and the villans have half a hide and three
ploughs. Ralph has there seven villans, five bordars,
two bondmen, one horse, two bullocks, four hogs,
and sixty sheep. He has a mill which renders twenty

Manors. ig

pence, and forty acres of wood, five acres of meadow,
and sixty acres of pasture. It is worth twenty-five
shillings, and when he received it it was worth twenty
shillings." 1

On the death of queen Edith, the king exercised
his undoubted right and bestowed the manors of
Selworthy and Luccombe on Radulf de Limesei, in
addition to large grants of land in other parts of
Somersetshire and also in other counties, in acknow-
ledgment of his military services. R. de Limesei
appears to have lived at Maxtoke, in the county of
Warwick, and to have married Hadewise, the widow of
Nigel de Bradwell. The estate remained in the De
Limesey family (see p. 27) until the death of Hugh
de Limesey, temp. Henry III, who, dying without
children, left, according to Mr. Savage, his two aunts
his co-heiresses, viz. : Basilia, the wife of Hugh de
Odingsells, (who died about the thirty- third year of
Edward I,) by whom she had a son, John de Oding-
sells, living in the reign of Edward II and Edward III,
and Eleanor, who married David de Lindesay.

The manor of Selworthy soon passed, possibly by
purchase from these ladies, to the family of De
Nonyngton, afterwards De Luccombe of East Luc-
combe, and from that period it has always formed
part of that estate. In the reign of Edward I, the
manor of East Luccombe was held by Sir Baldric
de Nonyngton, a person of much importance in those
days. He lived at Nunnington, in the parish of Wivelis-
combe, and was returned in 1300 as holding lands in

1. Savage's Carhampton, p. 194.

20 History of Selworthy.

the counties of Somerset, Dorset, and Southampton, to
the yearly value of £40 and more. He was one of the
knights of the shire for Somerset in 1298, and formed
one of the jury appointed by the king to conduct the
perambulation of the Forest of Exmoor in the March
of that year. John de Radyngton, Robert de Escote,
and Robert de Chubworthe, all, as was just, local
people, were appointed as his fellow jurymen.

Sir Baldric was a great soldier. It is interesting to
think of his calling his levies together for the Scotch
or French wars ; labourers from the rich lands of the
Wiveliscombe valley, artisans from the little town
itself, wild hill men from Horridge and Maundown
and the Brendon Hills, and stalwart husbandmen from
Selworthy and Luccombe. He left an only daughter
an heiress, Margaret, and her descendants took the
name of Luccombe, or de Luccombe, from the parish
in which they dwelt. They also owned the manor of
Stockleigh Luccombe, in the parish of Cheriton Fitz-
paine, co. Devon. Of these estates Hugh de Luccombe
died seised in the 16th Edward II, 1323.

The second Inquis. p.m. of Hugh Luccombe, 10 July,
19 Edward II, 1325, no. 61, gives the following details
of his estate :

Extent of the knights' fees and advowsons of churches of
Hugo de Luccombe, deceased, on the day of his death, taken at
Donester, on the 10 July, 19 Edward II (1325), and the jury
found : that the said Hugh had the fourth part of a knight's
fee in Cloudesham, which John de Cloudesham holds in de-
mesne of William Martyn, and it is worth per ann. 20s. ; and
the fourth part of a knight's fee in Dovery, which Geoffrey de
Luccombe holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann. 20s. ;
and the fourth part of a knight's fee in Lynche, which John



Hewyssh holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann. 30s. ; and
fourth part of a knight's fee in Lynche, which the heir of
Thomas de Estecote holds in demesne, and it is worth per
ann. 30s. ; and the fourth part of a knight's fee in Legh Wode-
cote (or cok?), which Lawrence le Tort holds in demesne of
Nicholas Martyn, and it is worth per ann. 16s. ; and the fourth
part of a knight's fee in Harewode, which Nicholas de Hare-
wode holds in demesne, and it is worth 16s. ; and the eighth
part of one knight's fee in Luccombe, which Roger de Roche
holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann. 10s. ; and the fourth
part of one knight's fee in Luccombe, which Walter Wymende
holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann. one mark ; and the
fourth part of a knight's fee, which the said Walter holds in
demesne of Lawrence Tort, and it is worth per ann. one mark ;
and the eighth part of one knight's fee in Overeholte, which
Lawrence le Tort holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann.
half mark ; and the sixteenth part of one knight's fee in
Dovery, which Henry de Chullinch holds in demesne, and it is
worth per ann. half mark ; and the fourth part of one knight's
fee in Dovery and Alreford, except the sixteenth part, which
Robert Guerard holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann.
30s. ; and the sixteenth part of one knight's fee in Luccombe,
which John Fabyan holds in demesne, and it is worth per ann.
half a mark; and the sixteenth part of one knight's fee in
Nether Holte, which John de Holte holds in demesne, and it
is worth per ann. half mark ; and the sixteenth part of one
knight's in Alreford, which Walter Bronnyng holds in de-
mesne, and it is worth per ann. half a mark ; and the sixteenth
part of one knight's fee there, which the heirs of John Cadisser
hold in demesne, and it is worth per ann. half a mark, in all
issues about the true value.

They also say that the aforesaid Hugh held on the day on
which he died in the same county, the advowson of the church
of Luccombe, which is worth per annum about the true value
of the same 20 marks, and also the advowson of the church of
Selworthy in the same county, which is worth per annum
about the true value of 10 marks.

22 History of Sehvorthy.

Hugh de Luccombe left an only son, John de
Luccombe, who died s.p. in the 19 Ed. II, leaving his
sister, Elizabeth (who was born May 20, 13 Ed. II,
1320, and was baptised at Cheriton Fitzpaine), his
heir-at-law. She married Sir Oliver St. John, and
they had an only son, John, who died abroad in his
father's lifetime, and on the death of Sir Oliver, in
1380 (13 Richard II), the manors and advowsons
appear to have devolved on his brother, Henry St.
John. Henry died in 1406, leaving his son, Edward, his
heir-at-law. Edward, who was born 18 March, 1394-5,
died after Hilary Term, 27 Henry VI (1448-9), leaving
his son, William, his heir-at-law. William died in
13 Edward IV, 1473, leaving his sister Joan, who had
married Nicholas Arundell, of Trerice, in the parish
of Newlyn East, near Newquay, Cornwall, his heir-at-
law. She died on the 5 June, 1482, and the manors,
etc., descended in a direct line to the Arundells of
Trerice, down to John, fourth and last baron Arundell,
of Trerice, who was born 21 Nov., 1701, and succeeded
to the family estates on the death of his father, on
26 Sept., 1766.

The first baron Arundell was Richard, a noted
cavalier, who was created a baron 23 March, 1663-4.
His son, John, the second baron, married Margaret,
only daughter of Sir John Acland of Columb John,
in the parish of Broadclist co. Devon, the third
baronet of that name, and ultimately the heir of his
brother, Sir Arthur Acland, fourth baronet, who died
a minor and unmarried in 1672. The last baron
Arundell married in June, 1722, Elizabeth, daughter
of Sir William Wentworth, of Wakefield, Yorkshire,



and sister of Thomas Wentworth, who, in 1711, was
created earl of Strafford. It appears that on his
marriage Lord Arundell settled all his manors in de-
fault of his own issue on his wife's nephew, William
Wentworth of Henbury, in the parish of Sturminster
Marshall, Dorset, in tail. Lord Arundell died in
August, 1768, aged 66, leaving no issue.

The manors of Selworthy and Luccombe then de-
volved on the said William Wentworth, who barred
his entail by recoveries suffered in Hilary Term,
9 Geo. Ill, 1769. Mr. Wentworth by his will, dated
April 14, 1775, devised all his estates in Dorset,
Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall, to his wife Susanna
Wentworth, for her life, with remainder to his only
son, Frederick Thomas Wentworth, for his life, with
remainder to his (the said Frederick Thomas) first son
and other sons in tail male, with remainder to his
daughters in tail, with remainder to the testator's only
daughter, Augusta Ann Kaye, then the wife of John
Hatfield Kaye, for her life, with remainder to her first
and other sons in tail male, with remainder to her
daughters in tail ; and subject thereto he devised the
manors of Selworthy and East Luccombe (in Somer-
set), Stockley Luccombe (in Devon), and Degembris,
Goviley, Thurlbeer, Ebbingford, otherwise Efford,
Penshayes, and the barton of Garrows (in Cornwall),
which manors and farms had formed the estates of the
Arundells of Trerice, to Sir Thomas Dyke Acland,
the seventh baronet, and he devised the " capital "
messuages and farms of Henbury and Loscombe in
Dorsetshire to his own right heirs.

William Wentworth died early in the year 1776,

24 History of Selworthy.

and on the 22 June, 1776, his will was proved by his
son, Frederick Thomas, in the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury. His widow, Susanna, died in August,
1784, and was buried at Sturminster Marshall. The
said Frederick Thomas, on the death of William,
second earl of Strafford, of the creation of 171 1, suc-
ceeded to the earldom. He married Elizabeth Gould,
and died without issue on the 5 April, 1799, and was
buried at Sturminster Marshall. Mrs. Kaye died
without issue on the 23 April, 1802, and was buried in
the parish church of Wakefield. On her death, the
late Sir Thomas Acland, tenth baronet, and the grand-
son of the seventh baronet, entered into possession of
the estates devised to the latter by William Went-
worth ; and the present Right Hon. Sir T. D. Acland,
the eleventh baronet, is now in possession of such parts
as remain unsold.

Some fragments of a painted window exist in the
east window of the north aisle of Selworthy Church.
On one of these fragments is painted the shield of
Nicholas Arundell of Trerys, and Elizabeth his wife,
daughter and heiress of Martin Pellor. This Nicholas
was the father of Sir John Arundell of Trerice, whose
son, Nicholas, married Joan St. John, and the window
was probably inserted by the last named Nicholas
to the memory of his grandfather and grandmother, as
before this St. John marriage the Arundells had no
connection with Selworthy.

The arms of Pellower, of Cornwall, 1 are described as
sable, a chevron or between three bezants, and these

1. Berry's Encyclopedia Hevaldica.



form one of the quarterings on the above shield.
They also form the last quartering in the shield on
the brass in Stratton Church, Cornwall, to the memory
of Sir John Arundell of Trerice, who died 25 Nov.,
1560, and in his Visitations of Devon, Colonel Vivian
states that Nicholas Arundell, Sir John's grandfather,
married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John
Pellor (John clearly a mistake for Martin) lord of the
manor of Pellor.

By a curious accident, the advowson of Selworthy
did not pass with the manor of Selworthy. The
circumstance, however, was not discovered until many
years after the late Sir Thomas had presented to the
rectory. Sir Thomas then bought the advowson from
the Rev. Robert Freke Gould the nephew of the
countess of Strafford, and the devisee under the will
of earl Frederick William her husband, of all the
property at his disposal.

We find in the Bruton and Montacute cartularies,
recently published by the Somerset Record Society,
the following references to the family de Luccombe : —
No. 66, Bruton cartulary. — Gift of William de Moyun
of " his land of Bruwham." Amongst the witnesses is
Ricardus de Locumba. No. 69. — Notification by
William de Moyun to Robert, bishop of Bath and
Wells, of lands given in almoin for the redemption of
his sins. Ricardus de Locumba is a witness to this
document also. No. 224. — William de Moyun con-
firms to the canons of Bruton in perpetual almoin
the tithes of his miles at Codecombe (Cutcombe).
Amongst the witnesses is William de Locumba. No.
394. — Charter by which William de Moyun grants to

26 History of Selworthy.

canons of Bruton his rights on various churches and
ecclesiastical benefices in Normandy. One of the wit-
nesses to this charter is William de Locumba.

Manor of Blackford.

The history of this manor is not very clear, although
the mansion house must have been at one time a place
of some importance. In the thirteenth century it
appears to have belonged to the Lovel family. " At
Westminster, in the octave of Trinity, between Richard
Luvel, querent, and John de Blakeford, impedient, for
a messuage and three carucates of land in Blakeford
and Wythele (Withiel Flory on Brendon Hill). Plea
of warranty was summoned. John acknowledged the
right of Richard or by his gift to hold of the chief
lords of that fee, and he warranted against all men ;
for this, Richard gave John £20 sterling." (Somerset
Fines, 33 Edward I.)

The very numerous places of this name in the west
of England, make it very difficult to ascertain anything
for certain of the early history of this manor. But,
possibly, it may have been that manor of Blackford
which in 1483 was granted to Sir Thomas Evering-
ham, one of the knights of the royal body of the castle
and borough of Barnstaple, and his heirs, as part of
the estates of Thomas St. Ledger, for his services
against the rebels.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century however
the manor certainly belonged to the Lucar family, who
held it for several generations, until, on the death of
Antony Lucar, of Blackford s.p. in 1625, it passed to his
sister, Cecile, wife of his neighbour, Charles Steynings,

Manors. 27

of Holnicote. The ancient dove-cot, a building of
fifteenth century character, still remains intact ; and
within the memory of living men, " Torney Day," of
Milverton, held a yearly court at Blackford on behalf
of the owner, at which water rights were settled, fines
paid, etc.

Manor of Allerford.

The manor of Allerford is thus described in Domes-
day : —

Ralph (de Limeseio, the same nobleman who held
Selworthy of queen Edith) holds Alresford. Edric
held it in the time of king Edward, and gelded for one
hide. The arable land is five carucates. In demesne
are two carucates and servants, and six villanes, and
two cottages with one plough. There is a mill of
fifteen pence rent, and six acres of meadow and twenty
acres of pasture, and one acre of wood. It was worth
fifteen shillings, now twenty shillings. This manor
pays a customary rent of twelve sheep per annum to
Carentone, the king's manor. Ralph still keeps up
this custom. 1

Collinson tells us that the de Limesey family held
their property in this district for five generations.
Ralph was succeeded by Alan de Limesy, Alan by
Gerard, Gerard by John, and John by Hugh. The
manor of Allerford was afterwards held of the De
Mohuns the lords of Dunster.

The De Mohuns must have ruled over our district
from the castle at Dunster, which William de Mohun

1. Collinson, vol. ii, p. 21.

28 History of Selworthy.

had built in almost regal state, and we read 1 that
when king Stephen endeavoured to reduce this turbu-
lent baron to submission, he had to retire after a
fruitless siege from before the stronghold which
William " pulchre et inexpugnate in pelagi littore
locarat." The manor of Allerford was held under the
De Mohuns by the De Raleigh family of Nettlecombe,
and in 4 Edward III, John de Ralegh held it of John
de Mohun. It would appear to have passed to the
St. John family some time in the latter end of the
fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century.

Manor of Holnicote.

The manor of Holnicote does not appear to have
been part of the estates of queen Edith, like so much
of the hamlet of Selworthy was. In the time of king
Edward two thanes, Alaric and Brictuin, held it of the
king, when it was assessed to the geld for half a hide
and half a virgate of land. " The arable land is suffi-
cient for two ploughs and a half. There are four
villans and one bordar." (These were settlers on the
land, whose holdings were confirmed on the condition
of their serving the lord of the manor for so many
days a week according to the value of their holdings.)
" There were sixteen acres of pasture, and the whole
estate was valued in twenty-two shillings." A certain
Abel de Hunecot held also half a virgate of land in
Holnicote of the king, which " that king gave to Edith
in fine and perpetual alms, because her husband was
slain in the king's service." Abel must have been

1. Gesta Stcphani, p. 41.

Manors. 29

Edith's son or second husband. Besides these two
lay owners, two nuns, Domesday informs us, held of
the king in " free alms " two virgates and a half of land
in Honecote. " The arable land is sufficient for two
ploughs. There is one plough and five acres of
meadow. It is worth five shillings." " Frank al-
moigne," i.e. free alms, was the tenure by which the
ancient monasteries and religious houses held the
larger portion of their lands. They were discharged
from all secular burdens, but that of the " trinoda
necessitatis," i.e., " of repairing the bridges, building
castles, and repelling invasions" ; and they were bound
to pray for the souls of the donor, his ancestors, and his

William de Holne held the manor in the reign of
Edward I, and in the same reign, Savage tells us,
Walter Barun (or Bidun) held a portion of it. Ten
acres of arable and two acres of meadow land were
held of the king in capite, by the service of hanging
on a certain forked piece of wood the red deer that
died of the murrain in the forest of Exmoor, and also
of lodging and entertaining at the tenant's expense such
poor or decrepit persons as came to him, for the souls
of the ancestors of king Edward I. The manors of
Bossington, Holnicote, and Blackford, with their
woods and heaths, had been included by encroach-
ment in the forest of Exmoor, and were disafforested
at the perambulation made by order of Edward III,

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