Court of Wards

I have been transcribing a document held in Gloucestershire Archives and described as a ‘Court of Wards valor of lands of Richard Guynett, deceased’.  The Court of Wards and Liveries was established by two Acts of Parliament during the reign of  Henry VIII to deal, among other things, with the estates inherited by minors and lunatics who inherited property.

This particular document (G.A. Ref. D1313/2) refers to the property of Richard Guynett, who died in 1615, when his two sons were under the age of majority. It covers land in Badgeworth, Shurdington, Witcombe, Bentham and Down Hatherley and particularly mentions the old farm house called Crippetts.

The document is divided into two parts:  In the main body of the document, it states the date of death of Richard and the birth date of his eldest son, George, neither of which were known in detail, and it lists all his property, both houses and land, from whom he purchased it and to whom it was leased, giving a wonderful picture of the estate he owned. Down the wide left hand margin, it states the findings of the investigation by the Court of Wards and records the contents of Richard’s will, including the name of his executrix, his wife Mary, which has not been found elsewhere.  What a wonderful document!

Where was Button born?

Generally speaking, it is believed that Button Gwinnett was born in Down Hatherley, in Gloucestershire, as that is where his father was the vicar.  But looking at the baptismal records of the children of Samuel and Ann Gwinnett, I wondered if this was true.  The baptisms of the first two children were recorded in the registers of St Mary de Lode church in the city of Gloucester, the next two, including Button, were entered in the registers of St. Catherine in the city and two more in the registers of St. Nicholas church.  The seventh baptism still eludes me.

So, the question is, did Samuel and Ann actually live in Down Hatherley vicarage during their children’s childhood?  Certainly Samuel was there each year, signing the register and the churchwardens’ accounts.  But did he just turn up whenever there was a baptism, marriage or burial to conduct or a parish meeting to attend?  That is what I want to find out.

The more I looked into the situation, the more I felt that, when Anne was expecting her first child, the couple decided to rent a town house in Gloucester which would seem to have been in the parish of St. Mary de Lode, hence the two baptisms there.  As their family grew, when the third child, Button, was expected, they moved to a bigger house in the parish of St. Catherine’s and then, again, when the fifth child was on the way, they moved to a bigger property again.

Most of the property in the city of Gloucester at that time, was either owned by individuals or belonged to the Diocese of Gloucester or Gloucester Borough Council.  I have found no evidence that Samuel owned any property so it is the latter two groups that I am investigating at the moment.

To be continued …