The Somerset Connection

It accords with known relationships between Bartelots and de Bryans that here in Somerset where de Bryans held many land grants, there should be found the same proliferation of Bartletts as in neighbouring Dorset.

Due to the enduring bond with de Bryan estates our name became localised in a way which can be recognised from the correlation of (i) family groupings, (ii) districts where found, and (iii) sites of de Bryan estates such a correlation is included in chapter 2. It provides such a common pattern from place to place as to leave no doubt as to how it came about.

The task of identifying individual family members is not made easy by it's insistence upon "traditional" first names, so that in small as well as larger communities there can be found multiple "Roberts", "Samuels", "Johns", "Richards", and "Thomas's" born and baptised around the same dates... and in many cases within a stone's throw of each other!

A study of the various Somerset - and other - branches of Bartletts shows all too clearly how this pattern of names persisted, even on the other side of the Atlantic, thus suggesting there may well have been communication between some of them. The appearance of the name "Anstice" - surely an unusual choice - at both Stogursey and Yetminster and approximately 25 miles apart at more or less the same time, supports that conclusion.

Just as is also the case in Dorset and Devonshire, at each of the places listed in Somerset the Bartlett name figures from the very start of local parish records, indicating it was already firmly established; when these registers are examined the spread beyond each particular parish is not difficult to recognise.

At Pendomer, which is and always has been a very small and insular community of exceedingly few people simply because there has never been either livelihood or housing for more, tracing the family's path is relatively easy. Apart from the continuity of the family's presence there many ancient links can be found with Piddleton to draw research attention from one to the other.

...from the earliest records there it is known that a branch of Bartelots/Bartletts also existed at Frampton, Dorset., once part of a de Bryan estate where both the Freke family and Denzil, Lord Holles owned interests. As a result of the research carried out for this history evidence has come to light provided by a hitherto unknown Christopher Sarell Bartlett, that members of the family at Frampton regularly baptising their children "Robert" also moved to Pendomer around 1600 to join those that gone there earlier from Piddleton.

In addition to the move by Thomas and Edith, the burial of lifetime residents of Pendomer such as Stephen Isles and Theophilus Bartlett in Piddleton, the 13th century decision by Richard Genge been vicar of St.Mary's, Piddleton, followed by the manor's later purchase by the Pauls whose forbear Tremor Paul was buried there 200 years earlier, and of course the connection Collier & Lowman had with adjoining Halstock, are all examples!

The 1545 acquisition of Hinton Abbey by the Bartletts when close to Pendomer is Hinton St. George and the presence on Pendomer of an area named "Abbott's Hill" are not without significance given the Bartlett move and the other linking features.

From what is known of the place's earliest history, it seers the minute church of St. Roch must have originally been intended as the chapel for the Manor house built by the de Dummere granted the land, because (i) it is so close, & (ii) there were so few people to justify otherwise! It would then have had a chaplain. When the first Bartletts arrived no resident vicar existed in Pendomer but it does appear as though clergy from nearby parishes would attend from time to time to hold services in St. Roch's... although no doubt reluctant to make round journeys of several miles from Hardington Mandeville or East Coker where they must have lived

Understandably this was not a regular occurrence so many ceremonies were missed, with such things as baptisms and perhaps even marriages either not blessed or done so at some later date.. Such records as were kept would have therefore been inaccurate, but we shall never know because any that may have been at St. Roch were destroyed in 1642 by Oliver Cromwell's Ironsides after the battle of Babylon Hill, which was fought over Pendomer land!

Details taken from Bishops' Transcripts, such church records as have survived and land surveys etc., have provided a continuous descent of those living at Pendomer, although there would unquestionably have been others born there but who moved away... if for no other reasoned than cause of the absence of opportunity and living space! That this did occur is clear from the picture presented by church registers of surrounding parishes which generally do start sometime in the 17th century but with a few going back into the 16th.

A list in Figure 14 traces the Bartlett descent at Pendomer from 1548 to 1818, whilst related marriages elsewhere appear in Figures 15 and 16 and help to show how our name and Pendomer land became distributed.

It may be thought that the name Bartlett could have been so common as to make it impossible to reach sound conclusions as to Particular relationships but from the 1569 Muster Rolls for Somerset and Dorset it can be seen that this is not so: these show that at that time there were only six bearing the name in all Somerset compared with only nine in Dorset!

Even allowing for the fact that these Musters only included males of military age such remarkably low figures must surely reflect a Comparative picture of households from which they would have come.

It may or may not be coincidence but still worth noting, that these figures are in line with the known families of Bartelots-Bartletts identified as living in the vicinity of historic de Bryan estates. (see Figure 3, Chapter 2 ). Even the higher Dorset figure is in accord with number of land grants given them in that county.

We can be sure that the Bartletts never actually owned Pendomer or its land.... the Manor was one of those given by King William I to his half-brother Robert de Mortaine, by whom it was then put into the care of Sir Edmund de Dummere (Domer), a "Household Knight". It then became passed down by inheritance to a succession of Domers who retained it until the 14th/15th century when it was acquired by the Stourtons and then the Pauletts.

Those who have visited Pendomer will have become aware of it's isolation, it's tranquillity and the beauty of its setting... just as did the once well-known travel author H. V. Morton, who described it as follows -

"It is on the way to nowhere. Its little lane, (the only road we found) ends in a path across the hills to Dorset. It is one of the loveliest lanes in Somerset, with a glorious view over hills and woods as we stand in the avenue of oaks.

We climb the cart-track to the old farm, and in the 14th century church close-by will stay awhile to keep Sir John Domer company. His stone figure in chain mail and a flowing surcoat has been above his grave six hundred years. The whole tomb is a wonderful piece of sculpture, probably from the workshops of Ilchester.

It is his Manor house, made new in the 16th century, which stands by the church, sharing the delightful view and adding its own beauty and a great apple orchard to the lovely scene at the end of the lane."

Perhaps because of the passage of time and a degree of neglect following the extinction of the Domer occupancy, the manor was probably somewhat run-down by the early 1500's when the Bartletts arrived; as stated earlier Somerset was slow to recover from ravages of the Plague. In spite of this, it does seem much more likely that it was "made new", as H.V.Morton puts it, after the battle of Babylon-Hill or pillaging and burnings in 1643, when damage done was repaired. The fact that scorch marks are still seen on church and manor (including a sandstone sculpting from St. Roch's now at Wauchope, Australia) supports this, in which event it would have been father John Bartlett and his sons William, Thomas and Robert who carried out the work.

Much of the surrounding country, and including Pendomer itself, was given by King William I to his half-brother Robert de Mortaine who then appointed his own "household knights" to whom he gave sections of land - manorial estates. One such knight was, of course, Sir Edmund de Dummere, but another was Richard de Arundel (#) (whose family was granted Arundel Castle and estate next to the

Bartelots at Stopham, Sussex) and he was appointed by Mortaine to the Manor of Suton which shared its boundary with Pendomer. Another "household knight" was Sir william Bartlett who was named in Court Rolls 1401 & 1423 at Stockwood, Dorset, a de Bryan estate inherited by Phillipa de Bryan from her father.

Next to Pendomer land to the south west is the parish of East Chinnock (in fact until the 19th century Pendomer extended into the three surrounding parishes East Chinnock, East Coker and Hardington Mandeville) and this was given by Robert de Mortaine's son to the monastery of Montacute only to later, after the Dissolution Act, find its way to the Portman family (##). In the church of St. Martin at West Coker on the Portman tomb, the coat-of-arms includes the three gauntlets of the Bartelots as a quartering!

(#) "Arundel" was the English name taken by the Montgomery sons whose family in France also lived close to Lisieux from where the de Berthelots came.

(##) The Portmans were descended from the Rogers who inherited Bryanston.

At the time Hutchins was compiling his massive "History of Dorset and its Antiquities" in the 18th century, the incumbent at Closeworth was "the Reverend Mr. Bartlett".. the church was at the north of what was then part of Pendomer.

From the list of baptisms etc.., at Pendomer see Figure 14 it can be seen that the Civil War fought between supporters of Parliament and Royalists and lasting for nearly twenty years from 1642, had a disastrous effect on such records around the country. By its nature the conflict also tore apart old friendships and set brother against brother so that those on the losing side - the Royalists -suffered worst in the Long run. Here in this small part of Somerset loyalty generally was for the King and evidence of this can still be seen in many of its churches in the form of reversed numerals carved in the woodwork such as that at East Coker where {short description of image} appears on the end of pews. This was a secret recognition symbol for those seeking assistance.

The names recorded as playing prominent roles on the side of Parliament tell us that such long standing friends of the Bartletts as the Frekes, Churchills and Pophams (*) - with all of which families marriages had taken place - sided with Parliament, whilst the Rogers, Husseys and Holles fought for the King. It was Colonel Alexander Popham and his brother Edward who led the Parliamentary army that pillaged and burned Yeovil and villages around it in April 1643... Only one year after the battle of Babylon Hill had been fought just the other side of East Coker!

(*) .. records show that from the year 1419 Henry and Stephen Popham held an interest in the manor of Baldolfeston Piddleton, and in 1607 Dorothy Bartelot married Edward Popham. When she died in 1614, aged twenty-eight, her husband erected a magnificent alter tomb to her memory in Wellow Church, once a part of Hinton abbey Purchased by John Bartelot alias Hancock in 1545. Her tomb bears the Bartlett coat-of-arms of the Corton Denham family.

It is ironic that a Popham should have led the troops that destroyed Pendomer!

It is a noticeable feature of the Bartlett saga from about 1615 that no evidence of those friendships continuing can be found whereas all that is known of their occupation of Pendomer suggests the family maintained a low profile and kept themselves to themselves.

In a way it is rather sad that so many generations could have occupied the manor and its little hamlet yet left so little by which they can be remembered with nothing, or little, but their land left them what followed as sons and daughters married can be recognised in ownership of the small properties that now surround Pendomer, so many of which are either still in Bartlett hands or in names that are linked by marriages with Bartlett girls.

Both Phillip and John named in the 1725 Land Survey came within this category, each having been given plots of land for themselves, and Isles Farm, Pear Tree, Hamlins, West Mead and Lyatts all include such gift land.

Two names alongside the Bartletts at Piddleton that did remain close after the Civil War... perhaps because they shared the same loyalties ...were Genge and Paul, both families turning-up in the records of Pendomer or close by. The succession of marriages between them are indicative of just how close their friendships were whilst later evidence shows them joined in family trusts and farming operations.

Apart from the continued presence of the Bartlett name only one other remnant of the family's long occupation of Pendomer remains ...a kind of nursery rhyme still chanted by local children whilst skipping etc., but the origin of which is now only remembered by the old folk. It goes -

"My White Horse can leap the Oak and make the Griffon fly, turn the Muddigreen inside out and drink thee New Inn dry."

This rhyme refers in symbolic terms to the friendly rivalry that existed between the three best known families: the Whites (White Horse the Partridges (the Griffon) and the Bartletts (the Oak, after the long avenue of ancient oak trees leading on to Pendomer). The Muddigreen was the name once given to Chinnock Brook and the "New" Inn was built in the last years of the 17th century!

Despite the rivalry they shared the families inter-married, with Pendomer actually passing by marriage firstly to the Pauls and then in the 20th century to the Whites, whilst the compiler of this account still corresponds with the descendants of those Partridges who came to Australia in the 1800's to settle first at Hinton, New South Wales.

Changing social conditions, improved farming methods and closer settlement saw more young adults moving off the land and the

Bartlett name, like many others that had tended to remain in relatively small pockets around the country, spread to other occupations.

Amongst these was Joseph, son of ''Old" Samuel Bartlett buried at Pendomer in 1762, who married a Joan Mullins at St. Roch church on 25th January, 1731, and then went to live at Hardington Mandeville where their six children were all baptised. Only four survived infancy - Edward, John, William and Phillip - and it is this John who will be of interest to us. He was baptised 16th August, 1740.

Eight years after the marriage of Joseph and Joan, another Bartlett marriage was celebrated at Crewkerne on 16th August 1739, this time between Robert of Pendomer and Dorcas Rendall.... but this couple returned to live at Pendomer after the wedding. They also had six children baptised Elizabeth, Mary, Robert, Joan, Dorcas and Edward, and it was from these two closely related families that a union took place which, remarkably, not only joined Bartlett to Bartlett but also Genge to Genge!

This somewhat unusual convergence of relationships occurred as the result of the marriage of George Bartlett, grandson of Robert and Dorcas, son of Robert and Elizabeth Genge, to Elizabeth Genge granddaughter of Thomas and Joan, daughter of John Bartlett and Mars Genge... but born out of wedlock! (and taking her mother's name)

It is clear that this John "took advantage" of the friendship between the families to seduce Mary Genge, whom he never married yet accepted and recognised her daughter as his own even though remaining a bachelor. To what extent the influence of Richard Genge, wealthy mill and factory owner at East Chinnock and brother to Elizabeth and Mary, was exerted upon John to do this we shall never know, but the fact that after the child's birth John began to purchase land that had once been part of Pendomer and the family heritage in order to make it a family trust in favour of his 'natural' daughter and any lawful children she might bear, certainly suggests he set out to do the right thing! As did his naming Richard Genge as Trustee.

When John died at the end of the year 1816 his Will left various money bequests to his sisters and their children as well as a pension to be paid each year to his brother William but also created the entailed trust passing on "Lyatts" farm, house and garden and other property to Elizabeth and her offspring. The Trustees he appointed to administer this were Richard Genge and a Hardington solicitor John Swafferts.

The Trust was formed after the marriage cousins George Bartlett and Elizabeth, which took place at East Coker on 8th March, 1813, where the register shows him described as "Gentleman of Hardington", from which description we can take it that George was living at that town and a property owner, perhaps of independent means. Although he is similarly described in other documents, in the trust drawn up by John and presumably Swafferts and Genge, George is labelled "yeoman" . . . that is farm owner.

In light of subsequent events which we shall come to, the apparent disparity in the two terms could be explained by George possessing a farm or farms that he leased to "working" farmers, a kind of share farming arrangement then popular with those with agricultural land but not prepared to work themselves! Records referring to nearby Halstock - 17 miles east of Pendomer and once sharing a common boundary - disclose a "George Bartlett, gentleman" included in the district as owning land there.

George and Elizabeth had three sons, John baptised 27th February, 1814, then George followed by Robert baptised 24th September, 1823. Of these only the last-named, Robert, was to survive to reach maturity.

In 1827 their mother Elizabeth was killed in a carriage accident in which the son George was also injured, then dying ten months later; it is not known what happened to the father but since he had the reputation of being a reckless horseman, was probably driving the carriage when the accident occurred, and appears no more in any documentation, it seems more than likely he was also killed. The fact that the boys were immediately put into the care of an old family friend, Dr. Bennett, supports the conclusion George was no longer around to take care of them.

Their stay with Dr. Bennett was only short, perhaps having never been intended to be otherwise since they became wards of Richard Genge who took them with him to his newly acquired, beautiful old Manor of Waterston at Piddlehinton - once the home of the Martyns (de Mortaines) and still then sharing it's boundaries with Muston Manor once owned by the boys ancestors and now occupied by descendants of the family that had purchased it from Nathaniel Bartlett in 1612 - the Churchills!

Waterston Manor (Jacobean Front)
Waterston Manor (Jacobean Front)
Figure 17

It may have been the responsibility of caring for the boys that prompted Genge to come back to a place having such historical memories for both Bartletts and his own family but we do know how much he cared for the old house and that these feelings even extended to that other family the Pauls because when Richard died it was taken over by them. Their interest in the place was unquestionably aroused by it's acquisition by Richard Genge... but also because, as Trustee for the boys' estate, he leased "Lyatts" and the other property to John Paul and his sons so that the existing friendship included a business interest and visits to each others' residences.

To spend childhood in a place so steeped in the past of their family must have been an experience always to remain in the boys' minds.... except that, following the death of George, John also died in April, 1832, thus leaving only Robert to retain those memories and be the only beneficiary under the Trust. It was his memories that provided the critical link that was to lead research back over the border into Dorset and to Piddleton.

The Pauls were prolific child-bearers, John's son Thomas (who married Mary Dommett, descended from the Domers who built Pendomer Manor and the Wills of tobacco fame) having thirteen children, one of whom (Elizabeth Dommett Paul) married Christopher Kellaway Guppy, names so familiar from the early history of Piddleton!

Among these children was another daughter named Emily who built up a formidable reputation from an early age on account of her determination and intelligence; almost unknown in such a country settings Emily was a brilliant Greek scholar as well as a highly efficient farmer who, before she was eighteen years of age, was already alone managing the large farm known as "Wickets Beer" next to Pendomer and Lyatts (by then both held by the Pauls, the latter leased from the Bartlett Trust) and taking care of her two younger sisters

After meeting young Robert Bartlett the couple met quite frequently, with Emily even staying at Waterston and developing a special affection for it. From what is known of him, it seems Robert was easy-going - indeed a bit of a 'lofty' - and we can be sure he was dominated by this head-strong and determined young lady! Their later life together and the decisions they took only serve to confirm that this was so... and since Emily lived to be well-known by her grand-children who remembered her as utterly dominating and even frightening, we can be sure this is correct.

Waterston Manor (East Front)
Waterston Manor (East Front)
Figure 18

Digressing somewhat, it was Waterston Manor that provided the eminent romantic novelist Thomas Hardy with the setting for his well-known story "Far from the Madding Crowd", (made into the film of that name and starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Peter Finch) and upon those who had lived and been known there that he based his characters. Indeed, when asked if he had used real people, Hardy replied "In life they were so much like the characters about whom I have written as to be instantly recognised by any who knew them".

Richard Genge employed a bailiff to look after the farm which was part of the Waterston estate, and enough is known and recorded about Robert Walden, shown by the 1851 census to be bailiff there at that time, to fit him precisely to the bailiff invented by Hardy ...and given the name "Gabriel Oak", curiously the pseudonym by which the Bartletts had been known! We are well aware of Emily's head-strong and determined nature and that she ran her own farm without interference... these being exactly the attributes of "Bathsheba Everdene" that were principal elements in Hardy's story.

Just what part might be attributed to our Robert is uncertain -perhaps his nature was rather too mild for any in the novel although it could well be that he is represented by Squire Boldwood, a man totally besotted by Bathsheba and who would have done anything she asked!

It is, however, truthful to say that the Bartletts have always believed the tale was written around what Hardy knew of Robert, Emily and Robert Walden, learned in the course of his visits there as well as from local gossip. This would have all happened when Hardy was a lad of about 8-10 years old collecting and delivering boots and shoes for his cousin's cobblers shop in the village.

On the 4th February, 1845, Robert and Emily were married in the chapel of Lewcombe Manor, East Chelborough next to Halstock, where the register entries describe the couple as "Gentleman and Gentlewoman" . A photograph of the couple exists that was taken at Waterston by Fox-Talbot before the wedding, and is one of the very first in which he used the negative-positive process he had only then discovered, but which was not yet available to anyone else.

That the couple had already decided upon a definitive plan for their immediate future is evident from the fact that Robert had actually filed before the marriage, an application (a disentailing Indenture) to break the Trust so as to obtain full control of both accumulated revenue and all the property of which it comprised!

Just what the next step planned was is then shown by the couple's immediate disposal of "Lyatts" and other trust property as soon as Robert's application had been granted, ...and their prompt possession of two large farm properties named "Locke" and "Russell" at Halstock. This made Robert one of the three largest farmers in the area (John Paul and Thomas Horsey being the others) and collectively by far the principal employers.

All the properties these three held had formed part of the estate left by Lord De la Lynde and then part of Halstock Manor / inherited and controlled by Johannis Lowman and Edward Collier, the persons to whom John and Robert Bartlett alias Hancock leased Muston Manor in 1545/6! (see also plan of Russell, Figure 19 below).

Locke Farm Plan

Locke Farm

Locke Farm, which along with neighbouring Russell Farm were home to Robert & Emily Bartlett.
Although this plan of Locke Farm is not very clear, from the original of the plan it can be seen that amongst the names of those to whom pieces of it once belonged is Chuchill... the name of the lessees and ultimate purchasers of Muston Manor from the Bartletts at Piddleton!

Figure 18

Robert's ability to take up residence at "Locke" and ''Russell' so quickly, what has already been noted about his father George and his status, and the earlier connections, seem to point to both properties having come to Robert from his father.

Evidently Emily's ambitions were not satisfied by the life of a well-to-do farmer because before they had reached forty years of age she and Robert disposed of the farms to her family and moved with their eight children to the fashionable sea-side resort of Torquay in Devonshire where, coincidentally, Brian Barttelot (*) of the Sussex family was living with his wife Mary.

(*) This spelling of the name was first adopted by Richard (of Sussex family) about 1580.

Despite their number, these eight children all failed to have offspring except for Francis.... and the story of his life makes an appropriate place for us to commence the final chapter in this history.

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