A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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In 1066 MAGDALEN LAVER was probably held as a manor by Sexi. (fn. 1) In 1086 it was probably held of Ralf de Toesni by Roger. (fn. 2) At both dates it was worth 70s. (fn. 3) In the 12th century the manor was held of the honor of Boulogne and of Pharamus of Boulogne, great-grandson of Count Eustace of Boulogne. (fn. 4) Pharamus died in 1183 or 1184 and was succeeded by his only daughter and heir Sibyl de Fiennes. (fn. 5) The manor was held of the honor of Boulogne and of Sibyl in 1221-2. (fn. 6) Sibyl's heir was her son William de Fiennes, whose grandson Sir William de Fiennes died in 1302. (fn. 7) In 1331 the manor was held as ½ knight's fee of Hugh, Lord Audley (d. 1347), and his wife Margaret 'as of her right and inheritance'. (fn. 8) By 1352 the tenancy in chief had passed to Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare, sister of Margaret. (fn. 9) At that time the manor was held by the service of ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 10) Elizabeth died in 1360. (fn. 11) Her heir was her granddaughter Elizabeth, suo jure Countess of Ulster, wife of Lionel, later Duke of Clarence. (fn. 12) In 1361 the manor of Magdalen Laver was held of Lionel as of the honor of Clare. (fn. 13) Lionel survived his wife Elizabeth and was succeeded on his death in 1368 by their only daughter and heir Philippe, wife of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March (d. 1381). (fn. 14) The heir of Philippe and Edmund was their son Roger, Earl of March, who was tenant in chief of Magdalen Laver at his death in 1398. (fn. 15) Roger was succeeded by his son Edmund, who died in 1425. (fn. 16) The manor was then held of Edmund's widow Anne until her death in 1432. (fn. 17) She was succeeded by Richard, Duke of York, son of Anne, sister of the last earl. (fn. 18) Richard died in 1460 and the manor was then held of his widow. (fn. 19)
It is not clear who held the tenancy in demesne of the manor in the first half of the 12th century. It was probably during this period or shortly before, however, that it came into the possession of the Marcys. In the reign of Henry II the tenant was Ralph de Marcy who also held an estate in Navestock. (fn. 20) In Navestock at least Ralph had by 1152 succeeded William de Marcy, son of the Ralph de Marcy who in 1086 held a manor in Kelvedon Hatch (q.v.). (fn. 21) Ralph the younger was dead by 1189 when his son William paid a mark for a recognizance of mort d'ancestor. (fn. 22) William died between 1198 and 1205 leaving his son Ralph as heir to his estates in Navestock and Magdalen Laver. (fn. 23) Ralph was probably dead by 1217-18. (fn. 24) He was succeeded by his daughter Joan wife of Gilbert de Breaute. (fn. 25) In 1237 Magdalen Laver was known as Laufar Breute. (fn. 26) In 1270 Joan de Breaute acknowledged the manor of Magdalen Laver to be the right of Robert de Burnevill, her son or son-in-law, who granted a life interest in the estate to Joan with reversion to himself. (fn. 27) In 1285 Cecil de Terling, son of Joan de Breauté, brought an action against Robert de Burnevill, grandson of Joan. (fn. 28) Cecil claimed the manor from Robert on the ground that Joan, Cecil's mother, was seised in her demesne as of fee of the manor at the time of her death. (fn. 29) A jury declared that Joan had granted the manor in fee to Robert de Burnevill, father of the defendant, and that Robert the father had then granted her a life interest in the estate. (fn. 30) Robert de Burnevill the son was therefore confirmed in his seisin. (fn. 31)
In 1321 John son of Robert de Burnevill conveyed the manor to Humphrey de Walden (fn. 32) and it afterwards followed the same descent as the manor of Ongar Park in High Ongar (q.v.) until 1468. (fn. 33) In 1331 the manor of Magdalen Laver, then worth £12 16s. 8d. a year, was granted to John de Cantebrigg to hold during the minority of Andrew de Walden. (fn. 34) In 1367, after he came of age, Thomas de Walden granted the estate for ten years to Sir John Wade who had had custody of it during the minority of Thomas. (fn. 35) In 1412 the manor was said to be worth £12 a year. (fn. 36) After the death of Thomas Bataille in 1439 his widow Isabel held in dower a bakehouse and some lands and rents in the manor. (fn. 37) In 1439 the net annual value of the manor was £10. (fn. 38) In about 1450 there were some fifteen manorial tenants whose rents amounted to £5 1s. a year. (fn. 39)
In 1468 John Bataille mortgaged the manor to Sir Thomas Cooke for £200. (fn. 40) Shortly afterwards Cooke became absolute owner of the estate. (fn. 41) He died in 1478 leaving as his heir his son John. (fn. 42) In 1486 John Cooke died and was succeeded by his brother Philip who was knighted in 1497. (fn. 43) In about 1500 there were some fourteen manorial tenants paying rents amounting in all to £4 19s. 1d. (fn. 44) In 1502 Sir Philip Cooke leased the manor for five years to John King at an annual rent of £12 5s. (fn. 45) The lease included all the manorial lands and the rents of manorial tenants but not the perquisites of the court. (fn. 46) Cooke died in 1503 leaving as his heir his son John. (fn. 47) In 1544 Margaret Cooke, widow-probably of John Cooke-received a life interest in the manor with remainder to Anthony Cooke (K.B. 1547) son of John Cooke, and the heirs of Anthony. (fn. 48) In 1570 Sir Anthony Cooke settled the manor on his second son William when William married Frances daughter of Lord John Grey of Pirgo and cousin of Lady Jane Grey. (fn. 49) William Cooke died in 1589. (fn. 50) In 1608 his son and heir Sir William Cooke conveyed the manor to Sir John Poyntz. (fn. 51)
In 1614 Sir John Poyntz mortgaged the manor to Sir Edward Duncombe for £2,000. (fn. 52) It was then in the occupation of William Aylett. (fn. 53) By June 1622 John son of William Aylett had become lord of the manor. (fn. 54) In June 1650 John Aylett sold the estate, which then contained 160 acres, to John Throckmorton of Twickenham (Mdx.) for about £2,400. (fn. 55) In 1659 there were 22 manorial tenants whose rents amounted to £4 15s. 9d. a year. (fn. 56)
John Throckmorton died in 1663-4 having devised all his real estate to his son George. (fn. 57) In 1676 George Throckmorton made a settlement by which after his death the manor was to be held by his wife Elizabeth for her life and afterwards by his heirs. (fn. 58) In 1692-5 there were 22 manorial tenants whose rents amounted to £4 17s. 10d. a year. (fn. 59) In 1703 George, William, and Thomas, sons of George and Elizabeth Throckmorton, sold to William Cole the reversion of the manor after the death of their mother. (fn. 60) William Cole had become lord of the manor by 1707. (fn. 61) He died on 1 February 1730 having devised all his real estate, subject to a life annuity of £200 for his brother Henry, to his nephew William Cole in tail male with remainder to his nephew Henry Cole, brother of William. (fn. 62) The nephew William Cole died without issue on 24 February 1730 and his brother Henry then succeeded to the property. (fn. 63) By his will of 1760 Henry Cole devised all his real and nearly all his personal estate to his servant John Cozens. (fn. 64) Between 1748 and 1764 there were 15 tenants of the manor of Magdalen Laver; the total of their rents varied irregularly between £4 2s. 1¼d. and £4 18s. 6¾d. a year. (fn. 65) John Cozens died in 1766 having devised this manor to his eldest son John. (fn. 66) Some time before April 1782 John Cozens mortgaged the estate to Mrs. George Sealy for £750. (fn. 67) He died in 1784 having stipulated that the estate should be redeemed out of the proceeds of sale of his freehold lands in Hornsey (Mdx.). (fn. 68) He devised the manor to his wife Elizabeth for her life with remainder to his son John. (fn. 69) Elizabeth died in 1791-2. (fn. 70) In 1832 John Cozens sold the estate to James Ewing. (fn. 71)
In 1848 the manor farm, which was occupied by James Edwards, consisted of 191 acres of which 34 acres were meadow and nearly all the remainder arable. (fn. 72) In December 1852 James Ewing died leaving as his heirs his four daughters: Mary Ann, wife of Robert Ewing Curwen, Anna Caroline, wife of Caledon Du Pre Alexander, Frances Elizabeth, later the wife of William James Tyrwhitt Walker, and Louisa, later the wife of Winthrop Mackworth Praed. (fn. 73) In 1865 they sold the estate, which then consisted of 223 acres, nearly all arable, to John Francis Clark of Exning (Suff.) for £8,380. (fn. 74) At that time the manor house and farm were still in the occupation of James Edwards who paid a rent of £320 a year. (fn. 75) J. F. Clark died in 1898, having placed the property in the hands of trustees who were to apply the rents for the benefit of his daughters. (fn. 76) At the time of Clark's death Matthew Torrance occupied the estate. (fn. 77) In 1922 the estate was still in the hands of Clark's trustees but by 1926 Matthew Torrance had purchased the property. (fn. 78) Torrance still lived at Magdalen Laver Hall and farmed the estate in 1937. (fn. 79) In 1942 (fn. 80) the property was purchased by Mr. Charles French who is still the owner.
The first manor house probably occupied the large moated site immediately north-west of the churchyard. A short stretch of dry moat still remains and there are traces of embankments to the south and east of this. Further south is a large pond or lake. The present house is immediately to the west of the old site. It was probably built during the second half of the 18th century and is of two stories, timber-framed and plastered. Alterations were made in the middle of the 19th century and by the present owner.