A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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In 1086 Westminster Abbey held 2 hides in COWLEY, which later became the manor of COWLEY PEACHEY. The abbey had held the manor in the time of Edward the Confessor, and Cowley is among the properties listed in the forged charter of Archbishop Dunstan, which purports to have been made in 959. (fn. 1) Abbot Vitalis (d. 1082) (fn. 2) and the convent were afterwards said to have leased out 2 hides at Cowley for 30s. a year. (fn. 3) Hugh of Colham, possibly also known as Hugh of Cowley, held the estate at farm in the early or mid-12th century. (fn. 4) His son, Richard of Cowley, held the 2 hides after him, and Richard's nephew William of Northolt, Archdeacon of Gloucester and a canon of St. Paul's, (fn. 5) granted them away c. 1177-86. William evidently held the land in fee, as tenant of Westminster, though he paid the same rent as was due earlier under the leases. (fn. 6) The cellarer continued to receive the quit-rent from the abbey's tenant at Cowley until the Dissolution, though by then 10s. was allowed from the rent for clothes. (fn. 7) The last reference to the abbey's rights seems to be in 1546, when the overlordship was given back to the Crown by the dean and chapter, to whom the king had granted it after the Dissolution. (fn. 8)
William of Northolt's grant of Cowley which has been referred to above was made to his servant Robert the Simple. Robert was to pay the rent owed to Westminster and also to pay a rent to William: (fn. 9) in the event, the rights of William's mesne lordship seem to have lapsed very soon afterwards. In 1203 Robert de la Dune and Godfrey son of Ralph acknowledged Robert the Simple's right in twothirds of 2 hides in Cowley. They may have been holding the remaining third themselves, perhaps by way of dower, but Robert was to perform all the services owed to Westminster Abbey. (fn. 10) Robert was dead by 1213, when his widow Juliana was claiming dower. In 1214 she succeeded in securing it from the tenants of one-third of Robert the Simple's 2 hides: these tenants were Humphrey de Scoville and Maud his wife. (fn. 11) Their holding is not mentioned again and may itself have originated in dower and have later been reunited with the rest of Robert the Simple's lands. These were held in 1214 by Robert's daughter Lettice and her nephew, John son of William, as tenants in common. (fn. 12) Juliana, Robert the Simple's widow, had claimed dower from Lettice in 1213. (fn. 13) If she obtained it her total holding (made up of a third of a third and a third of two-thirds of 2 hides) would have been equal to a third of all her husband's 2 hides. This amount of land, as two-thirds of 1 hide, was held later by Henry Pollard and Juliana his wife as Juliana's dower: this Juliana may have been the same woman as Robert the Simple's widow. By 1250 Henry and Juliana's two-thirds of a hide had passed to Bartholomew Peachey, (fn. 14) perhaps in 1247, when they acknowledged his right in a house, half a carucate, and the advowson of the church. In 1250, when Nicholas of Cowley quit-claimed to Bartholomew his rights in the two-thirds of a hide, it was said that Henry and Juliana had held it of Bartholomew. (fn. 15) This implies that Bartholomew already held the main part of the tenement to which the dower belonged, but it is not clear whether this was so. In 1252 Bartholomew's right in 1 hide in Cowley was acknowledged by Stephen de Ayswell and Aubrey his wife. Earlier, in 1246, Stephen and Aubrey had granted to Thomas de Pernes and Maud his wife, who are not referred to again, all the right they had by way of dower in a third of a hide in Cowley. (fn. 16)
Bartholomew Peachey received a grant of free warren in his demesne at Cowley and Ickenham in 1252. (fn. 17) His son Herbert, who died in or before 1272, held a carucate of Westminster Abbey in socage: this was evidently the whole Westminster fee, since he paid the full 30s. rent for it. He also held a little land in Cowley of other lords. (fn. 18) Herbert's heir was his son Bartholomew (d. c. 1282), but in 1293 Lucy, Herbert's widow, was holding the manor of the inheritance of Bartholomew's son, another Bartholomew, who was under age. (fn. 19) This Bartholomew was in possession in 1316 (fn. 20) and his wife still held the manor for life in 1349. (fn. 21) In the following year Sir John Peachey, son of Bartholomew, settled it on the marriage of his son John. (fn. 22) Sir John Peachey was dead by 1357 and the manor, now known as Cowley Peachey, was held by his widow Mary. Her tenure was interrupted for a month or so when the Crown seized the manor after the man who had granted it to her, apparently as a trustee, had been convicted of felony. (fn. 23)
By 1362 Cowley Peachey belonged to Hugh Seagrave, whose feoffees were in possession in 1369. (fn. 24) Sir Thomas Charlton, who presented to the church in 1427, (fn. 25) held the manor in 1429 along with Cowley Hall and lands in Cowley called Ely's. (fn. 26) He continued to hold Cowley Hall but by 1431 Cowley Peachey had passed to Robert Warner (d. 1439). (fn. 27) Warner was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, who married Walter Green. She was in possession in 1461 and died as a widow in 1473, leaving as heir her son Robert Green. (fn. 28) Robert's widow Cecily married John Acton and held the manor at her death in 1480, when it came to her son Edward Green. He died without heirs in 1493, and his sister Cecily, wife of William Burbage, inherited Cowley. (fn. 29) Cecily may have married again, for William Bedyll and Cecily his wife presented to the church in 1509 and 1516. (fn. 30) She was succeeded by her son Thomas Burbage, who owned the manor at least from 1522 to 1550. (fn. 31) His son Robert lived at Hayes Park, and it is likely that his ancestors since Walter Green had done the same. (fn. 32) He settled Cowley Peachey manor on his daughter's marriage with William Goring, who conveyed it to George Goring, who in turn conveyed it to Gregory, Lord Dacre (d. 1594), in 1582. (fn. 33) George Goring, probably William's uncle, was also probably the George Goring who bought Hurstpierpoint manor (Suss.) from Dacre on the same day as he granted Cowley to him. (fn. 34) The connexion between these transactions is not established, but Dacre held Cowley until his death in 1594, and his wife, who held jointly with him and survived him, left it by will to Sir Edward Fenner, whose mother was also a Goring. (fn. 35) Fenner, a justice of King's Bench, was buried at Hayes in 1612. (fn. 36) His son Edward conveyed Cowley to Richard Franklin about 1615. (fn. 37)
Franklin was succeeded by his son Sir John (d. 1647), and he by his son, Sir Richard Franklin, Bt. (d. 1685). (fn. 38) Meanwhile the first Richard Franklin had leased the manor to another Richard Franklin, whose relationship to him is unknown, and who may be the lord named in the records of the manor court between 1636 and 1655. (fn. 39) It was probably his widow who was said to be patron of the church in 1650. (fn. 40) The lease under which she held may have expired by 1655, when Richard Franklin, the later baronet and the owner of the freehold, sold the estate to William Baker, who held it as late as 1680. (fn. 41) By 1683 Nathaniel Weedon was lord of the manor in right of his wife Katherine. Between 1713 and 1718 he was succeeded by John Weedon (d. c. 1733-5 (fn. 42) ), who apparently left the estate to his widow Anna (d. c. 1748-55) for life and then to his daughters. (fn. 43) One of these daughters, another Anna, enjoyed a life interest in a moiety of the manor with her husband, Thomas Mole. She may have died c. 1767-70 and her husband c. 1776-82, (fn. 44) when their moiety seems to have passed to John Sumner Sedley (d. 1782), probably the son of John Weedon's other daughter, Catherine (d. 1747), and her husband, Henry Sumner Sedley (d. 1755). John Sumner Sedley left his moiety of Cowley in trust for his children who, with his widow, sold it in 1786 to Edward Hilliard. (fn. 45) Three years later Hilliard bought the other moiety from John Ridge, the son of Catherine, daughter of Henry Sumner Sedley, who had held it, at first jointly with her husband, probably from 1755 until her death c. 1776-83. (fn. 46)
Edward Hilliard was succeeded between 1807 and 1825 by his son John (d. 1851), whom he had already presented to the living of Cowley. (fn. 47) W. E. Hilliard held the manor from 1851 until his death in 1884. (fn. 48) He was followed by Major-General G. T. Hilliard (d. 1894), (fn. 49) and he by G. B. Hilliard, who sold the Manor Farm (87 a.) and most of his land in Cowley in 1919-20, and Cowley House (12 a.) in 1924. (fn. 50) The manorial rights may have lapsed by this time: the date of their sale, if they were sold, and the purchaser have not been discovered.
The lords of the manor probably always owned a good deal of the parish themselves. In 1086 1½ of the 2 hides comprising the manor was in demesne. This was estimated as 1 plough-land, the amount also held by Herbert Peachey in 1272. (fn. 51) There is no more information about the manorial estate until the 18th century, though many of the lords in the meantime are known to have held with it lands in neighbouring parishes. (fn. 52) The survey of 1738 lists about 46 acres as belonging to Anna Weedon, the lady of the manor, and in fact she probably owned much more, since the manorial estate in 1748 comprised Cowley Peachey Farm (later Manor Farm) with 106 acres of inclosed land, as well as about 50 acres in the open fields of the parish. (fn. 53) Cowley Peachey Farm may have been the medieval manorhouse, though it is perhaps more likely that this stood nearer to the church. The 'hall of the manor' is referred to in 1357, (fn. 54) but the Charlton family, who owned Cowley Peachey a little later, seem to have lived at Cowley Hall in Hillingdon. (fn. 55) None of the 15th- and 16th-century owners apparently lived in Cowley and several are known to have lived at Hayes Park. (fn. 56) William Baker may have occupied Cowley Peachey Farm when he held the manor in the late 17th century, (fn. 57) but the Weedon family were leasing it to tenants by 1748. Probably neither they nor their descendants lived in Cowley, except for John Ridge, who apparently did so at the time he sold his rights in 1789. (fn. 58) It is not known what house he occupied. In 1738 John Crosier owned a 'newlybuilt mansion house' which seems to have stood on the site of the present Cowley House. (fn. 59) It probably became part of the manorial estate through Edward Hilliard, whose wife was the daughter of William Crosier of Cowley. (fn. 60) The Hilliard family occupied Cowley House until the 1880's. (fn. 61) It was then leased, though J. E. Hilliard continued to live in the parish as rector until 1902 and a Miss Hilliard lived nearby for many years afterwards. (fn. 62)
Cowley House is now (1959) divided into several dwellings. The main part of the building has three stories of brown and red brick, and appears to date from the late 18th century, perhaps having been rebuilt by Edward Hilliard. It was altered in the 19th century, and a two-storied block on the north side was added. This later wing was gutted when the whole house was badly damaged by fire in 1928. (fn. 63)
The Manor Farm, now occupied as two houses, still contains work of c. 1600 but has been much altered. The timber-framed and weather-boarded barn beside it dates from the 17th century. (fn. 64)