North Petherton: Economic history

Pages 300-306

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.

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Agriculture. The parish included 13 estates in 1066 of which by far the largest was the royal manor of North Petherton; that manor contained land outside the parish including what later became Chedzoy manor. On the 49 recorded ploughlands the villagers had 30½ teams and demesne holdings 13½ teams. The royal manor accounted for 30 ploughlands, but it had only 3 demesne teams compared with the 23 teams of its villagers. Newton, divided into 5 manors by 1066, totalled 9½ ploughlands in 1086, 3 of which were demesne. Of the estates whose value was given, besides the royal manor, 5 had increased in value, 4 considerably, between 1066 and 1086, but one of the Newton holdings had decreased. The royal manor accounted for 66 of the 172 inhabitants recorded. Also recorded were 151 a. of meadow, 69 a. and 2 leagues of pasture, and 30 a. of moor. Total stock comprised 325 sheep, nearly one third on the royal manor, 42 cattle of which 21 were on the Courcelles manor at North Newton, and 33 pigs, 20 on the same Newton estate, besides those on the royal manor where 20 pigmen were noted. There were 10 goats on another estate at Newton, 3 cows at Melcombe, and a cob at Hadworthy. No stock was mentioned at Shovel or on two of the manors at North Newton. (fn. 1)

By 1274 the estate of William de Plessis at North Newton, the only one to show decline in the later 11th century, had c. 168 a. of demesne, mainly arable, worth £3 4s. 6d. and other income including aids from villein tenants worth 33s. 4d. Rents were worth £4 12s. (fn. 2) Wheat, rye, barley, oats, peas, and vetches were grown on the Woolmersdon demesne in 1298, cheese was produced, and stock sold comprised oxen, cows, and calves. (fn. 3) Oats were grown at Melcombe, wheat and oats on the royal manor; and apart from producing hay, the moors supported pigs and geese. (fn. 4) Wheat, barley, and oats were the chief crops in the earlier 14th century at Newton Plecy where seed was bought for the following year, and pasture, hay, and wood were sold. (fn. 5) By 1360 the 40-a. demesne was let and more than three quarters of the manorial income was from rents. (fn. 6) By the mid 15th century the same estate was entirely let for cash rents, and the level of rent remained almost the same until the 19th century. (fn. 7)

In the 15th century estates at Woolmersdon (fn. 8) and Chadmead (fn. 9) produced mainly rents and court profits; loss of rents at the first was usually offset by the sale of winter herbage from land which had fallen in hand. At Chadmead in the 1470s land in hand accounted for over half the estate, but sales offset the loss of rent. In 1474 a tenant there took all the land remaining in hand for a fine of 2 capons and reduced rent, pulled down old cottages, and replaced them with a single large house. Five tenants from three different families did fealty to a new lord in 1479. Shearston manor produced only rents and court profits by the early 16th century. (fn. 10)

By the 17th century most of the land outside North moor was in closes. Part of the Heathfield known as Wells Heathfield was inclosed by 1547 (fn. 11) and was entirely let by 1605. (fn. 12) Other parts, known as Inner and Outer Newton Heathfields or Wroth's Heathfield, (fn. 13) were held in ½-a. and 1-a. plots until inclosure in the late 1670s. (fn. 14) Common pasture called Hurdown or Horedown belonging to Shearston manor was inclosed c. 1654. (fn. 15)

Towards the end of the 16th century sales of wood and pasture in Petherton park produced c. £150 a year, and by 1584 some of the park was enclosed and let. The average income from sales and rents between 1582 and 1585 was over £380 a year. (fn. 16) Sir Thomas Wroth agreed to compound for disafforestation in 1638. (fn. 17) By 1655 the park was divided between 11 holdings, and by 1676 between 15, all on short leases, with a total rental of £889. Four holdings were significantly larger than the rest, and Thomas Gatcombe paid £230 a year. (fn. 18) By 1724 several of those holdings had been amalgamated, and there were four principal farms, Petherton Park, Parker's Field, (fn. 19) Impens, and Fordgate. Impens Farm is a building of the 16th or early 17th century with 17th-century plaster work and fittings including an overmantel dated 1649. A post and truss barn nearby was evidently built from oaks felled in the park during the Civil War. (fn. 20) Fordgate was recorded in 1675, (fn. 21) but the house was rebuilt c. 1812. (fn. 22)

Other houses of similar date such as the Chantry at Rhode, occupied and probably built by the Woodhouse family, and Great House in North Newton, built by Sir Thomas Worth and his tenant, suggest by their quality the agricultural prosperity of the parish. (fn. 23) The Wroths and other owners of former Crown and monastic land such as the Bluets, Pophams, and Portmans were absentees in the early 17th century, but the Catfords of Melcombe and the Cheekes of West Newton were resident. (fn. 24) At the same time there emerged substantial tenants such as the Gatcombes, Webbers, and Woodhouses (fn. 25) who rented from the larger owners. Sir Thomas Wroth was said to hold 1,400 a. worth £1,400 a year in 1638 and during the Interregnum acquired lands worth a further £552 a year. (fn. 26) William Catford of West Melcombe (d. 1644) left goods worth over £2,600, including farm stock (£283), corn in the ground (£121), wool (£31), 543 lb. of mature cheese, c. 70 bu. of wheat and barley, and quantities of peas and malt. (fn. 27) Other 17th century inventories indicate the importance of dairying and cheesemaking; most farmers at the time kept a variety of stock and a few grew hops, leeks, (fn. 28) clover, carrots, (fn. 29) or grey, white, or blue peas. (fn. 30) The Huntworth demesne produced successive crops of wheat, barley, beans, peas, and oats between 1668 and 1672. (fn. 31)

Improvements on the Wroth estate from 1660 included the use of earth, probably clay or silt, and sand as dressing on wet land (fn. 32) and lime on sheep pasture in the park (fn. 33) and elsewhere. In 1673 two tenants were encouraged to test soap ashes instead of lime, and others were directed to plant withies by meadow ditches. (fn. 34) William Gatcombe, a tenant farmer at Huntworth, died in 1716 probably one of the wealthiest men in the parish. His goods, stock, and leasehold estate were valued for probate at over £5,200. He owned over 2,000 sheep on the moor and others elsewhere, and grew barley, wheat, beans, peas, and clover. Most farms continued to be mixed in the 18th century, although some seem to have concentrated on pig-fattening, stock-breeding, and withy-growing. (fn. 35) Flax was grown around Rhode and Woolmersdon in the 1750s and 1760s, (fn. 36) and in the west part of the parish in the 1780s and 1790s. (fn. 37) Clover and turnips were produced on the large pastoral upland farm at Clavelshay, (fn. 38) and potatoes at North Newton. (fn. 39) John Kinglake (d. 1809), farming on a substantial scale from 1784, raised cattle, sheep, and horses, largely on the moors, and grew wheat, beans, barley, oats, and, after the inclosure of North moor, withies. (fn. 40)

Attempts had been made by the 13th century (fn. 41) to drain and enclose small areas of North moor, but most of the land remained subject to common rights for pasture and fuel. (fn. 42) Draught animals and other stock were grazed there in the Middle Ages, (fn. 43) and cattle and geese were grazed around Moorland in the 17th century. (fn. 44) In 1638 North moor measured 1,415 a. (fn. 45) By the mid 18th century there were between 60 and 70 cottages with gardens and orchards which were illegal encroachments. (fn. 46) The commoners were responsible for the upkeep of the main drains or brooks around the edge of North moor and in return had rights known as 'ox-shoots', for each of which they could pasture a horse, two oxen, three yearlings, or ten sheep. Commoners could also cut sedge on the moor. Improved drainage of North moor was suggested in 1770 and may have been carried out, but in 1798 the moor, the remaining common pastures at Heathfield and King's Cliff, and the greens at Rhode, Primmore, and Hedging were all inclosed and allotted. (fn. 47) In the late 18th century North moor, Stock moor, and Hay moor still remained subject to flooding, Stock moor being under water for four months each year. (fn. 48) North moor district drainage board was established in 1867 and an engine was installed at Moorland in 1868 to drain 2,500 a. of land. (fn. 49) The pump house was extended and new engines were installed in 1940-1. (fn. 50)

In 1821 two thirds of the 603 families in the parish were employed in agriculture. (fn. 51) By 1838 about half the land was arable, much of it concentrated around North Newton. Seven farms measured over 300 a., led by Clavelshay (497 a.), Park (417 a.), Boomer (312 a.), Huntworth (309 a.), and Impens (302 a.), Two more, Fordgate and West Newton, were over 200 a., 10 between 100 a. and 200 a., and more than 60 others over 25 a. There were more than 135 holdings of less than 25 a., and hundreds of freeholds and leaseholds of one or two fields. (fn. 52) By 1851 Henry Paramore rented all four farms in the former park, together c. 1,300 a., and he employed at least 59 labourers, 2 master dairymen, and 2 dairymaids. (fn. 53) He was noted for his extensive manuring, and his use of fodder crops. (fn. 54) At the same date Clavelshay farm had increased to 650 a. with 40 labourers. (fn. 55) In 1881 the farm covered 800 a. and 30 men and boys were employed there. There were then dairies at Moorland and Bankland. (fn. 56)

In 1905 nearly 3,500 a. were under arable and 5,802 a. were under grass. (fn. 57) Land suitable for corn was put to grass, partly because of shortage of labour. (fn. 58) Flax was grown in the parish during the First World War, (fn. 59) and by the end of the Second World War the area was known for its peas and potatoes. (fn. 60) Wheat, oats, barley, and green crops were the chief crops in the 1930s. (fn. 61) By 1982, when arable had increased to c. 5,500 a. (2,313 ha.), wheat and barley were by far the commonest crops, with oats, maize, potatoes, rape, and fodder crops accounting for only a quarter of the area. Of the 96 holdings then making a return, 26 specialized in dairying or sheep and cattle rearing. Two holdings specialized in cereals, another 8 were mainly arable. (fn. 62)

Market gardens had been established at North Petherton, at West Newton, and near Shovel by 1851 (fn. 63) and by 1881 there were many more mainly around North Newton but also at Huntworth and Rydon. (fn. 64) In 1906 there were 11 market gardeners in the North Newton area, including Tuckerton, and 8 elsewhere in North Petherton. (fn. 65) In 1982 horticultural crops, including orchards, covered at least 126 ha. (c. 302 a.) and two holdings specialized in vegetable production. (fn. 66)

Apples and cider were sold from Petherton manor in the 13th century, (fn. 67) and cider was made at Melcombe in the 1290s. (fn. 68) Gardens, fruit gardens, and orchards were distinguished from each other in the early 16th century, (fn. 69) and in the early 17th apples were tithed by a modus that varied depending on whether they were sold on the tree, consumed at home, made into cider, or kept for sale later. Pears were tithed in a similar manner except wardens which were tithed in kind. (fn. 70) Tenements at Moorland in 1646 were either 'well-fruited' or had 'no great store of fruit', (fn. 71) and cider presses, apple chambers, apples, and cider were recorded in 1670 and 1675. (fn. 72) Cider was produced in quantity for sale by larger farmers, (fn. 73) of whom John Kinglake (d. 1809) also sold apple trees at Moorland and West Yeo to customers in Somerset and Devon. (fn. 74) Hopyards were recorded at Petherton Park in 1670 (fn. 75) and at Woolmersdon in 1695, (fn. 76) and there was a small cherry orchard at Boomer in 1782. (fn. 77)

By 1838 there were extensive orchards at Moorland and around Huntworth, North Petherton village, and North Newton. (fn. 78) The acreage under orchard increased especially at Moorland and North Petherton village, which were almost entirely surrounded by orchards in 1887. (fn. 79) By the later 20th century new housing had reduced the acreage around North Petherton but there were large orchards at West Newton, belonging to Showerings Ltd., at Moorland, and at Petherton Park, where new orchards were laid out between Parker's Field and Park Farm. (fn. 80) In 1982 there were 68 ha. (163 a.) of commercial cider orchard. (fn. 81)


Three mills were recorded in 1086. (fn. 82) By the 14th century there were said to be 14. (fn. 83) During the 16th century large numbers of millstones were imported through Bridgwater. (fn. 84)

The mill on the royal manor in 1086 (fn. 85) was said to be worth 20s. a year in 1276. (fn. 86) It was probably the mill usually known as Baril's Mill in the early 14th century (fn. 87) and as New Mill in 1349. (fn. 88) Baril's Mill was held with Vowell's lands (fn. 89) until after 1770. (fn. 90) By 1838 it was owned by the miller. (fn. 91) Known as Petherton mills, it remained in use until c. 1920 powered by water and steam. (fn. 92) It lay on the north-east side of High Street. The pond has been filled in and the buildings have been demolished.

The mill at West Newton in 1086 (fn. 93) was mentioned in the 15th century (fn. 94) and until the 1750s. (fn. 95) The mill house was recorded in 1794 but no mill, (fn. 96) and by 1810 even the house had gone. (fn. 97) The mill was at Lower Rydon where a pond survived in 1838. (fn. 98)

The mill on the Melcombe estate in 1086 (fn. 99) was probably on the later West Melcombe manor where two mills were called Kingsmills by 1349. (fn. 100) Melcombe mill was farmed in 1294 (fn. 101) and was held by the lord of North Petherton manor in 1349, probably on the death of John de Reigny of Melcombe. (fn. 102) From the early 16th century until 1761 or later there were two mills called Kingsmills, probably under one roof. (fn. 103) In 1770 there was one mill, called Boomer mill, (fn. 104) which was leased to a baker in 1779 (fn. 105) but had gone by 1838. (fn. 106)

The mill at Baymead was first recorded in 1549 (fn. 107) and was attached to Huntworth manor. In 1747 there were two grist mills, probably under one roof; (fn. 108) from 1787 only one mill was recorded. (fn. 109) The mill was still in use as a water and steam mill in 1906 but had gone out of use by 1910. (fn. 110) It was south-east of North Petherton village and the house, called Baymead Mill, survived in 1984.

The mill attached to the manor of Buckland Fee was probably Higher Baymead Mill, (fn. 111) and may have been that belonging to North Petherton church in 1235. (fn. 112) By the 18th century there was a malt mill beside the grist mill. (fn. 113) The mill survived until 1899 (fn. 114) south of the churchyard and gave its name to Mill Street. It survived as a private house called the Old Mill in 1984.

A mill near Clavelshay in the late 17th century, possibly at King's Cliff, (fn. 115) had gone by 1764. (fn. 116) It may have been Mrs. Popham's mill recorded c. 1630. (fn. 117) A mill, probably at Hulkshay, was held by the Musgraves, owners of Stamfordlands, probably in the 1630s. (fn. 118) In 1646 the waterwheel was said to stand in a cistern and was probably an overshot wheel. (fn. 119) No mill was listed at Stamfordlands in 1699 (fn. 120) but the Musgraves held a mill called Poles Mill in the 1760s. (fn. 121) No later reference to it has been found.

Lower Mill near Maunsel House was recorded in 1631, (fn. 122) and its ownership descended with North Petherton manor. It was described in 1770 as lying by the canals in the grounds of Maunsel House, (fn. 123) and had gone out of use by 1838, (fn. 124) when it was used as a lodge called the dairy. In 1984 it was known as Dairy Mead Cottage.

Melcombe mills, attached to Melcombe Paulet manor, were recorded in 1402 when the two were let separately. (fn. 125) In 1575 one was sold as a fulling mill and was described as being near Hulkshay. (fn. 126) Later record has not been found unless it was the mill owned in the 1630s by the Musgraves. (fn. 127) The other mill was retained with the capital messuage (fn. 128) and by 1723 was described as two grist mills under one roof. (fn. 129) In 1901 there were two pairs of stones and an overshot wheel. (fn. 130) The mills were still in use in 1910 but had closed by 1914. (fn. 131) They lay south of the former capital messuage, west of North Petherton village. The mill house, known as Melcombe Farm, survived in 1984.

Moorland mill was probably in existence by 1656 when land known as Milshuts was recorded. (fn. 132) The mill was mentioned in 1670. (fn. 133) In 1684 Sir William Portman sold it to Sir Thomas Wroth (fn. 134) and in 1723 Cecily Acland owned it. (fn. 135) It was last recorded in 1808 (fn. 136) and no trace survived by 1838. (fn. 137) It may have lain in the moor north-east of Fordgate.

Newton mill, attached to Newton Plecy manor, was shared by the lords of its three parts. Recorded in 1274, (fn. 138) it was rebuilt in 1356-7 (fn. 139) and in 1360 repairs were made to the mill equipment. (fn. 140) The mill was let in the 15th century (fn. 141) but had fallen into disrepair by the 1480s. (fn. 142) By the late 16th century it appears to have been held with Newton Regis manor although the Wroths continued to owe suit for the mill to the Vicars Choral for their share (fn. 143) and reserved the right to have their grain ground free for two weeks every year. (fn. 144) A new mill brook was ordered to be made in 1799. (fn. 145) The mill remained in use until 1906 with the aid of steam power and was later converted to diesel power. It went out of use c. 1945. (fn. 146) The mill lay immediately south of Newton chapel, where Mill House and the mill brook survive.

There was a mill in Petherton park in the 1670s. (fn. 147) It had gone by 1838, but the field name Mill close survived south of Park Farm. (fn. 148) A mill at Shearston, perhaps existing in the 14th century, (fn. 149) in 1547 belonged to the chapel there. (fn. 150) It may have lain north of the hamlet where the name Haggots Pool survived in 1770. (fn. 151)


Petherton park was well wooded and grants of timber, mostly oak but also alder, maple, hazel, and thorn, (fn. 152) were regularly made from the early 13th century for building works at Bridgwater (fn. 153) and Stogursey (fn. 154) castles, Somerton gaol, (fn. 155) Cleeve and Glastonbury abbeys, (fn. 156) Buckland priory, (fn. 157) the houses of the friars in Bridgwater and Ilchester, (fn. 158) and Somerton and Bridgwater churches. (fn. 159) Wood for fuel was supplied to Buckland priory from 1228 until the Dissolution, and sales of timber provided a steady income, (fn. 160) up to £200 a year in the 1580s, (fn. 161) but c. 140 of the best oaks were destroyed during the Civil War. (fn. 162)

Wood was sold from Woolmersdon in the 13th century, (fn. 163) and from North moor and Newton Plecy in the 14th. (fn. 164) In 1510 the abbot of Athelney and John Sydenham were said to have forged a lease of 100 a. of wood at Clavelshay in Clavelshay and Halsey woods, (fn. 165) but by 1544 the two woods together had shrunk to 15 a., (fn. 166) the rest probably being converted to pasture. (fn. 167) Small oaks were being sold from Woolmersdon in 1635 (fn. 168) and planting of oak, ash, and elm was encouraged at Hadworthy in 1668. (fn. 169) Elsewhere many of the old woods had been cleared for arable, meadow, and pasture land by the late 17th century (fn. 170) and field names at Melcombe, Rhode, Shovel, Clavelshay, and West Newton indicate their position. (fn. 171) By the late 18th century there were no woods or coppices on North Petherton manor and the timber on the moors was said to be of no value. (fn. 172) In 1791 hedgerow trees may have given North Petherton the appearance of being in 'a woody flat', (fn. 173) but there were only 73 a. of woodland in 1838, mainly at King's Cliff, with a few small coppices and plantations at Clavelshay, established after 1764, and near the larger houses of the parish. (fn. 174) By 1905 woodland had increased to over 166 a. (fn. 175) and during the 1920s there was considerable planting of both hardwoods and conifers on the Portman estate at Clavelshay and King's Cliff. (fn. 176)

Markets and fairs.

In 1318 John of Erleigh was granted a weekly market on Saturdays and a three-day fair from 7 September. (fn. 177) The market, its day changed to Tuesday in 1536, (fn. 178) may have survived until the late 18th century, but had ceased by 1830 when it was said to have been large, mainly for corn. (fn. 179)

In 1556 Sir Roger Bluet was allowed, despite opposition from Bridgwater, (fn. 180) to change the fair date to 30 April, also for three days, and to receive stallage, picage, tolls, customs, and profits from the piepowder court. (fn. 181) By 1798 a second fair was being held on the Monday before 13 November. (fn. 182) In the late 18th and early 19th century the spring fair, held on 1 May, was attended by graziers looking for lean stock to fatten. (fn. 183) It survived until the late 19th century and was then noted for shoes. (fn. 184)

Trade and industry.

The position of the parish on both the road and the river between Bridgwater and Taunton was of significance in its economic development. Heavy carts were using the road in the later 13th century (fn. 185) and traders then and later had stalls in both Bridgwater (fn. 186) and Taunton. (fn. 187) By the 16th century local carriers such as the Ash and Nation families, Arthur Bidgood, and Mr. Glasse brought in a wide range of goods, including cargoes from London, (fn. 188) some of which were taken up river by traders from Moorland to Hook, probably near Burrow Bridge. (fn. 189) The river and the road carried a slightly narrower range of goods in the 17th century, (fn. 190) and by then several people had shares in river craft. (fn. 191) The canal, opened in 1827, brought an increase in business. By 1851 more than 40 boatmen lived at Moorland and along the canal between Fordgate and the old basin at Huntworth. (fn. 192) Barge traffic was dominated by a few families such as the Meades, who occupied cottages called Meades Buildings, (fn. 193) and the Goodland family of Moorland. (fn. 194) Business along the river and canal had ended by the late 19th century. (fn. 195)

Cloth was made in the parish in the 15th century (fn. 196) and many craftsmen were employed in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 197) The main product was serge, but a clothier had 140 lb. of worsted wool put out to spinners in 1640. (fn. 198) A man described as a worsted comber in 1680 had at his death yarn, wool, three looms, and a shop full of mercery wares. (fn. 199) There were four weavers in North Newton in 1667 (fn. 200) and elsewhere weavers, several with more than one loom, combined their craft with farming, brewing, or cidermaking. (fn. 201) Many had servants or apprentices. (fn. 202) Cloth finishing seems to have been less important: woad was imported in the 16th and 17th centuries, (fn. 203) but Dyer's Green on the North Newton road and Dye House meadow near Mill Street are the only direct evidence of dyeing and only two field names indicated cloth racking. (fn. 204)

Leather production had been established by the 1630s, (fn. 205) and there was a tanner in North Newton in 1667 and a tanhouse at Primmore in 1677. (fn. 206) Skins polluted the water supply in North Petherton village in 1707 (fn. 207) and there was a tanhouse at Maunsel during the 18th century. (fn. 208) A fellmonger in 1731 left 700 pellskins, 65 dozen hides of white and tan leather, and 54 horse, dog, sheep, and calf skins. (fn. 209)

Malting was practised widely from the 17th century. (fn. 210) A malthouse stood in Hammet Street in 1816 (fn. 211) and in 1838 there were others in Mill Street, at Petherton mill, and two in Fore Street. (fn. 212) Samuel Burston, in business in Hammet Street between 1830 and 1854, supplied malt to Bristol and Taunton. (fn. 213) A brewery developed from Thomas Starkey's Fore Street malting and by 1871 employed 20 men. (fn. 214) By 1898 Starkey and Co. owned the brewery and two malthouses in Fore Street and seven public houses in the parish. (fn. 215) Starkey, Knight, Ford, and Co. continued to brew in the parish until c. 1906 when they opened their brewery in Bridgwater. (fn. 216)

The planting of withies on the moors after inclosure (fn. 217) introduced commercial basketmaking. In 1830 there were 2 basketmakers in the parish, (fn. 218) 5 by 1840, (fn. 219) and at least 6 in 1851, 2 of whom employed 11 men between them. (fn. 220) Numbers declined in the 20th century, but there was also a manufacturer of wicker furniture. (fn. 221) Withies were still processed in the parish in the early 1940s. (fn. 222)

Bricks were made in the southern part of Petherton park in 1670. (fn. 223) By 1838 two small brickyards had been established, one on either side of the Parrett near the canal basin, one of which was also a tileworks, and a third was in business by the river south of Moorland. (fn. 224) By 1851 William Symons had opened his yard and employed at least 17 men from the parish; there was also a drainage-pipe maker. (fn. 225) By 1859 Fursland and Co. and Colthurst, Symons, and Co. were the leading brickmakers. (fn. 226) In 1877 Thomas Colthurst took a new lease from Lord Portman of the brickyard, including kilns, manager's house, and cottages, and various fields at an increasing rent with a charge of £60 an acre for digging clay. He was required to fill the clay pits at the end of the term. (fn. 227) By 1881 large numbers were employed, 85 by one manufacturer. (fn. 228) The largest yard was the Crossway Brick and Tile Works of Colthurst, Symons, and Co. which won international medals. (fn. 229) By 1887 there were three yards, Crossway, Fursland's Somerset Yard, and New Yard. (fn. 230) New Yard was held by William Symons in 1898, when another yard across the Parrett was worked by the Somerset Trading Co. of Bridgwater. (fn. 231) In the early 20th century the industry declined and most yards closed.

There were several shops in the parish in the 17th century. In 1629 two men were licensed to sell wine and tobacco (fn. 232) and in 1669 Thomas Hooper kept a shop selling small wares. (fn. 233) Several craftsmen had retail shops including a shoemaker of North Newton who had two, one to sell his own products, the other a 'ware' shop stocked with fruit, sugar, tobacco, and brandy. (fn. 234) An apothecary kept a shop in the parish in 1681 and his inventory recorded books on physic. (fn. 235) Thomas Win or Wright (d. 1713), a blacksmith, left 2 anvils, 100 new horse shoes, 2,020 lb. of old and new iron, 17½ lb. of new steel, 2 dozen pig rings, and tools of every kind, some for his own use and others, including scythes, shears, hatchets, and shovels, for sale. Nearly £200 was owed him. He kept a flock of sheep, some cattle, and probably pigs as he had 340 lb. of bacon. (fn. 236) More modest craftsmen included a wheelwright at Shearston in 1672 (fn. 237) and a mason working lias in 1675. (fn. 238) Craftsmen in the 18th-century included a soap-boiler and a roper. (fn. 239) Other crafts in the late 18th and early 19th century included coopering and mop making. (fn. 240) In 1840 there were milliners, a cabinet maker, a clockmaker, a hairdresser, and saddlers. (fn. 241) There were many shops in North Petherton village by the early 19th century and several wine and spirit merchants. (fn. 242) One man in 1839 was a saddler and harness manufacturer, grocer, tea dealer, linen draper, hosier, and haberdasher. (fn. 243) In 1840 there were 9 grocers, 5 bakers, 4 butchers, and a confectioner. (fn. 244) In 1851 North Petherton village had a clock and watchmaker, a tinman and brazier, straw bonnet makers, shirt and stay makers, glovers, saddlers, a glass and china man, a cheese and bacon factor, confectioners, bakers, butchers, fruiterers, grocers, and linen drapers. Most of the other settlements in the parish had their own shops, smithies, and craftsmen. Huntworth had a shopkeeper and an ironmonger; there were a shopkeeper, a baker, and three butchers at Moorland; a grocer, a shopkeeper, three bakers, and three butchers at North Newton, and a fruit dealer at Shearston. A portrait painter and a barm dealer lived at Compass and there was a veterinary surgeon at Hedging. A master machine maker was recorded at North Newton and a foundry at Hedging. (fn. 245) By 1859 there were a chemist and a stationer in North Petherton village (fn. 246) and by 1872 the portrait painter was also taking photographs. (fn. 247) By 1906 there was a coach and carriage business at North Newton. (fn. 248) Although shops disappeared from the smaller settlements a variety of shops and small businesses survived in North Petherton village in 1984 including a plastics engineering firm.


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 435, 471-2, 484-5, 494, 511-12, 520-1.
  • 2. P.R.O., C 133/7, no. 4.
  • 3. S.R.O., DD/AH 66/10.
  • 4. Ibid. DD/SAS NP 1, mm. 1-2; Devon R.O., C.R. 1280.
  • 5. S.R.O., DD/WM 1/103; Wells Cath. Libr., Vicars Choral MS. B/1.
  • 6. S.R.O., DD/WM 1/113.
  • 7. Ibid. DD/CC 121468, 131921/1.
  • 8. Dors. R.O., D 10/M 348.
  • 9. Ibid. M 241-3.
  • 10. S.R.O., DD/PT, box 1.
  • 11. Wells Cath. Libr., Vicars Choral MS. ct. bk. 1542-57.
  • 12. Ibid. acct. bk. 1604-20.
  • 13. Ibid. ct. bk. 1578-98.
  • 14. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17, 7/35.
  • 15. S.R.O., DD/PT, box 2; DD/SAS (C/96) 7/8.
  • 16. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 9/23.
  • 17. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1638-9, 203.
  • 18. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 19. Above, manors (Newton).
  • 20. S.R.O., DD/V/BWr 26.8; Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 21. S.R.O., DD/AH 8/5.
  • 22. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add Som. estate acct. 1811-13.
  • 23. Above, manors (Rhode, Newton Wroth).
  • 24. Above, manors.
  • 25. S.R.O., DD/SP inventories; DD/SAS SE 24; DD/S/WH 51, 166.
  • 26. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 27. S.R.O., DD/SL 4.
  • 28. Ibid. DD/SP inventory, 1646.
  • 29. Ibid. 1667, 1669, 1672, 1675, 1680, 1684; DD/SAS H 47/3/34.
  • 30. Ibid. Q/SR 112/99.
  • 31. Ibid. DD/PM 7.
  • 32. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 33. Ibid. 7/35.
  • 34. Ibid. 6/17.
  • 35. S.R.O., DD/SP inventories, 1713-14, 1716, 1721.
  • 36. Ibid. D/P/pet. n 3/2/1.
  • 37. Ibid. Q/RLh 24, 28, 35.
  • 38. Ibid. DD/WY 197.
  • 39. Ibid. D/P/pet. n 3/2/1.
  • 40. Ibid. DD/X/VEA; Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. cxxix. 161- 70.
  • 41. S.R.S. xiv, p. 159; Cal. Inq. Misc. i, p. 478; Cal. Chart. R. 1327-41, 314; S.R.O., DD/SL 1.
  • 42. S.R.S. xiv, pp. 153, 157-9; xxv, pp. 25-6; Cur. Reg. R. xv, p. 214; S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 8, mm. 2-3.
  • 43. Cur. Reg. R. xv, p. 214; S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 1, mm. 1-5.
  • 44. S.R.O., Q/SR 125/12; ibid. DD/SP inventories.
  • 45. P.R.O., LR 2/202.
  • 46. S.R.O., DD/SL 9.
  • 47. Ibid. DD/SLM 2; DD/SLM, bk. of maps; DD/MK, inclosure map 1798; D/RA D7A.
  • 48. Ibid. DD/AH 66/11.
  • 49. Ibid. D/RA North moor DB 1; DD/MK 14; date on bldg.
  • 50. S.R.O., D/RA (C/2785) North moor.
  • 51. Census, 1821.
  • 52. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 53. P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 54. Acland and Sturge, Farming of Som. (1851), 38-40.
  • 55. P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 56. Ibid. RG 11/2369.
  • 57. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 58. H. Rider Haggard, Rural Eng. (1902), i. 248-52.
  • 59. Bridgwater Mercury, 10 July 1918.
  • 60. S.R.O., DD/QK 143.
  • 61. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1939).
  • 62. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 63. P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 64. Ibid. RG 11/2369.
  • 65. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906).
  • 66. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982. Returns also include St. Michaelchurch.
  • 67. S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 1, m. 1.
  • 68. Devon R.O., C.R. 1280.
  • 69. S.R.S. ii. 241-2.
  • 70. S.R.O., DD/SAS PR 233.
  • 71. Ibid. DD/MVB 46.
  • 72. Ibid. DD/SP inventories.
  • 73. Ibid. 1714; ibid. DD/X/VEA.
  • 74. Ibid. DD/X/VEA.
  • 75. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 76. S.R.O., DD/AH 10/5.
  • 77. Ibid. DD/S/WH 202.
  • 78. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 79. O.S. Map 6", Som. LXI. NE., SE. (1887 edn.).
  • 80. Ibid. 1/50,000, ST 182 (1974 edn.).
  • 81. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 82. V.C.H. Som. i. 435, 472, 520.
  • 83. S.R.S. xxv, pp. 13-14.
  • 84. S.R.O., D/B/bw 1463-4, 1470-2.
  • 85. V.C.H. Som. i. 435.
  • 86. Cal. Close, 1272-9, 410.
  • 87. S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 1, m. 13.
  • 88. Ibid. 9, mm. 1-2.
  • 89. Ibid. DD/SL 9; ibid. Q/RE1 29/6; ibid. T/PH/dev 3; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/203/3 & 4 Eliz. I Mich.; above, manors.
  • 90. S.R.O., DD/SLM, bk. of maps.
  • 91. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 92. P.O. Dir. Som. (1875); Kelly's Dir. Som. (1919, 1923).
  • 93. V.C.H. Som. i. 472.
  • 94. S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 15, m. 1.
  • 95. Ibid. D/P/pet. n 3/2/1.
  • 96. Ibid. DD/PH 27.
  • 97. Ibid. DD/MY 35.
  • 98. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 99. V.C.H. Som. i. 520.
  • 100. S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 9, m. 1.
  • 101. Devon R.O., C.R. 1280.
  • 102. S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 9, m. 1.
  • 103. P.R.O., C 142/50, no. 154; S.R.O., DD/SL 3.
  • 104. S.R.O., DD/SLM, bk. of maps.
  • 105. Ibid. DD/S/WH 202.
  • 106. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 107. Ibid. DD/S/WH 116.
  • 108. Ibid. DD/PM 19.
  • 109. Ibid. 20.
  • 110. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906, 1910).
  • 111. S.R.O., DD/PM 19.
  • 112. S.R.S. xxv, pp. 25-6.
  • 113. S.R.O., DD/PM 3/6.
  • 114. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1899).
  • 115. S.R.O., DD/DP 33/2, 7.
  • 116. Ibid. DD/WY 197.
  • 117. Ibid. T/PH/dev (add.).
  • 118. Ibid. DD/DP 33/2.
  • 119. Ibid. DD/SAS (C/96) 17/2.
  • 120. Ibid. 17/18.
  • 121. Ibid. (C/432) 33.
  • 122. Ibid. DD/SL 10, 18; D/P/pet. n 4/1/1; ibid. T/PH/dev 3.
  • 123. Ibid. DD/SLM, bk. of maps.
  • 124. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 125. S.R.S. xxii. 11.
  • 126. S.R.O., DD/DP 33/2.
  • 127. Above (this section).
  • 128. S.R.O., DD/X/SR 5.
  • 129. Ibid. DD/CH 73/2.
  • 130. Ibid. DD/DHR, box 15.
  • 131. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1910, 1914).
  • 132. S.R.O., T/PH/dev 3.
  • 133. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 134. S.R.O., DD/PM 19.
  • 135. Ibid. DD/AH 1/3.
  • 136. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 1/61.
  • 137. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 138. P.R.O., C 133/7, no. 4.
  • 139. Wells Cath. Libr., Vicars Choral MS. B/2.
  • 140. S.R.O., DD/WM 1/113.
  • 141. Ibid. DD/CC 131912A/6; Wells Cath. Libr., Vicars Choral MS. VI/58.
  • 142. Wells Cath. Libr., Vicars Choral MS. C/10.
  • 143. S.R.O., DD/CC 110016, 116013; Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 2/71B.
  • 144. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17; S.D.N.Q. vi. 68.
  • 145. S.R.O., DD/SLM 2.
  • 146. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906); local inf.
  • 147. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 148. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 149. S.R.S. iii. 243.
  • 150. Ibid. ii. 238.
  • 151. S.R.O., DD/SLM, bk. of maps.
  • 152. S.R.S. xxv, pp. 32-3; P.R.O., C 260/154, no. 11.
  • 153. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 274; ii. 506, 533.
  • 154. Cal. Close, 1302-7, 121.
  • 155. Ibid. 160.
  • 156. Close R. 1231-4, 77; V.C.H. Som. ii. 554.
  • 157. Close R. 1227-31, 402; 1234-7, 282.
  • 158. Ibid. 1247-51, 312; 1256-9, 221; V.C.H. Som. ii. 554.
  • 159. S.R.S. xlviii, p. 163; liii, p. 189; V.C.H. Som. ii. 554.
  • 160. Pat. R. 1226-32, 199; P.R.O., SC 6/973/23.
  • 161. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 9/23.
  • 162. Ibid. 6/17.
  • 163. S.R.S. xi, p. 357.
  • 164. S.R.O., DD/SAS NP 1, m. 7; DD/WM 1/113.
  • 165. P.R.O., C 1/463/62.
  • 166. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix (2), p. 313.
  • 167. S.R.O., DD/WY 197.
  • 168. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 9/22.
  • 169. S.R.O., DD/AH 8/3.
  • 170. e.g. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 171. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 172. Ibid. DD/SL 9.
  • 173. Collinson, Hist. Som. iii. 54.
  • 174. S.R.O., tithe award; ibid. DD/WY 197.
  • 175. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 176. P.R.O., CRES 35/1150.
  • 177. Cal. Chart. R. 1300-26, 395.
  • 178. Cal. Pat. 1555-7, p. 279.
  • 179. Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1830).
  • 180. S.R.O., D/B/bw 1839.
  • 181. Cal. Pat. 1555-7, p. 279.
  • 182. S.R.O., DD/X/VEA; P.O. Dir. Som. (1859).
  • 183. Billingsley, Agric. of Som. (1797), 245; S.R.O., DD/X/VEA.
  • 184. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. lxxxii. 139.
  • 185. S.R.S. xli. 99.
  • 186. Ibid. xlviii, no. 29; S.R.O., D/B/bw 1433.
  • 187. S.R.O., DD/SP inventory, 1697.
  • 188. Ibid. D/B/bw 1436-40, 1462-4, 1470-2, 1480-3, 1488-9.
  • 189. Ibid. 1472, 1493; ibid. Q/SR 14/3.
  • 190. Ibid. D/B/bw 1497-8, 1503-4, 1506-7.
  • 191. Ibid. DD/SP inventories, 1683, 1691, 1693.
  • 192. P.R.O., HO 107/1924; above, intro.
  • 193. P.R.O., RG 10/2381; O.S. Map 6", Som. LXI. NE., SE. (1887 edn.). The cottages were on the site of the Boat and Anchor.
  • 194. S.R.O., 'The Family of Goodland' (TS. n.d.).
  • 195. The last commercial journey from Bridgwater (to Stoke St. Gregory) was made in 1895: E. Hembrow, Winter Harvest, 19.
  • 196. S.R.S. xvi. 327.
  • 197. S.R.O., DD/SP inventories; DD/SAS (C/96) 17/3; DD/SAS (C/432) 13; DD/PM 18-20; ibid. Q/SR 114/45, 120/9, 137/7.
  • 198. Ibid. DD/SP inventory, 1640.
  • 199. Ibid. 1680.
  • 200. Ibid. DD/WY 34.
  • 201. Ibid. DD/SP inventories, 1662, 1666, 1670, 1680, 1687; ibid. Q/SR 220/4.
  • 202. Ibid. Q/SR 114/45, 234/3.
  • 203. Ibid. D/B/bw 1460, 1503-4.
  • 204. Ibid. tithe award; ibid. DD/PM 20; Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 2/71B.
  • 205. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. cxii. 66.
  • 206. S.R.O., DD/WY 34; DD/DP 93/7.
  • 207. B.L. Add. Ch. 71735.
  • 208. S.R.O., DD/SL 10; DD/SLM 2.
  • 209. Ibid. DD/SP inventory, 1731.
  • 210. Ibid. 1666; DD/X/VEA; ibid. Q/SR 220/4.
  • 211. Ibid. DD/CH 73/2.
  • 212. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 213. Ibid. DD/X/BRS; Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1830); P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 214. Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1830); P.O. Dir. Som. (1859, 1861); Morris & Co. Dir. Som. (1872); S.R.O., tithe award; P.R.O., RG 10/2381.
  • 215. P.R.O., RG 11/2369; S.R.O., D/R/bw 16/11/1.
  • 216. S.R.O., D/R/bw 15/3/18, 16/11/8; Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906).
  • 217. e.g. S.R.O., DD/X/VEA.
  • 218. Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1830).
  • 219. Co. Gaz. Dir. Som. (1840).
  • 220. P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 221. S.R.O., D/R/bw 22/1/39; Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906, 1939).
  • 222. S.R.O., D/RA (C/2785) North moor, min. bk.
  • 223. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 6/17.
  • 224. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 225. P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 226. P.O. Dir. Som. (1859).
  • 227. S.R.O., DD/CN 34/3.
  • 228. P.R.O., RG 11/2369.
  • 229. S.R.O., DD/CN 34/3.
  • 230. O.S. Map 6", Som. L. SE. (1887 edn.).
  • 231. S.R.O., D/R/bw 16/11/1.
  • 232. S.D.N.Q. viii. 88.
  • 233. S.R.O., Q/SR 112/57.
  • 234. Ibid. DD/SP inventory, 1688.
  • 235. Ibid. 1681.
  • 236. Ibid. 1713.
  • 237. Ibid. 1672.
  • 238. Ibid. 1675.
  • 239. Ibid. DD/PM 3/6; DD/FD 20.
  • 240. Dwelly, Par. Rec. xii.
  • 241. Co. Gaz. Dir. Som. (1840).
  • 242. Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1830).
  • 243. S.R.O., D/P/pet. n 4/1/4.
  • 244. Co. Gaz. Dir. Som. (1840).
  • 245. P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 246. P.O. Dir. Som. (1859).
  • 247. Morris & Co. Dir. Som. (1872).
  • 248. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906).