A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
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From the 15th century a considerable estate which lay mainly on the Boreham side of Warminster was built up by the Gifford family. It derived first from John Osborne, reeve of the capital manor of Warminster in the early 15th century (fn. 1) and a freeholder in 1434. (fn. 2) His son John Osborne (fn. 3) had a son Richard, whose widow died possessed of lands in Boreham in 1527. Richard's heir was Thomas Gifford, grandson of Elizabeth, sister of the younger John Osborne, who had married Edward, son of Walter Gifford of 'Rodhurst'. (fn. 4) Later in the 16th century the Gifford family acquired a freehold estate in the parish which had belonged to a family named Cutting, which had held land in the 14th century. (fn. 5) Thomas Cutting held 100 a. in 1402, (fn. 6) and about 40 years later John Cutting died seised of it and John Newburgh claimed to be his heir. (fn. 7) It descended to John's grandson, Roger Newburgh, who held it in 1493. (fn. 8) In 1504 Henry Daccombe and Christian his wife, who was probably the daughter of Newburgh, conveyed it to Richard Elyot, sergeant-at-law. (fn. 9) Elyot died in 1522; (fn. 10) by 1536 Cutting's Farm was held by Robert Coker of Mappowder (Dors.). (fn. 11) In 1567 Henry Coker sold it to Sir John Thynne, (fn. 12) who in 1571 conveyed it with other lands to Thomas Gifford in exchange for land in Longbridge Deverill. (fn. 13) It then consisted of a holding of about 60 a. called Cutting's Farm, and a smaller holding of 13 a. (fn. 14)
Thomas Gifford was succeeded in turn by his son John and grandson and great-grandson, both called William; (fn. 15) the younger William added to the estate two small holdings, parts of the manor of Boreham, which he bought from Richard Staples in 1626, (fn. 16) and the manor of Cheyneys, bought of Ralph Hastings in 1647. (fn. 17) William's son, Benjamin, bought the large manor farm of Boreham in 1663. (fn. 18) The family estate descended to Benjamin's grandson, John Hoskins Gifford of Cucklington (Som.), who died without issue in 1744. Of his three sisters and coheirs only one had issue, and so the whole estate eventually passed to her son, William Buckler. (fn. 19) At his death in 1790 he left the estate to be divided between his two daughters, and in 1801 a partition was agreed upon by which the Wiltshire estates were allotted to Mary, the younger daughter, wife of Francis Dugdale Astley of Everleigh. (fn. 20) In 1810 Astley exchanged with Lord Bath outlying parts of the estate in Corsley and the western part of Warminster parish for about 300 a. in Boreham which had once been copyholds of the capital manor of Warminster. (fn. 21) In 1821, however, Astley's trustees sold all of his estate in Boreham which lay north of the Wylye, to William Temple of Bishopstrow, who thus became owner of almost the whole of Boreham tithing on that side of the river. (fn. 22) In succeeding years, he bought most of the small properties of other owners there. Chief of these was a farm called Chamberlayne's, which had been a copyhold of the manor of Boreham. It was sold by Richard Staples to William Bailey in 1641 and passed with his daughter to the Slade family of Warminster, in which it descended until the Revd. William Slade sold it to William Temple in 1823. (fn. 23) The Temple family retained the Boreham estates until 1921, when they were sold. (fn. 24)
Several small estates which were eventually added to the Longleat estate must also be mentioned. In the 14th century John de la Mere, probably a younger son of the family which held the manor of Boreham, held a small estate in Warminster. He died c. 1349 leaving three coheirs; two were his daughters, Cecily, wife of Henry Montfort, and Joan, wife of Richard Scammell, (fn. 25) and the third was Thomas de Sindlesham, infant son of a third daughter. (fn. 26) The whole estate apparently passed to the Montforts of Nunney, for in 1412 John Montfort held lands in Bishopstrow and Warminster worth 40s. (fn. 27) By the late 15th century the Montfort property here and at Nunney and other places in Somerset was held by Simon Wiseman. He sold much of it, including Warminster, to Richard Mawdley, (fn. 28) in whose family it remained until the 17th century. (fn. 29) A survey of 1603 shows that the estate consisted of a virgate of land without a house on it; (fn. 30) Roger Mawdley, who owned it then, left three daughters. (fn. 31) After his death they joined with their husbands in conveying it to Sir Thomas Thynne. (fn. 32)
A family called Laffull held land in Warminster in the 14th century. (fn. 33) In 1459 Thomas Laffull sold property there to Richard Page, (fn. 34) who in 1464 held a number of properties, including over 100 a. called 'Laffellisland alias Felthamps'. (fn. 35) Page's son was probably Edmund Page of Warminster, whose grand-daughter Ann Page married Richard Brayfield and left a daughter Elizabeth, wife of James Heath of London, mercer. (fn. 36) It was from Heath that Sir John Thynne bought part of the Page property, amounting to about 35 a., in 1568. (fn. 37) The remainder passed in an unexplained way to the descendants of Gregory Morgan, who was the second husband of Edmund Page's wife Ann, (fn. 38) and must have formed part of the estate sold by Peter Morgan to Walter, Lord Hungerford. (fn. 39)
Another estate which eventually passed to the Thynne family once belonged to Roger Twynyho, and passed at his death in 1497 to his brother George. (fn. 40) He died in 1525 leaving a son Edward, (fn. 41) who in 1550 sold the property to William Stump of Malmesbury. (fn. 42) Stump's son William sold it in 1580 to William Yerbury, a Trowbridge clothier, (fn. 43) whose son Edward sold it in 1615 to Edward Scutt of Warminster. (fn. 44) Scutt mortgaged the property to Sir Thomas Thynne in 1626 and released his right in the following year. It then consisted of six houses and a small amount of land, mainly near Portway. (fn. 45)
The chief ecclesiastical estate in Warminster was that belonging to the Prebend of Warminster in Salisbury Cathedral. In about 1115 Henry I gave, or more probably confirmed, to the church of Salisbury two hides of land at Warminster which Walter, son of Edward of Salisbury, had held. (fn. 46) By the early 13th century this land formed the endowment of the prebend; it was then valued at £5, (fn. 47) but in 1226 was only worth 41s. (fn. 48) In 1222 the prebend was declared exempt from archidiaconal jurisdiction. (fn. 49) It was valued at £5 in 1291, (fn. 50) and at £7 net in 1535. (fn. 51) In 1550 the whole estate was let to Robert Whatley for 60 years at a rent of £7 6s. 8d. (fn. 52) In 1635 it was let to Thomas Ludlow, (fn. 53) a member of a younger branch of the Ludlows of Hill Deverill, and ancestor of a family that held the prebend for almost 200 years. (fn. 54) In 1829 William Heald Ludlow sold his leasehold interest in parts of the estate to several persons, to whom new leases were made. (fn. 55) In 1847 the freehold of the property was vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in return for an annuity of £150 to the prebendary. (fn. 56) Two years later they were authorized to sell parts of the estate. (fn. 57) The prebendal manor house, called East End House, stood south of East Street on the site of Ridgeway.
Part of the estate of the Prebend of Warminster alias Luxfield in Wells Cathedral lay in Warminster, but its history is described in the account of the parish of Corsley. (fn. 58)
Several religious houses held estates in Warminster. That of the Priory of Longleat was probably the land granted to it by Robert le Bore in 1324. (fn. 59) It was included in the grant of the site of Longleat to Edward, Earl of Hertford, in 1541, and was sold by him to Sir John Thynne in the same year. (fn. 60)
The house of Maiden Bradley also held property in Warminster, but its history is described above with that of the larger estate at Whitbourne in Corsley. (fn. 61)
The manor of Cheyneys, which was held of the Prior of St. John of Wilton, has been mentioned above. (fn. 62) Other property held of the hospital included seven houses which formed part of the estate of Philip Morgan at his death in 1473 for a chief rent of 2s. 6d. (fn. 63) Land re-granted to the restored order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1558 included property of very small value in Warminster which had belonged to Ansty Preceptory. (fn. 64)
Robert Mauduit, the first of the family to hold the capital manor, endowed his younger son Robert with a tenement which Gilbert the knight of Warminster had held, to hold by the service of 1/8 knight's fee. (fn. 65) Thomas Mauduit added certain pasture rights to the gift. (fn. 66) It was perhaps this same tenement which was held by another Robert Mauduit by the rent of 1d. in 1300 (fn. 67) and granted to him by Peter Scudamore, lord of Upton, in 1328. (fn. 68) In 1331 Scudamore obtained licence to use the land, still held at the same rent, to endow a chantry in Upton Scudamore church. (fn. 69) In 1334 and 1349 it was described as a place called the Dryehey, 39½ a. of arable land, 2½ a. meadow, pasture for certain stock and rents of £1. (fn. 70) In 1442 the property of the chantry of Upton was used to endow the Hungerford chantry and hospital at Heytesbury. (fn. 71) When the hospital let its Warminster property in 1586 it included the 39½ a. of arable land and some 12 a. of meadow and pasture; (fn. 72) in addition a chief rent of 4s. was received from William Middlecott. (fn. 73) The estate continued to be let as a whole until the late 18th century. (fn. 74) By the early 19th century it was much reduced in size, amounting only to some 12a., and half of this had been sold by 1903. (fn. 75)
At the Dissolution of chantries the property given for the support of St. Laurence's chapel consisted of a house and about 30 a. of land, let at a rent of 40s. (fn. 76) It was let to William Deacon in 1590. (fn. 77) In 1606 it was granted in fee farm at the same rent to Thomas Emerson and William Benett. (fn. 78) It probably soon passed to the Thynne family, by whom it was certainly held in the later 17th century. (fn. 79) The Crown rent was redeemed c. 1788. (fn. 80)