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This is a brief guide to some of the documents which relate to Earls Colne which we hope will help you to see how to search the data. We take as our starting point the photograph of a house in what was once known as Bridge Street and now is Lower Holt Street in Earls Colne.
The exact location of this house can be found on a manorial plan of the street drawn in 1598. It lies beyond the wall of Colne Priory and is marked as house number 105 and adjoining plot 105a.
These numbers were not used on the original plan but were taken from the tithe award map of 1836. What we have done is to superimpose the tithe award map on top of the 1598 map. By so doing we can connect information at two points in time to an approximate physical location. If we click on house number 105 we are taken to a list of documents which we have identified as including references to this house.
The first reference is to a rental for the manor of Earls Colne in 1395. This plot with 105a contained a messuage and croft and a cottage. The source does not give us any information on the exact location but fits with the density of building in the photograph.
The last reference is from a rental made by Henry Carwardine the lord of the manor, in 1854. This is a very useful source as he had made this rental to check the ownership of copyhold properties since 1598.
Plots 105 and 105a were called "Greens Tenement" and were owned by Sarah Patten together with adjoining plots 106, 107, 107a and 124. The messuage and cottage of 1375 are now described as four tenements. These four tenements can still be clearly identified in the photograph, although by 1980, when it was taken, they had been amalgamated into two houses.
"Greens" is noted in the rental as being called "Campyons" in 1598. It is possible to search for information on buildings by the plot number taken from the street plan or by the name of the house (if there is one) which is highlighted in the documents. In this rental we see that Sarah Patten also owned a garden called "Jaakes or Mulberry Croft" consisting of plot 107 which abuts the road so appears in the street plan, and 124 which lies behind the house and is shown on a large field map.
This map covers the parish of Earls Colne, but also extends with the manor of Colne Priory into White Colne and Colne Engaine. White Colne lands are indicated by numbering the plots in the range 1,000-1,999 and Colne Engaine lands from 2,000 onwards. Subtracting the thousands gives the number that was taken from the tithe award maps for White Colne and Colne Engaine.
Clicking plot 124 on the map gives a list of references to it starting with the will of Henry Pullen on 3rd November 1559. If we look at this will by clicking on the name "Hen Pullen" it will cross refer to "Hen Polly (P937)". This is not a mistake.
Spelling in historical documents is often not standardized. Even a literate individual will occasionally vary the spelling of his own name. As we set out to link documents through names, both of people and land, we had to introduce our own standardization. Polly is our key name for thirty-nine variants ranging from Polayn to Polleigh to Pullyne, all of which we have found in the context of tracing one family. The number P937 links all the references to a particular Henry Pullen.
If we look at the will again we find that the will maker had a son also called Henry, and we have tried to indicate which information refers to which Henry by giving the son a different reference number, P786. We have tried to link all the persons referred to in documents between 1559 (from when the parish register survives) to 1750 though there are links before and after these dates to people who lived within that span. This covers the period when many records overlap and it is possible to make a well-informed guess as to whom documents are referring.
Henry Pullen left a "tenement with croft called Jakes" (107 and 124) in his will to his son Thomas Pullen.
Thomas made his own will thirteen days after his father made his, just after his father's death so that the legacy held good. He died four days after that. So both father and son made their wills and died within the month of November in 1559. Thomas left "Jakes" and money, goods and chattels to his son Thomas (P836) who was an infant under the age of fifteen. He he made his wife and friend, Thomas Bridge, joint executors to hold these things in trust until his son was old enough to inherit.
Thomas Bridge (B936) made his will in 1575 from which we learn that Thomas Pullen was now an apprentice to one Purchas in Coggeshall. Thomas Bridge willed that his son Thomas Bridge the elder (B937) pay the legacy and monies owed for rent of his property to Thomas Pullen. [Note again the problem with names in historical sources. Thomas Bridge has two sons with the name Thomas, identified in his will as elder and younger].
Thomas Bridge apparently did not pay Thomas Pullen immediately and in 1578 the latter had to sue for remedy in the Court of Requests.
The case was still unsettled in 1580. Possibly it was the cost of trying to retrieve his legacy that caused him to mortgage "Jakes" to Richard Heyward in 1582 for 30li.
He evidently failed to repay the mortgage in two years as agreed for by 1589, Richard Heywood owned "Jakes".
We hope that this short tour through the documents has demonstrated the way in which one can move through the data, with ample opportunity to take detours when they appear interesting.