Pettypool Family in the 1400s: The Rodings

extracts from: English Ancestry of the Pettypool Family of Colonial Virginia

©Carolyn Hartsough

Records mentioning Pettypool family members are even more scarce during the 1400s than the 1300s. Perhaps we should not be surprised as we are fortunate that anyone carrying the name survived the recurring onslaughts of plague and other diseases that returned to England with regularity in the latter half of the 1300s and continued well into and during most of the 1400s.

Whether the family that had resided in the Thaxted-Wimbish area daughtered– out or survived as those we learn of in Essex during the 1400s we do not know. What few records we do have from the 1400s are for a branch of the family that lived in the general area of the Rodings, a collection of eight hamlets scattered on the east and west banks of a river bearing the same name in west central Essex.

A group of four title deeds comprise the majority of what we know about our Pettypools in the 1400s. These deeds are part of the collection of papers from the Congreve family estate.2 Although the Congreves were primarily associated with sites in the county of Staffordshire, they also held property in Essex, and it is from these records referring to one of their Rodings properties called “Kynges” that we come to know about the Pettypools of this era.

The oldest of the title deeds containing reference to Pettypools comes from June, 1434, and the translation reads:

Know those present and future that we, John Joye of Fyfhyde in the county of Essex and Robert Grynheed, turner, of Dodyngherst in the said county, have sold, enfeoffed and by this our present charter confirmed to Richard Potypole of Rothyng Beauchamp, John Melleborn of the same, John Stace, woolman, of Wyllynghale, and John Wether of Rothyng Abbesse all those lands and tenements, rents and services with all their appurtenances, lying in the aforesaid vills of Rothyng Beauchamp and Fyfhyde, which we lately had from the gift and feoffment of John Taylor of Weldegolet and Geoffrey Kyng, now deceased, just as they are divided and enclosed by the metes and bounds, hedges and ditches. To have and to hold all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services with all their appurtenances to the aforesaid Richard Potypole, John Melleborn, John Stace and John Wether, their heirs and assigns forever by these presents from the chief lords of those fees by the services thereupon due and lawfully accustomed. In testimony of which matter, to this our present charter we have affixed our seals. With these witnesses: Stephen Penyfader, Thomas Poole, William Colyn, Geoffrey Gower, John Wodell, Richard Goseprest, John Lynt and others. Dated at Rothyng Beauchamp, aforesaid, on Sunday next after the feast of St Barnabas the apostle in the 12th year of the reign of King Henry VI after the conquest [13 Jun 1434]. 3

Whatever Richard Potypole’s status in his local community, it did not protect him from other’s aggression. A court roll from the manor of Berwick Berners in Abbess Roding from either 1439 or 1440 reports that

. . . Jo [perhaps John] of Stortford, fletcher, amerced for breaking the King’s peace by unjustly assaulting Richard Podypole by firing at him with a bow and arrow on the highway. 6

Sites From the 1400s.

Although we are told of the assault’s consequences for the assailant, we don’t know the consequences for Richard. Does the next deed in the series of four suggest that all was not well for Richard by early 1442?

Despite his injuries or lack thereof from the assault of 1439 ⁄ 40, the next deed in the series of four indicates that Richard has deeded away the property from the 1434 transaction. Moreover, in this 1441 ⁄ 2 deed it is clear that Richard had been the “real” grantor in the 1434 transaction as he is the sole individual referenced in the final clause. Perhaps, also, an heir for Richard has been found. The clerk writes:

Know those present and future that we, Richard Potipole of Rothyng Beauchamp, John Melborn of Northwelde and John Wethyr of Rothyng Abbesse have given, granted and by this our present charter confirmed to Robert Potipole all our lands and tenements, rents and services, meadows, pasturages and pastures with all their appurtenances called Kynges, lying in Rothyng Beauchamp, aforesaid, and Fyfede, which same lands and tenements, rents and services, meadows, pasturages and pastures with all and singular their appurtenances, above-said, we, the aforesaid Richard Potipole, John Melborn and John Wethyr lately jointly had from John Stace, now deceased, from the gift and feoffment of John Joye, Robert Irynhede and John Taylor, just as in a certain charter, thereupon completed to us, more fully appears. To have and to hold all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services, meadows, pasturages and pastures with hedges and ditches with all other and singular their appurtenances to the aforesaid Robert Bygood and Robert Potipele, their heirs and assigns of the chief lords of that fee by the services thereupon due and lawfully accustomed forever by these presents. And I, the aforesaid Richard Potipole and my heirs shall warrant and defend forever all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services, meadows, pasturages and pastures with hedges and ditches and with all other and singular their appurtenances to the aforesaid Robert Bygood and Robert Potipole, their heirs and assigns against all men by these presents. In testimony of which matter, to this our present charter we have affixed our seals. With these witnesses: William Colyn, John Stane, John Penyfadyr, Walter Wodell, Stephen Penyfadyr and others. Dated at Rothyng Beauchamp, aforesaid, on the 20th day of January in the ?20th year of the reign of King Henry VI after the conquest [20 January 1441/2]. 7

Some of the ambiguities of the 1434 deed have now become clearer. Along with Richard, the grantees in the deed of 1434 (Melleborn, Stace and Wether) have now become the grantors and the new grantees are Robert Potipole and Robert Bygood (although the clerk failed to include Bygood in the initial statement of the grantees), an oversight further implying that this transaction is ultimately between the two Potipole men.

Although Robert could be either a father, brother or other close relative, the fact that he was named alone in the grantee clause of the deed implies that he was the “real” grantee in this transaction and therefore most likely a son and heir to Richard. We also know that Robert was at least twenty-one years of age, with an accompanying birth date therefore no later than 1421. Using the thirty-year estimate of generation interval, it now appears as though Richard’s birth likely occurred earlier than 1400, perhaps by as much as a decade.

The fourth Kynges deed that is available from the Congreve collection suggests that there may be deeds missing from the sequence. Twenty-six years separate the last two deeds in the series although again there is mention of a Pettypool man in the later of the two deeds. We must, however, speculate about how he may fit in with the others. The clerk tells us:

Know those present and future that we, Thomas Bedell of Wrytell in the county of Essex, William Wygote, chaplain, William Stane the elder of Wyllyngale Doo in the aforesaid county, have demised, freed, enfeoffed and by this our present charter confirmed to William Cherche the elder of Fyfhide in the aforesaid county, yeoman, Margery his wife, William Cherche of Fyhida, aforesaid, the younger, John Penyfader the elder of Wrytell, aforesaid, William Stane of Rothynge Beauchamp all those our lands and tenements, rents and services with all their appurtenances, lying in the aforesaid vills of Rothynge Beauchamp and Fyfhide, just as they are divided by metes and bounds, hedges and ditches, called Kynges, which we lately had at the same time with John Wodell, son of Walter Wodell of Rothynge Beauchamp, John Bedell, Guy Dynham and John Belwyn of London, founder, now deceased, from the gift and feoffment of John Petypole, John Joye, John Clement, Thomas Turnor and Thomas Ingold, as in a certain charter of feoffment thereupon completed to us, more fully appears. To have and to hold all the aforesaid lands and tenements, rents and services with all their appurtenances to the aforesaid William Cherche, Margery his wife, William Cherche the younger, John Penyfader and William Stane, the heirs and assigns of the aforesaid William Cherche the elder and Margery his wife and the longer liver of both of them forever of the chief lords of those fees by the services thereupon due and lawfully accustomed by these presents. In testimony of which matter, to this our present charter we have affixed our seals. With these witnesses: John Endefeld, John Colyn, Nicholas Fan, Robert Olyffe, John Este and many others. Dated at Rothynge Beauchamp, aforesaid, on the first day of the month of September in the 13th year of the reign of King Edward IV after the conquest [1 September1473]. 8

Unfortunately, we do not know the exact dates for the earliest transaction described in the 1473 deed and thus can only imperfectly estimate the dates associated with John Petypole’s ability to serve as a trustee. According to the deed, he was alive in 1473, and was, therefore, born no later than 1452 and, in all probability, somewhat earlier (since he was a trustee in the even earlier transaction). Could he be an heir of Robert, who was at least twenty-one in 1447? It certainly seems like a possibility.

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This page contains excerpts from English Ancestry of the Pettypool Family of Colonial Virginia by Carolyn Hartsough. To read the complete document:


[1] See The Historic Rodings, Easters, and Canfield, accessed 15 Dec 2012.

[2] See Records of the Congreve family of Congreve and Stretton, accessed 11 Jan 2014.

[3] Staffordshire Record Office, Document D1057-A-2-34.

[4] W. R. Powell, Editor. “Abbess Roding: Introduction.” Article. A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4: Ongar Hundred (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), 188, accessed 23 January 2014.

[5] Joan Thirsk and H. P. R. Finberg (Editors).“The Farming Regions of England.” The Agrarian History of England and Wales: 1500-1640. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 54.

[6] Essex Record Office. Document D/DHf M31. Court roll, accessed 18 December 2002.

[7] Staffordshire Record Office, Document D1057-A-2-36-2.

[8] Staffordshire Record Office, Document D1057-A-2-36-3.