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The Hopkins Family 1669 – 1700

Perhaps therefore in 1669 William Hopkins had acquired ownership of the house. He certainly had by 1673 for on 2 February of that year the Parish Register records that “Martha, daughter of Mr William Hopkins de la Vine” was baptised. It is curious, and interesting, that William Hopkins, like Robert Norbury before him, is using the house name as an adjunct or suffix to his surname. As has been mentioned before, one may suppose from this that the house was considered of sufficient importance so as not to make this practice seem ridiculous. It of course gave the bearer a slight ring of the aristocracy, or at least gentry, to him – and it is certainly of invaluable help to the house-history researcher!

Martha is not in fact the first child of William Hopkins to be recorded in the Parish Register. Mary (named after William’s wife as was customary for a first-born daughter) had been baptized on 9 November 1671. In addition there is an Indenture (deed of conveyance of title to land) dated 10 October 1670 under which William Hopkins bought land including “orchard and 2 parcells [sic.] of pasture ground next adjoining the dwelling house of William Hopkins on the West, the King’s Highway on the South and a little lane leading to a field and Gilles Stackhouse field [this name is unclear] on the East, circa 1 and a half acres and known by the name of Qnob [again unclear] Meadow”. Bearing in mind that, at this date still, the “King’s Highway” would have been the present School Lane, this piece of land looks very much like part of the land just North of School Lane and between The Vine and the present Church View development. This of course bears out the hypothesis that William Hopkins acquired the house in 1669, or at least by 1670.

William Hopkins continued to buy land. By an Indenture of 28 December 1674 (the one referred to in the 1677 Quit Claim we have looked at above), Thomas Careles and his son sold to “William Hopkins of the Vine….all that land…..comprising circa 2 acres lying in the North as part of a field called Lower Field near the brook and South part adjoining Glebe land of the vicarage of Tarrington”. Where exactly this land lay one can only guess.

On 3 January 1675, William’s third daughter, Olive, was christened and on 7 November 1678, his fourth daughter Hester. Like Robert Norbury before him, William had to wait some time for the birth of a son and heir – a son William being baptised on 10 January 1680.

Like Thomas Careles before him, William Hopkins was active in the Parish Church. On 20 March 1676 he had counter-signed the Parish Register with one Richard Tomkins as Church Wardens. Rather confusingly, the Vicar at this time was also named William Hopkins.

In the meantime, certain events had taken place just a mile or so to the West up the King’s Highway at Stoke Edith which were to have a profound effect on the subsequent history of The Vine.
We have seen above how the Manor of Tarrington passed from the Bodenham to the Lingen family in the early part of the 17th century. Henry Lingen was a staunch supporter of the Crown in the Civil War, becoming a Royalist Colonel and being knighted by Charles I in 1645. His estate, including a mansion house at Stoke Edith, was confiscated by the Commonwealth Government and a heavy fine imposed. Although Henry was restored to his estates at the Restoration, he died soon after in 1661, leaving a widow, Dame Alice, in somewhat straightened financial circumstances. However, the decline of one family was the opportunity for another on the ascendance.

Thomas Foley had made a considerable fortune in the iron industry and had become High Sheriff for Worcester in 1656 under the Commonwealth. He was M.P. for Worcester in 1658 and for Bewdley in the year of the Restoration, 1660. His son, Paul Foley, rose to even more distinguished heights, becoming M.P. for Hereford seven times from 1679 to 1698 and Speaker of the House of Commons from 1695 to 1698.

Paul Foley was keen to acquire an estate and in 1671 he purchased from Dame Alice Lingen the Stoke Edith Estate of the Lingen family (which incidentally also included “Freetowne Farm in the occupation of Peeter [sic.] Nash”). On 19 December 1683 Paul Foley acquired all the lands of Sir Thomas Cooke in Tarrington (a considerable amount). Former Bodenham and Ravenhill land was also acquired at this time.

However, Paul Foley was also interested in acquiring less extensive parcels of land which might complement his major core purchases of the ex-Lingen, Cooke, Bodenham and Ravenhall lands. On 20 September 1681 he purchased from William Hopkins (now described in the Indenture as “Gentleman” – ie in rank distinctly above an ordinary yeoman farmer) and Mary his wife land known as Old Church of approx. 5 acres.

A few months later William and Mary Hopkins made another disposal of land, this time to one Oliver Thomas and Susanna his wife.

William must at this time have felt his end drawing on as on 25 May 1682 he made out his Will. Interestingly, he describes himself in it as “yeoman” (or modest freeholder) – a rank inferior to that of “gentleman”, as he had described himself in the Indenture of 1681 with Paul Foley. Perhaps in that latter document he had felt the need to assert his social position, when dealing with the undoubted gentry, even at the cost of some little exaggeration!

Yeoman or Gentleman, William Hopkins was clearly possessed of not inconsiderable lands. His Will is well drawn and detailed, such as at that time, only a man of some property would leave. He bequeathed all his land in Tarrington and (interestingly) Munsley to his wife Mary, until his son William (then just 2 years old of course) should reach 21, whereupon half the estate should pass to him, provided that Mary should have a right to remain in the “mansion house” (The Vine) during her life and enjoy the remaining half of the estate during that period. Financial legacies were left to the daughters Mary, Martha, Olive and Hester (the latter, the youngest, receiving half of what her sisters received). As far as Mary, the wife, was concerned, it strikes one as a very generous Will – and it is nice to think that this is indicative of a close and happy marriage.

William Hopkins did not long survive his Will and was buried in the Parish Churchyard on 18 December 1684. Now we come to a rather curious and intriguing circumstance.

Mary, the late William Hopkins’s wife, was of course now a (presumably relatively young) widow of means, albeit with a young family (the eldest daughter Mary being just 13 years old) to provide for. All these factors made it unlikely, according to the customs of the time, that she should remain single for long but it is still rather staggering to find that on 24 January 1685 the Parish Register records the marriage of “Herbert Walton of the parish of Croft and Mary Hopkins of the parish of Taddington, by licence”. We know from subsequent documents that this was certainly Mary, the widow of William Hopkins and not another Mary. The remarriage of a widow in just a little over a month from the death of her husband is unusual in any age – but at the end of the 17th century, when a decent period of mourning was “de rigeur”, this must have set tongues wagging round the village. The reference to the licence is interesting. This was presumably from the Bishop of Hereford to dispense with the usual bans. One would love to know why this was so necessary. Hamlet’s “The funeral baked meats/Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables” inevitably springs to mind – but one trusts that no further features of that play were replicated in the quiet purlieus of The Vine!

No issue of Mary’s second marriage are traceable in the Parish Register. However, it seems that, over the next 15 years, all Mary’s daughters, save for Hester, the youngest, married local men. There was also a sad loss to the family as William Hopkins the younger died and was buried on 18 December 1696, aged just 16.

The next mention of The Vine in the records is a momentous one – its sale to the Foley family. By Indenture dated 30 September 1701 Mary Hopkins and her daughters sold the house and its adjoining land to Thomas Foley (the son of Speaker Paul Foley who had died in 1699) for the good sum of £1,120. The Indenture gives details of the marital status, and places of residence, of each of the daughters. Mary, the eldest, was married to Edmund Turnor of Mansell Hope, Martha to Edward Coleriffe of Eardisland and Olive to Roger Powell of (?)Poythington. Hester was described as living also in Eardisland, presumably with Martha and Edward.

The house and land were sold in two parcels, each with its own separate purchase price. The first parcel was “all that Orchard and soyl thereof next adjoining unto the Mesuage or dwelling house wherein the said William Hopkins formerly lived and wherein they the said Herbert Walton and Mary his said wife do now dwell and inhabit commonly called and known by the name of the Vine on the West side, the King’s highway thoro, on the South side, and lands now in possession of Elizabeth [illegible] widow on the East side, consisting by estimate of 1 acre and a half….” This parcel was sold for £200.

The second parcel is described as “all that messuage or mansion house wherein the said Herbert Walton now inhabits commonly called and known as the Vine together with the Barn and Stables, Craft houses and other buildings, gardens and orchards thereto adjoining etc known by the name of the Vine Orchard consisting of by estimate 3 acres, also the Lower Field (approx. 9 acres)…” This parcel was sold for £920.

What was the nature and appearance of the house itself at this watershed in its history is impossible to say. One may guess though that its core was still either the stone or stone-footed half-timbered dwelling that we have supposed for the 15th or 16th centuries – though presumably somewhat grander than the original yeoman’s dwelling that we have projected for the period of the Careles family. We do know that it had a total of 17 windows, as Herbert Walton was assessed for 6s of Window Tax on this basis in 1697. The Indenture of 1701 shows us that, in addition to lands that William Hopkins and his predecessors had added to the holding, there was also a reasonably substantial collection of farm buildings adjoining, such as one would expect of a fairly important farm. Indeed the approximate geography of the present farm buildings surrounding the house to the North and West may by this period have already begun to take shape.

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