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Not Brentford


Thanks to Vic Rosewarne for transporting readers back over 400 years with references to Brentford's ducking stool, advice from King Henry VIII and insights into life in the sixteenth century. Land was a precious commodity and the Ham was either in Isleworth or Hanwell parish; or perhaps it was split between them? Read on...

Vic adds: I have condensed down the testimony, which covers about 18 pages, and also modernised the language where it is confusing to modern eyes, but have left other spelling as recorded. I have kept the spelling of the two parishes of Istelworth and Brainford, by which they are known in the 1580s.

The Ham is shown on a 1925 map (bottom left) in the curve of the river Brent, near to St Lawrence's church.


In 1582 a disagreement arose between Hanwell and Isleworth, when Thomas Wilkes, of Isleworth, claimed ownership of a piece of waste ground, called the "Hame" then held by Jherom Hawley of Brentford. The Hame was an area in the curve of the River Brent, south of Brentford Bridge. To settle this dispute a commission was sent to Brentford in 1584, to inquire of the local inhabitants what was their knowledge in the matter. Some of the questions asked revolved around the boundary processions of Hanwell and Isleworth.


This boundary procession was an ancient custom derived from the Rogation Days of the early church. The Rogation days were the three days preceding the Thursday of Ascension Day, these were a processions round the fields, when the priest in charge would ask for God's blessing on the growing crops. These days were first instituted by Mammertus, Bishop of Vienne, in France, around the year 470 A.D. The observation of these days quickly spread to the rest of France. St. Augustine probably introduced them to England at the time of the conversion, and they soon became a popular part of the church ritual. The procession became a tour of the boundaries, later in Anglo-Saxon times, on the establishment of the parish church, the limits of the parish would be marked out. This would be done, as is mentioned in contemporary charters, with ditches and banks, stone markers and trees. The Rogation Days then became a day to visit these markers, at the same time encompassing all the land of the parish and thus including it in the priest's blessing.


These processions were not always peaceful. Around 1540 there was an incident involving the parishioners of Isleworth and Heston, who, while on one of the Rogation Days, clashed near Baber Bridge, where the Staines Road crosses the River Crane. This resulted in a violent struggle, known as "The Battle of Baber Bridge", when, it is said, the vicar of Isleworth was seen brandishing a banner stave. Perhaps this incident was recalled as two, possibly three, of the deponents for New Brentford were from Heston, giving evidence in support of Brentford's claim. Were they biased in their testimony by the remembrance of this event forty years earlier?

The details of the affair are from a document dating from after the dissolution of Sion Abbey as it mentions John Gates, appointed keeper of Sion House just after the surrender of the Monastery in the late 1530s, so dating the "Battle" to c. 1540.

(Reprinted in Lyson's Environs of London vol. 2, p. 242.)

The Rogation Day processions were held until the reign of Edward VI, when his injunctions on religion, published in 1547, banned all processions, including those round the boundaries of the parish. On Edward's death in 1553, his sister the Catholic Queen Mary ascended the throne and reinstated the religious processions including the Rogation Days. The depositions made to resolve the 1582-5 dispute mentions that these processions were held locally during Mary's Reign. On Mary's death in 1558 her sister Elizabeth ascended the throne and reissued Edward's Injunctions banning processions, but with the exception that : -

"But yet for the perambulation or circuit of the parish, they shall once in the year at the time accustomed, with their curate and substantial men of the parish, walk around their parish as they were accustomed."

The procession round the boundaries then became a secular affair, and later became known as "Beating the Bounds", a custom that continued locally till the beginning of the 20th Century.


The Depositions were taken at the town of New Brentford, Middlesex, by "William Applewood, Edward Barker, William Lennard Esq., and Henry Jones Gent.", on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of March, 1584, by "Her Majesties Commission of her highness's Court of Exchequer diverted unto us for and on behalf of Thomas Wylkes esquire and Robert Bewforrest playntyffe against Jherom Hawley esquire defendant as followeth."

A list of questions to be asked was prepared, one for the plaintiff's side and one for the defendant's. These involved the deponents knowledge of the ownership of the land, whether in the Manor or Parish of Isleworth or Manor of Boston and parish of Hanwell, what they knew of the perambulations about the parishes of Hanwell and Isleworth, whether the Hame was previously owned by Syon Abbey or the priory of St. Ellyn's, London or any other knowledge the deponent had of the matter.



Ten witness for the plaintiff gave evidence, those who could say, deposed that the land was part of the Manor and Parish of Isleworth. These are some parts of their testimonies : -

Robert Cole of Istelworth, Gentleman, of the age of 97 years or thereabouts, sworn and examined, deposed : --

He said that he verily believeth that the parcel of ground called the Hame, mentioned in the first interrogation is within the parish of Istelworth, which he knoweth to be true because he has gone in perambulation and procession round about the said Hame as parcel of the parish of Isleworth, enjoining at the east end of Brainford Bridge, and he further said that he has known it to be accounted and taken by the time aforesaid to be within the parish of Istelworth.

Walter Button, a weaver, aged 76, and upwards, of Isleworth.

"He said that the perambulations or processions, before by him deposed, and namely that whenever he was present were performed by the parishioners of Istelworth round about the said ground called the Hame, quietly and without any interruption, saving that once in Queen Mary's time, they were prohibited and stopped upon the bridge by the parishioners of Brainford, by reason thereof they were then enforced to turn back again, without finishing their said perambulation."

That upon the aforesaid interruption, variance and controversy in law grew between the vicar of Istelworth and the parson of Hanwell, but what fell out thereof he cannot tell.

He has heard it reported that King Henry VIII, coming through Brentford demanded of one Redman, being then the King's freemason, and dwelling in Brentford, why that had no Butts made by the Highway, whereunto Redman answered they had no convenient place, to which the King replied, "Why do you not sett them there." Pointing to the said Hame, and Redman answered, "We may not soe doe, because it is not within our parish". "Why" quoth the Kynge, "We command you to set up a pair there, and see who will pluck them down." And so they were set up there.

He knoweth a certain fisherman and namely one Robert Staples, Owen Knight & William Knight, at sundry times to have fished and taken fish, in waters of the Brent between Brainford Bridge and the Thames, and that he hath heard these fishermen themselves to say that they have paid rent to the inhabitants of Brick House, now inhabited by the plaintiff, for fishing there, as namely to Sir John Thynne, Mr. Goodwyn and Mr. Burkefold, or to two of them.

Walter Fylde, of Hounslow, Husbandman, aged 80 years and upwards.

"That about 36 years past, or more, he heard one John Harper, servant of one Pylkington, baylie for the Abbess of Syon, of her manor of Istelworth, say and report that he, the said John Harper, by the appointment of the said Pylkington, his master, did fell down certain trees growing on the east side of the said Hame, on the bank by the house, later called St. Laurence Almshouse, and carried the same trees home to Syon House, to the use of the Abbess. Further he said that he doth remember that there did sometimes a "Cokinge stoole" stand upon the middest of the Hame, over a poole there, and that one called Mrs. Tottersall, being at that time an inhabitant of Istelworth, was by the parishioners of Istelworth brought to the said "Dooking stoole" and ducked there in the said poole for a scold."

[This mention of a "Cooking" stool, and in a later testimony of a woman being "cooked" there, this is obviously a Ducking Stool, and certainly the woman was not cooked there but ducked, as is said in other testimony.]


Wylliam Knight, of Istelworth, Fisherman, aged about 54 years.

He said that 35 years past in the time of Sir John Thynne, where the plaintiff now dwells, a brother of this deponent called Owen Knight, did hear of one Starkye, servant to Sir John Thynne, the fishing of the River Brent from Brainford Bridge downwards, for the yearly rent of 6s. 8d., and after Sir John Thynne's departure, the said house the deponent and his brother did hire the same fishing of Mr. Godwyne, successor to Sir John Thynne, in the same house and at the same rent, and after Mr. Godwyn's departure from the said house, this deponent and his said brother did hire the same fishing of Mr. Burkfold, for the like rent.

By the time of Sir John Thynne, Mr. Godwyn, and Mr. Burkford, this deponent and his brother according to their said several grants did peaceably and quietly, without any interruptions enjoy the said fishing, until such time as Mr. Hawley, the defendant, about his first coming to dwell at Burston, came And forbad this deponent to continue his fishing there, saying that he ought not to fish past the middle water from their side, whereupon this deponent told so much to Mr. Burkfold and that Mr. Hawley had threatened to indict them if they fished more than half the water, but Mr. Burkford bade them proceed and not be afraid, for he would be their warrant, whereupon they did continue their fishing in the whole water all the time of Mr. Burkford lyfe, quietly without resistance of any, and after the death of Mr. Burkfold, until such time as some of Brainford (as he thinketh) came secretly in the night and spoilt their reels and tackling, by reason whereof, they gave up their fishing.

Robert Feasey, of Kingston-upon-Thames, aged 62 deposes :--

"That he did know one Pylkington, being baylie to the Abbess of Syon, did cause a Cooking stoole to be set up in the said Hame, as parcel and possession of the Abbess of Syon; and further said that the inhabitants of Brainford, having occasion to set up a Pound, were fain to set up the said Pound hard by St. Laurence House, being on this side the said Hame, and that they did not nor would not enterprise to set their Pound on the Hame, because it was none of theirs, and that the fishing in or about the said Hame did appertain to the Abbess of Syon; and further there was one Mr. Wyndsore, being Steward (in Queen Mary's time) to the Abbess of Syon, holding a Law Court at Istelworth for the said Abbess, there came one Mr. Dove, of Brainford, and entered into some speech on behalf of the inhabitants of Brainford for the said Hame, and thereupon Mr. Wyndsore showed him a copy of the Court Roll, and bade him go and seek an East Hame, for he should have no West Hame there, whereupon Mr. Dove went away with that answer and left his Brablinge, and by reason of all this thing, this deponent is verily persuaded that the said Hame belongs to the Abbess of Syon."

John Frauncys the elder, Labourer of Istelworth, aged about 70 years or thereabout.

"He rembereth at a Court holden in Istelworth in Queen Mary's time, by one Sir Edmund Wyndsore, knight, then stuade to the Abbess of Syon, he, this deponent being then cryer of the same Court, did see the said Sir Edmund Wyndsour show forth unto one Mr. Dove, of New Brainford, who came to the said Court, and used some speech on behalf of the inhabitants of New Brainford, touching the said Hame, a certain Court Roll, whereby it appeared that the officer to the Abbess of Syon had taken away certain fish from certain fishers, which had taken the same out of the Chapell pond and other pooles within the said Hame, and that the said Mr Windsour bade him seek another east Hame for he should not have that Hame, whereupon the said Dove departed with that answer, and further he said that he doth well remember upon communications passing between him and one Humphrey Burkland, at the time bailie of the Manor of Burston, touching the setting up of a Pounde at the west end of Brainford, without the said Hame, adjoining to the house called St. Laurence Hospitall, the said Humfrey did tell this deponent that it was set there because he had no other place to set it on."

William Whyte of Twyckenham, Waterman, aged 50 years.

"There was a Cooking stool standing upon the said Hame and that about 35 years past one Mrs. Tottersal, the being an inhabitant of the parish of Istelworth, was there cooked by the parishioners of Istelworth."

The other Isleworth deponents not listed above were : -

Myles Harper of Istelworth, Husbandman of the age of 72 or thereabouts.

Richard Turpin of Istelworth, Taylor of age 70 years and upwards.

Thomas Adams of Twickenham aged 77 years or thereabouts.


* * * * * * * *


The Brentford depositions were shorter and there were only eight deponents, they all stated the Hame was part of Hanwell Parish and of the Manor of Boston.

William Butteridge, of Hanwell, in the County of Middlesex, Husbandman, aged 87 years and upwards.

The land taken in the parish of Hanwell and Brainford by the perambulations or processions and he said that for the past 15 or 16 years he did see that the perambulations of the parishioners of Hanwell and Brainford compass round the said Hame in the Rogation week.

He did not know the manor of Istelworth to extend eastwards past the West end of Brainford Bridge and further he said that the river called the Brent doth part and sever the manors of Boston and Istelworth, and so he hath known it by the space of 47 years.

Richard Streate, of Heston, Husbandman of aged 62

"He never knew that the manor of Isleworth extend eastwards towards Brainford than to the bridge thereof, and this he never knew otherwise but that the river of Brent did part and sunder the mannors of Istelworth and Burston."

"He doth know that Sir John Thynne, Knight, made breaches in the said Hame, but whether the said Sir John Thynne, Knight, paid any money for the making up of them again, he cannot depose."

Johan Adams, wife of Michaell Adams, of Ould Brainford, in County of Middesex, tyler, of age 78 years or thereabouts.

She said that the inhabitants of Brainford have taken the profit and benefit of the waste ground called the Hame during the time of her remberance.

She said she does not know how far the manor of Istelworth extended eastward, not how it is divided from the manor of Burston, but she said she doth well remember that in Queen Mary's time she did see in the Rogation Week in one year, the procession of the parish of Istelworth come to a cross standing on Brainford Bridge and say a gospel there, in one of the said Rogation days, and that on one other day in the same Rogation Week the procession of Brainford did come to the same cross and say a Gospel there.

Johan Steedman, of Old Brentford, Middlesex, widow of age 80 years or thereabouts.

She never knew the contrary than the said Hame lay in the parish of Hanwell and New Brainford and she never knew no others to take the profit thereof than the inhabitants of Brainford, and she never knew others to take the profit thereof.

Edmund Augar, of Hounslow in the County of Middlesex, Vyntener of age 78 or thereabouts. (This deponent may have been living in Heston, as the area to the north side of Hounslow High Street was in Heston parish, and the south side in Isleworth.)

The other Brentford deponents not listed above were : -

Gregory Molde, of Heston, County of Middlesex, Husbandman, aged 70 years or thereabouts.

Mandlyn Molde, wife of Gregory Molde, of Heston, Middlesex, Husbandman, of age 60 or thereabouts.

George Lamkyn of Ould Brainford, in the parish of Ealing, Middlesex, of age of 74 or thereabouts.


Judgement was given for the defendant Jherom Hawley.

1585 Jovis quinto die Novembris. -- Ordered that defendant shall have and continue in the quiet possession of the said ground in controversy until better title shall be showed by the plaintiff.

Jherom Hawley was the son of a Somerset gentleman, he left Somerset to study at the Middle Temple, and later settled at Burston (Boston), becoming a Clerk of the Petty Bag in Chancery and a Middlesex J. P., he also sat for the seat of Andover in Parliament. This seat was under the control of the Earl of Leicester.

Jherom Hawley, "sick in body", made his will 2 September 1622, leaving 150 to his son William, 200 each to his daughters, Katherine and Susan, and 50 each to the three children of his "last" wife. The residue of the estate was left to his eldest son and sole executor, proved 4 May 1624.


On Moses Glover's Map of the Manor of Isleworth Sion, there is a house shown just to the south west of Brentford Bridge, occupied at that time by a Mr. Noye, this is possible the house "Rose and Sprottes", or the Brick House, mentioned in the above testimony.

The same map shows that there was a bowling alley on the Ham, between St. Lawrence Church and the River Brent.


The document recording the depositions is from : - Exchequer Depositions - E / 134, 26 Elizabeth, Easter 6.

It was part reprinted in part, Home Counties Magazine Vol. 4, p. 40-42.

The Details of Jherom Haley are from the History of Parliament - Website.


Page published October 2018