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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago

John Aslott, d.1585, Yateley


Two of the inventories analysed by the Yateley History Project Wills Team in the 1980s were those of John Aslott (died 1565) and his wife Alice (died 1567), who were:


"in the business of selling wool and cloth. John had a pair of scales and weights, a pair of stockards for carding wool, wool yarn, and a load of wool in his inventory. Alice‘s inventory included 'two pare of stockards and waytes and woll and yarne and clothe' valued at £4 l0s. In 1567 Thomas son of John Aslott paid rent for a cottage and garden 'on the north side of the churchyard', and it may have been from here that the business was conducted, but this or another Thomas Aslott also rented a dwelling and twelve acres from Richard Allen."


John Aslott actually owned three houses, two in Yateley. One Yateley property was the cottage on the north side of the cemetery ie where Chaddisbrooke and Discoveries stand today. John‘s other house, next door, named Ye Olde Vicarage in the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. In 1567 it was called Lewes‘, and was rented from Richard Allen."


In his 1992 report on his archaeological investigations prior to renovations and conversions then being carried out to Chaddisbrooke House, Geoff Hoare also investigated John Aslott:


"He was apparently a man of some substance. The inventory of his possessions refers to 6/7 rooms and he also owned a house in Wokingham which he left in equal shares to two of his daughters. He owed money to a Thomas Hall for oil and soap and also to Grabriel Polston, a London grocer, possibly for goods that were sold in the shop mentioned in the inventory. He was owed money by a tailor (Anderson of Wokingham), which coupled with reference to shears, wool, cloth, yarn etc in the inventory, and money owed to 'Brown the dyer' itemised in his wife‘s will, possibly indicates he dealt in cloth.•


Good light is required for working with wool. In both inventories the wool, yarn, the shears and the stockards are upstairs, and not in the shop. So was John Aslott‘s Elizabethan shop Yateley‘s earliest known grocery shop? It‘s a bit more interesting than that....


Yateley‘s Wool Brogger

New research for this exhibition indicates that John Aslott was a Wool Brogger. In 1558 France recaptured Calais which had, since 1347, been a 'Staple' town controlled by the British for exporting raw wool and other commodities to the continent. One wool merchant, and Mayor of the Staple of Calais, was Robert White, born in Yateley, who

died in 1467 at Farnham, then a centre for the wool trade.


After the recapture of Calais three types of wool middlemen emerged. Firstly the Staplers, who were accustomed to making bargains in hundreds, even thousands of pounds, turned to domestic trade. Secondly came a group of dealers connected to the leather industry: glovers, fellmongers, tanners etc. Lastly came the brogging clothiers‘ who, as well as dealing in wool, appear to have retained some interest in the manufacture of cloth. Such was John Aslott in Yateley.


In 1577 a manuscript in the House of Lords Library states:

”it is...a common practize in the wooll contries, that euerie man that will dothe, and is suffered to buy wooll and sell it againe, as well he that is not worthe 40s as he that is worth £500


John Aslott was buying wool newly sheared. The wool was 'scoured' by washing with soap, then oiled to return the fleece to its soft supple state before scouring. The oils and soap were bought from the Thomas Hall mentioned as a creditor in his will. Wool sorting was a skilled trade requiring a seven-year apprenticeship, and was particularly important in our area for preparing specialist cloths. The oiled wool was then carded to prepare it for spinning. John Aslott had no spinning wheels -- he farmed out that operation to local people as a 'cottage industry'. He then collected back the yarn, and dyed it, before farming the coloured yarns out again to weavers. Having collected back the finished cloth, he either sold it in his shop, cutting it to length with his shears, or sold it by the bolt to tailors, such as the one in Wokingham who owed him money when he died.


Richard Geale and Humphrey Laude also owed him money. The father of William Laude, the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, was a clothier operating on a very large scale in Broad Street, Reading. Was Humphrey Laude perhaps related?


Extracted from Church End, Yateley a short history of the historical core of Yateley from Mill Lane to the Hall Lane roundabout, taken from the text of the Yateley Society's annual exhibitions and publication, and published for Yateley Village Design Framework: Ideas Day held at Yateley Manor School, 15 November 2003. Originally published as a display card in the Yateley Society's annual exhibition in Yateley Library in 2003, Adult Education in Yateley.


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Page written by Peter Tipton for the Yateley Society's 2003 Exhibition: Adult Education in Yateley mounted in Yateley Library during Local Listory Month, for which the theme was Adult Education. This exhibition was held in conjunction with Yateley Workers Education Association (WEA) -- now in 2008 defunct. Pages may have been updated as a result of recent research.

(C) The Yateley Society, 2003 and 2008

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