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Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 3 months ago

Shrievalty Bond: Herman Reynolds of Farnborough, potter, 30 Oct 1591

Hampshire Record Office reference 44M69/G3/17/9

Preliminary page prepared by Peter Tipton, June 2008 - research on-going



When Jacqui Pearce of the Museum of London first asked the Yateley Society whether we knew of a German potter working in the Farnborough area in the last quarter of the 16th century, four documents were provided for her:

  • 1586 Lay Subsidy for Farnborough (from The Hampshire Lay Subsidy Rolls, 1586 Edited by Roger Davey, Hampshire Record Series Volume IV)
  • 1584 to 1600 Farnborough Parish Registers (transcribed by PJT from the microfiche in HRO)
  • 1591 A shrievalty bond in a bundle of bonds, promissory notes and letters concerning payments to the sheriff or under-sheriff of Hampshire HRO ref 44M69/G3/17
  • 1609 Will of Herman Reynolds, potter of Farnborough, HRO 1609A62


Reproductions of Herman Reynolds' will and of the shrievalty bond can be found in Jacqui Pearce's book Pots and Potters in Tudor Hampshire. Together these four documents therefore confirmed Herman Reynolds' existence as a foreigner in Farnborough, working as a potter from before 1586 until his death in 1609.


There are two sections to the bond, the first part in Latin and the second in English. In the Latin section the words Herman Reynolds of Farnborough in the County of Southampton, Potter are easy to translate. In isolation it is difficult to understand the purpose of the shrievalty bond. Reading the English section it is only possible to conjecture as to what relationships Herman Reynolds had with the other men mentioned. It was initially hoped that translation and then research into the purpose of the bond might reveal some sort of financial or marketing arrangements for the pottery produced by this foreign potter living in Farnborough.


The Latin section of the bond has now been transcribed and translated by Dr Alison Deveson:


Noverint universi per presentes me Hurmanum Reynolds de Farnebroughe in Comitatu Southt’ potter teneri et firmiter obligari Johanni Persehowse generoso in quatuor libris legalis monete Anglie solvendis eidem Johanni vel assignatis suis Ad quam quidem solucionem bene et fideliter faciendam obligo me heredes executores et administratores meos per presentes sigillo meo sigillatas Datum xxxo die Octobris anno regni domine nostre Elizabethe Dei gratia Anglie Francie et Hibernie Regine fidei defensoris etc xxxiijo

Know all men by these presents that I Herman Reynolds of Farnborough in the County of Southampton potter am held and firmly bound to John Persehouse gentleman in four pounds of legal money of England to be paid to the same John or his assigns, to making which payment well and faithfully I bind myself my heirs executors and administrators by these presents sealed with my seal. Given on the 30th day of October in the 33rd year of the reign of our lady Elizabeth by the grace of God Queen of England France and Ireland defender of the faith etc.


The section in English is given below. The previous gaps in my transcription have now been filled in by Alison. She agrees that the second witness was probably Richard Gunner (which immediately makes another possible London/Borderware connection):


The condition of this obligation is such that if the abovebounden Harman Reynolds his heires executors administrators or assignes or any of them shall well and truly content and pay or cause to be payd to the above named John Persehowse his executors and assignes the summe of Fortie shillings of lawful English money in or upon the feast day of St Andrew the Apostle next ensuinge the date hereof at the now dwellinge house of George Lyddyatt merchant situate in Walbroke London att one whole and entire payment without delay fraude or Coven. That then this present obligation shalbe void and of none effect or els to stand in force and vertue

Signed H Reynolds

Sealed and delivered in the presence of

Raphe Hotchkis Richard Gunner(?)


The Shrievalty Bond in Context

The bond signed by Herman Reynolds is one of 10 bonds, promissory notes and letters dated 1591 (ref 44M69/G3/17) concerning payments to the undersheriff of Hampshire. These are in the extensive Herriard Collection at Hampshire Record Office. Sir Richard Paulet of Herriard was then the Sheriff, and Richard Persehouse was his under-Sheriff. Richard Persehouse came from Staffordshire where, rather confusingly the Persehouse family seat was called Reynolds Hall in Walsall. Richard Persehouse's bond to Richard Paulet dated 30 Dec 1590 (44M69/G3/10), made on assuming the office of undersheriff, gives his residence as Hurst Hill, Staffs and his will (1595) states he was from Sedgley, Staffs. Hurst Hill and Sedgley are SE of Wolverhampston, SW of Walsall and north of Tipton.


Immediately he assumed the office of Undersheriff Richard Persehouse appears to have embarked on a comprehensive scheme of fraud and embezzlement, collecting monies due to the crown, but failing to pay them into the shrievalty accounts. The fraud does not appear to have come to light until about the time of Persehouse's death in 1595. As a result Sir Richard Paulet, the Sheriff, became personally liable for the debt to the Exchequer. The deficit was enormous - £600. Sir Richard tried to pass the liability onto the Crown by offering to assign the bonds and promissary notes to the Exchequer. These negotiations dragged on another two years until 1597, by which time his house at Herriard had been destroyed by fire. He referred to the fire in 44M69/G3/55 as having "utterlie consumed" his home and goods, and requested pardon and discharge from the debts incurred by the "lewde dealings" of his undersheriff. Document 44M69/G3/56/1-2, dated later in 1597, is a copy of the royal pardon, referring to Sir Richard as "late Sheriff of Hampshire" and refers to "his great losse" sustained by fire.


We know that Herman Reynolds was caught up in Richard Persehouse's fraud since Reynold's bond was listed as one of the ten made in 1591, and that is why a copy survived. It seems that Reynolds, along with the others, had paid Persehouse by the due date, but the monies had not been passed on the the Exchequer. Persehouse's crooked method is apparent from the Reynolds bond transcribed above. The bond stipulates payment must be made to John Persehouse at the house of George Lyddiatt on Walbrook, London. John Persehouse, Richard's brother, was a lawyer at the Inner Temple and presumably did not know what was going on (44M69/G3/34 and 44M69/G3/39 both 1595). Presumably also George Lydiatt, from Himley, Staffordshire was Richard Persehouse's accomplice (44M69/G3/42 1591-92, 1595).


By assigning the bonds and promissory notes to the Crown, Sir Richard Paulet was causing the debts to be collected a second time: firstly they had been embezzled by Persehouse, and secondly they would be collected by the Exchequer. This does not look like natural justice for the debtors, and implies the bonds and notes may have been some sort of fine. Document 44M69/G3/37 ordered that constats (ie an enrolment of letters-patent under the Great Seal) were to be made against the debtors, but the legal process against Sir Richard would be be stayed. 44M69/G3/41 is the Queen's orders to distrain for goods if payment was not made against the debts from the orginal debtors and on 28 Nov 1595 (44M69/G3/42) Sir Richard obtained a receipt for seven assigned bills which he was duly authorised to pursue through the courts -- and Herman Reynold's bond is listed as one of them. Earlier in the year, (in May 1595 44M69/G3/34) the bond of "Hurmanus Reinold of Farnborough" had been listed in a schedule of seven bonds assigned by John Persehouse "of the Inner Temple, London gent" to Richard Poulet of Herriard, "late sheriff of Hampshire," towards payment of the latter's debts to the Crown.


I have yet to find any evidence that Herman Reynolds was pursued by Sir Richard Paulet for a second payment against his 1591 debt, but it is likely that he did.


What does the bond tell us about Herman Reynolds?

This whole saga of fraud and embezzlement in public office in the 1590s is a fascinating story in itself, but does it throw any further light onto the life of our immigrant potter? Initially it had been hoped that a closer reading of the shrievalty bond might illuminate financial or marketing arrangements. However reading through the calendar of the related documents in the Herriard Collection shows that Herman Reynolds owed money to the Crown, and at £2, was a relatively minor amount compared with some of the other debts which were collected by the Undersheriff of Hampshire on behalf of the Exchequer.


Could this perhaps be a fee to obtain naturalisation as a citizen of England which -- remaining unpaid to the authorities because it was embezzled -- failed to gain him this status? It is apparent from Reynolds will, which left no property and had no inventory, that he was probably still classed as an alien when he died. I don't know enough about the process of denization to be able to answer this question but the documentary evidence from the calendar of the Herriard Papers appears to indicate something completely different.


Of the 16 bonds and promissory notes which can be identified in the calendar of the Herriard papers in CALM (the Hampshire Record Office database) only two give a specific reason for the debt to the Crown:

  • Francis Keilwey of Rockbourne, esq. for issues of the manors of Rockbourne and Rockstead. Conceivably these could have been Crown Manors, although the income from the manors could have been distrained by the Crown for other reasons;
  • William Browne of Sutton, gent for the farm of Sutton, late of Richard Warneford, recusant. Browne challenged the right of the Crown to impose recusancy fines of him now that Richard Warneford had sold the farm.


It is Browne's challenge which gives the first clue as to the purpose of these bonds and promissory notes - recusancy fines imposed on Catholics by Elizabeth's Protestant regime. There are other clues: Richard Persehouse, just before he died, was required to appear before the Exchequer to pay the money he had collected from the "lands of Thomas Poundes, recusant, whilst he was undersheriff". Document 44M69/G3/52 dated 17 Feb 1597 sets out a schedule of money which Sir Richard Poulet must pay listing payments due for "recusancy, farms and manors etc". Document 44M69/G3/56/1-2 of 1597, which is a copy of the royal pardon to Sir Richard Poulet, is for "moneys due to the Crown from his deceased undersheriff Richard Persehouse for recusancy".


Obviously I shall have to look at the original documents in the Herriard Collection in some detail to see if there is any specific evidence that Herman Reynolds was indebted to the Crown for a recusancy fine. However the evidence so far indicates fairly strongly that Herman Reynolds for a Catholic and that his fine was embezzled by Richard Persehouse, the Undersheriff of Hampshire.


I have also just noticed in the Lay Subsidy Assessments for Farnborough dated 1625 that a George Raynold was assessed 8d in the list of non communicants. Did Herman Reynolds have a son after all, who was not mentioned in his will? Reynolds is a common surname in later years so too much not be made of this yet.


If it is true that Herman Reynolds was a Catholic then the fact that he set up business in Farnborough as an economic migrant is, in my view, an even more interesting proposition than if he had come to England to escape religious persecusion as suggested in Jacqui Pearce's recent book on Borderware.


A trail which was initiated to seek out possible financial backers and marketing arrangements used by Borderware potters at the end of the 16th century may be leading to even more interesting conclusions.


Back to Herman Reynolds potter

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