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Page history last edited by Peter Tipton 13 years, 3 months ago

Robert Hall, Potter of Cove died 1633


Page prepared by Peter Tipton 5 Sep 2006 revised 2 Oct 2006


In her article 'The Blackwater Potters Revisited' Elizabeth Lewis, curator of the Winchester Museum Service, looked at wills and inventories of Border Ware potters. She came to the conclusion that several of the early C17 potter families were inter-related stating: "Further research on the parish records, beyond the scope of the present paper, would usefully establish and clarify these family patterns and relationships."


Nearly half the 30 wills and inventories she looked at were made by potters working in Cove, a village in the ancient parish of Yateley. Unfortunately the parish registers of Yateley only survive since 1636. Fortunately Cove is so close to Farnborough that some Cove potters are recorded in the Farnborough registers which start in 1584. I had not seen these when I first wrote this page, but I have now transcribed the Farnborough registers up till 1600.


Wills exist for two Cove potters named Robert Hall. Their wills are dated 1633 and 1659. In selecting the Hall family for further scrutiny, I shall attempt to answer the questions:


1. Were there indeed close family relationships between the potters?

2. Was Robert Hall the elder working as a potter in the final quarter of the 16th century when crucial changes were made in the local industry?

3. How many potters were likely to have been working in the area at that time?


The will of Robert Hall the elder (1633) is very informative. It mentions his wife Margaret, his son Robert, his two daughters (Mary Pullen and Anne Ives), his grandson Henry Pullen, and his two brothers-in-law John and Henry Rogers. As Elizabeth Lewis pointed out, this will immediately interconnects the three potter families of Hall, Pullen and Rogers alias Marner.


What age was Robert Hall the elder when he died?

Robert Hall was buried before the Yateley registers commenced. However Margaret Hall was buried 6 Jun 1646 described as "a widow above 80 years of age", placing her birth about 1565. So Margaret's husband Robert Hall could have been in his seventies when he died in 1633. Thus Robert Hall could have been a young man of 21 before 1580. Likewise his brothers-in-law John and Henry Rogers alias Marner, and his daughter's father-in-law Henry Pullen of Grove House, Farnborough, could have been Robert Hall's contemporaries, born in the 1560s. If this is correct then we immediately have the names of four inter-related potters working in the crucial last quarter of the 16th century, and whose sons carried on their businesses in the heyday of supplying the London market in the first half of the 17th century.


The above simple conclusions are based on one key unsubstantiated assumption: that Margaret Hall, buried 1646 was the widow of Robert Hall the potter. She may equally well have been the widow of Richard Hall buried in Yateley 20 Jun 1640 aged 80. Richard Hall did not leave a will so we do not know the name of his wife, but Richard's wife could also have been Margaret. Equally Margaret could have been the widow of someone who died long before the registers commenced. So what other evidence is there to substantiate Robert Hall's birth before 1565, even if the Margaret Hall who died in 1646 was not his widow?


At the time he wrote his will on 29 Jan 1630, Robert Hall the elder had two married grown-up daughters, a son over 21 years old (being one of his executors) and a grandson old enough to bequeath a year old bullock to. That would make Robert the elder's minimum age at death only over 40, not over 70 as I claim, placing his birth around 1590. However it is much more likely that the interval between male heirs was 30 years, not twenty. Robert Hall's grandson, the direct heir - a third Robert, was baptised on 18 Jun 1637. We know that the latter's father, Robert the younger, was born before 1609 so a 30 year gap between eldest sons is not unreasonable. If Robert the elder was born 60 years before his grandson then the former's birth year would have been 1577. Coincidentally this is the date of the will of John Hall of Broomhill in Cove. This will was missing during the Yateley History Project in the early 1980s but now seems to have reappeared (1577B/028). Unfortunately the will does not mention a son Robert.


I have made a second assumption that by using the phrase 'brothers-in-law' in his will, Robert Hall the elder was referring to his wife's brothers and not the brothers of his own sisters. He does not mention any sisters or brothers in his will. If Margaret Hall was born a Rogers alias Marner, is there any evidence of a family having a Margaret, John and Henry as siblings? In Farnham registers (IGI) there is recorded a Margaret Marner baptised 20 May 1566 (on target) the daughter of Henry Marner. Henry's only other recorded child in the IGI is Henry Marner baptised 13 Mar 1580. Henry the potter was still living at the time of death of his aging brother John so Henry is likely to be the youngest of the siblings. There are two John Marners baptised (in 1563 and 1565) in Farnham but a father is not given for either. This is not conclusive evidence that Margaret Rogers alias Marner was Robert Hall the elder's wife, nor that the burial in Yateley of Margaret Hall 80 years later was his wife. But this evidence adds to the weight of my hypothesis. Conclusive evidence might be obtained from the will of Henry Marner of Farnham.


Since writing the above paragraph I have looked at Farnham wills in the London Metropolitan Archive. There were Marner families and Rogers alias Marner families right back into the 1540s so we shall have to be very careful in attempting to discover the origins of these potter families


There is considerable documentary data about the Rogers alias Marner families in the 17th century, which I shall treat as a separate potter family biography.


Is there any supporting evidence for Robert Hall's birth year from analysising the Pullen family? Henry Pullen died 1616 in Farnborough. I now have his will his will so I shall be able to gauge how old he may have been at death. The only 16th century baptism of a Henry Pullen listed in the IGI was in Farnham 23 Jul 1565. The coincidence of this date being exactly the year I preselected as the target date, in my hypothesis, for the births of this group of inte-related potters, makes me rather sceptical. However if this is indeed the baptism of Henry Pullen the potter, his age at death would have been 50, consistent with his making the bequest to his mother still living in Farnham.


At present I have access to sets of Lay Subsidy records for Cove, Farnborough and Hawley from 1571 to 1621. Only two men we currently recognise as potters appear in the 1586 subsidy: Robert Wright (worth £3) in Cove and Herman Reynolds, as an alien in Farnborough. There does not appear to be any potters paying subsidy in Cove in 1603 and I do not have Farnborough subsidy. In 1621 Robert Hall is assessed as worth £1 in Cove and John Roger as £1 in Farnborough, both in lands.



1. It is very easy to assume that situations in the distant past will conform with known averages and norms. Thus it could be assumed that the life-span of the Elizabethan Border Ware potters was about 35 years. Furthermore since they worked with lead it might be assumed that border potters lived an even shorter life. The Yateley parish records include persons whose ages at death were notable enough to be recorded in the burial registers when this was not required. It now seems likely that several key potter families included men and women who exceeded their 'three score years and ten'. This means that we can search for wills and inventories dated as late as 1650, including that of John Rogers alias Marner, in order to research potters working in the crucial last quarter of the 16th century.


2. When doing research for local or family history it is very easy to select and fit facts to hypotheses. In this 'biography' I have therefore presented my hypothesis, revealed my key assumptions, tried to find other supporting evidence, and analysed possible minimum life-spans to counter my hypothesis. This approach then usefully reveals gaps in the documentary research which need to be filled. Searching for this additional material can reveal whole classes of documents not previously known to the researcher. This analysis is precisely at the stage of needing additional documentary evidence.


3. My conclusions so far are that Elizabeth Lewis is correct in stating that potter families had a tendency to intermarry, although this at present appears to be confined to the Hall, Pullen, Rogers alias Marner and Reynolds families. Since these potter families did not appear to intermarry with husbandmen, yeomen and other artisans the tendency to keep the potter community 'within the family' may have been strategic to keep technology, businesses, and/or capital within the families and away from competitors. Potters children marrying each other may only have been the result of frequent contact as as result of some potter families having wheels (usually more than one) but no kilns.


4. We can list the following families as likely to have been active in Farnborough and Cove in the crucial last quarter of the 16th century: Reynolds, Wright, Hall, Pullen, Rogers, Durgate. Other families will be added to this list as research progresses.


Click these links to read transcriptions of the probate records of Robert Hall, father and son, working at Outsheets Pottery:

Will of Robert Hall, senior, 1633 

Inventory of Robert Hall, senior, 1633 

Will of Robert Hall, junior, 1659



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