Sir William More of Loseley, died 1600

Page prepared by Peter Tipton, The Yateley Society, 10 October 2006


Although Sir William More is a candidate for the 'Mr Big' who might have encouraged and faciliated the potteries in the Blackwater Valley, I do not think this is likely. Sir William was involved with all aspects of local government. Part of his income was from the fees the official posts generated. He made several assessments of his income, which was derived from his own estate at Loseley, from rents paid by tenants in Surrey and Essex, and from the parsonage at Compton. He also earned fees acting as steward or constable of various royal or bishops' parks including those at Farnham. He was Alnager for a number of woollen producing towns in Surrey and Sussex, principally it seems being Alnager of Farnham. Sir William, like his father before him, and his son after him, worked as an official in the Exchequor, so derived income from that position. It does not therefore appear that Sir William took part in any entrepreneurial activities.


However since he was Constable of Farnham Castle, was Keeper of the parks for life, and had almost total control over the Great and Little Parks of Farnham at significant periods in the second half of the 16th century, a study of Sir William's correspondence has revealed some interesting leads.


It was a letter dated 1594 from Julius Caesar to Sir William More, discovered in the Loseley Papers, which first alerted the archaeological community that clay from Farnham Park had been the usual source for making the green drinking pots used in the Middle Temple. Caesar's letter urges More to use his influence to allow clay digging to contine during a period of 'restraint' because he was (amongst others) authorised there in divers respectes during the vacancye of the said Busshoprikk of Winchester.


The Loseley Papers are now at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, and a very useful calendar has been provided on-line. William More and his son George were created Constable of Farnham Castle and Chief Keeper and Surveyor of the Chases and Parks by Robert (Horne) Bishop of Winchester on 25 Sep 1575. In fact More had already been Constable since 1565 and on the 25 Jun 1573, More received a letter from the Earl of Leicester: As to Sir John White's office, now vacant after just a few days, he asks More to take it over, and see to placing of keepers and the game. Sir John White MP had been Keeper of the Parks of Farnham, and had died very recently.


1594, when the additional responsibilties were conferred on More during the vacancy in the see (which led to the letter from Julius Caesar), was not the first time More had been appointed to take full charge at Farnham. When Bishop Robert (Horne) died in 1579 More received a letter from Lord Burghley, Lord Treasurer, appointing him to take charge of the Bishop of Winchester's house and lands at Farnham, and parks and chase adjoining Windsor Forest, during the vacancy of the see. Bishop Robert's will was proved 27 Jun 1579 but Cecil's letter was earlier, dated 3 June.


The hiatus in clay digging in 1594 presumably occurred after the death of Bishop Thomas Cooper. His will was proved 9 May 1594. Julius Caesar's letter was dated 19 Aug 1594. Without Caesar's intervention with More matters could have become much worse. The succeeding Bishop of Winchester, William Wickham was not enthroned until 29 Mar 1595. He died almost immediately and was succeeded by William Day whose will was proved 2 Oct 1596. Only after Thomas Bilson was enthroned on 27 Jun 1597 was there a period of 20 years stability at Winchester.


Who was cashing in on the clay digging during this period? There is an insight from a letter to More from Bishop Thomas (Cooper) dated 17 May 1588. The Bishop confirmed that his consent had been given to his son, Goldwell, at the ordinary court, allowing John Watts, Robert Philip and John Fig of Farnham to carry away marl from Farnham park for their grounds. More had delayed their actions to make sure that the Bishop was in agreement. Marl is clay (usually mixed with lime) used to fertilise the land. Presumably the Bishop's son was receiving cash for the marl, so perhaps for the pottery clay too. Sir William More made three intriguing undated notes (LM/558/1-3) which the archivists date to the late 16th century. These are depositions relating to the constableship and keepership of Farnham Castle and the Little Park and the custody of and profits from the delves. Could the 'delves' mean the clay pits?


The various official positions occupied by Sir William More -- Alnager, Constable, Keeper of the Parks -- did not mean he did the job himself. He employed various officials to do the various jobs for him. Essentially Sir William and his officials were tax and commission collectors who were each allowed to keep a percentage as they passed the receipts upwards. These local officials had to give bonds to More in case of their default. Documents dated between 1549 to 1564 record the bonds provided by local deputy Alnagers from Guildford, Petworth, Cranleigh, Wimbledon and Chichester. John Quinby provided More with the bond for Farnham. From 1574-1587 there were alnage receipts from Farnham, Petworth, Godalming and Midhurst. On 20 May 1583 More appointed his servant, Philip Horner of Farnham to the office of bailiff and receiver of the farm of alnage for Farnham Hundred and Keeper of Farnham Castle with salary of 40s per year.


When we look at the keepers working under More for the Farnham Parks we find some interesting leads. The name John Rogers of Farnham keeps cropping up for 30 years. John Rogers alias Marner was a Farnborough potter who died in 1648, but was probably born before 1570. So was the potter related to the park keeper? I shall investigate the various John Rogers, park keepers on another page.


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