Ancestry 11

The Hodsolls were lords of the manor in Ash, Kent during the medieval period. Later, they owned considerable amounts of land and property in Kent, Sussex and London.

My 12 x great grandfather, John Hodsoll, was born in Cowfold, Sussex in 1534. His first wife, Anne, died at a young age and he married his second wife, Faith Thomas, in Cowfold in 1557.

A gentleman farmer, John enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. With Faith, he produced at least eight children, seven of them girls, along with my direct ancestor, William Hodsoll.

John enjoyed a long life, dying in 1618 in Cowfold, aged 84. He left a detailed Will, which offers an insight into his life.

Extract from John Hodsoll’s Will, 1617.

John left approximately £2,000 in his Will, mainly to his ‘beloved wife, Faith’, and their children. That sum equates to 110 years of a skilled craftsman’s wages. He also left his vast estates to his family.

A servant, Caesar, and the poor people of the parish were also beneficiaries of John’s Will. Caesar received £5, the equivalent of 100 days wages for a skilled craftsman, while the poor received ‘the summe of three pounds sterling apeece’.

The affectionate tone of John’s Will suggests that he truly loved Faith. Along with money and land, she received ‘all such mares kyne and calves with all such hay corne fodder and provision of victualls for houshould as shalbe belonginge unto me at the tyme of my decease, plate and houshold stuffe, and her weddinge ringe and one paire of Braceletts of goulde w’ch I lately gave her and one ringe of myne with a deathes heade lately belonginge to my first wife.’

John lived most of his life durning the Elizabethan era and would have witnessed the devastating plague of 1563, which claimed the lives of 80,000 people, William Shakespeare’s plays, the exploits of Francis Drake, the Anglo-Spanish war, the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the death of Elizabeth I.

Faith was the daughter of the Reverend Tristram Thomas, Rector of Alford in Surrey. Her name and upbringing suggest that religion played a key role in her life, in this instance Protestantism. In regard to religion, she lived during a turbulent time, but doubtless benefited from Elizabeth’s support for the Protestant Church.

John and Faith lived during the glory days of the English Renaissance, when literature, art, music and architecture flourished. A remarkable time to be alive.

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My 11 x great grandfather, William Hodsoll, was born in Ash by Wrotham, Kent in 1560. A gentleman farmer, William married Ellenor Dudley in Ash in 1587.

Ellenor was a widow. Born in Ash in 1562, she married Henry Parker in 1580 and gave birth to their son, Richard, a year later. Two years after that, Henry died and four years later Ellenor married William Hodsoll. 

South Ash Manor House, the Hodsoll home. From the Kent Archeology website.

In his Will, dated 30 September 1616, William left his wife, Ellenor, a yearly rent of £50 plus his lands, tenements and inherited items.

William also deferred a loan to his wife, a debt accrued by his stepson, Richard Parker. The loan totalled £27 2s 6d, which Richard had to pay to Ellenor, his mother.

William was buried on 5 October 1616, so this Will was just about the last act of his life.

William’s horses also found they way to Ellenor along with his riding furniture. The Will strongly suggests that Ellenor was fond of riding, “furniture wch my sayd wyfe doth vse when shee rydeth or iornyth abroad.” 

Ellenor probably rode sidesaddle, a form of horse riding that developed in Europe in the Middle Ages. Sidesaddle allowed a woman to ride a horse in modest fashion while also wearing fine clothing.

William instructed Ellenor to offer board and lodgings to their son, William, my direct ancestor, and to give their other son, John, £300 “upon condition that, at or on the Feast of St. Michael 1618, he makes release by sufficient conveyance to said “sonne William” of all right and title “of & in all my Mannors, messuages, etc.”

A third son, Hewe, received £300 “at or on” 29 September 1620. While the executor was to pay “my sayd sonne Henry” £10 a year upon his making similar release to “my sayd sonne William”. Daughters Hester and Ellenor, at age 24, were to receive £100 each. 

Much of William’s original Will is damaged, but the pages that remain ofter an insight into his life. Although not as wealthy as his father, John, who outlived him by two years, William was still an extremely rich man who could afford a comfortable lifestyle.

William was a contemporary of William Shakespeare (both died in 1616) and it’s possible that he saw the original performances of the Bard’s plays. Certainly, he was aware of them.

Ellenor’s name is recorded in various forms across a range of documents, including Elianora, but in his Will, William writes her name as Ellenor. She died in Ash on 29 July 1631, aged 69 and survived at least three of her daughters.