People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688

Watford

John Hobby, Haberdasher, instructed his executors to purchase lands to the annual value of £170 that would be settled on fourteen trustees and their heirs.[1] Seven would be from Christ’s Hospital, with the other seven being Assistants of The Clothworkers’ Company.[2] Hobby stated that £40 from the rental incomes of these lands and tenements should be used for numerous charitable causes.[3] These properties were purchased in Plumstead, Woolwich and Watford, with control passing to The Clothworkers’ Company in 1574. 

The Clothworkers’ Company Court Orders contain some references to the early management of the Watford properties for the period of this study. It appears that one of the earliest tasks of the Company was to view the lands at Watford. Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Gouge and the Company clerk were appointed in January 1681 to take a view of the lands.[4] The first leases of the lands seem to have occurred around this time, possibly after the initial survey. In April 1681, Mr. Samuel Lovett, was granted a lease for eleven years at £21 a year.[5] The Company offered Lovett the use of a tree to make gates and bridges on the property at Watford.[6] In March 1682, the development of Lovett’s lands was very much at the centre of the Company’s management of the Watford lands.[7] They requested that Mr. Tanner, who was an associate of Lovett’s, should set out a tree on the lands for the creation of a gate, stile, sluices and a bridge on the lands.[8] By 1685, the Company had become involved in the sale of some Watford properties, with Mr. Midgely named in the Court Orders as the Company appointee who oversaw the sale of a mill and meadow by Samuel Blackwell to Mr. Webb.[9] By 1870, the Company had sold some of their interest in the Watford Estate.[10] The final part of the estate was sold in 1915.[11]

[1] TNA PROB 11/347, Will of John Hobby, 12 March 1675.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 559, Lands at Watford to be viewed, 14 January 1681.

[5] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 568, Lovett’s lease of lands at Watford, 21 April 1681.

[6] Ibid.

[7] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 603, Mr. Tanner to set out a tree at Watford, 3 March 1682.

[8] Ibid.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/11, p. 67, Sale of a mill and meadow at Watford, 16 October 1685.

[10] A. Buchanan, ‘The Sources of the Wealth of The Clothworkers’ Company’, unpublished paper.

[11] Ibid.