Skip to content


The Hippisley family  appear in many historical accounts of the area. The key points are that they were farmers in Emborough and  Ston Easton  in  Tudor times who benefited from the dissolution of the monasteries and became major land owners and gentry. The first John Hippisley also bought the manor and rectory lands at Cameley.  Refer to the website maintained by Mike Matthews for more information about the Hippisley family tree. This web site concentrates on their role in Chewton Mendip and their link to the church.

The Chewton Mendip churchyard contains several graves for members of the Hippisey family. Some of the 18th century ones are barley legible which was noticed in the 19th century and new memorials were created.

 The first record for them in Chewton Mendip is from the Somerset archive (ref DD/HI/A/115) “…enrolled deed of bargain and sale to John Hippisley of Barrowe House in “Chawton” [?Chewton Mendip] …1555″. It is assumed that this refers to what would later become Barrow Farm between Kings Hill and Chewton Hill. This is one part of Chewton Mendip that is easy to identify in the earliest records because of the Bronze Age burial mounds nearby. It was only possible to buy leases for land at the time so the Chewton Mendip Hippisleys were tenants of the Waldegraves.
 It is difficult to identify which of the many records about the Hippisley’s refer to Chewton Mendip but they  probably bought the lease of land in East End. This borders Ston Easton and Emborough but property boundaries were not well-defined in the documents. The 1794 map shows several possible sites for farms in the centre of the East End tithing. However, it is clear that the Chewton Mendip branch were the junior members of the family but they were still a substantial family within Chewton Mendip. Therefore, thy are likely to have built a substantial house that has survived rather than a ‘meanly constructed thatched cottage’ described by Edmund Rack.
Geofrey Loxton records that Thomas Dagge was a witness of an assault by Thomas Hippisley in Emborough or a lead mine near by in 1616. This record shows how rough some Hippisley’s could be. The Thomas Hippisley may have come from Chewton Mendip and it is a short walk from East End to Emborough. There were Daggs/Teggs in Chewton Mendip and Ston Easton at the time.
A record held in Taunton dated 1627 may be an early reference to a Hippisley in Chewton Mendip. It states “Information of Edward Hippesley of Benneger [Binegar], Thomas Hippisley of Shotton and Nicholas Dixe of Emborough, concerning the theft of a sheep.JP: William Capell, Anthoin Stocker“. All of the names except ‘Shotton’ are familiar so that could be a transcription error for Chewton and the Thomas Hippisley may have been aggressor in 1616.
The initials RH carved into the roof of Chewton Mendip church which are general accepted as belonging to Richard Hippisley (b1608 d1655), the CW is generally accepted as meaning churchwarden. He was probably the same person listed in the Protestation and Lay Subsidy rolls in 1641. He could have been living in the centre of the village but it is a short walk from East End to the church.
 John Hippisley V (b1604 d1664) inherited the main Hippisley estates as a minor so he was put under the not so tender care of the Courts of Wards and Liveries. His experience was similar to that of William Kinsmill III.  Both were made sheriff of their respective counties in the Civil War era, both came from strongly protestant families. One major difference was that the Hippisley’s were parliamentarians whilst the Kingsmills were either Royalists or neutral depending on which source you read. Another difference is that John Hippisley V did not later kill his guardian.
The Kingsmills became lay impropriotors of the rectory lands of Chewton Mendip, Emborough and Ston East which eventually bough them into conflict with the Hippisleys.  They are specified as the patron of the Rev Edmund Quarles who was appointed as vicar of Chewton Mendip in 1665. All the signs point to him being introduced from Berkshire to restore the right kind of the Church of England to Chewton Mendip.
There are other contenders for the introduction of the Rev Quarles and /or may have built a fine house at Bathway on what was once called Chewton Priory.
A Richard Hippisley went to live in Lambourn Place in Berkshire some time after 1640. He could have introduced the Rev Quarles and the Kingsmills could have endorsed his selection when they took possession of at least some of the lands confiscated from who ever held them during the commonwealth period. The biggest problem with this theory is that the Hippisleys were low church parliamentarians. Some members of the family had been fined for holding church services according to non conformist practices ( a conventicle) in 1674 so it is unlikely they would present high church candidates like the Rev Quarles. His high church credentials are suggested by many things, not least that he is commemorated in the Lady Chapel of Chewton Mendip church.
A counter argument is that the Hippisleys supported Nathaniel Till Adams when he was expelled  from Emborough and a Nathaniel Till-Adams is also commemorated in a memorial in the lady Chapel along with the Rev Quarles. Perhaps the Richard Hippisley who went to Lambourn did not agree with his family’s low church views? The Plaisters are also commemorated in the Lady Chapel and they were probably high church, if not secret Catholics and the implication is that part of the reason they left Chewton Mendip is because they wanted the freedom to express their high church beliefs.
Some records titled Emborough deeds (DD/HI/A/17) are for leases for years and lives of property, some of the tenants were Dowling (of Chewton Mendip), Hippisley, Sellway and Yorke (of Chewton Mendip). The date range is from 1673-1713. The link to the Yorke family is of special interest. Preston Hippisley’s mother was a member of the Yorke family from Wiltshire but  there is no link identified between the Somerset and Wiltshire branches of the Yorke family.
William Plaister and others bought an action against the Trustees of Preston Hippisley and the Bishop of Bath & Wells regarding lead workings at Cowbatch upon Mendip in Emborough and lot lead in Whitnel in 1675 according to Geofrey Loxton. The Plaister family were the Waldegrave’s lead reeve at the time. Somerset archive records DD/HI/A/223, DD/HI/A/225 or DD/HI/A/226 probably contains the source material.
 A Richard Hippisley was having churchwarden accounts prepared in 1699. He was probably born in 1650 and died in 1723. He was son of Edward Hippisley and grandson of John Hippisley IV of Ston Easton. An Edward Hippisley was also paying poor rates in East End  and t is not sure if this was the father or brother of Richard. However. it is possible that at least one of them was resident in Lower East End Farm at the time.
Abigail was the daughter of Edward Hippisley and Abigail Woodward. She married a Curtis and they had a son called John Curtis born in 1702. He may have ended up as a tenant of Sages Farm.
 Various members of the Hippisley family appear in the poor relief records paying rates or acting as overseers showing they held significant influence locally whilst the majority of the land was held by a number of absentee landlords.
Not all references to Hippisleys in the Chewton Mendip vestry committee records are so respectable.  Chewton Mendip Parish paid 18s to Thomas Durban in 1738 to take “…  John Hippisley  to Gole…” [goal or Prison] in 1738.
 Samuel Curtis was allocated to Mrs Hippisley, probably as an apprenice, by Chewton Mendip parish in 1751. This was probably the year that a ‘Farmer Hippisley’ was paid,possibly for supplying corn, by the parish. The Mrs Hippisley was probably a widow and possibly the mother of the ‘Farmer Hippisley’. This suggests that some of them were hands-on yeoman farmers who may have been wealthy enough to have built what is now called East End Farm.
The Somerset archives contain several records of transactions between the Hippisleys and other land owners regarding land in Chewton Mendip in the 1760s. Some of the leases refer to  William Hippisley who was born in 1822 and moved to  Court de Wyck in Yatton after marriage but he returned  to the East End of Chewton Mendip. He died 25th December 1804 aged 82. Other leases refer to the children of  a George Hippisley who also had a son called William.
A lease by Revd Charles Moss, prebendary of Litton to William Hippisley of Chewton Mendip, who was descibed as a gentleman, and James Dudden, a carpenter, of fifteen acres of lands at Litton in 1765 is part of a bundle of records given the reference  D\PC\Litt/7/7 by the Somerset archives. Some of the records from that period may refer to the purchase, or construction, of what is now called Hippisley Farm.
 A William Hippisley was mentioned as one of the people who was to determine what repairs were required to The Folly in 1770. This conflicts with the widely held view that the cottages currently standing were the original folly. They bear the date 1785 which is literally set in stone.
As an example of how confusing the land holdings were, a Rev W Taswell  was paying poor rates for an estate, “…late of Hippisley…” in 1771. The best match for the Rev W Taswell from the Clergy Database is a William Taswell who studied at New College Oxford and was ordained in 1758. Family history research confirms he was not resident in Chewton Mendip so it is assumed that he was exercising his inherited rights to lease land from the Waldegraves. He may have sub let the land at a higher rate on a short-term agreement.
 Another confusing record is dated  8th September 1778 “…Dr Hippisley’s Bill be paid for the cure of Fra Exon’s foot…”. There is no other record for a Doctor Hippisley but the term was loosely used to describe anyone who provided any form of treatment.
There is a record in Taunton (DD/HI/A/234) of the legal opinion about taking action for usury against ‘that rascal Brice’ with hand written notes by John Hippisley Coxe. It was concerning the repayment of a loan of £100 made in in the 1770s. John Hippisley Coxe owed a lot of people money but it is possible this to refers to Robert Brice who later became a Kingmill and was  later involved in a dispute about tithes.
 A William Hippisley is one possibility as the person who accepted Samuel Blanning as an apprentice 24th February 1779. This is consistent with a Samuel Blanning of modest means being a tenant in Emborourgh in 1840.
 The Hippisleys were involved in a dispute with the Kingsmills over tithes in the late 18th and early 19th century. Henry Coxe was the owner of the Hippisely Estate and Robert Kingsmill was the owner of the church lands, he may have been the ‘rascal Brice’ mentioned earlier.  He had the right to collect a tenth of the hay and corn crops or the ‘great tithes’.
As was common, this right had been commuted to a cash payment that had been agreed a long time before. As was also common, Robert Kingsmill identified he could get more money by selling a tenth of the crops so he tried to get the agreement overturned. This dispute dragged on for three generations and was only resolved when the tithe system was reformed in 1836. Somerset record DD/HI/A/236 contains some of the details.
This dispute may have triggered the construction of a new tithe barn in East End in 1802.
Thomas Hippisley Stokes of Binigar was involved in  land in Chewton Mendip in 1807 according to Somerset archive record A\CEG/1/11/1. “On 17 Jul 1807 Simon Davidge Witherell of Wells, gent and William James Frappell of East Harptree, innkeeper leased to Thomas Hippisley Stokes of Binegar, yeoman a parcel of land in the parish of Chewton Mendip on Cheddar Road. On 18 Jul 1807 Mary Day of Wells, widow, William James Frappell, Edward Stokes the younger of East Horsington, yeoman and Simon Davidge Witherell mortgaged the land to Thomas Hippisley Stokes“. The description of it being on the Cheddar road suggests that it was in West End.
 Shooters Bottom was  a Kingsmill property but some of it was bought by Richard Hippisley Tuckfield, in 1840, and transferred by him to his nephew, John Hippisley, 1843.
The 1840 tithe map shows that the Hippisleys owned very little land in Chewton Mendip at that time which consisted mainly of fields and woodlands on the borders between Chewton Mendip, Ston Easton and Emborough.
Edward and Mary Hippisley were resident in Chewton Mendip in the middles of the 19th century and are buried in the Chewton Mendip churchyard. One of their sons, William Frederick emigrated to New Zealand but was accidentally drowned in the Waimea River in Nelson New Zealand on the 28th September 1844 aged 24.
Somerset record 0512/2 dated 1861 may contain an indirect link to Chewton Mendip. It is concerned with an agreement between the Great Western Railwy Company and John Hippisley of Ston Easton Somerset, Esquire; George Treweeke Scotell of Kingswell Somerset, Esquire and Bartholomew Smith of Timsbury Somerset, Esquire three members of provisional committee for the Radstock and Keynsham Railway. It was an agreement for creation of the Radstock and Keynsham Railway. The indirect link is that ‘Scotell’ is probably a misspelling of Scobell who may have still owned Chewton House at the time.
 Edward Burgess Hippisley was the eldest son of Edward and Mary Hippisley and he died in 1881 and was probably the last Hippisley to have lived in Chewton Mendip. He was recorded as living in Lower East End farm and Dudwell
The Hippisley estate went into decline in the 20th century as many other estates did. Hippisely Farm was offered for sale 1901 with the Oaks family as sitting tenants butit was still owned by the Waldegraves when the 1950′ tenants lunch pictures were taken.
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: