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Selway

 The Selway or Sealy family have been in the Chewton Mendip area since Tudor times. A John Selway was a free tenant in Emborough in 1547 ,and appear in the records consistently up to the modern era in a mixed light.  Abraham Selway was ejected (evicted) from cottages erected on waste land (common or unenclosed land) in  Ston Easton (minor) by Preston Hiippisley in 1710.
Henry Selway is/was commemorated in Binigar churchyard, he died 17th April 1779 aged 44. He was described as a ‘famous bruiser’ by Edmund Rack’s survey and was able to beat any man in England. He was probably also a wife beater according to the inscription accredited to his wife Hannah.
O Cruel Husband you have been to me I Hope in heaven may each other see I loved my child unto my end. I hope his father will be will be his friend
The Selways have a reputation for being sheep rustlers but the Chewton Mendip Poor laws records shows them in a different light.
A John Selway was a blacksmith in Ston Easton and is recorded as working on the church in 1745. This may have made him a ‘substantial’ person or somebody who was able to support him and his family and pay to support the poor of the parish.
A number of substantial men (or women) were elected to implement the responsibilities of the parish to the poor whilst protecting the interests of the rate payers. These people were called the overseers and this was a responsible position.
A Richard T Sellway was one of the overseers who authorised the sponsorship of Richard Selway junior who may have been son of Richard and Ann Selway who was baptised on 9/12/1753 in Chewton Mendip.
One impediment to Richard senior’s ability to perform this role in addition to a conflict of interest he may have had was that it appears he was illiterate. The Overseers were required to sign their names but he could only make his mark.
 The Waldegraves produced a list of the leases for farms they had granted to people in Chewton Mendip and the surounding area. The list was compiled in 1766 and is contained in a number of ledgers held by the Somerset archive. A map was produced at the time (reference DD\WG/MAP/2) but that is almost ilegible. The 1794 map is a reasonably closematch but the numbering system used to identify the fields is different.
Richard Selway was paying poor rates in to Chewton Mendip in the Middesex tithing in 1761. The 1766 lease shows Richard Selway held a lease on ‘Nobles‘  for the lives of his children Richard who was 12,  James who was 11 and  John who was 6.
The lease for Nobels lists the fields but most of the names are generic and could apply to several places but the inclusion of a field called Picked Close suggsts Nobels was near Red Hill which wouldput it in the East End tithing. Other records suggest that Nobels was what is near Wigmore Farm or Red Quarr.
A John Selway asked the parish to support his claim for the effects of his aunt Mary Selway in 18th November 1772. This may have been the 6 year old John listed in 1766 who would have been about 12 so somebody else would have been acting on his behalf. He could have been the Blacksmith if the disputed land was in Chewton Mendip.
There was no such thing as legal aid in those days and all court cases had to be paid for by somebody. The assumption is that if John Selway did not inherit the goods of his aunt Mary he would be poor so the parish of Chewton Mendip would have had the responsibility to support him so the parish overseers considered more cost effective to employ a ‘…Proctor to summons Charles Plenty, Betty his wife, George their son, or any other person or persons that shall be thought necessary to give evidence” It is not clear if John Selway won his case because there is evidence that there were ‘substantial’, or reasonably wealthy, and poor Selways living within Chewton Mendip after this date.
A James Selway was considered ‘substantial’ enough to employ an apprentice on 24th May 1774. Neither the employer nor the apprentice was necessarily enthusiastic about this arrangement. The parish would not support the ‘idle beggars’ so poor children were sent to work at the age of 10. The employers were paid for the trouble of teaching them a trade.
Richard Selway was chosen by lot to accept a Daniel Heal as an apprentice on 8th April 1776. However, the roles appeared to be reverse red on 21st may 1776 when a different Richard Selway was apprenticed to William Perkins. It is not clear if the children of substantial families were sponsored by the parish which this record suggests or that there was at least one poor Selway family not related to the substantial Selway family. The law was that wealthy people had to support their relatives but it is not clear what the parameters were for deciding wealth or relationships.
It is believed that Richard the son of James and Mary, died in 1816 and is commemorated in Chewton Mendip churchyard.
A James Selway was recorded as an overseer on the last record in 1788 but things appeared to have gone ‘pear-shaped’ by then because the records for the last few years were very patchy
 Henry Selway ExaminationThe right to receive poor relief was subject to examinations by the magistrates and a copy of the results of such an examination of Henry Selway  dated 1796 is shown on the right. He had been a private in the army but he was then seeking poor relief probably because he had been discharged.

This copy and the transcription below is courtesy of Phillip Dudden.

Henry Selway Transcription It is tempting to think that Henry was the son of Henry the ‘famous bruiser’ commemorated in Binigar but his difficult childhood would not have influenced the decision. If he did not have the right of settlement he would have been sent back to his home village but at least he did not have far to go.
 Another James Selway was occupying Double Farm in 1840. This was previously a Kingsmills property and the 1840 records include some of the same field names like Well close and Picked Close which was identified as being close to Sperrings Green.
 The 6 year John Selway listed in 1766 was probably living in Green Ore Farm. The status of Green Ore was not clear at the time. It is not shown as part of Chewton Mendip in the 1840 map but the inhabitants were included in the 1841 census.
 James Selway was a trustee of the school charity which was established in the 1850s.
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