arrow
Peter Noyes
(Abt 1517-After 1586)
Edith Blake
(-1584)
Thomas Noyes
(Abt 1563-1627)
Dorothy Blake
(-1633)
Peter of Sudbury Noyes
(1590-1657)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
Elizabeth

Peter of Sudbury Noyes

  • Born: 1590, Foxcotte, Hampshire, England
  • Christened: 30 Aug 1590, Andover, Southampton, England
  • Marriage: Elizabeth in Weyhill, Hampshire, England
  • Died: 23 Sep 1657, Sudbury, Massachusetts at age 67
picture

bullet  General Notes:

This is wealthy yeoman Peter Noyes who settled at Sudbury and w Edmund Rice was a town leader.

He and Nicholas and James the birds of Newbury (NIcholas had Nicholas of the witch trials, James' son Joseph went to Sudbury, became my ancestor and got confused w Joseph the son of Peter) were third cousins once removed. They lived about six miles apart and had maintained close family ties. The first or second time Peter went to Massachusetts, they and other relatives travelled with him. The familes of John Bent of Weyhill and Walter Haines were also on board (not clear how Haines was related.)

He did not have a son Nicholas. Often thought he did. No baptism found. On first trip in 1636 he brought his son Thomas aged 15 and Elizabeth his daughter, and three servatns. He returned ot England and brougth back in 1639 on the Jonathan his children born in Andover Peter, Nicholas, Dorothy and Abigail. The testimony of Nidholas Noyes of Newbury in 1652 shows it was he who sailed on teh Jonathan w Peter Noyes, not a hypothetical son Nicholas. A son Joseph listed baptized in 1633, not among those who are listed as having come with him on either trip. His wife had died in 1636.

[142] Savage: PETER, Sudbury 1639, came in the Confidence, 1638, from Southampton, latter part of Apr. aged 47, with s. Thomas, 15; d. Eliz. and three serv. is call. yeoman in the custom-ho. rec. but aft. arr. gentleman. He was of Penton, in Co. Hants, wh. is near Andover; went home aft. short visit or explorat. here, well pleased with what he saw at Watertown, and next yr. came again in the "Jonathan", with sev. friends, and Nicholas, Dorothy, Abigail, and Peter, all prob. his ch. beside John Waterman, Richard Barnes, William Street, Agnes Bent, Eliz. Plimpton, and Agnes Blanchard, wh. I judge to be his serv. as he paid for their passages; but such was not Agnes**** Bent, for she paid for herself, for d. Agnes, Thomas Blanchard's w. with her h. and Richard Barnes, s. of said Blanchard's w. and prob. Eliz. Plimpton. Blanchard's w. with inf. d. on the passage, 15 days out, and Barnes's gr.mo. d. this side of the Banks. He had share in the first div. of lds. in his town, and again in the 2d and 3d, made 1640, was freem. 13 May 1640, selectman 18 yrs. rep. 1640, 1, and 50, deac. of the ch. and d. 23 Sept. 1657. Three yrs. bef. he gave his est. in Old Eng. to his eldest s. Thomas, and in his will, of wh. Thomas was made excor. made the day bef. his d. he names other ch. Peter, Joseph, Eliz. w. of Josiah Haynes, Dorothy, w. of John Haynes, Abigail, w. of Thomas Plympton, d.-in-law Mary, w. of his s. Thomas, and kinsm.

Shadrach Hapgood Anderson: Peter Noyes, who emigrated in 1638, came from a family long involved in nonconformist activities in southwestern England. (pages 49-50) Another emigrant, Peter Noyes, rented out part of his English property to his sister, partly to obtain money to pay for his family's passage. After he sailed in 1638, he retained possession of a house and land near Andover in Hampshire. This property provided Noyes with an annual rent of about 20 during his lifetime and, after his death in 1657, supplemented his three sons' portions .... [3] Renting out property in England and using the income to supplement a New England estate was obviously a prudent solution to the emigration problem, but it was also a scheme beyond the reach of most emigrants. Virtually all of those who adopted this strategy were older men who had accumulated substantial amounts of land prior to their emigration. Tilden, Noyes, Starr, and Besbeech were all aged forty-five or more ... Moreover, Tilden, Hall, and Noyes were all yeoman, acutely aware of the value of their freeholds and doubtless reluctant to give them up. Some land might have to be sold or rented to acquire the cash to pay for provisions and passage, but since their estates were clearly substantial, they could afford to retain some portion of them. [3] Citations to probate materials will be given by county, followed by a docket number, if the original will or inventory survives ... Peter Noyes, Middlesex no. 16074. For Noyes, see also Sumner Chilton Powell, Puritan Village: The Formation of a New England Town (Middletown, Conn., 1963), 5. (page 125) Nathaniel Tilden, Nicholas Butler, and Peter Noyes -- who had all been called yeomen in England -- concluded that their freehold ownership of substantial New England estates (and, perhaps, their ability to leave the task of actually working those farms to others) entitled them to assume the rank of gentleman. [75] [75] The term "yeoman" did not have a precise legal definition in this period, but it generally indicated freehold status .... Tilden was labeled a gentleman in his inventory ... as was Noyes in his (Middlesex County, docket no. 16074) .... Although Tilden, Butler, and Noyes called themselves yeoman at the time of their voyages, their English estates may not have been held exclusively as freeholds. Noyes, for instance, held land in copyhold in Weyhill, Hampshire; see Powell, Puritan Village.

Powell: "On the twenty-sixth of March, 1638, Peter Noyes, yeoman of the parish of Weyhill, Hampshire, gave his land back to the Lord of the Manor. No longer would he help his Hampshire neighbors erect fences around the common fields in the spring or watch the plow teams turn furrows in the rich loam. Noyes had decided. He was taking his eldest son to visit New England in the expectation of moving his family from Weyhill forever... "Noyes was destined to be a founder of a New England town, a leader of men in every sense of the word. As such, he was to be responsible for over six hundred and fifty separate 'orders,' carrying the weight of law and often of power of life and death over his townsmen. For a yeoman from a small West Country village, this was an awesome challenge.

But what villager could have foreseen that their neighbor was to be commissioner for the government of Massachusetts, church elder, town selectman, judge of small causes, and town deputy to the Massachusetts legislature? The people of Weyhill, who had seen Peter Noyes serve as juryman in their manorial court and churchwarden of their church on the hill, could have predicted that he would do well as land surveyor, road building director, grantor of timber, and fence viewer. They would have been amazed, however, and so would Noyes himself, if someone had told him, in 1638, that during the next twenty years he was to attend one hundred and twenty-nine separate official meetings in his town, to say nothing of the informal church gatherings, church services, and sessions of the Massachusetts legislature.

Noyes was destined to be a founder of a New England town, a leader of men in every sense of the word. As such, he was to be responsible for over six hundred and fifty separate "orders," carrying the weight of law and often the power of life and death over his townsmen. For a yeoman from a small West Country village, this was an awesome challenge.



"Peter Noyes chose this role deliberately. He was not 'harried out of the land.' Far from it. He took his steps cautiouslu but firmly; he had courage. and he had vision. He could easily have remained with the Tarrants and the other members of his own family, none of whom favored the activities of Archbishop Laud and his 'popish' ceremonies. "Noyes did not rush away impetuously either. Members of another Noyes family, undoubtedly related to Peter, had been deeply involved in the religious controversies of the period and had left five years previous from Weyhill in Cholderton, Wiltshire, their activities must have been well known to Peter.

"The Cholderton Noyes family had been in the midst of the struggle over church reformation. The Reverend William Noyes, an Oxford graduate, had died in 1622, and the rectorship of the village church had gone to his son Nathan, also an Oxford Bachelor of Arts. Nathan's uncle, Robert, was a prominent yeoman in the town, as was his older brother Ephraim, But the two younger brothers had drunk deep of the Nonconformist brew, despite the fact that James had followed his father and elder brother to Oxford. Perhaps their cousin, the Reverend Thomas Parker, had fanned their rebellious spirits, for James, aged twenty-five, and Nicholas, aged eighteen, had decided to forsake Cholderton for Massachusetts.

"The records do not say whether these members of the family had visited Peter Noyes in Weyhill or had passed through the village on their way to their port of embarkation, London. They do state, however, that the families knew one another. [1] "By 1637, then, Peter Noyes had heard news about New England. But however impressed, Peter displayed the shrewdness which characterized many of his later actions. During the year 1637-1638, he rented two fo his four properties in Weyhill to his sister Dorothy, wife of John Waterman in Tangleu, Southampton, probably to gain money for his passage and expenses.Then taking 80 from a Mrs. Agnes Bent in Weyhill, who wished to accompany Peter in due time, Noyes sailed from Southampton in April, 1638, in the ship 'Confidence,' taking three servants, his eldest son and daughter, and his neighbor, John Bent. Noyes had not forgotten, however, to retain property near Andover, which paid him a yearly rent of about 20.

"On arrival in Watertown in 1638, Noyes was granted plowland, meadow, upland, and an outlaying lot of seventy acres. Impressed by the possibilities of the area, Noyes returned to Weyhill to dispose of all business. He gathered his family, old Mrs. Bent, and a few others, then headed back to New England." [2] 1. Col. Henry E. Noyes, ed., _Genealogical Record of Some of the Noyes Descendants of James, Nicholas and Peter Noyes_ (Boston, 1904), I, 43-44. Both men finally settled in Newbury, Mass. Both became freeman, while Nicholas served as deacon of the First Church and deputy of the General Court. A deposition of 1652, a copy of which is in the Weyhill Rectory MMS, attests to the fact that both Nicholas Noyes and other inhabitants of Newbury, Mass. knew various families in Wehill, Hants., and knew of the details of their trips to New England. 2. Weyhill Rectory MMS. Indenture of P. Noyes, 1652: Middlesex County Court, Registry of Deeds, III 292-293; Middlesex County Probate Records, VIII, 425. Occupation - Yeoman Christening - 30 AUG 1590; Andover, Hampshire, England; Emigration - 11 APR 1638; London, England; Came at the age of 47 on 'Confidence' of London, 200 tons, John Jobson, Master. Left Southampton 24 April 1638. Will - 22 SEP 1657; Mentions all his children except Nicholas; wife's name Abigail. Birt Note 47 years of age when he emigrated in 1638. Deat Note (VR spells Noyse.) Paul Noyes


Peter Noyes and son Thomas were probably related to Nicholas Noyes, father
of Salem clergical critter, and his brother. They lived six miles from
Nicholas Noyes family in Cholderton, Wiltshire (which ws not in a
different part of England). A court deposition of 1652 on display in
Weyhill REctory MSS, attest tht the two families knew ea other well,
Nicholas called Peter's family very good friends, and his family knew the
details of the other Noyes' family's trips to New England. Hre is a
Salem clergical critter family tree:

Rev. William Noyes, Oxford grad, d 1622 - brother Robert, prominent
yeoman in the town.

Son Nathan, an Oxford grad also inherited his father's parish. Brother
Robert, also a prominent yeoman in the town. Younger brothers James, 25,
Nicholas, 18, possibly infl by their cosin, Rev. Thomas Parker..James had
been to Oxford.

But Peter Noyes seems to have been much steadier and more deliberate,
seemingly a born leader, he was most in charge of new community of
Sudbury, MA. He needed to be able to make decisions particularly about
land use by compromise, as the settlers came from parts of England with
vastly different patterns of land use and division, and ownership.

Peter's uncle ran Ramridge Hall, where the town court was, and Robert
Noyes another uncle, managed the second largest property in the village,
Blissmore Hall. These were farms.
The Noyes family were considered one of the leading
families in the parish. He sailed from Southampton in 1638 w three
servants, his eldest son and daughter, and a neighbor, John Bent. Granted
plowland, meadow, upland, and a lot of 70 acres in Watertown. Went back
for the rest of his family, disposed of business, turned his land over to
the lord of the manor, and returned to New England. Noyes and a group of
selectmen founded town of Sudbury. Goodnows and Haineses were also from
towns in England that used open field system.

In Weyhill, though some farmers tried to acquire more personal land,
aggressive reformers were resented. Peter controlled a total of 116 acres
of land in Weyhill, one way or another. Three cottages, four parcel, a
freehold of 55 acres in Foxcott worth 300 pounds in 1652. The lord of
Weyhill was a fiction; Ewelme Hospital, a property of Queen's College in
Oxford, was actual "Lord". Heavy system of fees, taxes in feudal system.
He served on the court-baron jury for four years, bailiff of the court
1637, He was also a church warden.



b. 1590 in Foxcotte, Hantshire, England
d. 23 SEP 1657 in Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts
father: Noyes, Thomas(~1563 - <1627)
mother: [Noyes], Dorothy(? - b1633)
Savage: PETER, Sudbury 1639, came in the Confidence, 1638, from Southampton, latter part of Apr. aged 47, with s. Thomas, 15; d. Eliz. and three serv. is call. yeoman in the custom-ho. rec. but aft. arr. gentleman. He was of Penton, in Co. Hants, wh. is near Andover; went home aft. short visit or explorat. here, well pleased with what he saw at Watertown, and next yr. came again in the "Jonathan", with sev. friends, and Nicholas, Dorothy, Abigail, and Peter, all prob. his ch. beside John Waterman, Richard Barnes, William Street, Agnes Bent, Eliz. Plimpton, and Agnes Blanchard, wh. I judge to be his serv. as he paid for their passages; but such was not Agnes**** Bent, for she paid for herself, for d. Agnes, Thomas Blanchard's w. with her h. and Richard Barnes, s. of said Blanchard's w. and prob. Eliz. Plimpton. Blanchard's w. with inf. d. on the passage, 15 days out, and Barnes's gr.mo. d. this side of the Banks. He had share in the first div. of lds. in his town, and again in the 2d and 3d, made 1640, was freem. 13 May 1640, selectman 18 yrs. rep. 1640, 1, and 50, deac. of the ch. and d. 23 Sept. 1657. Three yrs. bef. he gave his est. in Old Eng. to his eldest s. Thomas, and in his will, of wh. Thomas was made excor. made the day bef. his d. he names other ch. Peter, Joseph, Eliz. w. of Josiah Haynes, Dorothy, w. of John Haynes, Abigail, w. of Thomas Plympton, d.-in-law Mary, w. of his s. Thomas, and kinsm. Shadrach Hapgood

Anderson: Peter Noyes, who emigrated in 1638, came from a family long involved in nonconformist activities in southwestern England. (pages 49-50) Another emigrant, Peter Noyes, rented out part of his English property to his sister, partly to obtain money to pay for his family's passage. After he sailed in 1638, he retained possession of a house and land near Andover in Hampshire. This property provided Noyes with an annual rent of about 20 during his lifetime and, after his death in 1657, supplemented his three sons' portions .... [3] Renting out property in England and using the income to supplement a New England estate was obviously a prudent solution to the emigration problem, but it was also a scheme beyond the reach of most emigrants. Virtually all of those who adopted this strategy were older men who had accumulated substantial amounts of land prior to their emigration. Tilden, Noyes, Starr, and Besbeech were all aged forty-five or more ... Moreover, Tilden, Hall, and Noyes were all yeoman, acutely aware of the value of their freeholds and doubtless reluctant to give them up. Some land might have to be sold or rented to acquire the cash to pay for provisions and passage, but since their estates were clearly substantial, they could afford to retain some portion of them. [3] Citations to probate materials will be given by county, followed by a docket number, if the original will or inventory survives ... Peter Noyes, Middlesex no. 16074. For Noyes, see also Sumner Chilton Powell, Puritan Village: The Formation of a New England Town (Middletown, Conn., 1963), 5. (page 125) Nathaniel Tilden, Nicholas Butler, and Peter Noyes -- who had all been called yeomen in England -- concluded that their freehold ownership of substantial New England estates (and, perhaps, their ability to leave the task of actually working those farms to others) entitled them to assume the rank of gentleman. [75] [75] The term "yeoman" did not have a precise legal definition in this period, but it generally indicated freehold status .... Tilden was labeled a gentleman in his inventory ... as was Noyes in his (Middlesex County, docket no. 16074) .... Although Tilden, Butler, and Noyes called themselves yeoman at the time of their voyages, their English estates may not have been held exclusively as freeholds. Noyes, for instance, held land in copyhold in Weyhill, Hampshire; see Powell, Puritan Village.

Powell: "On the twenty-sixth of March, 1638, Peter Noyes, yeoman of the parish of Weyhill, Hampshire, gave his land back to the Lord of the Manor. No longer would he help his Hampshire neighbors erect fences around the common fields in the spring or watch the plow teams turn furrows in the rich loam. Noyes had decided. He was taking his eldest son to visit New England in the expectation of moving his family from Weyhill forever...

"Noyes was destined to be a founder of a New England town, a leader of men in every sense of the word. As such, he was to be responsible for over six hundred and fifty separate 'orders,' carrying the weight of law and often of power of life and death over his townsmen. For a yeoman from a small West Country village, this was an awesome challenge.

"Peter Noyes chose this role deliberately. He was not 'harried out of the land.' Far from it. He took his steps cautiouslu but firmly; he had courage. and he had vision. He could easily have remained with the Tarrants and the other members of his own family, none of whom favored the activities of Archbishop Laud and his 'popish' ceremonies.

"Noyes did not rush away impetuously either. Members of another Noyes family, undoubtedly related to Peter, had been deeply involved in the religious controversies of the period and had left five years previous from Weyhill in Cholderton, Wiltshire, their activities must have been well known to Peter.

"The Cholderton Noyes family had been in the midst of the struggle over church reformation. The Reverend William Noyes, an Oxford graduate, had died in 1622, and the rectorship of the village church had gone to his son Nathan, also an Oxford Bachelor of Arts. Nathan's uncle, Robert, was a prominent yeoman in the town, as was his older brother Ephraim, But the two younger brothers had drunk deep of the Nonconformist brew, despite the fact that James had followed his father and elder brother to Oxford. Perhaps their cousin, the Reverend Thomas Parker, had fanned their rebellious spirits, for James, aged twenty-five, and Nicholas, aged eighteen, had decided to forsake Cholderton for Massachusetts.

"The records do not say whether these members of the family had visited Peter Noyes in Weyhill or had passed through the village on their way to their port of embarkation, London. They do state, however, that the families knew one another. [1]

"By 1637, then, Peter Noyes had heard news about New England. But however impressed, Peter displayed the shrewdness which characterized many of his later actions. During the year 1637-1638, he rented two fo his four properties in Weyhill to his sister Dorothy, wife of John Waterman in Tangleu, Southampton, probably to gain money for his passage and expenses.Then taking 80 from a Mrs. Agnes Bent in Weyhill, who wished to accompany Peter in due time, Noyes sailed from Southampton in April, 1638, in the ship 'Confidence,' taking three servants, his eldest son and daughter, and his neighbor, John Bent. Noyes had not forgotten, however, to retain property near Andover, which paid him a yearly rent of about 20.

"On arrival in Watertown in 1638, Noyes was granted plowland, meadow, upland, and an outlaying lot of seventy acres. Impressed by the possibilities of the area, Noyes returned to Weyhill to dispose of all business. He gathered his family, old Mrs. Bent, and a few others, then headed back to New England." [2]

1. Col. Henry E. Noyes, ed., _Genealogical Record of Some of the Noyes Descendants of James, Nicholas and Peter Noyes_ (Boston, 1904), I, 43-44. Both men finally settled in Newbury, Mass. Both became freeman, while Nicholas served as deacon of the First Church and deputy of the General Court. A deposition of 1652, a copy of which is in the Weyhill Rectory MMS, attests to the fact that both Nicholas Noyes and other inhabitants of Newbury, Mass. knew various families in Wehill, Hants., and knew of the details of their trips to New England.

2. Weyhill Rectory MMS. Indenture of P. Noyes, 1652: Middlesex County Court, Registry of Deeds, III 292-293; Middlesex County Probate Records, VIII, 425.

Occupation - Yeoman

Christening - 30 AUG 1590; Andover, Hampshire, England;

Emigration - 11 APR 1638; London, England;

Came at the age of 47 on 'Confidence' of London, 200 tons, John Jobson, Master. Left Southampton 24 April 1638.
Will - 22 SEP 1657;

Mentions all his children except Nicholas; wife's name Abigail.
Event Will (proved) - 5 OCT 1657;

Birt Note

47 years of age when he emigrated in 1638.
Deat Note

(VR spells Noyse.)
spouse: [Noyes], Elizabeth (? - b1636)
- m. BEF 1623 in England
Marr Note

Based on birth of first child.
----------child: Noyes, Thomas (b1623 - 1666)
----------child: Noyes, Elizabeth (b1625 - )
----------child: Noyes, Nicholas
----------child: Noyes, Dorothy (b1627 - 1715)
----------child: Noyes, Abigail (b1629 - )
----------child: Noyes, Peter (b1631 - )
----------child: Noyes, Joseph (b1633 - <1661)
spouse: [Noyes], Abigail
- m. ABT 1623 in New England

Parents of Dorothy Noyes and ao of Thomas Noyes father of Joseph.

Peter NOyes and son Thomas were probably related to Nicholas Noyes, father of Salem clergical critter, and his brother,James. They all travelled together to Massachusetts. Nicholas and James were quite a trip, fasting and praying.
Witch critter Nicholas was a trip too; a VERY severe man. Peter Noyes lived in England, in Weyhill, Hampshire, six miles from Nicholas Noyes family in CHolderton, Wiltshire. This is sometimes misunderstood as two different parts of England. A court deposition of 1652 on display at Weyhill Rectory MSS, attest that the two families knew ea other well. Nicholas called Peter's family very good friends, and his family knew the details of the other Noyes' family's trips to New England. Here is the Salem clergical critter family tree;

Rev. William Noyes, Oxford U grad, d 1622 - brother Robert, prominent yeoman in the town.

Son Nathan, an Oxford grad also inherited his father's parish. Brother Robert, also a prominent yeoman in the town. Younger brothers James, 25, Nicholas, 18, poss infl by their cousin, Rev. Thomas Parker.

But Peter Noyes seems to have been steadier and more deliberate, a born leader, most in charge at new town of Sudbury, MA. His role required much compromise between people from different parts of ENGland with vastly different experience and ideas about how to divide and manage land.

In NEHGR, Jul 1998, Reed and Smith trace the ancestry of Peter Noyes back through generations of managers of the manors of Ramridge and Blissmore Hall for several centuries. That family probably first came to Hampshire from Suffolk as servants of the earls and dukes of Suffolk, to manage their estates there. That the family has such old roots in the area and apparently only one set of roots in the area adds to the evidence that Peter Noyes and Peter and James Noyes were related.
Peter's uncle ran Ramridge Hall, where the town court was, and Robert Noyes another uncle, managed the second largest property in the village, Blissmore Hall; both properties were farms. THe Noyes family were considered one of the leading families in the parish.

Peter Noyes seems to have been quietly reform-minded and to have resented rigidity and heavy fees and taxes of the feudal system in his part of England. He had been able to own or control 116 acres of land - qute a bit, including three cottages, four parcels, a freehold of 55 acres.



Noyes was able to draw up a very distinct pattern of grants and allotments in his wilderness New England settlement probably because almost half his settlers were open-field men, as he was. To appreciate the land pattern of such early towns as Sudbury, Massachusetts, one must plunge into the complexities of Weyhill, manor and parish.
It is futile to ask if Weyhill was "typical" or not. It was obviously not. Every open-field village had unique characteristics, habits, and traditions, going back to the Saxons and the Celts. But since Noyes and other open-field men like the Goodnows and the Haineses were repeatedly elected by the Sudbury townsmen to distribute and to stake out the land allotments, obviously these settlers trusted Noyes's concepts and habits concerning the land and the community.

If one examines the reconstructed map of Weyhill about 1635 (Figure 1),one must recognize that the villagers knew it as a complete community, each field, each furlong, each cottage, each family fitting into a traditional set of relationships which had been handed down, generation to generation, without serious question. Noyes changed some of these relationships, but not many. The land map of Sudbury, Massachusetts, about 1640 (Figure 9), is that of an open-field English village, despite any Nonconformist spirit that might have hovered above the fields of rye or barley.

Each man's land was part of a whole fabric of tradition and community life, which included the Lord of the Manor, the annual fairs, the nearby market town, the village church, the clusters of cottages, and both common and enclosed fields. This does not mean that there were no younger sons or landless men anxious to increase their holdings. On the contrary, ample documentation in the Weyhill church manuscripts supports the general statement of scholars that Englishmen of the Stuart period were seized with an ever-increasing appetite for land.

The aggressive reformer, nevertheless, was deeply resented in Weyhill, and his actions stirred up bitterness. The villagers refused to change their land system until a Parliamentary Act of 1812 forced them to accept a different idea of community activity and farming. Even today there is a nostalgia in the village for the traditional pattern and values of community life.

The seventeenth-century Weyhill yeoman did not think of the various landholdings in terms of statistics, tables, charts, and maps. With the exception of one church rate, or tax, in 1693, not a single villager not even the Lord of the Manor had precise written documents on the total land system in 1635. Each tenant who appeared at a yearly court to acknowledge his land-holdings to the lord's steward carried this complex set of relationships in his head. He knew who owned the strips of land next to his in every furlong, and he knew who would inherit them. But only Peter Noyes had to write out this system, away from home, and in so doing he instituted fundamental changes.

We have been able to reconstruct a Weyhin table of land acreage, both for the period from 1610 to 1640 and for the year 1693 (Appendix II). The fact that the total acreage of arable is approximately thirteen hundred acres in both tables, a total which corresponds closely to the accurate surveys made in the early twentieth century, means that the seventeenth-century documents have revealed the names and holdings of almost every adult male or landholding widow in Weyhill during the period Peter Noyes, John Bent, and other emigrants lived in the village.

Two essential facts are at once apparent from a study of these two tables: that Peter Noyes, with 61 copyhold acres of arable, and John Bent, who inherited his father's 45 copyhold acres of arable, stood fourth and fifth, respectively, in the total list of 44 landholders; further, that there were about 40 landless men, whose ages are not known, who also lived in the community
.
Peter certainly could not be called poor in land in terms of his parish. In actual fact, he had control of three cottages in Weyhill, four separate parcels of land, and freehold ownership of 55 acres in the neighboring tithing of Foxcott, worth 300 in 1652. This brought his total acreage to 116 acres of arable land, one acre of meadow, with rights to downland, pasture, and woodland and the use of three cottages. One of these cottages was very similar in appearance to the charming Cook cottage, still occupied today. To leave such holdings, Peter Noyes and John Bent were ambitious men and undoubtedly had visions above and beyond the farming of land.

Since Noyes, once in New England, immediately changed the type of landholding title, the traditional and legal habits toward the possession of land in Weyhill should be examined. Noyes, like every other landholder in Weyhill, held land from the Lord of the Manor, in this case a legal fiction. No haughty aristocratic lord dominated the Weyhill landscape, as, for instance, might have been true in the English home of another Sudbury emigrant, Edmund Kerley, in the parish of Ashmore, Dorset. (Figure 2.*) Instead, Queen's College, Oxford, collected yearly rents in the name of the legal ''lord," Ewelme Hospital, one of the college's properties.

But even the fictional lord, acting through a representative, demanded traditional rights and heavy fees. All the land in the parish was rented, and whenever a tenant wished to transfer, bequeath, or sublet his property, he paid his fines. The existing court rolls state just how much the lord gained as Peter Noyes sublet his property to his sister and then finally conveyed it back to the lord, prior to his departure for Massachusetts:

Thus in a single session of the Ramridge court-baron the lord received over 52, which was a substantial yeoman's yearly income! Noyes had paid 4/10 just to be permitted to rent, and then give back, his property, while Thomas Barwick, a clothier from the neighboring borough of Andover, had paid over 48 to gain the new property in Weyhill and permission to sublet it. The court roll also indicates that the lord expected "works and services" for each piece of land, in addition to an oath of "fealty" to the lord.

Noyes must have objected to these feudal fines, taxes, and practices, because his allotments of land in his New England town were outright grants to individuals, with practically no conditions stated in the grants. Some land was rented, and many "works and services" were expected in the town, but the deeds, or entries of land grants in the Sudbury Town Book, attached no feudal terms to any allotment.

But despite his desire to ignore feudal habits of landholding, Noyes was not prepared to abandon the system of rights and apportionments of types of land that he knew so well in Weyhill. The medieval concept in such a community regarded the advantages of the area as communal property, to be shared by all. No one was to exclude a neighbor from such a necessity as good meadow, or the down, or the woods. And if anyone practiced such exclusion, or attempted to increase the amount of his holding at the expense of his neighbors, all villagers reacted instantly to restore their "rights."

These rights consisted loosely of the full use of the manor property, from the meadow grass which grew along the little stream, the Anton, to the nuts in Chute Forest to the north. As far as one can tell from the documents, there were about ten distinct fields, or types of arable and pasture, and two areas of woodlands, and each tenant was brought up in the belief that the following practices were the rights which accompanied his holding:

He had the right to plant crops according to group agreement in the common fields of the manor, North Field, Great Field, Gorriers Field, Far Penton Field, South Field, Nudle Field, Ridge Field, and Gore Ridge Field. He also had the right to pasture sheep and other animals on the following downs: Clanville Down, Fore Down, Chalkcroft Down, Great Down, Weyhill Down, Penham Down, and the Heath.

Furthermore, every thirty acres of arable ground had the following specific rights: pasturage of twenty sheep on Weyhill Down; pasturage of four cattle on the commons; the privilege of cutting hay from three acres of meadow grass; the pasturage of animals on four acres of Ramridge Woods; the pasturage of animals in Chute Forest; the privilege of cutting wood in Ramridge Copse; the right to take chalk from the common pit; and the right to set up a booth or a pen at the Weyhill Fair
In short, an accurate deed of a holding was a complicated affair, and an accurate map of an open-field manor a very complex document. One lovely open-field map survives today in the Hampshire Record Office, an intricate design involving hundreds of strips and scores of furlongs.

Although every tenant and his close neighbors living in the stable society of Weyhill knew the boundaries of his own strips of arable, the strips were divided by mounds or fences, according to local documents. When all of the strips in one field, however, were sprouting with wheat, only an air view could have given a visitor the awareness that the fields represented the holdings of forty or fifty families.

The land that was so divided and shared, furthermore, was good land. In strictly economic terms, Peter Noyes valued his land in the adjacent parish of Foxcott at about 6 an acre; and the Rector of Weyhill sold his half-acre in Far Penton Field in 1699 for 3/05/00 or over 6 an acre. But each holding had important relationships to the total complex of land management. When the aggressive young owner of Ramridge Hall farm used a legal suit in 1651 tO gain exclusive control of "The Heath" and "Ridenge," the tenants agreed to "part with the rights of commons'' only after a stubborn battle and a detailed statement of all rights, including additional land for each tenant to compensate for "their loss," rights of the fair, rights of Ramridge Forest, right of digging chalk in the chalk pit, and demands that Mr. Thomas Drake swear to these conditions before all tenants at the next meeting of the court-baron
Peter Noyes was leaving a tightly knit, strong-spirited community of tenants, farmers, and parishioners, and it is not surprising that he helped to reconstruct many of the same relationships in his new town in a wild river valley in New England.

Noyes faced a real dilemma in attempting to apply his open-field habits to the Massachusetts wilderness. Many of his settlers had never practiced this type of group farming and preferred to run their own individual farms. But they still elected Noyes to lead them, and his Weyhill farming experience prepared him to be an administrator of the open fields in early Sudbury.

For at least forty years, or from the time he had been required to assist his own father in doing farm chores, Noyes had gained experience in co-operative farming in the open-field tradition. This meant that all the farmers of Weyhill, perhaps ninety in number, had had to form certain essential bylaws each year in regard to crop and animal management and had had to see that these orders were carried out to the letter. Since every family's food supply and livelihood depended on careful agricultural management, the imposition of these bylaws probably constituted the core of Weyhill's self-government.

Neither the justice of the peace for the area, nor any other English governmental officer, had any say in what crop went into each of Weyhill's fields each season. A justice might be called upon to judge disputes which became too difficult for any community to settle itself, but there are no such cases for the Weyhill area during Noyes's presence there. Consequently, there may well have been a strong climate of agreement and co-operation among the tenants of Ramridge

Professor Warren Ault has pointed to the "self-directing activities of village communities in mediaeval England" as a vital element in the "early origin and continued existence of the English township." Using fragments of records, he has described a whole pattern of agricultural bylaws, from those defining the rights of pasture to decisions on crops, and there is ample proof that farmers, particularly in open-field villages, met to discuss and to decide on farming problems by common consent.

Most of these agreements seem to have been verbal so traditional, so ordinary that they did not have to be written down. This was probably true in Weyhill, where there are only one or two orders in the court rolls setting dates by which certain farm work had to be done. But the absence of written records does not mean that the Weyhill farmers made no group agreements. On the contrary, such agreements were absolutely necessary each season, at each time of sowing and harvesting. In the first place, since all the landholders had some arable strips in the four common fields, with the possible exception of the proprietors of Ramridge and Blissimore Halls, the men met to decide which fields were to be sown with what crops, which field (or fields) were to be left fallow, and what men would gather together to do the various jobs.

Other studies have described English medieval farming practices in great detail. In most open-field villages the juries at the manorial court administered agricultural bylaws and elected such officers as viewers, haywards, the shepherd, and the cowherd. Since there are few specific agricultural bylaws left for Weyhill, one can only assume that the farmers, in periodic meetings, made extensive regulations for harrowing, sowing, weeding, and harvesting, as well as for pasturing and for general care of the animals. Few of the farmers could write, and the absence of a clerk to record such agreements seems only natural.


picture

Peter married Elizabeth in Weyhill, Hampshire, England. (Elizabeth was born in 1594 in England.)




Table of Contents | Surnames | Name List

This Web Site was Created 8 Oct 2017 with Legacy 8.0 from Millennia