By Henry Edmondstone Medlicott (1841 – 1916)
This is the name of a “place” and of a Family. The name of the Family is taken from the name of the place, as most Family names were in medieval days.
The whole subject of surnames in early days is one very little understood. Surnames did not come into fashion at all till long after the Norman Invasion, when growth of population made them necessary. At first they were of four kinds, viz:
- Patronymics, sire names, e.g. Giles son of Robert, or Robertson.
- Local, taken at first only by owners from their property, afterwards by many from the place of their birth, e.g. John Buckingham.
- Professional Smith, Carpenter, Painter.
- Personal, or nicknames.
These surnames were at first applied only to individuals, for one generation, but all four of them soon became hereditary. The most numerous by far are the local surnames, especially when successive generations continued to reside in the same place. “De” was at first simply the particle attached to a local name when employed as a surname.
Wykeham, or de Wykeham, both purely local because of his connection with the place, now spelt Wickham (in Hants) because he was born there, 1324.
John Wycliffe was born at Wycliffe in N.R. of Yorkshire about 1324. His family bore a place name.
William Wilberforce came of ancestors settled as long ago as the reign of Henry II at Wilberfoss, 8 miles from York, where for many generations they held property and a good name.
Baring Gould says “Surnames are hardly older than the 15th Century. The earliest are all from places of birth.” In “How to trace a Pedigree,” by Elliott Stock, of 23 surnames stated in the Pedigree of Wykeham, 15 are names of English places and 2 of French.
When we come to the spelling of names, whether of person or place no value or importance whatever can be attached to the use of either vowel or consonant. The Rev. G.H. Moberley says in his “Life of Wykeham”: “Nothing has given me greater trouble than the orthography of names, whether of persons or places. The name of Wykeham is spelt in all sorts of ways in the original documents, and even Frenchified into “Wican” by Froissart.”
Sir James Donaldson said: “Everybody should be allowed to spell as they like, just as Shakespeare did, and just as our ancestors did.” Another writer says, “a man has no right to mis-spell the name of his ancestors, he may do what he likes with his own.” But, I may add, see Burke, passim.
In “British Family Names, their Origin and Meaning,” by Rev. H. Barber, published by Elliott Stock, this view of the value of spelling is fully confirmed.
Lt. Colonel Vivian in his “Visitations of Cornwall, 1530, 1573 and 1620” says in the preface, “Complaints have been made as to the spelling of Family Names. The drafts contained in the Harleian Collections go to prove that in those days the use of letters in names made no real distinction as to family connections, e.g. a Will in the Vyvyan Family in which the name of the testator at the beginning is Vyvyan, but his signature is Vivian, while the names of his sons are spelt differently in each case. In fact the spelling of Family Names followed no fixed rule.” Another extract says, “of course Shakespeare (whose name is spelt in endless ways) was no better than Queen Elizabeth and all the other men and women of the time in their charming recklessness in the spelling of a name, or any other word.” There is another reason why spelling in early days is of no account. The calligraphy of the medieval scribe with his quill pen showed marvellous industry, and as a whole is pleasing to the eye, but the formation of the letters often makes it extremely difficult to read; the letters “e” and “o” in many an old document are frequently quite indistinguishable. I suggest that this accounts for the spelling in early documents of the name Medlicott as Modlicote and that there is no real authority for any such spelling or pronunciation as the latter. My Shropshire correspondent, however, considers “Mod” to have been the earlier and more usual form. In the Biography of Coke of Norfolk, it is recorded that in an elaborate pedigree written out by Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice (which is still preserved), with the carelessness of the period, in alternate lines he spells his own name and his son’s as Coke and Cooke.
I have seen in a parchment Deed the name of two men who I believe were brothers, in the 18th Century, signed by them as witnesses, one as Medlicott, the other Medlycott.
But coming to our own days, days of Elementary education, of innumerable books of reference, of newspapers, notices and lists, I have envelopes addressed in endless ways in which my own name and address have been spelt in more than 20 different ways, some of them more grotesque, careless and inaccurate than anything that can be found perpetrated by earlier writers.
I therefore attach not a particle of importance to the spelling of the name Medlicott, whether of person or place, as Middelcot, Modelicote, Modlicot, or Medlycott, or anyhow otherwise.
Now to go back to the place so named, Medlicott – the cradle of the race – is a hamlet or township in the Parish of Wentnor, lying on the western slope of the Longmynd Hill, or Forest, in Shropshire. It was so called when Llewellyn held the name “de Medlicott” as recorded in Eyton’s History of Shropshire, in 1190. It is so called now. The “place” consists of Medlicott Hall Farm, two other houses with homesteads attached known as Upper and Lower Farms, and a cottage or two, with a few yew trees about them, as depicted by Sir Hubert Medlycott in a pretty watercolour sketch he gave me a few years ago. It stands high up on the hill side about 1100 feet above sea level 16 or 17 miles South of Shrewsbury, about 5 miles West of Church Stretton, and about 2 miles from Wentnor Church. It is shown on the Ordnance Sheet “LV.7. Shropshire South.” The Longmynd Hill is well worth a visit. I have been there three times, viz: in 1894, 1906 and 1911. The best thing to do is to put up at the Hotel, Church Stretton, on the Hereford Shrewsbury line start early next morning and walk straight away up the hill to the “Pole” on the very top, 1700 feet above sea level. Thence you have a fine view of the hill itself – formerly a Royal Forest – a rugged and massive wall of uninhabited moorland, 10 mile s long by 5 across, indented by heath clad glens or “batches” and lovely slopes with mountain sheep and native hill ponies. The views of the Welsh Borderland are very extensive, carrying the eye beyond the “Stiper Stones” to the Kerry Hills and perhaps even Plynlimmon. Early in August 1894 as I walked down towards Medlicott, grouse got up right and left of me and showed good promise of sport a few days later. The excursion should be made in fine summer weather. It is no country to wander in if the weather is bad or the days short. A call should be made at the Farm House when I was there I found a tenant who had been there 30 years and his wife’s mother was a Medlicott. He could give me but little information as to the history of the place. It was then owned by a Mrs. Addyes Scott. Thence continue the walk to Wentnor, and visit the Church where there are stones and tablets recording the names of many Medlicotts, some with the family crest on them. There were some old Hatchments, rather carelessly stowed away in the vestry or belfry, on which the Family arms were blazoned. They should be carefully replaced on the walls, out of mischief. The Rector was communicative and obliging. Christ Church, Oxford, is Patron of the Benefice. I understand that some arrangement of the mural tablets has since been made. The hatchments, however, have disappeared.
I should say that driving over the hill is rough work, but is quite possible. If one has a vehicle there is a lovely drive back round the Southern end of the Hill by Eaton, Plowden, and Marshbrook. Another way of visiting the place is by motor car from Ludlow – via Craven Arms, Plowden and Eaton to Wentnor, and as far on as you can get towards Medlicott and walk the rest. Books that should be read to give one a general idea of the country are, amongst many, Sir Walter Scott’s “The Betrothed,” in which there is an interesting description of the wild, woody country on the Welsh marches where in Norman days every habitation was a fortress: A.G. Bradley’s “In the March and Borderland of Wales” (Constable 1905 pp 229 et seq:), and in “Under the Old Roof” by Hesba Stretton.
Of “Medlicott Hall Farm” as it is named on the Ordnance Survey, it may be said “it has no claim to the title of Castle, nor even to that of Manor House. It lies far remote from the haunts of men, safely guarded by its background of hills, and had but a few attractions to tempt the fierce spirits of the turbulent period so that through all the wars of the Borders it had escaped destruction. Time alone had undermined its walls and loosened the stones of its strong and solid chimney stacks. Probably the peaceable character of its owners had contributed in great measure to its immunity from hostile attacks.”
I take the name Medlicott to mean simply the “cot” “cote” homestead or enclosure, in the “middle” of the long slope of the Longmynd Hill. We have the place names, “Middle ham” and Middleton”, Upcot, Upham and Upton – Nethercot, Netherham and Netherton – and multitudes of others, on which subject Baring Gould and others have written interesting books.
This is enough as to the place and its name.
Now for the Family which took its name from the Place. A family which, if in no other way distinguished from other old Families, is uncommon, in such long possession of the same property. Almost from boyhood, certainly in my Oxford days, and when reading for the Bar, I made it a practice whenever I met with the name “Medlicott,” in any shape or form, to make a note of it. Friends and relations have from time to time helped me. I now have an accumulation of notes and memos, newspaper cuttings, extracts from books of reference and other collections, which it is no easy matter to reduce to order, but I am attempting to do so for the information and perhaps amusement of my family and everybody else bearing the name or interested in it. I have no intention of compiling a Pedigree, constructing a Genealogical Tree, or writing a book. Tennyson says, “Trust me, from yon blue heavens above us bent, the grand old gardener and his wife smile at the claims of long descent.”
I make no claim to long descent, or to any very distinguished ancesters – “certainly there are surnames, very good names, in their way (as Jingle said) but not great ones” – my object is only to put together in intelligible form my “collections.” I do not intend to publish anything, so I do not invite criticism, but if anybody who takes the trouble to read the result can correct or amplify what I write, and will communicate with me, I shall be obliged to him.
There are genealogists’ guides galore, which are no doubt a help, but I never had time to make a study of genealogy. I shall endeavour to give authority for the statements I make as far as possible. I have had the advantage of access to the Libraries of the “Union” at Oxford, the Middle Temple, a good Club Library in London and sundry other sources of general information.
For the earlier times, Eyton’s History of Shropshire, in 12 volumes, difficult of access, is the best work I have met with. Sir Bernard Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage under Medlycott, Baronet, and his Landed Gentry of Ireland under Medlicott of Dunmurry, and of Rockett’s Castle, put one on the track of later times. The article in the latter work was compiled by Mr. Glascott, an assistant in Ulster’s Office in Dublin Castle. I visited him there, and corresponded with him several times. He died some years ago and some of his papers were sent to me. Amongst them a roughly drawn pedigree in pencil which was a draft, I think, for his articles in Burke’s works. Compiled from this (in ink) is a “Pedigree of Medlicott of Medlicott from Harleian M S S and the Heralds Visitations” from Sir Roger de Moitrum to George M. of Tully” compiled by me from authentic records, signed J.H.Glascott Ulster’s Office May 1888.” I append a copy. The articles in Burke’s volumes should be perused when the chance offers.
With regard to Sir R. de Moitrum, the first name on the tree. I have not met with this name in my researches. It is spelt “Meibron” in the Harleian MSS. It might be “Meirion”, a British Chief from whom Merioneth took the name. Glascott gives us his authority for it “visitation Co.Salop and Harleian MSS 1241 fo. 117 b.” It is difficult to identify the names in the first few generations or to make the different sources of information agree. The names Kynesard, or Kynnard, Llewellyn, Eynion or Heynon are, I suppose, Welsh, and the Welsh border is not far away, which may be sufficient to account for this.
From Mr.William Medlicott of Wilmcote Craven Arms, Shropshire, I have had some letters full of interesting information and a copy of another pedigree, which I also append to Glascott’s Pedigree (see Old Medlicott Family Tree). He begins with a Sir Roger de Meibron. This is probably another version of the founder’s name as given by Glascott, but I am still at sea as to who or what he was. Probably a Norman, but he cannot be identified with either Corbet or Picot. But with time and patience for investigation in the proper records this may be cleared up. Glascott says of him “Living in 1200 (Visitation Co.Salop) had two sons Kynesard and Hugh. (Harleian M S S 1241 fo.177b), Of the next seven or eight generations we know little beyond what can be gathered from the Deeds set out by Eyton. From these it is clear that, bit by bit, the Abbots of Haghmon became possessors of the lands of Medlicott, clearly allowing the successive generations to remain as occupiers, probably on leases for lives. They appear all to have been called “de Medlicott” They probably cultivated the lands and paid Quit Rents or fines according to the custom of the great religious houses. Glascott states that the names of the wives are “not recorded in the visitation” – until we come to Hugo de Medlicote Esq. of Willey Hill near Wenlock. He first is described as “Esquire,” he married Alice Dodd and they had a son John Medlicott who apparently was the first to drop the “de” – he also is “Esquire”, and of Willey Hill. He married a daughter of John Vernon or “de” Vernon. Willey Hill should be Whittley Hill and we gather from the will of Richard Medlicott, son of John, dated 9th October 1530 (which is in the Lichfield District Probate Registry) that his interest in Whitley was such that he was able to leave it to his son. He describes it as “my Hall of Whittley which I take from Sir Thomas Vernon.” The earlier owners were Hodnets of Hodnet, and Vernons of Stokesay. Mr. W. Medlicott tells me that Whittley was a moated house within the liberties of Shrewsbury in the Parish of St.Chad.
There is evidence to show that since the dissolution some of the Medlicott lands, acquired by the Abbey of Haghmon, were recovered by the family. It appears to be quite clear that from the days of Llewellyn to a very recent date Medlicotts resided at Medlicott and since the days of the Abbey were the owners of it. Did the Abbots ever become possessed of the dwellinghouse and homestead of Medlicott? I don’t think the Deeds recited show that they did. If the Medlicotts were continuously owners of their home from Norman, possibly Saxon days, till the seventies of the last century, they can lay claim to a rare distinction amongst the old families of the country.
The descendants of the Whittley family settled in Shrewsbury. In the Registers of several of the Parishes of that Town their baptisms, marriages and burials are duly recorded. They married into families bearing good county names. Thynne of Botfield, Chapman of Stanway, Phillips of Hope Bowdler, Boycott of Boycott, and so on down to the present day. They are now represented by my obliging correspondent William Medlicott of Wilmcote, who can add very considerably to the information given in my Notes.
I take the following from Eyton Vol.VI p.336. The Long Forest (still so described on some maps) was a Royal Forest of spontaneous and undisturbed growth of timber, so mountainous or sterile as to be in early days unavailable for agriculture. At Medlicott it trenched upon the Manor of Wentnor. At the Forest Assizes 1262 the Regard of Long Forest shows that imbladements were assessed (inter alia) in Medlicott. At the 1st Perambulation of the Forest taken in time of Edward 1st the jurisdiction over some of the hills and boscs was abandoned. The great and final Perambulation of the Forest of Shropshire was made on June 6th, 1300, and ratified by Edward I on 14th February 1301. The list of vills and boscs declared to be disafforested by this Perambulation comprises Modelicote, see Vol. XI, p.183.
In the Victoria History of Shropshire, Vol.l. (1908) the Geology of this district is described as longmyndian or precambrian the oldest rocks in the county. Shropshire Doomsday Survey pp 279 – 309 tells us that Earl Roger, cousin of the Conqueror, about 1071 was invested with nearly the whole of the Crown Rights in Shropshire and (inter alia) with the Hundred of Rinlau, which comprised Wentnor. One of his subtenants was Robert Fitz Corbet of Caux in Normandy. Eyton says the Barons of Caux selected Wentnor as the Manor best adapted for their eleemosynary grants, being that best protected against the inroads of the Welsh.
About 1180 Medlicott as a member (i.e. sub Manor) of Wentnor, was held under Robert Corbet of Caux by Henry de Aston of Aston Pigot, not Adstone, which is the name of a farm house and homestead, close to Medlicott at the present day.
About this time Susannah, daughter of Henry and sister of Roger de Aston, took Medlicott in frank marriage, i.e. (as a portion) to her husband Ralph Fitz Picot of Aston Picot.
About 1190 to 1198. Ralph Fitz Picot enfeoffed, or rather confirmed, Llewellin de Medlicott in 2/3rds. of Medlicott by Charter, which is set out in Latin as extracted from the Haughmond Chartulary, title Modelicot.
It may be mentioned here that Wentnor Church was a Saxon foundation. The Saxon owner was Edric. Was Llewellyn, (spelt Leuline), the Saxon owner of Medlicott “confirmed” in his ownership, as to part of the property by the Norman “Overlord”‘? As owner at the date of Doomsday Survey he gave lands to the monks of the Church of Nutenora, (this is a specimen of the spelling of the period for Wentnor). It is also spelt Wontenoure and Aston appears variously as Eston, Esthone, Adstone, Edeston and Estuna.
Between 1200 and 1210 Llewellyn and Heynon (Einion) de Medlicote held Modelicote under Robert son of Ralph Fitz Picot, and they gave (?) sixteen acres of land to the Abbey together with their bodies. Several Deeds and grants relating to these transactions are alluded to or set out at length in Eyton.
In 1215 Heynon had been succeeded by his son Roger, so Llewellyn de Modelicote and Roger son of Eynion (Heynon) give and confirm to the Abbey a right to all manner of common throughout their fee of Modelicote by another Deed, and by yet another, 12 acres in Medlicott, and a meadow called Tundemedue, and still more in 1224, each time “cum corporibus suis,” which clearly shows that such grants were not made necessarily in prospect of immediate death. There are several other Deeds whereby more lands including 3½ acres in Medlicott at 2d. rent, afterwards released by his son, John, were acquired by the Abbey; to one of these Leuline de Medlicott and Roger “Juvenis” were witnesses. Llewellyn had a son Llewellyn, who had two sons, Nicholas and Llewellyn. They consented to and promoted an arrangement whereby the Abbot became mesne Lord between themselves and Robert, son of Ralph Fitz Picot. Hence a Deed (in the Chartulary) whereby Robert gives to the Abbey the whole land of Medlicott to hold for a rent of 4/- saving however the tenures of Llewellyn and Heynon de Medlicott, which they are to hold under the Abbey the same as they held it under the Grantor. For this mesne tenure the Abbot paid Robert Fitz Ralph 10/-
About 1250 Richard son of Madoc de Medlicott gave more land to the Abbey including “Tun-de-me-due” and “Manmore.” It is quite possible these meadows might be identified by research.
The Abbot then gets his undertenants to surrender, and in 1225 Llewellyn being dead and his son a minor, the Hundred Roll of that date says the Abbot of Hawemon holds Modelicote under Roger de Eston as custos of Llewellin’s heir and pays 4/- rent to Roger de Estone. Medilcott did suit to Purslow Hundred and was geldable.
In 1281 Nicholas a son of Llewellyn still possessed a parcel of meadow land but on the 15th June he was obliged to mortgage it to the Abbey for a debt of 40/- due from his father to the Abbot.
In “Nomina Villarum” 1316 the Abbot of Haghmond stands as Lord of Medlicott, having succeeded during 200 years in having by hook or crook grabbed very nearly all the original Medlicott property – not only so but between 1317 and 1372 Sir Roger or Sir Robert Corbet Knight, representative of the original Lord had to take a lease from the Abbot for his life of all his (the Abbot’s) demesne of Medlicott with two messuages which the Abbot had of the demesne of Llewellyn de Medlicott and of a meadow which Roger brother of Llewellyn de Medlicott now had at farm rent of 14/- reserved to the Abbey!
Adstone, Gatton and Medlicott are recorded as having been acquired by the Abbey amongst many other possessions in Shropshire. The whole tale is a fair specimen of the modes adopted by the Religious houses in early days for acquiring wealth and possessions.
Of the Abbey of Haghmon or Haughmond, Eyton gives an account in Vol.VII p.282. It was founded by Canons Regular of St. Augustine about 1110. It was said to have been built with materials from the ruins of the Roman Station of “Uriconium” (Wroxeter). A portion of the buildings still stands in Sundorn Park, near Shrewsbury, the property of A.W.Corbet, Esq., who is also possessor of the Chartulary#. Haughmon Abbey was the second largest in Shropshire in the extent and value of its possessions. It was surrendered at the Dissolution on the 9th September, 1539.
#The “valor of 1536 probably includes the Abbot’s receipts from Andrew William Corbet, of Sundorne, d.s.p.1856; the estate is now in the possession of his kinsfolk. The notes on the Chartulary (see pp. 23,28,29) are conflicting.
Medlicott under the general title of “Boveria” – i.e. Dairy Farms. In the “Ministers’ Accounts” 1541 – 2, only five shillings is particularised as the late Abbey’s receipts for the ferme of one meadow in Medlicott – see Dugdale’s Monasticon Vol.VI. p. 108 – 113. To the last Abbot, Thomas Corvisor, a pension of £420 – a goodly sum in those days was assigned on his surrender.
As already stated Ralph Fitz Picot had given to the monks some of his property, which probably comprised the 1/3rd of Medlicott which he withheld from Llewellyn de Medlicott, no doubt the rightful owner.
See Rolls 33, Henry VIII Augmentation Office, Co. Salop – inter alia.
The rest of the pedigree so far as it relates to the Medlicotts of Dunmurry, who trace back to George M. of Tully; the Medlycotts of Ven, who trace back to his elder brother, Thomas of Abingdon; and the Medlicotts or Medlycotts of Rocketts Castle, who trace back to Thomas of Binfield. Berks, is chronicled in Burke, though it is a little difficult to reconcile the three accounts given. In the Ven case in which the “y” is used, the descent is made out through an heiress on failure of male issue; Miss Elizabeth Medlicott having married John Hutchings of Sherborne, Dorset, in 1726 and her son taking the name of Medlycott in 1765, it has been said, to mark the new departure of their race, and in no way detracting from the euphony of the name.
Attention may be called to some points in the earlier part of the Pedigree. It is quite likely that in the first ten generations the names of younger members of a generation are not given. Many of the marriages made show connection with good old Shropshire stock. Vernon, Boycott, Thynne, Rogers and others are names well known to Shropshire genealogists. From about the middle of the 16th century the family appears to have spread itself in various parts of the county and perhaps in Herefordshire also. A little later they are to be found in London, and are mentioned in visitations and described as citizens and freemen of the Fishmongers’ Dyers’ and other Guilds. Two at least were educated at Merchant Tailors’ School, one proceeding to St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, and taking his M.A. degree in 1622; the other to Oxford, where he was elected a Fellow of St. John’s College, 1645. He was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple, became Recorder of Abingdon in 1687, and M.P. in 1688 when he obtained the medal struck on the accession of William and Mary, which is still in the possession of the Ven family. A Mary Medlicott of a collateral branch married William Sumner. With this alliance the Sumner Pedigree commences, a printed copy of which I possess. Among her descendants are numbered an Archbishop of Canterbury, three or four Bishops, and other distinguished men. My only brother selected his wife from the family, and the names of Medlicott and Sumner were again united. A number of entries may be found in the Register of Births, and Deaths and Marriages in several city churches, St. Peter’s, Paul’s Wharf, St. Thomas the Apostle and others. Law Reports lead me to suppose that some connection with Shropshire was still maintained.
The Family appears to have held its own as Owner of the original home until the middle of the 19th Century, when, owing to an unfortunate lawsuit, it had to be sold and became the property of Mr. Addyes Scott in 187-? In the district, other members have been more fortunate and it is to be hoped that they may flourish to the end of time. My correspondent, Mr.W.M. of Wilmcote, Salop, who still holds property in Wentnor, takes a keen interest in the name and fame of our ancient race.
As time goes on the name appears in other parts of England and Ireland. There were Medlicotts to be found in Dorset, Somerset, Wilts, Northants, Lincolnshire and round London. In Ireland, in Kildare, Waterford, and Mayo – in more recent days in Massachusetts, U.S.A. and in the Far West. Also in Australia and New Zealand. With some trouble most of these can be connected, with the original stock from which I contend all bearing the name are sprung. Even where it is difficult to do this from want of record, or knowledge, there is no reason for supposing that there ever was a second family in no way connected with ourselves. I am satisfied that there was but one family with one place name.
The Family of Medlicott of Warminster, Wilts. See Sir Rd. Colt Hoare’s History of Modern Wilts, Hundred of Warminster, Vol..III part 2 pp. 43 – 104 – and Jackson’s Ancient Chapels in Wilts, Wilts Arch.Maga. Vol.X p.253 – and papers and deeds at Longleat, and the Parish Registers of Warminster.
About 1 Eliz. 1558 the New Port or Portway property came into the hands of Richard Middlecote of Bishopstrow, Clothier, from John Wyse, and continued in the same till 1820 when it was purchased by Thomas Davis for the Marquis of Bath. The Estate consisted of the Manor of Portway, Poole’s lands, Horton’s lands, a Mansion House built about 1715, and about 500 acres of land. On the gate pillars at the entrance to Portway House there are two stone eagles representing the Medlicott crest to this day (1916)?
In 13 Elizabeth (1570) John Dyshe, Prior of St. John’s, Wilton, leased to John Medlicott of Bishopstrow, near Warminster, “Kingston Court Chapel” in the parish of Corsley, near Warminster. He underlet the same 12 August 18 Elizabeth to Thomas Thynne of Longbridge Deverell, ancestor of the Marquis of Bath.
In 1578 the Manor of Bishopstrow was sold by John Temys to John Middlecot – of Stonage and Spaxton, Somerset. In 1584 this property was sold by him to George, Lord Audley.
See p.42 of Hoare’s Wilts for Inquisitio p.m. of Mr. Richard Medlicott’s property – which is considerable. He is described as “Clothier,” and he was no doubt one of many prosperous cloth merchants who came to Wilts about the same time, rapidly prospered, purchased property and founded families, such as Methuens, Clutterbucks and Grubbes, while Longs and others, already in the County, as yeomen and landowners, entered on the same business and prospered likewise.
In the Parish Registers between the earliest entry in 1560 and the last in 1825 the name occurs very frequently but in these as well as the other Deeds and documents referred to it is spelt Middelcot and -cott, Middlecott, Middelcote, Myddlecott, and in other ways. The quaint Christian names of Sylvester, Sapiens, Christopher, Elnor, appear in these Registers.
In 7 Geo. III Edward Medlicott of Portway, Esquire, was High Sheriff of Wilts (1776-?), the only appearance of our name in that august company. In the register of Births of Dissenters, in the Church, on 31 March 1728 appears Edward son of Edward Medlicott. They are said to have been Unitarians in 17th Century. On a board in the loft or belfry in the Chapel of St. Laurence, founded by King Edward I, it is recorded that Queen Elizabeth granted and enfeoffed the same to Trustees and their heirs in fee and among their names appear the names of William Meddlecott, Junr. Edward Myddlecot and three other Edwards.
In a vault in the South Aisle of the Church the Sexton said there were as many as 20 of the name interred, but there is not and, as far as he knew, there never was, any monument, inscription or tombstone, concerning any of them.
Who the original “John” or “Richard” of this family was, I can’t say, but I have no doubt that he was one of many, not only of this family but of so many others who left their old homes and scattered themselves in search of trade and sometimes wealth. See Bodington on the Industries of Wilts.
Of the last of them, Edward John M., born in 1800, who sold Portway in 1825 to Lord Bath, tradition says he was a sportsman and a spendthrift.
There is a “Medlicott’s Coppice” on the Hill above Warminster marked in some old maps of Wilts – no doubt part of the Portway property.
In “Wilts Institutions” of Sir Thomas Phillips, Vol. 1. p.203 – In 1534 Johannes Midilcot was presented by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury to the Vicarage of Chitterne St.Mary’s Wilts.
In Vol.ii. p.35, in 1679, Ricardus Medlicote was appointed to the Rectory of Monkton Farleigh, Wilts, succeeding Jenner, by Seth Ward, Bishop of Salisbury. In 1695 he died and was succeeded by Thomas Tattersall. I have seen his signature on a deed as witness to the signature of Hope Long of South Wraxall.
Was the original “John” (see above) son of William de M. and Elizabeth, dau. of George (Qy.Jerome) Proud? See Old Medlicott Family Tree – did he marry a Thynne or Botfield? When? Was it in this connection that he became owner of Bishopstrow, near Longleat and Warminster? and of Portway House? Canon Jackson would soon have unravelled this, but his mantle has fallen on no successor. “John” is said to have been baptised 1577 at St.Alkmonds, Shrewsbury.
Later: In “Stemmata Botevilliara” (an elaborate volume printed by Sir Beriah Botfield, containing an account of his ancestry) – p.52, it may be seen that Margaret, daughter of Roger de Thynne, son of John Botfield, surnamed John le Thynne, married a Medlicott of Shropshire -p.59 – also that Eleanor, daughter of William Thynne of Botevyle and Elizabeth Done, married John Medlicott of Medlicott Salop, Gent. (See Pedigree facing page 42). Her brother, Thomas Thynne, was of Botevyle,1571, of Deverell, Wilts,1608, and was living in 1625. Here again we have a specimen of the variation of spelling family names, and of the substitution of Thynne for Botevyle, Botfield, Botteville and otherwise.
I suggest that John Thynne or Boteville and John Medlicott, who were neighbours at Church Stretton and connected by more than one marriage in their families left Shropshire to make their fortunes together. Each acquired a Mill in Wiltshire – one at Bishopstrow, and the other at Longbridge Deverell, on the present site of Longleat House – (See Canon Jackson’s paper on Longleat in Wilts.Arch – Mag Vol.iii) – 2 or 3 miles apart. At that period a large number of the Mills were used by Woollen merchants and clothiers, and such was the trade in Wilts in these commodities that fortunes were soon made, and the reputation of the Cloth Mills of Wilts was great throughout the Kingdom. Many of the most substantial families in Wilts date their wealth and their houses from this time of prosperity as Mill Owners. Thynne purchased his “Mill” and 100 acres in Longbridge Deverell in 1540 together with the ruins of the old Priory of Augustinians to which the Mill was attached. John Botevile of Botevile in the Manor of Stretton is mentioned under “Bath, Marquis of” – in Burke’s Peerage – but his wife’s name is not given. He very rapidly rose to distinction and in 1567 began building the present very grand mansion – in which his descendant the Marquis of Bath resides and nobly maintains the highest traditions of his race. Medlicott sold Bishopstrow in 1584 to George, Lord Audley, having in 1558 purchased the Portway property in Warminster from John Wyse. Here he may have become a wool merchant and dropped the conversion of wool into cloth, as there was no mill, or water to drive one at Portway.