The Woodhouse Family. Norchard
Woodhouse was not an unusual name in Worcestershire in the 17th century, but it was not as common as the names of families associated with them in Norchard namely Best, Fidkin and Smythe (Smith). IN addition to Hartlebury Parish, another nearby Worcestershire Parish in which the name is found in the 17th century was Salwarpe, a few miles south east of Hartlebury adjacent to Ombersley parish.
The earliest information about the Woodhouse family comes from the 1671 will of John
Smith or John Smythe of Norchard. His daughter, Cicily, had married Edward Woodhouse
about 1646. She may have been the Cicely Smith, daughter of John Smith who was christened
in January 1621 in the parish of Doverdale (Dodderhill?). If so, she would have been
Edward and Cidly (Or Cicely) Smith Woodhouse had at least six children who survived. A daughter, Elizabeth Woodhousem was christened in Hartlebury Parish Church on 11 March 1648. On January 18, 1651. a second daughter, Marie or Mary was christened and three years later, on April 29, 1654 the birth ofAnne Woodhouse to Edward and Cicelie was recorded in the Hartlebury Parish Register.
The birth of a son, Edward, occurred on 2 February 1656, and another. Joseph, on Asugust 9, 1659. There was a third son, John, who may have been the eldest of the six children. HE was named in the will of his grandfather John Smith in 1671.
Cicely Smith Woodhouse bore her children at very regular intervals. March 1648/9 to January 1651/2 is 22 months; then an interval of 27 months to the next birth in April 1654: then a 33 month interval until February 1656/7, and another 30 months to August 1659 birth of Joseph. This would indicate that she was nursing them herself rather than using a wet nurse. IT is unlikely that an additional child could have been fit in the span above, so John Woodhouse may have been the eldest child, born perhaps in 1646. If Edward was the son of John of Salwarpe Parish, then it would have been a typical pattern to name his eldest son for his father.
We do not know where Edward and Cicily Woodhouse set up housekeeping, but they must have had a house of their own, for, according to Laslett, couples simply did not marry until they could set up housekeeping independently. Cicily Smyth Woodhouse may have been an only child. When John Smith of Norchard, died in 1671 he left, "to my son in law Edward Woodhouse and Cicilia. his wife, All my lands in Norchard together with the Lands I latly purchased of one John Best....within the parish of Hartlebury. and also my Lands in Tugwood......within the parish of Elmley lovet."
Edward and Cicily probably took over the main house at Norchard in 1671 with their
family of young adults and adolescents who ranged in age from twenty-
The girls could assist their mother in the making of butter and cheese, a common occupation for daughters as long as they lived in their parent's house. Yeomen's daughters were not customarily put out to service or apprenticed, so they worked alongside their mothers until time for their own marriage. These dairying activities were important in the Woodhouse household. We know from the inventory of Edward Woodhouse that they had a
day house or dairy room and that they had a churn and cheese press. The milk production of six cows owned by Edward Woodhouse in 1682 was greater than his family could consume. So the butter and cheese production was not only for family consumption, but also for the local market. It was by such supplemental economic activities that the thrifty yeomen of England gradually built up their wealth.
The 1705 inventory of Edward Woodhouse, the younger, gives additional information about these dairying activities of the family. At the time the inventory was taken, the family stored in the house thirty pounds of butter, five old cheeses and fifty new
Brewing was another activity that took place in the Woodhouse household, as evidenced by the presence of hops and of a malt mill. Malt is barlev which has been prepared for the purpose of brewing. Like the dairy operation, this was part of the work of the women of the household.
Worcestershire and nearby Staffordshire were among the areas in England in which flax was grown. Edward Woodhouse the younger's inventory indicates that his household was much involved in the production of this market crop, for he had 59 pounds of flax on hand. There is not, however, any indication that the household was involved in the linen industry. Neither Woodhouse inventory included a loom, or even a spinning wheel, although there were large amounts of linen of all sorts, and in the 1705 inventory had 21 ells a 42 inch measure of flax on hand. Possibly a local weaver turned the Woodhouse flax into linen.
The Midlands were considered England's chief granary, according to Campbell, and the Woodhouse inventories indicate that tis family contributed their share to that reputation. When Edward Woodhouse the elder died in may 1682, he had in the ground nineteen acres of "Lent Graine" or spring planted grains valued at £11. In addition there was threshed and stored grain on hand to a value of £25. Helping their father with the farming of thee acres was an important task for the Woodhouse sons, John, Edward and Joseph. The Woodhouses probably used some male servants as farm labourers.
IT has not been possible to estimate the number of acres that the Woodhouse family
was farming beyond 36 acres specifically mentioned planted in grain. When John Smith
of Norchard made his will in September 1671, he left three tracts of land to his
daughter Cicilia's Edwarc^^Norchard in Hartlebury Parish, another tract of land in
that parish which Smith had recently purchased from his neighbour John Best, (possibly
also in the Norchard tract) and lands in Tugwood, which lay in the adjacent parish
of Elmly Lovett. Smyths had lived at Toogood or Tugwood since the mid-
Mildred Campbell stresses the importance of land acquisition to 17th century yeomen.
They purchased land wherever they could, not only from gentry, but also from their
poorer neighbours, copyholders, and tenants who were sometimes caught in an economic
crisis. Both Edward Woodhouse and his father-
Several important events occurred in the Smyth-
Another event, but a less happy occasion, may have been the death of John Woodhouse, possibly the oldest son of John Smyth's grandchildren, and his namesake. The arrival of the Havord grandchildren, nieces and nephews of Elizabeth's siblings, was a cause
Edward Woodhouse, the elder, occupied a position of respect and status in the Hartlebury community. One sign of this is that he was elected to the Board of Governors of the local school, the Free Brammar School of Queen Elizabeth at Hartlebury. He was serving in that position as early as 1672, and continued through the decade. IN 1680, he was named the Collector of Accompts for the school.
When Edward Woodhouse made his will in 1682, he left the Norchard lands to his wife Cicilia for her lifetime, and then to go to his son Edward. In addition Edward was to receive Tugwood (Tuggood) farm which had come from John Smyth, on condition that he pay his sisters Mary and Ann the sum of £144, within two years of their father's death. IF he failed to make that payment in time, then the farm was to belong to his two sisters. He provided for his younger son, Joseph, by leaving him his land at Cross which he had recently purchased from Edward Harper. He also left Joseph £40. Edward Harper, a long time family friend, was the son of Edward and Frances Harper, and was born a Norchard in 1654. HE had married Elizabeth Harward of a large Hartlebury family, one of whom ran the local inn. The Harpers had five children between 1678 and 1690. Edward Harper, like his neighbours the Woodhouses, served on the school board and was one of the witnesses to the will of Edward Woodhouse, jumior. Why he was willing to part with Crossway Creene can only be guessed.
Edward Woodhouse's estate was appraised at £222 18s. He must have had other assets
from which his executors, his wife and son Edward, were to pay £288 in bequets to
the daughters Mary and Ann, and the £40 to his son Joseph. It is not possible to
know the extent and value of the landholdings, but he was clearly a person of means
in the community. When the size of his personal estate is compared with some thirty
other inventories in the 1600-
Sometime after her father's death, Ann Woodhouse married a local man, Robert Fidkin, of a very large local family. The birthdates of two of the children of Ann and Robert Fidkin are known: Elizabeth in 1693 and Humphrey in 1698. Cicily Smyth Woodhouse must have died sometime in the late 1680's, or even in 1690s. but record of her burial has not been located. All these people are likely to be buried in Hartlebury Churchyard. The two surviving Woodhouse brothers, Edward and Joseph, seem to have remained bachelors. At his mother, Cicely's, death Edward came into the full ownership of the Norchard farm and its house, as well as of the or Toogood lands. Edward Woodhouse, the younger, followed in his father's footsteps as a governor of the local grammar school, being elected in 1686. He was still serving in that capacity in 1698. In that year the governors paid "Joseph and Bird" ten shillings for a table. That could indicate that the younger Woodhouse was working as a carpenter or joiner.
When Edward Woodhouse died in 1705 at the age of forty-