Author Topic: Follow the Money. START HERE!!!  (Read 105 times)

Michael Caswell

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Follow the Money. START HERE!!!
« on: December 20, 2019, 07:12:28 pm »
Follow the money.

It would be a little optimistic to think that the Wiltshire Caswell family descended from Cassivellaunus, (Cassi) the British Celtic Warlord who tackled Julius Caesar on his invasion of Britain. But we can be fairly sure Cassi roamed the Wiltshire Downs, it being such an important place worthy of the burial of Celtic Kings.

Who is to say Cassivellaunus  didn’t know about the Caswell Castle site in Curbridge near Witney? A site where there is a fresh water spring, and watercress growing in the ancient pond that fed the moat.

Is this why Cassivellaunus was so named? He who lived by watercress and a well? 
One thing is for sure, there are remnants of a castle wall, a moat, and a spring, and the site was abandoned, according to the Domesday Book, in 1088.

In the 12th century, Hugh de Caswell and Idonea his wife lived in Yatesbury and held 1 messuage and 14 acres of land there. (Wiltshire Record Society Vol 1 1939). He was obviously a moneyed man, and likely raising sheep.
The two fees descended separately until the mid 15th century. In 1279, although the earl of Cornwall's intermediate tenure was not mentioned, his fee was presumably the 6 yardlands held of the bishop of Winchester by Hugh de Scotthorne. (fn. 26) Since one of Hugh's yardlands was held of him by the rector of Witney, he was probably the successor of the Roger of Caswell from whom an earlier rector held a yardland by military service in 1229. (fn. 27) In the earlier 14th century the bishop's immediate tenant was another Roger of Caswell, and in 1346 the ⅓ fee was held by the guardian of Roger's minor son and heir John.
It would be easy to surmise that Hugh De Scotthorne was renamed Hugh de Caswell when he acquired the property. Especially interestingly, note the mention of the rectors, of Witney having influence here.

If he was the successor of Roger of Caswell, could that imply parentage? Would the line therefore look like this?

Roger de Caswell
Roger de Caswell
John de Caswell
Hugh de Caswell

Hugh was married in Ayston, Rutland, some 100 miles away, to Idonea on 6th December 1296. How do we know this?
It’s written up in an entry in the Wiltshire record Society Vol 1 (1939)
Abstracts of Feet of Fines relating to Wiltshire for the Reigns of Edward I & Edward II, ed R B Pugh. 14 Edward I (1286) Morrow of Ascension.

To travel a hundred miles across England in the 12th century, would seem to be a monumental task, but these people were traveling along a prehistoric path dinosaurs used.  There is even a Roman road traveling that route, Witney was a major attraction for trade in those days.


Romans and Celts used the same path of the Fosse way, so this was a well traveled  and known route.
Our first hint of The Money Trail is that Hugh De Caswell held One Messuage and 14 acres of land in Yatesbury. A messuage is-a  dwelling house together with its outbuildings, curtilage, and the adjacent land appropriated to its use. 

Abstracts of Wiltshire Inquisitiones Post Mortem. Returned Into the Court of Chancery, page 376 Wiltshire. - Hugh de Careswell holds in Hyatesbury 16 acres of land for the term of his life which he had of the demesne and grant of the said Matthew son of John before he enfeoffed the said King Edward, and he pays therefor per annum 10s. to Thomas Avary at the feast of St Michael.

In English law, feoffment was a transfer of land or property that gave the new holder the right to sell it as well as the right to pass it on to his heirs as an inheritance. It was total relinquishment and transfer of all rights of ownership of an estate in land from one individual to another person.[

About thirty miles, as the crow flies from Yatesbury, Caswell Castle is easily recognized by the pentagonal moat surrounding the site.

In a tax list of 1332 William Caswelle paid a tax of five shillings and four pence, and John Caswell paid six shillings and eight pence, recorded in the Edington Cartulary.

The Church of St Mary’s has a Chantry named after the Wenman family, but it was originally called Caswell Chantry. The Wenmans took possession of Caswell Castle and farm in the 1500s, so it would be reasonable to think they changed the name of the chancel, being wealthy cloth traders in the town.

The south transept aisle, perhaps already associated with owners of Caswell House in Curbridge, was remodeled about 1485, when the wealthy woolman Thomas Fermor or Ricards, of Caswell, left £20 towards the building of the aisle of St Mary Magdalen called [the] Carsewell Ile'

We discovered that William De Caswelle was the rector of St Marys Witney in 1317. Apparently, rectors were wealthy people, owners of manors (Caswell Castle or the manor at Yatesbury?), but likely to appoint a minion to run the day to day church business, while they were off somewhere making lots of money. The only record to be found is our William de  Caswell, farming on the Wiltshire Downs in Yatesbury, where some of the best sheep grazing was available. He would likely have a close connection to Witney, selling large quantities of wool for the thriving blanket weaving industry the town was famous for.

Robert Casswell’s will, dated 1626 in Yatesbury, states he gave five pounds to the poor of the village. He gave 5 pounds to each of his children and a ‘wheat field’, and a horse to his son ‘John the Captain’.  Obviously, the man was very well heeled.

Noted at Marshalls' War*

Robert Caswell of Yatesbury

To John Washbourne of Yatesbury, William Brown of Broad Hinton and Thomas
Chandler of Heytesbury my freehold manor and reported ****,messuages , farm,
lands, etc in Rodbourne Cheney, Wilts to hold etc for the use for life of my niece Ann the wife of Francis Stephen Long of Boreham. Upon trust and after her decease to the use of Robert Caswell Long second son of my said niece. To trustees further 6000 pounds interest of which for the use of Susannah, wife of George John Bannister of Warminster, banker, another niece and aftds for her second son.residue for children of two nieces.

Signed 19 May 1819
Proved PCC 22 Oct 1820

Record found in the Everett Papers (Wills 1) Devizes Museum.

Inside the Yatesbury church on a plaque made by Harrisons of Devizes , under the bell tower:-
'To the memory of Robert Caswell, who died 18th June 1819 aged 55 years - by his nieces Anne LONG and Susanna BANNISTER".
At this time 30 pounds per annum was a good allowance for a gentleman , so 6000 pounds would be worth approx 300,000 pounds in 1996. A very tidy sum!

« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 03:41:45 pm by Michael Caswell »

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