Whatever their origin may have been, it is clear that throughout the 17th century they were farmers, as evidenced by their wills, inventories and leases. They leased land from the two major landowners in the parish, the Catholic Bodenham's and the belatedly Protestant Pye's. Their farms were the Poole, the Hill, the Lowe and Hegmond Hell. The Hill and Lowe farm still exist. Poole farmhouse is now a rest home and Hegmond has tentatively been located in the area now known as Ellis Grove, formerly Hell's Grove, on land sloping towards Aconbury Hill - (Hell = Helde = slope). Hegmond, if a personal name, must predate the register, 1558. The Hill Farm is now a well-known cidery producing an excellent brew according to the late Albert Verry of Cinderford who visited it. The Lowe according to Reade was occupied by Verrior by 1590 if not earlier, but I have seen nothing to support it.
One of the
conditions of the leases was to graft a number of crab-trees
annually. The crab apple was used to make the rough cider
commonly drunk in Herefordshire. John Gerard in his "Herball"
written in the 1600's refers to Bodenham's orchard at Rotherwas near
Hereford, so plentiful "that the servants drink for the most part no
other drink but that made of apples".
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE LOWE FARM
Several inventories have survived from which their living conditions may be roughly deduced. This is an extract from one relating to the Lowe Farm, a Bodenham property, Manor of Bryngwyn.
"True and Perfect Inventory of all and singular the Goods, Cattle and Chattles of ROBERT VERRY in the Parish of Much Dewchurch, Yeoman, has been taken and Apprised by us - Thomas PREECE, Richard COLLOE, Benjam. MASON, the eleventh day of June 1688"
His wearing apparrell - 5 pounds
In the Hall, 4 kettles, one pott, one frying pan, one warming pan and other small things - 15 shillings
In the Parlour, two feather beds, two coverleds, one bedstead, two table boards - 3 pound 10 shillings
In the Killhouse 7 bushells of malt - 12
In the Corne Chamber one bed and bedstead,coverlet
and blankets - 12 shillings
In the Hall Chamber, 1 bedstead, 1 rug, 2 blankets, 1 table board and other things - 1 pd 5 shillings
In the Porch Chamber one bed and bolster - 15 shillings
THE CIVIL WAR
In 1645 many of a Scottish army of some 12,000 encamped on Aconbury Hill overlooking Dewchurch and at nearby Dinedor, overlooking Hereford City. A contemporary report says - "We have been constrained to flee with our wives and children from our habitations, had our houses rifled, our cattle driven away and our corn threshed by barbarous Cavaliers of the Welsh parts under the command of a dangerous Papist, so that many of us are wholly deprived of maintenance."
The VERRIOR's, with their farms just below Aconbury Hill almost certainly fled and suffered the horses let loose to forage their corn. The Black Swan Inn too provided sustenance, at the point of a gun apparently as musket shot still sits in its beams.
It was a time of fear and commotion. Rumbling supply carts, marching feet, horses, shouting - thousands of Scottish dragoons, their women armed with daggers, all needing somewhere to sleep and feed their horses. Up the Worm Brook came the opposition repeating the desecration, past sleepy Dewchurch, rummaging the houses and barns, stealing the horses and killing the milk cows for meat. But Herefordshire got its revenge. Many of the Scots, unused to cider or apples sickened quickly. With opposition raised against them Leven and his wild Scots withdrew back to "North Britain". It is remarkable that they had got so far.
The bulk of
Herefordshire landowners were Royalists. Their tenants
and labourers naturally followed, many tacitly I suspect
- they were farmers not warriors. I would like to think that
the Pye's and Bodenham's made good my ancestors' losses. Perhaps not -
the working classes have seldom benefitted from their masters' wars.
(There is a
petition dated 1662 of Jane MERRICK who was injured while working to
earth for the defence of Hereford City when it was besieged by the
and who, when the king later visited the city, was presented to him.
king promised that she should be cared for. But although she asked
times, it was never granted.)
One casualty may have been Richard VERRIER. He was born in 1617, an appropriate age to have been a soldier. He disappears from the record, possibly dead on a far-off battle field, with an anonymous mention in some parish register like these at Much Dewchurch - "buried John a poor wounded souldier", "buried Francis LEA a poor maymed souldier". So far from home no doubt, with anguished parents awaiting their return which never came.
Of Herefordshire at this time one of Cromwell's Parliamentary officers wrote, with Puritan bias no doubt - "The inhabitants are totally ignorant in the ways of God and much addicted to drunkedness, but principally to swearing so that children who have scarce learned to walk swear stoutly". Indeed, the toughness of some of these children is illustrated by a baker's boy who shot a Scottish officer from the City Wall during the siege of Hereford.
THE NAME CHANGE
The Elizabethan Much Dewchurch Register records the name as FERRYOR (ie F for V - ff for F) and VERRIOR. Towards the end of the reign it was sometimes writtern VERRIER.
from VERRIOR to VERRYcan best be
illustrated by some examples. The nuncupative (verbal) will of Ann VERRYOR written in 1664
recorded her name as VERRY, but the clerk later
squeezed in "or" - Verryor. Her kinsman Robert VERRIOR of the Lowe Farm is
both VERRYER and VERY in a lease written
in 1666. He was Robert (VERRIOR) a churchwarden at
various times, 1653-1680. As a witness to his brother's Will he signed VERIOR, but to that of his
cousin, VERRY. And so by around
1700 the name was to be forever written VERRY. The Much Dewchurch
register also records this transition, with numerous examples - the
same families having children christened as VERRIOR and buried (some
shortly after) as VERRY. Apart from the
local historian's assertion of a French speaking origin, the only
evidence of first names possibly pointing to this is a PERIN VERRY.
Here is an
example of a 17th Century document illustrating the transition from Verrior to Verry. It is the
nuncupative (verbal) will of Anne Verry(or) as attested by her
how "or" has been squeezed in after "Verry" was written.