Taunton Courier 19 Nov 1919 Local Notes and Queries Old Somerset Families includes JENNINGS DUDDERIDGE Hillcommon HAYES

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Taunton Courier, Bristol and Exeter Journal and Western Advertiser Wednesday 19 Nov 1919

Page 8 Column 2-4



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OLD SOMERSET FAMILIES. - A local contemporary recently published the following interesting contribution from a correspondent:- The family of LEACH has been connected with West Monkton since 1714, as Mr. LEACH, of Bathpool, can testify, Corneo? James LEACH, gazetted 1794, being for many years a prominent officer in the West Somerset Yeomanry. The family of HEALE has been associated with Thurloxton from 1564, the PYNE farmily with Lyng from 1680, the WISCOMBE family with Fiddington and the surrounding parishes from 1638, the JENNINGS family with Hillfarrance since 1590, the RICHARDS family with Creech St. Michael since 1560, and the ATKINS family with Skilgate from 1600. A still more remarkable case of long association in the case of the Somerset family of DUDDERIDGE. This family has been at Stogumber since 1501, Crowcombe since 1522, Taunton 1538, Bridgwater 1638, Hillfarrance 1784, Kingston 1678. In some Somerset parishes where they are no longer represented the name has been traced back to the period of the Plantagenets.

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71- HILLCOMMON. - I am told that this hamlet has entirely sprung into being within comparatively recent years, and that it owes its existence to an old privilege, which provided that anyone who could build a house in one night, and sleep in it, could claim the freehold of the land on which it stood. I should be glad if any of your readers could tell me how far this story is correct. - G.S.

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71.- HILLCOMMON. - I know the houses along the roadside at Hillcommon, but those at present existing there are substantial buildings, and would not have been so hastily built, although some predecessors may have been. The same story (whether true or false I cannot say) is told about certain houses in other parts of the country. There are several such in Wagg Drove, near Langport, which would give much more colour to the suggestion that folks “could build a house in one night,” if by so doing they could claim the freehold of the land on which they were built. But they are of a much inferior class to those at Hillcommon. - C.H.

71.- HILLCOMMON. - I believe the facts are very much as stated by “G.S.” I understand that at one time the site of this hamlet was nothing more than a large tract of common land, which nobody claimed. But there was an edict attached to this land to the effect that anyone could obtain a certain portion of it provided they could put up a house upon the part required in one night, and also sleep in the same! For years this was thought impossible, till Mr. James HAYES, son of Mr. Wm. And Grace HAYES, of Oake, solved the difficulty by building a house of turf in one night and likewise sleeping in it. Having thus fulfilled the conditions he claimed the land, no-one disputing his right. Soon after he took down the turf house and built a substantial brick and stone residence, making his life's abode there. Others in the neighbourhood, seeing this, followed Mr. HAYES' example, and in a short time the common land was nearly built over. One piece, however, was left to be dedicated to religious purposes. The people of the hamlet collected enough subscriptions to build a chapel upon this, the erection of which was superintended by Mr. Aaron HAYES. The chapel is one in connection with the Bible Christians, and was built, as a stone outside says, the the year 1842. On the death of Mr. James HAYES his property passed to his son Aaron HAYES, who died in 1896, and this part of the estate then came into the possession of Mr. Walter HAYES. - P.B.

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