HEDGES (HODGES), John (by 1503-62), of Malmesbury, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1503. m. by 1531, Joan, ?da. of John Howell of Som., at least 1s. 2da.; 1 da. illegit.2
Although his family is said to have been long resident in the neighbourhood of Shipton Moyne, Gloucestershire, some three miles north-west of Malmesbury, the origins and early history of John Hedges, clothier, are unknown. He was assessed for subsidy in Malmesbury itself in 1524 and paid 50s. on goods worth £100 in 1541, when he was the richest of the nine townsmen who were so taxed. The value of his goods in the town decreased to £80 in 1549 and to £40 three years later, and he was assessed there on lands which were worth only £20 in the year of his death. This decline can probably be traced to the purchase of property elsewhere, although he still described himself as a resident of Malmesbury in his will.3
Hedges had a successful but not particularly eventful career, which made him more representative of his class than William Stumpe or Matthew King, his fellow clothiers who were returned for Malmesbury. He was not one of those who ‘stood for the true religion’ in the Parliament of October 1553 nor, unlike his then partner Edward Unton, one of those who ‘seceded’ from that of November 1554. He was, however, involved in lawsuits. In 1541 Matthew King and John ‘Hogge’, described as Malmesbury clothiers, were each bound in £40 to keep the peace and to appear at the next sessions; the events arising out of their failure to appear were to lead to the conviction in King’s bench of the clerk of the peace, Christopher Dysmars, on a charge of falsifying the records. At the end of Henry VIII’s reign Hedges was one of the plaintiffs in a chancery suit against George Player, a local weaver with whom they had previously been at issue in the Star Chamber and whose expulsion from the neighbourhood they now sought. Soon afterwards he accused Walter Porter of London of detaining a bond for £20, part of a debt which Hedges had undertaken to pay on behalf of his son-in-law, Henry Smith of Bristol. In May 1561 he was fined £2 by the cloth searchers at London for trying to sell pieces of less than the statutory breadth.4
In February 1544 Sir William Stourton, 7th Baron Stourton, was licensed to alienate to Hedges the manor of Shipton Moyne, with its advowson and the neighbouring manor of Shipton Dovel. Later in that year Hedges was made a feoffee of the Wiltshire manor of Easton Grey, three miles due west of Malmesbury, on behalf of John Adey, and in the following March he received the advowson and other lands there from Sir Anthony Kingston. He also acquired a house in Malmesbury High Street in 1553. It is probable that he was the John Hedges who, in a chancery suit of 1550-3, claimed a share of lands at Huntspill, Somerset, which had been left by John Howell to the plaintiff’s wife Joan. Hedges’s wife was named Joan, and his marriage into a Somerset family would help to identify him with the John Hedges, then deceased, who in 1564 was recorded as having leased a farm on the Somerset manor of Limington from Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, to his own use and that of his sons John and Thomas.5
Hedges made his will on 7 Aug. 1560, committing his soul to God and asking to be buried in Malmesbury church. He left £12 to the poor and £5 towards repairing streets in the town. The widow received £100, all the lands in Easton Grey and the dwelling house in Malmesbury, with plate, livestock and half the household goods. The reversion of lands at Shipton Moyne was left to his daughters Margaret Ferney and Elizabeth Smith, the second of whom was also to have £20; other beneficiaries included Elizabeth’s daughter and the testator’s godson John Hedges, who each received £10, and a base daughter Joan, who was left £5. His son Thomas was residuary legatee and sole executor, with David Ferney, Robert Rowles the elder and William Pore as supervisors. An inquisition found that John Hedges died on 12 Jan. 1562, when his son and heir was aged at least 30. Thomas Hedges, although he continued for a time in the cloth trade, later settled in Gloucestershire, where the male line of Hedges of Shipton Moyne died out in the mid 18th century.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. F.T. Baker
- 1. Bodl. e Museo 17.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. E150/1001/8; C1/1303/41; PCC 2 Streat.
- 3. Rudder, Glos. (1779), 653; T. D. Fosbrooke, Glos. i. 388; E179/197/186, 255. 270, 275; Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x. 29.
- 4. St.Ch.3/5/14; G. D. Ramsay, Wilts. Woollen Industry in 16th and 17th Cents. 39-40; C1/1068/36, 1228/31.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, xix, xx; Wilts. N. and Q., iii. 460; C1/1303/41; CPR, 1563-6, p. 107.
- 6. PCC 2 Streat; E150/1001/8; C142/134/218; Ramsay, 40; Vis. Glos., ed. Fenwick and Metcalfe, 91; Rudder, 653.