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The Drake Exploration Society

Swatcombe Common

Michael Turner

Swatcombe Common

Swatcombe Common

In 1582 Sir Francis invested a half share in the Manor of Sidbury with John Hawkins. I visited Sidbury hoping to find the house, all to no avail. Until Susan Jackson transcribes this initial document, we believe that, unlike Drake's other manors, Sidbury only comprised land, farmhouses but no grand manor house. During my efforts to find the house, I spoke with the owner of a large 15th century house called Sand. The owner stated that Drake and Hawkins never owned the house but to my amazement, he stated that Drake and Hawkins leased out the Swatcombe Common to James Huyshe, from whom, Lt. Col. Patrick Huyshe has descended. Inside the house, I was shown photocopies of the three deeds.

The first document

The first document

The first document was dated 24 April 1586. The second deed was the largest and was the only one signed by Drake and Hawkins, being on 17 February 1587. The third document is an assignment of lease dated 13 May 1587. Drake may have visited the house to conduct the transaction. Sand is sometimes open to the public. A visit to the back garden affords a clear view of the hill upon which straddles Swatcombe Common. This has always been grazing land for sheep and cattle.

Lt. Col. Huyshe kindly afforded me written permission to photocopy and photograph the documents, which are on permanent loan to the Exeter Record Office. This was a rare example of fieldwork leading to archival work, as it is normally the other way around! These documents have escaped the attention of all Drake scholars because they are filed under Huyshe and not Drake. Unfortunately, Drake's will does not name his title deeds.

The Society is proud to present a world Drake exclusive. For the first transcription of the main document, we are again indebted to Susan Jackson for her sterling and skilled work. Therefore, society members are first to read this document.

Outline by Susan Jackson

This main and second document is saturated with Elizabethan jargon and verbosity. Essentially it shows that Drake and Hawkins took on the whole of Sidbury. This dispels the notion that Hawkins had never forgiven Drake for "deserting" him at San Juan de Ulua in 1568. Thomas Hampton acting for James More had sold Sidbury to Hawkins and Drake in 1582. However, the Hawkins family may have already owned the land and let Drake in on the deal: probably to raise money. This document deals with Drake and Hawkins sub-letting Swatcombe Common to grocer, James Huyshe; most likely for sheep pasture. This is feasible since grocers victualled ships and Huyshe, in addition to other commodities, must have supplied mutton. Interestingly, initially the documents were deposited at Exeter Cathedral for safekeeping. A logical step, since the Cathedral was neutral to all parties.

This indenture made the seventeenth day of February in the reigne and twentieth (error with the number of years Elizabeth had been on the throne) year of our sovereigne ladye Elizabeth by the Grace of God, Queene of England France and Ireland Defender of the Faith between Sir Francis Drake of Buckland in the countie of Devon knight and John Hawkins of London. E. Simon, Thomas Sparke and James Huyshe citizen and grocer of London and Thomas Parker do witness that whereas James more of Sidburie in the said countie of Devon esquire, by this indenture given under his hand and seal bearing the date the sixth day of June in the reign and nineteenth (error in years) year of the Queen's majesty's reign, before paid profieture (fee) therein verified and amongst diverse other things did deem and grant and left unto Thomas Hampdon of Exeter in the countie (diocese) of the city of Exeter mandate to his executors, administrators, and assignees all that tenement in Bickliegh with the appointments and fitments held in fife (fee) of the property of Sidburie aforesaid and rent-roll of the manor of Sidburie aforesaid in the said countie of Devon and all lands meadows, pastures, feedings, orchards, yardoms, domains and manors in fee belonging to my wife or appertaining to my wife, the property enjoyed occupied and frequented of the barton held in fee, farmhouse and manor-house or occupation of Thomas happing for the term of his life by varie according to the outcome of the fee for the Manor of Sidburie forfirm (confirm) of threefrowe (three fold?) and same thereof appertaining from fee of this date on the same indenture of lease referring this upon the same yearly lease as by fee from indenture of lease amongst divers of other indemnity granted by the amount of fee from the time most plainly happeneth. The rate from the interest of which paid Thomas Hampton in and to be paid into them by the above named Francis Drake and John Hawkins or one of them by good and lawful contentment and agreement most lawfully have or hath come Lady Day of Francis Drake and John Hawkins for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds of lawful money of England to them in hand before them totalling and delivering of their porpart log the above named James Huyshe finally paid wherewith and not withstanding the said Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins acknowledge themselves fully ratified and paid by fees present have dennified (defined) granted and confirm on and by this agreement to grant to and do forme (formally) lett unto the said James Huyshe all that piece of ground or common lieing in the parish and lordship of Sidburie aforesaid in the said countie of commonly or oftenley called or known by the name of Swatcome Common late in the teannure fief or ounparon (ownership) of the foresaid Thomas Lappingrote or his assigas (assignees) being parrod (privy) of the foresaide premises and all woods, underwoods and profitts and commodities whatsoever to the saide parcell of gronnde or comon belonging or in any waye apperteyning or in or upon the same growing or being to have and to holde all the said parcell of gronnde or comon and all other the promised afore by the thors (those) present mentioned to be demised (given to) with their appurtenannets unto the said James Huyshe, his executors, administraters and assigness from the month of the Birth of our Lorde God halfe (way through December) past before the date hereof unto and forme of threescore years from thanse next onsuing and fullie to be complett and ended William Huyshe James Huyshe and Thomas Huyshe the sonnes of the aforenamed James Huyshe or any of them all so longe live yelding (yielding) and paying therefore yerelie every year during the saide terms unto the saide Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins their executors administators or assignee sixtene shillings and nyne pence of lawful monaay of Englande all ever yearly or terms of the year that is to paie ful yearly or on the annriaron (annunciation) of the blessed Virgin Marie, the nativitie of Saint John Baptis and Sainte Michael the archangall and the birth of our Lorde God, by evon portions (Drake and Hawkins are offering James Huyshe and family the option of paying thier rent yearly or in equal quarterly amounts: Lady Day, the beginning of the Elizabethan financial year in April; Nativity of John The Baptist; Nativity of St Michael and Christmas. These were traditional rent settlement dates.) and the sayde Sir Francis Drake for him, his heirs, executors and administrators and for any of them, both covanannt and grannte to and with the saide James Huyshe or his executors, administrators and assignees and to and with every of them by this puts that he the saide James Huyshe the father, his executors, administrators and assignees or maye for the saide yearlie rent of sixtene shillings and nyne pence herein referred, lawfullie and quietly have, holde, occupie, partake and enjoye all the parcell of grounde or comon and all other the promissed afore by these present mentioned to be hereby grannted without appointment for and during all the saide toime of threescore yeares by the saide William Huyshe, James Huyshe and Thomas Huyshe sonnes of the saide James Huyshe the father or any allso belonging without any manner of lawfull let trouble, eviction, recovery expulsion or interuption of or by the saide Sir Francis Drake also by William Hawkins (probably John's agent, since John was based in London) of Plymouth in the saide countie of Devon or of or by the saide Thomas Hampton or any or them or any of their executors, administrators or assignees or any other person or persons by them or any of their means of late wryte to title, interest or promouncement and the saide John Hawkins for him, his heirs executors and administrators and for every of them doth covanant and graunte to and with the saide James Huyshe the father his executors, administrators and assignees and to and with every of them by these terms that the saide James Huyshe the ffather, his executors, administrators and assignees shall or maye for the saide yearlie rent of (sixteene shillings and nyne pence herein referred) lawfullie and quietly have, holde, occupie, posses and enjoye all of the saide parcell of grounde or common and all other the promisses afore by those mentioned to be hereby granted with their appurtonaments for and during all the saide terme of threescore years to the said William Huyshe, James Huyshe and Thomas Huyshe the sonnes of the saide James Huyshe the father or any of them shall so long have without any manner of lawfull, lett trouble eviction, recovery expulsion or interruption of or by the said John Hawkins or of or by the saide William Hawkins or thomas Hampton or any of them or any of their executors, administrators or assignees and all and every other person or persons by them or any of their means of late right, title, interest or pronoucement prouvded (proved) afivaited that nothing in their presense confirmed shall extende or be taken forthwith to the said Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins, their heirs, executors, administrators and assignees or any of them otherwise then for things done or suffered or to be done or suffered by them the saide Sir Francis Drake, John Hawkins and Thomas Hampton or by any of them any thing in these present to the contrarie notwithstanding and the saide Sir Francis Drake also for him his heirs executors and administrators and for every of them doth covenant and grannte to and with the saide James Huyshe the father, his executors administrators and asssignees and to and with every of them by these puts that he the saide Sir Francis Drake or the saide John Hawkins, their or one of their executors, administrators or assignees shall and will yeralie and from tyme to tyme during the terme hereby grannted, requite, discharge or otherwise well and sufficiantly save and kepe harmeles the above named James Huyshe the father, his executors, administrators and assignees and every of them the saide parcell of grounde or comon and premisses therein mentioned to be demised as well by himself the Deane and Chaipter of the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exter aforesaid for the tyme being and their successors and assignees and all and every other person and persons of for and concerning all and all mannor of rents, duties and payments due, or going out of or for the saide Mannor of Sidburie or any other lands, rents or hereditaments (inherited land which is possibly entailed) as by himself the abovenamed James More, his executors, administrators and assignees and every of them, of and for the yearlie rents refferred in the indenture or lease made by the saide James More to the saide Thomas Hampton as aforesaid and likewise the saide John Hawkins for him, his heirs, executors and administrators and for every of them doth also grant to and noife (to grant unto) the said James Huyshe his executors, administators and assignees, and to and with every of them by these puts that he the saide John Hawkins or the saide Sir Francis Drake their, or one of their executors, administrators or assignees shall and will yearlie and from tyme to tyme during the terme hereby granted requite, discharge or otherwise well and sufficiently save and kepe harmeles the afore named James Huyshe the father, his executors, administrators and asignees and every of them, and the saide parcell of grounnde or comon and premisses herin mentioned to be demised as well by himself the Deane and Chapiture of the saide Cathedrall Church of Saint Peter in Exeter aforesaide for the time being and their successors and assignees and all and every other person or persons of for and concerning all and all manner of rents, duties and payments due, or going out of or for the saide Mannor of Sidburie or any other lands, rents or herediments as by himselfe the above named James More, his executors, administrators and asignees and every of them, of and for the yearlie rents refferred in the indenture or lease made by the saide James More to the saide Thomas Hampton as aforesaid in wines whereof the said parties to those present indentures infourth (soforth) amyoably (amicably) have putt their hands and sealls hearon the daie and yeare firste above written

Fra Drake - John Hawkyns

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