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Parish 45

Date of Agreement / Award

Date of Confirmation of Apportionment




Date on Map

Scale of Map


6 chains



John Martin

John Martin

Samuel Hazell

Somerton was an important commutation for Martin. It was conducted jointly with Samuel Hazell from the neighbouring parish of Compton Dundon, a parish that Martin also started working on in April 1841. The rector and lessors of the great tithes were the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Bristol. The lessee of the tithes was our old friend “The Right Honorable Henry Stephen Fox Strangways Earl of Ilchester Lord Ilchester and Stavordale Baron Strangways of Woodsford Strangways in the County of Dorset and Baron of Redlynch in the County of Somerset”.

The parish was one of the biggest he surveyed at six thousand nine hundred and twenty seven acres and the rent charge was the largest of all the parishes at nine hundred and seventy six pounds…..and six pence. Of this two hundred and fifty nine pounds was paid to the vicar and the balance to the Earl of Ilchester. The parish had been inclosed during the early part of the 19th century. Kain notes the inclosure map was made by William Jennings in 1803 and the award appears to have been enrolled in 1806.

It is not entirely clear what inclosure achieved. It is possible to identify where the open fields were from the tithe map and the closes in large areas are small, hardly much bigger than the average selion in an open field. Indeed if the closes had not been bounded by solid lines one would be tempted to say the parish was still open. This is reflected in the number of plots 1640 on the map, the apportionment ran to 100 pages and the summary of landowners ran to 19 pages.

Naturally enough the Earl owned several thousand acres in the parish and Somerton was almost another Evershot. John Jennings owned just on one hundred and twenty acres, William Jennings a much more meagre fifteen acres, Joseph Crew Jennings forty two acres and two other Jennings who do not enter our story a further forty acres. Last and certainly not least comes John Martin who owned one hundred and five acres jointly with Benjamin Jesty[1]. Between them they paid twenty pounds three shillings and fourpence in rent charge and it was this land that entitled Martin to vote under the 1832 ‘Great’ Reform Act. Not in Dorset of course where his holdings were not sufficient but in Somerset . Also appearing in the story is John Pyne who owned 4 perches short of an acre. Whether this is the same John Pyne who worked with Martin is not known.

The map is said to be drawn to a scale of 6 chains to the inch but there is an inset part of it relating to Kingsmoor and Southmead which appears to be 3 chains to the inch. There are traces of what appear to be construction lines in the upper part of the map but it is not clear if these were made at the time of mapping or were added later. The map is not sealed. Kingsmoor was separated from the main parish by the Manor of Knowle and in two parts of the Kingsmoor map Martin has noted how the parts were related. The road leads out of Somerton in a south easterly direction and this point is marked A and there is a note on the map,

△ A }This point △ A relative to △B on the plan of Kingsmoor and Southmead is distant about one mile in a direct line of road [sic] from North to South

On the Kingsmoor section there is a corresponding note with,

△ B This point △B relative to △A on the plan of Somerton is distant about one mile in a direct line of road from South to North

There was also a single outlying field connected to the main parish by a rather tortuous road which he has drawn in. He labelled the starting point [by the turnpike gate] A and the entrance to the field B and has connected them by a straight line. However he notes that,

The road from A to B is laid down on a scale of 1.9 chains to one inch

The map is signed with Martins type 2 signature. The parish is surrounded by three other parishes, Long Sutton and Compton Dundon and Kingsdon. Martin apportioned Long Sutton and Compton Dundon but Kingsdon was apportioned by his old colleague Edward Watts. There are two entries from the 1845 diary

14th June 1845 Examining the Somerton Map with Arthur Respng woods and orchards
20th October 1845 Received of Mr Wm Jennings on further A/c of Lord Ilchesters Somerton Expenses £186 12 8d


List of Commutations under the Tithe Commutation Act

1 Ann Jesty, Benjamin’s wife and John Martin’s sister-in-law inherited the land and she and Martin thus became joint owners.