Hutchins had it that it’s name came from Rame “an Anglo-Saxon possessor”; at Domesday it is known as Ramesham, ‘an enclosure belonging to Rame’. William gave it to another of his half brothers, Odo Bishop of Bayeux. In the 3rd edition of Hutchins [but not the 1st] there is a note that “Peter Ramsam or as Leland calls him Peter Ramesunne, Abbot of Sherborne from 1475 to 1504….was probably a native of this place.” True or not the name Ransom stuck and was used by Martin and it remains in use to the current day.
The village of Rampisham is small, it’s population today, at about 110, is a quarter of that in John Martin’s day but I am starting my account of his life and works with an account of the parish and its manor for two reasons. Firstly a functioning manor was comparatively rare by the mid 19th century and we are fortunate that the Court book from this period survives. This is useful as for centuries the manor had been at the centre of people’s lives and without an understanding of how manors worked the rest of our story will have little meaning. Secondly the Manor of Ransom occupied vast amounts of his time over the years and must have been a lucrative source of income. There are nearly three hundred diary entries about his Ransom work although most of them are like the entry for 1861; they do not help us much. Nevertheless he was intimately involved with the running of the Manor and for many years was its steward. In time his son would come to own the manor.
|25thJanuary 1821||Sale of Timber at Ransom|
|28th December 1861||At Home & went to Ransom|
The first and last references to the Ransom Estate in the diaries.
Although only a few miles from Evershot, Rampisham is very different. Evershot is a nuclear village centred around its main street whereas Rampisham is extended over several roads without any clear centre. Dwellings then, as now, were more scattered and it was more populous in Martin’s day; it would appear that many of the cottages on the tithe map have disappeared, and no new ones have replaced them. Many were reported to be in poor condition in the 1850’s and were probably pulled down. Rampisham too had good road links, just to the south was the Maiden Newton turnpike. Both villages are attractive and full of character but it is easier to envisage Evershot growing and evolving over the centuries whereas Rampisham evinces a more timeless atmosphere, helped by the fact that within the village the roads, which are mostly single tracked, run through ancient holloways which almost envelop you in vegetation.
Stories have to start somewhere and according to Hutchins1 during the reign of Henry V11 Sir William St Maur held the manor as tenant of the King and on his death his sisters, heirs to his estate “brought it to their husbands Robert Stawel and William Bampfield.” These two families retained ownership into the 19th century until ; “The manor eventually came to Sir Charles Warwick Bampfield, and Lord Stawell, who sold it about 1812 to John Daniell, Esq. from whose daughter and heir, married to the Rev. A. Johnson, it again passed by sale in 1853 to Lord Auckland, Bishop of Bath and Wells, the present owner.” That there was some relationship between the Daniell’s and the Bampfield’s is indicated by John Daniell’s son, born in 1795 whose full name was George Warwick Bampfield Daniell.
The Daniell family came originally from East Coker, just across the border in Somerset the grand sire of the family being John Daniell Snr. He built a magnificent Manor house in Hendford, Yeovil in 1776. His fortune came from making gloves and later he became a merchant banker. In 1757 a son John Daniell Jnr. was born who inherited the family house and took over the bank. John was married to Susan Clarke, the daughter of one Peter Clarke [a surgeon] and they had a daughter – Elizabeth Clarke Daniell.
Hutchins may have been wrong about when the Manor was sold as the 1815 Inclosure act names another owner ‘Henry Stawell Bilsen Legge, Lord Stawell’ as being co-owner. In fact John Daniell Jnr. appears to have been involved in the manor before the purchase in 1812 as he had,as we will see in the section on the parishes’ inclosure, a survey of his lands there made in 1807, which show an extensive land holding.
John Daniell died in 1819 whereupon his wife moved to West Cowes on the Isle of Wight dying their some ten years later 1829. The estate was left in trust to their daughter Elizabeth Clarke Daniell who also inherited Hendford House.2
In 1818, just before John Daniell died the Court Roll of the Manor shows that Martin had been appointed Steward of the Manor. The court record for 1820 year states that it was held on behalf of “Susan Daniell Widow, George Daniell and John Hutchings Esq Trustees of the late John Daniell Esquire”.George Daniell was born in 1795 and he was a physician practising in Exeter. It is not clear if he was their son or some other relative as this was a fairly large, dispersed family.
After John Daniell’s death It appears that there was some debate as to whether the Manor should be sold as it was put up for sale in 1819. The tithe records show the parish contained some two thousand and thirty one acres of agricultural land. The manor, including the “Court Leet, Court Baron, Chief Rents, Heriot’s, Wastes and Royalties” together with the “MESSUAGE, Barton and FARM of Rampisham” comprised a remarkably precise one thousand three hundred and fifty acres, three roods and eleven perches of this total. Only seven hundred acres was not under control of the manor. Martin is named as the surveyor and he produced maps specifically for the sale which was handled by Messrs Batten of Yeovil the solicitors. In the event, whether from a change of heart or because there were no purchasers, the manor was not sold; the Daniell family remaining the owners and Martin continuing as the Steward.
Martin’s first recorded work at Rampisham was when he was appointed as replacement surveyor during the inclosure of the waste of the parish in 1815. As there are no entries about Rampisham in the 1810 diary we might assume that he had no particular contact with the manor but against this is the fact he was appointed Steward, a responsible job and one where local knowledge was invaluable so it is possible he had dealings there before 1818. In so far as the diaries are concerned the first evidence of Martin working as Steward, together with the salary he received, comes from January 1821.
|25thJanuary 1821||Sale of Timber at Ransom|
|26thJanuary 1821||Went to Ransom & divided the Large Allts [Allottments] on the Hill into three Pieces –|
|24th April 1821||Received half a Yrs Salary from Ransom due Ldy Dy last £10 10s 0d|
|6th November 1821||Reced ½ yrs Salary Ransom £10 10s 0d|
He attended a hay sale in February, measured some drainage trenches in March and then went to Mudford in Somerset [just north of Yeovil]
|10th March 1821||Measuring Trenching at Ransom|
|5th April 1821||Went to Mudford respg Dr Daniells going out Tenant
Dr Daniell charge
This Dr Daniell was of course George and he was to die the following year. Martin’s work included collecting rents in April;
|23rd April 1821||Rent Day at Ransom & dined at Association dinner|
As we will see later the Manor had the responsibility for maintaining law and order but there were other mechanisms. The “Association” mentioned above appears on several occasions and was known as the “WESTERN DORSET ASSOCIATION for the PROTECTION of PROPERTY and PROSECUTION of OFFENCES.” Over sixty five parishes were signed up to the association but its exact role is not known. Rural crime was certainly a problem, Martin himself was victim to it on at least two occasions, the first was in 1845 when two tubs were stolen, the second time was in 1855 when swedes were stolen from a barn.
|11th October 1845||Working a Little on Abbotsbury and on Farming works &c -some one stole two small Tubs from Marsh Orchard House [in which I fed my Cows with oil cake in] last night.|
The last entry about the association was in 1861 when it celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and he paid his annual fee,
|23rd April 1861||At Home – Dined at the Acorn Western Association
Pd a Yrs Subscription to Western Association 10s 6d
Returning to 1821 we find that between April and October there are numerous of the ‘Went to Ransom’ type entries none are illuminating until in October we have the first entry about him holding a court Leet followed by writing up the accounts. I will discuss the court in the next section.
|25th October 1821||Ransom Court|
|26th October 1821||Writing in my Lords accounts sent rent of Courtland by a son of Coles of Hook|
|27th October 1821||Writing in my Lords Accounts|
Not much happened for the rest of the year until December,
|11th December 1821||Valuing Ransom Farm with Mr W Jennings|
|12th December 1821||Went to Ransom|
|13th December 1821||Making valuation of Ransom Farm|
|14th December 1821||At Home dividing Mr Whittles Allotment for him &c|
In 1826 the manor was again put up for sale and for a second time Martin was the surveyor and for a second time it failed to sell. Whilst he was steward throughout the period 1818- 1861 the diary entries relating to Ransom are not distributed evenly, the 1838 diary has fewer entries than the preceding years and 1845 has none; thereafter the frequency again increases. It should be borne in mind that the years between 1838 and 1845 were the peak years of his commutation work and by that time there was a new Lord of the manor.
The diary entries reveal the range and type of work he was doing. There were accounts to be prepared, the tenants to be monitored and evicted; rents had to be set and rent and tithes collected the annual court had to be organised and attended as well as any other business the owner needed done.
|2nd March 1827||Went to Ransom and working upon Ransom Accounts|
|13th March 1827||Finished the Ransom Accts|
|19th March 1827||Went to Ransom Farmer Swaffield looking over Fences and John Beater weighing 18 Hundred of Hay from Mr Jestys Rick|
|15th May 1827||Receiving Rents and Tithes at Rampisham|
|27th September 1827||Writing Notices to quit at Ransom and went there in the afternoon|
|28th August 1827||Went to Ransom on Mrs Daniells business|
|18th October 1827||Rampisham Court|
|7th November 1827||Working out Rampisham Rentals|
In 1829 Susanna Daniell’s died and the estate came to John Daniell’s daughter who promptly married. The Gentleman’s magazine of 1829 notes that “At Devon, the Rev A Johnson, Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Oxford to Eliz. Clark, only child of the late John Daniell, Esq of Hendford House, Somerset.” Arthur Johnson was an academic & priest in a period when it was not really possible to be one without being the other. He was ordained in 1821 and in 1825 was appointed curate at Sandford on Thames just a few miles south of the College where he was a Fellow .He lived here quite happily between 1827 and 1829 combining his religious duties and the role of Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Wadham college. After his marriage, he seems to have given up all academic posts and retired to the country. One can imagine a Professor of Anglo-Saxon would have enjoyed the prospect of owning an invention, the manor, of the people he studied.
For Martin we may assume that a life went on much the same, preparing accounts, measuring land for sale, travelling to the solicitors in Yeovil, meeting with Mr Johnson and so on. Things were going well in September 1832,
|18th September 1832||Waited on Mr Johnson at Ransom writing Letters &c and Notices to Quit|
|29th September 1832||Preparing for Cavalry meeting and went to Ransom with Notices to Quit|
|11th October 1832||Rampisham Court|
he even went to discuss the voting in the upcoming election, for this was the year of the Great Reform Act.
|16th October 1832||Journey to Dorchester for Mr Johnson respecting Ransom Votes|
In late October however things appear to have gone very wrong,
As we will see later this was not the first time that Flood had been in trouble and he will appear again in our story later. John Flood was a leather dresser who had been born in 1750. At the time he was 82 years old and presumably had become frail and incapable of work – and paying his rent. The Overseer’s accounts show that from February 1833 he and is wife were in receipt of 4s parish relief with a further 12s in March. They must have bounced back though for they do not appear again and John did not die until 1837.
Farmer Peach is less easy to identify since, according to the 1841, census there was a John, a Simon and two Elias Peaches farming in Rampisham. The rupture with Johnson appears to have been serious. At first sight nothing appears to have changed, although the concentration of entries in just one month is unusual,
|2nd November 1832||Working upon Ransom accounts -settled with Farmer Peach &c|
|5th November 1832||Went to Ransom in the Morning and delivered my Accounts to Mr Johnson|
|12th November 1832||Ransom Rent day Receiving Rents at Ransom|
|13th November 1832||Making up Ransom Cash &c & went to Piddle Hinton in the afternoon|
|19th December 1832||Making out part of Ransom half years Accounts -and other Jobs|
Finally he went to vote for the Whig candidates at Ilchester, both of whom were elected.
|20th December 1832||Went to Ilchester to Vote for Sanford and Tynte|
All was not well though and in December he noted the rupture with Johnson in his accounts,
£10 10s Reced ½ Yrs salary from Ransom due Michas 1832 when I retired from the concern
This seems to have been a serious rupture although It is curious in that the Court rolls show he attended the court as Steward for every year between 1818 and 1852 when the book ends and the diaries indicate he was still acting as Steward in 1861. Nevertheless there are only two diary entries in 1838 concerning the manor and none at all in 1845.
|23rd May 1838||Rev A Johnson Receiving Rents at Rampisham 2.2.0|
|22nd October 1838||Holding Rampisham Court and attendg the Sub-Commissioner Mr Lewis on Evershot and Frome St Quintin 1-1-0|
In the Martin archive there is a numerical survey of the parish which is of some interest although it does not appear to relate to the poor law rate. The inside of the back page is covered with what can only be described as scribbles suggesting that the survey fell into the hands of a child but there are also two rather odd little drawings, one faint and the other more firmly drawn,
They are not particularly flattering and there is no clue who they represent or who drew them. As there are no entries about Rampisham in the 1845 diary there is a gap of some fourteen years between entries which start again in 1852 when in July of that year when we find him working on a routine exchange of lands,
|16th July 1852||At Home on Various Matters Made Affidavit of Exchanges at Ransom for Mr John Batten £1 1s This was done the 15th|
|26th July 1852||Went to Ransom & Valued Land on the Hill Exchanged to Ld Sherborne & the inclosure for W J Batten £1 1s|
|29th July 1852||Making Exchange of Lands at Rampisham & Sketch for Mr John Batten £2 2s 0d|
In September there is mention of a manorial valuation instigated by a Mr J Daniell. This is probably J S Daniell of Blandford, a surgeon and General Practitioner. The reason for believing this is that he is the only J Daniell living in Dorset at the time and he has a son, George aged 26 who is also a surgeon. Clearly John and George were family names. How he became involved in what will turn into a sale of the manor is not known.
|6th September 1852||Went to Rampisham by desire of Mr J Daniell respg Valuation and made Two Copies of Total Value of Rampisham for him £1 1s 0d|
The Martin family archive also contains this valuation and unlike the earlier 1838 valuation it is signed by him. There are no doodles or scribbles on this survey but he does included details of the value of the manor. It is probable that the following note was added afterwards for he records that he made ‘a return for the purposes of the property tax due on 20th September 1853’. The tax due on the House and Lands in hand were worth £92 7s 9d with that due on the tenants rents being £4 3s 10d. He then made a note, “Entered on tax return £96 JM”; some things never change! The annual rental value of the manor was £1649 2s 6d but he made a note that if all the tenancies reverted to free hold it would be worth an annual rent of £5347 7s 6d.This reflects the reduced rental value of the land when it was held under copyhold tenure.
Thereafter matters concerning the sale increased apace.
|9th September 1852||[Ransom]
Went to Yeovil respg Mr Matthews Turnpike Work And had a good deal of conversation with Mr John Batten on the Ransom sale – charge ½ & ½.
|10th September 1852||[Ransom]
Working on matters respg the Ransom Sale
On the 11th September the advert for the sale appeared in Woolmers ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette’ being ordered by the “trustees of the will of the late John Daniell”. It is not clear why the sale was held at this time. Arthur Johnson Daniell, [he added the Daniell name to his own by Royal Licence in 1842] was in frail health and was to die at Instow in Devon in 1853. The fate of his wife is not so clear, as I have been unable to find her burial record. However a notice in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette from 1868 records that ‘Elizabeth Catherine Danyell widow of the Revd Arthur Johnson Danyell’ died at Seaton in August of that year. She was 71 yr’s old.
|11th September 1852||[Ransom]
Went to Ransom & examined Book of Particulars with John Newbury and preparing Paper for sketch of Ransom
|13th September 1852||[Ransom]
Working on Sketch
|11th September 1852||[Ransom]
Went to Ransom & examined Book of Particulars with John Newbury and preparing Paper for sketch of Ransom
|16th September 1852||Ransom
Went to Rampisham & working on Sketch ½ day –
|17th September 1852||Ransom
Waiting on Mr Johnson by his desire respg sale and working on Sketch & Particulars the other part of the day
|18th September 1852||Ransom
Working on Particulars all day
|20th September 1852||Working on Ransom Particulars and attending Mr John Batten in my Office on the same|
|21st September 1852||Working on Ransom Particulars|
|22nd September 1852||Do Pasting Sketch on Canvas for Ransom|
|23rd September 1852||Working part of the day on Ransom|
|25th September 1852||Colouring the Ransom Sketch|
There was then a short break for farming activities before starting again,
|5th October 1852||At Home & went to Ransom in the afternoon respg Valuation for Mr Batten|
|6th October 1852||Working on the Valuation of Ransom all day [Sent after more Colour]|
|7th October 1852||Writing out Valuations of Ransom [Abstract]|
|12th October||Numbering the Ransom Sketch and Putting in Trees Plantations &c|
|13th October 1852||Working on the Ransom Sketch|
Who the gentleman from London was is not known but in the mean time other aspects of the sale needed attendance; Mr Batten it seems had almost as many fingers in as many pies as Martin himself had.
|19th October 1852||Examining Ransom Map with Particulars and sent Mr Batten the Sketch Map of Ransom|
|20th October 1852||Made Sketch of Mr J Daniells exchange Lands at Ransom charge 12s|
|23rd October 1852||Went to Yeovil carried Particulars of Ransom to Mr Batten & had conversation with him respg Yeovil Marsh Road|
He held court in November 1852,
|20th November 1852||Ransom Court
Holding Rampisham Court &c
Reced Holding Ransom Court £1 1s
Then returned to valuing land. Note that Martin never used apostrophe’s in his entries, a considerable inconvenience if one transcribes exactly and a spell checker is turned on.
|24th November 1852||Returned Home Working on Valuations of Mr Johnsons Land at Ransom belonging to himself in the Evening|
|25th November 1852||Working on the Valuation of Mr Johnsons Land|
|26th November 1852||At Home on Various matters doing something to the Woodsford|
|27th November 1852||Making another Particulars of Mr J Daniells land|
The manor was eventually bought by Robert John Eden the third son of William Eden 2nd Lord Aukland.
Born in 1799 he received his education at Eton and Cambridge became a Deacon in Norwich in 1822. He had numerous appointments throughout the country and was for a while Chaplain to both King William IV and Queen Victoria before being appointed the Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1847. Most people think of Sodor in connection with Thomas the Tank Engine but the name derives from a Norse word for ‘the southern isles’ which meant the Hebrides and later included the Isle of Man. His ventures offshore did him no great harm however. He became the 3rd Lord Aukland in 1849 when his brother George died although in some ways it was a bit of a demotion. George had been an Earl whilst Robert was a mere baronet. He first appears in the 1854 diary but had probably bought and occupied the manor earlier than this.
He is the only person mentioned in the diaries to have a ship named after him3. This was a transport ship used to taking convicts to Australia but unfortunately in 1854 whilst acting as a troop transport cholera developed on board and several people succumbed.
|28th February 1854||Went to Ransom & paid Mr Rook Lord Auckland Tithe Rent Charge for woods 3.14.1|
Martin, now 74 yr’s, carried on regardless and we see him doing all the things he had done in earlier years,
|3rd March 1854||Went to Ransom & marked some Beach [sic] to be cut – sold two Calves to Misses Trenchard £5|
|22nd June 1854||Went to Ransom measuring Coppice &c|
|26th June 1854||Receiving Rents at Rampisham|
|17th July 1854||At Home on Various matters working Book for Ransom Accounts & went to Ransom in Afternoon|
|2nd October 1854||At Home colouring Lord Aucklands Ransom Plan for him -sent for a Load of Straw to Coker|
|19th December 1854||Receiving Rents at Ransom|
|20th December 1854||Making up Ransom Rents &c|
Aukland came to Dorset in April 1854 and appears to have stayed with the Earl of Ilchester. Although the good Lord had ten children who might have enjoyed the country life at Rampisham there is no evidence that he ever actually stayed there.
|18th April 1854||Attending Lord Auckland at Rampisham all the day|
|19th April 1854||Attendg Lord Auckland at Melbury & went to Coker in the Afternoon to see the Thrashing of my Wheat [slept at Broadstow]|
|20th April 1854||Attending my Lord Auckland at Melbury and at Home on Various matters
[Red Cow Turned] [sic]
|21st April 1854||Attendg Lord Auckland at Melbury in Morning ½ past 8 – And at Home on Various matters|
After this visit Martin had at least one more duty to perform,
|30th May 1854||Do & went to Ransom taking down old Buildings|
What these buildings were is not known but during the 1840’s Arthur Johnson came in for public criticism in the newspapers concerning the state of the cottages belonging to his poorer tenants and Aukland may wished to have done something to solve the problems. Martin also had to handle a case of poverty involving one of the tenants, although who Hanbury was is not known. He or she does not appear in the 1851 census for Dorset.
|6th June 1854||Evershot Club
Dined at the Acorn & went to Ransom respecting Hanburys distress
|7th June 1854||At Ransom & Finished Hanburys distress [Sale to take place Tuesday next]|
|13th June 1854||At Home & went to Ransom [Hanburys Sale]|
June 1854 was also the month in which Sodor and Man became the new Bath and Well’s. A significant promotion which brought him an income of £5000, some £400,000 in today’s terms.
Seven years later and Martin was still in post, he held the court Leet in November and set about making a new survey of the Manor. Both this and the 1852 valuation survive at Dorset History Centre and the earlier one is signed by him. The 1861 valuation is not signed by him, although as the entries show, he compiled it; at 81 yr’s old the hand in which it is written appears as firm as it was in previous years.
|12th March 1861||At Home about Ransom new Particulars of the Manor|
|18th March 1861||At Home & went to Rampisham working on New Particulars|
|19th March 1861||At Home working on Rampisham Particulars|
|20th March 1861||At Home finished the Rampisham New Particulars|
The purpose of this survey appears to have been with the sale of land. The entries are ambiguous. That from the 21st June seems to indicate Lord Aukland was buying land whereas subsequent entries suggest he was selling it.
|21st June 1861||At Home wrote to Ld Aukland informing him of the Purchase of Mr Williams land at Rampisham for £700|
|13th July 1861||At Home went to Rampisham sent £80 check to W&D for Ld Aukland making £660.10. 0d with the above £580.10.0d|
|12th November 1861||W&Dorset to pay into Drummonds At Home settled L Aukland Bill with Mr Baskett for Deed of Conveyance & Mr Williams to his Lordship for Lands at Rampisham|
|21st November 1861||Holding Rampisham Court|
|13th December 1861||[Rampisham rent day]
Attending Rampisham Audit
|14th December 1861||Prince Alfred Albert died aged 42
At Home making up Rampisham accounts
|17th December 1861||Went to Yeovil & Pd into Wilts & Dorset £700 to be paid into Drummonds Ld Auckland 1st January|
|18th December 1861||At Home & went to Rampisham -Agreed with Mr Jenkins for pt of Williams Land at £19 a year and to charge 5 per cent for draining &c|
The last entry in the diaries concerning Rampisham is at the end of December 1861.
|28th December 1861||At Home & went to Ransom|
In 1862 Lord Aukland narrowly missed out on becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury. His rival Dr Thompson Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol pipped him at the post. It was suggested that Thompson won because he had favoured and supported a Dr Max Muller in the post of Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford. Prejudice against Muller was widespread because of his marked German accent but Prince Albert was for him and Thompson garnered his support and that of Victoria, because of his promotion of Muller’s interests. That at least was the scuttlebutt reported in the press. As it happens Aukland was to fall ill within the next four years; sounding a bit like Agatha Christie, a newspaper reported, “the illness of Lord Aukland is announced” and in September 1869 he resigned his post at Bath and Well’s. His illness was eventually to carry him off and on 25th April 1870 he died in the Bishops Palace in Well’s.
A decade after the last diary the Manorcame up for auction once again. For the first time in many decades the survey passed out of the hands of the Martin family being undertaken by ‘Wainrights and Heard’ of Shepton Mallett. Arthur was named as the local agent indicating some continued input into the manor. By this time the rental income of the manor was set at £2066.
A rather coy notice in the Western Gazette of 8th December 1871 reads “A contemporary hears that the Manor of Rampisham with over 1,000 acres of land has been purchased by Arthur Martin, Esq., of Evershot.” The contemporary was right. The 1873 Return of Owners of Land’s shows that his full estate amounted to 1450 acres 3 roods and 23 perches. It netted him an annual income of £1909 and 11 shillings – about £120,000 in today’s money.The Manor was to remain in Arthur’s possession until his death when his two daughters, who had remained unmarried, looked after it. The eldest daughter, Martha Eleanor died in 1942 aged 96 yr’s and the youngest Louisa Alice died in 1947 aged 83 yr’s. After this the manor was sold and it appears the Manor house became a school. Thus ended one hundred and thirty two years association of the Martin family with the manor.
A more detailed account of the life of a Dorset Village in the 19th century can be found in the In Depth article below.
Previous The Manor
1 Hutchins J The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset 1st and 3rd ed 1861
3 Well it might have been after an earlier Lord Aukland.