A'Bear Family History
Early Atte Bere Families of Wargrave
1342 - c1500
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Little is known of the first few generations of atte Beres living in and around Wargrave. Since there is no evidence that they lived there before the early fourteenth century we can only proceed on the assumption that they arrived at Wargrave around this time.
From the first record of John atte Bere around 1320 we can only surmise that he at least had a son named John and a daughter or sister named Agnes.
One wonders where this John lived in Wargrave and, knowing their inclination to name a place after themselves, perhaps we should be looking for somewhere named La Beare. At the moment there is little to go on. Bear Place upon Bear Hill would be the most likely location to fit, and it does carry the tradition that at some time in the past it was owned by our family. However, there is a record dated 1438 which states that The Bere in Wargrave was owned by John Harpenden, knight deceased, (ref: DNF) and a later Chancery reference of the same century which notes that A place called Berreplase in Wargrave was sold by Robert Elleworth. (ref: Chancery C 1/22/45) It seems likely, therefore, that any ownership of The Bere was upon or soon after Johns arrival in Wargrave and ended by 1438.
Incidentally, the naming of the family homestead The Hill and later Hill Farm from around 1600 could well have been in relation to what had been passed down through the generations at that time, namely that they were once wealthy landowners who lived on the hill, and that it was the custom amongst the family to name your property according to the family roots.
The next Wargrave reference occurs in 1367 and probably concerns the same man or perhaps his son:
Feet of Fines: CP 25/1/20/98
CP 25/1/20/98, number 14.
Date: The day after All Souls, 41 Edward III [3 November 1367].
Parties: John Nothurst, chaplain, and John atte Bere of Wergraue, querents, by Thomas Hynden', put in the place of John Nothurst, and Robert de Nansele and Julian, his wife, deforciants.
Property: 1 messuage, 1 mill, 1 carucate of land, 12 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture and 20 shillings of rent in Chalueye.
Action: Plea of covenant.
Agreement: Robert and Julian have acknowledged the tenements to be the right of John Nothurst, and have remised and quitclaimed them from themselves and the heirs of Julian to John and John and the heirs of John Nothurst for ever.
For this: John and John have given them 100 marks of silver.
Standardised forms of names. (These are tentative suggestions, intended only as a finding aid.)
Persons: John Nuthurst, John atte Bere, Thomas Hinden, Robert de Nansele, Julian de Nansele
Places: Wargrave (in Berkshire), Chalvey (in Upton-cum-Chalvey)
Here John atte Bere is associated with a settlement in respect of land in Buckinghamshire with John Nothurst, Chaplain. There is no suggestion that John atte Bere had any connections with Buckinghamshire, but it is evident that he had money available to put down on the table, as did the Chaplain.
One wonders if the date is significant here. Following the enormous death toll of the 1348 plague it was not uncommon to appoint a charity vicar to a village to pray for the souls of the departed. It is also interesting to note John atte Bere's association here with church matters, the first such record of a centuries long tradition of churchwarden activity in Wargrave.
The years that followed saw more hard times. Outbreaks of the plague occurred frequently in England, the most notable years being 1361, 1375, 1378, 1389, 1395 and 1412. And amongst this came the peasants' revolt of 1381 which, though quoshed at the time, marked the beginning of the end for feudalism and repression. It is hardly surprising no further records of the family have come to light during this difficult period of time, and two or three generations would have passed before the next atte Bere is recorded in the area in 1413, when Robert Atte Bere sold two crofts of land and a moor called Scotfold in Woodley, Berkshire. Woodley is about four miles south of Wargrave, and it would seem logical that by now the family were perhaps spreading out in their search for more land to farm.
By the time of the next record one generation later, feudalism had all but ended across the country as the move towards a more modern society became unstoppable. In 1435 John Delabere, clerk, was granted the manor of Clifton Hampden, about twenty miles from Wargrave, a record worthy of future research. Then again nothing is known for a couple of generations until about 1478 when the surname first appears as Abeare. The record of the Sequence of Land Occupation reaching back to this time gives the following information:
(3) A TOFT and COURT at HARE HATCH and another TOFT and courtyard called CHILDS GARDEN containing 1 acre and 1 rood.
5 Eliz 12d (1563) Descended to Gilbert ABEAR from Thomas his father
17 H8 (1526) Surrendered to Thomas ABeare by William his father
10 H7 (1495) Surrendered by the same name and with 10 acres in North Kenfield to William A Beare by John his father
31 Wainflete (1478) The Toft and four acres in Bycroft was surrendered to William Abeare by William Webbe
+ + + +
4C A Toft of Land called SAWELAND and 4 acres in BYCROFT (permanent pasture) remained in Abeare family from 31 Wainfleet to 19 Eliz and was tenanted by:-
19 Eliz (1577) Descended to John ABear from Gilbert Abear
5 Eliz (1563) Surrendered to Gilbert by Thomas his father fee 16s 8d.
36 H8 (1545) Descended to Thom A'B from Thos Abear
17 H8 (1526) Surrendered to Thos AB by William his father
10 H7 (1495) Surrendered by the same name and 10 acres in Northkenfield to Wm Abear by John his father
31 Wainfleet(1478) The Toft and the 4 acres in Bycroft was surrendered to Wm Abeare by William Webb
+ + + +
Three acres called Mattely Innings
Surrendered down along with Saweland (mot supra)
17 H8 (1526) Permanent pasture from Wm Abear until Gilbert Abear
5 E fee (1563) 20/- 3d
11 H7 20/30 (1496) Taken by Wm Abear as forfeited by his father John ABear (...?)
+ + + +
Three crofts containing three acres and 2 acres in Southkenfield surrendered down along with Sawland W of Supra from
10 H7 (1495) John Abear to Gilbert Abear
5 Eliz (1563) fee 22d
+ + + +
A toft containing 12 acres called Corke in Woodrow and 2 acres in Southkenfield
10 H7 (1495) Surrendered down along with SAWELAND purprestures from John Abear until Gilbert Abear in 5 Elizabeth (1563) fee 3s 4d
31 Wainfleet (1478) to John Abear from William Gower
+ + + +
From the above we can determine that around 1478 a John Abear and his son William Abear were established and living in Harehatch, Wargrave, and that land, some of which would remain in the family for centuries to come, was being passed down from generation to generation.
The above details together with early wills make a good start towards developing a family tree, and this follows in the next section of the family history.
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