Civic Society Column: Spotlight on the Grantham survey of 1650

Grantham Civic Society column.
Grantham Civic Society column.

During the Interregnum, when Cromwell and Parliament ran the country, an Act of 16 July 1649 was passed, ordering the sale of the lands of Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria and Prince Charles.

Contractors were nominated to finalise agreements with purchasers, and treasurers to receive the money and settle any expenses. A registrar and deputy registrar kept the records, listed the transactions, and gave the new owners their title deeds. The trustees appointed surveyors for the lands, and the Act named a surveyor general. The survey of Grantham was taken in April 1650.

‘The quitt rents due to the said Manner and Soake of Grantham from the freeholdes threreof holding of the same according to the Custome in free soccage tenure payable 
at Michaelmas onely, are worth per annum £36 12s 4½d’.

The survey, which is kept in The National Archives at Kew, is very informative and gives us five pages of names, sometimes including their ages and details of family, where they lived in Grantham and in some cases, descriptions of their houses. For example, Thomas Short paid 2s 2d for a messuage and shop in Butcher’s Row.

Also mentioned is a tenement abutting upon the Market Place, consisting of one shop, one kitchen, one parlour, with other necessary outhouses and four chambers over them, including a barn and garden. These had been previously granted by Queen Henrietta Maria in 1632, to George Briggs for three lives, George Briggs, his son 
Thomas Briggs and Mary Briggs, or 60 years. George, then aged 42, lived there with his son Thomas aged 19, whilst Mary aged 18 lived in Cambridge.

The description of The George or Queen’s Inn tells us that within the Inn was a bowling alley, no doubt to entertain guests.

Also taken into consideration were ‘The profitt of Two faires kept within the Towne of Grantham aforesaid, vizt, The first on Holly Thursdaye or Ascention Day, the other commonly called Wolfrome faire kept always on 15th of October’ and ‘the Tolls of the Horses, Cattell and Carriages passing through the said Mannor and Lyberties thereof’ and ‘The Tolls and proffits of two Weekly Marketts kept in the said Towne of grantham vizt, upon Wednesday and Saturday’.

William Clarke, with whom Newton lodged whilst at school in Grantham, bought a messuage in the High Street for 1s 8d. William was Alderman both in 1651 and 1657. He was a staunch parliamentarian and not afraid to voice his opinions, both orally and in writing, which got him in to trouble on several occasions. He was an apothecary in the town and may have been responsible for promoting Newton’s interest in science. Newton’s notebooks were full of cures for illnesses and methods of producing medicines and alchemy. Clarke certainly worked hard for the town, but left to live in Loughborough after the restoration of the monarchy.