Ragbournes (Ragbons, Jeynes Cottage)

If you walk down the lane behind Norton Court to Court Farm today you will come to a dead end but this was not always the case.

The Inclosure Award plan from 1806 clearly shows that the lane continued around the rear of Norton Court until it met up with the lane that heads away from Norton Green, between The Lodge and Green Farm.  Not only was there a road that has now disappeared but not far past Court Farm were also two houses that are no longer there; Plot Nos 196 and 197.


On the Inclosure Act plan, above, Court Farm is identified by No 207, Norton Court by No 200 and there are two houses further along the lane identified by Nos 196 and 197.  The name ‘Jeynes’ seems to include both of these plots as well as neighbouring No 198.  Indeed, if we look at the schedule that accompanies the map we can confirm that all was owned by one Thomas Jeynes, No 196 was a house and garden, No 197 was also a house and garden, and No 198 was an orchard.  Thomas Jeynes also owned two plots the other side of the lane from No 196; No 211, an orchard, and No 212, an allotment in Nicholas Field.

Thomas Jeynes does not appear to have owned the properties for very long.  The properties and land appear to have been in the hands of the Poole family prior to this time.  In 1803, William Poole, husbandman of Norton, died and left a Will which detailed both the properties and associated land; “I give and devise unto and to the use of my son Henry Poole his heirs and assigns forever the dwelling house wherein I now reside at Norton aforesaid with the outhouses and buildings, orchard, garden, cider mill and all and every the appurtenances thereunto belonging and therewith held occupied and enjoyed.  And also my piece or parcel of arable land in the common field called Niccolls Field by estimation one acre and a quarter situated at Norton aforesaid and now in my own occupation.  I give and devise unto and to the use of my son William Poole his heirs and assigns forever all that my freehold messuage situate at Norton aforesaid with the garden and appurtenances thereunto belonging in the possession of Richard Lovering as tenant thereof and also my piece of pasture ground in my own occupation in Norton aforesaid be estimation one acre or thereabouts called the Nuppend”.

William Singleton appears to have been the owner of Norton Court in the later eighteenth century and upon his death all properties relating to the Estate were sold.  The sale leaflet detailing William Singleton’s estate from 1786 describes one of these properties as;  “An annual or chief rent, issuing and payable out of a Freehold Messuage and Lands, in the parish of Norton aforesaid, called Ragbon’s, heretofore in the possession of John Poole, and now of William Poole, subject to Land Tax of £1.4s.0d”.

As well as providing a further reference to these now long lost properties this also gives us a name for them that I have not encountered before; Ragbon’s.

Land and houses were often named after an owner or tenant of the land with whom it had become associated.  This may well have been the case in this instance.

In 1664, one William Ragbourne died at Norton giving us the earliest identified record of a surname that could be corrupted to ‘Ragbons’.  William wrote a Will in December 1663 describing himself as a husbandman of Norton and requesting that he be buried at Norton.  He left bequests to wife Mary, mother Elizabeth, and brothers Robert and Edmund.

Indeed there appears to have been a number of people from this family living in Norton at that time.

On 9th April 1666, John, son of Giles Ragborne, and on 31st May 1666, Edmond, son of Edmond Ragbourne, of Norton, were baptised at St Mary’s.  The Gloucester Apprenticeship Registers, 1595-1700, refer to several Norton families.  On 26th March 1667 Giles, son of Giles Ragbourne, a yeoman of Norton, was apprenticed to Thomas and Bridget Pace for 7 years to earn the trade of a cooper.  2s 6d was to be paid upon completion of the term.  On 15th August 1676, William, son of Edmond and Sarah Ragborne, was baptised at Norton but he was to die and be buried there as well just a week later on 23 August.  On 28th July 1679 Giles and William were baptised at Norton, both sons of Edmond and Sarah Ragborne.

Jumping forward in time a little, we find that on 26th September 1710, Sarah, daughter of John and Sarah Ragbourn, was baptised at St Mary’s.  In 1711 we find the baptism of Sarah, and on 13th November 1713 Mary, both daughters of William and Mary Ragbourn.  The latter baptism also notes that father William was ‘lately deceased’.  Daughter Mary was herself buried at Norton on 12th April 1717.  On 2 February 1713 the property was leased from William, a yeoman, and his wife Mary to Richard Poole, a ploughmaker for the period of  one year.  The lease had a bond for £80 associated with it for 'performance of covenants'. 

The following assignment of mortgage dated 25 March 1713 is also believed to refer to the same property;
"Edmond Ragborne of Hinton county of Worcester labourer, Richard Poole of Norton plowmaker and William Burton of Gloucester 'trancelator' to Richard Barston of Redmarley D'Abitot county of Worncester gentleman and George Cooke of Gloucester grocer. Assignment of mortgage for remainder of term of 500 years on a messuage in Norton and 4 acres land, as mortgaged to William Burton by Edmond Ragborne deceased 6 March 1710 (the messuage having been allotted to Edmond Ragborne deceased as his share in the property divided among the children of Sarah Ragborne widow 10 and 11 January 1710). Consideration £20 due on mortgage".

I can find no further references to the Ragborne family after this time but it seems likely it was these people after whom the property ‘Ragbons’ was named.

Returning to the Will of William Ragborne from 1663 we also find a bequest to Simon Evans of Burbage, Wilts, and brother Edmund Ragborne appears to have been left a house and tenement at Burbage.  After consulting the parish registers for All Saints, Burbage, I have discovered that there were dozens of entries for the Ragborne family there.  From my brief research it appears that the Ragbornes were a Burbage family with entries in the registers there going back to at least the 1570s and that a member or two of the Burbage family came to Norton at some time in the mid-1600s.  Returning to the Burbage registers we find on 12th December 1619, Giles, on 30th June 1622, Edmund, and on 13th April 1635, Robert, were all baptised to John and Elizabeth Ragborne, and this could possibly be ‘our’ William’s close family that are mentioned in his Will, although I could find no baptism for William himself.

A number of indentures associated with the properties still exist as well and these tell us that the house where William Poole had lived was known as The Homestead.  William’s Will was proved in September 1803 and just two weeks later on 11 October Henry Poole, a carpenter and wheelwright of Norton, bought the property bequeathed to his brother William and wife Hester and still in the tenancy of Richard Lovering, for £160.  He raised the money by taking out a mortgage with John Troughton, yeoman of Bentham, for £140.  It appears that Henry Poole didn’t repay mortgage to John Troughton so sold to Thomas Jeynes tailor of Sandhurst for £216 12s on 19 April 1806.  £140 went to John Troughton and the balance to Henry Poole.  In September 1806 Thomas Jeynes mortgaged the property to William Piff, butcher, but does not appear to have kept up the repayments so in April 1808 sold the property to Thomas Howes, yeoman of Norton.  Richard Lovering, and his wife Elizabeth, were still tenants.  William Piff still held a mortgage on the property in 1809 when he sold it on to Charles Gwinett, victualler of City of Gloucester.  On 25 March 1815 Thomas Howes sold to Edward Webb in what appeared to have been an exchange of houses in Norton.  As part of the deal when the properties passed to Edward Webb it would appear that Thomas Howes went to live in a ‘newly erected’ house on Birdsperry Piece, Norton.  I have never discovered where this piece of land was/is but in April 1823 Thomas released the property back to Edward Webb.

Thomas Howes and his wife Charlotte had appearance at Gloucester Summer Assizes in April 1797 charged with having murdered their infant child.  I was not able to discover the verdict of the trial but the fact that Thomas still owned and was dealing in property at Norton after this date would, at least, suggest they were found not guilty.  The couple also had a couple of children baptised at Norton after the date of trial which would support this.

In April 1835 Edward Webb let Norton Court to Daniel Jennings at which time the agreement included Jeynes Cottage and the site of another cottage nearby thus providing another name for the property.  In July 1839 Edward Webb let Norton Court to William Merryweather and again the agreement included Jeyne's Cottage, cottage site and garden adjoining.

A map of the Norton Court Estate which I believe dates from the 1860s gives us a little more information.  This map does not show anything on what was Plot No 197 but No 196, No 62 on the later map, is recorded as being two cottages and gardens and its area has been reduced from 2 roods and 11 perches in 1806 to 30 perches by the 1860s.  At this date the road still continued to loop around the Court and join up with the road past Green Farm.  The schedule attached to the 1860s map records that the cottages were both ‘in hand’ which I guess meant that they had no tenants at that time.  It would appear that their days were numbered as by a later map of approximately 1870 the area was devoid of buildings altogether and had become part of the gardens of the Norton Court residence.  By the 1870 map, the road no longer continued past Court Farm either.

The 1860s seem to have been a turbulent time on the Norton Court Estate with many changes taking place.  A number of properties were demolished for good during this period and a few new ones erected, renovated, such as the Red Lion Inn.  It appears that Edward Webb was bringing the Estate up to a standard higher than had previously been present.