The formal association between the Parsons and Peters Families of Somerset began in 1806 when Jane Peters married George Parsons. George was a son of William Parsons, a yeoman farmer from Holton in Somerset, near Wincanton, and he was a brother of Charles Parsons, of Marston Magna, who was a great-grandfather of Sidney Parsons. Although George’s father William had lived in Holton for most of his life he had been born and brought up in Kington Magna, just over the county border in Dorset, where several generations of his ancestors had lived.
George Parsons married well. His wife, Jane Peters, came from a wealthy family and their children benefited both directly and indirectly from that wealth and from the Peters family’s relationship with Lord Portman. One of their sons, William, inherited much of the Peters family’s wealth when Jane’s elder brother, John Weston Peters, died leaving no male heirs.
Jane Peters was baptised in East Stour in Dorset in the year 1784. Her father, John Peters, owned a large farm mainly situated in the parish of West Stour but with land also in the parishes of East Stour and Kington Magna. He had married Jane’s mother, Jane Gatehouse, in Kington Magna on the 28th of January 1782.
The area in which John Peters and his wife Jane lived, and in which their children grew up, is shown on the map. Wincanton is about four miles to the north west, Shaftesbury four miles to the east, and Sherborne six miles to the west. The area is on the edge of the Blackmore Vale and the River Stour flows southwards between East and West Stour on its way to the sea 50 miles away at Christchurch near Bournemouth. Their farmhouse, Little Kington Farm, lies on high ground between the valley of the Stour and that of its tributary the Cale which flows down from Wincanton to join it south of Kington Magna.
At the time when John and Jane were living there the main commercial crop in the region was flax, from which canvas and linen were made, but arable and diary farming were also important.
John and Jane Peters’ six children were all born while they were living at Little Kington Farm and were baptised in the old church at East Stour. A picture of the old church, which was demolished in 1839, is shown to the left.
Their first child, John Weston, was baptised on the 17th of July 1783 and Sarah, their youngest, on the 26th of February in 1792.
Their daughter Jane, who eventually married George Parsons, was baptised on the day after Christmas in the year 1784.
In 1808, two years after their daughter Jane married George Parsons, John and Jane Peters moved from Little Kington Farm to Maperton which is about eight miles away over the county border in Somerset. John took out a lease on Maperton Farm and he and his family lived in a big house which had previously been the manor house and had been extensively modernised in 1802. Before John left West Stour the following advertisement for the sale of Little Kington Farm was placed in several newspapers including the Salisbury and Winchester Journal.
“TO be SOLD by PRIVATE CONTRACT, — A FREEHOLD ESTATE, called LITTLE KEYNTON MANOR FARM, situated in the parishes of Keynton Magna and West Stour; consisting of a good Farm House, Barns, Stalls, &c. and containing about 330 acres of Arable, Meadow, and Pasture Land, 16 of which are out on lease for two old lives. The above Estate is about six miles from Shaftesbury and five from Stalbridge, both good market towns, and adjoining the turnpike road to Sherborne; it is well timbered, and bounded by the river Stour. In the occupation of Mr. John Peters, tenant at will, who will shew the premises. — About 70 acres, called the New Inclosures, will be sold separate, if required.”
John’s new home, Maperton, is a small village a little to the west of the market town of Wincanton.
The map to the left shows Maperton and some nearby villages.
George Parsons’ brother Charles married his wife Ann Jukes in Maperton in 1807 and they lived for a few years at Great Hatherleigh Farm which is shown towards the right of the map. John Peters’ son John Weston Peters was a friend of Charles’ and was a witness at his wedding.
John’s daughter Grace also lived nearby after she married George Moody in 1809. Their home was in North Cheriton (shown at the bottom of the map) and they lived there until he died in 1823.
In 1824, after John and Jane’s children had grown up, their house in Maperton was advertised to let. The following newspaper advertisement which appeared on the 3rd of May gives an idea of the style in which they lived:
“To be LET, with immediate possession, A capital MANSION HOUSE, called MAPERTON HOUSE; comprising a breakfast parlour and drawing room, each 19 feet by 15; a dining room, 26 feet by 19; six good bed-rooms on the first floor; several roomy attics; a large spacious kitchen, underground cellars, and convenient offices; a lawn or pleasure ground in front, containing about one acre and half, bounded by a brick wall; a walled garden well stocked with choice fruit trees, and with or without a convenient stalled stable and coach-house. The premises are well supplied with water, and pleasantly situated at Maperton, near Wincanton, Somerset, about half a mile from the turn-pike roads where the London, Exeter, and Bath and Weymouth Coaches pass daily.
For particulars apply (if by letter post-paid) to Mr. John Peters, Maperton Farm, near Wincanton aforesaid.”
In November 1828 John auctioned off some of the timber on his farm. The following adverticement was placed in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal:
“To be SOLD, at the Bear Inn, in Wincanton, on Wednesday the 26th instant, at three o'clock in the afternoon, by Mr. Jeanes, — 67 Oak, 103 Elm, 57 Ash, and 3 Sycamore, remarkably fine TIMBER TREES, many of which are of extraordinary length and girth, and of excellent quality, particularly the Oak and Elm, which are well calculated for Navy and other purposes requiring prime timber, with Lop, Top, and Bark, now standing on Maperton Farm, in the parish of Maperton, and in the occupation of Mr. John Peters. The Timber is to be sold in lots adapted to the convenience of purchasers.”
John Peters died in Maperton in January 1831 leaving his property to his wife, for the duration of her life, and then to his children. As well as his leased property in Maperton John still owned freehold land and premises in West Stour and more leashold land and tenements in Gillingham. The trustees of his estate were his son John and his youngest daughter Sarah who was still unmarried.
John and Jane Peters had six children, their son John and then five daughters.
Their only son had no male children to continue the family name so, in his will, he offered a generous legacy to any of his sister Jane’s sons who would be formally adopt the Peters name.
• John Weston Peters was John and Jane Peters’ only son. He was baptised on the 17th of July 1783 in East Stour.
John Weston became a farmer but also worked for Lord Portman, a major land-owner, as one of his stewards. He managed the manor of East Chinnock on his behalf from 1825 to 1834.
In 1806 John Weston Peters married Mary Elizabeth Connock in the church at Corton Denham in Somerset. He gave his address as West Stower. The witnesses were Mary Peters and Ann Lush. Corton Denham is about five miles south west of Maperton.
The Parsons and Peters families were close. John introduced his sister Jane’s son, George Parsons, to Lord Portman, and recommended him for a post as a steward. In 1835 George took over the management of East Chinnock from John and worked for his lordship for some years. And when Jane’s husband’s cousin Charles Parsons married Ann Jukes in 1807, John Weston Peters was one of the witnesses.
During the early years of their marriage John and Jane lived in Corton Denham and their first child was born there. After his father’s death in 1831, John Weston Parsons inherited his estate. And in that same year he also inherited a considerable estate in South Petherton and Dinnington from the Eason family. He and Jane moved to South Petherton where they lived at Bridge House which had been the Easons home. It was a condition of John Eason’s will that they did so.
John was a wealthy man and a prominent gentleman farmer, well known in Somerset. He increased his wealth by selling property and land. One of the properties he bought was the estate now known as Barrington Court which is today owned by the National Trust. The house was then in a dilapidated state and was used as a farm store. It was acquired by the National Trust in 1908 and in the 1920s leased to Colonel Arthur Lyle (of the Lyle sugar family) who renovated it.
In June 1833 John Weston Peters was called to give evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the state of agriculture. The initial part of his evidence, reproduced below, tells something of his history and circumstances.
John Weston Peters had three daughters with his wife Mary, but no sons. His eldest daughter, Julia, married Frederick Gale of the Gale family of Malmesbury (Frederick’s sister Elizabeth Gale married John’s nephew George Parsons a few years later). John’s second daughter Elizabeth died in 1823 when she was only nine years old. His third daughter, Jane, never married. She lived at home with her parents and died when she was about 30 years old.
In 1845 John’ wife Mary died. Less than 11 months later he got married again; his second wife was Ezit Mead who was a 21 year old spinster from North Brewham, near Bruton, in Somerset.
John remained in South Petherton where he lived first at Bridge House and later at the nearby Yeabridge House which had recently been built or refurbished. By the time he died in July 1858 he had amassed a considerable fortune. According to the South Petherton village diary his estate was worth more than £100,000. He passed much of his wealth on to his sister’s children. The executors of his will were his wife Ezit, Lord Portman, and Henry and Uriah Parsons, two of his sister Jane’s sons who were also agents for Lord Portman, and therefore could be relied upon as capable businessmen.
John was well known for his lack of interest in religion which was very unusual at the time. After his death it was written that he “made no profession of Religion and never enterd a meeting & scarce ever a church nor allowed a Minister to see him when ill”.
Having no son to carry on the family name, John provided an option in his will for any of his sister Jane Parsons’ sons to adopt the Peters name and arms and, by so doing, increase their inheritance. Only one chose to do so, William Parsons, who thus became known as William Parsons Peters.
• Jane Peters was John and Jane’s eldest daughter. She was baptised on the 26th of December 1784 and grew up at Little Kington Farm. She was still living there in 1806 when she married George Parsons whose father William Parsons had been a farmer in Kington Magna before he took over the Old Inn at Holton near Wincanton. William still owned the farm in Kington Magna and George was farming there at the time of his marriage. The wedding ceremony, which was held in the church at West Stour, was on the 1st of May in 1806.
Jane and George lived in Kington Magna for about ten years and six of their children were born there. In 1815 though, they moved to Charlton Horethorne where they leased the Manor Farm, and they remained there for the rest of their lives.
Jane lived until the age of 95 years and died in Charlton Horethorne in the year 1880. She and her husband George are commemorated by a stained-glass window in the church at Charlton Horethorne which stands next to the house in which they lived.
One of Jane’s children was George Parsons of Martock who became an inventor and businessman and founded the Parrett Iron works which produced steam engines, threshing machines, traction engines, water wheels, spinning machinery and power looms. Her son John became a farmer and cheese-maker; Charles (Charles Peters Parsons) farmed in Stalbridge; and Henry and Uriah became farmers and land agents with many distinguished clients. Her youngest child, William, adopted his uncle John’s surname of ‘Peters’ in order to inherit his farm in South Petherton.
More details of Jane Peters life and her descendants can be found at her husband George Parsons’ web page.
• Mary Peters was baptised in East Stour on the 15th of October 1786.
On the 2nd of January 1809 Mary married Edmund Moody in West Stour. Her sister Grace was one of the witnesses and her brother John was the other. Eight months later Grace married Edmund’s brother George in the same church.
At first Mary and Edmund lived in Maiden Bradley which was Edmund’s home village, but by 1820 they were living in Corton Denham, a village which is about three miles west of Charlton Horethorne where Mary’s sister Jane lived. Edmund owned Holway Farm which is in the southern part of the parish near to Sandford Orcas.
After Edmund died in April 1844 Mary continued to live in Corton Denham for some years but eventually moved to Poyntington which is about a mile and a half north east of Sherborne. She lived there with one servant and, for a few years, her daughter Elizabeth.
Mary died in Poyntington early in 1876.
Mary and her husband Edmund Moody had six children. Their first was born in Maiden Bradley and the second in East Stour. The rest were born in Corton Denham.
• Grace Peters was John and Mary Peters’ third daughter. She was baptised in East Stour on the 2nd of February 1788.
When Grace’s sister Mary married Edmund Moody, she and her brother John were the witnesses. Eight months later, in the same church, Grace married Edmund Moody’s brother George with Edmund as a witness.
Grace and George Moody lived in North Cheriton which is two miles south west of Wincanton and close to Holton where her brother-in-law George Parsons had been brought up and George’s father William Parsons was the inn-keeper. They were married for nearly fourteen years before George died when he was only 36 years old.
After Grace’s brother John inherited a large estate and went to live in South Petherton she lived with him and his wife for a while there but also spent time in Charlton Horethorne with her widowed sister Jane.
After John died Grace continued to live in South Petherton with her nephew William Parsons Peters (a son of her sister Jane) who inherited the estate.
Grace died in South Petherton in April 1865.
• Elizabeth Peters was baptised on the 28th of February 1790.
She did not marry until 1828 when she was 38 years old. Her husband was a surgeon called David Powell who was originally from Wales but at the time of their marriage he was living in Bath. Elizabeth and David first lived in Shipham in Somerset, near Cheddar, on the edge of the Mendip hills, and there they had their only child, a daughter called Mary Ann.
Elizabeth and David lived for most of their married lives in Clerkenwell in London, and in 1861 her brother John Weston Peters and his wife Ezit stayed with them for a while.
David Powell died in 1867 but Elizabeth’s whereabouts after 1861 are not known.
• Sarah Peters was John and Mary’s youngest child. She was baptised on the 26th of February 1792.
When Sarah’s sister Elizabeth married David Powell in Maperton in 1828 she was a witness.
Sarah never married. She lived in North Cheriton and died there in 1836 when she was only about 44 years old. In her will she left considerable legacies to her brothers and sisters and their children, including a house in West Stour which she gave to her widowed sister Grace.
You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.
Mike can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.
Copyright © 2013 Mike Parsons. All rights reserved.