The population of Whitle
Digging Deeper has always been more than simply the archaeology of the holding, for it is nothing without the people who lived there and worked the land. Members of the Tudor Farming Interpretation Group have continued their research into the history of this part of the Dove Valley and have discovered yet more of the story that we are entangled with.
We have pages devoted to families of the area, and we hope you find their stories as fascinating as we do.
We have researched the wills and other legal documents of the families – it proved to be very tricky with Covid related restrictions to contend with – but they go give an interesting insight into the lives and status of those who lived here.
The Earliest Reference to People at Whitle
The most exciting news from our recent work on the During the Digging Deeper project is that our volunteers have found even earlier references to people, living in the Whitle area! References in the Okeover Cartulary show there was family from Whitle (de Whithul) who had held land in Sheen, which has been dated to between 1220-1235(1).
These documents imply that a family, comprising of Robert de Whithul, his wife Alice and his son Peter, held at least two bovates of land in Sheen. The documents show that Robert had died and that his wife and son were selling this land to the Okeovers.
The first documents states that “Peter son of Robert of Withul resigns and quit claims a bovate of land at Sheen to his lord Robert I of Okeover for which Robert paid twelve marks. 1220 × 1235”. (2)
The second document notes a “Quit claim given by Alice widow of Robert Wythul in favour of Robert I of Okeover in respect of her dower of a bovate of land in Sheen for which Robert paid her four marks. 1220 × 1235 (3).
This information is important as it helps to corroborate Dr Harris’s theory that Whitle probably originated in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, and was probably ‘an area of later colonisation, and expansion of agriculture away from the core settlement of Sheen and other neighbouring settlements such as Longnor, as a growing population sought new lands from which they could make a living.’(4)
Despite this we have, unfortunately, not yet been able to identify where in Whitle they lived.
Peter Watson’s The Okeovers -c. 1100-c1300 : a gentry family and their cartulary ( Ph.D Thesis University of Oxford).
Ibid Taken from Peter Watson’s Thesis . ORIGINAL: DRO D231M/T329.CARTULARY: OC fol. 9v(i). PRINTED: ‘WO’, no.57, p.155.
Ibid. Original CARTULARY: OC fol. 10r (i).
Dr Simon J Harris: Peeling Back the Layer: A Community Archaeological Project at Under Whitle. Final Report October 2016 P9