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Colchester Family History


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A26. Roger COLCHESTER was born in about 1548. He was buried on 1 Sep 1629 in Barking, Suffolk.12 He was described at his death in the Barking burial register as "the richest man in Needham", and in reality he was probably a skinflint - except the word was not invented until a century later. He was a clothier, and this was probably how he made his money as this was a good time to be a clothier in Suffolk.

He attended the manorial court almost every year and was appointed ale taster along with John Neave.10 As you can guess, this was a very popular office to hold. Beer was sold at 1d per quart and was very carefully controlled by the manor court. Each year 2 ale testers were appointed, their duties were to taste the ale, check for adulteration with sugar, and to check the pewter measures. The ale taster wore leather breeches. He would draw a glass of ale, pour some of it on a wooden bench, and then sit down in the little puddle he had made. There he would sit drinking the rest of the beer for 30 minutes, not changing his position in any way. At the end of the half hour he would attempt to rise; if the ale was impure and contained sugar his leather breeches would stick fast to the bench. New testers were appointed each year and were not connected with the beer trade but do not appear to have been paid and could only be re-appointed after 10 years.24
In the subsidies he was rated to pay 10s on goods valued £4 in 1603, paying only 7s for £7 of goods in 1610 and 8s on £8 of goods in 1621.2 The will of William Salmon, 1606, mentions that he owed Roger £100. He was also a trustee of the Charity lands.2

So far we have identified the following property transactions:

  • 1586 bought from William Colchester a cottage & 1 acre with appurtenances in Needham Market;2
  • 1587 bought from George Bugge 3 acres of customary land & meadow in Barking in Greenestreete;2
  • 1596 bought 1 acre 1 rod of land de Molland parcel of tenement Quittes (111/113 High St) lying in Needham from Thomas Colchester and his wife Alice.10 He was still holding this in 1607 when he paid 4s rental on it.2 The house is currently two houses and a shop, built as one wealden type house in the late 15th century with a rear extension added in the following century. The front of the house had a brick façade added after the earthquake in the 19th century. At about 1600, when Roger would have been there, various alterations were made. These included adding a window, a staircase with turned balusters, oak wainscoting in two chambers, extensive rebuilding in red brick of arched door ways and extended the rear wings;25
  • 1601, there was a complicated transaction where land was transferred into the joint name of 9 separate persons, possibly as trustees for John Flegg;10
  • 1601 sold a tenement and appurtenances to John Wood;10
  • 1605 bought from John Bugg a close of customary land called Corkers/Cockers of 4 acres & a pightle of customary land called Buggs Horsepightell of 2 acres;2
  • Prior to 1615 sold land called Benits to Thomas Lewes of Creeting St Mary clothier;26
  • 1622 sold 17 acres called Baldwyns to Simon Colchester;4
  • 1624 sold Smoffens of 17 acres to Robert Colchester;4
  • 1624 bought the Great Field of 6 acres occupied by William Parks, and Netherfield of 9 acres.4

His father left him in 1579: "six poundes thirtene shillinges and four pence" and "2 bushels of wheat".16 In 1601 his brother William Colchester left him "all my howses & landes in Batisford ..... with conditione that he ....... paye to Faythe my wyff five poundes a yeare ...."27 Four years later he witnessed the will of his brother John, spelling his name 'Collchester'.28 He witnessed the Will of John Bugge in 1608.8 And in 1612 his "loving" brother Thomas Colchester appointed him to be executor to his will.29

He made his own will when he was sick and died within the next 3 months. He left to his nephew John Colchester of Barking all his leased lands and properties in Ringshall & Battisford and his freehold land called Lenses in Ringshall. He left another nephew also called John of Battisford all his tenements and land in Battisford which he had bought from his brother William with the exception of the parlour which he gave to John's sister Sara, together with a payment of £3 per year. She also received a further 4 acres in Battisford. His nephew Robert of Barking received a tenement and lands previously owned by Stiles Sowgate and another nephew William Coleman was given 111/113 High Street Needham Market and a meadow beside Green Street plus a bedstead that stood in his great chamber. Then followed a list of 13 nephews and nieces who between them received £128. The residue of his estate was left to Robert and Symond, his nephews.30

He was married to Ann who died on 29 Dec 1623. The marriage to Ann is speculative, as the Barking parish burial register records an Ann wife of Roger the Elder, and this Roger is the only candidate that has so far been identified.12 They had no known children.



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