Walter 1449 to 1553
Walter for a great part of his younger working life, appears to have lived at Hilton running the farm even after he became, a Master at Arms in 1513, for which he was paid the sum of twelve pence a day. He was at that time about Eighteen years old. The master, sergeant and yeoman at arms, formed part of the local militia, and were likely to be called on at any time to form part of the Kings bodyguard, this happened to Walter, later on when he was promoted to Sergeant at Arms, when he is was recorded, to have been part of the escort of the coffin, at Jane Seymour’s funeral, when her body was transported, from Hampton Court to Windsor.
These men at arms would also have it in their duty, to arrest anyone who flouted the king’s law, and would quite often have to escort them to London to stand trial at the Palace of Westminster. Quite often these wrongdoers would not have actually committed any it would probably be that they had just merely had the misfortune to fall out of the kings favour: After his promotion, he seems to have spent more time in, London, Hampton Court, and in later years, Windsor where He lived in Frogmore House which was in the Great Park.
In the whole of his working life as a sergeant at arms, there is no record of him ever being sent to arrest anyone, this was probably due, to the fact that so many of the Kings activities, were of such a dubious nature, that they were not recorded in official documents. There is however a report that he was part of a force sent to Amtphill, which I believe is in Bedfordshire, to quell an uprising. I don’t know how long he lived at Frogmore, but by 1557 it is stated in state paper transcripts that the house recently inhabited by Walter Chaldecott was said to have been in such a dilapidated condition that it was uninhabitable and therefore had to be demolished. At that time he would have been aged around fifty.
The Berkshire years
For his services to the king, Walter was not only given the tenancy of Frogmore, but also was between 1546 –1548 was given land at Windsor and Datchet, and the mansion of Elland. It would appear that he was not actually given ownership of these lands and property, only the right to receive the rent from them for life, he was also given, according to one transcript, the right to a House boat, but I believe this to be a misinterpretation and Should read Horseboat, which is a ferry that carried both passengers and horses between, what is now known as Old Windsor and Datchet, A smaller ferry that just carried passengers was in operation right up until 1994
He also was given the hunting rights in the forest of Westminster, also the same rights to land in Sussex. I also found a reversion Indenture in the Surrey records Office, for land in Tanbridge Surrey, this type of document meant, it couldn’t be passed to his heirs upon his death, it had to be passed to a person nominated, In the original. Document. It would appear that the sudden bestowing of grants to Walter at this period was to ensurehim a comfortable and financially secure retirement.
All of the forgoing information, I gathered in my earlier researches, but there were still a few facts that needed further clarification. I had already been able to establish, that Walter’s heir John who had inherited estates, in Dorset, he was then known as John of Hilton. This was stated in the state papers of Philip and Mary page 207 1556, this I assumed was around the date which Walter died, but later on, I was to find this to be incorrect.
As I have mentioned earlier, I have over the past few years been doing some research, in the Berkshire Records Office. In one of my first visits about ten years ago, I discovered that Walter had not married Bridget until 1548, it was mentioned in Hutchins that she was a widow by the name of Fetiplace (or Phetiplace) who lived at Sulhampstead banister, but I’d always, assumed that he had married her much earlier. Being sceptical, about the timing, of this marriage it looks as though his reason for getting married was due to the fact, that his house was no longer habitable, so he had to seek other accommodation. It would appear that he moved in with her at her home in Sulhampstead Manor, Sometime before the marriage.
Sulhampstead Bannister is a small village on the outskirts of Reading, it forms part of a cluster of hamlets where there are still some houses of that period remaining to this day, the village is now surrounded by gravel pits. With Burghfield village to the West and the M4 motorway and reading to the North and is adjacent to Aldermaston. There is a house standing on the site at the present time and it is known as Meals farm, which is according to the Victorian History of Berkshire a corruption of the name St Michaels, the name of the parish church.
Also according to this publication that at that time, it was written that it was the original house, but the house there today as more the appearance of being of Victorian construction, there may however be some of the original house there covered by a Later exterior.
Bridget’s late husband was Anthony Fetiplace who like Walter had also been in the Kings service; he came from a similar background to Walter, in a family with a long history of distinguished service to the crown. During her marriage to Anthony she had borne him five sons, these were Edward, John, George, Thomas and William: On seeing that one of the sons was named John set alarm bells ringing, from this stepson of this I knew that Walter and Bridget could not have named another son John , the sudden thought crossed my mind could this indeed be John of Hilton ?.
The Berkshire Search
After this discovery I carried out a frenzied search, through every document I could lay hands on within the Berkshire office, and the more I looked, the more I began to think my supposition was right What made it worse, was that I discovered a Number of calcots and one or two caldecotts. Some of these bearing the same, Christian names as Bridget’s sons, and having no evidence that Walter had been married before I could only fear the Worse. What I needed was to find some sort of wedding document to see if there were any conditions within it regarding property an inheritance but my search was fruitless.
Being a little disheartened with my efforts I let the matter drop for about a year, then one day, I decided to revisit The Berkshire records Office, when I did so I found that they had moved to a new building and the whole set-up was more organised. After spending a few hours searching for anything I could find regarding either Bridget or Walter, After some time not being able to find anything new I decide to leave, on the way out, I was replacing some index cards, back into the Fetiplace section, and whilst doing so spotted, a piece of paper. In the bottom of the drawer under the other cards, written on it was Bridget Fetiplace widow Wedding agreement.
It would appear that, when they moved, this document was one of a number they had found in the back of their archives in a deteriorated condition, but it had recently been restored. After I had retrieved this document, I had some difficulty in reading it so I sought the help of one of the Curators. He gave me a verbatim translation of it, but it was not conclusive, I therefore decided to ask for a transcription, It took him more than two hours. Even upon the receipt of this transcription I found it to be, a trifle difficult, to understand, due to the rather jumbled Phrases and grammar they used in those days.
Anyway I won’t bother to bore you any more, at this stage, other than to say, that although it was not conclusive, it did give me, some very useful information, they main thing being, that when went he into the marriage he did have Heirs. Following this discovery and with other information contained within. I yet again did some more research in the deaths and will indexes, and was able to identify at least three of the Bridget’s sons died with the name of Fetiplace in the Reading locality. I also did a close search of my records, to confirm one or two dates, also more research into the state paper transcriptions and decided that we are all well and truly Chaldecotts andnot members of the family with a very peculiar name. You will find a copy of the transcription with my comments farther on in this account.
The manor at Sulhampstead, did not belong to Bridget, but her late husbands brother, during the marriage according to records Walter appears to have, run the estate in the position of bailiff, which is most surprising due to the fact that by 1551. Walters father Richard had died and left him his entire estate. This consisted of all of the Shaftesbury properties and land. All of the same at Buckland Newton and Hilton as well as all of the Somerset estate and also some property in Dorchester, all of which according to the records he appears to have visited fairly frequently, accompanied at times with Bridget and indeed on one such a visit sometime about 1553 that their son Francis Wasborn at Ashbrittlein Somerset.
Whilst living at Sulhampstead the following traumatic event took place concerning Walter and his wife on the 14th February 1553, as recorded in Records Patent, Phillip and Mary.
Wherein Robert heasly of smyfield a gentleman and Ralph haggers a Yeoman of the guard with others at 10 am did feloniously and burgleously with force of arms did break-in and entered the mansion of Walter Chaldecott at Sulhampstead and Assaulted and ill treated, the said alter and his wife Bridget, so that they were in fear of their Lives and robbed them of.
1. Cloak value 20s.
1. Sword value 10s,
1. Silver cup value 40s,
1. Silver box value 40s,
2. Shirts value 30s, and 3 pounds in coin of the realm in a purse value 6p
There are number accounts of this matter referred to, in various sections of state papers, giving both different dates and names of the wrong doers. But it appears that there were at least four people involved. I could only find two references however of anyone being tried for this crime the first was Ralph heasley was pardoned on the 19th. Feb 1558. And apparently the reason being, was so that he could stand to the right, I would presume by this that it meant he could still continue in his post with the royal household, a later reference to this case dated some when in 1561, whena pardon. It would appear from this granting of pardons that they must have both been found previously unnamed Thomas Cave, described as a Sergeant at Arms, was tried, he also was found to be guilty of the crime.
The marriage Document.
As I have said earlier on in this section, the original document was virtually unreadable, to the average layman. After I received the transcript I could not at first get the gist of it even although it was typed. But after a little while I believe I did manage to get the general drift, which is this.
It would appear that Bridget’s uncle, Edward Fabian esquire of Compton Beuchamp, was the instigator of this pact with Walter Chaldecott a gentleman. To ensure that she got the best deal from this marriage, Bridget herself seems to have played no part in this agreement.
In it Walter agreed that all of his land and properties, in both Sulhampstead and Somerset and elsewhere including that of his heirs. Would come under the common ownership of both Bridget and himself, and their lawfully begotten heirs.
To sign such an agreement Walter must have been entirely mad, it Appeared to mean that upon his death Bridget and her heirs could take every thing, the legal implications of this document could have been disastrous to Walters heirs, they would have received nothing.
I don’t think that it actually meant this, due to the fact that as we all know now, with hindsight this didn’t happen there could have been some important wording missing to the effect that it would only be for Bridget’s lifetime and after that it would return to Walters’s successors. This I think in effect is what did happen.
To the bottom of this agreement and in the margin an appendix had been added in 1558, stating that Bridget had died, and that Walter had died some time earlier it would appear. That after Walter’s death she had left themanor, and returned to her uncle’s village of Compton. Where she remarried to a John Boswell who had taken all the rents of properties, From Walters death to that time. After that these rents were transferred to a John Bartholomew of London a Gentleman.
From the above I would think that were for the reversion properties which I described earlier.
There is no mention of the date of Walter’s death but I would think that it was around about 1554. I set his time of death, upon the fact that it was reported in the state papers, which I mentioned in the first page, that his son John took over the Buckland Newton and Hilton estate in 1556. In those days most things probably, did not get recorded until at least two years after the event.
Below is a copy of the wedding document transcript, as you will see it is rather jumbled. And as you will appreciate it is quite difficult to decipher and you will interpret.
It would appear that perhaps as a matter of economy that upon Edith’s death this document was added , so as to form an inquest pm.
Transcript of Berkshire Record Office document ref. D/ER F124 VI [1q48] Walter Chaldcott by his deed indented made between Walter Chalcott by the name of Walter Chalcott [letter d deleted] of Sulhamstead Bannister in the county of Berkshire gentleman one of our said Sovereign Lord the King’s Servants at Arms on the one part and Edward Fabyan (by the name of E, bearing date the 13th day of October in the 2nd[?] year of the reign of Edward.F.) [inserted] of Compton Beauchamp in the Vale of White Horse in the said county of Berkshire esquire of the other part, for and in consideration of a marriage to be solemnised and had between the said Walter and Bridget Fetiplace widow one of the nieces of the said Edward Fabian as for diverse other good causes and reasonable considerations the said Walter especially moving, the said Walter Chaldcott and his heirs and every other person and persons which the day of the date hereof stand and be seised of and in all and singular such messuages, lands, tenements, rents, reversions, services and hereditaments which now be or which before the feast of Pentecost last past before the date thereof were the said Walter Chalcott’s in Sulhamstead Bannister aforesaid and in Burghfield and Okefield [Wokefield?] in the said county of Berks and in “Ashebrittell” in the hundred of Milverton [?] in the county of Somerset and elsewhere within the realm of England with all and singular the appurtenances, shall from the day of the date of these present indentures for the considerations aforesaid stand and be seised of and in all the said messuages, lands, tenements, rents, reversions and hereditaments with all and singular the appurtenances to the use of the said Walter Chaldcott and of the said Bridget Fetiplace and of the heirs of the body of the said Walter on the body of the said Bridget lawfully begotten and for default of such issue to the use of the right heirs of the said Walter Cbalcott for ever by force whereof and by the statute of uses. And after … they two intermarried and had issue (… he[?] saith in Somer[set] … time but when he knoweth not) [inserted in margin] Frances Chaldecott and [Walter?] died and the said Bridget her[self?] held … [ At this point the document goes into Latin ] in her own right, and afterwards John Boswell took her to wife and took the rents and profits from the time of the death of Walter up to the 19th December in the first year of the reign of our Queen  (by right of Bridget his wife) [inserted] on which day the same Bridget died at Compton Beaucham~ and from the said 19th December a certain
Bartholomew Okerne [?] of London gentleman has received the rents and profits of the premises.
I hope your conclusions as to the meaning of this document match mine.