A'Bear Extracts: 'The Old Families'
from Ernest B. Pope's 'History of Wargrave' (1929)
of the family that are Dukes of Hamilton, Brandon and Chatelherault, have
owned Park Place, Temple Combe (or its site), and the Hennerton Estate.
Hamiltons, ancestors of the Dukes of Abercorn, have owned Linden Hill.
Lovelaces long owned Culham, and for 350 years Nevills were Lords of
Wargrave's Manor - all of them great and all ennobled families, but none
able to claim to be Wargrave's old families. Though Nevills were Lords of
the Manor so long, no real Nevill ever lived here, although the present
Lord Braybrooke descends from a Wargrave man. Richard Aldworth, who
married the heiress of Nevill.
the landed proprietors the oldest are, by far, the Youngs, who have been
here about 190 years, and who obtained their footing, even so long ago, by
inheritance, not by purchase.
to the Youngs come the Rhodes, of Hennerton, with just over 80 years on
that estate, and then the Nobles 60 years at Park Place - but none of
these names seem old in Wargrave compared with those of the yeoman, the
farmers and the agricultural workers: A'Bear, Cotterell, fforde, Pigott,
Silver, Guy, Lewendon, Langford, Newberry, and Headington.
'Bear, Cotterell, and Newberry all were landowners in very early days, but
A'Bear is the first name one can find in old deeds, and they have, in this
year of grace 1929, at last left Wargrave without one of their name after
600 years. Their head was a prominent Wargrave man in 1340. and my letter
to the last of their name here was returned to me marked “gone away“
(to New Zealand).
the male line of A'Bear is by no means extinct, as it is represented by
Mr. John A'Bear, of Manor Farm, Aldsworth, Glos., and his sons.
hundreds of years A'Bears were the main fillers of the parish registers,
and not content with this they signed them as churchwardens for centuries.
It is about 40 years since they sold their Wargrave home and acres.
has been a lot of discussion as to the origin of their name, and as
nothing can be proved it is rather futile to enter into this matter - my
own idea is that the name, in its first known form of John Atte Beare,
meant precisely the same as John Atte Wood, the early form of John Attwood.
have no recorded pedigree, and they are far too numerous to correctly
trace from the parish registers, as there seem often to have been seven or
eight Johns alive at the same time. From their very interesting old family
deed-box I think I could extract the pedigree, but the work is too great.
One of their many well preserved deeds is in itself a first-rate start for
a pedigree, as it recites that it is between “Thomas A'Beare of
Harehatch yeoman sonne and heire of his father Thomas A'Beare late of
Harehatch yeoman deceased who was one of the sons of John A'Beare late of
Harehatch yeoman deceased and John A'Bear now of Harehatch yeoman eldest
son of his father John A'Bear late of Harehatch yeoman deceased who was
sonne and heire of the said John A'Beares son deceased and eldest brother
of the said Thomas deceased of the one part and Richard Blyth of Sonning
gent of the other.“ I am sure that the merest tyro in matters
genealogical will readily see exactly which was which of these few A'Bears.
their last days in Wargrave, and for at least 200 years, The Hill was
their home, and that property and Worley's Farm their estate, but it is
more than likely all the “Bear“ named properties of Berkshire have
some early connection with the family.
Farm they sold nearly 100 years ago to Johnson, of Hennerton. In 1632,
John A'Bear purchased land in Harehatch Lane from John fforde, of fforde,
and quite probably this was some of The Hill property.
1618, however, A'Bear must have been at The Hill, as A'Bear of that
address gave a tenor bell to Waltham St. Lawrence Church - a bell that was
later used in the schoolhouse, and if it is still there it would be
interesting to see it rehung in Wargrave's school. As, in the earliest
deeds I have seen, A'Bears are described as of 'The Hill,' I rather wonder
if this was the property we know as Linden Hill, and which until one
hundred years ago was Bear Hill.
is a deed executed on November 7th of the first year of the “raigne of
our soveraigne Lady Anne,” in which “John A'Beare of the parish of
Wargrave yeoman of the Hill of the one part and John A'Beare junior of the
other part and Edward Simeon of Wargrave schoolmaster (apparently a son-in-law)
A'Bear conveys North and South Kindfield, Pawfield, Oldfield etc., at
Harehatch and property at Mumberry Hill (School Hill) to the other parties
to the deed.” Simeon acquired various other property, including
Gibstroud, Cockpole, Pennys, and Worley's Farm, so that when in 1728 his
will was proved he had advanced from Edward Simeon, schoolmaster, to
Edward Simeon, gentleman.
Magna Brittanica speaks of
various previous owners of Bear Place, including A'Bears, but offers no
reason for his suggestion.
Cotterells, like the A'Bears, farmed Oxfordshire as well as Berkshire
land, and presumably in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century had a
home in Wargrave, as they appear constantly in the parish registers, and
the first deed of the A'Bear family I have seen is one in which the other
party is Richard Cotterell, and the next one is the will of Richard
Cotterell, yeoman, of Sheeplake, in the county of Oxon.
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