According to John Hutchins, the Dorset historian, there were anciently four manors in Maiden Newton. One was held by Waleran Venator at the time of Domesday and by his successors, followed by the St. Martin, Lovel, Popham and Rogers families. The second manor was in early times held by the Cheverels then by the St. Lo and Botreaux families, a curate of Maiden Newton in 1756 was Thomas St. Lo.
The third was held by the Lisles and the fourth by Cerne Abbey before the dissolution of the monasteries. All these manors were later consolidated into one which was held by the Warham family in the time of Elizabeth the First. Later owners were the Wyndhams who bought it in 1647, then Napiers, Sturts, Brownes and Sheridans.
It is on record that the king granted a market, a fair and a wake to the manor at various times. The consolidated manor comprised Maiden Newton, Frome Vauchurch, Cruxton, Notton, Throop and Crockway, then Wynford Eagle, Toller Fratrum and Compton Abbas West. ‘Hundreds’ were Eggardon and Tollerford. A hundred was originally supposed to contain a hundred families or households. Hundreds were held by Henry, Duke of Lancaster, Matilda, Duchess of Bavaria, and John of Gaunt. The value and area of a manor were defined by such terms as fees, rents, ploughs (area of land which a number of ploughs could turn in a day), mills (belonging to the lord which the people must use), hides (60 to 100 acres), warrens or breeding ground for game, rabbits etc., demesnes (house and land not let), messuages (house and land for tenants), tythings (tenths) and farms.
Family names became attached to the manor or parts of it sometimes, e.g. Lisle’s Manor, Channing’s Crookston, Henning’s Crookston, Henley’s Farm.
In the County Archives there are records of over 500 sales of property within this manor, covering nearly as many years, approximately 1400 to 1800 A.D. Broadly speaking the first great division was by a line between Maiden Newton and Wynford Eagle; Bartholomew de Insula or Lisle having the former, and the Cheverels the latter. Then we find the Abbot of Cerne taking a bit of both halves, Crewkerne School becoming owners of a bit in Maiden Newton, and by the middle of the nineteenth century there are so many part owners that no part can be called the original bit. One ancient tything boundary is said to pass through the White Horse Inn near the old village cross shaft.
We first hear of a Browne (ancestral family of George Browne whose Charity is still administered by the Rector of Maiden Newton) in a Deed dated September 12th, 1499, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Henry VII, when the Lord Stourton sold to Robert Browne and Jn. Browne, his son, three tenements and two cottages in Crockway in tenure of Rob. Pegman. Other interesting transactions include: Copy of a Lease in the Court Roll of Elizabeth I., January 13, 1585, from Thomas Warham of Maiden Newton to John Mowlham senior, and John Gorees, of Cottage and lands at Maiden Newton called Cetcum and Averlande.
A charter, dated 13th November, 1546, reign of Henry VIII, in which Richard Zouche of Stavordell, Som., Esquire, son, heir apparent of John Zouche, Knight, Lord of Zouche and Saynt Marwe, transfers to John Wadham of Compton Valance, ‘All my land and pasture, mills, woods, fisheries, roads, rents, etc., and royalties in the Manor of Maiden Newton, Crokeway, Throwpe and Notton. ‘Signed by the said Rychard Zouche and witnessed by Thomas Sydham and Jeronimus Dybbyn.
A mortgage, dated December 28th, 1553, reign of Edward VI, mentions Charles, Lord Stourton, and John Warham of Compton Valance, a yeoman who received lands and tenements in Maiden Newton. This Charles, Lord Stourton was hanged at Salisbury, March 16th, 1557 or 8, for the murder of a man named Hartgill and his son, and his estates were attainted.
A deed dated 10th January, 1623/4, reign of James I (and similarly 10th June, 1625, reign of Charles I), the lease of lands and tenements at Maiden Newton. The interest here is that the tenements were ‘lying between two wurkows’. There are other references to the two work-houses, and to a cottage poor-house, and they appear to have been in the neighbourhood of Bull Lane.
It is interesting to note that in 1649 there were in Maiden Newton: 80 messuages, 10 tofts, 1 water mill, 1 dovehouse, 80 gardens, 100 acres of land, 80 acres of meadow land, 90 acres of pasture. The tenants of the time were: Widow Ferret, Richard Jay, John Barger, Richard Oliver, Robert Gifford, Widow Collins, Christopher Fooks, Widow Feaver, Widow Bowring, William Fone, Humphrey Loveless, John Fisher, Henry Pitcher, Thos. Foyne, Robert Baggs, Richard Baker, John Eveton, Richard Lastly, John Meade, Henry Eveton, Matthew Carnell, Joanna Locke, John Moutham, William Moutham, Ralf Swaffield, John Pearce, Widow Flee, Nathaniel Thorne, Xtofer Burbidge (Burbage), George Blanchard and William Whittle.
On May 11th, 1655, John Wyndham sold to John Moutham, mason, a cottage and garden betwixt two water courses near the two bridges.
On 29th September, 1760, Sir Gerald Napier, Bart, of Moore Critchel, sold to John Whitty of Frampton, a ruinous building formerly a Meeting House to be pulled down near the mill stream.
On 18th December, 1778, the lease for twenty-one years of turnpike tolls was given to John Bragge, for £100, by John Smith, Bart, the Rev. John Plowman, the Rev. Robert Pearson (Rector and Curate of Maiden Newton) and six other gentlemen trustees.
The well-known Reed family are first mentioned in a Deed, dated 1793, where William Reed is described as a ‘cordwainer’ (cobbler) who bought a tenement called ‘Watts’ and land. There is a Thomas, an Andrew, a John and a Mary Reed named, all family names in later generations.
There are many references in these deeds of sale to water grist mills in Maiden Newton and Notton. On 5th October, 1588, reign of Elizabeth I, John Browne of Frampton bought a water mill ‘as a bargain’ of Barnabe Samborne of Tymsborough, Som’t, esq., and Francis Samborne of Maiden Newton, gent.