The Earl Spencer Years – Ownership of All Farthing Manor and Wandsworth Common

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Edmund Brayley’s History of Surrey, Volume III asserts that The Manor of All Farthing was sold by the Porter Family to The Rev E. White in 1811. This appears to be correct and correlated with extant primary sources.

Error in Edmund Brayley, History of Surrey Vol III
Edmund Brayley, History of Surrey Vol III, G. Willis, London ,1850 selected Page 492

However, Brayley then goes on to state that the manor was sold to Earl Spencer in 1816. This does not appear to be the case as a note in Earl Spencer’s own papers, reproduced below, states that he purchased the Manor on August 16th 1821. So, we believe that Brayley is erroneous in this. Is it possible that the date of the 16th was transposed for the year during the manuscript process and that this was then perpetuated? Unfortunately, Brayley does not give sources for most of his assertions.

A note in Earl Spencer’s papers gives the value ‘consideration money’ at £3136 0s 0d – it is probably that this applied to the purchase from The Rev E White in 1821.

Prior to Earl Spencer buying the Manor it had changed hands numerous times. It was constantly heavily mortgaged and defaulted on. Most of the copyholders had been converted to freeholds (enfranchised) in the early 1800’s by Walsh Porter as Brayley correctly states.

Earl Spencer's list of Sales and purchases of All Farthing Manor
A note of the relevant deeds from Earl Spencer’s archives entitled “Allfarthing Manor in the Parish of Wandsworth – Purchased by Earl Spencer in 1821. By kind permission of Northamptonshire Archives Service. SOX278(1).

Earl Spencer then sold the manor to Sophia Sheppard by 1822 – although these dates are not totally clear cut. But then by 12th November 1823 he has repurchased an interest in the Manor from Mrs Sophia Sheppard for an annuity of £600. It is not at all clear why Earl Spencer paid an annuity for a Manor that then, on the face of it, had very little value.

An 1820 Deed of Assignment, creating a 1,000 year annuity, details the extent of the fragmentation of All Farthing Manor. Assembling such a document and persuading all the parties to sign it off was, of itself, something of an achievement. Clearly, something substantial was in it for the signatories! Open the full multipage document as a PDF here.

Assignment for a term of 1000 years
‘Assignment of an Annuity and Declaration as to the term of 1000 years by which the same is secured’ – dated 28th August 1820. By kind permission of The President and Scholars of Magdalen College, Oxford. EMD/117/6

There is an almost comedically badly drawn, plan of part of All Farthing Manor which gives an odd impression of the quality of estate management being practiced.  It is hard to understand why the tithe maps were not simply traced?

Curiously this ‘plan’ was used in the valuation of the estate in a document entitled ‘Copy – survey and valuation of the freehold property at Wandsworth in the County of Surrey belonging to Porter Esquire’. by George Smith and dated 15th September 1821. As they appear to be on identical paper our working assumption is that they belong together. It is certainly true that the land areas exactly tally as does the lettering of the plots A thru H.

Given the date of 1821 it is entirely possible that this plan and valuation was used in the sale of the lands by Earl Spencer and the purchase of the land by Sophia Sheppard. Given the amateurish nature of the drawings and the very professional setup and mapping that Earl Spencer had as well as the beautiful drawings that Edward L’Anson did for Sophia Sheppard it is hard to know precisely where these fit in.

1813 All Farthing Manor Birds Eye View
An idiosyncratic plan, of part of The Manor of All Farthing. It is amusingly described as a ‘Birds Eye Survey of an Estate at Wandsworth late the property of R. Clark December 1813.’ By Kind permission of The President and Scholars of Magdalen College, Oxford. Click on the plan for the full plan and valuation as a PDF. EMD/119/11

The general impression is that the All Farthing Manor estate was in a bit of a mess.

This impression is further reinforced by a document dated 14th November 1823 “Arrears due from the lessees of Allfarthing Piece with an account of the deductions agreed on…..”

Open the full multipage document as a PDF here.

Arrears on All Farthing Piece
14th November 1823 “Arrears due from the lessees of Allfarthing Piece with an account of the deductions agreed on…..” By kind permission of The President and Scholars of Magdalen College, Oxford. Click the image to open up the full document as a PDF. EMD/119/11

Earl Spencer, and others, caused an unsuccessful private bill, to be presented in the House of Commons in 1828 “A bill for inclosing…. common fields in the parishes of Battersea and Wandsworth: endorsed “Thownout on the second reading Monday 31 MARCH 1828”  [LMA A/JM/630].

Then followed Earl Spencer’s great property sales of the 1830’s which included a sale on 26th August 1836 of All Farthing Manor lands. Albeit, lands on the other side of Burnt Wood Lane to the Magdalen Estate.

Earl Spencers 26th August 1836 auction
Plan from Earl Spencers 26th August 1836 auction. By kind permission of the Northampton County Records Office [SOX 278-1].
In a coincidental wrinkle in a document dated, 31st March, 1813, document “Report on great tithes and on those parts of South Field and Wimbledon Common taken into Earl Spencer’s Park” by John Trumper of Harefield [LMA A/JM/505] was prepared for the trustees of John Marshall’s Charity. Clearly there were some issue and we suspect that this centred around Earl Spencer not wanting to pay the higher great tithe rates for productive agricultural land once his ancestors had volitionally turned agricultural land into parkland. This could well have been the final trigger to the sale of Wimbledon Park to John Augustus Beaumont.

Read on Sophia Sheppard’s ownership of All Farthing’s historical lands

¹Surrey History SHC descriptor for the Manor of All Farthing

The manor of Allfarthing (also known until the end of the 15th century as Allfarthing Finches and Barking Fee) in Wandsworth and Battersea was part of the possessions of Westminster Abbey until the Dissolution, whereafter it was leased by the Crown to a succession of tenants. In 1626 the reversion of the lease to John Bowyer was granted by Charles I to Endymion Porter, and in 1628 the manor itself was granted to Porter, with the remainder later being granted to his younger son Thomas.

Endymion Porter (1587-1649) had entered the King’s service through his earlier service with the Duke of Buckingham whose influence secured him the post of groom of the bedchamber to Prince Charles, which post he continued to hold when Charles became King in 1625. Brought up in Spain Porter participated in several diplomatic missions to that country and also assisted the King in forming the latter’s great art collection. An ardent royalist during the Civil War he was forced to go abroad at the end of 1645, only returning in 1649, shortly before his death, having compounded with Parliament for his heavily encumbered estates. Allfarthing manor had to be sold in 1652 but was recovered by Porter’s son and heir George (?1622-1683) and was retained by his descendants until 1811, when it was sold to Mr White, who in turn sold the manor to Earl Spencer in 1816.

This text on the Manor of All Farthing is from Surrey History SHC record 3991 which is for the 1640 copy of a 1633 map of the manor.

²It was previously suggested in The Wandsworth Common Story – A 150th Anniversary Celebration, Published by The Friends of Wandsworth Common that the enclosure was carried out in 1821. We believe that the primary sources referenced here disprove this assertion.