The Ancient House of Medlicott

When I first encountered an ancestor whose name was Medlicott I thought it was just another name, but then I learned the Medlicotts were from a place named Medlicott.  Generally speaking, that means they were either slaves or gentry.  Then I found a history online: gentry, landed gentry.  So who were these Medlicotts?

And how did I get from here to there?

The Elizabeth Line

I traced ancestors of Elizabeth Andrews under the title above.

In Biblical style:  Thomas Andrews (1769-1857) begat Elizabeth, who begat Emma Jones, my great grandmother.  Thomas married Sarah Medlicott (1783-1867).  Sarah, in turn, was daughter of William Medlicott and Mary Groves, who were wed on 3 May 1779 at Ratlinghope (pronounced as Ratchup), Shropshire, a small settlement on the west side of the Long Mynd.  We went walking on the Long Mynd and nearby hills as family many times without any clue of a connection, and it would be a regular feature of my cycling trips.

medlicott os 1882 1883 marked
Medlicott (ringed) and part of Long Mynd. Ordnance Survey. Surveyed 1882, published 1883. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Note: 997 KB.
medlicott os 1882 1883 enlarged s
Zooming in on Medlicott. Ordnance Survey. Surveyed 1882, published 1883. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Online there is much about the Medlicott Medlicotts.  There is a pedigree going back to John Medlicott of Medlicott who died in 1592.  It is of its time; the pedigree is short on female names.

The author of the Medlicott pedigree was Henry Edmondstone Medlicott (Section V).

“… Medlicott family history, which describes that about 1180 there was a Llewellyn living at Medlicott who was known as Llewellyn de Modlicott. Medlicott was, and still is, a township in the Parish of Wentnor, Shropshire, at no great distance from the Borderland of Wales. Henry Edmondstone Medlicott died in 1916 and the account was subsequently completed and presented to other members of the Medlicott family in 1938 by his son Colonel Henry Edward Medlicott. The Dunmurry family tree given in this account was subsequently included in the 1976 version of Burke’s Irish Family Records.”

“The Lower Farm has never changed hands since certainly 1200. Andrews’ mother was a Medlicott, and she was also connected with the Coates, the next farm, the present inhabitants being Rawson. Andrews also told me of a Mrs. Marston of Horderley who had the copy of the family pedigree. I saw her next day but the pedigree was entirely an Andrews one, although they were intermarried with Medlicotts. Her old Aunt was a Miss Andrews.”

medlicott from the hillside geograph Row17
Medlicott from the hillside. Via Geograph, copyright Row17. Creative Commons.

The pedigree takes us back a further eight generations to the first recorded Medlicott of Medlicott, who died in 1592.  From notes on the pedigree:

John Medlicott’s name (marked 1 on Pedigree herewith below) is the first on the pedigree recorded at the Visitation of 1663 and is set down thus – “John Modlicot of Modlicot = …….. daughter of William Thin of Botfield in Co. Salop.” She was of the family from whom are descended the Thynnes, Marquesses of Bath, John Medlicott’s Will ( Somerset House ) is dated 2nd July in the 34th. year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1592).

Landed gentry

The Centenary Edition of Burke’s Landed Gentry says: “THOMAS MEDLICOTT, of Medlicott, who m. Anne Phillips, of Hope Bowdler, Salop, and d.s.p. 1633 at 63, leaving a son JEREMY MEDLICOTT, of Medlicott, who d. 1688, leaving by Elizabeth Everall, his wife, a son EDWARD MEDLICOTT, aged 2 in 1663 …”

“d.s.p.” stands for decessit sine prole, meaning died without issue. If without issue how could Jeremy be his son?  Using Findmypast, I was able to find the baptism of Jeremiah on 26 June 1669 at Wentnor, son of William Medlicott and Ann.

Henry Elmondstone Medlicott wrote:  “Now to go back to the place so named, Medlicott – the cradle of the race – is a hamlet or township in the Parish of Wentnor, lying on the western slope of the Longmynd Hill, or Forest, in Shropshire. It was so called when Llewellyn held the name “de Medlicott” as recorded in Eyton’s History of Shropshire, in 1190″.

Prior to arrival in England, the Medlicotts held land in Ireland, hence the reference to Dunmurry.  The preface says that there were Medlicotts at Medlicott by 1180.  Before that, it seems, they were Norman and, I infer, were granted lands by William the Conqueror; another strand to my Viking genetics.

At one time, it seems, the family held a considerable area of land around Wentnor, which they farmed, but much of it was “filched”, bit by bit, by the Abbot of Haughmond, one of the wealthiest abbeys in Shropshire.  I gather much of it was returned after the Dissolution.

Following the demise of William of Medlicott, buried at Wentnor on 2 January 1776, his son, William of Woolston and Edward of Medlicott also descended from Jeremy (above), their second great grandfather, were bequeathed substantial portions of the estate.  It appears the bequest was disputed, and that litigation almost ruined both families.

Today, Woolston is a small farming settlement on the east side of the Long Mynd, about 5 km (3 miles) south of Little Stretton.

Further information for anyone interested in Medlicott family history and related matters at Medlicott family home page.

Declining fortunes

Sarah Medlicott was married to Thomas Andrews, farmer of 182 acres, at Boycott, near Pontesbury (1851 census).  That seems to have been in keeping with the status attached to a Medlicott daughter.  But, one generation later, their daughter Elizabeth married Richard Jones, who in the same census was an agricultural labourer; poor relations indeed!  Their daughter Emma would marry John Dennis, my great grandfather.  I dare say Emma had no idea of her more affluent forebears.

Domesday

The Domesday survey of 1086, as far as I can tell, is not mentioned in the Medlicott history.  Obviously, it was not online in those days!  Anyway, it confirms what the history says about land ownership in the Wentnor area:  Lord and tenant in chief was Roger son of Corbet.  Wentnor consisted of 5 villagers, 11 smallholders, 15 slaves and ploughland 3 lord’s plough teams and 8 men’s plough teams.  Its value to lord in 1066 was £6, and in 1086 £4.

Medlicott, the name and the place

Reaney (1) effectively defines the personal name origin as being from the place.  The sister publication, the Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names (2) makes no mention.

The online surname database, and others say:  English origin, with variant spellings Medlicott, and Medlycott, is a locational name from Medlicott in Shropshire, deriving from the Old Scandinavian “methal” meaning “middle” plus the Olde English pre 7th Century “eg” island, plus the Olde English “cot” meaning “cottage”, hence “cottage on the middle island”.

Clearly, this place has nothing to do with an island.  Although for a short time almost all of England was in Danish hands, Scandinavian place names only persisted in eastern and northern parts.  I suggest this Medlicott can be ascribed to ‘middle cottage’, and the Medlicott history favours this explanation.

The other Medlicott

On the current online Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping is another Medlicott in Shropshire, a short distance south east of Aston on Clun, in the parish of Hopesay.  It is not shown on the old OS maps available through the National Library of Scotland; no name, no building, suggesting it is relatively recent.  There were no Medlicotts in the area in the 1851 and 1911 censuses.  From Google Earth there is a more recent-looking and substantial house, which I suspect has nothing to do with the Medlicotts I have been looking at.

Shared Ancestor Hint

While writing this I was able to add some genealogical data to my Medlicott connections.  This has led to Ancestry generating a SAH connecting to pmacks1, who is a fifth cousin, descended from William Medlicott and Mary Groves, our fourth great grandparents.  At the age of twenty years, on 5 January 1891, their great granddaughter Emily Medlicott and her two years younger sister Henrietta, or “Hettie”, boarded the SS Dorunda, bound for Rockhampton, Australia.  Both were domestic servants and, presumably, hoped the grass would be greener on the other side of the World.

According to findboatpics.com.au, SS Dorunda weighed in at 2,977 gross tons, and was built at Dumbarton in 1875.  She was a hybrid steam and sailing vessel.  In the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich there is a painting of the vessel by William Clark (ref BHC3290-2).

ss dorunda
SS Dorunda by William Clark.

 

(1)  Reaney, P H, (ed. Wilson, R M), 1997, Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd ed., OUP, Oxford.

(2) Mills, A D, 2003, Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names, OUP, Oxford.

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