Earliest Peapell and Medieval Documents

February 2013  Earliest Peapell and Medieval Documents

I have just finished a five week course on Medieval Documents run by Gillian Waters of Pharos. This is my second Pharos course the first was Helen Osborn’s Introduction to One Name Studies in the Autumn. I have also been using the on-line Palaeography (Handwriting) course on the National Archives site to improve my understanding of documents and allow me to read them.

During the five week course we were introduced to lots of on-line resources and sites covering many different record types. I particularly wanted to find older references to “Peapell”. The first record that I can be certain is a “Peapell” variant is the marriage of William Peopall on 5 November 1554 in Castle Eaton Wiltshire. There are no other Peapell references in Castle Eaton Parish Records but there is a marriage of a John Peopell in Latton the next parish to the west in 1584 and another marriage of a different John Peopoll in 1620 in Hannington the next parish to the east of Castle Eaton.

It is likely that these Peapell are related but the definitive relationships are not clear. After this date Peapell can be traced forward relatively easily. The questions I wanted to answer were

  • Where can I find for earlier references to Peapell
  • Where did William (and the two Johns) come from
  • How reliable are information in medieval documents when I find them

I started off by looking at all the known information about the people and their spouses and gathering any background information I could on wills, landowners and parish details etc. The wills and landowners suggested areas to look as did the later marriages and occupations. The Peapell were not wealthy but did make wills disposing of land etc, had occupations like milners (miller), carpenters etc and were marrying the local clergy, merchants and traders.  Extending the search to relatives by marriage helped identify an initial research strategy.

The obvious first step was to look at where the landowners in the parishes had come from to see if that sheds light on the origins of Peapell. This was a time of religious upheaval. In 1554 Mary had just become Queen and the religion was changing again. There was much movement and buying of monastic lands. Examination of  the available “Pedigrees” of the local landowners did not help much and the information on the Goddards and Frekes has to be treated with a pinch of salt

The next step was to identify potential church, military and taxation records. Although No on-line references were found to Peapell there are other sources to look at Wiltshire History Centre probably during March.






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