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Origins by Sarah Riley

Origins by Sarah Riley

Dec 2008

The village of Peplow is in Shropshire within the parish of Hodnet.   Domesday Book 

records “Ralph holds Papelau from Earl Roger.   Ordgrim and Wulfric held it as two 

manors.   Three hides which pay tax.   Land for seven ploughs.   In Lordship, one 

plough, two slaves.   Five villagers with three ploughs.   Value before 1066 - 46s 

now 12s4d; he found it waste.”   (A hide was a measure of land, as much as would 

support one free family and dependents, varying from 60 to 120 acres, depending on 

locality).   Earl Roger was Roger de Montgomery, William the Conqueror’s kinsman and 

adviser.   He supplied the fleet that brought the Normans to England and was given 

Shrewsbury and most of Shropshire as his reward.   


No early records have been found of anyone bearing the name of Peplow living there.   

It seems probable that men acquired the name after leaving the village – not 

necessarily related to each other or at the same period.   Hugh de Peppelowe, deacon, 

was rector of Moreton Corbett, the parish immediately north of Shawbury in 1300.   A 

subsidy roll of 1327 refers to Ric’o de Peppelow paying xijd at High Hatton in the 

parish of Stanton-upon-Hine Heath “a portion of land here called Haughmond belonged 

to Haughmond Abbey”.   Deed 115 of 1470/71 refers to a messuage and half a virgate of 

land (a messuage was a dwellinghouse with outbuilding and land;  a virgate was a 

varying measure of land), by Katherine Bonefass at Hulston in the parish of Myddle to 

William Peplowe dated “the next Friday after the Feast of St. Valentine the Martyr in 

the 49th year of the reign of Henry the Sixth in the first year of his taking up 

again his Royal power” a reference to the hazardous time of the Wars of the Roses.   

William Peplowe did not hold this land for long.   Calendar of deeds no 97 dated at 

Hulston, Tuesday before Christmas 17 Edward IV 1478 “release and quit claim from 

William Peplowe to David Gyttens of Salop of all his interest in certain lands and 

tenements with a half a virgate of land which lately belonged to Adam Chambers of 

Hulston with in the Lordship of Mydhull”.   In 1502/3 the same William Peplowe, or 

maybe his son, held at will “one messuage and land paying for the same thence 

annually to the Lord five shillings” a rental for the Acton Reynalds estate between 

22 August1502 and 21 August 1503.   William also held at Moreton” at will one pasture 

called ‘le more’ and pays per annum thence to the Lord 3 shillings.

  At the beginning of the sixteenth century the population of England was two and a 

half to three million.   There were three sheep to every human being and Shrewsbury 

was an important wool town.   England was a “green and quiet agricultural country in 

which miles of deep forest alternated with thousand acre ‘fields’ of wheat, barley 

and beans, or with variegated heaths and bleak moors and little pasture closes.”1   

Such as the latter must have been Shawbury, developing on the River Roden and 

surrounded, on a modern ordnance survey map, by Hine, Witheford and Shawbury Heaths, 

and to the southeast by Wildmoor.    At the time of Domesday, Sawesbere had a “church 

and a priest;  three smallholders and one freeman.   A mill at 5s”.    Shawbury today 

still has a church and a priest but no mill.   The church in 1086 was the wooden 

predecessor of the present one, which has fine Norman arches in its nave.   It is now 

a large village with housing estates and an airfield close by.


Between the Norman Conquest and the fourteenth century the population grew and there 

was a shortage of good cleared land.   After the ravages of the Black Death and 

subsequent periods of plague, when about a third of the population died, there was a 

shortage of labour and the area under cultivation subtracted.   By the time of the 

Tudors and the earliest records of our family there was again a surfeit of labour for the land available.   In such circumstances, our first known ancestor, William

Peplowe, lived at Shawbury.

 Fitz is a parish about ten miles west of Shawbury, an ancient and more productive village originally. At

Domesday “hunning held it; he was a free man. 3 hides which pay tax. Land for 5 ploughs. In lordship 2

ploughs, 9 slaves, 4 villagers. 1 rider and a smith with 2 ploughs between them. Value before 1066 40s, now

£6. Today it is a small hamlet with a church, farm and a few houses.

Fenemere at the time of Domesday held by Earl Roger himself “was and is waste”. The mere is the largest of

four in the northeast of the parish of Baschurch. By the sixteenth century the area around the pools must have

been drained and cultivated. William Peplow of Fennymere farmed it successfully, judging by his will.

However, on the death of Richard’s cousin, William of Grafton, to whose will he and his brother John were

witnesses, “Richard Peplowe of Ffenemer who oweth with specialitte of money lent him £16.3.4” and also “he

oweth for a yoke of oxin wch he bought about eight years since £8.6.8d”, so it would appear that Richard

borrowed rather successfully from his relatives and, one wonders, who else?

The Antiquities and Memories of the Parish of Myddle by Richard Gough 1700 reads “Richard Gittins the

third marryed with Margery the daughter of Francis Peplow, a wealthy farmer of Fenemeare – tenant to Sir

Richard Newport, father of the now Earl of Bradford”. Gough erred, Margery being the sister of Francis.

Richard Gittins and Margery had seven children. She was “very blacke (our English proverb says that a blacke

woman is a pearle in a fair man’s eye)”. Of their six sons, Richard the fourth, Daniel and Ralph died

unmarried. Thomas and Nathaniel were clergymen, married with offspring, and William was tenant at Castle


In 1586, whilst still a young man, Richard acting on his Uncle William’s behalf, was subjected to an assault.

Richard Shakeshaft, Margaret Shakeshaft and Elizabeth Hood “did in most cruell and dispiteous sorte beate the

said Richard Peplowe with there feete and thereby greatlye brused and hurted the bowels and inner parts of the

bodye of the said Richard Peplowe and there malice not beinge therewith satisfied did after knocke the head of

the said Richard againste a staiers and poste and thereby brused his heade in diverse places that the same and his

nose with the said hurtes bled a longe tyme”. The documents run to a number of pages, notes of which are

addended. Richard is described as the servant of William, but whether this means he was his servant in the

delivery of the warrant or worked for him is not clear. Probably the latter as William complained that he had

suffered great loss and hindrance as a result of the loss of his services and the cost of surgery and keeping him.

Since the families lived in the same parish and must have known each other, it must have been a “cause célèbre”

at the time. The “table and fyndinge” upon which the case was founded, is, according to Michael Lester,

property or dwelling place. Probably this was owned by William Peplowe and the fees for the copyhold had not

been paid on the demise of Roger Brome. However many “greavous and mortalle woundes” Richard received,

he managed to live, for the period, a long life. The researcher who made notes on the original thought that it

was about not receiving money for maintaining Roger Brome's children. Michael Lester was my 1st cousin

and a solicitor.

Richard was buried at Baschurch 20th February 1645/6 aged 79.

An indenture made on 24th May 1652 refers to an area of land at Fennemore, alias Linches, granted to Richard

Peplow, Francis Peplow and Margerie, his son and daughter in 1618 – the fifteenth year of the reign of the late

King James of England. The land “heretofore belonging to the dissolved monastery of the Apostles Peter and

Paul in or near the said town of Shrewsbury” was transferred by Frauncis Peplow and Marjorie Gittyns to John

Calcott of Abbey Foregate, tanner.

The date and place of Francis’ death and burial is not known. Since Roger Gough does not mention his

departure or an untimely death, it must be assumed that he was buried at Baschurch. This was the period of the

Civil War. Many parishes had no incumbent, or if they did records were not kept or done from memory at a later

date. Gough records twenty men from Myddle who fought, mostly for the Royalists. Of these, thirteen were

killed or failed to return home. He mentions skirmishes and atrocities in the parish, which is adjacent to

Baschurch and only two or three miles from Fennymere.

St. Mary’s Shrewsbury is a beautiful church, no longer a place of worship except on high days and holidays. It

is interesting in that it is a “Royal Peculiar”. It held this status from at least the time of Edward I (12721307).

This meant that it was not part of any diocese and was not under the jurisdiction of any bishop, but under the

patronage of the crown. It is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It rates four stars in Simon

Jenkins “One thousand English Churches” thereby putting it in the top hundred. Its great east window of the

tree of Jesse was transferred from the Old St. Chad ’s after that church’s collapse. There is a plaque

commemorating a steeplejack named Robert Cadman who attempted to walk a tightrope from the tower to Gaye

Meadow on the other side of the Severn. The rope frayed and broke and he plunged to his death. Probably

William and Sarah and their family were there to watch.

I've read about this again since. Apparently he was successful the first time and decided to repeat his

achievement! Shrewsbury was quite a small town then, almost encircled by the River Severn. It was reached

by the English Bridge from the South and the Welsh Bridge from the North.

John Leland described Shrewsbury thus: “the twon of Shrobbesbyri standithe on a rokky hill of stone and red

earth, and Severne so girdeth in all the towne that saving a little pece…it were an isle


AlbumsFamily Group 1001, Family Group 1502, Family Group 1503

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