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Fugitives, Outlaws, Waifs and Strays

The history of the North London properties I am cataloguing takes us back to the forests and hunting, which probably gave rise to the name of one of the Powell properties, a farm, namely `Shutt-up`or ` Shotuppe Hill Estate`, commonly known as `Shoot – Up Hill`. Originally held by the Abbots of Westminster, and later by the Knights Templar, it was passed on to the Knights Hospitaller, who also held Abbey farm.

These documents are well-worn, and fragile, dating from 1726, and show evidence of some ancient wormholes! They are invaluable though, as they give us direct evidence of some of the land holdings of John Powell, who bought farms in this area in 1773/4 from Richard Myddleton, of Chirk Castle. John Powell`s earliest house was considerably more modest. An entry in a private Act of Parliament referring to enclosures in the 1770`s describes it as “a house with a small field called `Pepper Acre`, and a slip of land adjoining containing Two Acres, Three Roods, Thirteen Perches... in the occupation of John Powell, Esq., worth £22.19s 6d.” (33c, p38). After further purchases he was to hold more than 31 acres of prime London farmland , to augment his little house.

We do not have reference to `Lincoln Green` yet, but Parsons Green in Fulham features in our story, for the Powell family spent time there, and were neighbours of the Pennyman family, whose estates were mainly in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Middlesex. These estates were vast, and because of family inheritances, the line of succession often passed to daughters, indeed one of the most surprising documents denotes a whole page of references to this lineage. This underlines the importance of property, its location and relative worth. The Pennyman estates cover farms and forests from Holborn to Hull, and onwards to York, via St Albans, a well- worn pilgrims` route, which was not without danger.

This is where we meet the outlaws, not as you might expect, in a position of freedom, but subject to the transfer of their goods and chattels, even themselves, even dead or alive. They were treated as `possessions`, belonging to whichever manor or landowner with whom they found themselves living. Yet most would have little idea of this, not being literate, or party to the private Act of Parliament that describes their position. An example explains how they were both inside and outside the law.

From Sir Michael Warton`s estate, in 1726, and 1780, transference was not only land but “barns, stables, gardens, marshes, mines, quarries and waifs, strays, chattels of ffelons, and fugitives”. These were granted in third part to Sir Henry Pennyman, of Parson`s Green, Fulham, a close neighbour of the Powell family, who purchased 31 acres of Kilburn Wood farm, in1774.

London was, it seems, full of animals, even in Fulham, Chelsea, Kensington, and Holborn. These were not small areas but thousands of acres of meadow and pastureland, full of cows, horses, pigs and with sheep. This was long before the railways, and the big `smoke`. It must have been noisy, and smelly, but also fragrant with fresh flowers and quaint cottages, alongside the manor houses of the large estates. The less fortunate were also with us, without the rights they might expect.   

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