2020 - The Reeves Family at Huish Manor Farm [1777 to 1812]

Henry Reeves also known as Harry was married at Pewsey on the 20th February 1720 to Avice Batt.  His first son Robert was born in 1721 but he died soon after, Harry was baptized 1723 and a third son also called Robert was baptized in 1724, Avis was baptized 1727, John was baptized on the 11th October 1730, a daughter Elizabeth followed in 1733 and Sarah in 1736.

John Reeves was living in the parish of Milton Lilbourne possibly at Clench at the time of his marriage to Amy Cowper on the 26th July 1755, and their children were born and baptized there between 1756 and 1774. John bap 1756, Harry bap 1759, (and then there is something of a mystery, there was an  Avis who was baptized in June 1761 as the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Reeves, possibly John’s sister, and later that year Edith the daughter of John and Amy baptized in November 1761, she later died in December 1761. Is it possible that John raised his sisters child as his own or was this a case of clerical error in writing down the two baptisms, or was Avis daughter of John and Amy never baptized or if baptized was not  recorded, around that time the old  Rector passed away so it is possible an error occurred, whatever happened Avis was according to his will John’s lawful daughter) Robert was bap 1764, Richard bap 1767, Sarah bap 1769, William bap 1772 he died later that year, and  finally Amy bap 1774 she died in 1779.

In 1777 John Reeves of Clench was granted the lease of Huish and Stubnail farms by the Froxfield (and Somerset) Trustees for a period of 12 years at the yearly rent of £150.

John’s father Harry died in 1782 his will which was written on the 7th January 1782 stated he was of Hewish a Yeoman.  He left a freehold estate in Pewsey to his son Robert, and if Robert should die without lawful issue the property should then pass to his Grandson John son of his son John.  He also left bequests of large sums of money to his son Harry, and his daughters Elizabeth and Sarah.  His son John who was mentioned last received a token £5. Harry was buried at Milton Lilbourne in June of that year.

John’s daughter Evis (Avis) married John Tucker of Wilcot a Yeoman on the 19th December 1782 at Huish by license. 

In July 1786 John approached the trustees before his lease expired to ask for a fresh lease for another 12 years, to continue on from when his present lease expired in order that he could plant Saint Foin.  This was granted at the yearly rent of £200

In September 1789 his lease of Huish farm continued, plus his lease this time included two cottages in the village.

Sarah Reeves John’s youngest daughter married Robert Hooper of Pewsey a Yeoman at Huish on the 10th April 1789 by license

Robert Reeves John’s brother wrote his will in April 1792 he also said he was of Hewish a Yeoman. There may have been some dispute between the brothers over their fathers will concerning the passing of the estate from Robert to his nephew John after Robert’s death, so he repeated again that he would be following his father’s wishes and passing the estate to his nephew.  He was buried on 28th June 1792 at Milton Lilbourne.

Richard Reeves the youngest son of John Reeves married Mary Gale at Huish Church on the 29th June 1793 by license.  Mary died the following year and was buried at Burbage on the 15th August 1794.

On January 1st 1797 Robert Reeves John’s son was buried at Huish.

A valuation of the farm took place in 1800

Sarah Hooper now a widow, her husband Robert having died in 1795, married James Kingham of Farnborough a Yeoman at Huish on the 6th February 1800 by license.

Amy Reeves John’s wife was buried on the 29th September 1801 at Huish.

In August 1812 the trustees agreed that the farm be let by tender, John at that time was in his 80s and had come to the end of his lease.

John died in 1814 and was buried at Huish on the 13th November 1814.  In his will which he wrote in 1806 he left a house and two gardens on Huish Hill to his son Richard plus all of his live and dead farm stock from Huish Farm (having already surrendered the lease by the time of his death this probably no longer applied), his other sons John and Harry were left money to buy mourning clothes as they had already had money from him, his daughters and grandchildren all received considerable monetary bequests with the residue of the estate going to Richard.

Richard Reeves John’s son who wrote his will in 1815 also of Huish by this time calling himself a Gentleman, no longer appears to have the property on Huish Hill, but willed about 13 acres in Milton Lilbourne to his Aunt Mary Maslin.  Richard was buried at Huish on the 20th October 1818. 

This was the end of the Reeves family connection to Huish. 

John Reeves had farmed at Huish for at least 35 years, during his tenure many farming practices had changed, small scale farming was still the norm at the start of his tenancy but by the time of his death in 1814 many of the smaller fields had been enlarged and enclosed and many of the smaller tenancies terminated to make one larger and more profitable holding.  On the actual farm very few changes to the buildings had been made, he had been given £15 16s for the rebuilding of a workshop, and later he had been allowed oak planks for the barn floor and in July 1807 he was given £20 on account of rebuilding being considered, but nothing on any large scale appears to have taken place before the end of his lease.

(E Wilson 2020)

Further note:

The Ghost of Pitt Pond, a tale of unrequited love, printed originally (as far as we can ascertain) by Dudley Costello in the Piccadilly Papers in 1848; then by D Costello again in Charles Dickens Journal in 1854; a third version appears in Household Words in 1867. This tale was retold in a local paper, The Gazette and Herald on the death of the then Farm owner, Mr J B Strong, in the late 1900’s.  The tale’s main character is a farmer at Huish called John Reeve!  Coincidence?  This John is the only one we have uncovered who could be the tragic hero, yet from the account above he obviously did not commit suicide.  However other elements are not quite right either.  For more on this mystery click here.