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by Tim Childerhouse

We find in the Crondall Customary of 1567 –
"Freeholder – John White[1], Knight, holds free of the Lord by charter, divers lands and tenements, with appurtenances in Aldershot, and pays therefore, yearly at the aforesaid feasts, by equal portions 19s 8d; suit of court and relief.  The same John, holds in like manner divers other lands and tenements and possessions of the late monastery of Waverley, lately dissolved and pays yearly therefore to the Dean and Chapter 4s 4d suit of court and relief."

John White and his predecessors made their fortunes in the wool trade, and we can follow the family line.  Often they were troublesome but, most of the time they were great benefactors.  We start with Alwin White[2] under Kingsclere Hundred in Domesday book[3]

"Alwin held this land before 1066 under Wigoto [Wigot] for protection; now he holds it under Milone [Miles], and it was delivered to Wigot by Humphrey Visdelupo [Visdeloup] in exchange for Bradeuuatre [Broadwater], as he himself states; but The Hundred knows nothing of it".

Alwin had wrongly claimed eight acres and the Normans did not let him retain it.  They move eastwards, through Hampshire, to Basingstoke and on to Yateley where, in the 1287 Crondall Rental, the John Whites were fined for misdemeanours, but we find two other Whites standing security for John, and other Whites in Yateley.  Here they held large sections of land (presumably meadowland) for sheep grazing, they are already the largest landowner in the parish and very rich.  By 1400 we find a Robert White[4], living in Sandwich, becoming three times Mayor of that town.

By 1400 the whole of the English wool export trade was in the hands of the Merchants of Staple[5], established at Calais.  This high post, on the English side of the Channel, soon led to him being elected Mayor of the Staple [Steple], perhaps the most influential post of the Middle Ages.  As the Norman aristocracy declined so the middle class merchants ascended to power.  By now, Robert White owned land from Dorset to Kent.  This wealthy man retired to Farnham in about 1440 and, when he died, he willed much to the poor of that town.  In 1441 he acquired Swanborough Manor to which the family moved in 1470 and his descendant, Richard White, became Lord of the Manor owning a continuous stretch of land bounded by Upon Grey, Eversley, Kingsley, and including Alice Holt Forest.

In the course of time Robert and John White, lords of the Manor of Aldershot, acquired the Manors of Frimley, Tongham, Flexford, Ash, Formans, Long Sutton and additional land in Aldershot.  We find a few years later, John White buying Chantries and Colleges in Surrey, Hampshire and London, all as a result of Henry VIII's further dissolutions.


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  1. Yateley Local History – The Baigent Crondall Records part 6. [top]

  2. Kingsclere Heritage & Genealogy, 1086 Domesday Survey – "Alwin' Wit [Alwin White] holds 2 hides. He himself held it before 1066. Then it answered for 2 hides; now for ½ hide. Land for 1½ ploughs. The plough is there, and 2 slaves. 1 villager and 1 smallholder with ½ plough. The value was 40s; now 30s. [back] [top]

  3. Kingsclere Manors - Note:"Besides the lands the history of which has been traced there was an estate in Kingsclere at the time of the Domesday Survey, assessed at half a hide and held by Alwin Wit of Miles Crispin. The later history of this holding is obscure, although, of course, it may be identical either in whole or in part with any of the sub-manors in Kingsclere which are not mentioned by name in the Domesday Book." [back] [top]

  4. From the records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints, (www.lds.org)
    Robert White was born in 1370 in Yateley.  He died 18th May 1464 in Farnham Surrey.  He was married in 1421 to Alecia Alice from Swanborne, Hampshire.  Parents were John White and ?. [back] [top]

  5. Merchants of the Staple or "Merchant Staplers", were an English trading company that controlled the export of English raw wool.  The first wool staple (a place designated by royal ordnance as a special center of commerce) was established in 1294, and the first compulsory staple, where all wool exporters were required to trade, was set up in 1314 and incorporated in 1319.  The staple was moved from place to place according to political needs, however in 1363 a group of 26 English merchants were incorporated as the Company of the Staple at Calais with a complete monopoly of wool exports, remaining almost continuously at Calais until 1558, with the company's resources contributing heavily to the defence of that city against the French.

    The company's wealth and importance diminished with the rise of the English cloth trade and the loss of Calais to the French in 1558.  The staple was then moved to Bruges, with the Staplers retaining their monopoly until 1617, when the export of raw wool was prohibited and home staples established.  They then became domestic wool brokers.  The Staplers were the only trading company to be organized on a commodity rather than a regional basis.  Wikipedia. [back] [top]

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