A JACOB FAMILY FROM SOMERSET
late 13th century to the present day
by Kenneth Jacob
To skip the introduction and go to the main pedigree which starts with Richard Jacob of Uplowman click HERE
In 1929 Dr Henry William Jacob published a book ‘The History of the Families of Jacob’ (printed for private circulation at the Wessex Press). This diligently researched and well written book was principally a history of that family of Jacob that originated in Somerset, a branch of which in 1675 moved to Ireland, and descendants of whom founded W & R Jacob Ltd. Jacob’s Biscuits must be one of the most iconic of British brand-names, as also one of the longest existing ones. Having its origin in Waterford, the firm moved to Dublin and then to Liverpool. Some details of other Jacob families, however, were also given in this book.
I call this a family from Somerset, because it is to that county that their origins can be readily traced and where they thrived for many centuries, notwithstanding the fact that branches were established elsewhere, principally in Devon and in Ireland.
Dr Jacob makes a number of suggestions as to their origins. He states that this family may have originated in Wraxall, Dorset, in that there was a Jacob of Wraxall who held a knight’s fee jointly with Wahull in 1166. This is possible, but there is no evidence to this effect, and given the paucity of documents in that period it may never be possible to establish. Certainly there were Jacobs in Dorset. We find Reginald Jacob of Waterston accused of assault at Loneford by Henepel on 25th November 1379 (Patent Roll). A Reginald Jacob was MP for Dorchester Borough in 1417 and 1422. A Jacob family continued there for several centuries, and for all I know to the present day.
Therefore I will start the pedigree proper with Martin Jacob (fl 1400-1457), although I will refer to some of the earlier individuals of the name of Jacob whom I believe to be of this same family.
Another interesting hypothesis Dr Jacob put forward was that some members of this family may have gone to Kent, as retainers of the Earls of Gloucester. That is also quite possible, given that there were Jacobs in Kent in the 13th and early 14th centuries who held land of the Earls of Gloucester. And yet this is all rather speculative at this stage and further research needs to be done. Sufficient source material is certainly available. What follows is incomplete; I have much further information I hope to add in the future.
So, before we go on to the main pedigree, let us look at some of the earlier references we have.
Early occurrences of the name of Jacob in Somerset:
In 1242-1243 Walter Cheke was struck by a certain mill wheel of which he died in Melbourne (Somerset Pleas). A Walter Cheke held 5 acres of land at 2/- yearly rent and service without the Portham Tything (Taunton Cartulary). Martin Cheke held land in Ayshebury in 1283-1284 (Glastonbury Charters).
In 1249-1250 Agnes Harefot sued Roger Jacob in a plea of the moiety of one burgage in Bridgewater, which she claimed as her right. Roger did not attend court and the property was taken into the King's hands. The action was deferred to a later court (Curia Regis Rolls, Vol 20, No 1448). This demonstrates an early presence of the name of Jacob in Bridgewater.
In 1272 Hugh Jakes and Thomas Pederton are described as merchants
of Bristol (Bristol Record Office: P.Tem/Aa/4).
In 1280 we have a Ralph Jacob of Pleston named (National Archives, Assize Roll, Just 1/760). In the same year Thomas Jacob held lands in Flexbarton and Thomas Jakes of Etchcomb is named (ibid). A William Jacob was involved in litigation with the prior of Taunton in 1279 (Somerset Pleas).
I list the names of Cheke and Jakes. I have established elsewhere that the names Cheke, Jakes and Jacob (with their many variants) can on occasion be interchangeable (see articles: Vignette of the Cinque Ports Jacobs). In the 13th century in particular, many of the clerks who committed names to writing spelt these phoenetically. The spelling of most surnames had not been set in stone. This was a gradual process and it was not until the 16th century that names adopted their more or less present day spelling.
Adam Jacob of Exeter, Devon, was admitted a freeman on 29th August 1289 upon payment of £1. His son in law Robert Bozun became freeman by succession on 11th July 1334 (Exeter Freemen). Richard Jacob was a juror at an inquisition taken at Wells, the exemplification of which is dated 18th November 1383 (Patent Roll). Philip Jacob was the incumbent of Woolavington, the patron of which was Goldclive Priory, 8th September 1429.(Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Dean & Chapter of Wells). It is curious to note that my great great great grandfather Reverend Stephen Long Jacob was vicar of Woolavington in the early 19th century.
of 1422 names Felicia de la Rode, the widow of Simon Jacob, as grantor of land
in Timsbury, Somerset (British Library, Ancient Deeds,
Exchequer Augmentation Office, B 10963).
WALTER JACOB MP for Bridgewater in 1295:
Two of the most prominent positions occupied by Jacobs in Somerset
in the late 13th century were undoubtedly those of Walter Jacob , MP for Bridgewater
in 1295 and William Jacob MP for Bridgewater in 1298. I have as yet found no
further references after 1298 to William Jacob, at least not in the Bridgewater
area, but a number exist for Walter Jacob.
On 2nd February 1299 Walter Jacob witnessed a charter (Bridgewater Borough Archives - BBA), and another on 6th May 1299 (ibid). In the latter he was described as a servant of the ville; this probably refers to his tenure of the mayoralty. On May 9th 1301 a tenement of his in Bridgewater is mentioned in the abutments of a deed (BBA). In 1316 he acts as a witness to two charters relating to property in Seyntmariestrete in Bridgewater (NA: WARD2/2/57A/204/17 & 20).
In 1323-1324 a Walter Jacop (sic) is involved in litigation in the court of Common Pleas (National Archives, Plantagenet Harrison, De Banco Roll, CP40/81, 17 Edward II (1323-1324), m17d). Whether this and subsequent references relate to the same man, or possibly a son, or indeed another relative, is unclear.
He is named in an Inquisition Post Mortem, as holding a burgage and owing 20d rent to William Kene in Bridgewater (National Archives, C143/101). I have to double-check the date to this. It is quite apparent that he owned a number of properties in Bridgewater and no doubt without the town as well. I have not discovered what he did, but he was patently a burgess and probably a merchant.
His widow Joan married Richard Somaister. The Somaister family crop up again two centuries later, when John Somaister married Christina, a daughter of William Jacob (fl 1440-1480).
It is apparent that many references stem from the Plea Rolls. They are a source I have been enthusing about for some 30 years, but it is only of recent that interest in them has grown. I have every confidence that much more information will be gleaned from this source, and that it will prove invaluable in establishing a reasonably detailed family tree. These rolls have to a large degree been published online by Prof Palmer of Houston University, Texas. I have consulted them and continue to do so. The drawback is that it takes a great deal of time for them to download, even when trying to download them in their entirity as a FTP file. In some respects it is still easier to go to the National Archives and consult the original rolls!
We find Stephen Jacob son of Walter Jacob mentioned in a plea
roll of the court of King’s Bench in 1333 relating to a suit of trespass
(National Archives, Plantagenet Harrison,
KB27/22, Trinity Term, m42).
On 11th March 1352 Stephen Jacob conveyed to William Hooper two tenements in Bridgewater, one in a lane called cokenerewe, the other in a lane called St Mary’s (BBA)
I have often wondered whether a Stephen Jacob who appears in South Wales in this period was the same man, or at least associated with this family. The earliest reference we have to him is in 1327, where he is described as of Kermerdyn. He was appointed in December 1335 by the King to take proof of age of Philip, son and heir of Walter de Staunton (Close Roll), enrolled in Inquisitions Post Mortem in 1336. On 1st April 1339 we find however that on complaint of the chamberlain of South Wales he and others are accused of breaking the closes of the priory etc (Close Roll). Finally, an Inspeximus of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Pembroke of an extract of a roll of the court of the loo of the Castle Martin names him as sheriff of Pembroke in 1347 (Sloane Charters relating to Wales).
In 1302 Emma, the widow of John Jacob, grants to John Buzoun of Whitelackington 1 acre and 1 rod of land in Whytlackington, an area much associated with the family subsequently (National Archives, Court of Common Pleas, CP40/144, Easter Term, m245). The Bozun family occur associated again with the Jacob family in the early 15th century when Joan, the daughter of Robert Bozun married Martin Jacob.
Not to be confused with the John Jacob named above, who patently had died in or by 1302, a tenement of John Jacob in Bridgewater is referred to on 27th August 1337 (BBA). He is probably the same John whose daughter Sarra married Nicholas Wodehay, named in a Final Concord of 1348 between Nicholas Wodehay and Sarra daughter of John Jacob plaintiff and Robert Tailor, of Cosington, chaplain, deforceant, relating to a messuage and 12 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow in Athelardeston. He is almost certainly the same man whose widow Isabella is mentioned in a fine of 1366.
MARTIN JACOB MP for Bridgewater and Taunton
The earliest reference we have to Martin Jacob is of 1400, the last of 1447. If we assume that Martin was of age in 1400, he would have been born in 1379 or earlier. It would also have meant that he would have had to live to a ripe old age, which even for those times occured more often than one might suspect. Either that, or there were indeed two of that name, as Dr Jacob suggests, and the evidence points to this.
He was MP for Bridgewater in 1420 and 1423 and Taunton in 1432 although one source lists him as MP for Taunton on all three occasions. The gap between the first two dates and the third date, as also the fact that two towns were involved, does suggest there were two of the name. If that is the case it will prove difficult to differentiate between them in the references we have.
Martin married a daughter of William Gascoigne. He either married secondly Joan , the daughter of Robert Bozun and Joan Sydenham, or alternatively Martin II married Joan Bozun. We do have know a license was granted them on 29th November 1443 on their petition showing that their mansion house is about a mile distant from the church of North Petherton and that they are unable on account of age to attend there to hear divine service as often as they would wish, to have divine service celebrated in the presence, the chapels, oratories and other suitable places within the said mansion house, by any suitable chaplain. So we know he, as the main supplicant, certainly was of an advanced age.
He is known to have died by July 1470, but may well have died some years earlier.
Martin and Joan had at least one son William. Possibly they had other children. A John Jacob BA was ordained acolyte by the Bishop of Wells in his chapel of Wells on 22nd September 1454 (Register of Bishop Bekynton). On 21 dec of the same year, he was ordained sub-dacon. He is described as of North Petherton.
Martin's occupation appears to have been principally that of
an attorney, appearing in court on a great many occasions on behalf of others,
including the Crown on at least one occasion.
His main residence would seems to have been in North Petherton. This was the manor of Hulkshay, which was held of the Bluets’ manor of North Petherton. Martin acquired the manor in 1428, and with his wife Joan added land to it in 1446. Joan died in 1485 holding Hulkshay, as also Brampton Jacob in Brampton Ralph ('North Petherton: Manors and other estates', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6: Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and neighbouring parishes) (1992), pp. 283-300.)
A final concord dated 1428-1429 confirms the above, in which Martin was querent and John Penny deforceant to a messuage, a toft, 100 acres of land, 14 acres of meadow and 3 acres of pasture in North Petherton. Martin paid 100 Marks in silver for it; it was not a large manor. A mark was a unit of account at the time equating to 13s 4d. An entry in a roll of the Court of Common Pleas confirms that he was granted a license for the purchase, although this states there were 6 acres of pasture, as opposed to 3. This manor house may have been represented later by Hulkshay Farm, built in the mid 18th century.
I will list some of the references I have to him chronologically.
In 1400 a pardon was granted by King Henry IV, for 20 marks,
to Humfrey Stafford, knt., Thomas Stawell, knt., John Juyn, John Warre, Hugh
Pyke, Hugh Cary, Robert Geffrey, John Bavent, William Gascoigne of Brokley,
and Martin Jacob, for having acquired without royal license the hundred of Exton,
with a third part of the manors of Exton and Neuton Plecy, with remainder of
the advowsons of the third part of the church of Haukerigg and the free chapel
of Neuton Plecy, Somerset; and confirmation of the same. John Garton had held
the property in chief from Richard II. A complicated series of grants and surrenders
is set in out detail.] Dated 25 June, 1 Hen. IV. (Charters No
499, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Dean & Chapter of Wells: volume
2 (1914), pp. 633-652, Wells MSS)
In 1416 he sued John Stevins of Burnham in a plea of debt of 40/- (National Archives, KB 27 Roll No ?, Michaelmas Term, m423). In the same year he sued another in a plea of debt (ibid, m63d).
In 1419 he sued Richard Langetrowe, husbandman, and Joan widow of John Gregory of Bridgewater, for forcibly entering his close and houses in North Petherton, depasturing his cattle, and causing damage to corn and grass to the value of 100/- (National Archives, Court of King’s Bench, KB 27, Roll ?, m272 and m423). In the same year he litigated against William Burgeys of North Petherton, labourer, for leaving his services without just cause in North Petherton.
On 25th June 1423, subsequent to the death of William Gascoigne, Thomas Gascoigne his brother and heir, granted his interest in the Hundred of Exon.... to a number of people, including Martin Jacob. The king now pardons them for 20 marks paid into the hamper to hold the said 100 and third part of the said manors and to have the remainer of the said advowsons on the death of the Richard Mayne (Patent Roll)
On 5th August 1424 Martin Jacob, John Bavent and Robert Jeffrey, released to William Gascoigne, his heirs and assigns, all their right to the hundred of Exton, the third part of the manors of Exton and Newton Plecy, and of the advowsons of Haukerigge church and the free chapel of Newton Plecy, which they lately held jointly with Humfrey Stafford, John Juyn, Thomas Stawell, knts., John Warre, Hugh Pike and Hugh Cary, now deceased, of the gift of Thomas Gascoigne. The charter is sealed with two seals, one of which is described as depicting a bird (Wells MSS). Could this be an eagle displayed, perhaps showing kinship with the Jacobs of Tollpuddle, in Dorset, those of Dover and Faversham, in Kent? I will try at some stage to look at the original charter.
In 1431 he sues Robert Andrew of Halse, Somerset, in a plea of trespass (National Archives, Court of King's Bench, KB27/680)
In 1436 he acted as attorney
for John Greene, vicar of St Cutbert, in the city of Wells. (Wells
In 1436 he was one of the executors of the will of William Poulet (Register of Bishop Bekynton).
On 21st March 1446-7 he is described, alonhg with John Bluet, Sir John Baly, chaplain and John Shete, as farmers in common of the Lordhship of Nony, held of Thomas Mountford, Lord of Nony, for a term of years (Register of Bishop Bekynton).
In 1447 he and Joan his wife were granted lands in North Petherton, Bridgewater and Wemedon, to them and their heirs (Somerset Fines).
His wife Joan died on 10th
September 1 Henry 7. That is clearly sated in an Inquisition Post Mortem held
on her life. held 4th October 2 Henry 7. Martin and Joan were seized in fee
in her right of the manor of Bromton Rafe, valued at 100/-, as also of the manor
of Thorlond, valued at £10 and Hulksay, valued at £6 pa. They had
devised their manors to feofee to uses for their lives, and after their decease
with remainder to William their son and Elizabeth his wife, who survives. Martin
had died by 30th July 15 Edward 4.
The son of Martin Jacob, he married Elizabeth Malet. They had children:
1 Christina, who married John Somaister of Wydcombe, the son of Adam Somaister.
3 John Jacob, who married Elizabeth Malet.
4 Robert Jacob.
Dr Jacob continues the male line through Robert Jacob, although William's son John is described as his son and heir. There are a number of references to William which I have not had time to look up and collate. I will do so in due course.
He was appointed as a member of a number of commissions, for example in 10th January 1470 together with John Fitz James.
He would appear to have
died on or just before 20th November 18 Edward 4, as is stated in an Inquisiton
Post Mortem was held on William Gowyn on 22nd May 17 Henry 7. Gowyn was stated
to have been seized of the manor of Gowinsborrow, which he had earlier granted
to John de la Lynde, William Martin and William Jacob, as feoffee to uses. After
William Jacob's death he enacted a new charter dated 20th November Edward IV.
His date of death cannot be much before this date, as his son John was born
He is said to be aged 8 and more in the Inquisition Post Mortem held on his grandmother Joan, the widow of Martin Jacob in 1485. He is described as the son and heir of William Jacob. In the period 1504-1515 he took a petition to Chancery against Elizabeth Fitzjames, executrix and his father's widow. It concerned the detention of deeds relating to a mansion place called Hadworthe and lands called Donwer in North Petherton, and lands in Brompton Ralph and Tolland (National Archives, C 1/326/73).
In 1521 he litigated against Alexander Sydenham, late of Hunworthy, gentleman, for depasturing his cattle in Northpetherton to the value of £10 (National Archives, Court of Common Pleas, Hilary Term, 12 Henry VIII, m 475d).
On 3rd July he is named as the patron of the church of Clotworthy (Register of Bishop Clerke)
A son of William Jacob, he had children:
1 Richard Jacob.
2 Michael Jacob of Tiverton.
3 Nicholas Jacob of Tiverton.
4 Robert Jacob of Preston Torrell.
I don't know how or whether Gilbert Jacob is related to this family, but I list some entries relating to him:
On 26th October 1499 he was admitted a vicar non-perpetual to Wells Cathedral (Wells MSS). On 24th October 1500 he was admitted a vicar perpetual. (ibid). In 1501-1502 as vicar choral he confessed that he had committed adultery and submitted to correction (ibid). On 1st October 1502 he received a reward of 26/8 to be paid by the master of the fabric from a vacant stall at Michaelmas next. On 1st December 1520 a collation was made to him, of the sixth chamber on the West side of the vicar’s close, vacant by the demise of Sir Richard Stoford (Register of Bishops King and Hadrian)
To go to the main pedigree, click HERE