Ref: Cirencester Weavers Company - W.S. Harmer
Guise Diary - Barker
History of Gloucester - Bigland
History of Weavers Company of Cirencester - St. Clair Baddeley
The Earliest Known Eacotts
From 1100 to 1500
The earliest known user of the name Eycote, was Simon de Eycote who on October 17th 1316 was made master of the Hospital of St. Giles, at Kepier, near Durham. The See of Durham being vacant the king, acting as the Bishop, displaced Hugh de Montalto and made Simon de Eycote master in his stead. The mandate of this appointment was made to the brethren and sisters of the hospital. Although there never seemed to be any sisters attached to the place. Hospital had a different meaning in those days. It was essentially a place for the poor, an almshouse and for pilgrims going to Durham Cathedral and resembled a monastary as it was self contained. There were 13 brothers and a master. Six of them were chaplains. The chaplains each got 2 new boots each year the others got 1 pair of shoes with thongs. The accommodations were not very good but the queen had stayed there a few years before Simon had his appointment. That was not long after Robert the Bruce from Scotland had trashed the place. The queen left about 20 to pay for her nights lodging and help the funding for the place. These were nervous times to get such an appointment as in the months before he took over, their lands had been raided by Scots who claimed the area as part of Scotland. At any time Simon was apt to be attacked. The hospital was founded and funded by Bishop Flambard in 1112. During the time Simon was the Master the area was involved in serious wars with Scotland. The hospital held substantial lands. The hospital was closed in 1546 when Henry VIII dissolved the monastaries. The master was exempted from some church duties but Simon would have been an experienced church official, likely a priest. Simon ruled over the hospital for 4 years at which time the appointment was withdrawn and Montalto was reinstated. At the same time Montalto gave Simon 10 worth of land in Amerston, Harworth and elsewhere. Whether Montalto rebought his position or simply paid off de Eycote as compensation is not known. Simon was likely a member of some religious order and could readily be moved about England. He most certainly was born in the 1200's likely about 1275 but it is not known if he is of the same Eycote as all later ones. Much later Eacott's are again associated with the Durham area but Simon was the only very early Eacott not to be in the Cirencester area for hundreds of years. It is unusual that the first known should be so removed from the rest but as he had a position with some status he may have been the local boy who got educated and left home. [VCH, County of Durham vol 2, 1907 pp 111-14]
It can only be guessed at as to whether or not the manor of Eycot had any residents who actually assumed the name. When the use of surnames came into vogue in the 1200's it would be likely that one would go by the name " de Eycote - of Eycot". It can not be established either that ownership rather than tenancy indicated a name choice. However, the manor seems to have had strong church connections from Saxon times. It is most likely the de Eycots were folks who at Domesday who were one or more of the 2 villagers, 4 small holders or 2 slaves. Alternatively it could have been Ordric and or Alric who sub let from the church. Alric however controlled other lands, some presumably more desirable. In the 1300's the Eycots seemed to have some modest rank in the order of things so it is likely they would have come from the ranks of the villagers a century or so earlier.

These villagers were likely descendants of long settled families with genetic ties to Saxons, Romano- British, and Celtic ancestors.
At the time of Domesday there were 367 settlements in Gloucester. Eyot or Eycott, or Eycote or Aicote was one. There were about 8,000 people in Gloucester. In the Churn valley the population was relatively high at 10 per square mile.

In 1327, the following persons were listed for Eycote as being on the subsidy roll: John Acton, Richard Walker, Richard Geffrey, Richard Cave, Simon Dauwe, Agnet Drois, Richard Page, Richard Dygon. There were no Eycotts. The Subsidy Roll of 1327, was a poll tax to raise money from people who might have some. There were 8 at Eycott. Thus only reasonably well off adult males, yeomen, clothiers, craftsmen, merchants and others of some wealth would be on the roles. The Eycott name occurs only in North Cerney and Cirencester in that year. No variants on the name existed. The earliest couple of references to persons are de Eycote meaning they took their origin from Eycott but by this time did not dwell there. At the time the use of surnames was still evolving and was only a hundred or so years in use which means this is about as far back as one can trace an individual bearing an Eacott name.

The subsidy role use of surnames is about the earliest possible document to do this. The surnames helped the tax collectors identify who to tax. John of Eycott, would not have lived at Eycott because this did not distinguish him from others living at Eycott. The name tells where he came from, not where he lived. If a person were mobile or took on a trade he might change his name again. Surnames were not a guarantee of consistency in those days as they were an individuals identifying term not necessarily a family name. However, by the early 1300's the person himself, his father or grandfather had been identified as having come from Eycott.
John of Eycote, a person who considered himself connected somehow to the manor of Eycott, although he didn't live there and possibly never did, enters history. He had family at North Cerney where he farmed likely raising sheep but John was also a man of the town of Cirencester. Perhaps a guild man, a weaver or more likely he was a wool merchant. He was not happy with things. John was likely born in the last years of the 1200's or the early 1300's owned his own land and had business dealings in Cirencester. For the times he was middle class. He may have been the child or brother of Simon.
He becomes known to us in 1342. Johannem de Eycote was a signer of a petition to King Edward III on 15 March 1342 given at parliament at Westminster. This information comes from documents of the Abbey at Cirencester known as the Cartulary of Cirencester. The records of the Abbey began in 1131 and ended in 1539 and were in Latin or French.

In 1169 King Richard gave the Abbey considerable land holdings. In the 1200's the Abbey made deals with others holding land in the vicinity to come before the Cirencester court for a fee. Both the king and the church held courts.

In the 1300's a bitter dispute broke out between the townsmen and the church officials which eventually involved the king. The town was a prosperous wool trading center and the Abbot got involved with taxing the wool trade and claimed the right of tallege over his tenants, whenever the king himself levied a tallege. In 1214 the barons compelled king John to recognize that he could not take tallege in Cirencester because it was the right of the church to do so. By 1312 the king was again taking tallege and so was the church. So double taxes were collected. The townsmen got the king to charge the Abbot with wrongly collecting the tallege. The matter was resolved after discussion in Parliament and the king recognized the churches claim on the land.

The dispute between the Townspeople and the church continued. The townsmen wanted to have a measure of self rule and argued that the church had never legally been entitled to own the town. In 1342 resentment broke out and a group of men drew up a petition to take to the king. At first they appealed to his own self interest by suggesting that past and present abbots had wrongfully taken revenues belonging to the king. They also accused the Abbot of moral turpitude, and malversation of endowment intended for the poor.
The dispute with the Abbott of St. Marys with the prosperous wool men of Cirencester who wanted a guild was a standoff because the Abbot did not need to borrow funds from them as did the king so the merchants were not able to force him to grant a charter giving them a mayor and council. This close knit group of weavers, the Cirencester Weavers Guild existed for centuries. They were a wealthy group and had various land holdings. The Weavers obtained Bagendon for a brief time but turned the church holding over to the control of the church at Cirencester. Johannem de Eycote was probably one of the guild.
In a revision these charges were dropped and when 42 townsmen including Johannem de Eycote were called before the king and council. The main purpose of their complaint was to make the point that the Abbot had suppressed the borough and had illegally enclosed the sixty acre pasture called the Crundles which had been the common pasture of the borough. They said the Abbot had suppressed their Reeves court, hounded his critics and had by means of trickery obtained and destroyed a charter given them by Henry I which made them a free town.

Robert Barbast accompanied by 42 others including John Eacott appeared before the king with their petition. In April the Abbot was summoned to appear and make answer to some of the grievances which were listed in the summons. There was considerable evasiveness on the part of the Abbot who did not produce all of the required documents. The evidence today seems to indicate the Abbot and the Abbey did not have a good claim to owning Cirencester. However at the time the wealthy Abbot was able to make a deal with the king. The townsmen remained unhappy for generations and when Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey the destruction was particularly thorough.
REF: [ Vol I Cartulary of Cirencester by C.D. Ross, Oxford University Press 1964, items before and after # 125.]
Called before the king at Westminster by the Sherrif of Gloucester 15 March 1342 were, among others, Robert Barbast, John of Weston, John Estoft, John Canynges, Willelmum Erchebaud, Thomas Payn, John of Yeuele, John Brymesgraue, Willeimum Rothewelle, Robert of Cerne, Reginald the Harpour, Peter of Derham, Lucam le Chapman, John the Smyth, Robert Langford, John of Cricklade, William Somer, Nicholas the Coyffestere, William Edmond, Peter of Stratton, Walter Caumberlayn, John of Otynton, Richard of Scarnyngge, John the Peyntour, Thomas the Valk, Reginald the Goldsmith, John of Eycote, Richard the Deghere, John Waleys, John the Deghere, John Lucas, Robert of Auebury, Thomas the Gussh, William Cotyler, Thomas the Coteler, Richard of Stonehouse, and several others. The list shows where these residents hailed from or what they did as well as persons who did not use "the" or "of ".
From this we learn that Johannem de Eycote was a townsman of Cirencester and that he must have been a fairly prominent person in the community in order to be in a position to make a petition. At this time there were only about 500 people living in Cirencester. So it was actually only a small village, one in which the great issue of the day was the appearance of the plague that would depopulate it and lead to the abandonment about this time of the manor of Eycote. The petitioners were likely most of the influential adult males of the area around Cirencester.
In 1381 a Poll Tax return for Cirencester listed 574 adults, 62 surnames are not readable, no Eycote is listed although one name Richard Yaneworth is bracketed as Enekot. Apart from labourers(36), there were 19 brewers, 10 merchants, 9 cobblers, 11 tailors, 5 weavers, 5 smiths, 4 bakers, 4 fishermen, 3 butchers, 2 goldsmiths, 2 tilers, 2 masons, 2 skinners, 1 clerk,, 1 carpenter, 1 draper, 1 harper, 1 bagger, 1 glover, 1 inn keeper, 1 spicer, 1 mercer, 1 saddler, 1 wool monger, 1 draper, 1 tanner. (about 90 listed occupations) A number of the surnames are directly linked to the occupation. Wives, domestic servants (55) were also tax listed. The occupations say a lot about the nature of the town at that time. Presumably the Eycotes were now living at North Cerney and Bagendon and they frequented the town for their beverages, shoes, fine clothes, and hired the skills of others where needed.
The third Eycote, was Robert who owned a messuage (or estate) according to a deed from 22 May 1383, the location of which is not certain as he was simply noted as holding land adjacent to another property. He was however a person who had escaped the plague.
A little later, still very much in feudal times, 1394, we learn of another John Eycote. He appears on a duty list for persons who had to serve wardstaff, an obscure custom in which persons, knights of the lord, were appointed to stand guard duty. This list of names, their village and place of duty is listed
REF: [ Cartulary of Cirencester item # 741] under a "View of Wardstaff in the Seven Hundreds of Cirencester 1394".
"visus baculi vocatus wardstaff apud Cirencestr' tentus
die sancti Michealis anno regni regis Ricardi secundi KVIII
(examples)
Daglynworth Johannes Sleye (Peryscroys)
Stratton Johannes Shepherd (Crowethorne)
Bagynden' Johannes Eycot (Berefordebrugge)
Wyggewolde Henricus Ameneye (Wyggewolde)
Hundredum de Respigate
Northserneye Johannes Muleward (apud TresCruces)
This means that John Eycote of Bagendon had to stand guard duty at Bear ford bridge (Perrot's Brook). It shows how names got rearranged - Bearridge or Bearford became Perrot. This John was a yeoman, a freeman with a land useage held under his lord. The land would have been at Bagendon and thus he may have dwelled at Woodmancote. Was he the son or grandson of Johannem of 50 years before, who has survived the plague? Then another couple of decades later do we learn that he dies and leaves his land to his son Thomas?
In 1421-37 [Cartulary of Cirencester # 740] in a list of suitors in land transactions. Listed under Bagendon for this time " To Thomas Eycot for the term of his life the house and land of Johannic Eycot lately of Hunfridi atte Mere of Boyndene - presented in writing." This meant that John left his property to Thomas. John owned his property with the permission of his lord Humphry More of Boyndene. This may have been the same John Eycote who had to stand guard duty 20/30 years before.
[item # 740 pg 628]
Bagyndene
" Thomas Eycote ad terminum vite sue pro terra et tenemento
Johannis Eycote nuper Hunfridi Atte More in Bagyndene per
scriptum. "
From a view of frankpledge in the seven hundreds of Cirencester (probably early 1400's)..The medieval system of keeping the peace was known as frankpledge, under which all males over 12 were allotted to groups of about 10 known as tithings who were collectively responsible for the good behaviour of one another. Each such group had a chief, the 'tithing-man', and periodically the tithing-men were summoned to the court leet of whichever feudal lord held 'View of Frankpledge' for his tenants.

In this instance there is a memorandum that the hundred of Respigateis owed payment twice a year from the place beside the wood of Eycote called Respigate. (Rapsgate)
" Hundredum de Respigate"
Memorandum quod visus hundredi de Respegate debet teneri bis
per annum in quodam loco juxta boscum de Eycote vacato
Respegate, videlicet, ad terminum sancti Martini et ad
terminum de Hock', per summonicionem ballivorum abbatis de
Cirencester per eosdem ballivos. Ed ad eundem visum venient
omnes decennarii villarum subscriptarum bis per annum cum
eorum decenis ad presentanda omnia que ad visum pertinent,
videlicet"
The next reference to an Eycote is to be found in the North Cerney church window placed by John Bicote (Eycote) in 1465. He was the assistant minister (curate) of the church and may have been the son of Thomas who acquired land from John (his father ?). In those days glass was very expensive, these Eycotts were pretty well off. Was it the money from the wool trade? Was this a son of the Thomas we met above?
We also connect Eycots to Cirencester, Bagendon, and North Cerney at this time.


The establishment of the Eycott name by farmers and possibly wool merchants at Bagendon and North Cerney from 1300 to 1500 gives Eycott/ Eacott a family name that is very rare to trace back this far. These were yeomen farmers, free men. They held no titles and there is no record of any heraldry or coat of arms at the College of Arms in London relating to the Eycott's. This is the information we have before 1500.
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