Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile AT: Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn Previous Previous Next Next
Pining For the Fjords: Creating Sense of Place and History in Potterfic - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Pining For the Fjords: Creating Sense of Place and History in Potterfic

We’ve gone from the Dead Parrot Sketch to Bird ’Flu, the most incompetent (and, simultaneously, self-righteous and arrogant) government of HM’s long reign continues to lurch from balls-up to disaster, and one can hardly bear to see the headlines. (Well, I can hardly bear them, but then, I’m a strict Telegraph-and-Times reader. I’ve no idea what the headlines are in the Grauniad, say.)

No wonder that I wish to retreat into the past.


Actually, these are matters on which I’ve been working for a time, in the interests of fandom. Particularly recently, I’ve noticed that even the most Potterrific Potterfic quite often wants a sense of place and history, and I’ve also increasingly noticed that authors are seeking information to give depth to their fics. I’m not speaking primarily or even mostly of Founderfics (or Marauder’s era fics, for that matter), but, rather, of the want to set the Potterverse in some context. One hears much of the ‘American Dream’ of course, but there is an English, if not perhaps a British, counterpart, and it tends to be dynastic and to be centred on belonging, and upon a sense, as I said, of place and history: goal of being ‘one’s own sole king on one’s own sole ground’, really.

Canon, in fact, shows very little – or has, thus far – of the sceptr’d isle: a Saxon-refugee village set incongruously in the Highlands, Westminster or Kensington or Chelsea or wherever Grimmauld Place is, a village – Little Whinging – degraded into a mere Heathrow-area suburb, ribbon-built, between the evocatively-named Slough and Staines*. Yet, from Wilts to Dawlish, there is a sense in canon, underlying all this, of place and history. I believe that this wants exploring. Let me phrase this carefully and precisely: I am not by training or profession an academic general historian (note the qualifiers). I would much rather that this task was being undertaken by, say, alexia75 or the_gentleman. But as I do not see any other batsmen striding from the pavilion towards the crease, I suppose I may as well take the task on.


Let me begin with a few observations. English counties do not have ‘county seats’, but, rather, county towns. They are not referred to as ‘Wiltshire County’ either, but simply as ‘Wiltshire’ or ‘Devon’ or ‘Staffs’ or what have you. The only exception is County Durham, in which name ‘county’ precedes ‘Durham’ – always. Similar conventions apply or once applied in Ireland, Northern and republic alike: County Meath, County Antrim, and so on. Scotland has been so completely bollixed by governmental reorganisations that it would want a separate article.

Also, until quite recently, really, as historians measure things, some counties have had a few acres here and there within their borders that were part of other counties. The amount of merry confusion ensuing is immeasurable, in looking at old records.

We now turn to cities, boroughs, towns, villages, and hamlets. These have, in the end, very little to do with size: they are legal definitions. A city possesses, firstly, a Royal Charter or Letters Patent as such, or has been known as a ‘city’ since ‘time immemorial’ – which, legally, means, at common law, since the first year of Richard 1st’s reign, Anno Domini 1189 (heraldically, ‘time immemorial’ means ‘since 1066’); and, secondly, it possesses either a cathedral, or a university. (Cambridge, which arguably possesses the latter, at most, became a city only in 1951, I may add. Oxford, of course, has been a city since 1542, with the Henrician reorganisation of diocesan boundaries, having as its cathedral the college chapel of Christ Church. Salisbury, also of course, is a city ‘since time immemorial’ and is a cathedral city. Westminster has city status – since 1540 – in right of Westminster Abbey’s cathedral status, whilst the City of London is a city ‘since time immemorial’ and possesses as its cathedral St Paul’s.)

As a result, a city may be quite small. St David’s, the City [of London], and Wells have, respectively, only two, eight, and ten thousand souls resident. There are fewer than 45 thousand residents at Salisbury, which is a city and will be even if it is reduced to a population of ten persons, of whom five are writing biographies of Ted Heath; by contrast, Swindon, with 180 thousand residents, is a mere borough* and should be, even were some miracle to transform it into a combination of Venice, Paris, Vienna, Manhattan, and ancient Athens, and change all its chavs to Christ Church men.

A borough, similarly, is today a legal designation for a town with certain powers or history, but anciently (as in Downton) referred to a town in which tenure of land was held by burgage tenure, a form of landholding that was freer than most, allowing alienation and inheritance. Americans don’t realise how long the old feudal forms of holding lasted in England. Marx, in turn, never realised how true was the old German saying that ‘city air makes a man free’: the fact is, property rights, pace the Left, are the foundation of all liberty.

A town, essentially, is a village that has or had a marketplace. A village is a conurbation of any size that possesses neither city status, borough status, nor a town market, but that does possess a parish church. A hamlet is a village without a parish church.

This does not in any way mean, by the way, that a village is some rural backwater. It may be peaceful – that is a desideratum – but backwards it need not be. For example, take the village of Swallowcliffe, in Wilts, near Salisbury. Its population is about 155 humans, plus sheep, dogs, cats, budgies, trippers, tourists, cattle, and horses. And yet…. There is a weekly debating society, an arts group, meteor watching at the appropriate times, a luncheon club, a computer club – there is a computer company in the village – and of course those two pillars of English country life, the local (the Royal Oak) and the parish church (St Peter’s, Swallowcliffe, Revd Martin Shallcross, Vicar [retired this past summer]; Mr David Staniforth and Sir Nigel Althaus, churchwardens). Its local history society, the Swallowcliffe Society, have published useful and well-regarded contributions to knowledge, including the seminal The Charters and Churches of Swallowcliffe, by its late founder, Commander (Ret’d) Stephen Jenkins, RN. At nearby Ansty Pond is the tallest maypole in Europe. (Yes, this does sound like the very model of an English village. That is rather the point: the pretty fictions have a basis in reality, it transpires.)

Moral: do not underestimate villages.

We now turn to a topic that makes me a trifle uncomfortable. As we all know, there is a good deal of fic that deals, or tries to do, with, oh, the Blacks, or Lily’s family, or the Malfoys of old, or what have you. This is wise as well as understandable: it gives context and texture to the Potterverse and Potterfics. What is wanted is an understanding of how an English family, historically, works. And I know of no way to convey this but to recount something of the history of one of the families on my father’s side.

In doing so, I want to call your attention to a few points. The first is that even a relatively well-documented family of the middling station is, in terms of records, rather a mess. This is aggravating for the historian, but a boon to writers of fiction, who are thus given a few ‘outs’ with which to work. The second, is to note that most people prefer not to acknowledge the stark fact of downwards mobility, which, frankly, was the only theme at all worthwhile in that catchpenny and turgid saga, Sarum, by that bore of a novelist (Rutherfoord, was it?). The fact is, people quite often do lose their money or their land or their liberty, and quite reputable families have savage, yokel branches. The third point arises from my choice of families to use as an exemplar: as you read, you will find, I think, that JKR really has soaked the Potterverse in the West Country.

Funnily enough, I at one time, more or less contemporaneous with my entering this fandom, contemplated setting up several domains for various families in my pedigree, which prospect I abandoned when I found that three of them together made up the name of an American historian with whom I have since had a good deal of cordial correspondence. This is not as uncommon as it may sound: Sir Winston Churchill, in his youth, issued his books as ‘Winston S. Churchill’ because there was already a fairly well-known American author named Winston Churchill, both of them being named for the first Sir Winston Churchill (1620 - 1688), father of the first duke of Marlborough. Some American families of a certain background, apparently, do preserve these connexions through their naming conventions. In this context, also, I should point out that a man’s having three surnames for his Christian name, middle name, and surname, as, say, Rogers Jones Smith, which seems to English people today so very American, is in fact an old English convention, very common in the 17th Century, as the first Sir Winston Churchill’s name demonstrates (his mother’s family were Winstons), and as a baronet whom we shall soon meet also exemplifies, he having the Christian name of ‘Seymour’ to stress the family connexions with that lordly house.

A fourth point is this: that, on the one hand, transportation in earlier times was very arduous, such that many, many people lived and died in their own parishes, having never travelled further than to the nearest market town; yet, on the other hand, beginning with the Conqueror’s shrewd decision not to grant any one noble too much contiguous land that could become a rival power-base, many of the better-off owned land in widely separated places, and were willing to endure journeys to keep an eye on their property. In addition, of course, the especially grand ran into one another at Court; in any case, the result was, that even in times of difficult travel, the daughter of an obscure Wilts - Berks baronet could end up married to a knight from the East Riding, and so on.

In choosing a family to use as a template for creating a believable English background, my choices were worrisome. The whole Scots side of the family, of course, was out of court: an English family was wanted, not the savage and kilted derring-do of the Wemyss-Duff-Chattan-Shaw-Macintosh-Gunn lot. Similarly, the Anglo-Welsh and Anglo-Irish branches were not suitable. The Markhams were too unrepresentative: ‘Gervase the gentle, Stanhope the stout, Markham the lion, and Sutton the lout’, as Elizabeth wrote of her courtiers. The Markhams and Cliftons, with their MPs and peerage connexions and Lords Chief Justices and Archbishops of York, are rather too grand to be any guide.

In the end, not without misgivings, I settled on the Pyles, which West Country family in all its degrees, from peers’s wives to yeoman farmers, was the most representative branch I could find and through whose re-acquaintance I was impressed with the West Country roots of the Potterverse. In addition, the problems and confusions that surround some of these records are themselves instructive. I can only beg your indulgence for what may seem, to those not concerned with the historicity of their Potterfic, a pointless quantity of antiquarian and genealogical flannel.

Finally, let me advert you to the proverbial fact, that, all English people – or, nowadays, all people in England who are of English blood – are more or less one another’s 64th cousins. It’s all very well to dwell on one’s descent from the Plantagenets, but everyone – up to and including the royal family – is equally descended of the Plantagenets’s stable boys, who shovelled the royal horse shit from the royal stables.

So: I give you a not untypical West Country family. Potterverse coincidences are noted in the appropriate typeface.


1156 - 1216 The Malets are at Shepton Mallet, the de la P(u)ylles at adjacent Pylle, and Pilton, all in Somerset; the Malets acquire Fisherton de la Mere and Bapton, Wilts, in this period; there are soon Pyles at Ilton, nr Curry Mallett, also, suggesting strong Pyle - Malet links

Obviously, anyone from Pylle was ‘de la’ or ‘de’ or ‘atte’ or ‘of’ Pyl(l)e / Pile / Puy(l)le. However, Shepton Mallett is a good ways from Curry Mallett, as mediæval distances go, and all that those two places have in common is that they are held by the Malets. Finding de la Pyles at both is strong circumstantial evidence that those of that name are of one family, and have an ‘in’ with the Malets.

1216 The Malets are dispossessed at Fisherton de la Mere; the Pointz / Poyntz family succeed at Fisherton proper (and at Curry Mallett, Somerset, and elsewhere). John Lackland did not appreciate the Malets’s supporting the barons at Runnymede, evidently

King John regarded his signing the Charter as void for duress, and he and his successors were forever trying to weasel out of it whenever dissensions amidst the barons allowed them to do. Magna Charta had to be reissued, at baronial sword-point, in 1216, 1217 and 1225.

1257 Wm de la Pyle holds at Seend, Wilts, a brewing-iron-mining-weaving centre, later to be (ca 1900s) a centre for the Penruddocke-Ludlow-Bruges connexion, though the Penruddockes are mainly of Baverstock (see 1630, below), just to confuse matters

We are already well on our way to confusion. The confusions are worth dwelling on. Firstly, there is no reason to believe,

save in instances where other circumstantial evidence appears, that a shared surname necessarily means a shared lineage. Secondly, place names and surnames both change over centuries. There is an appalling amount of confusion, for example, generated by the ‘Pyles of Bapton’, because there is a ‘Bapton’ between Stockton and Fisherton de la Mere on the Wylye, and not a few Pyles in that area, and a ‘Bupton’ near Clyffe Pypard, clear across the county, which is sometimes written as ‘Bapton’, and there are lashings of Pyles in Clyffe Pypard, the Collingbournes, and so on.

1280 Margaret (a heiress in her own right) and Wm de la Pyle hold the manor of Fairfield in Stogurey, Somerset, Northwest of Bridgwater

Which forms a triangle with Shepton Mallett and Curry Mallett. Ahem.

1281 In Totnes, Devon, Piles / Pyles are all over local deeds, warrants, and grand juries. As jurors, thank you, not as prisoners in the dock. Well, mostly

The fact is, persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, preaching heresy, stealing sheep, poaching deer, ‘squatting’ on lands not their own, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville. How often the vagrant, the poacher, the drunk, the heretic, the runaway apprentice, the tradesman, and the failed yeoman in the dock, are in fact distantly related to the magistrate on the bench, is beyond knowing.

1290 Richard atte Pile holds at Clyffe Pypard, Wilts

1298 - 1313 Thos de Pyle holds in the manor of Trucketon, Nettlestone, Isle of Wight

And almost certainly has nothing to do with any of this lot. However, he left his name as a place name there, and God only knows what confusions of lineage that has promoted.

1303 Jno de Puylle holds in Devon, nr Pylle and Shepton Mallet

When in doubt, as I am here demonstrating, use connexions – the Malets, say – to determine who is and who is not a kinsman.

1308 Sir Jno de la Puylle (he’s had a good five years, hasn’t he?) holds, absentee, Charlwood, Surrey. His daughter Sara(h) marries William de Accalan, and founds the Devon family of Acland of Acland and Columbjohn (sure enough, Sir Arthur Akeland, d. 1610, marries a Mallet)

Lovely. A Devon knight owns land in Harry’s less-than-beloved Surrey. You see the potential for confusion?

1323 Thos de la Pile holds in Seaton and Beer, Devon; the Langrishes hold in Calne, Wilts, and in Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, Devon; intermarriages proceed

1329 Bapton is more or less severed from Fisherton de la Mere. Ensuing litigation and confusion are recurrent until at least 1568

1331 Wm atte Pile holds at Clyffe Pypard. Nearby is a mediæval village: ‘Bupton’ or – in one source – ‘Bubton’: which will be a fertile source of confusion hereafter. It is one of two deserted mediæval villages in the area, the other being Woodhill; just north of the two sites is Bushton, which may or may not have anything to do with Bupton. Sigh

Look, this is Wiltshire. We’ve two Wiltons, three Charltons, two Bishopstones, two Nettons, and other incidences of not being all that original when it comes to naming villages. Similarly, Ansty – which I mentioned in discussing Swallowcliffe, above – is ten miles from Bapton and five from Baverstock, both major Pyle centres; but there is a Cliffansty (‘Clyffe Anst(e)y’ at one point) and Clevancy (you see the derivation) half a mile from Bupton and just over a mile from Clyffe Pypard. You see where historians despair and novelists rejoice in having ‘play in the joints’ here.

1332 Walter atte Pile and Ld Berkley enter into an agreement for holdings in Gloucs

1346 Margaret, Lady de Norton, relict of Sir Thos de Norton, inherits as dower his inheritance at Fisherton (including Bapton), through matrilineal descent from the Malets, through the Poyntz connexion; she promptly marries the distant Malet kinsman, Robt de la Puylle / de la Pyle

1348 Fr Robt Pyle is the incumbent at Crewkerne, Somerset (St Bartholomew’s)

1348 The Black Death arrives, at Weymouth

1359 Margaret de la Puylle is still holding on to her share of Fisherton de la Mere manor, in the teeth of various family members who cannot believe she won’t hurry up and die, damn it all

1383 Deeds in Harpford Manor, Devon, between the Arundells and Bartholomew Pyle (‘Bartholomew’? Surely Fr Robert – see 1348, above – didn’t ignore his vows of celibacy, did he?)

1389 The Pyles and the Freynes / Frayns exchange deeds in Wilts and are intermarrying. The Freynes are MPs and knights with holdings in Hereford and in Dorset, plus rights in the Forest of Dean and various interests in Wilts and Somerset, from at least 1283 onwards

The fact remains nonetheless that persons with the names Pile and Pyle, in Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, are also, at all times, preaching heresy, stealing sheep, poaching deer, ‘squatting’ on lands not their own, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville.

1397 Bartholomew (ahem) Pyle of Talaton and John Churchill of Broad Clyst / Rockbeare / Talaton / Ottery St Mary (yes, one of those Churchills: the Churchills, who probably take their name from Church Hill / Silver Street there, and the Drakes, are from Ottery St Mary and surrounds, and are connected to Pyles in Talaton, in Ottery St Mary, and over in Chudleigh, on the far side of Exeter) sign joint deeds to Harpford Manor, Devon, on the R Otter. (Other Ottery St Mary families include the Notts and the Turpins; the River Ottery meets the sea at Budleigh Salterton, the model for Slughorn’s hideout at Budleigh Babberton, just up the coast (5 mi) and across the Exe’s mouth from Dawlish / Dawlish Warren. Whilst we’re at it, I would note that Bristol was the centre of the English slave trade, cf Shacklebolt.)




1405 Jno Pille is burgess of Ludgershall, Wilts, near the Collingbournes

1413 Thos Pylle is a chaplain of Wimborne Minster, Dorset (go, the Wasps!)

1420s The Paulets, later dukes of Bolton, get stuck in at Fisherton de la Mere

1439 Jno Pile or Pyle compounds with Ld Cobham for holdings at Compton Dando, Somerset

1440 The Fraines of Bapton – or Bupton – are down to one heiress, Alicia

1441 Thos de la Pylle returned as MP (‘knight of the shire’) for Ludgershall

1450 Wm Pyle of Collingbourne Kingston born

1460 Alicia Fraine or Frain marries Thos Horne, of an old Wilts family: the Hornes are Sarum aldermen and JPs (note that in 1623, the Mayor of Salisbury was the wonderfully named Thos Squib), and connected with the Ducketts / Dukets of Calston (near Calne)

1437 In order to make the confusion truly complete, the estate of Stock, carved out of the manor of Calne, nr to Bupton and Compton Bassett, passes to Thos Poyntz and his wife, Joan. You remember the Poyntz family, don’t you? Of Fisherton de la Mere and Bapton? Succeeded the Malet-Puylle connexion there? Yes, I thought you might

1438 The Ludlows buy in at Hill Deverill, after lengthy arse-kissing at Court (Wm Ludlowe has been serving as a cellarer for Henrys 4th through 6th)

1481 Jno Ludlow of Hill Deverill marries Philippa Bulstrode. Yes, really

1485 Wm Pyle is a witness to wills and deeds concerning the Savernake Estate holdings in Collingbourne Brunton / Collingbourne Valence

1485* Richd Pyle born, allegedly in Compton Beauchamp, which is in Oxon (formerly Berks, but never an extra-territorial part of Wilts), and is unlikely [yes, they did eventually acquire Compton Beauchamp, but not until 1617], or in Compton Bassett, which is in Wilts, between Calne and Clyffe Pypard, which makes perfect sense, except that the records insist that he is born in ‘Compton Beauchamp, Wilts’, which is impossible; later marries Elizabeth Horne, daughter of Wm Horne, who is the son of Thos Horne and Alicia Frain(e) (Frayn, Frayne, Freyne, &c), who is the daughter and heiress of Thos Fraine ‘of Bapton’ – or, of course, Bupton; Elizabeth Horne, Richard’s wife, is co-heiress with her brother Thos, who dies without issue

1510* Richard and Elizabeth have a son, Wm Pyle, who later marries one of the Bengers of Pewsey (Manningford), and is variously described as ‘Pyle of Bapton’ and ‘of Bupton’ and indeed ‘of Bubton’, which of course doesn’t exist, either. The Bengers of Pewsey and their kin the Sotewells / Sotwells of Chute, nr Bupton, are connected with the Seymours

1520s Pyles begin infiltrating Hants at Over Wallop

1530s The Pyles in Wilts have dealings with the Seymours, who own Savernake Forest and have done since the Conquest. Wise move: Jane, daughter of Sir Jno Seymour, becomes, in 1536, the third wife of Henry 8th and mother of Edward 6th, born 1537

The fact remains nonetheless that persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, preaching heresy, stealing sheep, poaching deer, ‘squatting’ on lands not their own, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville.

1535 Thos Pyle of Bapton / Bupton / Bubton / Bibbety-bobbety-boo born to Wm of Bapton &c; later marries Elizabeth Langrish de Borden, granddaughter of the Langrishes ‘de Langrish’ in Hants (see above for Langrish holdings in Calne and over in Devon). There is a monument to him at Collingbourne Kingston

1535 Wm Pyle is a Fellow of Winchester College, and pulling down about £74 p.a. He and the other Fellows manage to avoid the Tudor dissolution of the foundation, apparently by bribery alloyed with a strong argument that the Wykehamists were being churned out as prospective Henrician civil servants, not RC priests. The bribery (gold plate) is the more effective argument

1550 Vestry service and property deeds of various Pyles at All Saints, Bristol, reflect extensive holdings

1565 - 1792 Various deeds in Baverstock: Penruddocke, Pyle, and Pitt (Pitt-Rivers); Baverstock, of course, is near Fisherton / Bapton and a goodish way from Clyffe Pypard / Bupton

This is as good a point as any at which to trot out my theory. The Pyles, with the Malets, came first into Wilts at the Bapton that is near Fisherton de la Mere. Subsequently, as they expanded to Seend, Steeple Ashton, Clyffe Pypard, and the Collingbournes, leaving behind a senior branch in Bapton, Ansty, the Fonthills (there’s a memorial at Fonthill Bishop), the Teffords, Baverstock, and thereabouts, they took the place-names ‘Ansty’ and ‘B*pton’ with them. No doubt this resolution of this annoying issue will be thoroughly exploded when all the volumes of the

Victoria County History of Wilts are done publishing, but it’s certainly an idea that any ficcer can use in using this miserable family as a template.

1565 Sir Gabriel Pyle of Bapton (or not) born; later marries Anne or Anna, daughter of Sir Thos Porter, of Newark, Gloucs; Gabriel’s sister Jane, b 1561, marries into the Ludlows of Maiden Bradley and Hill Deverill (which argues, geographically, for Bapton over Bupton), marrying Thos Ludlow, son of Geo Ludlow, Sheriff of Wilts and son-in-law of Lord Windsor of Bradenham. There is a monument to Sir Gabriel and Lady Pyle at Collingbourne Kingston (which of course argues in favour of Bupton over Bapton). Thos Ludlow, however, is buried at Dinton, hard by Bapton, which suggests the contrary. Bugger. The Ludlows are connected with Ld Scrope’s family and the Gorges family; like the Pophams, they are descended of the Blounts (who are Plantagents, and whose latest scion, a titchy wee aspiring pop singer, has changed his name to ‘Blunt’ to cover up his Old Harrovian - Brigade of Guards antecedents); they are also furious Parliamentarians when the Civil War breaks out. Jane Ludlow’s granddaughter Sarah takes after the Cavalier side of the family (her father, Gabriel Ludlow, a man of law and Receiver of the Duchy of Lancaster, was named after his uncle, Sir Gabriel Pyle), and, like her uncle George Ludlow, goes to Virginia, where she marries Jno Carter of Corotoman as his third wife, and becomes the mother of Robert ‘King’ Carter, richest man in Virginia, and thus the great-great-grandmother of Anne Hill Carter*, who marries ‘Light Horse Harry’ Lee and is the mother of R. E. Lee, the Confederate general. Her other uncle, Roger, is a Puritan, and is deputy governor, in succession, of Massachusetts and of Connecticut

1575 Richd Pile, Gent, ‘of Compton Beauchamp’ – or Bassett – has got his hands on 836 acres South of Newbury, Berks

1577 A line of Pyles closely connected with the eventual ‘baronetcy’ line of Piles / Pyles – from Sir Francis’s eventual creation – is already well-established at Over and Nether Wallop, Hants when Sir Richd Rede, late the Ld Chancellor of Ireland, sells the manor of Over Wallop to Henry Pyle, who already owns Pottrey Court there

The fact remains nonetheless that persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, preaching heresy, stealing sheep, poaching deer, ‘squatting’ on lands not their own, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville.

1587 - 1594 Succession of Pyles owning extensive lands at Great Bedwyn, near, of course, Bupton; leases of the Great Bedwyn Prebend to successive Pyles, ‘gents’ of that parish

1589 Sir Francis Pile ‘of Compton Beauchamp’, or Bassett, as he will become in 1628, is born; he will later marry Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Popham of Somerset, whose distant cousins, the dukes of Somerset, will end up with Maiden Bradley after the Ludlows back the wrong horse in the Civil War. His brothers are Thos, Wm, and Gabriel: not terribly innovative

1601 - 1752 The Hants Pyles go in for the Church in a big way, as well as holding on to Over Wallop; vicars everywhere you look

1601 Richd Pyle, MA, born, later rector of Hunworth, Norfolk

1617 Francis Pile of Compton Beauchamp Basset Bugger-All has a son, Francis, of whom more below

1617 Edmund Ludlow born. Sod. One of the Regicides, a savage Parliamentary commander, a man too radical even for Cromwell, and the butcher of Ireland as deputy and successor to Ireton in executing Cromwell’s Irish genocide. Jane Pyle was his great-aunt, and I’m sorry to own even that much connection to the wretch

1620 - 1640 A series of Pile / Popham intermarriages and side-dealings in Somerset and Wilts

1626 Sir Gabriel Pyle of Bapton-or-of-course-possibly-Bupton dies

1628 Francis Pile, of Compton Beauchamp alias Bassett, created baronet (local memorials use the style, ‘Pile’, but the journals of the House of Commons insist on ‘Pyle’)

1630 Thos Pyle of Baverstock, Wilts, inherits the Freke properties, with reversion to their mutual kinsman, Geo Pitt, who is his son-in-law. All three families had Dorset connexions and the advowson of numerous Dorset livings. Lucy Pyle had married Lawrence Lowe, heir to the manor of West Ashton, otherwise ‘Semington manor’, and outlived him, marrying thereafter Pitt; their grandson would become Ld Rivers, their line, the Pitt-Rivers lot of archæology fame (and a brace of Pitt MPs in the bargain, including two PMs). All of this is in Steeple Ashton, which is, most annoyingly, about halfway between Bapton and Bupton. Bugger. Baverstock, of course, is actually on the other (Southwestern) side of Bapton from Bupton, and quite near Bapton. Bugger, again

1633 Jno Pyle born to Richd the rector of Hunworth, succeeds his father in that living in due course

1635 Sir Francis Pyle, Bt, dies. He is succeeded by the second Sir Francis, who makes two very crafty marriages, first, to Mary Dunch of Pusey, Berks, whose family are related to the Cromwells and one of whom becomes the only peer created by Noll Cromwell as Ld Protector; then, after her timely death, Sir Francis the Younger marries Jane Stil(l), daughter of the Bishop of Bath and Wells (an extremely rich man, owning a high proportion of the Mendip lead mines). Fate is not amused, and gives him three daughters, only, his son by Mary Dunch having died in infancy along with the mother. Jane, the youngest, marries a Mr Richards and has a daughter who dies a spinster; the middle daughter, Elizabeth, marries a Yorkshire knight, Sir Thos Strickland, and is lost to mortal ken somewhere in the wilds of Boynton, in the East Riding; Anne, the eldest, marries the 2d Ld Holles, and is the mother of the third, with whom the line ends, the Holles lands passing to their cousins, the dukes of Newcastle. Francis has two brothers, Seymour, who will succeed him, and (wait for it) Gabriel, both of whom live in Berks and the former of whom, as a Commonwealth MP, is a berk. Just to round things out, a later Pelham-Holles duke of Newcastle, who is connected to the Cliftons and Markhams of Notts, rebuilds the parish church at Markham Clifton (W Markham). 64th cousins, remember

The fact remains nonetheless that persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, preaching heresy, stealing sheep, poaching deer, ‘squatting’ on lands not their own, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville. By this point, they are also in some cases becoming rank Dissenters, Baptists and Quakers, and heading for America.

1639 Thos Pyle attests to the immemorial antiquity of the Corporation and Council of Bridgwater, Somerset, in a royal enquiry (remember all that business about charters, boroughs, and market towns?), and is a burgess (town councillor) there

1642 Everything goes completely to Hell, as the Civil War breaks out, in the field and at dinner tables. Given that the 1635 Ship Money assessment cost Sir Francis alone over a guinea merely for his lands in Kingsbridge Hundred alone, one realises why there is discontent, admittedly

1647 Lady Pyle, relict of Sir Francis, Bt, leases Lydiard Millicent to the Guises of Gloucs

1647 Deeds in Baverstock, near Bapton-with-an-‘A’: Penruddocke, Pyle, and Pitt

1648 Sir Seymour Pyle, Bt, MP, of Axford, Wilts, (which is near Bupton-with-the-‘U’) marries Elizabeth Moore, whose sister Anne is married to Sir Matthew Hale, afterwards Lord Chief Justice of England (1671- 76). They have a son, Francis, who has a son, Seymour, who marries a Moore of Bulstrode (eep! Not a word about Lydiard Millicent from you lot!) and has a son, Francis, who dies without issue in 1761, possibly as a result of not being able to think of a name for an heir that is neither ‘Francis’ nor ‘Seymour’, at which point the baronetcy finally ceases to stain the family escutcheon

1649 Jane, Lady Pyle, daughter of Bishop Still and widow of Sir Francis, dies

1651 The Commonwealth begins in earnest with the last ending of loyal resistance in the field. Bugger. However…. After the battle of Worcester, Col Thos Blague or Blagg salvages for King Charles the crown jewel known as the ‘lesser George’, which begins to makes its way safely to the King Over the Water even whilst Col Blague cools his heels in the Tower

1652 - 1655 Richd Pyle MRCS (or whatever a surgeon was at the time: I know, I know, it was the Company of Barber-Surgeons at that date) is the chief royalist agent in the West. Now, follow this carefully, please. This dear and glorious physician is of course connected to the late family of the late Bishop Still. There is a decent chap who has been a London merchant, but prefers fishing, who is married to an Anne Ken, whose half-brother is, at this point, about three years in age. The lad Thos lives with Anne and her husband, who raise him. Anne’s husband, the retired merchant of London, has a very dear friend, one George Morley, who is a clergyman, and was, in fact, the rector of Mildenhall (Minal), Wilts (in our times the home of the late yachtsman, Sir Francis Chicester), in 1642, his living being some ten miles from Clyffe Pypard. Padre Morley is a Royalist, which is why he is now living abroad, although he will rise after the Restoration to become Bishop of Worcester and then of Winchester. As a leading Royalist agent in the West, Richard is plugged in to these episcopal connexions, of course, including those of the Stills, and is on the same side as Col Blague and the London merchant who is Morley’s friend, Blague’s friend, Anne’s husband, and the guardian of young Thos Ken, the future Bishop of Bath & Wells. The quiet and gentle London merchant, a contemplative High Churchman giving to fishing, books, and biography, receives the Lesser George jewel from one of Blague’s intermediaries, and holds it until the gallant colonel’s escape from the Tower, whence Blague takes the jewel to the exiled Charles, in France, where George Morley now is. Precisely what part Richard plays is not altogether certain, but he cannot be imagined to have been ignorant of the event, and doubtless, given his duties as spymaster and his connexions, played his part. I think most of us would give a great deal to have his account of how one of the crown jewels was saved from Cromwell by that gentle, contemplative Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton, husband of Anne Ken, London merchant, and intimate of future High Church bishops

1655 Gabriel Pyle, Esq., Sir Seymour’s brother, marries Elizabeth Moore (now Lady Pyle)’s sister Frances

1655 Richard Pyle the Royalist agent escapes to France a step ahead of Cromwell’s men, who include some most unfamilial Ludlows and possibly even a wicked Pyle cousin, and are bearing rope. The exiled king grants him entirely new arms to distinguish him from his less conspicuously loyal kin

1660 The rightful monarch is restored. Richard doesn’t half gloat

1667 Deeds in Baverstock, near Bapton-with-an-‘A’: Penruddocke, Pyle, and Pitt

1669 Sir Francis Pyle, Bt, is beavering away at Clyffe Pypard, making sure he doesn’t lose anything in the political turmoil. The Vicar of Bray has nothing on this sod

1669 The Pyles grant leases in Collingbourne Kingston

1671 Deeds in Baverstock (need I say it?): Penruddocke, Pyle, and Pitt

1673 Francis Pyle, son of Sir Francis, Bt, grandson of Sir Seymour, Bt, is appointed Ranger of Savernake Forest by his Seymour kin

The fact remains nonetheless that persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, going over to Dissenting chapels, stealing women and raping sheep (or possibly the other way ’round), poaching everything that moves, breaking enclosure on lands not their own, being hanged or, worse, transported to America or, later, Australia, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville.

1674 Thos Pyle born to Jno the rector of Hunworth; in time, takes orders, serves as vicar of Kings Lynn, then buggers away out of the Fens and returns to the ancestral hearth and becomes prebendary of Salisbury

1680 - 1719 Izaak Walton’s son, Isaac, is rector of Poulshot, near Seend

1694 Edw Pile-or-Pyle corresponds with his relation-by-marriage, George Pitt, connexion of the Chathams, Ld Rivers, and the archæologist Pitt-Rivers, and with the duke of Bolton (a Paulet / Pawlet(t) / Powlett – remember them? From the 1420s?), regarding the Stockbridge (Hants) election, it being a pocket borough

1699 Edw Pile, late officer of the duke of Bolton’s regiment (ahem), is amongst the half-pay officers seeking redress from the House for back pay

1701 Deeds in Baverstock (you know the drill): Penruddocke, Pyle, and Pitt

1702 Deeds in Hinton St Mary, Dorset: Pyle / Pile, Pitt(-Rivers), Freke

1704 Revd Edm Pyle DD born, later chaplain to George 2d, prebendary of Winchester, archdeacon of York; son of Thos the prebendary of Sarum

1707 Will of Edw Pyle of Wallop, Gent, establishes a perpetual charity for the poor

1713 Thos Pyle MA born, brother of Edm the royal chaplain; he too will take Orders and serve as prebendary of Winchester and vicar of West Alvington, Dorset

1710 - 1800 Clergymen and gentry who can appoint them to livings, all in one family. Cozy and somnolent, and all having been up at Queen’s, Univ, New College, or John’s; not a Tab in the lot of them

1731 - 1762 Deeds to the the ‘manor and parsonage of Bishops Cannings’ include lands in ‘Bapton and Cleeve’ (possibly Seend Cleeve?). Well, that clarifies things, in that Bupton, 10 miles away or so from Bishop’s Cannings, is near to being in the hundred, along with other places in the same abstract (Roundway, Highway, and the like), whilst Bapton is more than twice as far distant

1761 The baronetcy becomes extinct, and the family is thus restored to respectability

The fact remains nonetheless that persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, going over to Dissenting chapels, stealing women and raping sheep (or possibly the other way ’round), poaching everything that moves, breaking enclosure on lands not their own, being hanged or, worse, transported Australia, and otherwise on a course towards the earlier versions of Pentonville.

1772 The Parliamentary by-election is held to replace Edw Popham, MP, (remember the Pophams?) the Sheriff being Henry Penruddocke Wyndham and the Freeholders of Wilts entitled to vote including Simon Pile of Shrewton, Wm Pile of Great Cheverell, Market Lavington, Devizes, and Simon Pyle of Stanton St Bernards, Stanton (less than a mile from Alton Barnes and Alton Priors)

1785 The Pyles entertain the earl of Banbury and fade gently from history’s pages. Well, not really

1785 Robt Pile (we still cannot agree on a spelling) of the Manor Farm, Alton Barnes, has the first (now vanished) Pewsey White Horse cut in the chalk

1800 Here we are yet once more: an abstract of title for the ‘manor and parsonage of Bishops Cannings’ includes lands in ‘Bapton’. Well, that clarifies things, in that, as I may possibly have mentioned, ahem, Bupton, which has not moved and remains 10 miles away or so, is near to being in the hundred, along with other places in the same abstract (Roundway, Highway, and the like), whilst Bapton remains, as ever, more than twice as far distant

1805 Deeds of the Savernake Estate refer to ‘Bapton’ – not ‘Bupton’ – as being in Clyffe Pypard. Sigh. Other deeds in the same year call it ‘Bupton, Clyffe Pypard’ (particularly aggravated sigh)

1812 Robt Pile of the Manor Farm, Alton Barnes, has the Alton Barnes White Horse cut in the chalk. He pays the artist in advance. The artist legs it with his twenty quid, without doing the job. Robt pays out another fee to have the work finished, and, whilst it progresses, nurses his wrath. Jno ‘Jack the Painter’ Thorne, the embezzling artist, is caught, tried, and hanged. Not of course that Robt had anything to do with that, oh, no: I mean, after all, does this sound like a family that would bear a grudge?

At the same time, of course, persons with the names Pile and Pyle are also, at all times, going over to Dissenting chapels, stealing women and raping sheep (or possibly the other way ’round), poaching everything that moves, breaking enclosure on lands not their own, being hanged or, worse, transported to America or, later, Australia, and otherwise on a course towards Pentonville, which played host to a Devon-born Pyle in 1873.

From this, I trust you will, firstly, look first to the West Country for any background you may wish to use in Potterfics, even as JKR has done, and, secondly, gain some grasp of how to create a fairly typical English family of the middling station. I apologise for any boredom induced.


* Slough is actually built in a slough. Staines is not notably stained – the name comes from boundary stones, probably – but JKR is working with connotations here, both of disphony and of the prejudice against such suburbs.

* Mere, by the way, is not a borough, in the modern sense. Neither is Melksham. But see Markets & Fairs Ante AD 1516.

* Date disputed

* Date disputed

* And of every Byrd, Carter, Randolph, Harrison, and other FFV in the Old Dominion, as an American correspondent once put it, including at least three US presidents.

Tags: , , , ,

8 comments or Leave a comment
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 31st, 2005 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Well, Goll-lee!

Where's the Pyle who is transported to the brackish fens of the American South, settles in Mayberry, RFD, and spawns a descendant* named Gomer, who joins the United States Marines and gets his own sitcom?

*Didn't there use to be some of these words that were spelled "-dent"?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 31st, 2005 12:44 am (UTC) (Link)


Or so Graham Greene suggested.
alexia75 From: alexia75 Date: October 31st, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh - I got a cameo!

I have never wished for the attention striding the crease would earn me, I assure you.

Isn't family history fascinating!? Though I cannot pretend to be as well connected ancestorially (yes, it's a word) as you - though I can point fairly proprietorially at the first Lord and Lady Leverhulme, along with the rest of Bolton - I see your Bapton/Bupton fiasco and raise you Howden in Yorkshire, whence came every Blanshard and Blanchard in existence. Who all seem to have had a lot of trouble differentiating between a "c" and an "s". And who insisted on marrying each other.

A very definite "bugger".

But this was all very interesting -ta muchly for writing it! :D

PS Re: the transportation of sundry Pyles/Piles, have found a Worthington who was done for highway robbery and am thorough intent on one day proving I'm directly descended from him. Too good to be true but ... oh well.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 31st, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, Well.

Cameo be damned, you are the mediæval historian here.

I am glad to hear, therefore, from you, that this was not a complete waste of everyone else's time. I really do wish to give those contemplating historical Potterfic some sort of template, and it wd be immeasurably enhanced if others (ahem) were to add to it and publish similar templates. I'm really not doing all this to show off.
alexia75 From: alexia75 Date: October 31st, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, Well.

*ignores the ahem*

It presupposes of course that the people writing the historical Potter fics actually *want* to be accurate. So many of them are so far off that I can't believe they've ever touched even a medieval history website. Sods' law.

We should do a "1066 and All That" style guide to the English past from thr HP fandom's perspective.

But yet again, it would require the writers to read it.

Ah well.
drgaellon From: drgaellon Date: July 29th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
As an American Jew with no family history preceding 1880, and no way to reconstruct the history in Europe (Messrs Hitler and Stalin saw to that), I was fascinated and amused by your family history lesson. I know professional authors of historical fiction whose research is less detailed than this. Well done.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 30th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

You're vy kind.

And may have been the final catalyst in prompting another Very Informative Essay, soon to come.
mahlerfan From: mahlerfan Date: May 10th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wowie Zowie!

As an American Pyle, with descent from one of those women-stealing, sheep-raping (or is it the other way 'round?), Bishops Cannings-fleeing Quakers, I am also thrilled to read this. The Bishops Cannings Pyles always seemed to dance around the edge of nobility, respectability (and penury), while the ones in The Wallops, the West Country, Compton Beauchamp, Clyffe Pypard, Collingbourne Kingston, and Bupton/Bubton/Bapton had all the fun! What was a Quaker to do but pull up stakes and head to Pennsylvania?

Like other muggles, I have to resort to using DNA to link the Bishops Cannings Pyles to the less-decayed branches. Would that could just wave my wand and figure it out. I tried the Ouija Board when I visited Bishops Cannings in '06, but no response. Alas...

Really, really, REALLY enjoyed the read, and the history lesson. We may just figger it out down here in Mayberry RFD yet!

Thanks again for posting.
8 comments or Leave a comment