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River House - Conveyancing History

The deeds, which were collected during research into the family and local history of Samuel South(1) 1853-1919 and his eldest son, Samuel South(2) 1876-1956 both of Samuel South & Sons (White Hart Lane Potteries 1886-1960), recite the conveyance of parcels of land, including the abandoned bed of the New River, at Devonshire Hill Lane (formerly Clay Hill), Tottenham, from enfranchisement by the Curtis family trustees in 1881 until 1920.

In 1912 Samuel South(1) bought River House and the immediately surrounding land. The house was occupied by tenants until Samuel South(2) moved into the property with his family in 1917/1918. River House was demolished circa 1936 and replaced with a smaller, more manageable house, New River House, 139, Devonshire Hill Lane. Joyce Barker nee South, the youngest child of Samuel(2) inherited New River House in 1966, on the death of her mother, and applied to the solicitors, Pedley May & Fletcher for the deeds of the property. She was very surprised to receive the documents that arrived. There were mostly handwritten on vellum. New River House was sold in 1970 and still stands. (refer to Archive Index for inventory of deeds)

River House - Conveyancing History

In 1805 Sir William Curtis (1752-1829), wealthy businessman and former Lord Mayor of London and MP for the City of London, purchased the Lordship of the combined Manors of Tottenham ("the manors of Bruces Pembrokes Dawnbines and Mockings"). The manorial estates incorporated parcels of land situated at Clay Hill, Tottenham, and included the site of River House, later the family home of Samuel(2).

Sir William Curtis had other local connections and, also, there is a link with the Souths'. He acquired the Manorship of Edmonton in 1810 and lived at Cullands Grove a mansion property near Broomfield House in Southgate. The Curtis family engaged H Seymour Couchman as their agent. H Seymour Couchman & Sons (Established 1830), Surveyors and Valuers, of 520, High Road, Tottenham, N. 17, acted for the Souths' over many years and his descendants, Harold ("Harry") and Richard ("Dick") were involved with the sale of the White Hart Lane Potteries in1960.

On his death in January 1829, Sir William Curtis left an estate valued at £300,000 and the Manorships, held in trust, passed down the male line to his son, William(1782-1847) and grandson, the third Baronet, William(1804-1870) who married Georgiana Maria Stratton and their first child, William Edmund(1833-1860), was born on 26 October 1833. By a deed of the 9 February 1859, income from the Manor formed part of the settlement of the marriage on 10 February 1859 between William Edmund Curtis and Ariana Emily Master in which she was to receive certain benefit from the estate should she survive her husband.

William Michael Curtis(1859-1916), the only child of William Edmund and Ariana, was born on 11 November 1859 and William Edmund died six months later on 11 May 1860 with his widow, Ariana Emily, re-marrying George Burney Charleton on 25 June 1868. The third Sir William Curtis outlived his eldest son (William Edmund) and the re-marriage of his daughter-in-law but died on 7 November 1870 and the Barony passed to his grandson, William Michael. Certain rights, including the power of enfranchisement, seem to have been relinquished by Ariana and her new husband by an Indenture of the 11 October 1871 and on the 11 November 1880 William Michael Curtis, great great grandson of the first Sir William Curtis, attained the age of twenty one.

On the 30 April 1881, Frederick Alderton, Gentleman of Brentwood, Essex, purchased the copyhold tenure of the the Clay Hill land and buildings from Bramston Baker for the sum of £7,500 and was duly admitted as a manorial tenant. By a transaction of the 31 October 1881 The Trustees of the Settled Estates of Sir William Michael Curtis enfranchised the Clay Hill land freeing it from copyhold and sold it to Frederick Alderton, at the sum of £1,178, who became the freeholder.

In the purchases of the copyhold and freehold of the Clay Hill land, Alderton had acted as trustee for John Edward Ford, Gentleman of East India Dock Road, who had funded both of the transactions. On the 30 December 1881, Alderton conveyed the enfranchised land to Ford for the nominal consideration of ten shillings.  

The parcels of land at Clay Hill were in the shape of an inverted triangle with (on present day references) the northern perimeter extending from the Ash path east along the north side of Devonshire Hill Lane continuing down Mayfair Gardens to the Great Cambridge Road, turning south to the junction with Compton Crescent then bearing north west following Compton Crescent (the original route of White Hart Lane), past Piper's Court, alongside the Ash path meeting again with the northern perimeter.

In the Indenture of Enfranchisement of the 31 October 1881 the parcels of land are described as:-

"All that customary messuage and tenement with the barns stables outbuildings appurtenances thereunto belonging situate at Clay Hill in the Manors aforesaid together with the several pieces or parcels of land thereunto belonging containing together by estimation Twenty five acres and nineteen poles formerly in the occupation of William Heath and now of Robert Rowley Chapman

And also that cottage with the garden and appurtenances thereunto belonging formerly in the tenure or occupation of Samuel Richards and now of James Sadler which said cottage adjoins the said messuage or tenement lands or premises situate at Clay Hill aforesaid [as from mortgage deed 2 January 1882 "all of such premises were subsequently in the occupation of Joseph Fletcher or his under tenants" was added]

And also that customary messuage or tenement with barns stables outbuildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging situate at Clay Hill within the said Manors together with the two pieces or parcels of land and formerly three pieces thereto belonging and nearly adjoining containing by estimation Ten acres three roods and eighteen perches as the same were formerly in the tenure or occupation of John Thompson and now of the said Robert Rowley Chapman with the exception of a small paddock thereof containing by admeasurement Three roods and thirty one poles in the occupation of the said James Sadler"  

In addition to the above land, the conveyance from Alderton to Ford of the 30 December 1881 included:-

"Firstly all that piece or parcel of land situate at Tottenham in the County of Middlesex containing by admeasurement one rood five perches forming a portion of the abandoned channel or bed of the New River and bounded on each side by the lands hereafter described and intended to be hereby granted Together with pipes fences and bridge in or upon the said piece or parcel of land"

The Clay Hill land was the subject of several transactions over the following years many of them again involving John Edward Ford who also leased land in White Hart Lane for brickmaking to Samuel(1) in 1894. His addresses on the various documents are:

1882   96 East India Dock Road

1894   Stanley House Clapton

1897 1 Westbourne Gardens Porchester Square

Immediately after acquiring the Clay Hill land Ford raised a mortgage of £3,800 at a rate of 4.25% on the 2 January 1882 from Mary Baker, widow, and Hannah Ann Baker, spinster, of Brentwood, Essex, to whom the land was conveyed as security. On the 30 August 1882 Mary and Hannah Ann Baker transferred the mortgage to Hannah Ann Baker and Maria Louisa Baker who later married Ezekiel Dove, a farmer of Doddinghurst, Essex.

When Ford redeemed the mortgage from the Bakers on 5 April 1897 the reconveyance of the land to him was endorsed by T Naughton "A Commissioner appointed to take acknowledgements of married women" as follows:-

"This deed was this day produced before me and acknowledged by Mary Louisa Dove therein named to be her act and deed previous to which acknowledgement the said Mary Louisa Dove was examined by me separately and apart from her husband touching upon her knowledge of the contents of the said deed and her consent thereto and declared the same to be freely voluntarily executed by her and I declare that I am not interested or concerned either as as a party or as a Solicitor or clerk to the Solicitor for one of the partners or otherwise in the transaction giving occasion for the said  Acknowledgement"

Dated this fifth day April One thousand eight hundred and ninety seven

T Naughton

56 New Broad Street


A Commissioner appointed totake acknowledgements of married women 

Until the enactment of the Married Woman's Property Act 1882, which became effective in 1883, a woman lost control of her property to her husband upon their marriage ("Husband and wife are one person, and that person is the husband"). However, the act was not retrospective and, therefore, it is assumed that Maria Louisa Baker married Ezekial Dove between the transfer of the mortgage in August 1882 and the enactment thus requiring the protection of the Commissioner when reconveying the land on order to ensure that it was a voluntary act not undertaken at the behest of her husband.

It was not long before Ford had entered another deal and on the 9 October 1897 had granted a mortgage of £17,740 for the sale of the Clay Hill land to William John Macqueen, a brick merchant of Army and Navy Mansions, Victoria Street, Westminster, on an escalating interest subject to Macqueen covenanting to erect at agreed intervals 225 houses "at a prime cost of not less than Three hundred pounds each" on or before 29 December 1901. The Indenture also said:-

"And also that he will not remove from the said premises brick earth brick clay or bricks but will remove all bricks made upon the said premises for building the houses and other erections thereon

Provided always and it is hereby lastly agreed and declared that the Mortgagor shall be permitted make bricks upon the said premises for the building of the houses and other erections thereon and to that end the brick earth or brick clay in the said premises"

The houses were to be built on the land now occupied by the White Hart Lane Housing Estate erected by Tottenham Council in the late 1930s, but, in the event, none were constructed by Macqueen who was in breach the covenant to erect the first fifty dwellings by the 29 December 1898. The mortgage was foreclosed and by an Indenture of the 27 March 1899, the land reverted to Ford.

[to be continued]


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