The Early Years
The Family Name
It is not recorded when our ancestors first came to this country, although it was probably some time before 1166, this is the date recorded in the heralds visitation of 1623 as being the date that the arms were first granted, to whom they were granted it was not mentioned, if it had been it would only have been a Christian name followed by the persons present home or place of origin due to the fact that at this time surnames as such were not in common usage.
Where the family name was derived from will probably always be a mystery,
The most commonly suggested origin is that it was based on the ancient Norse or English meaning of a place where people and animals retired during the winter months.
I do not believe this was the case in the origins of our family name, since in the earliest references to the name both in the original and transcribed documents, it has always been written beginning with Ch In earlier times referred to as being De-Chalcotte with or without the ” E” at the end. In later years it was referred to as we spell it today, but there again it some times had the E on the end, one can quite see how the present day spelling evolved, through common usage in pronouncing the name, the DE would easily get transposed, from the beginning to the middle, particularly taking into consideration the fact that a great many people in those days were unable to read or write, and from some of the documents, and has I have seen some of the scribes spelling , grammar, arrangement of text and spelling of names left a lot to be desired.
Another reason that I don’t believe that it was derived from the Norse origin, even though the Normans, original roots were, Viking, it is due to the fact, that most Norman families, were named after the region from whence they came in Normandy.
There is in earlier records similar names, of people residing in Normandy at those early times such as Reinbaldo De-cherlecote, and a Walterius Couldercourt, there was also a henrico Caldecotte a fish merchant of Dieppe
In the thirteenth century there were numerous mentions of the name Caldecott, mostly in connection with Essex, whether or not these people were really Chaldecotts or not who knows ?. The name of Caldecott after this time gets very little mention unless it is an error in reference to one of our family, the name did however became more commonplace again from the 17th century, in certain parts of the country, This arose through the surge at about this period for people rushing to prove their ancestral roots, to the heralds during their visitations and in order to do this inventing a false antecedence.
There Has been a suggestion that the original name was derived from someone called Charles De-court meaning he was the servant of the king. I am afraid that this could not be the case since as I have been given to believe, that the name Charles did not did not come into common usage until several centuries later, it was suggested that this was mentioned in the doomsday book, but alas I have searched through the indexes of a number of transcriptions of the Doomsday Book, and have not found any reference, to the name Charles in any of them.
In the early days the matter of surnames, was very confusing and complex and in reality the fact, is that if a person bears a certain family name, it does not necessarily mean that this individual was in the direct “blood line” of the family. It is said that servants, and others living within, a family home, could also have borne the, same name as their employer.
In those days a great many men did not marry until later in life so therefore this lead to, a great number of widows these, would remarry, and the children, would often take the family name, of the
new husband. The adopting of the new husbands, family name was done as an obvious matter of convenience, for all concerned, particularly in respect of inheritance, and the passing on of the family name.
In my younger days I noticed around the Dorset countryside, that among the villagers, the name was quite commonly referred to as chalcott and sometimes by the older people as chilcot this proves point that one should not place a too great a provenance on the family name. When I was engaged in my researches concerning the Shaftesbury family, I found that one of the properties they had owned in Somerset, was in some sort census return was mentioned as being now owned by the Chilcot family, this would indeed be a strange coincidence if two families with such similar sounding names had lived in the same property. It makes one wonder if indeed some of the chilcots of somerset were originally Chaldecott. Chilcot is quite a common name in that part of the country.
Corfe Castle and The Doomsday Book.
It has been suggested that a Charles was mentioned in the above publication, in reference to Corfe Castle this, also sadly appears to be incorrect due to the fact that the castle at this time did not exist the, spot on which the present castle now stands, was known as wareham castle this is stated in the index to “places” in the modern transcription of the document. At the time of the compilation, of the domesday Book it was just the site of an ancient hill top fortification, and remained so, until approximately a century later.
In about 1135, a castle was built on the spot, and around about 1140, it was considerably re-enforced and extended, and over the years from this time on, I believe members of the family could have been involved in various ways with the castle. Since it appears that at those times it was the seat of government for the locality.
The family as recorded In The early Years.
According to earlier transcripts and references to documents it would seem that for quite a number of generations they were escheaters or tax collectors, in return for this, they were given a modest salary which was topped up by being given, leases to various pieces of land and properties for which they could collect and keep rents from tenants, they also appear to have been gifted with some land or properties by the king.
In the very early years up until about 1455 in official documents they were referred to as being of Moreton, this is a bit of a mystery since they appeared to have lived mostly at Kimmeridge, they could however have had a house at Moreton as their official address, this would have been nearer Dorchester and therefore been more convenient in regard to the carrying out of their official duties.
The village of Moreton is to the west of Wareham, and Until about the 1500’s , the family did not seem to have moved very far from an area, bounded by Wareham to the East, Swanage , Kimmeridge and steeple to the South West, also an area from Dorchester to the coast.
But having stated this is as it appears in official records, but in fact this does not seem to have actually to been the case since they did have properties elsewhere, I suspect that in carrying out their duties, they would have to have travelled around to a great extent so were granted a number of properties so they could use them as a base within various parts of the county.
One of such properties is shown in the photograph, which is said to have been in families possession for a great number of years probably from the thirteenth to the to the early sixteenth century
It is a grade II listed building and as such is still in existence today. Its exact location I cannot remember do not know other than it is within two or three miles of Buckland Newton and Hilton probably either piddlehinton or piddletrenthide and is still a private residence. The photograph was passed to me some years ago with a note to the effect that it was believed that it was once the property of the Chaldecotts who were tax collectors. It is I would think be typical of the type of house, in which these our earlier ancestors lived, and although not very palatial, were often described as manor houses. There are probably a number of such buildings which were once in our families possession which are still in existence, and some research into the listed buildings register for Dorset could be very fruitful, although finding the actual building, could prove to a little difficult, mainly due to the modern trend in completely surrounding buildings with trees and bushes.
The family and The Church
In the earlier years there appears to have been number of clergymen in the family. I have never been able to reconcile to which branch of the family they belonged. In 1332 there was a John De chalcott referred to as being a vicars chaplain at steeple., I have also seen references elsewhere regarding members of family as being priests and rectors, a number of them have been named as Caldecott. which is not surprising, since often in earlier documents, the members of our family were recorded thus. These members of the church were some times referred to as Kings chaplains. This was not that they were actually chaplains to the King, but that they were merely, sponsored by the crown, this probably was for the reason, that many of these churches were quite small and it was the only way that they could be financed if, the families of the clergy, or the church were unwilling or unable to support them.
In the foregoing matter, I would also suspect, there was to a more ulterior motive, in as much as, have a certain amount of influence in church matters. There were two such appointments to these posts had be sanctioned by the King,
therefore the crown would appointees in the thirteenth century. in such posts in both Byfleet and Guildford in Surrey,
both of these were named Caldecott I strongly suspect that in actual fact that they were members of our family.
In carrying out my researches into this early period I found that although there was a surprising amount of references, to our name in indexes and calendars, when it came to tracing the actual document, this could be difficult. On several occasions after I had located the item. When I came to look at it I often found it would have deteriorated, to an extent that it was unreadable. On other occasions some, were in a remarkably good condition, and I could, with assistance from one of the
curators, gather some very useful information. There was also a problem with referencing, at times when finding an item, it probably referred to a different subject or family altogether.
Also on some of the documents the wording was so muddled and ambiguous, that even when read by an experienced member of the archive staff, very little useful information would be gained. In spite of these problems I have managed, to establish an authenticated link to members of our present day family up to fairly recent times.
In the following pages I will be outlining an individual profile, of our direct ancestors from 1348 until comparatively recent times. In order to keep your interest, I will not go into too much detail,