Corbet, Dugard and Thould families at the Manor of Impney
The name Impney is first recorded in the 12th century, but may well go back to the 7th century; it means ‘Imma’s island’. Impney is located in the south-east corner of the present Dodderhill parish, bordering Droitwich and Hanbury.
The Corbet family (not the ancestors of John Corbett, the Salt King, who owned the manor and estate in the 19th century) are recorded as owners of the manor from the early 1200s. After William Corbet died childless in the 1400s the manor passed to female Corbets and their husbands and descendants, and in the 1540s the manor was sold to George Wall. His son, also George, inherited the manor but died childless, so it passed to his four sisters; one of them married Thomas Wylde as her second husband and he seems to have acquired the manor. It passed to his son Thomas and grandson John, who was chief baron of the Exchequer in 1646, and then to his daughter Anne in 1669, but she conveyed Impney to Elizabeth Knightley. From them the manor passed to the Foley family, and then by exchange for other lands in Martley and Shrawley it went to Richard Nash, the father of Treadway Nash who was a noted Worcestershire historian. He settled Impney in 1785 on his daughter Margaret when she married John Lord Somers; she later settled the manor in 1811 on her son Edward Charles Somers but he was killed the following year. In 1872 the Trustees of a later Earl Somers sold the manor to John Corbett, who made many changes to the appearance of the estate.
While the ownership of the manor is a matter of historical record, information about the people who lived and worked in the area is more difficult to find. We assume that the Corbets did live at Impney in the 13th century and after, as a document of 1456 giving the boundaries of the borough of Droitwich refers to ‘the Corbet place of Impney’. Possibly some of the Wall and Wylde families also resided at the manor house.
From the 1600s, the Dugard family lived in Impney and a ‘farm book’ records the family members and their activities. The first readable account dates from 1661 and mentions John Dugard. His father Henry was the first master of Bromsgrove School. John Dugard cut down trees in Feckenham Forest to run sheep there, and sold the wood to the Droitwich salt-makers – the book records pages of names of the saltmakers, including Harris and Harrison which are common Droitwich names today. John married Margaret Cowper and their 3 sons and 1 daughter were all born at Impney, though two of the children died when young. Their son John prospered and married Elizabeth Penrice (August 1660), with whom he had 10 children who went to various villages around Droitwich. Their son Thomas married Mary Geeves and went to Martin Court Farm (at Martin Hussingtree), and their son Thomas went to Grafton near Upton Warren. He married a distant Quaker cousin, Mary Siddons, whose father was an ironmaster at Coalbrookdale, and they farmed at Rockingham Hall, Hagley – both were wealthy.
The farm book suggests that by about 1750 there was no wood left on the Impney estate and the Dugards had to go further afield to supply the salt industry. There is a record of ‘Dugards’ as a cottage by Mere Hall in Hanbury, suggesting they were coppicing the forest there.
Thomas and Mary’s son Henry farmed at Wychbold in the 1800s, marrying Fanny Martin, and their son Henry married Fanny Baylis (another Droitwich name) and had a daughter who married a member of the Jackson family of Porters Mill near Droitwich. Another son went into the metal industry in Birmingham, becoming wealthy.
Land tax returns for Impney in 1799 show that Thomas Thould senior (born about 1752) was occupying buildings, land and Impney Mill, and he is assumed to have been the tenant miller at Impney. He married Mary Lewis from Ripple in 1779 and they had at least 3 children including Elizabeth (born about 1781) and Thomas (born about 1789). The Tithe Award, the censuses of 1841 onwards, and trade directories show that Thomas junior became the Miller and owner of 57 acres of land at Impney, and employed servants, labourers and a journeyman miller; he lived with his sister, both unmarried, at Impney Lodge which must have been the old manor house. He died in 1868 and by his Will left his possessions to two Trustees, who sold on the land and buildings to John Corbett in 1869.
The Tithe Award gives information on the land-owners and occupiers at Impney in 1845. Most of the land is owned by Earl Somers and Thomas Thould, with John Robeson, Thomas Wilson, Edward Bayliss, and William Causier as main occupiers. Full details are in the Appendices of the document available by clicking the link below, which also has information on the various legal documents conveying the land at Impney to John Corbett.
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The Worcestershire Tithe Maps