Welcome to Somerset by David Doidge - 1990
The"Dodge" parishes of the Cockers and the Chinnock only cover a very
small area and are essentially rural and agricultural and have few
shops and no restaurants.
The roads and lanes are certainly those used by Elizabethans and earlier peoples. Oxen were still used to draw the plough, and the lanes were deeply rutted and difficult to travel except on a horse. The villages now contain about ten times as many people and houses. Most churches are virtually unchanged and were used by our ancestors every Sunday, and frequently, more often. Births were occasions for celebration, and of course, burials for sorrow; but marriages were very much lesser affairs than today, and concerned only the two celebrants. The church was the undoubted centre of village life. The major concern of the villages were land and its produce.
The break with the Church of Rome some seventy years earlier had largely been absorbed, but there were still strong feelings about religious matters stemming from the Reformation and the form of church services was still a strong subject for many. Directives of the King and Parliament were passed to the Great Lords of the Counties and in the case of South Somerset, it was usually the Phellips of Montacute. All through the first half of the 1600's, Phellips vied with another family for the leadership of Somerset. At one time, when out of favour, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London but in the end, his family prevailed. Lesser aristocrats and gentlemen of the County would be summoned to Montacute or visited with instructions on what the King requires by way of Law or edict and such local gentry were responsible for ensuring that the law was observed throughout the County. Probably the Hellyers of Coker Court were tasked with imposing the King's Laws in the local community. The features and appearance of the Hellyers ad the Phellips would be familiar to every inhabitant.
Barrington Court is an example of a medium sized manor, which is attractive and well furnished inside such as to probably give a better impression of interiors than does Montacute.
Ham Hill, a prominent landmark in the area provided a particularly attractive stone that was easily quarried for housebuilding. Not all people could afford such building materials and instead would have used other older and cheaper traditional methods such as wattle reinforced by withies from the nearby low-levels of Somerset.
We know little directly of John and Margery, but John's will reveals that he was not a poor man when he died in the parish of Halstock, just over the border in Dorset. His son, "Farmer" William went to Salem only about ten years after the Pilgrim Fathers. Since he was a Puritan, and Puritans were persecuted in England at that time, religious freedom was one of his motives for emigrating to America. He probably also saw greater economic opportunity there since each English farm grew smaller as succeeding generations divided up the land. *Sometime, somewhere, he must have spoken to someone who sparked his resolve to take the giant step towards the new territories. The main road from London to Exeter passed via Salisbury and Yeovil, just north of Ham Hill to the West. Perhaps he conversed with travelers on that road. (see note at bottom)
With both Yeovil and Crewkerne only a few miles away, and being market towns, the Dodges will probably have been familiar visitors, though many a countryman never traveled more that ten miles from their birthplace.
From early records of the Dodges in South Somerset, it appears that they were in the locality by about 1350. Other evidence suggests that there were Dodges in other parts of Somerset and the move to South Somerset may have been associated with the plague about that time.
AMERICAN DODGE ANCESTORS IN THE PARISH REGISTERS
The Dodge Family Genealogy book shows the ancestors of most American Dodges to stem from a John Dodge and his wife, Margery. Briefly, John and his children are listed below: The numbers refer to those used in the American Family Genealogy Book: non- American members so not have numbers, (except John . 1. )THE PLAGUE IN EAST COKER - 16451. John died about October 1636 . He married Margery. His children were:Much of what we know of John and Margery comes from his will. Thought parish registers were introduced in the first half of the 150's they were generally kept on scraps of parchment and few have survived from that century. Most parish registers commence about the early 1600s. The dates for the registers of the "Dodge parishes" are:
East Coker Parish Register: Extract: 1645
"Memorandum that in 1645, in the parish of East Coker, from the eighth day of June until the tenth day of September, there died and were interred in the contageous Sickness, Plague, and Pestilence three score and ten persons - and it pleased the Almighty suddenly, beyond all mens expectation, to put an end to this fearful visitation. For which extroaordinary favour we ascribe all Laud and Praise unto his sacred name in the words of the prophet David - Psalm the 116th - verses 12, 13, and 14. What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards us? We will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of he Lord. We will pay our vows unto the Lord, even now in the presence of all his people."NOTE: NUMBERS OF BURIALS FROM REGISTER 1641 19 buried
1642 14 buried
1643 16 buried
1644 21 buried
PRE-ELIZABETHAN RECORDS OF THE DODGE'S IN SOMERSET
Somerset Pleas Vol. 41. Roll 1232THE ANNALS OF WEST COKER
BY SIR MATTHEW NATHAN. C.u.p. 1956
In a lease dated 13th June 1350 - the year after the plague, certain land is again identified by it's position between two other properties: It was two acres of meadow lying in Coker Mere in le Honyn - opposite Godelle Mead between the meadow of Sir John the chaplain of St Marys on one side and the meadow of William atte Mere on the other and abuts the brook. This parcel of land was leased by Adam, son of Richard atte Mere, of West Coker to John le Doo of West Coker and Joan his wife for the term of the life of one of them, the longer liver, for the payment of one rose at the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptists. The witnesses were John de Salisbury, John Elys, Robert Gater, John Reynolds, Richard Penny, John Peay, John Williams, and others. John of St Marys in this deed will have been the rector of East Coker. John de Southton who had died of the plague the previous year. John le Doo we have met in association with his clerical brother, Philip. Others of these names occurring in documents of the precious decade are evidence of the plague not having entirely broken the continuity of village life. On the other hand in the seventh year after the plague, the name of John Levereich and Joan his wife, and Andrew Dagge and Emma his wife, vendors to this same John le Doo, of two messuages, and four score and six acres of land and four acres of meadow in West Coker and Hardyngton Mandeville - quite a considerable property are not familiar from any earlier assessment for the tax on goods.REGISTRUM RADILPHI DI SDALOPIA
Somerset Record Society. Vol. 10) Entry No 2666 n page 695
Viij ld 1352 July A.D. (Bishop's Court) at Wyveliscomb. The lord instructed Robert Doggeton, priest, to the parish church of Estcoker, vacant by the resignation of Phillip Doo at the presentation of Sir Hugh Courteney, Earl of Devon.Feet of Fines. Vol. 17. Edward III to Richard II
1356 30 Edward III
At Westminster, in three weeks of Easter between John le Doo, Estcoker, querant, and Stphen Loverich and Joan His wyfe and Andrew Dagge and Emma his wyfe, deforceiants, for two messuages, four score and six acres of land, and four acres of meadow, in Westcoker and Hardyngton Mandeville. Stephen and Joan and Andrew and Emma acknowledge the claim of John as by their gift and quitclaimed for themselves and heirs; for this John gave them twenty marcs of silver.Entry No 263 in Vol. 13 Bishop Bowett's Register
17th November in the year above written. Master Richard Pitts instituted William Dogge, clerk having the first tonsure, to the church of Otyrhampton, vacant by the death of Hugh Wyllyng, the last rector, at the presentation of Sir Thomas Swynbourne, knight, and Elizabeth Tryvet, his wife. The Archdeacon to Taunton to induct.Entry No 270
15 December, yeare aforesaid, the vicar-general instituted William Talbot, chaplain, to the church of Otyrhampton vacant by the simple resignation of William Dogge, clerk, the last rector, to which he was presented by Thomas Swynbourne, knight, and Elizabeth Tryvet, his wyfe. The Archdeacon of Taunton to induct,REGISTER OF BISHOP BUBWITH Vol 30/2
November 3rd 1410 London
The Bishop received a presentation by John Chudyock esquire of William Dogge, clerk, to the chapel at Kyngeston by levele (Yeovil) and committed to Master John Tyssebuty, canon of Wells, his commissary general, to make inquisition upon the right of the presenter and the other articles usual in that behalf: and if the inquisition finds for the presenter and presentee to institute the latter as rector or warden in the chapel.1451 29th Nov.
Thomas Dogge appears in list of Escheators for Somerset and Dorset. He may be a member of the Devon Dodges.
Ed. Note: *It has since been found that Dr. John White of Dorset was the person who was involved in contacting people in the area and encouraging them to move to the new world. In Winston Churchill's book, "A History of the English Speaking Peoples" , he writes, "Just as the congregation from Scrooby had emigrated in a body to Holland, so another Puritan group in Dorset, inspired by the Reverend John White, now resolved to move to the New World. After an unhappy start this venture won support in London and the Eastern Counties among backers interested in trade and fishing as well as in emigration. Influential Opposition peers lent their aid. After the precedent of Virginia a chartered company was formed, eventually named "The Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England." News spread rapidly and there was no lack of colonists. An advance party founded the settlement of Salem, to the north of Plymouth."