Until 1760 Southam remained as open land in strips belonging to different families. The aim was to share the good and the bad strips of land between everyone. Even before the 1760 enclosure of these strips into fields, there existed in and around the edge of town, areas of land that had been given specific names.
One such place name was ‘pendicle’ which means an appendage, and was a small piece of ground for cultivation, dependant on the larger farm. The pendicle was let separately by its owner, and at Southam there was The Pendicle belonging to the Edmonds family. With a slight corruption of the name from Pendicle we arrive at Pendicke, and in Southam we have a Pendicke Street, known in the Victorian era as Appendix Street.
The Edmonds family lived next to Abbey Green on the Warwick Road in the 17th century. They had been living in Southam since the days of Henry VIII (1509-1547). By the time Elizabeth I died in 1603, our parish registers were full of men and women of the same name, and to distinguish between them, some were given nicknames. Hence in 1623, Margaret Edmonds at her death was recorded as the following in the parish registers to distinguish her and her son from other Edmonds of the same name in Southam: “Buried ye first of October Margarett Edmundes ye mother of Robert Edmundes of ye Pendicle.”
The Edmonds family were prosperous yeoman, husbandmen and masons. However, wealthy families suffered no less than the poor when it came to disease, especially those childhood diseases that we now keep at bay with vaccinations. Without today’s death certificates to record the cause of death, one can only speculate on what happened to the Edmonds children.
In the summer of 1681 Henry and Anne Edmonds suffered tragic losses as one by one all of their children died. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the total number of deaths in Southam that year. So it may have been a common childhood disease, such as measles, smallpox, scarlet fever or dysentery, to name just a few perils lurking in a medieval child’s life. We will never know, but we can be sure of the devastation felt that year by Henry and Anne.
Having lost one baby days after its birth, they had raised four children over the previous decade. The first child to succumb was one of the boys, William, at the end of June. Then on the 12th of August his 7 month old baby sister Mary was buried. She was followed by 9 year old John whose funeral was the next day. Then 11 year old Henry, their eldest and last surviving child was buried on the 15th, the same day as another child from the town.
Spring had been cold and late in 1681, with snow and frost on the ground into April. This was followed by a very dry summer, with corn dying from drought in the fields. With the loss of all his children that year, Henry Edmonds as a farmer, must have felt his whole world was coming to an end. No more children were born and his wife Anne died only ten years later.
The photograph is of Abbey Green, Southam. The extended Edmonds family lived at No 1 Abbey Lane. If you are interested in finding out more about local history, or would like to get involved, please contact Southam Heritage Collection. We are based in Tithe Place, in the atrium, opposite the Library entrance and near to the Tithe Place café. We are currently open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings from 10am to 12 noon. For more information, telephone 01926 613503, email email@example.com visit our website www.southamheritage.org and find us on Facebook: Southam Heritage Collection.