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From The Muniment Room, a resource for social history, family history, and local history.

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Tenants comprise anybody who rented property from the Estate – from copyhold tenants of the Estate's manors, to lessees who paid a modest ground rent on a long building lease. The nature and types of tenant varied considerably from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Many properties were further sub-let by their tenants, meaning that the occupier (listed, for instance, in a census) might not be the same person as the principal tenant of the Estate.


Most of the leases on the estate were for periods of 21 years, 99 years (or 3 lives), or 999 years. Tenant farmers usually took leases of 21 years. The long building leases of 999 and 1,000 years were enabled by the Fleming's Estate Acts from 1853.

Estate cottages

The cottages on the Stoneham Estate were numbered in sequence from 1 to over 100. For instance, cottage no. 3 was at North End, no. 19 at Hicknor Hill, no. 33 was the post office at Middle Stoneham, no. 85 at Bassett Green, and so on. The same on the Chilworth Estate: for instance, Walnut Cottage was no. 15.

Some cottages formed part of the lease of a farm, and were sublet out by the tenant farmer to his labourers.

In the 1820s, John Barton Willis Fleming offered 'premiums' as incentives to the cottagers at North Stoneham, for instance £5 'to three married labourers, who shall support the largest families by their own exertions and honest industry, without assistance from the parish during the preceding year'[1].

Rent Audits

The Rent Audits, or Rent Days, were fixed days for receiving the rents and tithes of the farms. On the Fleming Estate, the days were held bi-annually at Midsummer and Christmas, with a dinner for the tenantry. The mainland and Island estates each had their own rent days. For a description of a rent day, see: Annual Rent and Tithe Audit, 1823, when the Audit was held at South Stoneham House. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Audit for the Isle of Wight Estates was held at the Fleming Arms Inn at Binstead. The Squire was often present at the Audit, and would address the assembled tenants.

By the 1850s, all tenants paid their rents half yearly, which was not the case in earlier times[2].

Indexes to Rent Rolls &c.

Other indexes and lists

Related information


  1. Premiums offered in the Parish of North Stoneham  (WFMS:44 )
  2. Letter of John Brown Willis Fleming to Richard Pink, 28 Jun 1853  (WFMS:1064 )
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