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Norman Hidden's files included a paper written by him on Richard Hawkins (born c1634), grocer and scrivener. Richard Hawkins was much involved with the bankruptcy of Jethro Tull, uncle of the famous Jethro Tull (1674-1741), inventor of the seed drill.

Sir Richard Hawkins died in 1687.

Norman Hidden's "Richard Hawkins":

Richard Hawkins was a well to do London scrivener, the son of Robert Hawkins of Marcham, Berks, and born c.1634 (1).

In October 1650 he was apprenticed to Robert Harrison, citizen and grocer (2), later Sir Robert Harrison (3).

In 1661 he married Catherine Hackett (daughter of John Hackett, citizen and grocer?) (4) Although he was a member of the Grocers Company he mostly describes himself as scrivener. As such he is deponent in a number of law suits (5).

In one of these he states that in 1655 (when he would have been about 21 and possibly still apprenticed to Robert Harrison) he witnessed the sealing of a deed “at the house of Robert Harrison scrivener in Bow Lane, London now [1675] Sir Robert Harrison”(6). It seems clear that both Harrison and his one time apprentice, though nominally grocers, were in fact primarily scriveners. It was not unusual for a member of a City livery Company to pursue a trade other than that indicated by the livery's name. Nor were the two trades quite so far apart as might seem today. In the 17th century Grocers were wholesale merchants; a scrivener might be not only a professional pen man, clerk or secretary, but also one who “received money to place out at interest, and who supplied those who wanted to raise money on security”(7).

Hawkins' first connection with Hungerford may have occurred in 1674 (although there was a family of Hawkins living in the town who may or may not have had connection with the Marcham Hawkins). In 1674 Bulstrode Whitelocke's diary refers to the "breaking" or financial collapse and bankruptcy of Jethro Tull (8). Unfortunately for Whitelocks he was involved in acting as security for Tull as a bond, which Hawkins called in (9). This was in June. By August Hawkins was busily engaged in various transactions connected with the transfer of Jethro Tull's estate, and of the estate of the Hussey family with which Tull was bound up, in particular Anvilles Farm, Old Anvilles and Helms Farm (10) which were acquired by Sir William Jones, the Attorney General. From Jones' directions written on one of these documents giving instructions to Hawkins (11) it seems that Hawkins was acting as agent or middleman on Jones' behalf. The close connection between Jones and Hawkins is confirmed by Hawkins' deposition (12) in which he testifies to his having prepared and witnessed Sir William Jones' last will and testament.

In addition to the farms, which were purchased by Jones with the assistance of Hawkins, there were a number of other Hungerford properties in which Tull had an interest, viz the lands and tenements which had formerly belonged to the two dissolved Hungerford chantries, known as the Chantry lands. In 1670 these involved some 34 tenants (13) including about ..?.. houses in the town's High Street.

Among them was the market house, a building of such obvious municipal concern that the town's officers wished to purchase the building. In 1675 the upper portion of the building had been leased to John Ball by Hawkins. When Hawkins died in 1687 his executors sold the premises to the town and the market building together with Mill Mead was quickly put into trust for the benefit of the townsmen (14). The deed refers to Sir Richard Hawkins deceased, alderman and grocer (?) of London. This is correct. Hawkins was made Alderman for Portsoken Ward in 1687, knighted in 1687 and died in 1687.

Because of his two occupations grocer and scrivener, there has been a good deal of confusion and some uncertainty over whether there may not have been two Hawkins of the same name active in the affairs of Hungerford during the same decade. The research which I have made has finally proven that the grocer and the scrivener were one and the same man.


(1)    from age given in various depositions. See (5) infra.
(2)    Guildhall US no    Grocers Company, Register of Apprentices
(3)    PRO C24/996 Hoskins v Hawell (Harvill?)
(4)    Soc. Genealogists: P Boyd ? London Citizens ?
(5)    PRO C24/1089; C24/996H; C24/983H; C24/998L; C24/1000
(6)    PRO C24/996H
(7)    Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 1983
(8)    ed. R Spalding. Diary of Bulstrode Whitelock   May
(9)    ibid    June
(10)    Wilts RO 1883/127
(11)    ibid    (doc dated 20 Dec 1675)
(12)    PROC24/1089
(13)    Wilts RO : 1883/127 (doc dated 11 May 1670)
(14)    Berks RO : H/T33

See also:

- Jethro Tull (1674-1741), farmer at Prosperous Farm, inventor of the seed drill.

Helmes, Helmes Farm & Helmes Heath