William Harding

Of Wyke and Cleygate Manors in Surrey ~ From Yeoman to Gentleman!

👉🏻 If you are interested in the history of Ash, Normandy, and Frimley in Tudor times, please see my other posts such as Meet the Families of Ash 1550 to 1599 ~ A Sample of the Community and Who Paid Tax in Ash in 1523?

William Harding morphed from a Yeoman Farmer in Wanborough to becoming Lord of the important Manor of Cleygate and marrying an heiress of the influential and wealthy White Family of London and Aldershot. He was bestowed the honorific title of ‘Master William Harding Gentleman’ when he died. After his death, however, the Harding footprint in the area soon disappeared but his Harding roots in Frensham continued through the centuries ~ see my posts on the Harding family of Frensham.

  • Abt. 1530: Birth of William Harding in Frensham, Surrey (before parish records began)
  • Settled in Wanborough, Surrey ~ possibly acquired property there through marriage
  • Abt. 1560: William Harding married an unknown woman – 2 children: Robert and Catherine
  • 1567: By permission of Queen Elizabeth I, Christopher Draper sold Cleygate Manor to William Harding, Yeoman of Wanborough, for £1,190 ~ a sum well beyond the typical Tudor Yeoman!
  • 1568: Catherine Harding, daughter of William Harding, baptized at Wanborough
  • 1582: Property in Worplesdon and Ash, purchased by William Harding from Steven Vyne (of Tongham) by deed of 29 Jan 1582
  • 1584: Wyke Manor in Worplesdon was sold to William Harding
  • 1586: William Harding married to Katherine White of the prestigious White Family of Aldershot 14 April 1586 at Saint Antholin Budge Row Church, London
  • 1587: Sale by William Hardinge of Wyke, Worpledon, gentleman to Robert Harding, his son and heir, a moiety of the manor of Wyke
  • 1589: Sale by William Harding of Wyke gent, and Robert Harding, son and heir of William Harding, to Sir Nicholas Woodroffe (Alderman of the City of London)10 acres of a ‘mead or coppice’ in Ash.
  • 1590: Robert Harding died so predeceased his father
  • 12 July 1593: Mr. William Harding Senior was buried in Worplesdon Churchyard
  • 9 September 1593: Will of William Harding was granted probate 

Cleygate and Wyke Manors went to son William Harding who died around 1611, unmarried and childless. The Harding properties then descended to his sister Mary Harding who married Sir Robert Gorges in 1611. Sir Robert soon sold Cleygate and Wyke Manors to the Woodroffe Family to finance the purchase of Redlynch Manor, Somerset and that was the end of the short period of the Harding Family being Lords of the Manor.

William Harding’s Will of 1593 has survived:

In the name of God Amen, I William Hardinge of Weeke in the pyshe of Worplesdon – the Countye of Surrey gent being sicke of body but in good and pfect memorye

(pyshe = parish, pfect = perfect)

  • To be buried in the parish church of Worplesdon;
  • I am indebted unto William Price of London, Merchant Taylor, for £330;
  • I am indebted unto William Gyles of Horsley, Taylor, for £20 as by an annuity of 40s p.a. made unto William Gyles;
  • My will is that my executors shall pay them at such reasonable times as they shall (make do it)
  • I bequeath to my daughter Catherine Hardinge £30 viz £20 her brother Robert Hardinge upon his death bed requested me to bestow upon her and £10 I bequeath her for her better advancement to be paid to her within 1 year of my decease;
  • I bequeath until my wife Catherine Hardinge, my son William Hardinge, and my daughter Mary Hardinge all my goods, furnishments, and chattels, both moveable and unmoveable whatsoever as well as within doors and without, equally divided between them by my overseers of my will:- brothers (in law) Robert and William White of Aldershot, and brother Symon Hardinge, yeoman of Frensham;
  • To the poor of Worplesdon 20s and to the poor of Ash 10s;
  • I bequeath to my daughter Mary Hardinge, £100 to be paid within 1 year of my decease or at a reasonable time as determined by Robert White, William White, and Symon Hardinge or any two of them shall think it convenient;
  • William White, and Symon Hardinge, with the assent of Robert White, shall dispose of my property in Weeke to discharge my suits, debts, legacies, and funeral expenses and the residue to my wife Katherine for her natural life and then to my son William and his ‘heires male’ and in default of such to my daughter Mary Harding;
  • Residue of my lands in Weeke, I bequeath to my wife Catherine Hardinge for her natural life, and then after her decease to my son William Hardinge and to his male heirs, and in default of such to his female heirs, and in default of such to my daughter Mary Hardinge and her heirs, and in default of such, to the right heirs of me, the said William Hardinge;
  • Executors: my wife Catherine Hardinge, my son William Hardinge, and my daughter Mary Hardinge;
  • Overseers: brother (in law) Robert White of Aldershot, brother (in law) William White of Aldershot, and brother Symon Hardinge, yeoman of Frensham and 20s for their pains;
  • Signed and sealed by William Hardinge 9 July 1593;
  • Witnessed by: Robert White, Humphrey Champion, John Baddelly, Margaret James (wife of William James), and Robert Frye.
Detail from William Hardinge’s Will

“to the wryghte heires of me” Once you learn the letters ‘e’ and ‘h’ in Secretary Hand Script, then this phrase can be understood. Note that linguistics experts believe that the final ‘e’ was no longer pronounced by 1500’s.

👉🏻 For help with reading Secretary Hand Script, please click the button below:

Recorded in the Worplesdon Parish Register for 1593 is the burial of Mr William Harding on 12 July

Notes on William Harding’s Will

  1. Cleygate Manor’s boundary has never been pinpointed but it was a large area covering parts of Ash, Worplesdon, and the Tything of Normandy. Please visit the Normandy Historians web page for all things Cleygate Manor at this link:
  2. https://normandyhistorians.co.uk/i
  3. Katherine Harding (William’s widow) married Sir David Woodroffe of Poyle Park, Tongham on 14 August 1593 (just a month after William’s death) with whom she had at least 8 children; she married for a third time in 1608, again in Seale Parish Church, to Sir George Wrottesley who (according to a history of the Wrottesley family) “kept a steady look-out for well-endowed widows”! Katherine had a son, George, with Sir George Wrottesley, but the child died at age 6. I have been unable to find a record of Katherine’s death but Sir George died in Guildford in 1636;
  4. Robert and William White of Aldershot ~ members of the wealthy landowning merchant family of Whites whose sister Catherine married William Harding. The Memorial of their father, Sir John Whyte of Aldershot in the Church of St Michael in Aldershot proclaimed his national significance. Robert White eventually owned the Manors of Tongham, and Cove ~ all farmed by tenants paying rent to him.
  5. Simon HardingYeoman of Frensham ~ William’s brother ~ 👉🏻 See my post on Simon Harding;
  6. William Price, Merchant Taylor of London: probably the William Price of All Hallows Bread Street Parish in London who married Dorothy Langley 9 May 1581 in London and who was Warden of the Merchant Taylors’ Company 1596-1602. He died in 1604 and left a very long and detailed Will which Dorothy had to administer. 📌 Clearly, William Harding had taken out loans to purchase Cleygate Manor;
  7. With the death of William Harding the younger in 1611, Mary Harding became an heiress and on 12 June 1611 in Seale Parish Church she married Robert Gorges, a future Member of Parliament; Mary became Lady Mary Gorges on 30 June 1616 when King James I knighted her husband. The couple had at least 9 children. Lady Mary Gorges died in 1649 and was buried in Bruton, Somerset.

Select Sources

  • London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: DW/PA/5/1593; Will Number: 90
  • Wall Street Journal March 9, 2016: Handwriting Expert
  • Cleygate Manor: fully researched by normandyhistorians.co.uk
  • Exploring Surrey’s Past
  • Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: WOR1/1-3
  • Wrottesley, George,. History of the family of Wrottesley of Wrottesley, Co. Stafford. Exeter: W. Pollard & Co., printers, 1903
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