While records of ordinary people during the seventeenth century are patchy at best, it is still often possible to trace individuals or families in one area over long periods of time. The name William Tussingham appears in the records for Brymbo for the best part of fifty years – suggesting either one long-lived individual or perhaps a father and son.

The family surname is of course English rather than Welsh, and probably refers to the manor of Tussingham or Tushingham in west Cheshire, not too far from the border. This is even now a rural, sparsely settled area, beyond a few curiously-named hamlets like Bell o’ th’ Hill and No Mans Heath. Ormerod’s History of the county palatine and city of Chester notes a John de Tushingham, who back in the time of Henry V died seized of land in Tushingham, leaving a son and heir called William. The registers of Hanmer, a few miles to the south-west, also show a couple of generations of William Tushinghams in the years leading up to and a little past 1600 and who by this time were marrying into Welsh families. It was perhaps a marriage of this kind that left a branch of the family owning some of the ‘customary’ land in Brymbo township, all located in the hamlet of Glascoed and held on a distinct kind of tenure involving renewable 40 year leases (and later converted to freehold under Charles I as part of what Alfred Palmer called “a shameful piece of jobbery“). Whatever his ancestry and origins, William tended to use an unusual spelling of the surname, “Twysingam”, or something along those lines: however the forms “Tussingham” and “Tushingham” are also used elsewhere for what appears to be the same man. To keep things simple, I will stick with Tussingham.

The records begin in 1620, when a William Tussingham is noted by the surveyor John Norden as sitting on the manorial jury for Esclusham. Norden also, under the “tenants at will” for Brymbo, notes his farm “in the place called Pentre Glascoed“, which totalled a bit over 9 customary acres: about 20 modern acres, roughly speaking. It was a long way from the biggest landholding in Brymbo or even in the Glascoed, and was certainly dwarfed by the possessions of several of the other jury members, such as John Griffith, builder of Brymbo Hall. As with elsewhere in the survey, Norden carefully records the field names; as some of these names changed remarkably little between 1620 and the 1760s, it is possible to make a guess at identifying the exact spot even without complete records of ownership. In 1620 (negotiating the dubious Archaeologia Cambrensis transcription as best I can) we have:

A close called “cae kill
A close “adjacent […] called werglodd vawr
Another adjoining close called “kay maddock
Another called “trowse tyre
Another called “erow glibion
Another called “Kay bichan
A field called “Havod y fercoues issa“, by the time of the survey divided in two

These field names reappear on a deed of 1767, by which time the land was owned by Mary Hughes, spinster, of Ruabon parish. Most of them are in a near-identical form, although the last now seems to be recorded as “hafod fferionas” (given the generally bad quality of the Archaeologia Cambrensis transcription I suspect that “fercoues” was really written “feriones” in the original). As for their meanings, cae kill is the “kiln close”: this was certainly a reference to a lime-kiln, remembering the evidence we have seen of lime burning in the Glascoed. Weirglodd fawr is the great hay-meadow, traws tir the cross-land, “erw glibion” is probably from erw gwlybion, the “damp acre”; cae bychan the little close. As for “hafod fferionas”, I puzzled over this name for a while before coming up with hafod y feiriones, the dairymaid’s hafod, which sounds credible. There was, incidentally, also a hafod y feiriones ucha in the occupation of one of Tussingham’s neighbours, Edward ap Llewelyn (there is an interesting court case, about which I will write in the future, regarding Edward and his property). It is a pity that the field name does not seem to have quite survived into the era of the tithe maps.

I have a lot of time for the various Tussinghams, for some reason. I suppose it is because the name is immediately distinctive, cropping up in Norden, in the 1660s rate books, in the hearth tax assessments, and in a variety of other documents connected with the Glascoed. We know that Mr. Tussingham had only one hearth, with another in a room still being built when the assessor called around. On a later assessment the second hearth is marked as ‘disputed’: Tussingham was clearly not about to hand over his money that quickly. His name appears as a witness to the will of his neighbour Maurice Jones, dated 1662, and indeed part of the property disposed of by Jones in the will is “all that messuage tenement and lands” in mortgage to him from Tussingham, Hugh Jones (another witness), John ap Hugh and John Griffith.

Tussingham’s own will, written in 1674 – the name is here spelt “Tushingham” – notes that his main legacy was £44 which was then “due unto me by bond from John Griffiths of Brumbowe“, other than his household property both “moveable” and “unmoveable“. He was then described as “of Wrexham”, which matches with the evidence showing that he dropped out of the Brymbo rate books a few years earlier. His administrators were named as, firstly, his friend John Hughes of Brymbo – the only John Hughes on the hearth tax returns of the period appears to live close to Glascoed, near the Ffrith – and Edward ap Robert of the township of Maes yr Ychen, a mountain area over near the Horseshoe Pass. Other than his wife Elizabeth, Tussingham’s family included daughters Katherine, Margaret and Mary, and sons called John and Richard; Mary was described as Mary Williams of “Brymboe” when she was named as executrix in 1679, so she at least must have married and stayed locally. I wonder what became of the others? A John Twissingham, corvisor, appears in a few of the Shrewsbury parish records of the mid-late 1660s: this is such a distinctive spelling of the name that it immediately suggests the Brymbo family.

Tussingham’s small farm eventually became part of the Middle Glascoed landholding. Although a single ‘estate’, this was still divided in two tenements when it was owned by Edward Rowland, the Ruabon ironmaster, at the start of the 19th century. One of the two tenements was evidently Tussingham’s. Later still James Kyrke bought the whole estate, combined the two farms into the present single holding and lived there; it was called “Glascoed Hall” afterwards.