RICHARD DOGGETT'S HOME


The ancestral home of Richard Doggett in Groton, Suffolk, a Grade II listed historical property, stands about one-fourth mile north of St. Bartholomew's Church. The rectory or "personage" belonging to the church stood between the church building and the Doggett house. Because of extensive remodelling in the late eighteenth century, it does not have its original Tudor exterior, but certain interior features, including an extensively carved wooden ceiling that has been described as "exceedingly grand," are still visible. (Photo courtesy Susan Cooper.)
The home was originally constructed by persons unknown about 1450 on land belonging to the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury in nearby Bury St. Edmunds. It consisted of two separate buildings. Richard Doggett seems to have acquired the land and buildings from the Abbey at some later date and the first references to him in Groton are dated in 1520. The deed by which he acquired the property is not in existence, but his ownership was a freehold and not a feudal tenancy.
Richard occupied the house until his death, which probably occurred about 1540 or soon thereafter, and the ownership of the property, known then as "Edmunds," passed to his son John. John resided at "Groton Place" until abut 1549, when he moved to Bures, a short distance to the west. About that time, the house was extensively remodelled. The two separate buildings were joined by a central hall, and the older wings were changed to create an "H" shaped residence. Richard's daughter Alice and her five children resided in the home. It is probable that her first husband, a Mr. Lappage, had died, leaving her to raise the children. When John left for Bures, the old, and newly remodeled home was available for her use. When she had come to the home is not known, and she may well have shared the home with John even before he moved.
Soon thereafter, Alice married William More, a well-to-do resident of nearby Boxford, who apparently had no children, and who then moved to Groton and assumed a tenancy in the property from John. John died in Bures in 1564, leaving four children. In his will he devised the property to his son William the Younger, then only seven years old, and appointed William More, his brother-in-law as guardian of his three youngest children. More apparently took the children to Groton to raise until they became of age. When William More died only two years later, he transferred the guardianship of the children to Thomas Lappage, Alice's eldest son. It would appear that Thomas, then 32 years of age, was probably still living with his mother and stepfather, as he did not marry his wife, Agnes Gale, until 1567. In all probability, Thomas and family continued to live in the residence, at least until his mother was living and until John's children became of age.
William Doggett, the younger, became of age in 1578, and apparently sold the property to his brother John about that time, or perhaps exchanged it for property in Boxford, where he settled. His wife-to-be, Avis Lappage, was the eldest child of Thomas Lappage, born in 1568. William and Avis probably both lived in Groton Place at the same time for about ten years, although Avis was eleven years his junior. John resided in the home until his death in 1619.
In 1544, King Henry VIII, who had seized the lands of the Catholic monasteries, including St. Edmundsbury Abbey, granted the manor of Groton to Adam Winthrop, grandfather of Gov. John Winthrop of Massachusetts. When John Doggett died, his heirs had no interest in the property, as they were residing elsewhere, and sold the property to John Winthrop, who seems to have made the property the manor house of the manor of Groton and resided in it until his departure for Massachusetts in the Great Migration of 1630. The Winthrop Papers contain a floor plan of the property.
Some researchers have asserted that Adam Winthrop leased Groton Place and the adjoining rectory and glebe lands about 1549, when the remodelling took place, implying that Winthrop did the modifications, and that the property became the manor house of Groton Manor at that time. There does not seem to be any basis for these assertions, and probably result from the confusion of the names and descriptons of various properties in Groton, viz., Groton Manor, Groton Place, Groton House, etc. In fact, it is questionable whether Adam Winthrop ever resided in Groton, as he was well established in the nearby town of Lavenham, and although he was lord of the manor of Groton, he probably governed as an absentee landlord.
When Winthrop left for New England, he sold the property to the Waring family of Groton. It passed through several hands and about 1785, the property was again remodelled. The original Tudor exterior was modified in the Georgian style, much in the manner it appears today, as shown in the above photograph.

New 26 Dec 2005

2005 James D. Doggett