The dispute between Freshwater and Brooke erupted after the Commonwealth and continued for many years after. John Hooke himself was a part of the dispute, as well as being present in Freshwater when Warburton petitioned against the Ship Money. On top of all this, Hooke and his wife were bringing up a young family when the Civil War broke out in 1642. How all this affected his young sons, John and Robert, is unknown at the moment but presumably, John being twelve at the time, was more aware, and therefore more influenced than his brother, Robert, by the events of the forties.
Once Goodman was under scrutiny from the Commonwealth government, and therefore vulnerable, Bowerman set about providing Brooke church with the status of a parish. He railed in a piece of his ground as a churchyard; provided a register book; encouraged the inhabitants of Brook to bury their dead in Brook burial ground; allowed them to hold christenings and marriages and to receive the sacraments there; and finally demanded that people living in Brooke 'parish' pay their tithes to the person that he, Bowerman, had presented as 'rector'. Once Goodman was out of the way for good in 1651, Bowerman was able to consolidate Brooke's position during the next ten years until about 1662.
Therefore, the 1640's may have been a difficult time for John Hooke as his rector, Goodman, was under suspicion, finally being sequestered a year after Hooke's death. Hooke was no doubt aware of the friction between Goodman and Thomas Bowerman and must have witnessed the events leading up to Goodman's sequestration. Hooke had a close personal, as well as proffessional, relationship with Goodman, who was one of the executors of Hooke's will, as well as one of the appraisers of Hooke's possessions. Indeed, in his will, he writes, "...And this care and trust I commend unto my worthy and well beloved friends, Mr. Cardel Goodman, Mr. Robert Urrey and Mr. Nickles Hockley,...". That Hooke also accompanied Goodman to the church at Brooke on occasions to officiate is mentioned in a statement of evidences supporting the case of Freshwater church to the tithes of Brooke. In the section entitled "Witnesses who uppon oath testified their Knowing & remembring", the fourth entry records "Mr. Goodman Rector of ffreshwater and his Curate to have sometime officiated in ye church of Brooke supplied and served that Cure in ye right as was alleaged of ye Church of ffreshwater" .
Cardell Goodman took over as rector of Freshwater in 1641 on the death of the Warburton. In a Lay Subsidy of 1642, Goodman was assessed for one property in Freshwater parish, presumably the parsonage, situated in Stroud Road. In Oct. 1649, he was sequestered for refusing to take the Engagement and was considered "as dangerous to the Commonwealth". However, in a 1650 survey of the parishes of the Isle of Wight, he is still listed as vicar of Freshwater. In Feb. 1651, he was again brought before the Committee in London and was sequestered on 18 March and replaced by J. Dalton. He died in 1653.
Goodman had inherited from the previous incumbent, Warburton, the dispute concerning the tithes of Brooke. However, thanks to opportunities provided by the disturbed aftermath of the Civil War, Thomas Bowerman, the then Lord of Brooke Manor, seized the chance to establish Brooke as a parish by endowing it with parochial trappings and it is during this period, when Bowerman was powerful, that Brooke established its claim as a parish in its own right. Bowerman was one of the Committee that governed the Island from about 1643 and he was also made one of the Deputy Lieutenants, who took over when the Governor, Col. Sydenham, was absent in London. This meant Bowerman wielded considerable power over most matters throughout the Island, especially during the Governorship of Col. William Sydenham from 1649 till 1660. Using his position, it was most probably Thomas Bowerman who demanded Goodman's final sequestration in 1651.
In 1545, the "Courte off Thagmentations off the Revenues of the Kynges highnes Crowne" registered this in an "Inquisition and Survey".
"Suthampton - The Isle of Wight.
The Freechaple of Broke within the parishe of Freshwater: ...
Howbeit at this time it is in controversy betweene the said Nicholas Borman and the Parson of Freshwater. And hath soe contynued in variance thys xviii yeres"
On 16th October 1639, John Percivall, appointed to Brooke church by Charles I, sent a petition to the King and Council in London complaining that Warburton was trying to usurp his parochial rights as self-styled "rector" of the "parish church of Brooke".
"to the Kings most excellent Majestie
The humble peticcion of John Percivall, clerk.
Humblie sheweth ... That whereas your petitioner in March last obtayned your Majesties presentacion unto the parish church of Brooke in the Isle of Wight, which had for manie years past been concealed. nevertheless so it is, may it please your Majestie, That one Mr. George Warburton, Parson of Freshwater within the Isle of Wight, under pretence that the said parish church of Brooke is within the lymitts and circuite of the parish church of Freshwater aforesaid, and soe a chapell of ease unto Freshwater and not parochiall, disturbeth your petitioner of his quiet enioyment thereof and forcibly gathereth and taketh tithes from your petitioner, albeit your petitioner doth dischardge his dutie to the said Church to the great comfort of the parishioners there and the glorie of God."
Warburton, calling himself "Parson of Freshwater", sent a counter-petition several weeks later in November. This dispute was to simmer on for another hundred years. And it would seem that the claim of Freshwater was generally upheld in court actions, in which several verdicts went their way during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: in 22 Henry VIII; in 2 James I; and in 17 Charles I.
At the dissolution of the Monasteries, Freshwater was forfeited to the King and remained with the Crown until 1623, when James I gave it to John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln. In turn, he granted it to St. John's College, Cambridge on 24th March 1623. The first rector of Freshwater to be presented by the College was Cardell Goodman, instituted in 1641. Before Goodman, the rectorship of Freshwater was held by George Warburton, and he was the incumbent when John Hooke senior arrived to act as his curate. Warburton had attended Brasenose College, Oxford and was chosen as rector for Freshwater in 1621. On 4th June 1631, he became Dean of Gloucester and on 20th August, he was made Dean of Wells. In 1638, Warburton was active locally in organising a petition on behalf of the parishioners and himself alleging the harshness of the Ship Money tax on them. Warburton himself was charged £6 5s. 0d. for his property in Easton, Freshwater. This petition was addressed to Sir John Oglander, as the High Sheriff of Hampshire [OG/16/105]. It is not known whether the one-time tutor of Oglander's son, John Hooke, now curate of Freshwater church, had any part in this petition or whether he even signed it, but he undoubtedly must have known about it.
It was during his rectorship that a longstanding dispute, concerning parish authority and tithes, came to a head between the rectors of Freshwater and the Bowerman family, Lords of the Manor of Brooke. The 'rector' of Brooke claimed, as did the Bowerman family, that Brooke was a separate parish. However, both Warburton and Goodman maintained that Brooke was within the parish of Freshwater and therefore all tithes and rights belonged to Freshwater. This dispute had rumbled on since the start of the 16th century and occasionally broke out into a court action.
The parish of Freshwater, like several other large parishes, was established in Saxon times. On the Isle of Wight, these Anglo-saxon parishes tended to be very large areas. They generally stretched from the north coast of the Island down to the South coast, so ensuring each parish possessed an amount of each of the different agricultural soil types: the clay pasyure/woodland of the north; the chalk Downland of the central ridge; the fertile sandstone soil of the south part, suitable for arable; and finally a stretch of north and south coastline. Eight large parishes were originally marked out across the Island: Freshwater, Shalfleet, Calbourne, Carisbrooke, Whippingham, Arreton, Newchurch and most probably Brading. Each of these had a mother-church, sited roughly in the centre.
The Saxon church of Freshwater was one of a group of six Island churches that were donated with various tithes by William Fitz Osbern, Lord of the Island, to the Norman Abbey of Lyre at some time between 1066 and 1071, when he died. This meant that the advowson of Freshwater belonged to the Abbey of Lyre along with all payments, rents and dues of any land belonging to the church.
In 1414, all alien priories were suppressed and their property and titles taken over by the Crown. In April 1415, having taken over possession of the Isle of Wight property of the Abbey of Lyre, Henry V bestowed them on the Charterhouse of Sheen in Surrey, a foundation set up by Henry in September 1414 as "the Priory of the House of Jesus of Bethlehem".
With the expulsion of the alien monks from their Island property, it meant that there was now no direct administration of the old Lyre estates on the Island. Instead, what had formerly been done directly by the prior and monks themselves, the Charterhouse of Sheen now entrusted these Island affairs to 'farmers': local gentry, who were charged with the collection of rents, tithes and payments, owing to Sheen.
These cliffs are frequented by immense numbers of marine birds, puffins, razor-bills, willocks, gulls, cormorants, Cornish choughs, daws, starlings, and wild pigeons; some of which come at stated times to lay their eggs and breed, while others remain there all the year. The cliffs are in some places perpendicular, in others they project and hang over in a tremendous manner; the several strata form many shelves, these serve as lodgments for the birds, where they sit in rows, and discover themselves by their motions and flight, though not individually visible. There are many chasms and deep caverns that seem to enter a great way into the rocks, and in many places the issuing of springs form small cascades of rippling water, down to the sea; sheep and lambs are seen grazing in the lower parts of the cliff, near the margin of the sea; the cliffs have sometimes proved fatal to them, as well as to other cattle who have ventured to graze too near the edge; from which, hounds in the ardour of the chace, have to their mutual destruction driven and followed their game."
[History of the Isle of Wight by Sir Richard Worsley. London, 1781]
Even by the mid 19th century, some of these open, strip fields still existed in the southern part of the Freshwater area and many of the enclosed fields are long and thin, suggesting remnants of the former individual, open-field strips. Even today, remains of the boundaries of this strip system can be seen in the area of Stonewind Farm.
Great chalk cliffs formed the southern boundary of the parish and ran from Freshwater Gate to Alum Bay. They were inhabited by all manner of seabirds and could be dangerous to the cattle that grazed the grassland on top. When this description was written, they were little changed from John Hooke's day:
"The parish of Freshwater from the point where Worsley's Tower formerly stood, opposite to Hurst Castle, round to Freshwater gate, is fortified by those stupendous promontories of Chalk, known by the name of Freshwater Cliffs. The height of these cliffs is indeed prodigious; being in some places six hundred feet above the level of the sea. To form a just conception of their magnitude, they should be viewed fom the sea, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile; when the most lofty and magnificent fabrics of art, compared with these stupendous works of nature, shrink in idea to Lilliputian size.
By the 17th century, the area of Freshwater Isle was a mixture of enclosed fields and the traditonal, open field system, divided up into individual strips. Indeed, even in 1839, there were areas of the old medieval strip system in existence among the enclosed fields that dominated the Freshwater landscape. These patches of the open field system were situated in the south of the parish: Headon Common Field, Stone Wind Field, Windmill Field, Little Common Field and Easton Field. However, the names of various other former common fields are identifiable in various leases; fields such as North Field, Norton Field, West or Weston Field, Sutton Field, Heath Field, Fernhill Field and Noad Acre Field. These were large, open common fields, in which the tenants held a strip or various strips of land, which were often scattered throughout, so that everyone had an equal chance of both the more fertile and poor agricultural soil. A 1608 survey of Freshwater clearly shows this communal open-field system still intact; many of the tenants have holdings within a number of the common fields. A good example of this strip system can be found in William Prince whose holding consisted of small enclosures and strips in the large common arable fields:
in the 17th century
The Freshwater region is very nearly an island, separated by a river estuary that extends northwards from Freshwater Gate on the southern shore of the island as far as Yarmouth in the north. This tidal estuary or creek derives from the River Yar and in effect it cuts the Freshwater presqu'ile off from the rest of the Island. The Yar is tidal as far as Freshwater causeway, south of which it becomes marsh wetland. It was most probably at high tides on the estuary behind the church, that the young Robert Hooke experimented with a model of a fully-rigged ship.
In the 17th century, the Freshwater region was a predominantly agricultural area, made up of scattered, small hamlets and farmsteads, dispersed throughout Freshwater Isle amongst a mixture of enclosed and open field systems. There was no single focus to the settlements in the area and therefore, even in the 17th century, there existed no significant nucleated settlement. From Saxon times, the development of the settlement pattern had resulted in a polyfocal pattern, based on a loosely associated and dispersed collection of settlements. John Hooke's parish therefore consisted of small pockets of habitation, centred on a 'green': More Green, Freshwater Green, Pound Green, Sheepwash Green, Middleton Green, Stroud, Easton, Norton and the settlement round the parish church. However, there were two areas of significant settlement: one centred around School Green and another crowding around the west end of the parish church, in what is today Church Place. Small fishing hamlets existed at Freshwater Gate, Brambles Chine and Norton. The population of the whole region fluctuated around the 500 mark during the 17th century.
Smuggling on the Isle of Wight
In Hampshire, the smuggler's job was made especially easy by the proximity of the Isle of Wight. The island had a well-developed trade in wool exports, and until the late 18th century, its coasts were only lightly guarded against the attentions of free-traders: any ship's master with sufficient navigational ability would have been able to slip into one of the island's bays or creeks with little risk of losing a cargo to the land-based forces.
A chase at sea was perhaps more of a risk, but in the early 18th century, the smugglers relied on their superior seamanship to evade the preventive forces. The south-east side of the island is fringed with treacherous rock platforms, notably Rocken End, and the risk of a wreck was not something that the master of a revenue cutter contemplated with pleasure. Any smuggler who knew a way through the rocks, and was prepared to ride out the ferocious south-westerly winds that batter this part of the coast was unlikely to be followed too far.
There seem to have been no large gangs on the island, and the free-trade apparently enjoyed the support of many of the inhabitants. To a certain extent this may reflect the fact that many local people despised rule from the mainland — until the end of the 13th century Wight had been an independent principality, and even at this early date, export smuggling of wool was already taking place on the island and the mainland. Little wonder that the islanders and were disrespectful of the customs authorities!
Smuggling yarns are widespread on Wight: Rookley, situated at the epicentre of the island, claims the crown as smuggling capital. Chale on the south coast was the home of a notorious smuggling family called the Wheelers, who lived in Box Cottage, and Chale churchyard had a reputation for other-wordly happenings that were probably deliberate scare tactics to keep nosey locals away from stored tubs.