Great-great-grandfather Lee Compere, son of Ann Fox and John Compere, was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire on 3 November 1790. He immigrated to Jamaica in 1815, and relocated to Charleston, South Carolina in 1817.
From the index of digitized wills of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on the United Kingdom National Archives web site, we obtained these Compere wills in order to find connections in time and place. The years in the file names are of the years when the wills were probated:
|1681, John Compere, London, Cloth Worker|
|1716, Thomas Compere, London, Apothecary|
|1718, George Compere, St. Martin's in the Fields, Middlesex, Baker|
|1730, Mary Compere, Stratford, Essex, Widow|
|1739, Thomas Compere, St. Clement Danes, Middlesex, Apothecary|
|1747, Leonard Compere, Berkley Street, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, Haberdasher|
|1760, Elizabeth Compere, St John's Clerkenwell, Middlesex, Widow|
|1763, John Compere, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire, Apothecary|
|1764, Anthony Compere, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire, Surgeon|
|1797, Ann Compere, Stratford, Parish of West Ham, Essex, Spinster|
|1824, Lee Compere, Broadwell, Gloucestershire, Esquire|
|1833, Thomas Compere Bosworth, Bedford Terrace, Clapham Rise, Surry, Gentleman|
|1843, Robert Compere, Reading, Berkshire, Victualler|
|1849, Amy Pomfret Compere, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Widow|
Reading through these wills, you will notice that there are connections to Market Harborough. Thomas the Apothecary makes a bequest to the sons of a late Thomas in that location; and Anthony the Surgeon mentions two cousins in Market Harborough. Attorney Lee is probably the uncle of Lee the immigrant. It is very difficult to determine who is related to whom because of the seemingly endless repetition of given names. The references of individuals in wills do not give ages or birth dates. Here is some additional information that sheds some light some of the wills:
Doe on the Demise of Lee Compere against Hicks and Another.*
21 November 1797
In ejectment for a manor, messuages, and land, in the parish of Winchcombe, in the county of Gloucester, the declaration contained two counts, one laying the demise on the 25th March 1794, the other on 3d June 1797. A general verdict was taken for the lessor of the plaintiff at the trial; and a new trial was moved for and a rule to shew cause obtained on two grounds; 1st, (which went to both counts) that the lessor of the plaintiff who claimed and was entitled to the premises under the will of Thomas Compere could not recover, not having the legal title in him, which was then outstanding in trustees under the will. 2dly, (which went to the first count only) that while the premises were in the possession of Anthony Compere (brother of the devisor) as tenant for life under the same will, under whom the defendants claimed, he levied a fine, and the lessor of the plaintiff, whose right of entry was not thereby bound, not having made an actual entry before the 2nd June last, could not recover upon the first demise, which was antecedent to that time.
By the will of Thomas Compere in 1737, on which the first question turned, after several devises, he devised “his lands and hereditaments in the parish of Winchcombe, &c. after the decease of his wife, to his father A. C. for life, remainder to John Compere for life, and from and after the determination of that estate, unto trustees and their heirs in trust to preserve contingent remainders from being defeated, and to make entries and bring actions, &c. nevertheless to permit the said John Compere to receive the rents and profits during his life; and from and after his decease, unto the first and other sons of the body of the said J. C. in tail male successively, and in default of such issue, unto his brother, Anthony Compere (by whom the fine was levied) for life, and after that estate determined, unto the said trustees & their heirs to preserve the contingent remainders in manner aforesaid; and from and after the decease of his brother A. Compere, to the first and others sons of his body in tail male successively, and for want of such issue unto his nephew R. Austine for life, and after that estate determined, unto the said trustees and their heirs in manner aforesaid; then to the first and other sons of his body in tail mail successively; and for want of such issue, unto his cousin G. Compere for life, then to the trustees and their heirs in manner aforesaid, then to the first and other sons of his body successively in tail male; and, for want of such issue, unto the first son of T. Compere, deceased, for life, then to the trustees and their heirs in manner aforesaid, then to the first and other sons of his body successively in tail male; for want of such issue then to the second son of the body of the said Thomas C. deceased, for life, then to the said trustees in manner aforesaid; then to the first and other sons of his body in tail male successively, and for want of such issue, unto his own right heirs for ever.” He also devised other parts of his estate in the same manner, interposing the limitations to trustees to preserve contingent remainders after the determination of several other estates for life, “to them and their heirs in manner aforesaid,” except in one instance, where the limitations to the heirs of the trustees is omitted, though it was to them in manner aforesaid.
The lessor of the plaintiff claimed under one of the limitations subsequent to the devise to trustees and their heirs, and to the life estate to A. Compere, by whom the fine was levied.
Plumer, Leycester, and Mills, shewed cause. As to the first objection; although the limitations to the trustees are in terms made to them and their heirs, generally, without confining their estate to the respective lives of the tenants for lives, yet upon the whole of the will it appears plainly to have been the intention of the devisor that the trustees should not take a fee absolute, but merely conditional, so long as the estates for lives endured. This appears, 1st, because the purpose of the limitation is expressed to be to preserve the contingent remainders from being defeated, and to permit the tenants for lives to receive the profits during their lives. 2dly, The limitations to the trustees and their heirs are upon the respective determinations of the life estates, but the devises over are upon the deceases of the tenants for life; thereby shewing the meaning of the devisor to be, that the limitations to the trustees and their heirs should enure in case of the determination of the life estates by any other means than by the deaths of the tenants for lives, and that in those events the devises over should take effect. 3dly, The devises over are of legal estates, and not merely to the use of the respective takers, as they would have been had the devisor considered that the first limitation to the trustees their heirs still subsisted. 4thly, If the absolute fee were intended to be limited to the trustees by the first devise to them, it would have been unnecessary to have created the same estate again after each successive devise to the several tenants for lives. This was necessary to be done according to the plaintiff's construction: but according to the defendant's construction, all the devises to the trustees in fee, after the first, were superfluous; because all the subsequent estates would have been equitable estates, and consequently the contingent remainders would have been preserved without the repetition of the same devise so often to the trustees. And where one construction is consistent with the words of the will as they stand, and another will have the effect of rendering many of the provisions nugatory, the Court are bound to adopt the former. Upon the whole therefore the meaning is as certain as if the words “during the life of the tenant for life” had been respectively inserted after the devises to the trustees and their heirs. It is true that in Boteler v. Allington, where the words “during the life of the tenant for life” where omitted after a limitation to trustees and their heirs to preserve contingent remainders after an estate for life given, the Lord Chancellor decreed a conveyance of the legal estate by the surviving trustee to the cestuy que trust after the death of the tenant for life: but that was in the case of a purchaser, where the conveyance was required ex majori cautela, and not from any doubt of the Lord Chancellor; for his own opinion was that the trustee had not the legal estate; but his Lordship thought that at all events he was bound to compel the trustee to join in the conveyance upon the prayer of him for the trust, if any, was created, in order to put the matter out of doubt. In Venables v. Morris , where there was such a general limitation to trustees in fee, omitting the usual words “during the life of the tenant for life,” Lord Kenyon seemed indeed to consider that the legal estate continued in the trustees: but in that case there were no subsequent limitations, which showed the intent to be otherwise, and in some events such a construction might be necessary to give effect to the power reserved. As to the second objection, respecting the verdict being entered on the first count, that depends on the question, whether the fine levied by Anthony Compere, the tenant for life, had any operation: if it had, it must be admitted that an entry was necessary to avoid it; and then according to Berrington v. Parkhurst , the demise must be laid after the entry. But the fine of a tenant for life is merely void. In Goodright d. Hare v. Board and Jones the general principle was laid down from 9 Rep. 106. a. that a fine does not bar any estate in possession, remainder, or reversion, which is not devested and put to a right; and that if the party to a fine be in of a seisin or possession consistent with the interest intended to be barred, the fine does not devest it, and therefore it is no bar. Now here the possession of the tenant for life who levied the fine, was consistent with the estate of those in remainder.
Erskine, Williams, Serjt., and Abbot, contra. The question is not whether it were necessary for the purpose intended by the devisor that the trustees should have taken a fee; but the Court must decide upon what he has expressed; and he has limited the fee to them in express and technical terms. There is no instance where the Court have cut down an express devise in fee to an estate for life upon a mere implication of intent. In some cases, where an estate has been devised to a man and his heirs and in default of issue of his body then over, the Court have said that the subsequent words explain what kind of heirs were meant, namely, heirs of the body: but that is still giving a meaning to all the words. Whereas the construction proposed here, can only be made by rejecting the limitation to the heirs altogether. At any rate the Court will not adopt so forced a construction, unless it be absolutely necessary to carry into effect the general intent of the devisor: but that general intent my take effect as well by giving the legal estate in fee to the trustees, as by confining it to the lives of the several tenants for lives. The mere circumstance of the devise in fee to trustees being repeated several times cannot in itself furnish a ground for deciding that they took a less estate in the first instance. It has often occurred in other cases, and no such argument was ever before attempted to be drawn from it. The fee was considered as passing to the trustees in both the cases alluded to, although the object of interposing trustees was, as in this case, intended only for a particular purpose. And it never yet was considered that the duration of the estate to trustees and their heirs was limited to the necessity of the purpose for which the estate was created. As to the second point, the case of Clerke v. Pywell shews that an entry was necessary to avoid the fine in this case; so that at all events the verdict can only stand on the second count.
Lord Kenyon, Ch. J. I am glad to find, on looking through the whole of this will, that the trustees did not take the absolute fee; for though, if they had taken such an estate, the present claimant who is unquestionably entitled to the beneficial interest in the estate, would not ultimately be disappointed, yet he would be driven to a more expensive and circuitous mode of proceeding in order to obtain it. We are to collect the devisor's intention from the whole will; and I agree with the plaintiffs counsel that taking the whole instrument together it appears that he intended that the trustees should only take during the lives of the several tenants for life in order to protect the contingent remainder, though the words during the life of the tenant for life are not inserted in the will in the limitations to the trustees. If he did not intend this, all the subsequent remainders to the trustees were absolutely nugatory. The doubt merely arises from the inaccurate penning of the will, which evidently drawn in by a person ignorant of the profession. What I relay upon is this, that taking the series of Limitations all together, it appears that the devisor thought that the whole interest in the estate was not vested in the trustees by the first limitation, because he thought it necessary afterwards to give them the same estate after all the subsequent estates for life. the case of Boteler v. Allinton ought not to be relied on as an authority, because that was an amicable suit; and the bill was filed merely to remove all doubts. And with regard to that of Venables v. Morris, it is clearly distinguishable from the present. There I threw out an opinion that the trustees took the absolute fee by the second limitation to them; and on further consideration I am now clearly of the same opinion. There it was absolutely necessary that the fee should be in the trustees; for the tenant for life (the wife) had a power of appointment, and if in exercising that power she had introduced any contingent remainders, they might all have been defeated if the uses were not executed in the trustees. On the same principle therefore that it was necessary in that case that the trustees should have the legal estate, to answer the intention of the parties, I think it is not necessary in this case that they should take the legal estate for a longer term than during the lives of the tenants for lives, since this construction will best answer the intention of the testator.
On the second point I am inclined to yield to the defendant's…[unknown amount of text missing]…cond count. And if the plaintiff be entitled to the mean profits antecedent to the day of the demise laid in that count, he may recover them notwithstanding this verdict, by proving his title before that period.
Per Curiam, Let the verdict be entered for the plaintiff on the second count.Lee Compere against Hicks and Another.**
22 June 1798
This was an action of trespass for mesne [pronounced mean and means interim or between.] profits. The first count in the declaration stated the entry and expulsion on the 25th of March, 1794; the second was exactly similar to the first, except that it stated the entry and expulsion on the 3d of June, 1797.
To the first count the defendant pleaded the general issue; on the second he suffered judgment to go by default. The [?]enire was awarded as well to try the issue joined on the first count, as to assess damages on the last.
On the trial before Heath, J. at the last assizes at Gloucester the jury found the value of the mesne profits from the 25th of March, 1794, to the 2nd of June, 1797, to be 1025£ 15s and the value of the mesne profits from the 2nd of June to the 30th of January, 1798, to be 212£ 2s and the costs of the writ of possession 8£ 12s, And a special case was reserved for the opinion of this Court.
Thomas Compere, the younger, being, by virtue of a settlement made in the year 1715, seised of the premises mentioned in the declaration for his life, with remainder to his first and other sons in tail male, remainder to his brother Anthony Compere for life, remainder to his first and other sons in tail male, remainder to the heirs of the body of the said Thomas Compere, remainder to the heirs general of the said Thomas Compere, on the 24th July 1737, made his will of this date, and thereby devised the same (with other estates of which he was seised in fee) on failure of issue of his body, unto his father, Anthony Compere, for life, remainder to his brother, Anthony Compere, for life, remainder to trustees to preserve contingent remainders; remainder to the first and other sons of his body successively in tail male, with divers remainders for life, and in tail, that never took effect and are not necessary to be noted in this case: remainder to the first son of the body of his cousin Thomas Compere, late of Market Harbro’, deceased, for life; remainder to the said trustees and their heirs, in manner aforesaid; remainder to the first and other sons of his body in tail male, in manner aforesaid; remainder to the second son of the body of the said Thomas Compere, deceased, for life, remainder to the said trustees and their heirs in manner aforesaid; remainder to the first and other sons of his body successively in tail male; remainder to his own right heirs for ever. The testator Thomas Compere the younger, died without issue on the 5th of May 1739. And upon his death his brother Anthony Compere, entered into possession of the said premises and continued in possession thereof until his death on the 11th of October 1764. By indentures of lease and release of the 10th and 11th of March 1739-40, the release made between the said Anthony Compere (testator's brother) and Charles Blissett of the one part, and George Haslam of the other part, in consideration of 260£ to the said Charles Blissett by the said George Haslam paid (which said sum of 260£ was thereby declared to be the proper money of the said Anthony Compere) and of 5s to the said Anthony Compere, they the said Charles Blissett and Anthony Compere did grant, bargain, sell, alien, remise, release, and confirm unto the said George Haslam and to his heirs the said premises, to hold to the said George Haslam, his heirs and assigns for ever, in trust nevertheless to the only proper use and behoof of the said Anthony Compere, his heirs and assigns for ever; with a covenant from the said Charles Blissett and Anthony Compere to levy a fine sur conusance de droit como ceo, &c, the use of which was thereby declared to enure to the said Anthony Compere his heirs and assigns for ever. In the Michaelmas Term 14 Geo. 2 a fine was levied accordingly of the said premises with proclamations between the said George Haslam plaintiff and the said Anthony Compere and Charles Blissett deforciants. Anthony Compere father of the said Thomas Compere the younger, died 24th May 1743. By indenture of the 5th of March 1760, Anthony Compere, of Market Harbro' first son of the said Thomas Compere late of Market Harbro' deceased, and a devisee named in the same will of Thomas Compere the younger, in consideration of 500£ to him then paid by the said Anthony Compere the brother, and of an annuity of 20£ to be paid to him when the said estates should fall in possession of the assigns of the said Anthony Compere the brother, did grant, bargain and sell his estate for life in remainder in the said premises (inter alia) unto the said Anthony Compere the brother, his heirs and assigns. The said Anthony Compere the brother, by his will of the 28th of July 1760, devised the same premises (inter alia) to trustees and their heirs, in trust to permit his grandnephew Thomas Blizard to take the rents and profits during his natural life, remainder in trust to permit his niece Mary Compere now the defendant Mary Hicks, to take rents during her life, with remainders over. The said Anthony Compere the brother died a bachelor the 11th October 1764, without revoking or altering his said will. The said Thomas Blizard having attained twenty-one, entered into possession of the said premises devised by the will of Anthony Compere, and continued therein until the 28th day of August 1784, when he died a bachelor. Upon the death of the said Thomas Blizard, the defendant Mary Hicks (formerly Mary Compere) entered into possession of the said premises. The said Anthony Compere of Market Harbro' died the 19th of March 1794, leaving the plaintiff Lee Compere his oldest son. On the 2d of June 1797 the plaintiff Lee Compere made an actual entry into the premises, for the purpose of avoiding the fine levied by the said Anthony Compere the brother in Michaelmas Term 14th George 2nd, and immediately afterwards brought an ejectment in the Court of King's Bench, for recovery thereof, in which the said Mary Hicks and her tenant William Rogers were defendants; the declaration in the action of ejectment contained two counts, in one of which the demise was laid on the 3d of June 1797, and in the other on the 25th day of March 1794. The ejectment was tried at the assizes held at Gloucester in the summer 1797, when a verdict was given for the plaintiff generally, which afterwards by direction of the Court was entered on that count only in which the demise was laid on the 3d of June 1797; final judgment was signed and a writ of possession executed. Whereupon this action was brought for the recovery of the mesne profits. The questions intended to be submitted by the Court are; first, whether the fine levied by Anthony Compere had any operation? If it had, secondly, whether the plaintiff having made any actual entry to avoid the fine, is not entitled to the mesne profits before the actual entry made by him? and supposing him not to be so entitled, then thirdly, whether the value of the mesne profits from the 2nd day of June 1797, and the costs of the writ of possession or either of them, can be recovered on the first count of the declaration, to which the defendants pleaded not guilty, or ought to be assessed as damages on the last count upon which judgment was suffered by default? The verdict is to be entered up on the facts stated, in such manner as the Court shall think the plaintiff might have entered it up on the trial.
It was admitted that the fine levied by Anthony Compere was not void, and that it was necessary for Lee Compere to make an actual entry to avoid it.
Leycester, for the plaintiff. First; the plaintiff is entitled to the mesne profits for the whole time ever since his title accrued. Supposing there had been no fine in this case, the defendant who continued in possession subsequent to the time when the plaintiff's title accrued (which was on the death of Anthony Compere, of M.H.) would have been a tenant at sufferance; and though the plaintiff until entry could not have maintained trespass, yet when he had made an entry he might have brought either trespass or ejectment, and after the writ of possession executed, or after a confession of lease, entry, and ouster, he might have recovered the mesne profits from the time when his title first accrued. Then the circumstance of the fine having been levied in this case, cannot make any difference; for though an actual entry was necessary in order to avoid it, when that entry was made, which has the same effect as the confession of lease, entry, and ouster, it has relation back to the time when the title accrued. [Per Curiam, Confession of lease, entry, and ouster will not enable the party to recover the mesne profits; the plaintiff must have a writ of possession; and then the entry under the writ will be referred to the time of the title. Astin v. Parkin, 2 Burr.665.] But by whatever means the entry is made, when it is made the party may recover the mesne profits from the time when the title first accrued. A fine does not take away any right or convey any right; it is simply an acknowledgment by the conusor that he has conveyed his estate to some person. The stat. A Hen. 7. c. 24., after enacting that fines shall conclude strangers as well as parties and privies, adds a saving clause to every person and persons and their heirs, other than the parties in the fine, of their right, title, claim and interest, &c; "so that they pursue their title, claim, or interest, &c, by way of action or lawful entry within five years next after the said proclamations, &c."This therefore is a condition on which the right to a party is reserved, and when the condition is performed, it has the same effect as if no fine at all had been levied. If it be said that a plaintiff in such a case ought not to recover the mesne profits that accrued, before the entry made to avoid the fine on the ground of laches in the plaintiff, it may be answered that there are many cases in which no laches can be imputed to the party of whose interest a fine has been levied, for not making an entry immediately after the fine, e.g. those of femes coverts and infants. And though in Berrington v. Parkhurst it was holden that the lessor of the plaintiff who was obliged to make an actual entry in order to avoid a fine, could not recover in ejectment on a demise laid before the entry, there is no reason why a plaintiff should not recover the mesne profits before the entry. And a court of equity will decree the plaintiff the whole of the mesne profits from the time when his title accrued. Dormer v. Fortescue, 3 Atk. 123. Besides on the words of the stat. 6 An. c. 19. s.5. the plaintiff may recover the whole. That statute enacts that every person, who, as guardian or trustee for any infant, &c. and every other person having any estate determinable upon any life, who, after the determination of such particular estate or interest, without the consent of the next in remainder, shall hold over and continue in possession of any lands, &c. shall be adjudged to be trespassers, and the person who shall be entitled to such lands, &c. shall and may recover in damages against the person so holding over, “the full value of the profits received during such wrongful possession.” But, secondly, even if the plaintiff be not entitled to the mesne profits for the whole time, but only to those that have accrued since his entry, he may recover them under the first count of the declaration. The plaintiff has his election on which count he will take his damages, and may now elect to enter up a verdict on the first count.
Abbott, for the defendant, was desired by the Court to confine himself to the last question. — The plaintiff is not now entitled to enter up a verdict upon the first count, inasmuch as there was only one trespass proved, and as he may recover on the second count whatever damages he is entitled to. Two counts were added in this case for the purpose of giving the plaintiff an opportunity of trying the principal question at the defendant's expence. Either of the counts will cover the whole of the plaintiff's demand: and if there had been only one, the defendant would have suffered judgment by default on that one, and disputed the quantum on executing the writ of enquiry. Where a declaration in trespass contains two counts, and only one act of trespass is proved, the plaintiff is only entitled to a verdict on one: Per Buller, J. in Taylor v. Cole . Here the plaintiff alleged two distinct acts of trespass, each capable of being proved; and on the proof of either, the plaintiff was entitled to a verdict on one, and on proof of both, to a verdict on both: the defendant, conscious that he had committed one trespass, admitted it by suffering judgment to go by default; to the other he pleaded not guilty, and the plaintiff, by carrying the record down to trial, undertook to prove that the defendant had committed another and a different trespass from that confessed by the defendant; but in this he failed, and therefore the defendant is entitled to a verdict on the first count. As therefore the plaintiff for his own advantage, added a second count, the expence of the trial ought to be borne by him; and in truth this is merely a question respecting the costs.
Lord Kenyon, Ch. J. On the principal question in this case, I have no doubt. It was decided (whether rightly so or not I will not now enquire) early in this century, in 1703, by all the Judges, except Mr. Baron Price, that there must be an actual entry to avoid a fine, and that an ejectment cannot be brought until such entry has been made; and under the stat. 4 & 5 Ann. c. 16. s. 16. the action must be brought within a year after the entry is made. Now an action of trespass stands precisely on the same footing as an ejectment for this purpose; and the plaintiff could not treat the defendant as a trespasser, until he had himself made an entry on the land. It is said however, that it is unreasonable that the plaintiff should lose the rents and profits of this estate in the interval between the time when his right accrued and the subsequent entry: and it has been contended, that because a court of equity would give relief in such a case, the plaintiff is entitled to the same relief in a court of law: but that conclusion by no means follows. There is a case in the books; in which the tenant for life having cut down timber and died, Lord Chancellor Cowper decreed relief against his executors in favour of the remainder man, and yet the latter could not have maintained an action at law against the executors of the tenant for life, for actio personalis moritur cum persona. We cannot consider whether or not a court of equity would give relief in such a case as this: it is sufficient for us, sitting in a court of law, to say that the defendant was in such a situation that the fine protected him, not only from an ejectment, but from every action of trespass until the entry was made to avoid the fine. In the case of Berrington v. Parkhurst, as reported in Andrews, Lord Hardwicke said, that in the case of a fine, the party has no title before an entry, not on account of the stat. Hen. 7. but on account of the puissance of a fine at common law. It has been properly said that this fine did not work a discontinuance, and so it was holden in Stephens v. Britridge, 1 Lev. 36. But a fine has a certain operation (which I will not attempt to describe, nor discuss the question respecting the difference between a discontinuance and devesting of the estate) which in the opinion of all the Judges (except Mr. B. Price) makes it necessary that an actual entry should be made to avoid it. With respect to the other point; as there was a judgment by default on one count, on which the plaintiff might have recovered all that he is entitled to, he ought in reason to bear the fruitless expence of the trial on the first count. The damages therefore must be assessed on the second count, and the plaintiff must pay the costs of the trial that have been unnecessarily incurred.
Ashhurst, J. It is a point very well settled that an actual entry is necessary to avoid a fine; but the party cannot be said to have been in possession before he makes such entry, Then the plaintiff not having been in possession before entry, he cannot recover the mesne profits that accrued before.
Grose, J. and Lawrence, J. agreed on both points.
Per Curiam; Verdict to be entered up for the defendant on the first count; and damages to be entered up on the second count for 220£ 14s.
It may take considerable research in the United Kingdom to make more connections. We offer these as a beginning effort to trace the Compere line back in England. With this information we hope others will be able to continue this research.