Widdington History


 The name Essex means, "Land of the East Saxons" and refers to the invasion and settlement in Britain by a race
of people from Saxony, Germany. This occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire and before
the Norman invasion of 1066. The Saxons settled mainly in Essex, Kent, and the London area,
and their influence was strongest in 600-700AD - the years before the Viking incursions.




Death at the Old Rectory 1888

William Henry Farnham

Birth abt 1876 in Widdington, Essex, England

Death January 1888 in Widdington, Essex, England

Father Joseph Farnham 1853 - 1942

Mother Mary Ann Farnham 1854 - 1934


The agent for this paper is Mr HOLGATE, to whom all orders may be given.



This picturesque village on the chalk downs to the east of Newport, was on Tuesday morning last thrown into a state of the greatest excitement and consternation by the report that a boy had been shot dead at the Rectory.  This unfortunately proved to be too true.  The immediate cause of the fatality was the unfortunate conjunction of three circumstance well calculated to produce it.  Given a lively youth some caps and an old loaded gun carelessly left about and the issue may be almost certainly predicated.  Little blame can be attached to the boy who had exploded several caps without discharging the contents, and therefore naturally concluded that the gun was unloaded.  At length, however, on pointing the gun at a lad named Farnham, to the dismay of the youth and the horror of the boy’s father, the gun discharged its contents into the head of the lad.  The word “oh” was all that escaped the lips of the unfortunate boy, as he fell.  Miss Frances Court was immediately on the spot and was most assiduous in berendeavours to restore consciousness, whilst her brother, the Rector, was very speedily present.  Although a messenger was at once despatched to Newport for Dr Smith it was but too evident that life was extinct.


Was held at the Rectory on Wednesday evening before Mr O.C. Lewis, coroner, and the following jury :-M.G.W Perry (foreman), Messrs S.C Barnard, J. Holgate, J. Thurgood, J.H.Hodge, W. Wright, W. Pettitt, J. Cox, H. Bell, O. Cox, W. Thurgood, and H. Pallett.

The jury having viewed the body, which was lying at the Rectory, the following evidence was adduced :- Joseph Farnham, father of the deceased, said: I live at Widdington, and am gardener at the Rectory, in the employ of the Rev. James W . Court.  The deceased was my son and was 12 years old last June, On Tuesday morning between half-past ten and a quarter to eleven I was in the stables with my son, Master Taylor was there also.  There was an old gun standing in the granary; it had been there for three or four days.  I did not know it was loaded and I have no reason to think that Taylor knew it was loaded.  I feel satisfied he did not know.  Taylor got the gun and coming into the stable commenced playing ----- He put caps on the nipple and snapped them he pointed it as me once. The fifth cap he put and the gun was pointed at me, but it only went “click” my lad was just inside the stable door.  Taylor put six caps on and the last fired the gun, the contents entering the left eye of my boy, who was shot dead instantly.  Nothing had been said about the gun.  If I had had any idea that the gun was loaded I should not have allowed him to have it.

By the Foreman:  I was not aware that Mr Court had previously endeavoured to unload the gun.  He had not said anything to me about it.  I saw the gun with no cap on it when it was in the granary, and I thought it was empty.

The Rev James Walter Court said: The Lancelot Frederick Taylor has been staying with me since December the 12th.  This unfortunate gun was mine.  It is an old single barrelled muzzle loader, and one I had used for bird soaring.  I last put it away about a week ago.  I had loaded it to use as the boy were ratting, but had to occasion to use it.  Before I put it away I attempted to discharge it but I would it would not go off.  I did not draw the charge but put it away in the granary.  I did not leave any cap on, but took them away.  About a quarter to eleven yesterday morning I was in the school across the road, when the servant came and asked me to come at once.  I came and found the deceased in the yard.  He had been shot dead.  Mr Farnham was with him.

The Coroner said the only other witness who could give evidence was the lad who had the gun. He could not press the lad to make a statement, but if he liked to give any explanation to the jury it must be on oath. If he chose to do so the jury could receive it. Possibly he would like to give some account of it. 

The lad, Lancelot Frederick Taylor, aged 14, was then called in, and the coroner asked him if he would like to give any explanation to the jury as the sad occurrence took place.

The lad replied in the affirmative, and the coroner informed him he was not compelled to do so but if he chose to do so he (the coroner) would take it.

The lad, who seemed deeply affected, expressing a wish to do so he was sworn, and said: I am on the training ship ‘Worcester,’ which is off Greenhithe. I have been on a visit to J Court. Yesterday morning, about a quarter to **n *clock, I went into the granary and found ***gun t**e. I had no idea it was loaded, I thought Mr Court unloaded it the last **** *** d been *atting **put sum caps (five) **** ****an**n ****** ** the sixth one **** *** ************* oning ********

*** *** *********************(Sorry this is all I can make out if you can do better please try) (GaryD editors notes  17/01/2011)

Lancelot Frederick Taylor 
Son of a Surgeon, Born in 1873 in Wells Next the Sea 
In 1888 He was a young cadet on HMS Worcester, moored off of Greenhithe Kent 
Lancelot, Went on to join the merchant navy and gained second Mate in 1893 
And then gained Certificate of competency as Master in 1900. 
He rose to the rank of lieutenant in the merchant navy and He Received the Campaign Medals Awarded to WWI Merchant Seamen. 

HMS Worcester

The murder of James Perry 1729

  A footpad is a robber or thief specializing in pedestrian victims.

 The term was used widely throughout the 16th century until the 19th century,

A footpad was considered a low criminal, as opposed to the riding highwayman, who in certain cases might gain fame as well as notoriety



The Gentleman’s Magazine 1762

Reported at the end of December 31st 1761

That “one day last week Mr Woodley Saywell, of Widdington Essex, having spend a Christmas evening with a neighbour, in his return home fell into a deep ditch full of water, and the next morning was found suffocated.”





 Examination of Robert Ayleworth of Debden, carpenter, who saith that on Friday last, he met Henry Okeeman late to Widdington, and asking him how he did, said that no man was troubled with such a whore as he had unto his wife, and that Banson and she had robbed him of all his goods and of the evidence of his house and that they had left him with so much as a shirt to shift him withal, and that being in his chamber one knocked at his chamber window and he knowing it to be Banson did draw forth his sword and stepping towards the window there stood a stool between the window and him, whereat he overthrew himself and rising again and thrusting open the window to have strucken at Benson, who hasted away to run to his own house. And he further saith that Okeeman did tell him that his wife and Banson had concluded to run away within two or three nights after, and that if the said okeeman durst be seen he could tell such a tale against Banson as should cost him his life, and Okeeman did request this examinant to make Sir William Cutts acquainted therewith for his poor children's sake.

Taken before and Subscribed by Sir William Cutts, knt.



A bridge called "shepeardes bredge" between Newport and widdington being out of repair,
to be mended by the inhabitants of HOWPORT and widdington.


Level: File MIDSUMMER 1614

Reference Code Q/SR 207/58

Dates of Creation 18 June 1614

Recognizances of Hich. Haggas husbandman, Barth, Trott blacksmiwth, and Richard Harvye shoemaker, both of Fewport; Haggas "being a pore laboring man borne in WIDINGTON where he contynued all his life tyme having nether mayntenance nor hbitaion, and about one yere last past marled a pore woman daughter wihtin the town of Newport, and hterupon admonished to departe the said towne with his said wife where he was borne and last dwelt, or else to secure the towne of newport from future charge, which to do he bath hetherto refused, albeit himself premised the townesmen to provide elsewhere, and contynueth there as an inmate, and besides hath attempted to erect a new cottage in the said towne contrarie to the lawe, so that in tract of tyme his said wife is now dclivered of two children at one birthe verie lykelye to surcharge the said towne of newport if they shoud be suffred there to contynue ;" therefore haggas to answer his contempts aforesaid.


Information of William Rickarby of Widdington

who saith that on 18 aug., he did see Margaret wife of Nicholas Gylby of Widdington carry away out of Parsing Croft an armful of barley, also that Jane Rickner wife of (blank) Rickner did also take antoehr armful in a faield called Parsonage Croft being the tithe corn of Dr. Nicholas Searle of Widdington, and thy carried it into a field called Bradley Field and went behind the hedge and made up their bundles.

Mark of: William Rickarby

This should read: Margaret Gilbey wife of Nichlos Gilbey 


White's Directory of Essex 1848 - list of inhabitants.

If you wish to trace any of these people on the census returns, the nearest census date for this 1848 directory is the 1851 census. This can be obtained from or

Note: the directory lists the names in the following order: Surname, First Name. It also abbreviates names. These have been reversed and typed in full to assist research.

Jonas Bailey, gardener and beerhouse
Rev. George L. Barker M.A., curate
Rev. Colin Alexander Campbell M.A., rector
William Chapman, carpenter
Mrs. F. Chapman, schoolmistress
James Holgate, shoemaker
George Knight, victualler, Fleur de Lis
Elizabeth Martin, shopkeeper
George Henry Poole, shopkeeper
William Reed, parish clerk and beerhouse
Ann Reynolds, schoolmistress
James Watson, butcher
James Wright, shoemaker

John Evan Griffiths, Birds
William Hayden, Newlands
William Newport, (and maltster,) Prior's Hall
William Perry, (and corn dealer,) Widdington Hall
William Prior, Swain's Hall
John Salmon, Ringers
Francis Smith, Bishops
Robert Smith, Wallgroves
Richard Townsend, Rays

Beatrice Charlotte Byng (d. 12 Mar 1848), mar. 30 Nov 1820 Rev Colin Alexander Campbell, Rector of Widdington, co. Essex

Widdington, an ancient village, 5 miles South of Saffron Walden, and 2 miles South East of Newport Station, 
has in its parish 377 souls, and 2006A.1R.32P. of land, mostly freehold. and partly copyhold, subject to 
arbitrary fines. It is near the source of the river Cam or Granta, and is in two manors. 
That of Widdington Hall, belongs to Sir Francis Vincent, Bart., and was held by Robert Gernon 
at Domesday survey, and afterwards by the Playz, Howard, Vere, and other families. 
The manor of Prior's Hall was given at an early period to an alien priory, from which it was 
taken by Edward III., who gave it to William Wickham, Bishop of Winchester. The latter bestowed it 
on New College, Oxford, founded by him, and to which it still belongs.

The Church (Virgin Mary,) a small plain building, was partly rebuilt in the 16th century. 
The ancient tower fell down some years ago, and a small wooden turret supplies its place 
above the west end, which has been rebuilt of brick. In the chancel wall, two slender pillars, 
with ornamented bases and capitals, support a semi-circular arch, with a Saxon moulding. 
The rectory, valued in K.B. at £25, and in 1831 at £512, is in the patronage of Lord Braybroke, 
and incumbency of the Rev. C. A. Campbell, M.A., who has a commodious brick residence, 
and about 40A. of glebe. The tithes were commuted in 1840 for £570 per annum.


 If you would like to learn the History of Widdington,

 Then please read Sir Claud Hollis Family Records 1 and 2.

Here are the original facts that so many 
Village Historians  have copied over the years