Sir Claud Hollis’ Family Records 2

Excerpts from Sir Claud Hollis’ Family Records


 Page 19


My maternal grandfather, Francis Smith, the eldest son of Thomas and Keziah Smith, was born at St. Pancras in 1811, and was baptized at Widdington, Essex, his mother’s home.  He was educated at two or three private establishments in Somers Town and Brunswick Square.


After serving as a clerk in his father’s office, he was admitted a Solicitor, and, as previously recorded, founded with his brothers, Thomas and Robert, the firm of F. and T. Smith (afterwards P. and T. Smith & Sons), of 15, Furnival’s Inn, Holborn.

 Francis Smith married, at St. Pancras Old Church, in 1834, Sarah, daughter of Evan Griffiths, of Chapel Street, St. Pancras, and had issue four children, Sarah, Griffiths, Susannah (my mother) and Francis, an account of whom will be given later.  He resided, first, at 45, Seymour Street, Euston Square, but in 1841 he moved to No. 2, The Grove, Highgate, the copyhold of which he acquired in 1867.  In 1843 he purchased Bishops Farm, Widdington, from his maternal uncle, Peter Murkin.  He demolished the old Tudor house standing on this property, and built in its stead the present house for his family to occupy during the summer.  He also demolished the old barns there and built new and more substantial ones for brick with slate roofs.

 Francis Smith was a public-spirited man and spent much of his time and money in improving the amenities of both Highgate and Widdington.  As regards the former, his name is mentioned as a benefactor in the Highgate Parish Magazine of March 1880 (Vol.XIX), in Lloyd’s History of Highgate (1888), and in the London County Councils’ Survey of London (Vol. XVII),  The Village of Highgate (1936).  As regards the latter, he brought most of the cottages in the village and either improved them or entirely re-built them, and he and his son, Griffiths Smith, were largely instrumental in restoring the Church in 1872, their good work in this connection being specially recorded in The Herts. and Essex Observer, of the 31st May, 1873.  He presented to the Church the three bells, the lych gate, the reredos at the back of the altar, and four of the seven stained glass windows (one in memory of his wife and one in memory of his daughter Sarah).  A fifth stained glass window was presented by his son, Griffiths Smith.


 Page 20

 Beautiful miniatures of Francis and Sarah Smith are to be seen in the Display Cabinet (Photograph marked D.C.).  At the back of the former is a lock of the hair of each of his four children.  At the back of the latter is a lock of his hair.  Photographs of pastels of him and his wife, drawn in Edinburgh, in 1862, by William Fyfe, are marked S1 and S2.  They belong to my daughter, Christian Ainslie Hollis, having been bequeathed to her by my brother, the Rt. Rev. Francis Septimus Hollis. 

Before demolishing the old barns at Bishops, Francis Smith inspected a heap of rubbish in one of them and found, among other things, four canvases which were unrecognizable owing to the accumulation of dirt.  The canvases, on being cleaned, proved to be portraits of ladies of the court of King Charles II, one having been pained by Sir Peter Lely and three by Sir Godfrey Kneller.  The Lely and one of the Kneller pictures he gave to his sister, Mrs. Emma Hunt, and they now belong to her grandsons, Sir Ernest Makins and Wilfrid Mortimer Hunt respectively. 

The Other Kneller pictures belong to me, or, I should say, to my daughters, to whom I have presented them.  One was bequeathed to me by my mother, the other I purchased from the estate of my brother, George Mercer Hollis.  Photographs of these two pictures are marked S3 and S4. 

Another pictures, which my grandfather acquired when he purchased Bishops, is an oil painting, by an unknown artist, of Ann Murkin, widow Rushforth, who was born in 1708 and died in 1799.  Ann Markin was Peter Murkin’s grandmother and will be referred to later on.  The photography of this picture is marked S5. 

In 1863 Francis Smith and his brother Thomas assumed a coat-of-arms.  Instead of applying to the College of Arms (Heralds’ College) for an authorized grant, they contented themselves with one supplied by Thomas Moring, of the London and Middlesex Heraldic Offices, High Holborn.  This is a copy of a cost-of-arms granted to “Smith of Gloucestershire” in 1614.  It reads as follows:  “Or, on a fesse gules, between three saltires sable, as many fleurs de leys argent.  Crest. A saltire gules surmounted of a fleur de lys argent. Motto. Festina lente”. 

I have the original so-called grant, issued by Thomas Moring, which was given to me by my cousin Dora Mary Palethorpe, but as it is valueless, I have not had it photographed.  The crest has been carved over the front door at Bishops, and it is to be seen on the walls of some of the cottages that Francis Smith built at Widdington. 

Francis Smith died, of apoplexy, in 1880, and was buried at Highgate Old Cemetery.  A brass tablet was placed in his memory in St. Michael’s Church, Highgate, and another in Widdington Church. 

His estate was sworn at under £16,000.  His wife predeceased him, having died in 1870.  A brass tablet was placed in her memory in St. Michael’s Church, Highgate, and a stained glass window in Widdington Church. 

Before writing about the children on Francis and Sarah Smith an account will be given on the Griffiths, Murkin and Perry families.My maternal grandmother, Sarah, the wife of Francis Smith, was on her father’s side of Welsh origin.  Her father was Evan Griffiths.



Pages 21 - 24 are missing



 Page 25

 Francis and Susannah Murkin had issue eleven children: (1) Sarah (b. 1770).  She was married to John Fennell, publican, of the Hercules Inn, Newport, Essex, and was the mother of three sons.  She died in 1804, her husband in 1814.  They were buried at Widdington.  (2) Ann (b.1771).  She was married to Charles Perry, of Debden, yeoman. (3) Francis Murkin (b.1773).  He was buried at Debden, in 1792. (4) Jack Murkin (b.1774), publican, of the White Hart Inn, Debden.  He married Elizabeth Barthrum and had issue two sons.  He died in 1811 and was buried at Debden.  (5) Susannah (b.1776).  She was married to George Fennell, Victualler, of Newport, Essex, and had issue seven children.  Both she and her husband died in 1832 and were buried at Widdington.  (6) Peter Murkin (b.1777).  He succeeded to Bishops Farm, Widdington, on his father’s death in 1817, but sold the copyhold of this property to his nephew Francis Smith in 1843.  He sold at the same time Bird’s Farm, Widdington, to John Griffiths.  He was unmarried, and died, and was buried, at Widdington, in 1853.  His estate was sworn at £100.  (7) Mary (b. 1779).  She devised land at Rickling, Essec, under her father’s will.  She was unmarried and was buried at Widdington in 1853.  (8) Elizabeth (b.1780).  She was married in 1810 to Philip Martin, of Widdington, carpenter, and had issue four children.  Her husband died in 1815, she in 1852.  They were both buried at Widdington.  (9) Keziah (b.1783), the wife of Thomas Smith, of Furnival’s Inn and St. Pancras, whom she married in 1809.  She died in 1839, he in 1840.  They were buried at Widdington.  (10 & 11) Ruth (b.1784, d. 1835) and Jane (b.1788, d. 1791).  They were unmarried and were buried at Widdington.


With the death of Peter Murkin in 1853 the family ceased to exist in Widdington and Debden, and except for the grave-stones in the church-yards of those two villages, there is nothing to remind one that the family ever existed.

The name Perry is derived from the Saxon word Pirige meaning pear tree, and there were doubtless various families in Essex bearing that name.  The members of the family in which we are interested were yeomen, who lived at Widdington and Debden for many generations.  Before writing about the family itself, I propose to give a brief account of the early history of the former village.

At the time of the Survey in William the Conqueror’s reign (1086) there were two Manors at Widdington, one of which was helf by Robert Gernon and the other by the Priors of St. Valery in Picardy.  At a later date, the former was called Widdington Hall and the latter Priors Hall.  The earliest part of the existing building of Widdington Hall dates from the 15th century.  This Manor has been owned by several families.  The present rectangular stone building of Priors Hall was erected in the 13th century, with additions of the later dates.  During his wars with France, Edward III (1327-1377) sized the Manor of Priors Hall, as belonging to an alien Priory, and presented it to William of Wyckham, Bishop of Winchester, for the use of New College, Oxford.  It remained in the possession of New College, until 1919, when that college sold it.

Bishop Farm, Widdington, has always been an appanage of Priors Hall and became the property of New College, Oxford, in the 14th century.  According the one account, it was so called because the Bishop of Picardy received the rent and tithes of this farm.  Another account states that in the reign of Henry VIII it was

 associated with the family of 


(page 26) Margaret Bysshop, and that it figured under the name of Bysshopes in the Court Roll of 1538.  This does not necessarily contradict the account that the name was derived from the Bisop of Picardy, for it is possible that Margaret Bysshop or her ancestors took their name from the place in which they dwelt.  As previously recorded, my grandfather, Francis Smith, purchased from his maternal uncle Peter Murkin, in 1843, the copyhold rights of Bishops Farm, which comprised 75 acres 2 roods 14 perches.  In 1883 my uncle, Griffiths Smith, enfranchised it, i.e. purchased the freehold rights from New College, Oxford.

 The monks of Priors Hall and the Lords of the Manor of Widdington Hall and chapels of their own, but in the 12th century they decided to build a church, which was erected half way between the two Manors and dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin.  According to an entry in the parish register of the 15th May, 1771, “the whole steeple, from top to bottom, with 10 feet in breath of both sides of the body of the Church, fell down”.  A wall of brick was built shortly afterwards at the west end of the Church without restoring the 10 feet on either side, and the Church remained in that state for 100 years, when, thanks largely to my grandfather Francis Smith, it was restored according to the original plan and the tower rebuilt.

 The parish registers of Widdington prior to 1666 have unfortunately been lost, but the Widdington tithe book from 1638 to 1666 is in existence and is now in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford.  It will be referred to presently.

 That the Perrys were in residence at Widdington at an early date is clear from the following.  First:  There is Perry’s field not far from Priors Hall, which was called Pyries in the Court Roll of 1496, and Perry or Peris lands in the Court Roll of 1595.  Secondly:  The road leading to Priors Hall from the Newport – Widdington road, and the path from Priors Hall towards the railway, were called Peryestrret and Peryslane respectively in the Court Roll of 1500.

The Debden parish registers commence in 1557.  In 1559 a Joan Perry was baptized there.  John Perry, the Elder, yeoman, who was probably a brother of Joan Perry, and who was born about 1562, married there first, in 1592, Elizabeth Andrewe, alias Whiting.  They had issue four sons and one daughter.  By his second wife, Joan Restwith, whom he married at Debden in 1603, John Perry, the Elder, had two sons.  He died and was buried at Debden in 1629.

 The eldest son of John Perry, the Elder, was John Perry, the Younger.  He was born in 1595; he married, in 1618, Joan Fanne, of Thaxted, and he died and was buried at Debden in 1628.  His great-grandson will be mentioned later.


The second son of John Perry, the Elder, was Nicholas Perry.  It is recorded that in 1624 Nicholas Perry presented an inventory of the goods of “Mary Perry of Widdington”, who died in that year, and that at a later date he held the Manor of Priors Halls, Widdington.  He was unmarried and died in 1660.

 The youngest son of John Perry, the Elder, by his first wife, was James Perry, who was born about 1600.  According to the Widdington tithe book James Perry paid in 1639 and, y early, from 1644 to 1646, “30 eggs value 8d.  for his house called Bishops”.  From 1648 to 1663.


(page 27) 


Widdinton, Essex 1863-1873



This volume of photographs was given to me by my mother Susannah Hollis, the daughter of Francis Smith.  The details on the back of the photographs are in the handwriting on my grandfather Francis Smith, (signed) Claud Hollis.


Unnumbered.  Francis Smith on No. 2, The Grove, Highgate, and Bishops, Widdington, Essex. B. 1811 d. 1880.



(page 1)


 1. The Front and West End view of Bishops, W., in September 1868.  Taken from the Orchard (CH Ms).
Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex,  September 1868.

The Front and West End View of Bishops Farm Homestead belonging to Mr Francis Smith at W., Essex.
No. 498 on Tithe Map of 1840 and W 498A on New Tithe Map of 1873.

The West End looks into Garden and Orchard of which Gate is shewn and being across the Road and being No. 497 on Tithe Map of 1840 and W 497 on New Tithe Map of 1873. 

Bishops Farm 1871 Cencus.

Rachel Gibbons Head wid. 49 Housekepper Born Huish, Somerset
Rachel A. “ dau. 13 London

1891 Census Widdington RH12/1431


Mary J. Smith Head Wid 45 living on own means Born Camden Town, London
Dor M. “ dau. 11 St. Pancreas
Voilet “ dau. 9 Widdington
George H. Pettit 22 gardener Widdington
Jane Stanley 18 servant Wicken Bonhunt.



(page 2)



2. The South and view of Bishops, W., in September 1868. Taken from the Pasture (CH Ms).
Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex – September 1868.

The back View of Bishops Farm Homestead belonging to Mr Francis Smith at W., Essex.

No. 498 on Tithe Apportionment May of 1840. * This view looks up the Home ( * now W 498A on New Tithe Map of 1873.)




(page 3)



3. Eastern view of the “new barns”, September 1868 (with Chipperfield’s Cottage in the background (CH Ms).


Eastern View of the New Barns , Farm Buildings and Sheds erected & built by Mr. F. Smith on the Homestead of Bishops Farm at W.

No. 498 on Tithe Map of 1840.

The Cottages in the distance whereof the Roof is seen are the new Cottages nearly opposite the Great Gates – No. 495 on New Tithe Map of 1873.

The premises here shewn are fronting the premises where the Saw Pit stands.
All these buildings stand on 498B in New Tithe May of 1873.



(page 4)




4. Northern-end view of the large barn at Bishops, September 1868. (CH Ms) The Northern End Wall of the large Barn built by Mr Smith on the Homestead of Bishops Farm at W.


No. 498 on the Tithe Map of 1840.

The Bays of this Northern End Wall stand on the Boundary Line of the Lower Orchard shewn in Plan of Premises taken by Mr Thompson in 1844.
The Land included in the Fence outside the Barn is No 499-500 and 501 on the Tithe Map of 1840 and now W 499 on New Tithe Map of 1873 and therein stated to contain 0.1.5.

The Barn stands on No 498B in New Tithe Map of 1873.



(page 5)


5. General view of the village ofW. as seen from Bishops, September 1868. (Reference to the numbers is given on the back of this photo) (CH Ms)

Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex – September 1868. 

General View of the Village of W., Essex ,  looking from Mr F Smith’s House called Bishops Farm

The Cottages (No.1) (The numbers are indicated on the photo. 1 were built by Mr Smith on garden of Cottage No 495 on Tithe Map of 1840 – purchased of Mr Clarke

The Wall (No.2) is the Wall of Mr Smith’s Cattle Shed and Barns, part of No 498 on Tithe Map of 1840.
The Cottage (No. 3) is No 494 and where shepherd Wright lived.
The Cottagees (No. 4) are the new Cottages built on site of premises numbered 493 and 493 in the Tithe Map of 1840.
The Cottage & tree (No.5) are the premises No 411 where Miss Martin lived.
The Cottages (No. 6) are the Cottages No. 412 purchased by Mr Smith of Mr Timoth [?].

 The white Wall (No. 7) beyond belongs to the Fleur de Lys Tavern.
The Gates (No.8) belong to Mrs Brown’s Cottage where she lives No. 496.



(Page 6)



6. The North side of W. Church before restoration (1868). Taken 

from the Rectory Garden (CH Ms)

Taken by Mr P

otts of Stanstead, Essex , September 1868. 

The North side of 

 the Church at Widdington  Essex , before restoration.



(page 7)






East end of 


Church before restoration (1868).  With Smith, Murkin and Perry graves in a railing (CH Ms)

The Eas

t side of the Church at W. – Essex – before restoration [stamped C. Potts Photo, Stanstead, Essex].







8. The two Cottages on the north side of Cornell’s Road. September 1868.
(CH Ms)
The two Cottages, Wooden and Plaster, No. 410 on Tithe Map of 1840 next the Shop and looking into the Garden or Grange [?] 499-500 and 501 at back of Large Barn.  [stamped C.] Potts Photo, Stanstead, Essex].




( Page 9)



9. a. South view of W. Church before restoration. 1868 (CH Ms)
South view of W. Church before restoration.  1868 [stamped C. Potts Photo, Stanstead, Essex].







b. South view of W. Church after restoration (1873) (CH Ms)

South view of W. Church after restoration (1873) [stamped C. Potts Photo, Stanstead, Essex].



c. East end of W. Church before restoration, 1868 (CH Ms)

East view of W. Church before restoration, 1868 [stamped C. Potts Photo, Stanstead, Essex].




(page 10)


10. The Wrights’ Cottage, W,. opposite the entrance to Cornell’s Road.
September 1868.  (CH Ms)
Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex – September 1868.
This Cottage at W. – Essex – was purchased by Mr F Smith of the 
late Mr Peter Murkin is numbered 494 on the Tithe Map of 1840 and 
is where shepherd Wright lived for many years and was succeeded by 
his Grandson , James Wright ,  the Shoemaker is in the centre of the Village and opposite the Lane leading to Mole Hall.

Now 494 (a) on New Tithe Map of 1873, cont’g 0.1.34.
By Enclosure Award dated 9th November 1871 Allotment 59 cont’g 0.0.33 of Land in Burgate part of W. 422 on New Tithe Map of 1873 , was awarded for Cow right.


1871 Census Widdington RG 19/1707


10. Sarah Wright Head wid. 89 lodger next door with Henry Pettie ?            James Mother

     James Wright Head. Mar. 57 Boot and shoemaker Born Widdington
    Mary Ann Wright wife            67 Debden
     Frederick Wright g/son         10 Widdington




(Page 11)






11. Cottage on the east side of the road from Newport to W. where 
the road from Newport to Debden branches off.  This cottage was 
demolished in March 1869.  A new cottage , belonging to Shipton 
Bridge Farm, was built on the site of the old cottage about 1930.
  (CH Ms)

Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex – September 1868.
This Cottage and premises were purchased by Mr F Smith of Mrs Scott 
as per Deed dated 18 March 1867 and numbered 281 on the Tithe 
Apportionment Map of 1840 and containing 0.1.0.
This Cottage is at W – Essex – and for many years in occupation 
on William Wright (Horsekeeper)
The Cottage looks into Springwell and Wren Park Common.
adjoins the Road – and is the last Cottage in the Village on the right 
hand side of the Road from W. to Newport -
The Cottage pulled down in March 1869 – and the site thereof and 
the garden laid into adjoining Land No. 282

- is of Freehold Tenure.
- Now part of W 292 in New Tithe Map of 1873


11. William Wright Head Mar. 56 farm lab.  Widdington 1871 Census.

Eliza Wright           wife      51                           Henham
Martha Wright      dau.     27 Domestic servant Widdington
Josiah Wright        son      23  farm lab        Widdington
Andrew Wright      son     16   bakers ass.   Widdington
Walter Wright        son     10                           Widdington
Miriam Wright      dau.       7                           Widdington


Peter Pallett      Head Mar. 48 farm lab.  Born Takeley
Martha Pallett        wife    34  farm lab         Widdington
George Pallett         son.    13  farm lab         Widdington
Harry L Pallett        son     10                           Widdington
Charles Pallett        son       8                           Widdington
William Pallett        son       5                           Widdington
Charlotte Pallett     dau.      2                          Widdington
Sarah Pallett            dau.      2 mths               Widdington




Page 12




12. Rumbolds. Cottage on the south side of the road leading 
to Newlands Farm. September 1868.  (Before restoration) 
(in pencil: (see photo 16) (CH Ms)

Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex , September 1868.

These premises and Cottages at Widdington Essex,  numbered 643 
on the Tithe Apportionment Map for 1840 containing 0.0.22 
were purchased by the late Mr John Griffiths of 
Mr Gibson in December 1846.


This Cottage is where Mary Thurgood lived and died about September 1868 , and is on the right hand side of the Road of the Lane leading 
to Mr Hayden’s Homestall. The Cottage looks West into Rainer’s Pightle,

The Cottage was sold by Mr H J Griffiths to Mr F Smith in 1863.
No. 643 on New Tithe Map of 1873,  cont’g 0.0.32

By Enclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 Allotment No. 84 
containing 0.1.6 was awarded for right of Common for one Cow.

1861 Census Widdington RG9/1120 f. 134

12. Lawrence Thurgood Head Wid. 80 Ag. Lab. Born Widdington
John Thurgood son unm. 50 Lab. Widdington
Mary Thurgood dau. unm. 49 Lab Widdington
William Thurgood son unm. 41 Lab Widdington
(This was the only Mary Thurgood)

There was no Matthew Prior, but there was an elderly Philip and William

Philip Prior lodger with a Susan Reed, he was a wid. Age 83 Ag. Lab.
born in Debden.  In 1871 he was living with his son-in-law 
John Dellow and then aged 92.

William Prior Head wid. 77 Grocer Born Ridding.






Page 13





13. The two cottages facing the Village Green, Widdington, 
on the South side of the road leading to Prior’s Hall.  
Photo taken in 1873 (CH Ms)

These two Cottages with the two adjoining Cottages stand 
on Allotment of Land No. 489 on the Tithe Map of 1840 
containing 0.0.24 and belonged to the Lord and the 
Manor of Pryors Hall alias Stone Hall and were sold by 
the Wardens and Scholars of New College, Oxford, in 
October 1871, to Mr Griffiths Smith as Freehold.

No. 489 on New Tithe Map of 1873 and containing 0.0.34.

The Elm Trees at the back of these Cottages were with 
the consent of New College and Lord Braybrooke as Tenant 
taken down by Mr F Smith in the Spring of 1878, the Bank made good  the Retaining Wall built the Houses repainted and the Footpath in part made 
also the Drain in the Road Leading to Pryors Hall, made good and laid into Drain in road communicating with Drain or covered Ditch in front of Rectory Wall. 


The Retaining Wall fell down in Winter 1878/9.





Page 14





14. Cottages on the west side of the road from 
Widdington to Newport, below, but on the opposite 
side of the road to, Pond Mead.  These cottages 
were demolished in 1869.  Photo taken in 1868.  
(added in pencil (see also Photo 17) (CH Ms)

Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex – September 1868.

Cottages and premises at Widdington Essex purchased 
by Mr F Smith of Geroge Knight as per Deed 
dated 12 October 1867 numbered 421 on the Tithe 
Apportionment Map for 1840 containing 0.2.33.

These Cottages and premises front the Road to Newport 
and are on the left hand side of the Road below 
Mrs Townsend’s and look into Butchers Mead.
The Cottages were pulled down March 1869 and the 
site laid into the Garden and since thrown into 
Wells Mead and now shewn on New Tithe Map of 1873 
as W 362 422 in Burgate Common 1.1.31.

By Enclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 Allotment 
62 cont’g 0.0.33 of Land in Burgate part of 422 on 
Tithe Map of 1840 was awarded to Mr F Smith for 
right of Common for one Cow belonging to No. 421.
Allotment part of W. 422 on Tithe Map of 1873







Page 15




 15. Two semi-detached cottages on north side of the 
entrance to the road leading to Newlands Farm, 1868 (CH Ms)

Cottages and premises at Widdington Essex, at top of 
Village opposite the Pond adjoining Rainer’s Pightle 
 No 526 on Tithe Map of 1840 and containing one Road 
purchased by Mr F Smith of Mr and Mrs Timoth (?) 
by Surrender dated 26 June 1867 and afterwards 
enfranchised by Deed dated 26 January 1879 (?)
By Enclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 Allotment 61 
awarded for Cow-right being part of 422 in Burgate Common 
Wells bit – and part of W 422 in New Tithe Map of 1873.
The Cottages are W 526 on New Tithe Map of 1873.

 Old Mr Matthew Pryor at door.










16. Rumbolds. Cottage on the south side of the road 
leading to Newlands Farm (after restoration, 1873) 
(added in pencil (See photo 12) (CH Ms)

Cottage and premises at Widdington numbered 643 on 
Tithe Map of 1840 and containing 0.0.22 and No. 643 
on Tithe Map of 1873 and containing 0.0.32 after the 
same had been thoroughly repaired and let to Mr Barnard.


By Enclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 Allotment No. 84 
cont’g 0.1.6 was awarded for right of Common for one Cow















17. Cottages on the west side of the road from Widdington to Newport, 
below, but on the opposite side of the road to Pond Mead.  
These cottages were demolished in 1869.  Photo taken in September 1868. 
(added in pencil (see also photo 14) (CH Ms)

Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex – September 1868.

Cottages and premises at Widdington Essex – purchased by Mr F Smith 
of George Knight as per Deed dated 12 October 1867.

- numbered 421 on the Tithe Apportionment Map for 1840 containing 0.2.33 
and now part of W. 362 called Wells and Mapletoft in Tithe Map of 1873.
- These Cottages and premises front the Road to Newport and are on the 
Left Hand Side of the Road below Mrs Townsend’s and look into Butchers Mead.

The Cottages were pulled down March 1869 and the site laid into the Garden 
and since thrown into Wells Mead and now shewn on new Tithe Map of 1873 
as W 362 Wells and Mapletoft 1.1.31

- adjoins  W 422 in Burgate Common – 2.2.31

- By Enclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 Allotment 62 cont’g 0.0.33 
of Land in Burgate 422 of Tithe Map of 1840 was awarded to Mr F Smith 
for right of Common for one Cow.






Page 18 






 18. Wray’s Homestall, Widdington on north side of road leading 
to Priors Hall, 1868 (Demolished 1878) (CH Ms)

No. 2 Taken by Mr Potts of Stanstead, Essex.


- Part of Wray’s Homestall at Widdington Essex – purchased by 
Mr F Smith of the demizees of the late Mr Richard Townsend 
on 23 December 1864 as per Deed of that date and being part of 
the premises number 417-418 and 419 on the Tithe Apportionment 
Map for 1840 and 417 on Tithe Map of 1873.


??? The within sketch is the extreme end of all Barns looking South 
and  the Road leading to Pryors Hall and looks 
on the Green and up the Village ???


- By Inclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 part of Allotment 53 
cont’g 0.1.26 (twice 33 perches) of Land in Burgate Common part 
of 422 in Tithe map of 1840 was awarded to Mr F Smith for rights 
of Common for two Cows belonging to Nos. 417-418 and 419.

- Allotment part of Widdington 422 in Tithe Map of 1873

The within shewn Barns and buildings all pulled down in May 
and June 1878.


The Walls next the Road also pulled down and rebuilt further 
back three or four feet so as to make a footpath in and for 
the Village, this footpath made June 1878 by Mr F Smith. 

The four Pollard Trees shown at the Extreme Left taken down by 
Mr Francis Smith with consent of New College and Lord Braybrooke.






Page 19





19. Block of cottages on the north side of the Post Office
Demolished 1876 (CH Ms)

These three Cottages as one Tenement with Blacksmith’s Shop and garden
form the Allotment No 490 on Tithe Map of 1840 containing 0.1.26
and were purchased in 1871 of the parties entitled thereto under 
the Will of Miss Mumford and were then enfranchised and made Freehold

No. 490 on New Tithe Map of 1873 and cont’g 0.1.32

Pulled down in December 1876 and on the site thereof three Pair
of Cottages including Shop built in 1877-78 and 1879.

- The Hedge taken down and Stone Wall built in 1877 on the site 
of the Hedge in this Wall are put the Old pieces of stone found 
at foot of Hogstrough Bridge when pulled down by Mr F S after enclosure.

These pieces of Stone are supposed to be part of the Old Mansion 
at Widdington Hall.  the Bridge having been built by Squire Chiswell 
after he had bought and pulled down Widdington Hall.

the wet winter of 1878 undermined the Wall so built by Mr FS 
and it was rebuilt in 1879.

(pencil note under main text reads left to right: Mary Wright George Wright Wm Salmon)

19. Mary Wright Gead wid. 65 Shepherds wid. Born Widdington 1871 Cencus.
Emily Searle g/day.


George Wright  Head Mar.  25  farm lab. Widdington
Mary Wright          wife              25                     Widdington
Susan Wright         dau.                 8 mths        Widdington


William Salmon  Head Mar. 38  farm lab. Widdington
Susan Salmon         wife              40                     Widdington
Walter Salmon        son               10                     Widdington
George Salmon        son                4                      Widdington
Florence Salmon     dau.               1                      Widdington







Page 20








20. The blacksmith’s shop forming part of the tenement shown 
in the preceding photograph – Demolished 1876.  (CH Ms)

The Blacksmith’s Shop with the three Cottages, as one Tenement 
and Garden adjoining and forming the Allotment 490 on the Tithe
Map of 1840 containing 0.1.26 purchased of the parties entitled 
thereto under the Will of Miss Mumford – and in 1871 
enfranchised and made Freehold – Pulled down December 1876 
and on site thereof Shop and other Cottages built in 1877.

No 490 on New Tithe Map of 1873 and cont’g 0.1.32.





Page 21





21. Pair of semi-detached cottages on the west side of the main street. Erected in 1867/8. 
  [Added at the right hand side in pencil (Mr Holgate [?] (CH Ms)


These Cottages were built in 1867/8  on Land No. 492 on Tithe Map of 1840 and form part of four Cottages built on this Land on this Land stood the Old Cottage occupied for many years by Thomas Coston the Cottage 
occupied by George Thurgood and the Tenement west 
adjoining occupied by James Reed.


These Cottages stand principally in the Garden of 
Coston’s Cottage as above Shown on New Tithe Map of 
1873 as part of Widdington 493 containing together 1.0.18.



21       James Reed Head wid  52  carpenter   1861
                Ruth  Reed dau.            18
             Emma  Reed dau.            15


  John Wright     Head Mar.   48  Rat/mole catcher Born Widdington
     Susanna Wright wife              58        Lt. Easton



Page 22




22. Pair of semi-detached cottages on the west side of 
the main street. Erected in 1868/9.

[Added in pencil Hale [?[ Hogate] (CH Ms)


These Cottages were built in 1868/9 on Land No 492 
on Tithe Map of 1840 and form part of four Cottages 
built on this Land on this Land stood the Old Cottage 
occupied for many years by Thomas Coston the 
Cottage occupied by George Thurgood and the Tenement 
west adjoining occupied by James Reed.

These particular Cottages stand principally on site 
of Cottages occupied by Thurgood and Reed as above –
They are built Brick-on-Edge – not flat causing 
a saving of many thousand Bricks

shown on new Tithe Map of 1873 as part of Widdington 
493 and containing together 1.0.18.


22. George Thurgood Head Mar. 52 Ag. Lab. Born Widdington 1865
 Charlotte Thurgood wife      51               Wicken
    George Thurgood son       12               Widdington
   Harriet Thurgood dau.       9               Widdington
      Lucy Thurgood dau.       5               Widdington



      4th property away from George Thurgood.





Page 23






                                          John Wright               Mrs Coston



23. Pair of semi-detached cottages on the west side of the main street.
Erected in 1866/7. (CH Ms)

These Cottages were built in 1866/7 on Garden occupied by Mrs Martin, 
part of 493 on Tithe Map.


now shown on New Tithe Map of 1873 as part of W 493 cont’g 1.0.18.

1871 Census Widdington cont.

23. John Wright Head Mar. 57 farm lab. Born Widdington
  Susannah Wright wife             67                               Lt. Easton
  Thomas Coston Head Mar.    71 farm lab.            Takeley
       Sarah Coston wife                65 farm lab.            Widdington
  William Coston son                  44 farm lab             Widdington
        Issac Coston son                  30 farm lab             Widdington






page 24








24. Pair of semi-detached cottages erected between the 
extension to Bishops Cottage and the Wrights’ cottage 
and nearly opposite the entrance to the yard of Bishops.  
September 1868.  (The Chipperfields’ Cottages). 

[Added in pencil, at the left, Chipperfield and 
at the right, Pettit] (CH Ms)

The new Cottages No 495 on Tithe Map opposite the 
Great Gates [stamped: C Potts Photo Stansted Essex]


John Chipperfield Head Mar. 28 Carpenter journeyman born Widdington
Rhoda Chipperfield wife     36                      Elsenham
John Chipperfield  son       6                      Elsenham
Emily Chipperfield dau.      3                      Elsenham
Ellen Chipperfield dau.      1                      Elsenham

Henry Pettit Hend Mar.      52 Gardener (dom.serv.) Broxted
Emma Pettit  wife           45                      Widdington
George Pettit son            2                      Widdington
Frederick P. Pettit son      6 mths 1871 Cencus.    Widdington




Page 25





Charles Bird              Thos Reynolds





25. Pair of semi-detached cottages on the west side of the main street 
and opposite Martin’s Farm Erected 1859/60. September 1868. (CH Ms)


These Cottages form part of Six Cottages all semi-detached 
(opposite Salmon’s Shop) built in 1859/60 on Land No 493 on the 
Tithe Map of 1840 forming the sites of the Maltern the Hawk House Cottage 
behind and Barn or Shed called Coopers Shop and garden of Hawk House 
and part of field (483) called Hammells.

Now shown on New Tithe Map of 1873 as part of Widdington 493
cont’g 1.0.18





Charles Bird   Thos Reynolds



25. Charles Bird Head Mar. 59 Ag. Lab. Born Bishops Storford 1871.
              Sarah Bird wife               57                             Widdington


Thomas Reynolds Head Mar. 33 Ag. Lab. Born Widdington
   Emma Reynolds wife                  29          Broxted
  Alice Reynolds dau.                        5           Widdington
Frederick Reynolds son.                 3           Widdington

James Reed lodger wid.                 64 Carpenter Widdington




Page 26





26. Pair of semi-detached cottages built on the west side of the 
road from Newport to Widdngton in 1867, and next to the house 
called Springill, September 1868.  [illegible pencil 
additions, possibly identification of people.]  (CH Ms)

New Cottages built on the side of Old Cottage 395 
on Tithe Map Freehold and 0.0.31

Old James Wright)

Coston ) tenants

[stamped: C Potts Photo Stanstead Essex]

26. James Wright Head Mar. 81 Carter and hurdle maker born Saffron Walden
   Hannah Wright wife            79                   Widdington
   Thomas Wright g/son        13 farm lab.  Widdington
  Joseph Coston Head Mar.   40 farm lab. Born Widdington 1871 Cencus
Elizabeth Coston wife             36                Clavering
   Thomas Coston son              16                Widdington
    Susan Coston dau.                13                Widdington

    Emily Coston dau.                10                Widdington
Charles Coston son                    7                Widdington
      Ann Coston dau.                  5                 Widdington
  George Coston son                  2                 Widdington




page 27





George Smith  Ann [?] Thurgood

27. Pair of semi-detached cottages on the west side of the main street.
Erected in 1859/60. (CH Ms)


These Cottages form part of Six Cottages all semi-detached 
(opposite Salmon’s Shop) built in 1859/60 on Land No 493 on Tithe Map 
of 1840 and the sites of the Maltern the Hawk House Tenement behind 
and Barn or Shed called Coopers Shop and garden of Hawk House 
and part of field called Hammells (483). Now shown on New Tithe Map 
of 1873 as part of Widdington 493 cont’g 1.0.18


George Smith  Ann [?] Thurgood



27. Thomas Coston Head Mar. 60 Ag. Lab. Born Takeley 1861 Cencus.
        Sarah Coston wife      54 Ag. Lab.      Widdington
   William Coston son       34 Ag. Lab.      Widdington
      James Coston son       22 Ag. Lab.      Widdington
        Issac Coston son        19 Ag. Lab       Widdington
        Jane Coston dau.       10 scholar       Widdington



27. all next door


George Smith  Head Mar. 25 farm lab. Born Debden 1871 Cencus
      Susan Smith wife               24                            Rickling
     Arthur Smith son                   1                            Widdington
       Sarah Smith mother wid. 68                          Henham 
      Ann Thurgood Head wid. 50 Laundress    Widdington
     Edmond Coe son-in-law    23 Ag. Lab.          Widdington
            Betsy Coe dau.                22                           Widdington
        James Coe g/son                 8mths                 Widdington






page 28





28. Martin’s Farm after reconstruction in 1867.  There is an inscription 
under the top window above the shop window which reads as follows: “Rebuilt 1867 FS “ (CH Ms)


Shop, Garden, Orchard and Premises at Widdington. purchased by Mr F Smith of Joseph Collin Martin as per Surrender dated 7 October 1844.


numbered 411 on the Tithe Map of 1840 cont’ g 0.1.23 and 411 on Tithe Map of 1873 and containing 0.1.20


Mr Smith admitted as Tenant on Court Roll of Pryors Hall Manor
The whole premises rebuilt and restored by Mr Smith in 1867 at a very 
heavy cost.


under Inclosure Award Allotment No. 60 containing 0.0.33 awarded to 
Mr Smith for right of common for one Cow in respect of No 411 
Allotment No 60 part of E 422 on New Tithe Map of 1873


In 1879 the large New Barn built, the Yard re-arranged and Farm premises repaired.




Page 29










William Reed             Thomas Smith




29. Pair of semi-detached cottages on the west side of the main street.
Erected in 1859/60. (CH Ms)


These Cottages form part of Six Cottages, all semi-detached 
(opposite Salmon’s Shop), built in 1859/60 on Land No. 493 on 
Tithe Map of 1840 and site of the Maltern, the Hawk House, tenement 
behind and Barn or Shed called Coopers Shop and garden of Hawk House 
and part of field called Hammells (483).


Now shown on New Tithe Map of 1873 as part of W 493 – cont’g 1.0.18
Wm Reed Thos Smith,


29.  William Reed Head Mar. 62 Carpenter Born Widdington 1871 Census.
   Elizabeth Reed wife      59                Widdington 
      George Reed son       32                Widdington
      Thomas Smith Head Mar. 32 Farm lab. Born Debden
      Sarah Smith wife       32               Widdington
      Elijah Smith son       6                Widdington
      Walter Smith son       3                Widdington
      Rebecca Smith dau.     1                Widdington




page 30








30. Semi-detached cottages on the south side of the Fleur de Lys Inn.

[Added in pencil; Now one cottage belonging to Hoy.]  (CH Ms)

Cottages and premises at Widdington Exssex,  purchased by Mr F Smith 
of Mr and Mrs Timoth [?] as per Surrender dated 26 June 1867
numbered 412 on the Tithe Map of 1840 and containing 0.0.34
No. 412 on New Tithe Map of 1873 and containing 0.0.26


These premises are in the high Street of the Village and are 
next adjoining the Fleur de Lys Inn or Public House 
Enfranchised and made Freehold by Deed dated 26 January 1870
By Enclosure Award dated 9 November 1871 Allotment 61 awarded for Cow Right.
This Allotment part of Widdington, 422 on Tithe Map of 1873 
situate in Burgate Common Wells Bit.




page 31




31. Pair of cottages facing the village green on the west side
of the main street.  Purchased in 1871.  
The cottages were restored, title roofs were substituted 
for thatch and a foot-path was made in 1878. 

The retaining wall was rebuilt in 1879.  Photo taken in 1873. (CH Ms)


These two Cottages with the two adjoining Cottages stand on 
the Allotment of Land No 489 on the Tithe Map of 1840 cont’ g 0.0.24 
[added above figures: a r p]

They belongs to the Lord & Manor of Pryors Hall and were sold in 
October 1871 by the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford
to Mr Griffiths Smith as Freehold.
No 489 on New Tithe Map of 1873 & cont g 0.0.34.


The Cottage on the left with the Climbers over the Door had been 
used as a Shop by Mrs Brand for some years, this was discontinued 
at Christmas 1877 when Mrs Brand moved into the adjoining new Shop 
and the Old House was taken AND let as private Tenement to Mr Salmon,


The new Retaining Wall at the back of these Cottages was built 
by Mr F Smith in 1877/8 and the Cottages repaired. The Footpath 
in front made the wet Winter of 1878/9 undermined and brought down 
the Retaining Wall and it was rebuilt in 1879.  The thatch taken off 
these Cottages in 1878 – new roofed and tiled.


1871 Census Widdington Cont.


31. Robert Brand Head Mar.  25  Shopkeeper   Born Henham
      Emma Brand wife                      29                                      Debden
      Mary A. Dennison dau.               8                                      Widdington
      George Dennison son.                  5                                      Widdington
      Florence Brand dau.                     2                                      Widdington
      Rose E. Brand dau.                       1                                       Widdington
      Elizabeth Joe                                 14   Servant                    Debden




page 32





32. Pair of semi-detached cottages built on the west side 
of the road from Newport to Widdington.


The inscription on the front reads: Freehold 1866.  Rebuilt 1858.  
[Added in pencil: last but one pair on the road from Widdington
 to Newport, (CH Ms)


New pair of Cottages built on site of Cottage and garden 
purchased of Coate No 361 on Tithe Map Freehold

Stamped: C Potts Photo Stanstead Essex,


Peter Pallett




page 33











Page 37


Widdington Photograph Albums

The attached transcripts of captions and descriptive material 
in two Widdington photograph albums were made by Imogen Mollet 
in March/April 1997.  
Her editorial insertions are in square brackets.  
The original spelling and punctuations has been followed.  
Francis Smith’s handwriting was not always easy to decipher.  
Hopefully there are not many misreadings; a few questions remain. 
W has been used throughout for Widdington.  It should not be 
confused with the letter ‘W’ used to designate certain pieces 
of land in the New Tithe Map of 1873.  Photographs have been 
given numbers for ease of identification, although it is apparent 
from CH’s pencilled noted on some of the photos that he thought 
in terms of numbers and this accounts for the fact that the 
portrait at the beginning of the second volume is unnumbered.

Widdington Jubilee Album – June 21st 1887

This volume of photographs was given to me by Dora Palethorpe, 
of British Columbia, the daughter of my uncle Griffiths Smith. 
(Signed) Claud Hollis.

(Original photos are on right-hand pages, Nos. 3, 6, 7, 16, 18 and 24 
on left-hand pages have been added later with identification in 
Sir Claud Hollis’ handwriting.) (Comments in square brackets by IM)




1. Villagers over 70 on Jubilee Day.



1891 Census Widdington RH12/1431 People over 70

Sarah Bird age 77
Charlotte Thurgood age 81
John Thurgood age 80
William Reed age 82
Elizabeth Reed age 78
James Wright age 73
Mary Ann Wright age 83
Elizabeth Fitch age 76
William Coe age 77
John Banks age 71
William Thurgood age 72




Excerpts From Sir Claud Hollis’ Family Records

36. Prior’s Hall (with horse).
37. Grave in W. Church Yard of Mary Jane Smith 
who died 25 September 1886 (CH Ms)
34. The National School (CH Ms in pencil 
identifies Rev. JW Court in back row).
35. The Village street.
32. Front of the house
33. W. Hall.
30. The Rectory from the road.
31. Road leading to house.
28. Cottage
29. Pasture at back of hours (5 cows).
26. The Jubilee Treat.
27. Entrance to village from Newport.
24. The Hall at Bishops, 1887 (CH Ms).
25. North West side of the house (CH Ms reads: 
with Mr & Mrs Griffiths Smith and their 
daughters Dora and Violet).
22. Moat and Bridge, Prior’s Hall.
23. The Rectory.
20. The Village Green.
21. Corner of the garden from the pasture.
18. South view of the house in the autumn, 1908 
(CH Ms) (appears to be a postcard 
with identification on it).
19. Front view of the orchard.
16. The dining-room at Bishops in 1887 (CH Ms).
17. South view of the house (1887).
14. Pasture at the back of the house (with cows).
15. Cottages.
12. Prior’s Hall.
13. Pasture at W. Hall (with horses).
10. Church Street.
11. Stables and Coach-House (Bishops).
8. W. Church
9. Orchard belonging to House.
6 & 7 (smaller) W. Church before restoration 
in September 1868 (CH Ms).
4. W. Church.
5. Jubilee Day (group, male, includes centre 2nd 
row Rev. J W Court and next, moving right, 
Griffiths Smith – identified by CH in pencil.
2. Kitchen entrance to house (Bishops).
3. Interior of W. Church 1911 (CH Ms).






New Page



The annexed account entitled: The Village of Widdington, Essex, was written in 1939, as an appendix to a History of the Hollis, Ainslic, Bullock, Smith, Griffiths, Murkin, and Perry Familes, and it may be well to preface the account by recording briefly how the four last mentioned families came to be associated with, or interested in, Widdington.

My mother, Susannah Hollis, was the daughter of Francis Smith, Solicitor, of Furnival’s Inn on No 2 The Grove, Highgate, and of Bishops Farm, Widdington, and Sarah, the daughter of Evan Griffiths, of Somers Town.  The Smiths were in Gloucestershire family; the Griffithes, came from Aberystwith.  Francis Smith’s father, Thomas Smith, Solicitor, of Furnival’s Inn and St. Pancras, married Keziali a daughter of Francis Murkin, yeomen, of Bishops Farm, Widdington, and Susannah, a daughter of James Perry, yeoman, of Priors hall and Widdingotn Hall, Widdington.  This James Perry was a son of the James Perry who was murdered in 1729 (p.23).  Thomas and Keziah Smith, Francis and Susannah Murkin, and James and Gary Perry were all buried at Widdington.  Their grave-stone were restored by me in 1937.  My grandfather, Francis Smith, purchased the copyhold of Bishops Farm from his maternal uncle, Peter Murkin, in 1845, and his brother-in-law, John Griffiths, purchased Bird’s Farm, Widdington, also from Peter Murkin, in the same year (pp.26-27).

The Murkins became associated with Widdington in 1769, when Francis Murkin, Sr., of Dobden, purchased the copyhold of Bishops Farm for his son Francis Murkin, Jr., on the latter’s marriage with Susannah Perry.  The Murkins are an old Essex family (there is a Merkin Farm at Stondon Massage at Ongar), but they had lived at Barnardiston and at Hundon, Suffolk, from about 1590 to 1741, when Francis Murkin, Sr., settled at Debden and married Ann, widow Rushford (p.30).

The Perrys lived at Widdington and Debden for several centuries.  There is a Perry’s Field at Widdington which was called Pyries in the Court Roll of 1495 (p.40), and the road lending to Priors Hall and the lane from Priors Hall towards the railway were called Peryestrete and Peryslane respectively in the Court Roll of 1500 (p.35).  In the Widdington tithe book it is recorded that James Perry paid tithes (30 eggs, value 8d) for “ye house called Bishops” in 1644, 1645, and 1646 (p.26), and also that he and his son, Benjamin Perry, paid £4.8.8 tithes for Priors Hall in 1664 and 1665.  The Widdington Registers only start in 1666 (p.13), but in the Debden Registers, which commence in 1557, there is a Perry entry in 1559.


June 1946.




The Village of Widdington, Essex

It may interest my readers if I add a short account of the village of Widdington, with which the Perrys, the Murkins, the Smiths and, in a less degree, the Griffithses were intimately connected. (1)

One authority (Morant) states that the name Widdington is derived either from the Saxon words Wid, ing and tun, meaning wide meadow, or pasture, town, or from pod, ing  and tun, “from being situate amongst the woods”.  Another (Reane) suggests that it came from wipegn and tun, meaning willow-farm.

The name appears as Widitune and Widintune in Domesday Book.  Other spellings are Uiditone (1174), Widiton (1204), Wyditune (1237), Wythiton (1254), Wydinton (1261), Widengton and Wydeton (1285), Wyditon (1303), Wythington (1327), Wodeton (1368), Wedyndon (1412), Wedington (1494), Wedynton (1529), Weedington (16th century, New College, Oxford), Widditon (1594), and Widington (1768).

Though there is no evidence that the Romans had a settlement at Widdington, Neville in Notes on Roman Essex (2)
Records that about the year 1830 a large board of Roman silver denaril coins was discovered there.  The earliest known reference to Widdington is the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), when there were two manors at that place, belonging to the freeman Ingulf and Turchill respectively.


ES. (1) in compiling this account reference has been made to The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex  (Worant, 1768); The History, Gazetteer and Directory of Essex (White, 1848); the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, and particularly to an article on Widdington Church by G. Montagu Benton (Vol. XIX); the Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in Essex (Vol. I, 1916); and The Place Names of Essex (Reaney, 1935).

       (2) Trans. Essex Archaeol. Soc. Vol I







These two manorsat a later date received the names of Widdington Hall and Priors Hall. (1)  At the time of the Survey in William the Conqueror’s reign, the former was held by Robert Gernon and the letter by the Prior of St. Valery in Picardy.

During his wars with France, King Edward III (1327-1377) seized the manor of Priors Hall as belonging to an alien Priory, and either he or his/son Richard II (1377-1399) presented it to William of Wyckham, Bishop of Winchester, for the use of New College, Oxford.  The Warde of New College, Oxford, held the most court at Widdington (probably at the Fleur de Lys inn) at fairly regular intervals until well on in the 18th century.  The manor was sold by New College, Oxford, in 1919; but the manorial documents, dating from 1304 to 1775, as well as some old maps are still preserved in the muniment room of this Cottage.  A list of them has been compiled by T. F Hobson, and published in (1929) under the title

Manorial Documents at New College, Oxford.

Unlike Priors Hall, which only changed hands once during the eight and a half centuries following the conquest, Widdington Hall has been owned by several families.  Morant (2) records that this manor remained for some generations with Robert Gernon’s posterity, who took the name of Montfichet from Stansted Montfichet, (3) the place of their residence and head of their Barony, and then by the marriage of female heirs it passed to the families of Playz, Howard, and de Vere, Karls of Oxford.  Under them it was hel by a family named Lenveise, Lenvois, Le Vasey, Veyse, etc.  In the reigh

(1) In the Court Roll of 1595 Priors Hall is also called Stonehall.

(2) Vol.II p.566.

(3) This place is now called Stansted Mountfichet.

Of King Henry II (1154-1189) Robert Lenveise held three fees in Widdington under William de Mountfichet.  Anot. Robert Le Veyse or Lennessey held fours fees in Widdington under Richard de Plaiz, who died in 1327.  Gilbert Lenvois or Vesey was “lord of Widdington” in 1361.  He died in 1364, leaving two daughters, the elder of whom was the wife of John Duke, Master of the Pantry to Kings Edward III and Richard II.  The latter granted to John Duke, junior, “free warren in his lands in Wodeton”, as in the charter granted to his father in 1368 (41 Edward III).  The next owner of the manor of Widdington was John Greene (1) who received it with his wife Agnes, the daughter of John Duke, Jr.  John Greene died in 1473, when his estate was sold to Sir William Finderne of Amberden Hall, Debden, who died in 1516.  Sir William Finderne’s grandson, Thomas Finderne, succeeded him, and was followed by his cousin Anne Tyrell, wife of Sir Roger Wentworth.  The next lord of the manor was Sir Thomas Seymour, from whom it passed to Edward Elrington and his wife Grace.  Edward Elrington died in 1558 and was succeeded by his son Edward, who died in 1578.  The latter’s son, also Edward inherited “Widdington Park, the advowson of the living, a diverse lands, tenements and hereditaments in Widdington”. He died in 1618 leaving as his heir his son Edward, then aged 7 years, who in 1635 sold the manor to Edward Turner.

(1) Later on, reference will be made to the remains of an old font which were found under the ruins of the tower of the church in 1872.  This font, which dated from the 15th century, had carved on it John Greene’s coat-of-arms: Gules, a lion parted fessewise argent and sable, crowned or.   It is probable that that portion of the existing building at Widdington Hall which dates from the 15th century, and to which reference will be made presently, was built by John Greene.

of Walden.  Edward Turner was succeeded by his son Thomas Turner, who died in 1681, when his son John Turner inherited the estate.  John Turner was buried at Widdington on the 28th May, 1745, aged 76, having bequeathed his property to his son Edmund Squire, who died in 1756 without male issue. (1)  The manor then passed under the terms of the will of John Turner to Edmund Squire’s sister, Mrs. Bithray, (2) who sold it about the year 1760 to Richard M. Trench Chiswell of Debden Hall, after whose death, in 1797, it passed to the Vincent family.  After the death of Sir Francis Vincent, 10th Baronet, in 1880, the manor was purchased by the Mulhollands, and at a later date by the Fuller-Msitlands.  It then became the property of a Mr. Fielding, after whose death it was purchased by Lord Strathcons.  It is now owned by Thomas T. Carmichael.

The earliest part of the existing building of Widdington Hall dates from 15th century, and this remains of this 15th century house are particularly interesting.  A full description is given in the

1)Edmund Squires, a barrister-at-law and one of the Justices of the Peace for the County of Essex, was buried at Widdington on the 24rd May, 1756, aged 53.  Morant refers to him as the son of John Turner, but I think he must have been the adopted son.

2)I have not seen John Turner’s will and am quoting from Morant.  Four months after John Turner’s death, Thomas Bithray married at Widdington (on the 10th September, 1745) Elizabeth Bardolph.  I can only conclude that both Edmund Squire and Elizabeth Bardolph were John Turner’s adopted children and were not brother and sister.











Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in Essex, and a very brief account will suffice here.  The southern elevation has three gables, the one to the east being smaller than the other two.  The east end of the east wing contains the remains of the Great Hall and the Buttery, now cut into rooms.  The Great Hall has an original pointed doorway now filled in, and in the west wall is the original oak doorway to the Buttery.  The Buttery retains its original roof of three bays with two 15th century king-post trusses.  The Cellars below the Great Hall are of two bays and have groined vaulting in brick.  In the 16th century the house was lengthened to the west and the west elevation and the central chimney-stack contain 16th century bricks.  This period is further represented by some flat shaped balusters in the modern staircases and, in the north elevation of the main block, by the plain oak framed window.  In the 17th century a low two-storied addition was made at the west end of the main block.  The moat is rectangular; the south and part of the east arm are obliterated.

Priors Hall is even older then Widdington Hall, for the present rectangular stone building was erected in the 13th century, though there is no visible detail of this period.  The west wing was added in the 18th century, presumably when the Perrys were in residence there.  The roof is probably original.  The ground and first floors have 16th century beams, and at the foot of the attic staircase, on the first floor, is a 16th century panelled door.  The moat is roughly rectangular and encloses all the buildings, though it is partly filled in on the north side.  Priors Hall is noted as possessing one of the finest tithe barns in England.  This barn, which is 500 years old, is timber-framed and covered with weather boarding; it has eight bays with side aisles; original tiles cover its roof; and each beam and rafter is an oak tree out and fashioned into shape.  It is to be hoped that this barn will not share the fate of at 16th century barn at Widdiington Hall, which was demolished in 1937 to make way for a modern Dutch barn.

The monks of Priors hall and the owners of Widdington Hall had chaples of their own, (1), but they combinied to build a Church, which was erected early in the 12th century, and dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin.  The plan of the existing church is of the same date, though the only remaining detail of that period is the small window in the north wall of the chancel, which was revealed when the church was restored in 1872.  the east window and the piscine are late 13th century.  The south-eastern window is of the 14th century, though much restored; the splays on this window are of c.1280.  The west windows in both the south and north walls of the chancel, as well as the shallow niche in the east wall, are of the 15th century.  Its is probable that in the 15th century the nave was rebuilt and

1) According to the Reverend W. Holman (who wrote, about 1720, a History of Essex, which was never published, but the M.S of which is in the Colchester Museum and is quoted by Benton), there were in the windows of the chapel at Widdington Hall the arms of Seamer impaling Bourchier with a mottoi “Then the Salutation by itself”.  William Bourchier, Earl of Essex, was the 3rd husband of Anne, only child of Thomas of Woodstock.


the vestry added.  The blocked doorway in the north well of the nave, the present south door, and the doorway from the chancel into the vestry all date from that period.

According to the Archidiaconal Records, Widdington Church was “in decay” in 1594, and at a Visitation held in 1686 it was reported that “the tower of the steeple is crackt”.  Matters were apparently allowed to go from bad to worse, for the parish register, under date 15th May, 1771, contains this entry: “The whole steaple, from top to bottom, with ten feet in breadth of both sides of the body of the church, fell down.  Three bells cut of five were dug out of ye rubbish unhurt”.

The Reverend J.O.L. Court, the Rector responsible for the restoration, commenting on the above extract in a letter he addressed to The English Churchman in 1873, wrote: “What was done in these circumstance is not recorded in the books, but it was to be seen until lately in red bricks and mortar.  The churchwardens of that date sold the bells and with the proceeds built up a wall of red brick at the west end, not even restoring the ten feet on either side, but shortening the church, thus destroying the original proportions; and they surmounted the work with a wooden dovecote in which they placed a small bell.  In this state the church remained until the year 1871, when, in consequence of its ruinous and dangerous condition, it became necessary to suspend the service, and to repair and restore the church.  In removing the wall we found masonry of the old tower and parts of an old font,  evidently broken up by the falling tower.  Fortunately, the foundations of the old tower had resisted the sexton’s pick, and in dry weather showed  their existence.”

The total cost of restoration, excluding the chancel (for which the Rector accepted responsibility) was £2,500.  Both my grandfather Francis Smith and his son Griffiths Smith were active in forwarding the work of restoration.

The church was re-opened on the 24th May 1873, and from an account of the event, which appeared in the Herts, and Essex Observer, we learn that the tower was rebuilt from the foundations of the old tower, which in Holman’s time (1720) and “a spire or shaft leaded”, the nave restored to its original form.

The old high pews were replaced by modern benches; the gallery was removed; and a new font was installed, the design of which was based on the fragments of an old font that had been brought to light.

There are hanging inside the north-west window in the chancel two 14th century glass shields of Old France and England quarterly, and a glass medallion, with sundial, hour-glass and crown, dated 1664. (1)  Benton states that C.K Probert, who visited the church in 1857, noted (2) that in the same window, in addition to the two shields, there was another 14th century shield of the arms of FitzWalter, also some curious heraldic borders of the arms of France and England, and a border of White Swans, the last mentioned being probably part of the coat of Thomas of Woodstock.  These were unfortunately removed and lost when the church was restored in 1872.

1) The glass medallion dated 1664 was unfortunately broken when removed to safety in 1940.
2) Brit. Mus., Add. M.S. 33520, fol.102
Homan, writing in 1720, likewise records these shields and borders and states that there were also in the south window “diverse oscocheons, since mutilated,” as follows:

1. France and England quarterly impaling Bohun.  (These were the arms of Henry IV, who, in 1380, married Mary, daughter and co-heir of Humrey de Bohun, last Earl of Hereford of that name).
2. France and England quarterly within a bordure.  (The arms of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edward III, who married Eleanor, the other daughter and co-heir of Humrey de Bohun).
3. Bohun; impaling quarterly, I and IV, FitzAlan; II and III Warren.
(The arms of Humfrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, who married Joan FitzAlan, daughter of the Earl of Arundel).

In the north window, according to Holman, there were formerly three shields:

1. The coat-of-arms of Helyon (1)
2. Unknown.
3. The coat-of-arms of FitzWalter.

And round the borders of the window were the arms of Thomas of Woodstock (France and England quarterly within a bordure argent).

We are also indebted to Holman, writes Benton, for recording other features in the church, since lost, viz;

1. Two shields of arms of John Greene and a plain cross on the 15th century font.  (The latter is reproduced on the modern font).

(1) John Greene’s second wife Editha, daughter of John Rolf and widow of John Helion. She died in 1498.










2. “In the chancel are six stalls on each side, which I take it did belong to Priors Hall”.  These stalls had disappeared in 1769, when Muilman wrote (1) “In the chancel were lately six stalls…. But they are now removed and new pews erected in their place”.

3. “In the chancel, on a flat stone of grey marble, was the portraicture of a man and woman in brasse with two escocheons …. Underneath on a plate of brasse was this inscription:

Johan Duk de Widyton paneter nostre Seignour Le Roy Edward le tierce et Katrine la Femme gy sount yey Dieu de lour Almes eit Mercy (2).

4. “Upon another stone adjoining, the portraict of a man and woman.  At the upper end armes in two escocheons.  Underneath, on a plate of brasse, this inscriptions:

Orate pro Anime Johis Greene de Wedyngton Armigeri et Agnetis uxoris e jus quorum Corpora hic jacent et aie Omnium fidelium defunctorum p’ mia Dei Ihu Xpi in pace requiescent.  Amen.”

Holman concludes his description of the brasses by remarking: “Nothing of all this on the stones save only one of them a single escocheon.  The effigies and inscriptions were either torne of in the Civill Warrs or else trod of”.

There is now in the church one brass effigy of a civilian, which was found beneath the flooring at the time of the restoration in 1872, and which has been affixed to the north wall of the nave.  When this brass was discovered it was still affixed to its slab, but it was detached roughly

(1) Gentleman’s History of Essex, Vol. II, p.401
(2) John Duke, of Widdington, Master of the Pantry to our Lord the King Edward III, and Catherine his wife, who are here.  May God upon their souls have mercy

from its matrix and was unfortunately broken in the process.  The lower part, bearing the feet, is missing.  The effigy (originally about 23 inches in height) has lost the lower four inches, or thereabouts.  The man’s attire is typical of the period 1445 to 1460 – a long fur-lined tunic, slightly open at the bottom in front, girt transversely at the waist, with very “baggy” sleeves, narrowing at the wrists, fur-cuffs, and collar.  The hair is worn short and has the appearance of being brushed upwards and backwards.  Not improbably, this affigy represents John Greene, though he did not die till 1473 (1)

The church plate includes a silver cup, 1562, with two bends of ornament round the bowl; a cover-paten, probably of late 17th century, with an Elizabethan rim; and an alms-dish, probably late 17th century.

As previously recorded, the bells of Widdington Church were sold soon after the tower collapsed in 1771 and a small one was purchased.  This one was replace by three in 1873 by Francis Smith.

These bells were cast by I Taylor and Co, Founders, Loughborough.  The size of the tenor is 3ft 8in, weight 14 ½  hhd; the second is 3ft. 3in, weight 10 hhd; and the treble is 3ft. weight 8 hhd (2)

1) Some interesting Essex Brasses (Christy and Porteous in Trans. Essex Archael. Soc. Vol. VIII, n.s)
2) Bells in some Parishes in North Essex (Deedes in Trens. Essex Archaeol. Soc. Vol. III n.s)

Before concluding this account of the church mention should be made of the few memorials and of the stained glass windows in the church.  There are in the chancel four marble tablets affixed to the south wall, two of which commemorate the Reverend Richard Birch, Rector of the parish, who died in 1820, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Reverend Sir Henry Bate Dudley, who died in 1813.

The other two are in memory of Elizabeth and Frederics, the daughters of the Honourable Frederick and Catherine Byng, who died in London in 1826 and 1831 respectively, and were buried at Widdington.  There are also six brass tablets commemorating the Reverend J.C.L. Court, Rector of the parish, who died in 1882, his first wife, Rose Emms, who died in 1865; Francis Smith, who died in 1880, Griffiths Smith, who died in 1888, the Reverend J.T Burt, Rector of the parish, who died in 1892; and Henry Taylor Painter, who died in 1925.  The floor of the tower is paved with the tomb-stones of the Reverend Thomas Twistleton who was buried in 1717; of Mrs Frances Woodley, the wife of James Woodly, who was buried in 1722, of the Reverend Richard Meaux, who was buried in 1757; and of the Reverend Geroge Adams; who was buried in 1782.

Seven of the windows have stained glass panes.  The lancet window in the south wall of the nave is in memory of Ross Emma Court; the two south windows in the chancel are in memory of Sarah, the wife, and Sarah, the daughter, of Francis Smith, who died in 1870 and 1869 respectively; and the north window in the nave is in memory of John Moore-Dillon, who died in 1903.  The east window in the chancel and the south window in the nave were presented by Francis Smith in 1874, and the window in the tower was presented by Griffiths Smith in the same year.

The clock, which cost over £70. was placed in the tower in 1897, to commemorate the 60th year of Queen Victoria’s reign.  It was presented by the Rector and parishioners and by people interested in the village, among whom may be mentioned Dora Mary Smith, Violet Rose Smith, Vernon Russell Smith, George and Susannah Hollis, George Mercer Hollis, George Woodcock Perry and Henry James Griffiths.

The carved oak chancel-screen, though modern, likewise deserves mention.  It was designed by Mr E. Guy Dawber, Pres. R.I B.A and executed by the local wood-carving class of 1911.  Mr. Dawber also designed the War Memorial – an oval tablet of lead.






The parish registers date from 1666, the earlier ones having been lost.  The oldest book contains all entries between 1666 and 1756.  It is in good order and the writing is clear.  There are but few items of public interest in the register.  The Archdeacon’s Visitations are regularly recorded otherwise the entries are almost entirely for what the registers were intended, viz; a record of baptisms, marriages and burials.

There is evidence that the Burial in Woollen Act of 1680, by which shrouds of wool were made compulsory for all persons, was complied with.

The following records of the church are of interest:

(a) An inventory of the Church goods, etc, taken by the Commissioners appointed by Kind Edward VI in 1552. (1)

1) Trans. Essex Archaeol. Soc, Vol. XI, n.s

Two extracts from the Visitation books of the Colchester Archdeaconry (1)

Twelve extracts from the parish registers.

“Widynton, 1552.  This inventorie between the Commissioners and George Boydill, curat of ye parish aforesayde, Richard Orede, Thomas Ruste, John Pigg and Richard Vyn (or Vyner), presenters.

“A sute of vestments of bodkyn.  A vestment of velvet imbroydered with flowers.  A sute of vestments of violet colered sarsnett with a cope to the same.  A vestment of white sarsnett.  Ij damaske clothes with a front for the hie alter. Ij corperas cases, the one of velvet and the other of clothes golde.  A black vestment of saye with garters.  An old Canapie clothe of silke.  A pax of coper and gilt.  A paire of Candelsticks xij flowers of candilsticks.  A hollywater pott.  A basin with an ewer laten.  Ij Crosses of latten.  iij bells, a sanctus bell and ij handbells, by estimacion of XXVc weight.

“Goods solde.  Olde alter clothes and clothes that covered Images for xjs which xjs was paid to Boyton of Walden for writing in the Church.

“Goods delivered for the ministracion of the devyne service to Richard Crede and Thomas Ruste Churchwardens.  A challis with a paten to the same.  A cope of bodkyn.  The communion Clothes and three surplices.”

(1) Widdington Church (Trans. Essex Archaeol. Soc, Vol XIX) 





1. “Widdington, 23 August 1633.

Mr. Richardus Wooly – Rector
Richardus Jaggard       
Richard Hockley         gards.

“They want a decent surplisse, and the Communion Carpett and Cloth are too narrow for the table, the Couer of the Communion Cupp is unfitting & must be changed, the Common prayer booke is torne in diurse places; they want the books of homilies; the steeple wants a weathercock and the pulpit wants a backe, All Wch the Churchwardens are to provide nowe before Easter daye next, to certifie the Courte following.  The seate at the high Alter Wch stands very unseemly is to be remoued before the next visitation, and to certifie then.  The Churchyard fence at the east end wants somes (pales) Wch they are to doe before halomas enxt and to certifie the next courte after.  The sentences of scripture are defaced on the Church Walls”.

2. “Widdington, 18th August 1686.  The King’s Arms, Lords Prayer and Creed are to be set up; and there is to be a new till made in the Chest, and two locks and keys put thereto, and the Register book to be kept in it.” (1)

1. “September 1726.  The fence of the churchyard was repaired in part and in the greater part made new with strong posts and rails.  At the same time one half of the northern roof was new leaded, and one half of the south side new laid by the Parish”.

(1) From this entry it would appear that the early register book (or books) was missing in 1686.

2. “The other half was new laid and new Leaded July 1727”.
3. “November 28 1726.  Six elms and six poplars were planted by B. Mould.”
4. “11 June 1727.  King George the first dyed at Osnabrag.”
5. “23 April 1729.  James Parry was buryed. Who in his return from Bp. Stortford Market on Thursday the 17th in the Evening was robbed on the road, and wounded in ye neck and throat; He returned to Stortford, and notwithstanding the Care of the Surgeon dyed on Monday following the 21st.”
6. March 1731.  The Chancell was stript the Sparrs uned.  All new lath. And about 1000 new tiles laid it cost about £6.”
7. “A new Surplice bought by ye Perish Wch cost 2: 10: oo besides making.”
8. “Extract from Mrs. Fridesweed Turner’s Will Dated 31 May 1726.  She was buryed 28. December 1727.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto the Poor People of ye Parish of Widdington in the County of Essex ye sum of five Pounds of Lawfull Money of Great Britain to the laid out within two years after my Decease by my Executor and the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of ye said Parish in a Purchase of Lands.  The Interest, Product or Rent of such Lands I will be yearly laid out by the Rector Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish for ye time being at Christmas time yearly and every year for ever towards the Cloathing poor widows and poor children and for breed for ye

Poor of ye said Parish of Widdington and to be disposed of to no other use intent and Purpose whatsoever.

”Robert Eden Executor about two years after Mrs. Turners decease agreed to pay 5ah a year to be laid out in bread for the poor, Wch was done accordingly for two or three years at Cmas.  But afterwards was neglected for 7 years or more before his death: and then the Principle itself was lost.  The adminstratix his Widow denying there were assets sufficient to pay ye debt any more than most of the debts Wch he owed at his death.  Whereby many of ye Creditors lost all, some half, and some two thirds of their debts.

9.”15 May 1771.  The whole steeple, from top to bottom with ten feet in breadth of both sides of the body of the church, fell down.  Three bells out of five were dug out of ye rubbish unhurt”.
10. “In the year of Our Lord 1784.  The Ten Commandments etc. was put up in the Chancell of Widdington Church.  The Rev. Young, Rector.”
11. “1814.  The body of the Church underwent a thorough Repair, viz The Lead taken off and a New Roof put on which was slated.  The Inside of the Church was New Pewed Paved and Painted and New Hangings.  R. Birch, Rector.

Its cost       £401.1.7.
Lead made £120.10.4 
                  £280.11.3 Cost the Parish.
12. “14 December 1823.  James Mumford buried, ages 23. Murdered when returning home from London between Quendon and Widdington by John Pallett of Widdington who in consequence underwent the sentence of the law at Chelmsford on Monday 15th December.”
The Rectory which, as Morant writes, “hath been all along appendant to the manor of Widdington Hall”, is of late 16th or early 17th century workmanship, with an extension towards the south-east, which was added in the 18th century.  In the front door are two glass panels of the 16th and two of the 17th centuries.  The former contain shields of Old France and England quarterly with a garter.  The latter bear the arms of Waldergrave impaling Myldemay and the quartered coat of Myldemay impaling the quartered cont of Redclyf, Both have names beneath each impalement.

1) The Reverend Thomas Twisleton married at Widdington by licence on the 25th November, 1695, Mrs Anne Glascock of Widdington.  They had issue two sons and four daughters, who were all baptized at Widdington, and their youngest son was buried there in 1705.  The Reverend Thomas Twisleton was buried at Widdington in October 1717.

2) The Reverend Henry Twisleton’s wife was Essex, the daughter of Thomas Turner and the sister of John Turner, both of Widdington Hall.  Their son John Twisleton was buried at Widdington was buried at Widdington 20th May, 1725; his widow was “brought from London|” and buried at Widdington 4th December, 1750, age 77.

3) The Reverend Bernard Mould was buried at Widdington 27th March, 1744, aged 62.  His widow, Rachel Mould, was buried there 9th September, 1749, age 57.  other members of the family (probably Mr. Mould’s sisters) were likewise buried at Widdington – Deborah Mould in 1731, aged 52, and Hannah Mould in 1733, aged 49.

4) The Reverend Richard Meaux wrote his name Meux. Edmund, the son of Richard and Hannah Meux, was born 8th October, privately baptized 20th October, and “admitted into ye Church by Mr. Skegg” 19th November 1745.  The Reverend Richard Meux was buried at Widdington 18th February, 1757.

Date of Induction  Rector   Patron

1790   Richard Birch (1) Richard M. Trench Chiswell
1820   Colin Alexander (2) Sir Francis Vincent
1860   James Charles Lett Major Henry Court (3)
   Court (4)

1)The Reverend Richard Birch was inducted 9th September 1790.  Seven of his children (6 sons and 1 daughter) were baptized at Widdington.  Elizabeth, the wife of the Reverend Richard Birch was buried at Widdinton 5th November, 1813, aged 53.  he was buried there 16th August, 1820, aged 58

2)The Reverend Colin Alexander Campbell was buried at Widdington 7th May, 1860, aged 67.

3) Mr.Major Henry Court purchased the advowson from Sir Francis Vincent and presented his son, the Reverend James CL Court, to the living on the death of the Reverend Colin Alexander Campbell in 1860.

4) The Reverend James CL Court married, first, Ross Rmma Spry (who was buried at Widdington 22nd August, 1865, aged 49), and secondly, Ellen Warner (who was buried at Widdington 4th April, 1908, aged 68).  By his first marriage Mr Court had issue one son and two daughters, and by his second marriage three sons and seven daughters.  Ten of his children were baptized at Widdington his son (Rev JW Court) and one of his daughters by his first marriage and two of his sons and one of his daughters by his second marriage were buried there.  The Reverend James C L Court himself was buried at Widdington 16th September, 1882, aged 55.

Date of Institution  Rector   Patron
1883   John Thomas Burt James Walter Court
1886   James Walter  John Walter I
   Court. (1)
1947   Alan John Pearman  John Walter III
1950   James Thomas S John Walter


1) The Reverend James Walter Court (whom God preserved) was baptized at Widdington 17th March, 1861.  He married Frances Ellen Ducane, who was buried at Widdington 27th January, 1939.  He died at Saffron Walden on the 25th February 1950, and was buried at Widdington on the 1st March.


The burial of James Parry (or Perry) is recorded on p.16.  James Perry, of Priors Hall, Widdington, was attacked, robbed and wounded by a footpad when returning to his home from Bishop’s Stortford Market on the 17th April 1729.  The following account of the incident was published in The Country Journal: or the Craftsman of the 226th April, 1729:

“Last week Mr, Perry, a farmer of Widdington in Essex, was robbed of twelve pounds by a single man on foot, as he was going from Bishops Stortford Market.  Mr Perry was surpiz’d by him in a narrow Lane, and unhorsed, and his Throat cut after his money was taken away.  The Villain made off, thinking probably, he had left him dead.  The other got upon his horse again, and rode back directly to a surgeon’s house at Stortford, about two miles away.  He lost a great deal of blood by the way.  The wound is so deep, it is thought he will not recover.  He hath a wife and eight children.  He was alive last Saturday.”

An account of the attack on James Perry was also given in The Weekly Journal or the British Gazetteer and in Fog’s Weekly Journal both of Saturday, 26th April, 1729.  James Perry’s death is recorded in The Weekly Journal: or the British Gazetteer of the 3rd May, 1729, and in The Daily Journal of the 27th April, 1729.  All of those newspapers can be consulted in the Burney Collection in the State Paper Department of the British Museum.

It is perhaps or interest to mention that the only local newspaper in the Western Counties in 1729 were the Norwich Courant  (1706) and the Norwich Mercury (1712).
The Cambridge Chronicle did not come into existence until 1744, and Hertforshire and Essex had no local paper till a much later date.  (the first newspaper published in Essex, The Chelmsford Cheswick was dated the 10th August , 1764).


In the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547),  there were six forms in Widdington , dr seven, if Swayne’s Hall, which in those days was in Debden parish, is included.  Five others were added to the list in the 17th or 18th centuries, and one in the 20th century.  The names of those farms are Wises, Martins, Smallpieces, Waldegroves, Ringers and Bishops, and the more modern ones, Newlands, Punts, Leylands, Birds, Wrays and Shipton Bridge. Wise dates from 1327 when Ralf Wyse lived there.

Nothing of the old house is in existence.  Martins took its name from John Martyn, whose home it was in 1369.  This property was purchased by my grandfather Francis Smith from John Collin Martin in 1844.  In 1867 the old farm house was partly demolished and the present house – intended as a shop and swelling house-erected.  Smallpieces was named after Geoffrey Smallpiece in 1414, Waldegroves after William Waldegrave in 1510, and Ringers after William Rynger in 1530.  Parts of the two latter original houses are said to be still standing, but there are no visible details.  Smallpieces has entirely disappeared and on the site of the old farm-house stands a 17th century cottage which for many years has been the village smithy, and to which reference will be made later on.

Swaynes Hall was formerly called Sweynes.  It was named after William Sweyne and was mentioned in the Court Rolls of 1316 and 1403.  This name is not to be confused with Swain, who was Lord of the Manor of Clavering at the time of the Conquest.  Swayne’s Hall is a good example of  late 17th century domestic work, having been erected in 1689.  It is rectangular in plan; at the back are two small wings containing the staircase and brew-house.  The north part of the east front has between the first floor windows nine original pargetted panels.  They are all small and bear conventional flowers, two fleurs-de-lys and two lions reversed.  Above the entrance doorway is a round panel, inscribed 1689.  Two of the upper windows have original frames, and the central chimney stack, also original, has six square detached shafts with a common capping.

Inside the building the stop-chamfered ceiling beams are exposed and wide open fire-place with cornor seats is original.  The barn at Swaynes Hall, which is timerb-framed with weather boarding and plaster, is of the same date as the house.

Newlands farm house was erected early in the 17th century, the north wing was added later, and the south wing has been largely rebuilt in recent years.  The east front has traces of a panelled decoration in plaster, and there are several oak mullioned windows, which, like the central chimney stack, are original.  The room on the ground floor of the main block has a wide fire-place and a roughly chamfered ceiling-beam, the room over it has a fire-place with a pained, four-centered head of stone.  On the first floor a little original panelling remains and there is one panelled door with a fluted frieze.

Punts farm lies half-a-mile to the east of Ringers on the north of the Newport-Debden road.  The farm-house, which was destroyed by fire over a half a century ago and has not been rebuilt, was known locally as Rats’ Hall.

Leylands was a large farm on the Cornells Road, the farm-house was demolished 30 or 40 years ago, and private houses, one of which is names Leylands, have since been erected on the site.



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