Sir Claud Hollis Family Records 1

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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.29).


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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.39), 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.34).  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.12), but in the Debden Registers, which commence in 1557, there is a Perry entry in 1559.


June 1946.


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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  (Morant, 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 O. S.



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These two manors at 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, Earls of Oxford.  Under them it was hel by a family named Lenveise, Lenvois, Le Vasey, Veyse, etc.  In the reigh Of King Henry II (1154-1189) Robert Lenveise held three fees in



(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.


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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 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. (2)  The manor then passed under the terms of the will of John Turner to Edmund Squire’s


(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.

(2) This footnote is given as footnote 1 on p.4

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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  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



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.


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  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



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.



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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 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




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.


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 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



1) The glass medallion dated 1664 was unfortunately broken when removed to safety in 1940.
2) Brit. Mus., Add. M.S. 33520, fol.102



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.

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



 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).

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,



(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.




but it was detached roughly 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 booke to be kept in it.” (1)

1. “September 1726.  The fence of the churchyard was repair’d in part and in the grester 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 bread 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.