Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Blackmore: War Memorial Project (1)

Blackmore’s War Memorial is to have a facelift soon. It is to be cleaned and the faded names re-engraved, hopefully in commemoration of its own 90th anniversary. A small group of interested people are trying to establish an accurate transcript of those who died, and of those who survived, who are remembered on the obelisk which stands on the village green. Blackmore Area Local History has previously published a list of names (see http://blackmorehistory.blogspot.com/2008/10/blackmore-war-memorial.html) but this is now in the process of correction, where necessary.

Hot off the press is a first draft of the inscriptions of survivors who are engraved on the memorial together with their full names, addresses and other information. It is available to view on http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/blackmorewwonesurvivors.html. Records consulted include Electoral Registers for the years 1918 and 1920, the former of which is available to view on line through the Essex Record Office website (SEAX http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/) and was the year when many were enfranchised for the first time (ERO C/E 2/1/1). The Spring 1920 electoral roll (ERO C/E 2/1/3) is contemporary with the commissioning of the War Memorial.

If you are related to any of the people listed we would love to hear from you.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Great Burstead: Smith family

My great grandfather, George Smith, was a farmer at Burstead Grange, Great Burstead near Billericay. Here he is photographed in 1906 with his wife, Jane, and ten children. My grandfather, Arthur, is to the left of his mother. I received a copy of the picture this week. For more about my ancestors visit http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/smith.html

Friday, 22 January 2010

Blackmore: Turner Family

10 January 2010


A great website with informative sections and links which I have found very useful.

I am trying to trace my ancestors beyond the turn of the 18th century and have been drawn to Blackmore by the baptism of Thomas Turner on 24 March 1733 with his parents listed as Thomas and Mary Turner. I am unable to establish any information on Thomas and Mary such as marriage etc. I was told that the records were unreadable by an Essex researcher and wonder if there is a local historian that could offer any advise.

I have found that the Thomas, baptised 24 March 1733, married Elizabeth Palmer in Blackmore on 8 November 1763 and from there can trace the tree up to myself.

I do hope that you can assist.

Kind regards
Michael Turner

12 January 2010

Hello Michael

Thanks for your E mail and kind comments about the website.

I do not hold any records personally regarding your family. As you will be aware Blackmore Church’s BMD records are kept at the Essex Record Office. Early Registers are now available to view on line via SEAX.

You may find the following references helpful:

SEAX http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/
D/P 266/1/1. Baptisms : 1602-1712; Marriages : 1602-1749; Burials : 1602-1678: http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/result_details.asp?intOffSet=100&intThisRecordsOffSet=109
D/P 266/1/2. Burials 1678 – 1749: http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/result_details.asp?intOffSet=100&intThisRecordsOffSet=110

Additionally the Essex Record Office has a copy of a late Victorian transcript of the Registers (ERO T/R 219/1) with the original held in the Church Safe. It records Baptisms and Burials from 1602 to 1812 and Marriages from 1602 to 1753.

Good Luck


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Chelmsford: Museums Reopen

Chelmsford Museums' Celebration - 23 & 24 January 2010

Chelmsford has two museums rolled into one.

“After 15 months of redevelopment Chelmsford, the birthplace of radio has a new museum facility worthy of its unique industrial heritage.

“On Saturday 23 January, the newly refurbished and extended Chelmsford Museums, including the Essex Regiment Museum, will welcome visitors through the doors from 10am – 6 pm. A fayre will be held on the lawn in front with a hog roast and live entertainment available throughout the day. On Sunday 24 January, the celebrations continue with a military theme and a battle re-enactment in the Education Room, doors open from 1pm to 4pm. Between Monday 25 January and Saturday 30 January, a range of talks and shows are also included as part of the celebrations.”

For more go to: http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6779

Essex Regiment Museum

On the same site is the Essex Regiment Museum. For more go to: http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6780

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Blackmore: Picturesque Essex (2)

An extract from 'Picturesque Essex' by Moul and Hill, published by F E Robinson & Co. Bloomsbury in 1905.

Blackmore has another quaint wooden church tower, built probably about the same time as the two we have just mentioned [Stock and Margaretting]. The parish is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, but the church exhibits some excellent Norman masonry in its west front and part of the nave; the rest of the building is Early English. It was attached to a Priory of Austin Canons, founded here in the reign of Henry II, and dedicated to St Lawrence. Not a vestige remains of the monastic establishment, but a few relics have been dug up at various times. The old house shown in our view near the church stands on the site of the priory, and has been kinown since Henry VIII's time as "Jericho". That masterful monarch used it as a suitable place of retirement and privacy, and the popular expression "Go to Jericho!" is supposed to have arisen from that circumstance. The church and house make an exceedingly picturesque group, and the village, with its rustic bridge across the stream, is an excellent subject for a sketch. This stream is still known as the "Jordan," though its real name is the Cam.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Blackmore: Picturesque Essex (1)

10 January 2010


One last question for a while: How were you able to find the beautiful pen and ink drawing of the church by Duncan-Moul from the ‘Picturesque Essex’ book? I have tried to copy the picture from the web page with little luck as it always appears blurry. Do you happen to have an image you could share?


10 January 2010

Hello Scott

‘Picturesque Essex’ is a book that I own. It is “a volume of sketches by Duncan Moul with descriptive letterpress by R. H. Ernest Hill A.R.I.B.A.” published in 1905 by F. E. Robinson & Co, London. Please find attached the illustration of the church which is one of two of Blackmore.



10 January 2010

Again, thank you Andrew. It is such a beautiful church, especially in the snow. Maybe someday I can visit.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Blackmore: Legacies from the Rich to the Poor

A transcript of legacies and bequests has been taken from Walter Layton Petrie's book 'A Country Parish' (1898) and may be viewed on http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/blackmore_legacies.html

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Blackmore: Smyth Family (3)

7 January 2010


I just today received a copy of the biography of Sir Stephen Powle. I look forward to reading it thoroughly. Just in a brief scan of the chapters, I find it interesting that he died in 1630. I have theorized that it was around 1630 when Arthur and Thomas left England. It would be interesting to know what may have led to their decision to leave the comfortable environs of their estate. I also find it interesting that it is believed that Thomas and Margaret's children are carved on the side of their tombs.

I think it would be wonderful to get a copy of Sir Thomas' will, but I need to first understand Virginia Stern's citation for it in her footnotes...D/AEW 10/192 at ERO. I suppose that means it is found at the Essex Record Office.

I have contacted a person from the Historic Environment Records Office in London and have inquired about any archaeological info on Smyth's Hall. They apparently have a file, though I am not sure what may be in it. I am off to Raleigh tomorrow to explore some books of immigration to Jamestown during the period around 1630 ... hoping to find more information on the boat and the date of travel for the Smiths. All of this is fascinating and quite good therapy for me as a means of escape from some of my other duties!! My son finds it interesting that he is a descendent of a “Lord”!

So wonderful to share information with you.


7 January 2010

Hello Scott. Thanks for your E mail. I confirm that ERO stands for the Essex Record Office, Chelmsford.



9 January 2010

Hello Scott. As promised please find enclosed a copy of the Smyth crest. It is taken from the grave of Thomas Smyth who died in 1684. He lies by the altar at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore. To see a complete photograph of his grave and to view a summary of the descendants of John Smyth go to http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/john_smyth_descendants.html



9 January 2010

Thank you for this Andrew. I assume all of the crests are the same for the various Smyth tombs. I will have to read more about this Thomas.

Many thanks-

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Blackmore: Smyth Family (2)

28 February 2004


I found some useful information on Blackmore (and the Smyth family) in the Reference section of a local Library.


1 March 2004


I have transcripts of some pages of "Some Isle of Wight Families" (pertains to the Isle of Wight in Virginia, America) and they reference the will of Sir John Smyth in its entirety as being included in the Essex Arch. Society Transactions (Vol III, p. 56). Do you know of this publication? The will is described as "a remarkable document".


2 March 2004


Thank you for your E mail. When I was in the Library I went through the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society (c. 1865) - and copied the very reference you quote: the will of John Smyth.


The copy was sent to Don and now appears on www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/john_smyth_will.html

Friday, 15 January 2010

Blackmore: Smyth Family (1)

17 February 2004

I stumbled across your name on a website devoted to Rivenhall. I am currently writing a book about the church, its people and history [Since published in booklet form].

I understand you are related to the Smyth family and that you have visited Blackmore and seen the tomb to Thomas Smyth and the memorials to your other ancestors.

As part of my research I have seen the original document which transferred the Priory from Henry VIII to John Smyth in 1540. It is in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford.

I have also seen a document relating to a dispute that Thomas Smyth had with the parishioners over the use of the chancel (1583). I think that your forebear has been the subject of an historical misunderstanding - caused by an error in our 1966 guidebook - which suggested that his intention was to demolish the church entirely. This does not appear to be the truth.

One query I have is that the parishioners in 1583 claimed that a Sir Brian Tuke demolished the buildings some 40 years earlier (some historians say that Sir Brian purchased the property from Henry VIII and sold it on to John Smyth). Do you know who Sir Brian Tuke was? I would be very pleased to hear from you.


18 February 2004


First let me say that I am very happy that you found me.

I have not visited Blackmore as yet. I have some wonderful pictures of the church and its interior. And, actually, it is my wife who is the Smyth/Smith descendant. I do the research.

Yes, I have heard of Sir Brian Tuke, although not in relation to the Smyths.

Do you know Rivenhall well? John Carrington Smyth died on the 25th of June in 1446 and is very possibly buried in the chapel that he himself had built in the churchyard of St. Mary and All Saints in Rivenhall. I would like to find out more about this chapel.

Thanks for the info on the original document which transferred the Priory from Henry VIII to John Smyth in 1540. I will have to contact the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford to get a copy.

Andrew, how can I help you? I know I have many questions I would like to ask you if you don't mind. I have not worked on the Smyth line for a while but I will get up to speed right away.

So great to hear from you.

Don Timmerberg, USA

21 February 2004

Thank you for your E mail. It seems to me that rather than sell the property to John Smyth, Brian Tuke may have been acting as Henry VIII's "estate agent".

In a previous E mail you wrote that you had many questions. If I can assist, please let me know. In turn, I would welcome some assistance at some stage soon understanding the Smyth family line in Blackmore. For example, I am not clear as to whether Thomas Smyth (buried 1594 [thought now to be 1592 – see blog entry 6.1.10]) was John's son or grandson.

I have during the course of my research found various references to the Smyth family which I would be happy to copy to you.

Best wishes.


22 February 2004


I am happy you were able to download the Brian Tuke data. I agree with you; it has been my impression that the priory was given to Smyth by Henry VIII ... but ... could it not be true that awarding land belonging to the Crown could be done by an agent without any knowledge of the King?

To answer your question about the relationship between Thomas Smyth (buried 1594) and John Smith I offer the following:
- John Carrington Smith (the use of Carrington in his name was initiated by me for my personal use, i.e. to identify the John Carrington who changed his name to Smyth).
- Son: Thomas Smyth (married Isabell Toft of Little Baddow.
- Grandson: John Smyth (married Dorothy Trymmell)
- Great-grandson: Sir Thomas Smyth (died 1594) (married Margaret Turner) (husband and wife entombed in St. Laurence)

I would like to accept your offer for a copy of extract of John Smyth's will, published in 1914 in Parish Priests by E L Cutts. I would appreciate it very much.

I am sending you pages from History and Antiquities of the County of Essex (1768), by Phillip Morant. Do you know it? I only have a very few pages which I obtained from the Essex Record Office. The pages I am sending refer to Blackmore including the Priory and Church.

I also am writing a book. It will be a family history, i.e., ancestors of my three daughters. I have not concentrated very much on the Smyths but now that you and I are exchanging data I will start to do so. Then you will have all I know of that family. But please do not wait to ask questions. I will be glad to supply any info at any time.


Don Timmerberg

23 February 2004

Please find attached notes regarding the sale of the manor to John Smyth, and an extract of his will.

Henry VIII sold the Priory to one of his auditors, John Smyth Esq. in 1540. In the Essex Record Office are copies, dated 1714, of the original Deed in Latin and translated into English.

Henry the Eighth by the grace of God of England … supreme Head of the English Church . To all whom those present Letters shall ye know that for the sum of Five hundred and sixty three pounds and five shillings of lawfull money to the hands of the Eroafuror (?) of the Court of Augman … by our John Smith of Blakemore … in the County of Essex … have given and granted and by those present do give and grant to the said John Smith and Elizabeth his Wife Honour Lordship and Manor of Blakemore … belonging … to the late Monastery of Waltham Holy Cross in the County of Essex lately dissolved. And also land … pastures … Woods. And also all the Rectory and Church of Blakemore ... all the tiyhts and appurtanances whatsoever in our said County … to the said late Monstery. … And the Advowson … of the parish Church of Blakemore [from] Abbot Fuller late Abbot of the late Monastory or any other of his … Abbots of the same late Monastory in right of that late Monastory at any time before the Dissolution … .

This document, dated 22nd September 1541, meant that John Smyth now held the manor, rectory and advowson (the right to appoint a priest).

At that time about two fifths of the County’s land was sold, which represented one of the biggest sales of property since the Norman Conquest. For example, when Barking Abbey was suppressed, Sir William Petre bought Ingatestone Manor for £849 12s 6d, paying the King in instalments. Sir Thomas Audley did one better; he received Walden Abbey as a gift.

John Smyth however did receive in the same year, as a gift from Henry VIII, property previously belonging to William Pawne. The original Deed, which is in the Essex Record Office, bears the great seal of the King. An English translation is given:

John Smyth Esquire in our Court before the Justices at Westminster impleaded William Pawne and Ellen his Wife of Four Messuages one Dovehouse One Hundred Acres of Land twenty Acres of Meadow twenty Acres of Pastuer and twelve Acres of Wood with the Appurtances in Blakemore and High Ongar by a Writ of Entity upon Disseisin …. And into which the same William and Ellen have not Entry but after the Disseisin which Hugh Hunt … hath made to the aforesaid John ….

Smyth sold 30 acres of this land the following year.

John Smyth died in 1543, about the same time as the demolition of the priory buildings. In the inventories of his will he mentions the contents of his private chapel in his manor house.

In the chapel chamber, a long setle joyned. In the chapel, one aulter of joyner’s work. Item, a table with two leaves of passion gilt [a panelled ditych]. Item, a long setle of wainscott. Item, a bell hanging over the chapel. Chapel stuff, copes and vestments three. Aulter fronts four, corporal case one, and dyvers peces of silk necessary for cushyons v.

Altar vessels are not mentioned, as these were probably included with the remainder of the silver: such was the wealth of the Smyths.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Blackmore: Folk Music and Dance

Blackmore Morris Men celebrate their fortieth anniversary today. The side was formed on 14 January 1970, according to their website (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/blackmoremorris/).

On New Years Day at lunchtime a large crowd turned up at the Leather Bottle, Blackmore, to watch the annual dance to celebrate the change of the year. Bells, handkerchiefs and sticks and Cotswold Morris tunes abound: ‘Speed the Plough’ and ‘Queen’s Delight’ being two now recognisable to me. Afterwards the group went into the pub for an impromptu and informal play and sing. Sitting in the middle of the room I was treated to a surround sound rendition as one by one other musicians and singers joined in.

Over the years I have seen Morris Dancing at local country pubs but it is only relatively recently that I have become a real listener to folk music. There is something strange about folk music in the sense that it is as if I have always known this music and it is not new to my ears. Perhaps the music says something about my roots. I have given much thought as to why that might be and why I think that way about this musical genre. I have four possible theories.

Firstly, when I was in the Junior School Choir we sang ‘Streets of London’, made famous by Ralph McTell. Then at Christmas 1975 Steeleye Span released a hugely popular single entitled ‘All Around My Hat’ which, although I did not get round to buying it at Martin’s Record Shop in (Market Place,) Ingatestone, I enjoyed very much. I recently learned that the chorus is a collected nineteenth century folk song. The 1970s was a time of a revival in folk music, not that I had any inkling of this at the time. As a family we bought the hit single ‘Portsmouth’ by Mike Oldfield. Lo and behold this was a tune played at the session at the Leather Bottle on New Years Day this year.

Secondly, I grew up in a Church of England school where hymns were part of the tradition. Some of the hymn tunes I now know to be arrangements of folk tunes.

Thirdly, I have been a lover of classical music for many years, particularly of Ralph Vaughan Williams who I discovered was a great folk song collector in Essex and elsewhere. His Symphony No 5, one of my favourite pieces, seems to have a folk song strand running through it.

Finally, one reason why I might know these tunes is perhaps because the chorus or refrains from songs are repeatable and fairly easily picked up. When I went to a concert by Bellowhead a couple of years ago, John Boden, the lead singer told the audience that “we are looking for volume rather than quality”.

I have checked with my family to see whether the folk tradition has somehow been handed down to me without knowing it. Apparently this is not the case.

I am not a performer so the notion of joining in Morris Dancing, other than the fun final dance with audience participation, or singing a solo is definitely something I shy away from. But I am more than happy to join in with an enthusiastic audience. So congratulations to the artistes who make up Blackmore Morris and thanks for keeping tradition alive.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Blackmore: On A Winter's Day

The Bull, Blackmore. Our ancient village public house on a freezing day, 9 January 2010

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Blackmore: On A Winter's Day

Megarrys Antique Shop open for business on 7 January 2010, a particularly icy cold day in Blackmore (Essex)

Monday, 11 January 2010

Blackmore: On A Winter's Day

The War Memorial, taken on 7 January 2010 on a cold winter's day. The monument is to be restored by the Parish Council. If your family has a connection with Blackmore (Essex), and particularly the early twentieth century, please contact me via the website: http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Blackmore: On A Winter's Day

I have no need to tell readers in the UK how very cold it has been over the few days. Essex, as always, gets off lightly but there is no disguising the fact that it has been chilly and icy. One blogger (http://www.weather-banter.co.uk/uk-sci-weather-uk-weather/141001-blackmore-7c-sudden-low-cloud.html) relates that it was (-)7C overnight in Blackmore on 7/8 January 2010. But it is the constant sub-zero temperatures which caused the village pond to freeze over completely and for the ducks to engage in skating exhibitions for those people who came anywhere near, hopefully with some food. We don’t usually feed the ducks on the pond but the thirty or so which gathered seemed very grateful.

This is the first video ever posted on 'Blackmore Area Local History'. It was filmed on 9 January 2010.

Blackmore: On A Winter's Day

Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, taken from just inside the churchyard off of Church Street. This classic view looked considerably changed on 7 January 2010 when taken on a hard winter's day.

Blackmore: On A Winter's Day

A photograph taken on a particularly cold day (7 January 2010) in the field by the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore. Reputed site of burial of plague victims.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Willingale: Malyon & Crabb Family

13 December 2009

I am researching the Malyon / Crabb family who lived in the Blackmore area I have records going back to 1700’s. The last ancestor I have is William Peter Malyon who was born in Willingale Spain. I would love to know if you hold other records going back further or perhaps have records of births baptisms etc for any other Malyons.

Many thanks

Gill Gimbert

18 December 2009

Dear Gill

Thank you for your E mail. Firstly, congratulations on getting back to the 1700s. Unfortunately I do not have any notes about this family but will post this entry on the blog. If you have any more details then I would be happy to include this too.

The Essex Record Office holds copies of local parish registers and microfiches may be consulted there during searchroom hours. Early records are available to view online. For more information go to http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/parishregisters.html



Thursday, 7 January 2010

Blackmore: Smyth Family discoveries

(to earlier correspondence, published on this blog on 4 January 2010)
31 December 2009

Hello Scott

I finished reading the book I mentioned about Stephen Powle and have written for the website a summary of his life and his link with the Smyth family. I thought I would pass you a copy prior to publication. I am convinced that Thomas Smyth died in 1592, and not in 1594 as William Holman and others (including Morant) since then have written.

You will also note Stephen Powle's connection with Virginia. Perhaps he encouraged his step-grand-children to emigrate?

[The item may now be viewed on http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/blackmore_powle.html ]


1 January 2010


I find this wildly fascinating! I just ordered a used copy of this book for myself. It sounds as if Thomas and Arthur really had an inside connection to go to the Virginia colony. I had always wondered of their motives and means of deciding to come to America. I think one might assume that they were well funded on the venture with this strong connection with the VA Company.

In addition to trying to re-create the crest in color, I am interested in finding pictures of Smyth Hall. Are there any surviving pictures that you know? I have searched the web with little luck.

This story adds a great deal to the Blackmore web page. Thank you for sharing.


2 January 2010

Hello Scott

Smyth Hall was demolished, according to my notes, in 1844, so no photographs will exist. I checked to see whether there was a drawing in ‘Excursions in the County of Essex’ (1818) but alas no. Morant’s work of 1768 does not include illustrations to my recollection. It seems you could be unlucky in your quest – unless someone contacts the website to the contrary.

The ‘Unlocking Essex’ website (http://unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk/custom_pages/monument_detail.asp?content_page_id=89&monument_id=1032504&content_parents=48) has the following description: “Smyth's Hall (TL59826/00713) The central-courtyard style building on the 1777 map by Chapman and AndrĂ© looks as if it might be Tudor in date, there were two buildings flanking either side of the western entrance into the moated enclosure, a gravelled yard in front of this entrance with three further buildings and two formal avenues of trees leaning to the house from the north and south. The house was pulled down prior to 1839 as it does not appear on the Tithe map of that date.”


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Blackmore: Thomas Smyth (died 1592)

In the south east corner of the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, is the tomb of Thomas Smyth and his wife, Margaret (later Powle). It is in a poor condition, having been described by Muilman (c. 1769) as “very old” and “decayed”, the possible result of neglect or vandalism. It was repaired with brick in the nineteenth century (possibly 1877); and substantially repaired in the early 1960s, at a cost of £600, by a grant from the Pilgrim’s Trust with the balance met by descendents of the Smyth family. Unfortunately, over time some of the kneeling figures and decoration, which surround the tomb, have been lost but nevertheless is still of interest. The picture was taken prior to its repair.

The earliest document we have of the Smyth tomb is from the pen of William Holman, an Essex historian and dissenting minister from Halstead. This may be seen at the Essex Record Office {ERO T/P 195/9]. He wrote extensive notes on Essex parishes and we know that Revd. Phillip Morant drew on these manuscripts when compiling the first definitive survey of the county in 1768 entitled ‘The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex.’

Holman records:

“At the east end of this Chancell is a burial place for the family of Smith which is separated by a wall into which you enter by a dore within the rails of the comunion table. Against the east wall of this is a monument of stone on wch is a man and woman of Alabaster in full proportion, and at their feet a black marble Table with the following Inscription in Gold letters

Heere under lyeth the bodye of Thomas Smith
Esquier extracted owt of the lys of right worth
and worthie Ancestors together ye meoriall
of his wifes and chilren whoe was first married to
Blanch daughter of Nicholas Colsill I ye Coutie
of Midd. Esquier by whom he had 2 sones and 2
daughters & secindlie married to Margarete
daughter & heire to John Turner in ye Countie
of Essex Esquier by whome he had 6 sonnes & 4
daughters which Margaret being after married
to Stephen Powle Knight in performance to him
and his above due sacred rites & in testimonie
to the Worlde and her love & sorrow did dedicate
to present and succeeding ages this sad & lasting
monument. He lived in the feare of God 70
yeares and Dyed in his favour ye 10th of May 1594”

Clearly the inscription has disappeared between 1719 and 1769.

Unfortunately Blackmore’s Burial registers do not survive prior to 1602 but the date of death appears to be incorrectly recorded, either on the original memorial or be the pen of Holman.

There are two documents which help conclude that Thomas Smyth died, in fact, in 1592.

The first is an entry in Thomas Powle’s records dated late 1592, courtesy of Virginia Stern’s biography. In late 1592 he wrote: “I learn of Mistress Smith, widow, whom I hope to marry”. By November 1593 he had married Margaret Turner Smyth, Thomas’ widow.

Secondly, there is an entry in the Essex Archdeaconry Records. On 30 October 1592 we find recorded at High Ongar (Ongar Alto) Church: “Thomas Smith gent dec. intestate. Margaret Smith widow adnix: present by Rich. Stane” [ERO D/AZ/2/5]. It is said that Thomas Smyth wrote a will, borne out by Stern’s work in which he dates the will as 15 February 1590/1591, but the Court records that he died intestate. This may explain the battle over the inheritance which Stern refers to between Margaret and the brother and son of Thomas’ first wife, Blanche.

A review of the Smyth papers is necessary but the evidence here seems persuasive that Thomas Smyth died in 1592 not 1594.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Book Review: Stephen Powle

By the author’s own admission, Sir Stephen Powle (pronounced ‘Pole’) is “almost unknown today”. Virginia F. Stern though draws from numerous letters, manuscripts and records contained in the British Library, National Archives (as it known today) and the Bodleian Library in Oxford to present a biography of a man who toured Europe over three years ending in 1581, as a diplomat and, of local interest to Blackmore, becoming Lord of the Manor at Smyths Hall upon his second marriage to Margaret Smyth, widow of Thomas Smyth, in 1593. His first marriage, to Elizabeth Woodhouse Hobart, had ended in tragedy in December 1590 with the death of twins in infancy and his wife nine days after their birth.

The titles of some of the Chapters give a indication to the wide ranging ability of this Elizabethan man and of the biography itself.

Travel: A Modified “Grand Tour”
Agent for Queen Elizabeth at Casimir’s Court
Agent for Queen Elizabeth in Italy
Interlude: Recovery from Tragedy.
Early Years in Chancery.
Recording the Essex Rebellion
Lord of the Manor of Smyths-Hall
Country Squire at Mylend
Sir Stephen Powle as ‘Adventurer’ in the Virginia Company of London
‘Indian Summer’ – A Third Marriage.

Clearly this is a specialist book written by an enthusiast whose curiosity was “whetted” by the life of this man and the numerous surviving papers.

‘Sir Stephen Powle of Court and Country. Memorabilia of a Government Agent for Queen Elizabeth I, Chancery Official, and English Country Gentleman’ by Virginia F. Stern was published in 1992 in the United States of America by Associated University Presses Inc.. It is available for purchase on Amazon.

For a summary biography of Stephen Powle go to http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/blackmore_powle.html

Monday, 4 January 2010

Blackmore: Smyth Family, Lords of the Manor

15 May 2009


I recently came upon you as a contact for the Priory at Blackmore. I am a descendent of Sir Thomas Smyth (Smith) and John Smyth who were instrumental in the early history of your church. I am just beginning to research your town and the church and my ancestor. I would like to purchase the book on the history of the church. I would also enjoy seeing any pictures of the church and any that may exist of my family. My family has been in America since the late 1600s when another Thomas Smith immigrated from Blackmore.

Thank you in advance for any help you may offer.

Warm regards-
J. Scott Smith
Charleston, SC, USA

21 May 2009

Firstly, greetings from Blackmore in Essex. I attend the Priory Church of St Laurence, which indeed your ancestor, John Smyth, acquired in 1540. The Smyth family were to stay in Blackmore for five generations through to 1721.

I have written a booklet about the Smyth family which I could send to you with other material, including the Church Guide Book. All profits are raised in aid of church funds.


21 May 2009


I have delved into family history/genealogy for many years. I have recently discovered the possible link to John Smyth and am excited to continue exploring both him and Blackmore. Those of us who have spent our lives doing this research have often wondered who the offspring might have been that left England for Virginia in the mid 1600s. We have some documentation of a Thomas Smith who apparently was of some high social standing and was able to fund his transport to Virginia, possibly with a brother Arthur (?). I wonder if you have ever come across any Smyth / Smith who indeed immigrated during that time?

Given your name of Smith, are you a descendent as well?

I would enjoy very much reading any and all material you have to offer. Of course would be thrilled to see any pictures you may have access to of John Smyth or his family and any pictures of the church or Smyth Hall (which I understand was demolished in the mid 1800s). Certainly it is so nice of you to respond and I look forward to further correspondence at your convenience. I will arrange to send payment as soon as possible.

Sincere thanks-
Scott Smith

22 May 2009


I can confirm that Thomas and Arthur (great grandsons of the aforementioned John) emigrated to Virginia. Thomas was born in 1605, Arthur was baptised on 30 August 1607, died 1645.

I am not a Smyth descendant.

I attach a photo of the tomb of Thomas Smyth (son of John) who died in 1594 [a date I have cause now to doubt. He may have died earlier].



22 December 2009


I hope all is well. I have not communicated in some time but wanted to ask if you know of any other Smith/Smyth descendents of Blakemore? I have talked with Don and his wife is indeed a descendant. I am most interested in trying to find the male offspring with the family name. I realize this may be a tall order, but it is worth a try.

Scott Smith

24 December 2009

Hello Scott

Unfortunately I do not have any addresses of other Smyth (Smith or Smythe) descendants but will post this entry on the blog and see if a response is made to your query.


23 December 2009


I failed to ask you another question in the prior email: Have you any records as to the date Thomas and Arthur Smyth left England? I first note that he was granted land in Virginia in 1632. A Thomas wrote his will in 1669 and we believe this is our Thomas. By looking at some court documents, we know that Thomas' son, Richard was likely born around 1630. I would imagine Thomas migrated around 1630. Any ideas are of course appreciated.

Also, I wonder if there are clear photos of the Smyth family crest which appears on some of the tombs? I am trying to re-create the crest in a painting.


24 December 2009

Hello Scott

The Thomas Smyth you refer to was born 1605 (Braintree) and, Arthur his brother was baptised 30 August 1607 at Blackmore. I have not traced their descendents or their journey to Virginia because it falls just outside the family line of those who became Lords of The Manor at Blackmore. “Captaine” Stephen Smyth, their elder brother, born 28 May 1602, died 22 September 1670, had a lifelong association with Blackmore.

For a family crest, probably the easiest thing for me to do is to pop down the church and take a photograph of one of the better carved emblems on one of the floor slabs. I will e mail this and include it on the website in due course.

Two additional items of interest:
- the Essex Record Office has put early Baptism, Marriage and Burial Registers online so original documents can now be viewed. If you are a descendent of Thomas Smyth perhaps you will find a baptism entry in St Michael’s parish Braintree?
- Sir Stephen Powle married Margaret the widow of Thomas Smyth (grandfather of the aforementioned). I have just received from America a copy of his biography. It is next on my reading list and I intend to extract portions relevant to Blackmore for future review for the website.



24 December 2009

Thank you for this Andrew.

I think the College of Arms in London may also be able to locate a copy or at least a description of the crest. I may try to contact them. I believe in one of the pamphlets you sent on the history of the church there is a photo of the tomb of Stephen(?) which has the crest, however I cannot quite make out the details. You may or may not know an interesting aspect of this crest involves the passing down of the peacock among art work in the family. In a needlepoint of a portion of the family tree of a son of Arthur Smith of Virginia, the border is surrounded by peacocks. It would be great to see it and possibly re-create it in the colors as it was described. I look forward to our continued correspondence.


Friday, 1 January 2010


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex.

Two thousand and Ten, or Twenty Ten?

Received wisdom – from the BBC, listening to the radio on Boxing Day – is that this year should be called ‘Twenty Ten’ not ‘two thousand and ten’. It made me wonder whether, with reference to twenty-twenty vision, the year so expressed implies a dodgy eye and a visit to the optician. The changing of another decade, and the end of the first ten years of the new millennium, gives a moment’s reflection as to where those years have gone. “Who knows where the time goes”. As a local historian I recognise that the efflux of time can be quite an enemy. Capturing memories is important, especially of the sometimes more trivial items which disproportionately say more about the way we lived in the past than sometimes the set piece events. How many people have a photo of the former village shop at Pleshey for example?

A local historian from Ingatestone wrote to the Brentwood Gazette recently saying that nothing had been mentioned of the opening of the Ingatestone Bypass and Secondary School, both in 1959. As an Ingatestone resident I remember a conversation in the late 1980s with an elderly man who I talked to over dinner at a conference in Derbyshire. He asked from where I came from. When I said Ingatestone he immediately knew of its narrow main street and how the traffic got held up there on the main London road before the bypass was built. He was a lorry driver before he retired. The Ingatestone bypass was one of the first dual carriageways to be built on the London to Ipswich road, apart from ‘three mile hill’ which passes Hylands Park beyond Margaretting, now no longer (since 1987) the main A12 route. The retired lorry driver had nothing positive to say about Ingatestone but it was a marvellous insight to years gone by.

If you have story to tell I would be pleased to hear from you. Get those glasses on and start scrawling. Happy twenty ten!

Traditional New Years Day Morris Dancing at lunchtime, Leather Bottle, Blackmore.

Not to be missed. Blackmore Morris Men. A photo here is from 2006: http://gallery.future-i.com/England/1181-1200/pic:newyearsday-2006/full-size

Blackmore War Memorial

A minute from the ‘Meeting of the Blackmore, Hook End & Wyatts Green Parish Council’ held on 15th October 2009 (courtesy of the Blackmore Village website: http://www.blackmorevillage.co.uk/):
War Memorial
Mr Ted Hall is applying for the relevant grant, with the help of Cllr Giordan. It was noted that there were some discrepancies between the Parish records regarding the names displayed on the memorial and Cllr Giordan is attempting to produce an accurate text. The meeting agreed that this should not delay the grant application.
Action: Cllrs Town/Giordan
There are in the village a few people who are interested in the names of those inscribed on the Blackmore (Essex) War Memorial and, like me, have done some research. We will be meeting in the Leather Bottle next week to compare notes and establish an accurate transcription.

Second World War

Linked to the above project is the recent creation of a new web page on the website dedicated to the men and women who served during the Second World War: http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/blackmore_ww2.html

Sir Stephen Powle of court and country: memorabilia of a government agent ...

Google Books has recently published a book by this intriguing title, written by Virginia F. Stern, published in 1992. “This biographical study is based on copious sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century materials previously unexplored: letters, diaries, and legal records kept by Stephen Powle. His legal education, struggles to achieve independence from an autocratic and parsimonious father, and his attachment to Lord Burgley as a surrogate parent are documented.”

Sir Stephen Powle’s connection with Blackmore (Essex) is that he became lord of the manor of Blackmore when he married Margaret Smyth, the widow of Thomas Smyth of Smyths Hall, in 1593. Thomas and Margaret are commemorated with a tomb in the Priory Church of St Laurence, being erected by Sir Stephen Powle himself (see picture). The website displays the text relevant to Blackmore but on my computer it is difficult to read. However a link to Amazon enabled me to purchase the book from America for an extremely small amount of money. Having read the book over the Christmas season it has yielded more information on the Smyth family, which I will share this month.

New Tiles for Old: Appeal to Re-roof Ancient Church

News from Stondon Massey Church:

The present tiles on both faces of the Nave Roof at St Peter and St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (Essex) have, over a very long time, become fragile and subject to wind damage and failure. Regular replacements are becoming more frequent and therefore more expensive.

A generous legacy from a much loved church member has given the Church PCC a God sent opportunity to change this situation. Our Diocesan architect has recommended that as the existing condition of the roof is poor and the fixings are deteriorating, we should re tile and in so doing protect the church and in particular, the ceiling beneath.

Having approached a number of grant making bodies who were unable to offer funding, we have had the good fortune to be offered a grant of £8,000 by “Friends of Essex Churches”. Friends of Essex Churches have helped us before and in turn welcome support from individuals in their charitable work.

We are much encouraged and with a current shortfall of £2,000 the PCC are looking for ways to bridge the gap between the money available and the estimated total of £28,000, so that a contract may be placed. The Diocesan Advisory Committee endorses our proposal.

Donations to “St Peter & St Paul PCC” may be sent to our Hon Treasurer, c/o The Vicarage, Church Street, Blackmore, Ingatestone, Essex. CM4 0RN.

Wheal family of Stondon Massey

The family history community has been corresponding on a Woolnough family but thrown up the following entry: “Cornelius [Wheal] in [the] 1871 [census] in Mile End Old Town: Corneal Wheal, 23, boarder, pork butcher assist., born Essex, Stondon Massey”. He was christened “Cornel Wheal, 02 JAN 1848 [at] Stondon-Massey, Essex. Parents: James Wheal and Mary Wheal“. Later “Found 1901 [census], in Forest Gate, West Ham: Corneal Wheal 53, widower, butcher's assist., b. Stondon Massey, Essex; Mary Page 81, mother, b. High Ongar, Essex; Sarah Chambers 42, sister, b. Stondon Massey, Essex”. The full sequence of correspondence can be found on http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=peqt2bakma8k847l5opq4t5do7&topic=422599.msg2871390

Dennis family, Blackmore

Anne Dennis, born 1874, Blackmore, is mentioned on the following Australian site as living in East Ham in 1901. This is another example of someone who moved away from the village depopulating the parish at the end of the nineteenth century: http://www.genesreunited.com.au/family-history-records/1901-Census/dennis/Anne/results.aspx

Family Histories

Knight. Blackmore. http://www.gillandtony.com/genealogy/names12.htm
Rolph. Blackmore, Writtle and neighbouring parishes. http://www.gillandtony.com/genealogy/names18.htm
Shuttleworth. Blackmore. http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/SHUTTLEWORTH/2008-02/1201872037
Farrow. Norton Mandeville. http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=q6ravpvepiob83cs09q4aclmv6&topic=393573.0
Elizabeth Betts. High Ongar. http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=364390.msg2830940;topicseen
The following pages are an excellent example of putting ancestors within the context of the area in which they lived. This family historian has an interesting story to relate.
James Bettis (1825 -1872), Stanford Rivers. http://www.pjbettis.co.uk/?p=1603
William Bettis (1861 – 1927), Stanford Rivers. http://www.pjbettis.co.uk/?p=1575


Rectory Cottage, Willingale. A new entry on Geograph: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1612851
The Baroness’ House, The Green, Writtle. A new entry on Flicker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oldcurmudgeon/4038316146/

Buttsbury Ford

It’s part of our local heritage that the ford – Buttsbury Wash – on the back road from Buttsbury Church to Billericay is often deeper than you think. The road dips and turns slightly to the left as it crosses the River Wid, a meandering stream in the summer but a raging torrent after heavy rainfall in the winter. It’s deceptive too. As a local I was once nearly caught out: my car nearly stalled as it negotiated the depths. So cross, if you dare, with extreme care. Beware lest the river engulfs your car. A story of the crossing is given here: “Fire Brigade statistics show it to be the worst location of its kind in the country” http://cheaper-cars.co.uk/511145-First-Aid-for-Flooded-Cars.html

Edith’s Streets

A blog is dedicated to the history of square kilometres in the London area. A recent post refers to a Mr H. S. Ashton of Ingatestone who gave land for a playing field at Woodford Bridge: http://edithsstreets.blogspot.com/2009/12/londonessex-border-woodford-bridge.html. Does anyone know who Mr Ashton was?

Prince Albert public house, Blackmore

A list of publicans and residents down the years may be found by following this link. http://londonpublichouse.com/EssexPubs/Blackmore/palbert.shtml

Parish Registers

The following webpage contains a list of surnames appearing in ancient parish registers of Bobbingworth, Fyfield, Greensted, Lambourne, Moreton, Ongar, and Stapleford Tawney in our local area: http://www.archive.org/stream/listparishregis03crisgoog/listparishregis03crisgoog_djvu.txt

Stanford Rivers’ Sermons

The National Library of Australia has in its collection ‘XXXI [31] sermons preached to the parishioners of Stanford-Rivers in Essex [microform] : upon serveral subjects and occasions / by Charles Gibbes’. This is a collection of preaching in the Church of England dated during the 17th century (1604 -1681). (http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1752554?lookfor=preached&offset=158&max=33736)

Blackmore Area Local History: Stondon Worthies

Three new web pages have just been published on the main website devoted to local celebrities of Stondon Massey. They are:
William Byrd: http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/stondon_william_byrd.html
John Carre: http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/stondon_john_carre.html
Nathaniel Ward: http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/stondon_nathaniel_ward.html

Turning Pages

Fans of the composer William Byrd will learn that Lady Nevells Books can be viewed at the British Library. http://media-newswire.com/release_1108127.html

Byrd Edition Volume 12

A review of the ongoing cycle of William Byrd’s work presented by The Cardinall’s Musick under director Andrew Carwood is given on http://www.classical.net/~music/recs/reviews/h/hyp67675a.php


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to: http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/externallinks.html