Friday, 28 January 2011

High Ongar: Parish Registers


5 January 2011

Dear Sir:

I notice that you have the Registers for High Ongar, 1538-1623. I have a family that lived in that area during those years, and wonder how I can either have someone check to verify place and date or receive a photocopy of the events. I live in California. The LDS Church has filmed some of the records, but not the early years that are of interest to me. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. If you have someone available to check the registers for me, I will provide the names and dates.


Peggy Schulz


15 January 2011

Hello Peggy

Thank you for your E mail. The High Ongar registers of baptisms, marriages and burials are held at the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford. However early copies have been digitised and are available to view online. Follow this link:


Friday, 21 January 2011

Navestock: War Dead


14 January 2011

Trying to trace a D J SHRODER think he is from WW1 could be a Sub Lt Derrick John RNVR with possible Navestock connections.

I am making an up to date role for the new Ongar Health Centre. If you have a complete list of WW1 and WW2 etc., from your area it would be helpful.

Thanks Derek.


14 January 2011

Many thanks for your E Mail, which I will publish on the blog.

I regret that Navestock is not my parish, or a WW1 topic I have investigated. According to Paul Rusiecki's recent book 'The Impact of Catastrophe' there is a war memorial tablet to 25 names inside the parish church. I believe that the church is usually open during daylight hours, so the inscription may be worth a look.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your efforts to produce a new roll for the Ongar Health Centre. Readers of my blog will know of the demolition of the 1930s built Ongar War Memorial Hospital a few weeks ago which, I understand, had inside a list of over 300 war dead from Ongar and surrounding parishes. I have seen a roll for the hospital in the Essex Record Office but the passing of time between the close of the Great War in 1918 and the eventual construction of the Hospital meant that the list itself is riddled with errors, remedied only by diligent searching of census data and electoral roll records, to name but two sources.

With kind regards


Friday, 14 January 2011

Ingatestone: Gatehouse School

Following the blog entry about George Sherrin (, a number of responses have been received by former pupils of the Gatehouse School, which later moved to The Hyde (, the former home of the Disney family ( Their memories now appear on a separate page on the main website (

One correspondent, Alan Cristall, writes:


4 January 2011

Hello Andrew

Thank you for putting me in touch with John Hutchins; we are now exchanging anecdotes about our time at the school.

I now have some questions for you which you will probably not be able to answer but here goes anyway.

What was the name of the house, occupied by the army during the war, which was immediately opposite the Gate House in Station Lane? Would it have been Ashleigh House – a name currently used on the new estate there?

Miss Christie was a well-known local character who ran the 1st Ingatestone & Fryerning Scout Troop. She lived towards the top end of Fryerning Lane on the left; it may have been the last house. Is it possible to establish the name of the house?

Miss Christie moved to a cottage at Mill Green; the last road on the right before the green itself. The area is now more built up and her cottage, as I recall it, appears to have been rebuilt and is called St Giles – are you able to confirm this was the name of her cottage?

There is a building in the market place to the right as you face it and up a short dead-end on the right with a barn-type external door on the first floor. It can now be easily seen from the car park. As Scouts during the war we would store waste paper there. Do you know the original purpose of the building and has it got a name.?




5 January 2011


I’ll have a think about your tough questions. Failing that, and in addition, I will put them on the blog.



Saturday, 8 January 2011

Stondon Massey: Revd. Reeve's Nephew

I am currently writing a biography of the Edwardian gentleman clergyman, Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve ( ) who was Rector of Stondon Massey from 1893 to 1935, a year before his death at the age of 78. He was a bachelor and lived with his spinster sisters at the Rectory.

I have established that his half brother, Francis Hawkins, married and had at least two sons. The eldest appears to be William Francis Spencer Hawkins (born 1896) in Richmond, Surrey, who was educated at Rugby School, according to the 1911 census. William's brother was Leonard (born 1899), Letters preserved at the Essex Record Office show war-time correspondence between Reeve and his nephews. He seems to have had a close relationship with William, who he accompanied to Waterloo Station in London to bid him farewell as he went off to War in 1915. William was one of two executors of Reeve's will.

I have done some searching of William's full name and find that a person by an identical name was married in 1933 to Eva Fitzgibbon at St George's Church, Hanover Square, London. Separately I find a person with identical name, born 1896 and died 1979, as Master of the Court of Chantry [Chancery] from 1933, becoming Chief Master in 1959, and honoured C.B. in 1968. He has two portraits in the National Portrait Gallery.

The question is whether this is the same person., and secondly whether there are any descendants of this gentleman around.

Please let me know.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Blackmore: Smyth Family in Virginia

Thomas Smyth (born 1605) and Arthur Smyth (born 1607) emigrated from Blackmore to Virginia. This letter picks up the story published last year on this blog. (see )


16 November 2010


I hope this message finds you and your family well. My wife and I just returned from a weekend trip to Jamestown, Virginia and Williamsburg. We go a couple of times per year however, on this trip I made an effort to find and visit some early Smith sites. I have attached some photos for you just simply for interest in terms of "seeing" where the Smiths of Blakemore [Blackmore, Essex] landed.

Jamestown VA, as Arthur & Thomas Smyth would have seen it when they emigrated from England.

Arthur Smyth IV's house

Arthur Smith of course seems to have inherited the lion's share of his family's estate and was able before his death to acquire about 2000 acres of land on a beautiful peninsula overlooking the James River and Cypress Creek. We don't know for sure if he built a house there, but odds would be in favor. His great-grandson, Arthur Smith IV did indeed build a home here and named it "Windsor Castle" (I chuckled a bit at that!). It is at the end of a drive named "Jericho Rd." This Arthur donated much of his land for the formation of Smithfield, Va. The site is now a protected park and though the home is not open for tours, the grounds are open. We strolled around and also found the family graveyard. It is a large space but only contains 2 headstones. Many there believe that most if not all of his descendants are buried there. It is speculated that Arthur Smith, the immigrant is there as well.

We then took a tour of St. Luke's Church, only a few miles away from the Smyth estate. This church is absolutely beautiful. It was built in 1632 and it is believed that Arthur and his family worshipped there. It is our nation’s only surviving original Gothic building.

St Luke's Church

Graveyard, St Luke's Church

There remain so many unanswered and possibly unanswerable questions regarding Arthur and his brother Thomas as well as their brother-in-law and sister. What made this very prominent family leave the comforts of Blakemore to go to the remote ends of the Earth to a wilderness with Indians and disease? I wonder if since the family were obviously well connected to the crown that as Cromwell took over and loyalists were frowned upon, if they decided to get out of England? I suppose we may never know.

At any rate, I hope this is of some interest to you and as I have said in the past, I would very much enjoy someday a pilgrimage to Blakemore. Maybe in the coming year!

Best regards-

Scott Smith


16 November 2010

Many thanks, Scott, for your E mail and attachments. I will post them on the website soon.



Saturday, 1 January 2011


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

Cull of Books

Just before Christmas I walked into Harlow Central Library only to find that the number of books on view in the ‘Local Studies’ section had been dramatically reduced by around two-thirds. There are now only two shelves on display and all of the reference books have disappeared, including the last ten years of the Essex Countryside, the Transactions of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History, plus Kelly’s Directory 1937, the series of Victoria County History, Morant’s Essex, to name but a mere few. Lovely old volumes are missing.

I asked the Librarian on duty what the policy is regarding the slimming down of the Local Studies section. He said that a cull of books was necessary to make for more space. When I replied that there was now acres of space in the Library he sought out his supervisor. He too confirmed that there had been a reduction in books on the floor to make way for more WiFi room and that the books are now in storage in a back room. I asked how people could access these to which the reply came that people looking for a specific book on the computer index can ask the Librarian on duty and it can be made available. A notice would be put up to that effect. I asked whether the Library still wanted the Transactions, for example. Yes, came the reply.

The problem with this approach is that a casual browser who nips into the Library will have no idea what is available. So he will not know how useful the Essex Journal is and perhaps consider taking out a subscription. Surely a Library is about browsing books and grabbing ones interest. It is about discovering new and interesting things. Apparently not, it seems.

As things stand, the town’s main library is half empty. If someone walks into a place and cannot readily find what he or she wants, he or she will give up and go without – especially if it is a matter of interest rather than being essential. So if you cannot find who the landlord or such-and-such a public house was in 1937 you would just give up.

This whole thing is a self-fulfilling prophesy. A large number of people have Internet access. I don’t want a Library to become a room of Internet users. If people cannot readily access the service they will stop using it. If people stop using the service, then the powers that be have justification in withdrawing or closing the service, thus saving money.

Does it matter? The fact that people access information in a different way – i.e. on the Internet (and thanks for visiting mine by the way) – means that the lending of books by libraries is in sharp decline. As a book lover I find that sad. But a lot of information is simply not available on the Internet. These books have their place in our society so why are they hidden away?

What do you think? Let me know,

William Byrd Festival

The ‘William Byrd Festival’ will be held at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey, on 7, 8, 14 & 15 May 2011. For the latest information visit Byrd and Tallis, his contemporary, is this month's illustration.

A Folk Song A Day

With the demise of specialist music programmes in the BBC East Midlands region this week – including ‘Folkwaves’, which I listened to on the I Player - don’t forget the marvellous site


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to: