Saturday, 30 April 2011

Book. William Byrd: Some Notes

An updated version of the booklet 'William Byrd: Some Notes' will go on sale from tomorrow (Sunday 1 May) at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey, to link with the 'William Byrd Festival' which commences next Saturday (7 May). The book is available, price £2 (£3 including postage and packing to UK addresses).

Friday, 29 April 2011

Book: Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve. The Last Gentleman Clergyman of Stondon Massey

A new booklet goes on sale on Sunday (1 May) at Stondon Church in aid of church funds and as a launch to the 'William Byrd Festival' which is a matter of days away. 'Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve. The Last Gentleman Clergyman of Stondon Massey' is a 56 page biography of the former parish rector and local historian, who during his lifetime (1858 - 1936) did much to promote the Elizabethan composer locally. The book goes on sale priced £2 (£3 including P&P to UK addresses).

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stondon Massey: Reeve. Extraordinary Connection (3)

The third instalment of the story.

Received 8 March 2011

Good afternoon, Andrew.

I spoke with my aunt today (William Francis Spencer Hawkins daughter). She would be pleased to speak with you about her father. She said she has photos and documents about the Reeve family as well.

I look forward to the developments in our family tree as well!!

Sandy Fitzgibbon

Replied 8 March 2011

Dear Judy

Your niece Sandra has passed me your details. I understand you are the daughter of William Francis Spencer Hawkins. I have a particular interest in the Reeve family: Edward Henry Lisle (1858 -1936), your great uncle, was Rector of Stondon Massey (Essex) from 1893 - 1935, and his father Edward James, Rector from 1849 -1893. Your grandfather was buried at Stondon Massey in December 1916. At that time your father was serving in Greece. The Reeves were rectors of the church my wife and I regularly attend.

I understand that you have some records of the Reeve family which you are willing to share.

I am writing a biography of EHLR for publication in aid of church funds this May, and enclose the draft to date.

I have to say that I am really looking forward to talking to you.

Reeve is not a relative of mine but someone who I have taken an interest because of his hobby as a local historian. (I too am interested in history!)

Kind regards


Replied 12 March 2011

Dear Judy

It was lovely to talk to you, and so generous of you to offer papers relating to ‘Lisle’ and the family, which I can assure you will be put to good use.

Many thanks


A parcel duly arrived on 31 March 2011 containing books and manuscripts of the Reeve family of Stondon Rectory.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Stondon Massey: Reeve. Extraordinary Connection (2)

The story continues …

Received 2 March 2011

Dear Andrew,

I don't know much about the legal system in England, but Master and then Chief Chancery is something pretty important I think, because it looks like once Chief, the incumbents are eventually knighted as well. In WFS' case, he got the CB about the time his term was up...

From information from Sandy, the period of WFS' journal is from January to June 1918....which is not of the period he would have had news of his father's death...

Thanks for any Crickett information....your region is one that will most certainly get a visit one by the intrepid Fitzgibbon sisters in search of family data. Sounds like the Essex archives are a good source.

As to WFS Hawkins' descendants: "Bill and Eva" had two children, a boy and a girl. Personally, we don't know the whereabouts of the son who also had children, but Sandy will contact the daughter (who has children also) at the latest address we have to let her know that you are looking for descendants of WFS and that we're going to pass on her coordinates to you.

And we'll keep you posted.

Best regards.


Sent 3 March 2011

Dear Jane

Thanks for your E mail. Please find attached some papers relating to WFSH.



Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Stondon Massey: Reeve. Extraordinary Connection (1)

When Jane Fitzgibbon recently left a comment regarding ‘Revd Reeve’s Nephew (see ) it opened a line of enquiry which revealed new family history and connections.

The comment was followed up with a request for an e mail address, which was duly given, and a sequence of correspondence commenced.

Sent 28 February 2011

Dear Jane

What can I say! Thank you for leaving a message on my blog. I am thrilled at the possibility of finding a descendant of Reeve.

If William Francis Spencer Hawkins, your grandfather, is the same William Francis Spencer Hawkins, the nephew of Revd Reeve, then Edward Henry Lisle Reeve is your gt gt uncle. Reeve was a clergyman at Stondon Massey in Essex, serving the parish from 1893 to 1935. His father, Edward James, was Rector from 1849 to 1893. Edward, Reeve’s grandfather, purchased the advowson in order to appoint his son – and move into comfortable retirement himself – in 1849.

Are you able to confirm that the marriage of WFSH in 1933 is the same WFSH who was born in 1896, served in the First World War, and was Reeve’s executer in 1936?

I am in a reasonable advanced stage of writing a biography of Edward Henry Lisle Reeve. I have been fascinated in the hobby he engaged in and the fact that he was truly the last gentleman clergyman of Stondon Massey, the neighbouring village to where I live and the church where I worship. He is credited with bringing to the fore the life of William Byrd, the Elizabethan composer who lived in Stondon Massey until his death in 1623. I am organising a William Byrd Festival in aid of church funds for May, so publication of the small book will coincide with the event, and again is intended as a fund raiser.

Please find therefore attached a very draft version of the book, which will be of interest to you. If you have any information, pictures etc which I could include in the final publication I would be exceedingly grateful. If I can assist in any way please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.


PS I should just add that Reeve is not a relation of mine. The only connection I could claim is that he was and I am keen local historians.

Received 28 February 2011

Dear Andrew,

Quite extraordinary!

Except, I'm not related to Reverend Reeve either.

Eva Fitzgibbon, my paternal grandmother, married William Francis Spencer Hawkins on January 21, 1933 at St Anselm's Church, Davis Street, W.1 in the county of London and this information is held in the Registration District of St George Hanover Square. On a copy of their marriage certificate, which I have in front of me, WFS Hawkin's father is listed as Francis William Hawkins, Gentleman, deceased. The latter's father was George Mason Hawkins (1819-1854) who married Emma Mary Elizabeth Reeve on 17 July 1845 and died in Dedham, Essex.

Eva Fitzgibbon (née Graham) is shown as a widow at the time of her marriage to WFS Hawkins. She had two living children from her previous marriage, one of them was my father who died in 2008. So I don't share the Reeve/Hawkins line.

However, my father was tremendously fond of his step-father, WFS Hawkins, and passed on to me his cigar case which has his name engraved on it, as well as his address at the time on Gray's Inn Square, WC. We do have some photos and other documents.

We have WFS Hawkin's birthdate as April 18, 1897 (in Reading) as announced in the Bristol Times and Mirror and his father as Francis William Hawkins born October 1848 and died Dec 10, 1916 at the age of 68; and WFS Hawkins' mother as Sarah Jane W Spencer....we know of the existence of Dorothy and Leonard, but not Thomas and Mildred as we haven't really examined all the ins and outs of the Hawkins' family tree. In fact, family lore has it that Leonard introduced his brother, WFS, to Eva Fitzgibbon.

We know our WFS Hawkins went to the Balkans during WW1 as we have part of his hand written journal from that time, which we haven't completely deciphered as yet. This alone should tell us we have the one and the same person. And our WFS Hawkins was named Member of the Chancery in 1933; Chief in 1959, and CB in 1968.

In addition, my grandmother had two more children with WFS Hawkins so there are direct descendants to the Hawkins line.

My sister, Sandy who lives in Canada and I who live in France, are keenly interested in our family history. Sandy has the software and the ancestry memberships etc and we are always scratching around for more information. Our maternal grandfather was a Solly (very big in Kent around Sandwich, Ash, Worth, Eastry etc) and our maternal grandmother was a Crickitt (very big around Colchester and we believe your area as well). Our maternal great grandfather was Charles Alexander Cole Crickitt (1834 to 1925).

Above and beyond all that, I am a fan of John Dowland and William Byrd!

Let me know if you agree that we are on the same track....

Best regards,


Sent 28 February 2011

Dear Jane

Certainly there is a common thread here in that clearly Edward Henry Lisle Reeve’s nephew (known as Uncle Lisle) was your grandfather. You have verified that the gentleman had quite an illustrious career after the First World War. Please excuse my ignorance but Master of Chancery sounds to me like a very senior job in Law. Was he the top man?

The links with my research are quite interesting too. What I have written in my book on Reeve is incomplete, of necessity, as far as WFSH is concerned. I will search out my notes which did not make the final edit of the book and will let you have them, as well as copies of census data obtained.

It would be interesting to see whether WFSH makes reference to his father’s death in December 1916, and the letters sent by Uncle Lisle and the Aunties (spinster sisters of Reeve who lived at the Rectory).

The Crickitt family were well known in Blackmore. I posted some material on them on the Blackmore History blog ( I recall that they were bankers and one of them was an MP in Ipswich. I will look out this information too.

I wonder, are there any Hawkins descendants around, and whether you know their whereabouts?



Monday, 25 April 2011

Blackmore: The Smiths of Jamestown

Received 14 March 2011

Sir Thomas Smith or Smyth (1558-1625) was a merchant and governor of the East India Company who was instrumental in the founding of the Virginia Colonies. Capt John Smith founded Jamestown. Do you have any evidence that either or both of these Smith’s may have been related to the Blackmore Smyth’s. Thank you for your assistance in research my family’s ancestory.

Kent Smith

Sunnyside, Washington, USA

Replied 15 March 2011

Thanks Kent for your query.

I don’t know the answer to your question but will post it on to see whether anyone else knows. The Captain James Smith you refer to is the man associated with Pocahontas.

I have read and reviewed the book on Stephen Powle ( but this is not ringing a bell.


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Bells at Easter

When the Churches Conservation Trust celebrated its 40th anniversary on 21 February 2009, I visited St Mary’s Church, Stansted, to hear a Quarter Peal ring out from its eight bells. (See The small town, as it is now, is outside the area of blog coverage, but I thought this short video appropriate for today.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Blackmore: Monumental Inscriptions

Received 16 March 2011

Hi Andrew, I am still plugging away at my family tree of the Norris. I have found out with the help of my cousin via the Essex Record Office there are quite a few more relations baptised, married and buried in St Laurence Blackmore as well as St Mary the Virgin High Ongar. I wonder if there is a document anywhere where the details of who and where are buried in the Churchyard. I am proposing sometime this year when I come down from Suffolk to visit the churches to see if I can find any graves of my ancestors as I love to try and put a photo on my family tree site. Can you give me any help or point me in the right direction.


Linda Windley

Replied 18 March 2011

The Essex Society for Family History carried out a survey of Blackmore churchyard in 1997 with plan, inscriptions and location of graves. The results are available to view at the Essex Record Office: reference ERO T/Z 151/109. I could not find on SEAX reference to a survey of the churchyard at High Ongar.

Best wishes


Friday, 22 April 2011

Stondon Massey: William Byrd and the Authorised Version of The Bible

An essay written for the ‘William Byrd Festival’ to be held 7-15 May 2011 at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey. For more information go to

When Kerry McCarthy recently gave a lecture to guests at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge she said that William Byrd (c1540 - 1623) set none of his music to the text of the King James Version of the Bible. The lecture was given in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bible’s publication.

Kerry McCarthy is an influential authority on Stondon Massey’s great composer, an Associate Professor of Duke University in the United States, and prime mover and shaker of the Byrd Festival in Portland, Oregon.

Thinking somewhat laterally, it seems to almost state the obvious that William Byrd would disregard the ‘new’ Anglican Bible of 1611. Byrd was an ardent recusant Catholic living in semi-retirement at Stondon Place in the quiet village of Stondon Massey in Essex. Four hundred years ago he had just published an entire edition of two cycles of Gradualia: illegal settings of Masses for the complete liturgical year to be sung in secret by ‘papist sympathisers’ at such places as Ingatestone Hall, the home of the Petre family, Byrd’s patrons. The year 1611 also marked the final publication of the composer’s work. Here was a man of at least three score and ten years who probably could not be bothered with the new-fangled version of the Bible.

The origin of the King James Version of the Bible is admirably covered in Derek Wilson’s new book, ‘The People’s Bible’ (2010). He tells the story of how churchman of various persuasions, mainstream Anglicans and Puritans, in 1604 flattered King James I into the creation of a unifying work bearing his name. Over six years six teams of scholars in Westminster, Cambridge and Oxford toiled over existing English language translations to create, as a Committee, a definitive work for its time.

Derek Wilson devotes the first seventy pages of his two hundred page book to those Bibles which had already translated and printed in English during the sixteenth century. Among those was the illegally imported translation by Tyndale, which cost him his life in 1536. Ironically only three years later King Henry VIII decreed that another translation, the Great Bible, be made available in all churches up and down the land. The Geneva Bible was published abroad in 1560; the Bishops Bible of 1568 followed which omitted controversial margin notes of the Geneva Bible; and the Rheims Bible published in the Low Countries in 1582. The Douai-Rheims Bible was the fruit of an English College, founded by William Allen, an exiled Jesuit biblical scholar, completed by Gregory Martin.

Byrd’s religious sympathies must have been towards the Rheims Bible, a ‘Catholic translation’ probably used covertly during the services at Ingatestone Hall. We need only think too of Byrd’s reaction to the martyrdom of Edmund Campion in Byrd’s motet, ‘Why Do I Use My Paper Ink and Pen’, and known friendship with Father Henry Garnett who was later arrested and hung in connection with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 because he had heard, in a confessional, the plans of the conspirators. Garnett was a marked man. Throughout his trial was referred to as “Mr Garnett” because the authorities did not recognise his Jesuit priesthood.

1605 and 1607 were the years of publication of Byrd’s two books of Gradualia. This illustrates the dangerous path Byrd trod.

Byrd’s frequent naming before the Essex Archdeaconry Court by the parson and churchwardens of Stondon Massey for non-attendance at St Peter & St Paul Church, coupled with heavy fines, is further illustration of his refusal to embrace the established church. What is interesting is his wife, who died c1606, was consistently named Ellen and not Juliana. Byrd biographer John Harley (1997) suggests this was the same person. We can deduce that whilst Byrd was not known in his immediate local community he moved nonetheless in influential circles and avoided the penalties associated with blatant Catholicism, that of imprisonment, confiscation of property and death. Nowhere could the Catholic mass be legally celebrated.

There is, perhaps, another reason why Byrd did not use the Authorised Version of the Bible. Derek Wilson points out that although the research was completed in 1610, the work itself was hurriedly proof-read; compiled for publication and printed the following year. The finished work was littered with errors and despite stringent efforts to ensure that the King James Version was the only Bible produced in England, copies of the Geneva Bible continued to be imported until the 1640s. In the early days the Authorised Version was hardly a roaring success, but its monopoly, and corrections, ensured its longevity.

The King James Bible was intended to be read out aloud during Divine Worship. Even today its seventeenth century text seems to work through being heard. The success of the King James Version was due to an accident of history. It became the vogue in seventeenth century worship for the pulpit to take more importance than the altar. Lengthy sermons were not uncommon. At Stondon Massey we find part of a triple-decker pulpit. Reverend Reeve, a former Rector, wrote: “The pulpit in Stondon Church with the reading desk attached was erected during [Nathanial] Ward’s incumbency, and bears the date 1630. In all probability it was introduced into the Church in response to an order from Bishop Laud, but I think we may trace Ward’s handiwork also, and his personal superintendence. On the panels of the desk we find the words “Christ is All in All” the text of the famous discourse of his brother Samuel, “preacher of Ipswich”, which was published in 1627, while in the pulpit is carved “2 Tim. iv. 1-2”, the reference being to the words of St Paul, ‘Preach the word in season and out of season’, which no doubt was a favourite Apostolic injunction with the Puritan divine.”

It is to the Wards that we must look for the Stondon connection and the Authorised Version. Samuel Ward, the Ipswich preacher, became Master of Sidney Sussex College in 1610. But he was also a member of the Cambridge II team of translators responsible, with others, for the Apocrypha. His brother, Nathanial, became incumbent at Stondon Massey in 1628, and was one of the foremost Puritan preachers in Essex.

Nathaniel Ward’s nemesis was William Laud, the Bishop of London who on appointment in 1628 immediately forbade the printing of the Geneva Bible. Laud is described by Wilson as “the scourge of the Puritans” and Reeve as “determined to strengthen the traditional and Catholic position of the Church of England.”

Reeve takes up the story: “The Rector of Stondon was “presented” … “for not wearing a surplice in Church for the two last years past, and that prayers were not constantly read in Church on Wednesdaies, Fridaies and Holydaies”.

“A few years later, however, the end came. The Bishop’s books in the Registry of St Paul’s record that on 27th Sept. 1632 Nathaniel Ward was suspended; on 30th Oct. of the same year he was excommunicated for non-obedience to the Canons, and on 16th Dec. he was deprived.

“On his expulsion from his living, Ward determined to visit the New England about which he had heard so much, and in the following year (1634) he set sail.”

The book which these New England settlers took with them was the Authorised Version of the Bible. Over time wherever Britain colonised and created its Empire, wherever the atlas was coloured red, the Bible was present in the culture of each new society.

The influence of this Bible spread because of its association with the monarchy, with stability and of order in society. Melvyn Bragg, for example, lists the King James Bible in his set of essays, ’12 Books That Changed The World’ (2006). Shakespeare’s ‘The First Folio’, Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’, Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’ and ‘The Rule Book for Association Football’ are also listed in his hall of fame. Perhaps it is an overstatement to suggest that the AV played a part in the democratic influence of England on other nations, but it is no understatement that the book had no cultural affect worldwide. It is interesting to reflect that while Britain considers AV – alternative voting – in a referendum, elsewhere in the world there is unrest and uprising against leaders in Middle Eastern countries.

The King James Version became, certainly for over 300 years, a core work in the English language and the teaching of the English language both at home and abroad. It became part of England’s literary heritage. This was both its success and long term failure. Melvyn Bragg suggests that there are some Christians who believe that only a return to regular use of the King James Version will return the nation to “the true path”. Derek Wilson says that the study of the Christian faith adapts with each age and while the works of Shakespeare, a contemporary of the Bible, could not possibly be rewritten, likewise this was mistakenly felt with the King James Version.

Wilson also cites why the KJV’s popularity fell into decline, pointing to the First World War, the break-up of the hierarchical society and increasing secularisation of the nation. Changes in education too meant that learning text by rote is considered out dated and that widespread use of the Bible in teaching in schools is now politically incorrect.

In the Church of England this year, strenuous efforts are being made to encourage greater personal Bible reading. Clergy say that the Bible provides moral compass for peoples’ lives and the King James Version is more than a piece of towering seventeenth century literature.


Bragg, Melvyn. 12 Books That Changed The World (Hodder & Stourton, 2006).

Fraser, Antonia. The Gunpowder Plot. Terror and Faith in 1605 (Arrow, 1999).

Harley, John. William Byrd. Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (Ashgate, 1997)

Reeve, Rev. E. H. L.. A History of Stondon Massey in Essex (Wiles & Son, Colchester, 1906).

Wilson, Derek. The People’s Bible. The Remarkable History of the King James Version (Lion, 2010).

Other sources:

‘Great and Manifold Blessings: The Making of the King James Bible’. An exhibition (which runs until 18 June 2011) at Cambridge University Library. See

Friday, 15 April 2011

Postcard Collection: Hutton

'Railway Cottages, near Shenfield Station' have gone but the public house on the left remains as does the familiar bend in the road before going under the railway to Shenfield station.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Postcard Collection: Hutton

Three views of Hutton just over a century ago. Hutton Wash borders Mountnessing and Hutton: the road is no longer a ford, nor has been in my living memory. Then 'Hutton High Road', now Rayleigh Road, a much busier thoroughfare. Finally All Saints Church.

Friday, 1 April 2011


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

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 in celebration of the great Elizabethan musician and composer who died in 1623 and is buried in the churchyard (photographed resplendent with daffodils). We have two weekends, four events, six occasions. Tickets are selling rapidly. The organisers anticipate full houses for the concerts on 7 & 14 May. For the latest information, visit

The Churches Conservation Trust

St Andrew’s Church, Willingale Spain, is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. A relatively new web page has come to my attention :


The Old School House in Blackmore is for sale by informal tender. Its present owner has lovingly converted the property from a run-down school and former library into a house.

Flicker set of photographs of Willingale, taken from the top of the tower of Christopher’s Church:

The Chase Hotel swimming pool in Ingatestone: long since demolished, on Flicker:

Albert Sutton of Blackmore in 1911 census:


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