Friday, 28 October 2011

Blackmore: Speller family

Received 2 October 2011

Hello Andrew I am researching the Speller family who lived in around Billericay.  I have noticed that there is a Charles Speller included on the war memorial. There could be a match to the Charles Speller on my family tree but only by name and year of birth match so it is a little tenuous. I am happy to share what I know.

Charles Speller b 1876 was the son of Henry Speller b 1837 Vange(?) d 1895 and his mother was Eliza Speller (Law) b 1838 (Pitsea?). 

He had a number of siblings, Louisa b 1857 Henry T Speller b 1858 Eliza Speller b 1860, Mary Ann Speller b 1865, George Speller b 1866,  Frederick William Speller b 19/01/1867 (my great grandfather) Emma C Speller b 1868 and Rachel M Speller b 1871.

According to the 1891 Census Charles was 15 and was known as Charley. He is described as a general labourer. He was living at 87 Back Lane Great Burstead Billericay

According to the 1901 census Charles was 25 and living with wife Ellen age 22 b 1879 and daughter Fairy age 1 b 1900 at 117 Wyatt Green Blackmore Essex. Charles was a haybinder and agricultural worker.

I haven't found them in the 1911 census yet.  Are there parishes other than Great Burstead that would cover Billericay and its surrounding areas?

Thank you for the job you are doing on the research and for making it so publicly available.  It makes fascinating reading.

kind regards

Graham Speller

Replied 8 October 2011

Dear Graham,

Thank you for your e mail.  Charles Speller is a name the War Memorial Research Project came across, as living in Blackmore at the outbreak of the First World War.  He is on the Electoral Roll in 1914.  Baptism records show three further children.  He is not remembered on the Blackmore War Memorial, which was unveiled in 1920.  Our tribute page to him can be found on

His service details say, erroneously, that he was born in Blackmore.  Your information confirms that he was not born here.

Wyatt(s) Green was a hamlet of Blackmore, now a built up area.  “117” refers to a census entry not address.

I have not checked the 1911 Census for Charles Speller. He may have been living at Blackmore, not Great Burstead near Billericay.

Best wishes

Received 10 October 2011

Andrew thanks very much for your reply and for sharing your information.  I have now found Charles Speller on the 1911 census. The reference is Essex, Blackmore 11 Page 60. The family had four children all living, and he was employed as a haybinder. His wife was Ellen b 1880 and they were married in 1899. They lived in four rooms at Nelson Cottage Blackmore nr Ingatestone

best wishes


Replied  13 October 2011

Good news!  Nelson Cottage is just along the road from the centre of Blackmore village in Ingatestone Road.  Today six people living in four rooms would be overcrowding but then, of course, that was the norm.


Friday, 21 October 2011

A Trilogy of Books: "After Dinner Anecdotes"; "Relatively Speaking"; "Captain's Reflections"

Three new books relating to the Reeve family of Stondon Massey and beyond are now on sale priced £2 each (plus P&P).  Pictured below is part of the display of archive material shown at St Peter & St Paul Church last weekend.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Stondon Massey: Today at St Peter & St Paul Church

Open 10.00am to 4.00pm for annual Gift Day, refreshments, plus ...

Reeve Family Archive

The Reeve family moved to the Stondon Massey Rectory in 1849, and lived in the village for almost a century.  This archive is a generous donation by one of their descendants.  It represents an interesting social history of a well-to-do family of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Please handle these items with care.

1.                   The commonplace book of Captain Edward Reeve (1785-1867).  He wrote this manuscript at The White House, Ongar, in about 1860.  Edward Reeve purchased the Rectory for himself and the advowson for his clergyman son Edward James for £700 in 1849.

2.                   ‘Jottings’ by Edward Henry Lisle Reeve (1858-1936) written in 1881.  He was known as Lisle to his family.
“My father you know is always telling us the same old stories, and then he will turn to me and ask ‘if I remember that’.”

3.                   ‘Plauti Comoediae. Tom. I’.   Lisle was educated at Harrow School.  This book is dated September 1875.

4.                   Lisle was a keen athlete and cyclist during his youth.   The trophy shows success in 1880 in a one-mile and ten-mile race, with a contemporary photograph.  ‘Safety bicycles’ had just been invented, allowing the rider to touch the ground with their feet, and were first catalogued in 1885. 

5.                   Two books belonging to Edward Reeve.  ‘Watts’, a hymn book dated 1815.  Highlighted is the hymn ‘Give to our God immortal praise’.

6.                   ‘Prayer’ dated 1815.  The Book of Common Prayer, which then included prayers for the deliverance of King James I from the Gunpowder Treason, and a form of prayer with fasting in remembrance of the martyrdom of King Charles I.  These remained in the Prayer Book until 1859.  The service of Morning Prayer included a prayer for “our most gracious Sovereign Lord King GEORGE” (George III who had reigned since 1859 – and by 1815 was bonkers) and “our gracious Queen Charlotte, their Royal Highnesses George Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family” (George Prince of Wales was Regent and later, from 1820 to 1830 King George IV).

7.                   ‘Church Services’.  A Book of Common Prayer inscribed “Elizabeth Jane Reeve. Augst. 22nd 1884. With her father’s love”.  Jane was one of three daughters of Edward James Reeve (1821-1893), then Rector of Stondon Massey.  The book was given on her 25th birthday. The same Morning Prayer records “our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen VICTORIA” followed by a prayer for “Albert Edward Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales and all the Royal Family” (Albert Edward eventually became King Edward VII in 1901.  Queen Victoria’s consort, Albert, had died in 1861).

8.                   ‘Hymns for a Week’ and ‘Concordance’.

9.                   ‘Death Certificate of Edward James Reeve’ and Hymns sung at his funeral at Stondon Massey, August 1893.

10.               ‘British Museum. Reading Room’. Rules, dated 1894, reflecting Lisle’s interest in local history.

11.               ‘Stondon Massey’.  The parish history written by Revd. E H L Reeve (Lisle).

12.               Miscellaneous Papers.

The archive is the generous donation of a great great niece of Edward Henry Lisle Reeve.

Available today from the back of the church are three booklets transcribing extracts from the two commonplace books on display – each booklet is priced £2.00, in aid of church funds.
-          After Dinner Anecdotes
-          Relatively Speaking
-          Captain’s Reflections

Also, the recently published ‘Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve. The Last Gentleman Clergyman of Stondon Massey’

Andrew Smith
15 October 2011

Friday, 14 October 2011

Stondon Massey: Revd. Edward James Reeve

An extract from ‘Jottings’ by EHL Reeve written in 1881 and now available in a booklet entitled ‘After Dinner Anecdotes’.

 “In medio tutissimus ibis” is the Rector’s of Stondons motto.  Imbued with a firm belief in the English Church, he is equally uncompromising to Roman Catholic and Dissenter, courting neither the one nor the other out of fear or favour.

Mr Ely, Rector of Broomfield near the Curacy of Little Waltham, said to him in those early days of his ministry, “Your sentiments are right, but you will never be popular”.

[Edward James Reeve was Curate of Little Waltham, near Chelmsford, Essex, from 1847 to 1849 having previously served as Curate at Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks in Kent, from 1844 to 1846.]

On some points of Church doctrine or discipline my father feels so strongly, that in speaking of them he seems almost inspired to inveigh against those who would make breaches in her walls.  On such occasions he feels as though he would like to be addressing a huge mass of people on some wide plain, and fancies them still pouring in to hear him.  “How many are there?” he supposes to himself to ask, “20000 Sir” is the reply, “and they are still coming up”. “Let them come on”.  And when assembled, he can imagine himself addressing them all, and like Samson, dying at the hour of triumph.

Mr Wyndham Holgate Inspector of Schools, sent by the Government round the Country to inquire into the state of school buildings – whether or no they were adequate to the number of children etc – in due course came to Stondon.  Had the cubic weight of air in the room been deemed insufficient, the Government could have obliged the parish to build another school of proper proportions.  It was however deemed to be sufficient.  My father is in possession of the title deeds of the ground on which the school stands, it being given to the rector by Mr Philip Herman Meyer the Lord of the Manor for use as School property as long as the school should be conducted according to the principles of the Church of England.  Mr Wyndham Holgate endeavoured to persuade my father that he only had to accept the conditions of Government called the “Conscience Clause” (by which children, whose parents objected to the teaching of the English Church, might be instructed in secular learning only) to obtain a Grant from Government, instead of paying the salary of the governess himself.  This was just the proposition to call forth his best energies, and I have it from Mrs Meyer herself who was present at the time, that she never heard such a torrent of eloquence, such pithy and witty sentences; such speedy, such sharp retorts. He had the best of the argument throughout, and his adversary retreated, assuring him that there were only two other such in the kingdom, and that he was a regular old John Bull.  On wishing the Rector good-day, the Inspector said, “You are quite right, Mr Reeve, there is no doubt, in your view of the matter.”

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Stondon Massey: Captain Edward Reeve

An extract from ‘Jottings’ by EHL Reeve written in 1881 and now available in a booklet entitled ‘After Dinner Anecdotes’.

When my father [Revd. Edward James Reeve (1821-1893)] first came to Stondon Massey as Rector [for 44 years from 1849 to 1893], Captain [Edward] Reeve [(1785 – 1867)] lived at the Rectory House at Stondon with him, with my grandmother [Anna Reeve, nee Stutter (1791 – 1862)] and Aunt Mary [Mary Wheatley Reeve (1823 – 1916)]. 

They had lately become possessed of a young donkey which Miss Mary Reeve used to drive about.  One day the animal was not forthcoming, and Captain Reeve with characteristic activity put an advertisement in the paper offering 1£ reward for its safe restoration.  Three or four days passed, and the beast did not appear; at last the coachman had occasion to go to an old cowshed where the main supply of hay was kept, and there to his astonishment was the truant donkey. Evidently it had got in when the man last went to the shed in the evening, and the key had been turned on it.  The donkey had enough to eat, but his good fortune had been somewhat tempered, for he had nothing to drink, and when the door was opened he made immediately for the pond, and began to drink with an energy which bade fair to prove fatal.  Captn. Reeve, though glad to recover his lost property, was still annoyed to think of the disturbance which his advertisement had created, and the more so that friends would from time to time gently chaff him upon the subject.

Mrs Edward Reeve [the Captain’s wife] was the eldest daughter of Mr James Stutter of Higham Hall [Suffolk].  She was a great invalid in her later years, and during her residence at Stondon seldom was seen outside the house.  The Captn. would vainly try to entice her out declaring that the sun was shining brightly, but even if he elicited a promise from her to try its charms he would return a few moments later only to find her putting on her boots – the lacing of which was a work of time.  When a new domestic was wanted, great troops of applicants would appear at the window to be called in one by one, and the Capt. would be outside and wink significantly if he saw one approaching whom he thought would suit!  On one occasion Mrs Reeve in questioning one more likely than the rest, asked her if she had been confirmed, and received a somewhat amusing reply, that she “had not yet, but that she was good at her needle”. 

Mrs Reeve was of silent habits, and particularly reticent at meals, when, if she chanced to make a remark which caused merriment to the party, she would merely smile and say “I am glad you are amused”.

If the said party assembled grumbled at the fare provided for them, but the good lady afterwards found devouring the same, and even applying for a second helping, she would sarcastically say, “You seem to eat it, though”.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Stondon Massey: Revd. Thomas Hubbard

An extract from ‘Jottings’ by EHL Reeve written in 1881 and now available in a booklet entitled ‘After Dinner Anecdotes’.

The rector of Stondon Massey who succeeded Mr Oldham and immediately preceded my father, was the Revd Thos Hubbard [rector, 1841- 1849] – a brother of John Gellibrand Hubbard Esquire of the Privy Council.  He only lived about seven or eight years at Stondon, his wife voting the place dull. 

He was rather unfortunate, it would seem, in his endeavours to exact the outward forms of respect from the juvenile proportion of the population.  On one occasion he met a boy who did not make his obeisance to the rector of the parish, and who, on being reprimanded, replied, “I keeps my bows for Mr Page” (one of the principal farmers). 

On another occasion Mr Hubbard met a boy carrying a heavy basket on his head, and seeing his predicament as he supposed, kindly said, “You need not touch your hat to me today my boy”. “I wasn’t a-going to” replied the ungrateful juvenile.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Stondon Massey: Revd. John Oldham

An extract from ‘Jottings’ by EHL Reeve written in 1881 and now available in a booklet entitled ‘After Dinner Anecdotes’.

Mr Oldham, sometime rector of the parish of Stondon Massey [1791 – 1841] was a man reverenced far and wide for his great abilities.  He had been brought up to the Law before taking Orders and his proficiency in this branch of learning raised him in the eyes of his parishioners and neighbours.  Veterans of the village can recollect fours-in-hand driving up to his rectory and carrying off legal advice from this clerical lawyer.

Mr Oldham built the present rectory house in a style possibly of his own peculiar.  Certainly if not his own – it is peculiar; The rector – so the story goes – was one day inspecting his laurel bushes by the front gate when some passers by made rather rude remarks upon the architecture of the buildings observing finally that “the man who built that house ought to be hanged”.  “But he’s not hanged yet” said the old gentleman, starting up from his place of concealment.  Imagine the traveller’s horror!

Mr Oldham was strict and stern, but kind-hearted and somewhat eccentric it would seem. I have from Mr Noble a tradesman of Ongar that the Rev. gentleman was very fond of snuff and to save trouble to him domestics had a tub of water in his study wherein a number of handkerchiefs could be always soaking and washing in numbers. “We would have them to dry before his fire!”

This same Mr Oldham erected a tomb for himself in Stondon churchyard and had the inscription relating to himself placed upon it in his lifetime, only the date of his decease remaining for his relatives to supply.  Now and again he would visit the spot, inviting his friends to come with him, and see “his house”.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Stondon Massey: Revd. Thomas Smith

An extract from ‘Jottings’ by EHL Reeve written in 1881 and now available in a booklet entitled ‘After Dinner Anecdotes’.

Revd. Thos. Smith [Rector] of Stondon [1735 – 1781] on one occasion was rolling the gravel in front of his house with his gardener, when suddenly the Church Bells began to ring.  “Why!”, said the Rector, “what are they thinking of now?”  “Well that’s a good ‘un”, replied the man, “I think you ought to know”.  (It was Sunday – Ed.)

Friday, 7 October 2011

Stondon Massey: After Dinner Anecdotes

An introduction to a new booklet now available, price £2, from Stondon Massey Church.

In 1881 Edward Henry Lisle Reeve (known as Lisle to his family) had just completed his University studies to become a Minister of Religion in the Church of England.  He was 23 years of age, born into a well-to-do family, whose father was Rector of Stondon Massey.  Lisle became the parish’s rector in 1893.  His late grandfather, Edward Reeve (known in the family as “the Captain”), had served in the West Suffolk Militia.  Having then been a gentleman farmer in Dedham, in 1849 he purchased the Rectory and advowson of Stondon moving into retirement and appointing his son as the incumbent.

The following sequence of posts is edited from a manuscript in Lisle’s hand entitled ‘Jottings’ dated 1881, and relates specifically to Stondon Massey.  In Lisle’s words:

“My father you know is always telling us the same old stories, and then he will turn to me and ask ‘if I remember that’.

“Well, I should say you have no doubts how to answer that question.  If he were to ask you whether you had forgotten it, it might create a difficulty.

“Most of these little heirlooms we are indebted to the Captain who took a burning interest in all that related to his ancestors”.

‘Jottings’ is a family book which came into my possession via a relative of the Reeve family.  It casts light on the ordinary lives of the privileged classes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  In short, it is a fascinating social history.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex.  It’s little later than usual owing to the marvellous October heatwave which forced me away from the computer and out in the garden.

Changes in Ongar
A large building, which initially looked like a multi storey car park, is being built on the site of the former Ongar War Memorial Hospital.  The Ongar Health Centre will be completed soon with the anticipation that men from the Ongar district who fell in the First World War will be remembered with their names engraved on glass.  Meanwhile in the High Street itself HSBC bank closed its doors for the last time on 30 September 2011.  The media say it is another blow to the town which lost its connection to the Central Line back in 1994.
Under construction. Ongar Health Centre

Pubs For Sale
Two pubs in close proximity to one another are up for sale.  Kings Brasserie, formerly The Wheatsheaf, in Nine Ashes, High Ongar parish has recently gone on the market having been shut throughout the summer.  It has been trading under its new name for only about eighteen months.  The Bull, Blackmore, which has been closed for at least a year is also for sale. It is difficult to tell the fate of these pubs, and whether they will open again as going concerns.  Meanwhile in Blackmore End, near Wethersfield, the former pub bearing the same name, the Bull, has also closed and a controversial application has been made for conversion into a house.  Having two pubs in the county called The Bull, one at Blackmore and the other at Blackmore End several miles away, caused great confusion.  Having visited them both a few years ago the former landlords both told me how occasionally a small party turned up expecting their booking for Sunday lunch only to find they had rung the wrong establishment.  It’s sad also to note that the Dog and Partridge (many years ago called The Swan) in Kelvedon Hatch has also closed.
Kings Brasserie (The Wheatsheaf), King Street, High Ongar

Nine Ashes Farm, High Ongar
A planning application has been made to demolish derelict cattle sheds at Nine Ashes Farm and for a number of houses to be erected.  Until twenty years ago the farm kept cows for milking. Now the sight of a cow or sheep is extraordinarily rare in this part of the county.  When it comes to redundant buildings the whole question of preservation, or conservation or demolition has to be addressed.
Disused dairy farm barns, Nine Ashes Farm, High Ongar

Moreton Hanger
A former hanger from the North Weald airfield in the centre of Moreton village has finally been removed and the site to be allocated for house-building.  The fate of the rather tatty wooden structure is unknown but I learned a while ago that North Weald airfield as well as a new First World War museum on the site of an airfield at Stow Maries near Maldon was interested.  I hope that it has found a home.
Airfield Hanger (now demolished) at Moreton (photo taken 2007)

Treasures of the Essex Record Office
The Essex Record Office produces every year a series of short courses on a variety of topics, ranging from understanding parish registers, and house history through to understanding maps.  On 4 October I attended an afternoon session entitled ‘Treasures of the Essex Record Office’ in which the archivist had laid out around twenty documents which she thought were special.  She gave a short introductory talk on each item then allowed those attending time to view them.  Of course any selection like this has to be somewhat subjective, and there is no doubt that another member of staff would choose a different selection of twenty.  On display before our eyes was the oldest record held by the archive, dated 962; a household record of the Petre family; an original Parish Register commencing 1538; a plan of Epping workhouse; photographs by Spalding of Chelmsford; a record of aliens in the First World War; and, would you believe it, letters written to Revd Edward Henry Lisle Reeve by men of the parish serving on the Front during the First World War.  I have seen these whilst researching Reeve’s biography.

Gift Day at Stondon Massey
A display of books, letters and manuscripts of the Reeve family will be available to view for the first time in Stondon Massey on Saturday 15th October.   The congregation of St Peter and St Paul Church, Stondon Massey have their Gift Day with the building open to visitors between 10.00am and 4.00pm.  Refreshments will be available.  Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve died 75 years ago this year and was Rector of Stondon Massey from 1893 to 1935, succeeding his father, Edward James, who was Rector for 44 years from 1849.  The material was a generous gift of a distant descendent.  Among them are two commonplace books, one by Edward Reeve (1785 – 1867) written towards the end of his life at Ongar, and the other ‘Jottings’ (dating from 1881) by his grandson Edward Henry Lisle Reeve.  A trilogy of booklets will be available to coincide with the exhibition, entitled ‘After Dinner Anecdotes’, ‘Relatively Speaking’ and ‘Captain’s Reflections’, each priced £2.00 each and sold in aid of church funds.

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