ID: SG01_031 / P.A.F. Stephenson

TitleThe Parish of Great Wigborough
AbstractFrom the book "The Parish Registers of Great and Little Wigborough", by Mrs P.A.F. Stephenson, published in 1905.

Great Wigborough

The Parish of Great Wigborough contains about 2000 acres of land, 3 of water, 5 of tidal water and 80 foreshore. It is 7 miles south-west from Colchester and 11 north-east from Maldon, in the North-Eastern Division of Essex, in Winstree Hundred, in Lexden and Winstree Petty Sessional Division and Union, Colchester County Court, Rural Deanery of Mersea, Archdeaconry of Colchester and the Diocese of St Albans.

Wright in 1835 says "the soil of the Wigboroughs is a strong tenacious loam, of a rich brown colour to the depth of 6 or 7 feet. There are no springs. Hollow draining useless. Expense of working very great but the crops heavy. Average annual produce an acre, wheat 24, barley 32 bushels"

The livings of Great and Little Wigborough were united in 1878. The population of Great Wigborough in 1821 was 410; 434 in 1831, 488 in 1863, and, at the last census in 1901 only 205. The value of the living in 1863 was commuted at £607, a house and 96 acres of glebe.

Part of the parish was owned by the nunnery of Barking both before and after the Conquest and is so recorded in the Doomsday survey, the other part of Aluric a freeman. It contained two manors - Abbess Hall and Moulsham. The manor of Abbess or Abbot's Hall took the appellation from either the Abbess of Barking when it belonged to the "celeresse" of that nunnery or from the Abbot of St. Osyth, into whose hands it subsequently passed. "The collector of Wigberwe paid £10 by even portions at the two feats of S. Michael and at Easter" (Muilman). At the dissolution of the monasteries Henry VIII granted it to Thomas, Lord Cromwell. Upon his attainder it soon fell to the Crown again and was appointed towards the maintenance of Lady Mary (afterwards Mary I). In 1545 the same king granted it to Charles Tuke and his heirs. Queen Elizabeth granted the manors of Wigbarge Salcote and Tollesbury to the Duke of Norfolk. On his execution in 1572 his estates fell to the Crown. His eldest son Philip, Earl of Arundel, was restored in blood by Act of Parliament, 1580, but his estates being again confiscated in 1591; Queen Elizabeth presented this living to his younger brother Thomas in 1594 with the advowson of the church. Muilman in his history of Essex says in 1772, "The Manor House is large. John Bullock of Falkborn Hall now enjoys it. The house of Abbot's Wic stands in Great Wigborough parish the lands extend into Salcot Virley. This estate as well as Salcote belonged to Mrs. Crank and on her death came to Sir Antony Thomas Abdy, Bt. It belonged in 1645 to Colonel Thornhill." Now (1905) the manor and estate of Abbott's Hall belongs to the trustees of Dr. Cline.

The manor of Moulsham took its name from William de Mulsham. The house stands a little way N.E. from the church. In the Feodary of the Honor of Castle Hedingham we have the following succession of the Lords of this manor. Walter de Pattishall 1351, Robert Gedding 1356, Walter at Lee, John Barley and Sir William Thirlewite, temp VI, William Barley 1505, the sisters and co-heirs of Thomas Leventhorpe, Esq. Part of this estate belonged to Sir John Peake, Lord Mayor of London, 1687, and passed to his daughter Margery's husband Sir John Shaw, whose son Sir John Shaw Bart., inherited it in 1721 and on his death, he was succeeded by his son Sir John Shaw, Bart., 1738. Part of this estate belonged to John Wale of Colne Priory.

The Bullock family owned and partly resided at Moulsham for nearly 200 years during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The house has fallen into decay, and what remains of it is portioned into cottages and a farmhouse, with 130 acres of land, lately owned by Mr. Oxenham. The numerous traces of foundations in the neighbourhood of the present house show that in former times it must have been a mansion of some importance.

The Hyde, an estate of about 100 acres belonged in 1768 to Mr. Kilham and Philip Roberts, Esq.; it is a picturesque old black beamed house, purchased in 1902 by Richard Hunt Esq. He has thoroughly restored the house, preserving most carefully all the old wood work, said to be 500 years old. It is picturesquely situated on the Western slope of Wigborough Hill, and is an excellent example of good restoration. In making a tennis lawn, Mr. Hunt found a quantity of carved stone work, which must formerly have formed part of the church.

Mr. Philip Havens and Mr. Massengarb also owned estates in Wigborough in 1768.

Mr. Blyth owns about 200 acres of land, with a farm house called Seaboroughs, which he purchased in 1902 from Mr. Arnold.

Mr. Charles Hutley owns 326 acres land in Great Wigborough, including a well-built house, called "The Chestnuts," formerly called "Brick House".

The Parish Church of St. Stephen is beautifully situated on the top of the hill and its Tower is a landmark for many miles round. It is a building of flint and rubble in the early English and decorated styles and consists of a chancel, nave, south porch, vestry and embattle western tower of stone. In 1772 the church was leaded (Muilman). From the Tower is a most extensive view, one of the finest in Essex, over Salcot Creek, the Blackwater and Mersea Island to the open sea. The whole church has at various times been restored. After the earthquake of 1884 the tower had to be rebuilt by subscriptions, the Mansion House Fund contributing £400, and the foundation stone inserted in the western wall is thus inscribed: "This foundation Stone of the Tower of the Church of St. Stephen, Great Wigborough, was laid in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, by Emily Ann, wife of the Reverend Frederick Watson, M.A., Rector, on the 4th day September 1885."

Since 1890 the whole Church has been handsomely restored and the chancel entirely rebuilt by the generosity of the present Rector, the Reverend Frederick Theobald at a cost of over £3000 out of his own pocket. The edifice had cracked in all directions owing to the long droughts and the earthquake. The following memorial have also been given: A beautiful East Window (by Hardman), presented by Mrs. Frederick Theobald in memory of her father, Charles Lestourgeon, Esq., of The Close, near Cambridge, who died 22nd February, 1891. A carved oak chancel screen with this inscription on the East side: "a.m.d.g. et in piâmêm. Georgina Phillippae [ Note 1 ] uxoris Gordon Watson, praef quae ob. Dec 30 1887 a.d." and on the west side "Gloria tibi Domine." A carved oak pulpit, erected in 1898 at the cost of £68 10s. 0d. and placed under the ancient entrance to the rood-screen, in memory of the last Rector, the Rev. Frederick Watson. In 1895 the ancient font having been restored was placed under the Tower, raised on steps and surmounted by a handsome canopy with a suitable inscription, signifying that the work was carried out to the Glory of God and in memory of the Rev. Godfrey Bird who was 47 years Rector of the Parish. The cost of the work amounted to £34 17s. 6d. In 1895 a new vestry was built. There are windows to the memory of the Rev. Godfrey Bird died 25th October, 1879, his wife, Sarah Jane, died 6th January 1854, their eldest son Godfrey Herbert, died 6th March 1847, their second son Shearman Godfrey, died in Canada, 27th January 1873, and their 4th daughter Clara Mary, died 3rd April 1869.

Owing to the shifting soil or shrinking of the land the church is again cracking badly in several parts. The Tower has a most serious crack from the foundation upwards, and the chancel has been underpinned and strengthened with steel girders.

Colonel Gordon Watson the present patron of the living has just completed the restoration of the porch, which was in a dilapidated condition, in memory of his second wife Harriett Gordon Watson, who died 11th June 1901. A fine stone head was found in the wall of the old porch, which has been carefully preserved. There are two bells, the smaller one 36inches, has the very unusual inscription in old English letters, "Nomen Magdalene Campana Geret Melodie." The other bell, which is cracked and measures 38inches, and has, "Miles Graye made me 1622."

A heating apparatus which thoroughly warms the church in every part, has recently been fixed by Messrs. King and Co., Engineers, of Liverpool.

Symonds in his collections mentions the arms of Patteshall (argent, a fess between 3 crescents sable), and of Bourchier, on the chancel roof, and monuments or tablets in the chancel to John Bajon (he died 10th September 1480) and Margaret his wife; to "Anne Bullock, late wife of John Bullock, ob. 20 Jan 1615"; also inscriptions on Robert Lawrence of Moulsham, John Bullock, and Dionisia, wife of Thomas Page, who died 20 March 1486. Wright mentions all the above memorials as existing in 1835. Now there is no trace of any of them left, and it appears that they must have been swept away during the Restoration of the Church about 1840. Wright mentions John Bullock as being the father of Sir Edward Bullock of Faulkbourne Hall. This is an error; he was his grandfather; Muilman makes the same mistake in 1772. There still remains: - a flat stone, under the altar, inscribed: -

Here lyeth the body of
Henry Bvllocke only
sone of Henry Bvllocke
of Mvch Wigboroughe whoe
departed this lyfe the
24 day of November anno
Domini 1628.

A small brass on the wall of the chancel 3 inch by 14 inch.
Here lyeth the body of Henry Bvllocke
late of Wigborough in the county of
Essex who deceased ye 13 of Jvne 1609.

Two flat stones in the nave bear the inscriptions
Here lyeth the bodie
Of Richard Wiseman
who departed ye world in November
Here lyeth buried the
bodie of Ann Marke
[ Wife of Edward Marke ] [Note 1]
deceased the fovrth
day of March in the
yeare of our Lord 1621.

A large Purbeck marble slab, now forming the stepping stone into the church from the porch, formerly held a brass, the screws of which still remain with indentations in the marble. The small brass in memory of Henry Bullock now on the chancel wall fits the indentation and was found by the Rev. F. Theobald on his appointment and was inserted by him in its present position for preservation. There is little doubt that during a former restoration the slab being found to fit the doorway was thus made use of and the brass torn off.
[This step is no longer visible following the 2020/21 refurbishment.]


Incumbents Instituted Died or
William de Wolton . . . . . .. Res.. . . . . . . .
Walter Webb 1377, Jan. 15 Res.Abbess and Convent of Barking
William Hayward 1384, June Res.Abbess and Convent of Barking
Thomas Steyne 1391 May 9 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Nicholas Harper, cap 1392 Mar 15 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Stephen Ingfet 1410, June 30   . . Abbess and Convent of Barking
Richard Butt . . . . d Abbess and Convent of Barking
Roger Martin, A.M 1441, Jan 26 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Thomas Wilford, pr 1461, Mar 7 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
William Lilly, A.M 1464, Nov 20 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Thomas Wardell L.D 1466, Sept. 17d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Nicholas Lupit pr 1472, Aug 26 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
John Smyth L.B 1475, Dec, 1 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
John Geve . . . . . Res.Abbess and Convent of Barking
John Wynham, D.B 1504, Oct 9 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Henry Crosse, cap. 1517, April 22d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Thomas Turner, pr 1538, Nov 9 d. Abbess and Convent of Barking
Robert Certin, cl. 1552, Jan 11 res.William Burlet
Edward Popeley 1556, June 26 d. Philip and Mary R.
Richard Pedder, cl. 1560, Mar 30. d. Elizabeth R.
Rad: Wimbesley cl. 1560, Jul 20 d. Elizabeth R.
George Maskell A.M. 1584, Oct 27 d. John Hammond
Stephen Goss B.M. [Note 2]1591, Dec 6 res.Elizabeth R.
Arthur Bright S.T.P 1600, April 8 d. Lord Howard of Walden
Edward Scarlet S.T.B 1617 Mar 14 . . Thomas, Earl of Suffolk
Francis Walstall S.T.P1636, Apr 10 res.Thomas, Earl of Suffolk
John Alsop S.T.B 1639, Oct 15 d. Theophilus, Earl of Suffolk
John Tindall, S.T.B.1645, Feb 16. .James, Earl of Suffolk [ Note 3 ]
Robert Bland [Note 4]1648, Nov 24d.. . . . .
John Chappell, cl.1669, April 15d.Robert Sayer
Nathaniel Dennison1680, Feb 12d.Sir Mark Guyon
Lawrence Jackson, L.L.B.1730, Aril 25d.Rev. Humphrey Sydenham
Joseph Bennett, B.A. [Note 5]   1772, June 8d.John Bennet, Esqre. of Lastwithiellin, Cornwall
Edward Peter, B.A. [Note 5]1789, June 8d.Harry Bewes of Plymouth, Devon (Gt Wigborough with Salcot)
Godfrey Bird, M.A.1832, Oct 5d.Revd. Godfrey Bird (Gt Wigborough with Salcot)
Frederick Watson, M.A.1879, Oct 21d.Revd. Frederick Watson
Frederick Theobald, M.A.1886, Nov 3. .Colonel F. Watson

Note 1. A daughter of James Theobald Esq., of Hyde Abbey, Winchester, and Grays, Essex, a sister of the present Rector
Note 2. Stephen Gosson, poet, actor, dramatist, satirist and preacher, 1555 in Kent; scholar of Corpus Christi, Oxford, 1572; B.A., 17th December, 1576; went to London and became noted for his "admiral penning of Pastorls," and one of the chief ornaments of the rising drama. after 3 years of great literary activity, Gosson's view changed, he left the dramatic world and began to write against plays. He published in 1579 his "School of Abuse," an invective against poets, pipers, players and "asuch like caterpillers of a commonwealth," dedicaating it to Sir Philip Sidney. This work caused much controversy. Gosson, now tutor in a gentleman's family in the country, followed it up with "The Ephemerides of Phialo," "Apologie of the School of Abuse," 1579 and "Players confuted in five actions," 1582. About this time, he left his tutorship and was ordained. He was also lecturer at Stepney and St Martin's, Ludgate; Vicar of Sandridge, Herts, 1586, and Rector of Great Wigborough, 1592; St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, 1600, till his death, 13th February 1623, buried there February 17th, aged 60. He married, at Stepney, April 25th, 1587, Elizabeth Acton, who was buried at St. Botolphs's Bishopsgate, December 2nd 1615 aged 60; his daughter Elizabeth, widow of Mr Paul Bassano, was buried at St. Botolph's March 23rd 1616. He left 25/- to the poor of Stepney.
Note 3. Morant says that the Earl of Suffolk sold the advowson with that of Salcot for the sum of 3,500 to John Aylett and Chaloner Chute, Esq., on 17th March 1647, John Aylett conveyed it to Sir Mark Guyon
Note 4. In 1648 Daniel Cardinale was ordered to be instituted, and is returned as Minister, but there is no trace of it in the Bishop's or Parish Registers
Note 5. Bishop of London's Registers.

Note 1 this line was missing in the Stephenson transcription.

Transcribed by Anne Taylor June 2020.
With thanks to Sheila Gray, Anne Taylor and Carol Wyatt

Parish Registers of Great & Little Wigborough in the County of Essex as transcribed by Mrs P.A.F. Stephenson 1905

AuthorP.A.F. Stephenson
SourceMersea Museum