Blackmore Area Local History

Blackmore Ancestors

An A to Z of families who lived in Blackmore, Essex
E mail.
Home People Gateway
Timeline Names Index
Baptisms 1874 - 1901.  Separate pages listing male baptisms only to parents living in Blackmore (Essex) can be found on the blog. For more information or to pass on family history contact the webmaster.
Alexander family
Barrett family, and their link with the Baptist Church
De Vere family
Game family: the story of two Herbert Games who died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916
Larke family
Martin families
Pigott family of Blackmore House, Hook End.
Smyth family.  Separate pages devoted to the family who purchased Blackmore Priory from Henry VIII in 1540. 
Blackmore Families: most popular surnames in Twentieth Century.
Click on the family name to take you to the blog entries.
Barrett, Blackwell, Brazier, Chapman, Knight, Livings, Martin, Maynard, Ovel, Pagram, Riglin, Shuttleworth, Smith, Sutton, Woollard.

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Alexander family

There were several Alexanders in Blackmore in the mid-19th century.  The Baptist records say “… an infants’ school was opened (and the Sunday school continued) and Brother Alexander with his wife came and strengthened the little band”.  In the 1841 census George Alexander is described as an engraver, and in the tithe award he lives in Chapel House.  In Kelly’s for 1845, Mrs Elizabeth Alexander is mistress of an infants’ school.  But in 1851 Emma Cordwell occupies Chapel House, and is the infant school teacher.  In the same year George Alexander has moved (to Hope Cottage?), and is described as a pauper, though his son is working as a blacksmith.  But they are not recorded on the 1881, nor on the 1901 census.

Written by Bruno Giordan. 

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Ashley Barrett, Blackmore man made good.

The story of Ashley Barrett's role in the foundation of a Baptist church in Blackmore, and his very generous endowment of the church with 3 acres of land and at least 1150 in cash (worth perhaps 115,000 today) has been told elsewhere (on the website of the Blackmore Baptist Church).  But who was Ashley Barrett, what was his connection with Blackmore, and how was he able to be so generous?  What we find is the story of a man with very deep roots in the village, who leaves for the commercial opportunities of London, but returns to give something back to his birthplace. 

Ashley Barrett and his family 

There are some very informative documents on the history of the Baptist Church, Blackmore in the Essex Record Office, but these date at the earliest to the late 1830s, when Ashley Barrett was already a successful businessman, and approaching retirement.  To get the whole story, we have to start with the parish church records, which record his birth in Blackmore in 1783. 

Ashley Barrett was the elder of two sons of Ashley Barrett and Martha Vittou, who were married in Blackmore in 1777.  The Barrett family had been in Blackmore a long time, as Philip Barrett was buried there in 1617.  Ashley was a popular name, used for at least six generations of the family.  In 1696, we find an Ashley Barrett marrying Alice Tanfield, and calling their first son Ashley, and so on.  They seem to have been yeomen, tenant farmers rather than landowners, and probably living as comfortable a life as anyone in the village other than the lord of the manor.  When the first Ashley Barrett died in 1718, he instructed his executors to sell several properties, and to pay off 500 of mortgages, worth at least 75,000 in today’s money. 

Ashley's mother Martha Vittou may have had an important influence on her son's religious views.  Her family were Huguenots, French protestants driven from their homes during the wars of religion.  The Huguenots were Calvinist, not always entirely comfortable with the Anglican liturgy.  Also, in the 18th century, and until as late as 1850, the parish of Blackmore was looked after part time by the parson of a better-endowed parish nearby.  It seems hardly surprising that some folk in Blackmore looked for an alternative ministry. 

London – marriage and business

Ashley Barrett may have started off following his father as a farmer, but certainly by 1820, when he was 37, he was living in
London.  He married Fanny Wilmott at the church of St Martin's-in-the-Fields that year.  Fanny was born in the parish of St Dunstan’s, Stepney, about mile north of Narrow Street.  Her baptism has not been found - the registers of St Dunstan’s-in-the-East were partly destroyed in 1941.  But we know that Ashley and his wife were no longer Church of England members, because the baptism record for their son Ashley Wilmott Barrett, born the following year, was deposited in Dr Williams' Library.  This was  the "General Register of (non-conformist) Births" begun by the Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches in 1742, and only closed with the introduction of civil registration in 1837.

From 1823 to 1827 he is recorded as a corn merchant at Great Mazepond, Borough, near the later London Bridge Station.  It is probably no coincidence that his Mazepond business was next door to a Baptist chapel (now displaced by
Guys Hospital).  This business must have gone well, because by about 1830 he was running the Globe Steam Flour Mills in Narrow Street Stepney, leased from a man called Overton.  This mill had five pairs of French burr stones, driven by a 20HP steam engine.  This was not the very first steam mill - that was the Albion Mill in Bermondsey, completed in 1786 - but it was one of the earliest. Milling was an important trade: bread was the major food of most Londoners, and the Globe Steam Flour Mills were very profitable indeed. 

Retirement and handover

A lease of 1841 gives his address as Narrow Street, Ratcliffe Mddx., but in the late 1840’s he had effectively retired, leaving the running of the mill to his son Ashley Wilmott Barrett.  In the 1854 Baptist chapel trust, Ashley Barrett, is “gent”, and Ashley Wilmott Barrett is miller (of London House, London Street Stepney, just off
Narrow Street).  But his son had to wait until 1868, when his father was 84, before he formally took possession. 

Ashley Wilmott Barrett ran the mill until he in turn retired.  In 1881 a new lease was granted to Jacob Marriage, miller, of Coval Hall Chelmsford.  By 1889 there were two millers, Jacob Marriage at no. 24, and William Moore at no 27, described as “Ratcliff steam mills”.  But Ashley Wilmott Barrett must have had some residual interest, because in 1897 he sold the property to William Moore of Farningham.  1881 was a very good time to get out of flour milling - in that year, Henry Simon built the first completely automatic roller flour mill in the world for McDougall Brothers, a predecessor of Rank Hovis. The new process gained rapid acceptance within the industry, and by 1892 over 400 mills worldwide used the 'Simon' system. Within the space of two decades he had revolutionised the milling of wheat - and reduced sharply the financial viability of smaller mills. 

Ashley Barrett lived at
1 Chatham Place, Hackney, and at Jessops, for another 20 years after his retirement, until his death in 1870.  There are people in Blackmore who still remember his grandson, who lived at Jessops until after the war.

So Ashley Barrett was very much the local boy made good.  He began his life in Blackmore, made a significant fortune out of his steam milling venture, and he looked after his home village when he retired.  He had become an active Baptist during his time in
London, and he saw the endowment of the Baptist church as a way of giving something back to the community.

Written by Bruno Giordan. 

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De Vere family

Blackmore and the de Vere family have strong links.

Ruth writes: 

“I am currently trying to prove a link between my Larke line and the de Vere family, which also would link us into the de Clare family. Although the Larkes originated in
Norfolk I am becoming convinced that my family’s history is inextricably linked to Blackmore. I don’t expect you to know anything about this or help in any way, but you might just uncover something accidentally which is relevant.”

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The Story of Two Herbert Games

The discovery of two Herbert Game’s connected with Blackmore who died in the Great War came as something as a surprise to researchers thanks to the power of the Internet.

Colin Game, wrote to say that “Herbert Charles Game (one of those commemorated) was a distant relation (1st cousin once removed).  His uncle, Herbert Game (my Grandfather), was also a casualty at the
Battle of the Somme and was also a resident of Blackmore (Swallows Cross) where he married my Grandmother in 1909.  To the best of my knowledge the family was still living there at the time of my Grandfather's death in 1916 (they were certainly there in 1911 as recorded in the census). It is strange that he is not commemorated on the Blackmore memorial, but is on the memorial at Chelsfield, Kent where my Grandmother moved to after his death.” 

This piece of information tied together two unrelated facts.  Firstly the local Parish Marriage Register shows a Herbert Game married on
6th October 1909, and secondly a note taken from the Essex Regiment Museum database: “One candidate, previously dismissed, fell in the Essex Regiment. He was born Cockfield, in Suffolk; lived at Brentwood; and, enlisted at Warley. A/Sgt Game was killed in action in France, aged 38, on 15th October 1916.  He was the son of Robert and Sarah Ann Game and husband of Alice Louisa Game of Farnborough in Kent [source: Essex Regiment Museum database]”.

The 1910 Electoral Roll lists only Charles Games (with an ‘S’) which led us to the family composition of the 1911 Census showing Charles as father and Herbert Charles as son.  Unlike other family members, the youngest who 8 years old in 1911 was born in Blackmore so Charles must have moved to the Blackmore area between 1901 and 1903.  Colin says that the whole family were living in Cockfield at the time of the 1901 census, and had family links with that parish back to 1590.

Colin adds, “The 1911 census is also wrong with regard to Jane May Games as her correct name is Iona May Game. Charles had two other daughters Rebina Martha born in 1890 and Edith Jane born in 1896. I do not know what happened to her after 1901. By 1911 Edith seems to have already left home and was living in Wandsworth (presumably as a servant girl). Interestingly Edith Jane Game was a witness at my grandfather Herbert Game's marriage as was a 'Minnie' Miller, a surname that appears often in Blackmore. 

Herbert Game (the uncle of the Herbert Charles Game commemorated on the Blackmore War Memorial) appears to have lived at Swallows Cross between about 1902 and 1912, marrying at Blackmore in 1909.  Following his death in the
Somme offensive his widow married a Richard Clark of Chelsfield in Kent.  “He was sexton at St Martin's for 20 years and I assume that is the Church where they worshipped and hence why Herbert was included on that memorial”.

"I am also intrigued by the inscription on the War Memorial for survivor Henry Game since no-one with that name was a member of the two 'Game' families living in Blackmore, but it could obviously be another ancestral line".

Five Blackmore men, who died between August and October 1916, are listed on the Thiepval Memorial in France.  They are Herbert Charles Game, William Edward Rudling, Ernest Charles Martin, Herbert Game and Arthur John Nash.  All except Herbert Game are remembered on the War Memorial at Blackmore.

Data produced by the Blackmore War Memorial Research Project Group: Bruno Giordan, Diana Abel, Andrew Smith

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Jopson family

Memories - by Harry Johnson

I was evacuated to Blackmore with my younger brother Ron from Leytonstone at the end of August 1939.  I was 11 and my brother was 7.  We went by train from Leytonstone to Ongar and then by coach to Blackmore. We were taken to the village school where we were allocated to our hosts.  My brother and I were allocated to Mr & Mrs Jopson who lived [at Church Street Cottage] in Church Street. They were a very pleasant couple who also had a son and a daughter (George and May).  They treated us very well indeed which was not the experience of some of the others who were evacuated with us.

The cottage we occupied was a very strange experience for us as we had come from a house in Leytonstone that had all the services and conveniences.  It took some getting used to as there was no electricity, no gas, no mains water and no mains drainage.  We had an oil lamp in the kitchen, candles to go to bed.  Drinking water came from a well in the garden and other water came from a rainwater butt outside the kitchen.  Cooking was done on a coal fired range and there was an earth closet in the garden as our toilet facilities.

For a time I used the village school part time for education.  After a short period at the village school I and other secondary age children went to Ongar Grammar School in the afternoons, local children used it in the morning.  My [younger] brother remained at the village school.

On Sunday we were taken by our hosts to St Lawrence Church.  This was a change for me as I had at home attended Sunday School at the Baptist Church.  The vicar at St Lawrence took great care to help us integrate with the congregation.  We were all given a child's guide to the communion service and made to feel very welcome.  This became very important to me as I was later confirmed into the Anglican Church and attended my local church when I returned home.

We were there in the village when war was declared on 3rd September and the air raid sirens were sounded.  We were required to carry our gas masks but otherwise were little touched by the war.

The secondary school I was supposed to attend decided in April 1940 to use a new holiday camp that had been built in the middle of Sussex as a boarding school and I was moved there.  My brother remained in Blackmore for a time until he broke his arm and eventually joined me in Sussex.

Blackmore was a place of happy memories for me. I did make return visits several times.

Blackmore Memories - by Ron Johnson

I start at my home in Leytonstone and being sent out into the unknown with my older brother [Harry]. My father had left for work much earlier that day before we were up and out mother wished us goodbye at the front door. I was extremely upset at leaving.  Only later in life, with children of my own, did I begin to understand how difficult those days must have been for them.

We set off to school with a small case and very few possessions, little more than a spare shirt, a spare pair of short trousers and our night clothes. Other than travelling in a steam train the remainder of the journey has faded until arriving on the green outside the Blackmore village hall where I was handed a bar of chocolate (I believe a Kit Kat) whilst we waited to be collected.

My memories of the cottage in Church Street (now named Church Street Cottage).

The side extension of the cottage that faced the side lane was occupied by a mother and baby and an early introduction to country life for a 7 year old was to see the mother sitting outside in the sun breast feeding the baby!

Inside the cottage I can only recall two rooms, the all purpose kitchen and the best front room that was only used on Sunday.  The front door opened directly onto the kitchen.

Going to bed at night up a narrow winding staircase to a small room where there was no lighting except a candle that was blown out as soon as you were in bed.

The sound of crickets chirping in the outside wall of the bedroom.

The tiny lace covered window in the bedroom.

Knowing the nearest lavatory was in the garden!

Being washed with a large, rather strong smelling bar of soap.

Learning and playing whist in the best front room on Sunday afternoons.

My memories of our hosts, Mr & Mrs Jopson and their son & daughter.

Mr Jopson, sitting in his own well worn high backed chair to one side of the kitchen range after a day in Nine Ashes, where he was gardener.  Being in the garden of the cottage, bringing water either from the well for drinking or from the water butt for washing or even putting lime into the earth toilet!

Mrs Jopson was a slight, motherly person, who looked after us very well and provided good home cooked meals despite the absence of any incoming services or appliances.

Their son George, aged 29, lived at home and as a result of a head injury when young, having being kicked by a horse, had limited ability. He was a gentle kindly person and had a distinctive Essex accent. For much of his life he was, I understand, well known as the local paper delivery boy.

Their daughter May was in the Women's Army Corps and I only met her on a couple of occasions.  On one of these occasions she tried to take my photograph and I climbed the apple tree that overhung the side fence, to avoid the picture.  This picture of me up the tree with my tongue out was in the family archives for a number of years but has now been lost.

Once or twice I was taken by Mr Jopson to his allotment just outside the village where he taught me to dig ready for planting potatoes.

My memories of going to church.

Although I do know I went to St Lawrence Church on Sunday mornings I have no recollection of who went with us except George who pumped the organ. I don't think there was any Sunday school at that time.  If I was given a child's guide to the communion I was too young to read it.  My regular attendance at church in those earlier years has meant that, although not an Anglican but a Baptist, young as I was the teaching and discipline have stayed with me all my life.

My memories of school.

We met for school at the Baptist Church, presumably in what was the old Penny a Week school in a mixed age class of evacuees, rather than joining with the village school.  As I was the youngest in the class to start I had a real struggle in catching up with the others in reading and writing.

Each day the morning started with a hymn and even today there are hymns that still remind me of school.

Nature walks were also a feature of school, something we did not do in London.

Memories of living in Blackmore.

Having the freedom to go where I pleased without parental restriction.

Fishing from the bridge by the pond with string and a bent pin.

Hearing, in the village, the squeal of pigs as they were being taken to the back yard of the [Stiff's] butchers to be slaughtered. (This is now a general shop.)

My stay in Blackmore came to an abrupt end when I broke my upper arm when jumping over the metal chain surrounding the war memorial on the village green.  After one month in the Cottage Hospital in Ongar my mother decided that I should return to living at home in Leytonstone.  This coincided with the start of the bombing raids on London so I swapped my secure bed in Blackmore with sleeping in the corrugated iron Anderson air raid shelter in the garden every night!

I now look back at my stay in Blackmore mostly with pleasure amd as a time of adventure.

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Larke family

Mary Coller wrote in her book ‘Blackmore. My 1920s Wonderland’: “Then came the Larkes, Billy and his wife, and their daughter Rosie. The house in which they lived had been a private school at one time, but that was long before my time". Billy, whose real name was William (aged 25), married Alice Gosling (aged 35) at Stondon Massey Church in 1926.  

"All three of them, for want of a better word, were reserved. They kept themselves to themselves and did not mix much in the village” (Coller, p8)   

Ruth adds:  “My mother was born in the house in April 1926 as Rose (known around Blackmore as Rosie) Larke.  Her father was William Larke (1901 – 1965) but he was born in
Norfolk, although his parents ended up in Essex and are buried together in Stondon Massey churchyard (Walter George Larke 1868 -1936 and Frances Eleanor Larke nee Earl 1868 – 1952)". The family moved to Blackmore in late 1923 or early 1924: their names first appear in the Spring Electoral Register for Blackmore, living at Copyhold Cottage [ERO C/E 2/1/7].    

“Her mother was Alice Larke nee Gosling (1891 – 1972).  She was one of five daughters and one son (died in infancy) born to Albert Gosling and Rosa Day. The children were all born at 5 Giles Cottages in Stondon Massey. One of the daughters Rosa lived in the house until 1974 when she was finally forced to leave and moved to Soames Mead in Stondon Massey. It was never modernised and the loo was down the garden!”    

Herbert Larke (son of Mr W G & Mrs E F Larke of Copyhold Cottage Blackmore) served in the Lancashire Fusiliers during the First World War.  He died on
21st March 1918, aged 23 and is remembered on Pozieres Memorial. His only link with Blackmore is that his parents moved here in 1923/24.  The ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’ includes this citation.

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Martin families.

The 1901 census has the following Martins living in Blackmore.

Charles age 63, agricultural machine proprietor, born
Chelmsford, and his wife Emily age 53, born Ripley, Surrey. He was the father of Ernest Charles Martin who died in the First World War.

Elizabeth Martin, age 48 [married, not shown as widow], with children Herbert, 16, Nellie, 14, Stanley, 12 and Violet, 10, all born Blackmore.  It looks likely that there was at least one older child, not at this address for the census.

John Martin, age 36, grocer, and his wife Maud, 27, with three girls aged 4, 3 and 1.  He lived in what is now Longbeam Cottage in
Church Street.  Also living with the family was William Rudling age 22 as grocer’s assistant.  William Edward Rudling died in the First World War. 

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Pigott Family
A military family in Blackmore

The name "Sec Lieut GW Pigott R.F.A." is recorded among those who died in the First World War on the War Memorial on Blackmore Green.  Who was GW Pigott, and what is his connection with Blackmore?

Our story starts in
Ireland.  Wellesley Pole Pigott was born in Queens County (now County Laois, Leinster) Ireland, in 1812, the youngest son of Sir George Pigott, and he started his studies at Brasenose College, Oxford University, in 1828, at the age of 15.  Like so many university graduates of that era, he entered the church, and held the living of Bemerton, by Salisbury, until his death in 1890.

In 1858, he married Fanny Granville, and their son
Wellesley was born in 1861.  Up to this point, family connections are with Ireland and Hampshire, and have nothing to do with Blackmore.  But the young Wellesley decided to follow his grandfather, Major-General Thomas Pigott, into the military.  In 1891 he married Helen, the daughter of Captain Thomas Donaldson of Co Galway, and the widow of Frederick Ind.  She had married Frederick Ind in 1883.  There is no record of any children, and Frederick seems to have died abroad, possibly on military service.

In 1894, Wellesley Pigott had the rank of captain, and was adjutant to the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, Essex Regiment.  In 1901, the family were living at Blackmore House, Hook End, and by 1914, now Lieutenant Colonel, he was an important member of the community -- magistrate, major landowner, and chairman of the Ongar Rural District Council Education Committee.

The GW Pigott of the War Memorial was born in South Weald in 1896, Gerald Wellesley Pigott.  He was their only son.  He was sent to school at
Wellington College, and at the age of 18 to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.  On 15th August 1914, 11 days after Britain had declared war on Germany, he was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Essex Regiment, transferred five months later to the Royal Field Artillery, and posted to the 127th battery at the front in March 1915.  At Brielen, during the second battle of Ypres, on 13th May 1915, he was hit in the head by shrapnel.  He was taken to the dressing station, and from there to no.2 clearing station at Bailleul, where he died the following day, aged 18.

Despite his father’s army rank, a request for Gerald’s body to be brought home for burial in
Essex was refused. Government policy was to bury casualties near to where they fell, and he is buried in the British Officers’ Cemetery, Bailleul. Instead, and unusually, a Memorial Service was held in his honour at All Saints church, Doddinghurst.

Gerald Pigott's death had such an early age was depressingly common.  His father, Wellesley Pigott, survived the war.  But he had to face the fact that he had lost his only child, and his response was to make sure that he was recorded on the monuments both of Blackmore and of Doddinghurst.  But the saddest story is that of Helen Pigott, who had lost her first husband in the 1880s, probably in military service abroad, and then her only child.  She even had to petition the authorities in 1921 for her son's war medals.

Author: Bruno Giordan 
Data produced by the Blackmore War Memorial Research Project Group: Bruno Giordan, Diana Abel, Andrew Smith

Last updated: 2 June 2012