Wavendon Parish Register
I am indebted to Honor Lewington, archivist of the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society, for allowing me to reprint "Wavendon Parish Register", by William Bradbrook, first published by them in about 1904. It is part of their continuing "Records of Buckinghamshire" series. Bradbrook analysed the contents of the first four parish registers, and noted the interesting entries therein. Genealogists are directed to the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies collection at Aylesbury, to see the full registers.
The illustrations from the book are included, along with some village views from my own collection.
Book No. 1. On the front cover is, "Wavendon register booke: 1599. Anno regni Elizabethae reginae quadragesimo primo. Ad Wavendon ses omnes spectans liberiss te Baptizatorum nomina scripta dabit, Conjugatorum quaeq. nomina scripta videbis Atq. sepultorum classe reperta sua ffrons liber. .... nexos catr. .... sepultos, perspicuo ..... monstrant ordine quaeq, (hie) Scriptorem "libri cupienti noscere verimi, Dant tibi cognomen " S. Ter ONE suum.
Inside the register is headed "A true abstract of thee names of suche as have bene baptized, Married & buried in the parishe of Wavendon in ye Countie of Buck, copied owte of ye owlde register booke, wch for wante of care full heede was disordered as by callacon had evidently appearethe: written by Willm. Stone. Minister there in the monethe of Octobr. 1599. Anno Regni Reginae Elizab. 41."
Mr. Stone then repeats his verbal pun, as above, and adds "Fons libri lotos "cor nexos calxq: sepultus Ordine demonstrant singula " classe ( ?) sua " (indistinct).
The Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials are entered in three different parts of the book, and are kept apart from each other. As stated in the heading, the first 30 years or so are obviously copied from an older record, and are well written and in the same hand; the entries are without detail until after 1613, being at first merely a name and date : e.g., the first entries in each department:
In this book are recorded 280 marriages: 1,110 burials, of which 554 were males and 556 females: and 1,549 baptisms; of these infants, 827 were boys and 722 girls. Twins are entered 18 times; seven cases both boys, five both girls, and six cases were boy and girl. On Feb. 27, 1710, a case of triplets is entered. "Ruth and Avice daughters and John son of Jonathan and Ann Butler of Long Slade were baptized."
The entries are not easy to analyse or classify satisfactorily, but of the deaths 14 were of women who died in childbirth, and 162 were of infants under one year. Five still-births are also mentioned.
As this book contains more Quaker entries of "birth" and burial than the other books, it may be supposed that it was started chiefly on that account, and in order to keep them apart from the church record. The entries peculiar to this book include 130 marriages: 655 burials, of which 315 were males and 340 females: and 533 baptisms or births, of which 287 were boys and 246 girls. Twins are entered ten times, once both boys, thrice both girls, and six times boy and girl. One stillbirth only is recorded; at least six of the burials were of women who died in childbirth; and 118 were those of infants; as many of the "infants" were obviously more than one year old, it is somewhat speculative to calculate an infant death-rate on that number.
At the head of the register is, "The Register for Baptizeing of children (Burialls and Marriages) according to the Act (of) Parliament for advancing a duty to the King upon Christenings (Buryalls and Marriages) began May first, 1695."
The first, entry of each sort is as follows: -
Book No. 3. begins 1722, and ends 1813. Up to 1753 the entries are also recorded in Book 2. as above explained. This volume contains, peculiar to itself, two marriage entries: 842 burials, made up of 398 male and 444 female subjects: and 1,185 baptisms, viz., 623 boys and 562 girls. Twins are indicated 16 times; in seven cases both infants were boys, in four both were girls, and in five instances boy and girl. Of the burials 262 are described as infants.
There are 249 marriages in Book No. 4.
In the whole Register there is a grand total of 3,267 baptisms and births; of these, 1,737 are boys and 1,530 girls, a proportion of 113.5 boys to 100 girls. The excess of male births is extraordinarily large when compared with the modern national proportion of 103.5 boys to 100 girls. Eighty-eight of these children were twins, i.e., 44 twin births, giving the high average of one pair of twins in 73 births (modern rate, 1 in 88). The case of triplets has already been noticed.
The register is very well kept throughout. For a few years after 1640 the baptismal entries fall off somewhat in number, but increase again about 1648, showing that the troubles of that time were but slightly felt at Wavendon, or else ignored by the parson. In 1653 is the notice of the appointment of a lay "register:"
“The nynth day of november, 1653. George Abnell of Wavendon in the Countye of Bucks Taylor sworne by mee to bee publique Register of the sayd towne accordeing to the Act of Parliament touching 'Marriages and the registring thereof and allso touching birthes and burialls. Tho: White."
The infants are accordingly entered as "borne," and the fact of their baptism added. The few only were not baptized, and attention is drawn to the omission. Specimen entries are:
Other noticeable entries of baptism are:
The following need no comment: -
Throughout the register there are occasional entries of private baptisms: e.g.: -
In nearly all registers the number of private baptisms greatly increases after 1680, and in the earlier part of the 18th century, in some parishes, a very large proportion of the baptisms were conducted in private at the homes of the people. This practice was an abuse against which Evelyn (the diarist) agitated, saying, "it was due to the pride of women, bringing that into custom which was only indulged in case of imminent danger, and out of necessity during the Rebellion."
The total number of marriages in the register is 659, and includes a good many celebrated elsewhere. In 1619 the curate, Mr. John Deyos, enters his own wedding, which took place "at ye blacke ffryars church in Londo." Also, Robert Page before mentioned "having buried Eliz: Nash was married unto one Joane Parke daughter to Jno. Kent wife of Broughto, ye 1 s " of July 1653 at Ridgmont."
In 1654 is the usual paragraph announcing the enaction of the Law for marriages without religious ceremony by Justices after publication of the "intention" in a market place or in the church. Sample entries:
Several instances of advanced age are recorded: -
On 3 April, 1602, was baptized John Gregory. If he be the same man buried in 1692, then his age was 90, not as stated. It is very doubtful if the ages above given are correct in any instance. The case of Gregory is the only one which can be traced, and that is found to be incorrect; probably all the others are exaggerated. The guarded statements concerning Mr. G. Wells and Mary Quaint are noticeable.
There is but one entry of "plague," and that was admittedly uncertain; therefore, Wavendon escaped the devastation which desolated Bletchley and other villages not very far away during 1665.
1665. October 25. Thomas Pancurst servant to Mr. Dogget was buried by his fellow servant R. W. being supposed to dye of the plague."
Small Pox is first mentioned in 1705, and occasionally after that date, but nothing like as frequently as the disease must have occurred. An interesting entry is:
The cause of death, when arising from disease, is rarely recorded in any parish register, and this register is no exception to the general custom, the following being the only entries mentioning a disease: -
A large increase in the number of burials is observed for the years 1593, 1640, 1657-9, 1710-16, 1727-30, 1779. Some of these periods coincide with the prevalence of some epidemic sickness which affected the whole kingdom. Plague was rife at the end of the 16th century, and about 1640. During 1657-9 malarial fever was widespread and very deadly; in 1658 Oliver Cromwell died of it. About 1710-16 a fever epidemic prevailed, which, though of a mild nature (? influenza), would increase the death rate by killing through its complications and sequelae. Hearne refers to it:- "I call it a feaverett, it being a small fever, that at this time goes all over England. It seizes suddenly, and holds generally, but three days. . . . ." During 1727-8-9 there was a universal large increase in the mortality (probably due to small-pox), which is often specially deplored in many parish registers: e.g., in Great Hampton register 1728 is called "Lethifer Annus," etc.
To judge from their number, violent deaths were usually indicated, e.g.:
The last is the only suicide mentioned in the register.
The mention of two or three deaths from being caused by carts, etc., and the occasional burial or baptism of a stranger or traveller, draws attention to the frequented highway which passed by the village: e.g.:
The following extracts have interest, and explain themselves: -
After the above date the amount of the "Mortuary" received often accompanies a burial entry, and occasionally the words "a mortuarie due" after a record seem to indicate that it was not always paid readily.
"Oct. 4, 1720. Memorandum. There is a Mortuary due to ye next Incumbent for the death of Wm. Barnes, whose Habitation was mostly in this parish, notwithstanding he went from home a little before his Decease to Simpson and died there, ita Tester. T. Vaughan Curat. Consule Gibson. Episc. Line, do canon eccles. statat. Act Parli. etc.”
A Mortuary was the second best quick cattel whereof the party died possessed; it is given in lieu of small tythes forgotten (Fuller). These exactions were forbidden in the case of strangers by 21. Hen. VIII. cap 6, which prohibits Mortuaries from people having goods under £30, then 3s. 4d.; under £40, 6s. 8d.; over £40, 10s.
It may be inferred that payment was at least "passively resisted" sufficiently often to render collection difficult. Bishop Benson, writing to Rev. E. Willis in 1736 to congratulate him on his entry on the living of Bletchley, adds this significant postscript:- "You must take care to assert your right to the Mortuaries which have become due since my resignation of the Living; otherwise, if you neglect this at first, you will lose them always."
For many years after 1650, many of the burial entries have affixed "cum concione" or "cii con:" which indicates that the deceased was honoured with a funeral sermon. It is noticeable that this compliment was not exclusively paid to the more important families.
The Rev. W. Cole described the village of Bow Brickhill as a "nest" for a seminary of Quakers and ether sects (circa 1740). During the 18th century members of the various Dissenting sects abounded in this district and the adjacent part of Bedfordshire.
Plenty of evidence of this is afforded by Wavendon parish register, as in a hamlet of this parish called "Hogsty End" was situated a Meeting House and Burial Ground of the Society of Friends. Hogsty End was situated on the Bedfordshire border, and not a great distance from Bow Brickhill; it’s far from euphonious name has since been changed to that of "Woburn Sands," and in 1867 it was separated from Wavendon and made into an ecclesiastical district. The Society of Friends, Quakers, "sectarii tremularii" very early in their history established a centre here, and in 1659 "Friends riding to a meeting at Wandon had their horses confiscated as a punishment for Sunday travelling." The writer has been informed by a member of the Society that this centre was one of the most important in that community, and second only to Jordans in this county.
The earliest mention in Wavendon register of a Quaker is in 1658. Dec. 30. "A child of George Cooper was borne & not baptized he being a quaker, died, & he buried where he pleased." After that date mention is very frequent; about 150 of the burials are specified as "quaker," and mostly as taking place at Hogsty End. After 1750 none is so indicated, though doubtless many might have been so buried. The majority of these interments was of people from other places, even from London. One instance has already been quoted.
There is plenty of evidence of the social treatment of the Quakers, or of their own peculiar behaviour: e.g -
Occasionally a Quaker appears among the baptisms: e.g.-
The following may be an instance of a Dissenter of some sort: -
In 1729 two of the Underwood family from Bletchley were buried, and specified as "Dissenters," though of a known Quaker family.
List of Quaker families which occur most frequently in the Register, with the name of the parish from which each family came: -
In 1783 occurs the only mention of burial in "Linnen," on Apr. ? Eliz’h Howe, widow: in the same year it is noted: - N.B. The Duty on Burials commenced. Occupations and trades are first entered against names about 1638, when husbandman and laborer occur; before 1700 the following also appear: Yeoman, shepherd, carter, sawyer, baker, butcher, shoemaker, tailor, victualer, grocer, carpenter, black-smith, lacemaker, stationer, wheelwright, chimney-sweeper, exciseman, ale-house keeper, sack-carrier, warriner, servant, and ye towne hogheard and heyward; this last-named functionary is also alluded to as hog-man, howard, and houard. After 1700, in addition to the above, these occur: Innholder, farmer, surgeon, bricklayer, mason, maltster, ye mead man (1714), and in 1768 the "whipper in" to Mr. Selby, Wm. Autersuch, who was buried in that year.
Sometimes the rank "gentleman," or gent., is entered against a name, but only in the case of a member of one of the chief families of landowners in the place, such as a Sanders, Fitz-Hugh, Cullen. The designation "yeoman" is often used, and in one case, John Gregory, the same man is described in different entries as "yeoman" and "reputed gent." (circa 1695): an instance that there was no rigid distinction between those classes.
A good many Briefs are recorded on the fly-leaves of the register books; they appear to have been treated with impartial neglect, except the following, which evidently appealed strongly to the generosity of the people: -
The following notes about the weather are recorded:
There is entered in 1684-7 the granting of two certificates for the "King's touch."
The Rev. W. Cole, in the 39th Vol. of his MSS., writes:- "This village (Wavendon) is seated on the great London road between Newport Pagnell and Woburn Abbey, in a dry soil, on the extremity of the county joining Bedfordshire. The Church I can plainly see out of my garden at Bletchley, making a very good object in the evening when the sun declines."
In 1740 the number of Houses or Families in this Parish stood thus: -
A. Page says there has been an increase of near 20 houses in 30 years, especially in Hogsty End, Layton Hollow, and Longslade, where are at least 10 houses increased. (A. Page, I suppose, means Andrew Page, Mr. Willis's tenant, next Waterhall House, near Blecheley Church, and who, I think, came from Wavendon to be Mr. Disney's coachman. - W. Cole, 1767).
In 1676 there were, according to Archbishop Sheldon's religious census, 226 conformists and 18 non-conformists above 16 years of age: the total population being about 400 (estimated). In 1712 there were 90 families and 370 souls (B. Willis). In 1740 there were 107 families, and allowing the same number of souls per family as in 1712, the population would be 428.
Calculated on the decennial average of 12 baptisms, and supposing a birth rate of 30 per 1,000, the population would be, according to the data furnished by the register: - in 1676, 400 people: in 1712, on an average of 14 baptisms, 446 people: and in 1740, on a decennial average of 13 baptisms, 435 people. This method of calculation, works out with approximate correctness for two of the above periods; the difference for 1712 is so great, however, that either the method is very much at fault, or Dr. B. Willis did not count but estimated his "souls;" in all probability he was too low, and in this case the "method" estimates too highly, but not more than ten per cent.
List of the most frequently occurring sir-names, with date of earliest entry (circa): -
Ann account of the Privy-Tythes of Wavendon as they were received by Mr. Charles Stafford, Rectr who succeeded Mr. Adam Booker: -
N.B. - The privy-Tythes of the chief Farmers who kept any store of catell & mowed much grass - have been let out to them at a yearly sume as the Parson & they cou'd agree.
A WAVENDON TERRIER DATED 23 MAY 1639. WM. NORTON. PAESON.
(From Cole's MSS. Vol. 29. Add. MSS. 5830. Brit. Mus.)
The Parsonage House, containing a cellar, a parlor, a study, a Buttry, a Hall, a milkhouse, a Boulting House, a kitchen, a brew house, with six chambers above, whereof two have chimnies, and two cock lofts, all which room are contiguous and tiled.
Item, two bays separated from the dwelling house, containing a milk house and a woodhouse both thatched. Item, a coal house tiled. Item, two yards on the east side of the house. A garden plot on the south side, with an orchard containing a rood and a half. The tythe barn, containing 5 bays with a lean-to at the west end thereof. The glebe barn containing 3 bays. A stable with a chaff house and a hay house containing 4 bays. A limehouse next the glebe barn of one bay. A hay-barn of 3 little bays. A rickyard adjoining to the north side of the tythe barn. A close on the north side of the orchard court, about six acres, with a free bord on the north and west sides. A tenement court, two bays standing in a pightle abutting north and east on Berry orchard close, at the south end of which pightle stands a smith's shed, for which the smith pays rent at the Parson's will. Item, half an acre of Ley ground enclosed cheifly except part of the east, which butts on a Ley of Bernard Gregory's and upon a close of Sir John Thompson's west. Item, two other Leys, the first enclosed, the other lying on the outside of Gravel Pitts In Portway Feild 10 acres, 1 rood, 2 lands. In Orten den Feild, alias Broad Mead Feild, 17 acres, 2 roods, 1 land. In east feild 9 acres 3 roods. In the wood field 14 acres, 1 rood, 2 lands. The tythe mead, esteemed at 4 or 5 acres. One acre of meadow called the Tythe acre. Item, another meadow called the tythe mead, esteemed at an acre and a half. In the lotted meadows 12 acres. Of Ley ground 8 leys 3 roods. In wood leys, 8 leys, and diverse other leys which cannot be bounded. Equal right of commons with the rest of the free-holders, proportionable to the glebe lands belonging to the Parsonage.
Several families of local importance are mentioned in the register: viz. Fitz-Hugh, Sanders, Wells, Selby.
The above table is extracted from Cole; he also writes "In the East end (of the church) against the wall on the north side by the window is fixed an awkward kind of mural monument of black marble, having these arms carved at the top, viz. Parted per chevron 3 elephants heads erased; for Saunders. With this inscription “In this chancel lyeth buried the body of Eichard Saunders whose ancestors are interred at Badlesto and Potsgrave in the County of Bedford, wch Richard had 4 wives Elizab. Charge, Frances Fitzhugh, Beatrice Annesly, and Frances Staunto by whom he had 27 children. He dyed 15 July 1639, aged 76.”
Quite at the upper end of the south Isle lies a gray marble having a small figure of a man on his knees with several children behind him, in brass; a woman facing him with a parcel of children behind her, kneeling also, is reaved and gone. Under their feet is a brass tablet inscribed: "Here lyeth the body of Elizabeth Sandars, late the wife of Richard Sanders, Gent. who in her life time being religious towards God, and charitable for the relief of the poor, and had issue 4 sons and 3 daughters, being always careful for their education and bringing up desyring God to bless them and dyed the 19 June A.D. 1596." Over the man's head is a brass shield with the arms of Sanders. This Elizabeth was probably the first wife of the above-mentioned Richard Sanders who is buried in the chancel.
On an ordinary stone in the pavement is this inscription: "Here lyeth the body of Mr. John Sanders & Grace his wife who departed April the 25 1693, in the 63 year of her age, and he Oct. 10. Ao- Dom. 1694 in the 70 year of his age."
The Saunders estate joyned to the Fitzhugh's, and was bought by Cullen, both estates about £170 per ann.
Against the west wall of the north aisle (of the church) is fixed a very handsome mural monument of white marble with these arms at top: viz. lozengy erm & B: a lion salient gules, for Wells: and this inscription, "In hopes of a glorious Resurrection within this vault lietli the body of George Wells late of this parish Esqr son of Mr. John Wells of the antient Family of the Wells's of Great Gaddesden Hooe in the County of Hertford He was pious, just, discreet, & temperate of a quiet and peaceable disposition who lived and died in the fear of God, in the Faith of Christ & in perfect Love & Clarity with all men He bequeathed eight hundred pounds for a charity school in this Parish for ever to be laid out in a free estate, which is accordingly done by his neice & Executrix Mrs. Beatrice Miller of Husband Crawley in Bedfordshire, being a Farm House and one hundred and twenty six acres of land now in the occupation of John Bray He died the XI. of February MDCCXIII. In the LXXIII. year of his age."
The above-mentioned charity was augmented by £200 by Mrs. B. Miller to found a school for ten boys. With this £1000 the estate purchased at Husbourne Crawley yielded an income of £40 per annum, thus appropriated, viz., to the master to teach the ten boys and find them pens, ink, and paper £15 per ann., besides a chaldron of coals. To each boy on every St. George his day, when there is to be a sermon preached at Wavendon Church, a pair of shoes and stockins, a coat and cap and 2 bands. These boys have allowed them each £8 to put them out apprentices to masters they live out of the parish, that they may not become inhabitants, and thereby chargeable to Wavendon, their native parish.
"They are to be received into the schoole at 7 years of age, and to stay till they are 14 years old. There are 3 trustees of this charity. I presume one of these boys is annually apprenticed." (Cole, in 1758).
The Selby family ran its course in a few years and then became extinct. Cole makes frequent and usually somewhat uncomplimentary mention of its members. The following account is from his 29th vol.: -
"Mr. Selby's pew (in Wavendon Church) is within the upper end of this north side, he is a son of Serjt Selby, a man of very indifferent character, who raised a large fortune from nothing by all the worst arts of his profession: his son is a very worthy gentleman and esteemed by all his acquaintances; as he is a bachelor the name is not likely to continue at Wavendon, where the Sergeant built a very good house, which his son is now improving: He is also proprietor of Whaddon Chace. In the autumn of 1767 Mr. Hyde died and was buried at Wavendon and in 1768 about April, Mr. James Selby presented Mr. Sawell, late of Trin. Coll. Cambs. and usher to his father in a school at Aspley. It was expected that Mr. Selby would have given the living to Mr. Lord's son of Drayton as the young man's mother was an Alston and nearly related to Mr. Selby's mother of the name of Alston. Mr. Sawell had a small living in the neighbourhood, I think of the Duke of Bedford's patronage. Mr. Sawell had the living from Mr. Selby on the presumption that he would marry a distant relation of his patron, a Miss Bedford: but not finding himself disposed to that connection, he honourably gave it up after a short possession, and the Lady found a husband in Mr. Shipton of Willen near Newport Pagnell, who was also presented to the living and at Mr. Selby's death had a large legacy: and I think the perpetual Advowson given to him. Mr. Shipton is as great a sportsman as was Mr. Selby."
In other parts of his MSS. Cole further states: "James Selbv Esq. married Mary daughter of Sir Roland Alston of Odell co. Beds, (ob. 2 Apr. 1729) their son Thomas James Selby b. 2 Oct. 1717. James Selby purchased Whaddon with Thomas Willis 1698 and died April 1723. The father of Sergt. Selby was the first of the family who settled in Bucks, a scrivener of no distinction. Nobody can trace the family beyond him."
In another place he writes that Sergt. Selby was the son of a man who was servant to the Charnocks of Hulcote (Beds). "Mr. Selby (son of Sergt. Selby) never married but kept a mistress, one Mrs. Vane, by whom he did not have children, she was very handsome and a very good sort of woman."
BBASS RUBBINGS AND DESCRIPTION BY MR. ANDREW OLIVER.
Achievment of Arms and Inscription to Richard Saunders, 1639, in Wavendon Church.
This memorial, originally in the chancel, is placed high up on the wall of the vestry, behind the organ. Part of the lozenge plate and the inscription being hidden, as may be seen in the accompanying illustration. The Arms placed upon a shield which is surmounted of a helm with mantling, and crest "an elephant's head erased." The arms on the shield are, " per chevron -, three elephants' heads erased counterchanged."
The inscription placed underneath is in capital letters, and is quoted elsewhere. The letters on the left side of the first seven lines and the first word in each of the last two lines are hidden as stated.
Brass of a Civilian and Four Sons, now in the possession of Col. Burney, J.P., of Wavendon Tower.
This plate, which is evidently part of a memorial originally in the church, consists of the effigies of a civilian and four sons. All the figures are dressed in a similar fashion, a long cloak with false sleeves, of an under dress, ruffs are worn round the neck, and the hands are in a praying attitude, the figures kneeling upon a pavement of chequered pattern. The plate is of very irregular shape, and part of the heads of the figures is omitted; there is a small portion missing from the outer edge of the cloak in the principal figure.