By Ron Dale

In 1752 there arrived in Roydon a new vicar, William Day, who already had a reputation throughout the country as a boxer.  But in the village he also set up something of a record by remaining as the vicar of St. Peters for 56 years. Known in British bare-knuckle boxing circles as The Pugilist Parson of Roydon, he once attempted to quieten a parishioner who was causing a disturbance in the church by inviting him outside to settle the argument man-to-man on the village green.

     At Roydon in 1804 thieves stole from his vicarage two bibles and some curtains and saucepans, whilst the same night they also stole similar items from Stanstead Abbotts’ vicarage in Roydon Road (then called Vicarage Road). The thieves were obviously not aware of the Roydon vicar’s pugilistic reputation, but they were to suffer a worse fate than a good hiding.  Later the two men were stopped on the London Road with an unusually cumbersome load and were found to be in possession of the stolen items.  The men, William Blake and John Watson, were both found guilty of theft and were sentenced to death.