1575 John Forsett (Fawcett?); 1584 Evan Floyd; 1591 Thomas Bradock; 1593 Thomas Newman; 1597 Henry Morley; 1602 Robert Ballard until his death in 1640; followed by Jeremiah Dyke M.A.; 1645 Augustine Rolfe; 1666 William Curtice (Curtis) until 13 November 1666; Samuel Wood until 1672. (Non-Conformity in Hertfordshire: Stanstead Abbotts, Wm. Urwick, 1884)

        This period covered the Civil War and a time when some of our vicars were Puritans. Our lord of the manor, Sir Edward Baesh, was also a Puritan. Thomas Bradock arrived in 1591, a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, a hotbed of Puritans at this time. He was followed by Thomas Newman who also held the vicarage of Canewdon, Essex. Henry Morley was also a Pluralist, being Stanstead’s vicar and rector of St. Alphage, London.  Jeremiah Dyke was the son of the celebrated Puritan, Jeremiah Dyke of Essex. Stanstead was his first ministry and in 1645 he moved to Parndon in Essex. Augustine Rolfe was our minister during the Long Parliament of Oliver Cromwell. In 1650 he was recorded as ‘supplying the Cure’ in Stanstead Abbotts and two jurors (Robert Grove and Thomas Burnap) presented that: ‘Mr. Rolfe, formerly sequestered out of the vicarage, now officiates and supplies the Word and the Cure, but by what authority we know not.’ (meaning at the old Grammar School, Cappell Lane).

     Grove and Burnap also remarked (at a manorial meeting, which see) that ‘We have a chapel in our town which (as our church is about a mile out of our town) has been a great benefit to the town. Formerly when we had a settled ministry, we had the Word and the Sacraments preached and administered therein on the Sabbath days and all the weekdays as a school-house for our children.’ The chapel/schoolhouse had no minister bur after being ‘sequestered’ out of the vicarage, Rolfe appears to have settled himself there and became a faith healer.


He was the vicar at St. James 1936/37 (Kelly’s Directory 1937) but appears to have moved circa 1940 to Ladbroke, near Leamington Spa. In his middle years he was a missionary and became the Archdeacon of West Uganda (   He had many interesting and sometimes harrowing experiences in Africa as his books portray. He wrote In Dwarf Land and Cannibal Country (1907) and Uganda to Khartoum (1906).


It has been previously published elsewhere that the seven burgesses recorded at Stanstead Abbotts in the Domesday Book, making it a borough or town of some importance in the county, were mistakenly recorded as being in Stanstead when they were actually in Hertford. A new translation of the Domesday Book records that: ‘In Hertfordshire there were only five boroughs (settlements with burgesses).  These were: Ashwell, Berkhamsted, Hertford, St. Albans and Stanstead Abbotts.’  This quite clearly shows both Hertford and Stanstead as having burgesses and therefore the previous assumption was incorrect and Stanstead Abbotts WAS one of these five major towns.

The meaning of the word burgess at this time (1086) is unclear. They were, however, freemen and townspeople of that borough, and were clearly respected citizens, often in business in some way, e.g. farming or commerce. Later, the meaning changed.


The original Norman knight, Hubertus de la Feld, is believed to have arrived in England with William the Conqueror or slightly afterwards. The family were based in Alsace (hence German Feld for Field) and by 1069 he had lands in Lancaster, Lancashire. The family spread across the north and by the 16th century were well represented in the West Riding towns of Yorkshire.

    In 1653 there was a grant of arms featuring 3 garbs of wheatsheaves with a chevron. The City of Chester also uses this heraldry as the city was once owned by Hubertus de la Feld. In Daniel Lyson’s Environs of London (1795) is found a mention of ‘Edward Feild of Harden, Yorkshire, and afterwards of Stanstead Burg.’ (stet)  He died in 1719 at the age of only 43 and Stanstead Bury passed down with his descendants. He was a relative of John Field the famous astronomer.


In the history of Stanstead Abbotts, the name of this man does not carry much weight, but for a short period he was the owner of the manor, immediately after the beheading of Anne Boleyn and his name must be retained in our record of lords of the manor. King Henry VIII allowed Paris to lease the manor for a peppercorn rent of only 4s.4d. a year. Who was this man and why was Henry so generous to him?  Sir Philip Paris (1492-1558) of Linton, Cambridgeshire, was descended from ancient Saxon kings of England, directly from Ethelred (Family Tree of Jane Austen, Rootsweb,   His family were not large land-owners and had no particular claim to fame, except perhaps for their ancestry. When Henry VIII decided to dissolve the monasteries throughout his kingdom, he obviously needed much help and Philip Paris provided much of this.  In 1540 he was Sheriff of the twinned counties of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. For his help with the monasteries, the fortunes of the Paris family of Linton were from this time onwards greatly swollen by gifts from the King and the low rent of the manor of Stanstead Abbotts was just one of many favours Sir Philip received. As far as is known, he never lived in the village, but for a while he benefitted from its ownership and from the execution of Anne Boleyn, its previous owner and overlord.

    Sir Philip Paris, sometimes seen as Parys or Parris (Royal Ancestry, vol.II, p.480, Douglas Richardson) died in 1551. He married (1) Margaret Bowes, (2) Agnes Spryng (died 1557). He had one daughter, Elizabeth, with Margaret Bowes, born ca. 1515 who married Sir Thomas Lovell of Norfolk.


In the 17th century a list was drawn up of people who owned an estate worth £10 per annum throughout the county of Hertfordshire. The following list is for 1699 and its purpose was to list people eligible for jury service at the Sessions or at the Assizes. A note is appended to the list by the transcribers (National Archives?) to say that the list is difficult to read and names obscure. To me the list also appears incomplete (no lord of manor), but the record stands as follows:  Stephen Flack, yeoman, Richard Wood alias Warren, blacksmith, James Sanuvod (?), yeoman, Mr. Sam. Gattwood, attorney-at-law, Mr. Richd. Rooynoulds (Reynolds?), tanner.

NOTE: For St. Margarets there were no copyholders and freeholders.


Further to my previous piece on the Domesday Book entry, I have discovered the following four separate folios actually list some of the Saxon residents or owners considered worthy of naming in the manor of Stanestede. In other words we now know the names of other Saxons from 1066 who were connected with the village at the time of the Invasion. Some of the names are obviously overlords or their representatives and they are new names in most cases.

 NOTE: A STALLER appears to be a Constable, appointed by the King and Esger the Staller’s name occurs in other parts of the country in the Domesday Book.  A SOKEMAN was a freeman, who enjoyed extensive rights, especially over his land. A HOUSE CARL, a Scandinavian term, was a non-servile servant and could simply be a house servant with some administrative duties, or a bodyguard or soldier. Royal house carls were mainly soldiers in the King’s army. A THEGN was a Saxon aristocrat and lord-of-the manor under the King in Saxon times.

(1) National Archives ref. E31/2/1/5566, folio 142V. People mentioned in folio: ADELIZA, wife of Hugh de Grandmesnil; AELFWINE of GOTTONE thegn of King Edward; ALWEARD of MARDLEBURY, Church of Welwyn.

(2) National Archives ref. E/31/2/1/5446, folio 140V.  People mentioned in folio: AELFSTAN, man of ALMAER of Benington; ALSTAN; ANUNDI, House Carl of King Edward; BETTICA, man of WULFWINE of EASTWICK; Canons of Church

(3) National Archives ref. E31/2/1/5501, folio 140V. People mentioned in folio: AELFSTAN, man of ALMAER; ALSTAN.

(4) National Archives ref. E21/2/1/5474, folio 139V. People mentioned in folio: Priest of Sawbridgeworth; RALPH, Reeve of Sawbridgeworth, SAEWEARD; SIWARD, Sokeman of Abbey of St. Albans; Sokeman of ESGAR THE STALLER; Sokeman of Queen Edith; Sokeman of ESGER THE STALLER; THORKIL, man of Esger the Staller, TUROLD;  WALTER; WULFRIC, man of Esger the Staller.


Captain Walcott had served in Ireland in Cromwell’s Parliamentary Army before he became involved in the Rye House Plot. At his trial in 1683, Rumsey giving evidence against him told the Lord Chief Justice that although Walcott had refused to lay hands on the King or his coach himself, he was prepared to lead a charge of men against the King’s guards. When questioned further, Walcott stated that a few parties had been chosen for different tasks. One party was to kill the postillion and another was to kill the horses. Rumbold was the one who had been chosen to attack the King and his brother inside the coach. When questioned how it was to be done, Walcott replied that it was to be done ‘by blunderbuss and if a miss, by sword.’ During the course of this questioning it was revealed that for the sake of secrecy during the plotting, the King and the Duke of York were referred to in code as the Blackbird and the Goldfinch. In spite of a last minute plea to the King for a pardon, Walcott was executed.


In the National Archives in HALS at Hertford (HALS,  deeds of T.F. Buxton esq., DE/Bx/154 (1785-1863) are title deeds to land in Cappell Lane, Easneye, called Dovehouse Mead and Doctor Grindalls Meads in Wheelers Lye. Meads are normally water meadows and if so they would lie next tio the river or Mill Stream between Cappell Lane and the river Lea. Dovehouse Field has been previously recorded in the will of Johanna Nobbys in the 16th century. (See my piece on 16th Century Manorial Court).    One reference describes its location as ’A close off Isneye Street (Chapel Lane)’. This box of deeds in HALS probably contains the deeds of all the properties Mr. Buxton bought when he took over the manor and should prove very interesting to us. Pity I cannot search these myself but must leave it for others to do.


The following buildings are all worth photographing one day for a more detailed new book on the two villages with many new photographs not included before.

PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY.  Evidence of its Norman origins with 14th century and later alterations, Grade II listed.

MANOR HOUSE, Nr. CHURCH, now sub-divided for private accommodation, late 16th cent or early 17th century. Grade II listed. Has remains of interior wall paintings.

JOLLY FISHERMAN PUB. In 1736 a row of 3 cottages was demolished to make way for the building of this inn. Originally named The George & Dragon, on the arrival of rail in 1843 its name was changed to The Railway Tavern. Grade II listed.

BARN COTTAGES, THE TITHE. Former church tithe barn, now divided into three private residences. Built 17th century as a tithe barn and converted for private residence early 20th century. Grade II listed.

FORMER GRANARY of St. Margarets Farm group of surviving Clock House buildings. 18th century, grade II listed.

GARDEN HOUSE at the Clock House group of buildings of St. Margarets Farm. Built about 1760 and believed to have been moved at some date from Aramstone House, Kings Capel, Ross-on-Wye. Grade II listed.

GARDEN WALL, GATE PIERS & ORNAMENTAL IRON GATE, part of the old manor house near the Clock House,17thcentury with iron gates 18th century, bearing heraldry of the Lake family who were once resident. Grade II listed.

OCTAGONAL BUILDING, formerly a dovecot, part of the St. Margarets farm group, 17th century, grade II listed.

LONG BARN, part of the 17th century St. Margarets farm group, grade II listed.

ST. MARGARETSBURY, former manor house of Septimus Croft, now private residential apartments. Re-built 1889/90 to incorporate the old rectory manor house of Rev. Stephen Pratt dated circa 1760. Grade II listed.

RYE COMMON PUMPING STATION built 1882, Hoddesdon Road, St. Margarets. Grade II listed.

WATER BOARD COTTAGE built 1882 for New River Company’s engineer. Grade II listed.   

NOTE: It may be necessary to check that the St. Margarets Farm buildings are all still intact due to the extensive new estate of housing recently built there.

Ron Dale, May, 2017


by Ron Dale

This paper contains short pieces of information about Stanstead Abbotts which, although not individually worthy of a full-length article, are nevertheless real bits of history, too valuable to lose.  They may be of some use to a future historian and I have therefore decided to blend them together to give readers a potage to dip into at will.

St. James. Photo Brian Johnson