Ash Register’s Unrevealed Secrets Part 2

New Gallery Added to Ash Church in 1730 In 1730 – some 70 years after the first Ash Register was retired from use – the Parish Clerk, James Wheeler, wrote up a list in the old register about newly-built gallery in Ash Parish Church in 1730 and the names of the people who taken subscriptions to which seats. It appears that the gallery held 6 pews, each with 6 seats.

The Gallery built in 1730
The number of Seats 36
No as under Viz.
Thomas Stevens 1,2,3,4,5,6: Thomas Stevens (1682-1748) Yeoman of Ash – a member of the local family of Stevens who were one of the principal farmers of Ash Manor (owned by Winchester College). Thomas married late in life to Margaret Mayne of Farnham (daughter of George Mayne Yeoman of Farnham) in 1727 and left his estate to two of Margaret’s nieces. Why did Thomas take 6 seats in the gallery? Margaret often had nieces, as well as her mother, living with them and Thomas was wealthy enough to pay for a whole pew. In his 1747 Will, Thomas left money to be used to provide bread for Ash poor.
Phil. Streett 7,8,9,10,11,12: Philip Street had two sons baptized at Ash Church in the 1730’s; as a family man with money, he took a pew
Jno Reading 13, 14: John Redding (1685-1757) Bricklayer of Ash; brother-in-law of William Smallpiece below (various spellings of last name)
Wm Robinson 15: not found
Henry Slifield 16: Henry Slifield (1732) Yeoman of Ash; died in Ash in 1732
Nicholas Heather 17: Nicholas Heather (1694-1771) Carpenter of Ash; eldest surviving son of Richard below. As the church held at least 2 Sunday services, father and son could share a seat subscription.
Ric Hether Senr. 17: Richard Heather Senior (1667-1740) Carpenter of Ash; father of Nicholas above.
– Bicknal 22: probably Thomas Bignall who died in Ash in 1753; (Bicknall/Bignall Family lived in Ash for generations)
Wm Smallpiece 23,24: William Smallpiece (1675-1750), Cordwainer/Freeholder of Ash (1750 Will); first wife was Mary Redding (brother of John above) and in 1730, he purchased 2 seats for himself and his second wife Anne Webb
Not shown: seats 25 to 36 had no subscribers in 1730

A Hidden Latin Note

In 1813, the Ash Parish registers were sent off to the bookbinders for repair and re-lining; when the old lining of the back cover of the first volume of registers was removed, a Latin note was discovered. Unfortunately, the original has long disappeared and we only have a copy made by the Curate of Ash in 1813 and his hand-writing is difficult to decipher:

Written upside down at the back of Ash Parish Register, Vol I

A loose translation of the Latin note:

His diebus jam peractis – These days are already coming to an end

Nihil est Fides et factis – Nothing is truth and facts

verba lactis – words of milk, presumably smooth talk

mel in cere – honey with wax, meaning insincere (wax was added to honey to make it go further before being sold)

Videte – watch, tenete – hold fast, cavete – beware

Qui hoc dictat – he who dictated this (was a) Febris feverish Minister of Ash, Richard Sherman or Norman (handwriting unclear)

Now the note written 24 June 1813:

‘The above was copied from the lining of the Cover and appears to have been written by the Minister on his Death Bed; it looks as if he apprehended some change would take place after the death of Queen Elizabeth with respect to the Church and advises his Parishioners to watch and be upon their Guard. It appears to have been written in the month of November 1598 – Same as the Handwriting of the Curate at that time. Copied June 24 1813’.

Some thoughts on the 1813 Note:

  • In 1813, the Ash Curate was Benjamin Lovell (who grew up in Massachusetts but had left as he was a Monarchist) and he decided that the Curate was writing about Queen Elizabeth I, but no mention is made of her in the Latin note.
  • He came up with 1598 by matching the handwriting with entries in the Register but that was during Mathew Gulston’s time who was not on his death bed as we have later records of him.
  • Because of Lovell’s handwriting, it is hard to determine the last name of the person who wrote the Latin note.

Given the turmoil caused by the English Civil Wars, the abolition of the monarchy, and the ejection of non-Puritan-minded clergy from many parishes, circa 1650 would seem a more likely date and scenario.

1729 Note from a Grateful Curate

At the end of the record of births in Volume I653, Edward Workington, Curate of Ash, choose a blank page to write a poem in Latin extolling the virtues of Ash and the generosity of Rector Dr. John Harris in employing him in 1729.

Edward Workington’s Note


Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: AS/1/1