Meet the Clergy of Ash Parish

Dates match Volume I of the Ash Parish Register ~ 1548 to 1653

Ash Parish Church (Source: Surrey History Centre)

Winchester College owned Ash Manor which brought with it the advowson to Ash Parish and the College chose the person who was to be Rector; the Bishop of Winchester appointed that person. Many of the Ash Parish Rectors were absentee clergyman and employed Curates to take care of Ash Parish and people would have regarded these Curates as their Minister. The title ‘Reverend’ was not used at this time and a clergyman was usually given the title Master or Doctor (if he was a Doctor of Divinity) and referred to as the Minister, Parson or Curate of the Parish.

  • Rector George Stoughton B.A. 1546 to 1583: * Notable as he was a resident Rector. He was probably a member of the influential Stoughton family of Guildford. The Ash Register records the baptism of four of George Stoughton’s daughters: Jane 1550, Amy 1551, and, Elizabeth 1552, and another Elizabeth in 1553. George Stoughton witnessed the 1550 will of Elizabeth Goring of Frimley and, ‘George Stoughton Parson of Ash’, was made an overseer of Bernard Russell’s will (Husbandman of Ash) in 1559.
  • A gap in Ash Parish Register from 1555 to 1560 suggests that George was dismissed or absented himself during the reign of Mary I as he was married. Edward VI’s legislation in favour of clerical marriage was repealed by Mary I and in December 1553 by Royal proclamation, married clergy had to chose between their wives and their jobs. Removing clergy from their parishes and replacing them began March 1554. In Essex (for example) some 80 parishes out of 300 lost their clergyman. Thomas Whitehead was appointed Rector of Ash on 14 May 1554. The record states that the reason for the vacancy was: “iam de iure notorie vacante” translated as “notoriously vacant right now”. Presumably, Thomas Whithead was acceptable to the Catholic administration and must have kept his own Parish records, now lost.
  • George Stoughton was reinstated by 1558 under Elizabeth I. A case is recorded at Chancery Court from 1559 to 1579 with the plaintiff being Thomas Bristowe of Ash and defendant was George Stoughton clerk (in holy orders). The subject were the tithes of Frimley in Ash Parish, Surrey; the outcome is not known. A 1562 Clerical Survey recorded George as the Rector of Ash, still preaching at Ash, but no longer living in the parish. George Stoughton was also Perpetual Vicar of Godalming but no records of him exist there as that parish register only began in 1582. Unfortunately, George’s burial record has not been found.
Elizabeth Stoughton daughter of George Stoughton of Ash was Christened 2 September 1553

Help with reading Secretary Hand:

  • Curate John Stoner 1567: He was employed by Rector George Stoughton according to a 1567 Clerical Survey. No other records have been found.
  • Curate Anthony Penrith 1570 to 1578: He was listed as a Curate employed by Rector George Stoughton in a 1574 Clerical Survey and two of his children were baptized at Ash St Peter – Joan 1570, and Thomas 1574 who was baptized on April 24 and buried two weeks later on May 6. Anthony Penrith died in office in 1578 and was buried in Ash Churchyard.
Thomas Penrythe the son of Anthony Penrythe was christened 24 April 1574
Mr. Pendred (Penrith) Minister was buried 14 August 1578
  • Rector William Matkyn M.A. 1580 to 1608: He was educated at New College, Oxford University and lived in Winchester, where he was a Fellow of Winchester College, employing Curates in Ash. No records of him exist in the Ash Parish Register.
  • Curate William Smith 1587 to 1593: He is recorded as paying a Clerical Subsidy (tax) in Ash in 1587, 1592, and 1593 and was employed by absentee Rector Matkyn.
  • Curate Matthew Gulston M.A. 1598 to 1620: A 1603 Clerical Survey said that ‘the Rector of Ash, William Matkyn is served by his curate, Matthew Gulston’. He was also listed as the Curate of Frimley Chapel. Matthew Gulston appears in the Ash Parish Register five times. In 1599, his son, Richard, was baptised (and buried in 1603), daughter Mary was buried 1599, son, George, baptised 1602 and a daughter, Sibly, baptised 1603. By 1620, Matthew Gulston had moved to Frensham Chapel, where he was Curate appointed by the Rector of Farnham, Surrey. He replaced a Francis Goldstone who may have been a relation with a different spelling of last name.
Sibly Gulstonne the daughter of Master Mathew Gulstonne was baptized the 8 January 1603 at Ash

Among a portfolio of wills at the London Metropolitan Archives, was a letter written by Matthew Gulston in 1598 about the will of Joan Monger of Ash. The letter was addressed to Mr. Thomas Cooke who was a relative through marriage to Joan Monger as well as a Justice of the Peace and must have been in a position to expedite the granting of probate.

Matthew Gulston’s handwriting is very challenging to read, but here is a transcript as best as can be deciphered (punctuation and modern spelling added for clarity).

Matthew Gulston’s Letter to Thomas Cook

Mr. Cooke. I commend me unto you. This is to let you understand I have sent you a will (which) has to be proved of one Joan Monger of Ash in the county of Surrey. The executor being very sick cannot come and hath appointed this man for him in his stead. A true inventory of her goods is taken by me being minister and Henry Stephens and George Boylett, the 12th day of December in Anno Domi 1598.

I pray you let him have your best counsel and that I commit your loyal friend, Ash this 12th of December. The name of the executor is Henry Monger.

Your friend forever in the Lord, Mathew Gulston.

I pray you commend me to my loving friend Mr. Lynd of Greenwich in Kent (last word torn off – perhaps ‘minister’).

Joan Monger, widow was buried 10 December 1598 in Ash Churchyard. Joan’s will can be found in my post of Ash Wills.

Henry Monger apparently did not succumb to his illness in 1598 and lived for another four years; he was buried 4 June 1602, followed the next year by the other man named in the letter, Henry Stephens who was buried on 14 March 1603.

Burial records of Henry Munger and Henry Stephens – Note that Matthew Gulston wrote these records as the handwriting is the same as the letter

Thomas Cooke appears in the Ash Parish Register a number of times such as his marriage to Jane Monger 4 February 1607, baptism and burial of infant Thomas Cooke in 1621, burial of Jane Cooke 14 July 165, and his own burial 8 June 1653. The will of Thomas Cooke can be found in my post on Ash Wills.

Master Thomas Cooke, gen(tleman) was buried in Ash Churchyard 8 June 1653
  • Rector George Johnson 1608 to 1632: He was an absentee clergyman who employed curates to run Ash Parish. George Johnson was a Fellow of Winchester College and in 1635 he was singled out as being less than diligent in performing his College duties.
  • Curate Giles Harrison 1620 to 1631: He was employed by the absentee Rector, George Johnson. He witnessed the will of Thomas West of Ash in 1623 and in 1624, Nicholas Stevens of Ash left 10s to ‘Mr. Harrison for a sermon at my burial’.
  • Rector Michael Woodward, Doctor of Divinity 1642 to 1675: He was educated at New College, Oxford University and was appointed Rector of Ash Parish in 1642, an event recorded in the Register by his initials. He may have attended Ash St Peter for a while before moving to the job for which he is best known, Warden of New College, Oxford. By all accounts, Dr. Woodward worked tirelessly for that college, and a marble memorial of him is in the New College chapel. His will provided money for the poor of Ash known as ‘Dr. Woodward’s Charity’.
Michael Woodward’s Initials
Michael Woodward’s Charity
  • Curate John East 1642 to 1648: He was employed by the absentee Rector, Michael Woodward. Two records exist in the Ash Parish Register for John East. First his marriage to Joan Heath, a widow on 25 December 1642 and the burial of his daughter in Ash Churchyard, Lettis East, on 24 March 1648.
Marriage of John East (Est), Minister of Ash

After the departure of John East, no further records exist (either in the Parish Register or elsewhere) to tell us who were the Curates of Ash Parish during the Rectorship of Dr. Michael Woodward.

  • Select Sources:
  • Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: AS/1/1
  • London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England
  • The Clergy Database
  • Surrey Archaeological Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County · Volume 27. Available on Google Books.
  • National Archives