Frimley Chapel Curates

Meet the Frimley Curates of the Early Years

Frimley Chapel did not always have a Minister to administer to the Frimley flock as funding was not always available to pay for a Curate. On occasions, services were held by clergyman from other churches in the Diocese, or people had to take themselves off to Farnborough or Ash. Note that the term ‘Reverend’ was not in use in these early times so I have not used it in this post.

The one ‘official’ record of the Curates of Frimley

Here is the information that I have found on the Curates who served Frimley:

John Smith 1541: Listed in a Winchester Diocese Clerical Survey as Curate of Frimley and the ‘Stipend paid by the Wardens of Frimley Chapel’.

John Pharre Trouble in Frimley! 1583: Petition by John Pharre, curate of Frimley chapel in the parish of Ash, to Lord Burghley, complaining of his expulsion by Anthony Cowper and asking that the matter be investigated by justices of the peace. Anthony Cowper was an influential man in Frimley and his name crops up in many places; he was a Frimley Chapel Warden. 1583: Letter from Lord Burghley to Sir William More of Loseley (Justice of the Peace) asking him to investigate the case of the ousted John Pharre.

Matthew Gulston (M.A. Oxford University) 1603: Listed as the Curate of Frimley Chapel and Ash Parish Church, the only person recorded as curate for both. Mathew Gulston is discussed in my post ‘Meet the Clergy of Ash’

William Lacy 1606: Mr. Lacy Minister of Frimley named in the 1606 Memorandum about the Frimley Churchyard consecration. 1607: Burial record of Nicholas Laurance: “Nic Laurance, A Collier killed by William Lacy Minister of Frimley buried 14 June 1607″. This record is intriguing! Did it mean Nicholas was killed by the Minister or killed, and buried by the Minister? (‘Collier ’was a person producing charcoal). 1611: Elizabeth Gunner left six shillings to the poor of Frimley and the will was witnessed by William Lacy, Minister.

John Perry More Trouble in Frimley! Three Court Cases! 1) 1608: John Perry, Clerk (in Holy Orders) of Frimley v. Richard Tyne, John Garrett and son, Humphrey Weston and his servant, Mabel Messam and her servants and others not named. Subject: a) Forcible entry, damage, assaults on plaintiff John Perry’s children and besetting his house at Frimley; b) Assault, destruction of property, maintenance, unlawful assembly, and contempt. 2) 1608: John Perry, Clerk of Frimley v. Humphrey Weston, Yeoman and others. Subject: a) Forcible ejection, b) cutting and carrying hay in Frimley, c) slandering the plaintiff, John Perry, to his landlord. 3) 1610: Richard Bristow of Frimley v. John Perry, Clerk of Frimley. Subject: ‘Pretended’ writ of subpoena with which John Perry obtained money and bonds from Bristow. Unfortunately, records don’s exist of the outcome of these 3 court cases. Note: Humphrey Weston was a Frimley Church Warden. Mistress Mabell Measham was buried at Frimley 1630. Richard Bristow is listed on the 1584 Frimley Muster Roll, and mentioned in the 1596 will of Anthony Cowper. 

Robert Feild (M.A. Oxford University)1599: born in Windlesham, Surrey, son of John Attfeild and shortened name to Feild; 1630: Marriage recorded in Frimley Register: “Mr. Robert Feild, Minister and a gentle woman at Oaking (Woking) married 30 March 1630”. 1630 to 1637: Robert and the gentlewoman’s children baptised at Frimley: Eliza, John, William, and James. 1637: Robert Feild appointed Vicar of Woking. 1665: appointed Vicar of Chobham where he died in 1680 at age 80. “Reverend Robert Feild was an uncontroversial figure, remaining as incumbent at Woking throughout the Civil War, Interregnum and Restoration, before becoming vicar of Chobham in 1665.

John Tacker (B.A. Oxford University) Between 1618 and 1622, Minister John Tacker baptized four of his own children at Frimley – – Eliza in 1618, Joan in 1625, Robert in 1620, and John in 1622. Mr. John Tacker Minister buried 5 June 1625 at Frimley. Note: John Tacker’s widow remarried: ‘Robert Watts and Mistress Taker were married at London 9 February 1637’ was recorded in Frimley Register.

John Brewster (B.A. Oxford University) 1616: Curate of Wanborough before moving to Frimley. 1626, April: John Brewster, curate of Frimley asked to come to deathbed of Henry Wood, Yeoman of Frimley?1626, November: left Frimley to become Curate of Cranleigh, Surrey to run the parish for the non-resident Rector of Cranleigh. This position paid more than Frimley residents could afford and John had a growing family to support. 1645 April: Rector of Cranleigh was ousted from his job by Puritans as he was a Royalist (supported King Charles I) so his curate, John Brewster, lost his job. 1645: John Brewster re-appointed as Frimley Chapel Curate and he moved his family back to Frimley. 1645:  Isaac, the son of John Brewster Minister of Frimley, was buried in the Chancel of Frimley Chapel 9 December 1645. 1648: John Brewster witnessed the will of Joseph Stonehill, Yeoman of Frimley. 1654: John died and was buried in Frimley Churchyard 16 August 1654. 1657: John Brewster’s wife, Anne Patching Brewster, died and was buried in Frimley Churchyard 23 February 1657.

Note: a record from Connecticut, U.S.A., states that John Brewster’s daughter Katherine was the mother of Captain Jonathan Higley (baptized at Frimley on 12 August 1649) who was an early settler in Connecticut. The Frimley Register records the marriage of Katherine Brewster to Jonathan Higley in 1648.

Rector Allen Mason of Farnborough Between August 1641 and May 1642, nine Frimley babies were baptized at Frimley and then the records were replicated in the Farnborough Parish Church’s register.  No baptisms were held at Farnborough on the dates in question so the Rector was likely officiating at the Frimley Chapel and he took his notes back to Farnborough each time and the warden there recorded the baptisms in their register. 

Frimley in the Time of Oliver Cromwell (The Protectorate)

Following the Civil War and the execution of King Charles I, England was ruled by Parliament under Oliver Cromwell. In 1653, an Act of Parliament was passed banning baptisms and religious marriages. Each parish had to chose ‘an able and honest person’ to be the Register (not ‘Registrar’ as we would spell it now) whose job was to record the birth date of babies and the information on civil weddings.

  • John Brewster, Register of Frimley Appointed as Register on 14 May 1654. This almost certainly is Frimley’s Curate and a neat way to get around the Act of Parliament!
  • Robert Bedborough, Register of Frimley Appointed as Register on 7 September 1656. (Minister John Brewster died in August 1656). More on Robert Bedborough in a separate post.
  • Lionel Rawlins, Justice of the Peace from Woking Conducted at least 10 civil marriages in Frimley between 1655 and 1660

After the monarchy was restored in 1660, church ministers were allowed back into their churches as long as they were not staunch Puritans and were prepared to swear an oath of allegiance. Regular baptisms and marriages resumed. Parliament passed an Act deeming those civil weddings to be legal.

Here is the technical description of the oath and the events surrounding it: “1662 the Cavalier Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity to impose ecclesiastical conformity. Ministers were ordered to declare in front of their congregations their “unfeigned assent and consent” to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The act stipulated the deprivation of those who refused and three months imprisonment for those who continued to preach. Unable to comply, some changed profession and others took the risk of gathering separate churches.” (Collin Harris)

Thomas West, Curate of Frimley (M.A. Cambridge University) We do have an official record for Thomas West showing that he was appointed Curate of both Frimley and Pirbright on 26 May 1674; he apparently was ordained 5 March 1660 by the Bishop of Galloway, Scotland. In 1675, Mr. Thomas West, Minister, baptized his daughter, Mary West, at Frimley Chapel.

  • Sources:
  • The Clergy Database: https://theclergydatabase.org.uk/
  • Collin Harris Living Out Nonconformity: Restoration Ministers and their Diaries at open edition.org
  • Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: FRM/1/1-3
  • Exploring Surrey’s Past at www.exploringsurreyspast.org
  • Various Google Books and Images
sheilacreighton21@gmail.com