Ash Register’s Unrevealed Secrets

Now revealed by the Lacunae of History!

When you look at a Parish Register on an on-line genealogy site, you get a list of births, marriages, and deaths – sometimes accurately transcribed but often wild guesses – but that’s another story! Inside those registers, other records were often made.

George Cobbett (1610 to 1689) was the Ash Parish Clerk and he used the Ash Register as a notebook and recorded the following information:

The Churchyard Fence of Ash Parish Church: The background to this information can be found in English Canon Law 85 of 1603 which required parishioners to contribute to the building and maintaining of a wall or fence around the churchyard under the supervision of the church officials.

  • Ash Churchyard had a rail fence and in 1649, George Cobbett wrote up information about which Frimley resident was responsible for which portion – called a ‘Panell of Railes’ – of the fence and who was in possession of that house in 1649.
  • Although Frimley had its own Chapel of Ease and churchyard due to its distance from the parish church, its residents were still Ash parishioners and required to maintain the fence of the parish churchyard.
  • The image below shows that the information on the person/property responsible for Fence Panels 1 to 6 was torn out of the register.
Panel NumberProperty Responsible for Ash Churchyard Fence Panel in the ownership of Frimley Residents 1649
7House and land called Bomonny’s now in the occupation of Robert Chewter.
8House & land adjoining unto Burnt House heretofore in the occupation of Robert Mannering’s Widow, now in the possession of John Styles the Younger.
9Burnt House heretofore in the hands of George Watts, now in the possession of Thomas Watts.
10House & land heretofore John Stonehill’s now Mistress Margaret Beard’s and in the occupation of Richard Sawyer at the North West end of the Bowling Green.
11House & land called Wild House at the South East end of the Bowling Green now in the possession of Robert Watts of the Bowling Green.
12House & land called Neatham Green now in the occupation of Andrew Patience but rented of John Styles. ‘This Twelth Pane or Pannell of Railes is at the South East corner of the Church yard of Ashe and adjoineth unto the Houses that are built there’.
 ‘Memorandum That these several Panes or Pannells of Railes above Written belonging unto Frimley men were Acknowledged to be theirs by their respective Mending and Repairing of their said Railes. Now since the Year of our Lord 1649 they have been All Mended, Repaired or New made by Them. Witness: George Cobett, Clerke of Ashe’.
Ash Parish Register, 1649 – Note that the use of ‘apostrophe s’ to denote possession had come into use by 1649

Who Were These People?

I have found some of them:
Robert Chewter of Frimley had daughter Mercy Chewter baptized at Frimley in 1652; Widow Chewter lived in this property in 1684
George Watts, Yeoman of Frimley, died in 1636 and was buried in Frimley Churchyard and his son, Thomas Watts, born 1635 in Frimley
John Stonehill, Yeoman of Frimley, died in 1648 and was buried in Frimley Churchyard
Mistress Margaret Beard – formerly Margaret Clee who married Richard Beard, a landowner from Finchampstead, Berkshire. Margaret and Richard had at least 9 children and lived in Frimley in their later years. In his 1644 Will, Richard Beard described himself as a Gentleman from Frimley. Margaret Beard died in 1664, and both are buried in Frimley Churchyard, as well as their daughter, Margaret, for whom there is a memorial plaque in Frimley Church: Here lies interred Margaret Beard the daughter of Richard Beard & Margaret Beard his wife who departed this life the second of September AD 1652
Robert Watts, Yeoman of Frimley, died in 1681 and in his Will left Bowling Green property to nephew Richard Price — See image of Bowling Green Farm below
Andrew Patience of Frimley had least 5 children baptized at Frimley Chapel 1645-55
John Styles the Younger, Yeoman of Frimley, who died in 1660 and was buried in Frimley Churchyard
Bowling Green Farm, Frimley
Delinquent Property Owners
 ‘The Railes of the other Inhabitants of Frimley which are to be Made, Maintained & Repaired by Them (as in the Named underwritten). They are contained or included in the several Panes or Pannells of the Walls of the Houses between the South East corner of the said Church Yard and the Entrance or Church Gate; which they are, they know themselves’.
13John Hillier’s house & land called Charter’s in his own possession.
14William Thayre’s house & land adjoining to the farms of George Watts now in possession of John Bartholomew & Joan Daw.
15John Gonner’s land of Whitewells now in the occupation of William Cobbett & Mark Carpenter.
16Thomas Cobbett’s house & land adjoining to Neatham Green now in the occupation of William Cobbett.
17Richard Gates house & land adjoining to John Bartholomew’s land called the Berrie on the South East.
18William Whiting’s house & land adjoining the land of Richard Gales.
19Thomas Gunner’s house & land adjoining unto William Cobbett’s land and now in the possession of John Finch.
20John Bartholomew’s house and land adjoining unto Thomas Gunner’s. In his own possession. This man’s Railes are next to the Church yard Gate on the east part of it.
 All the West Side of the Church Yard of Ashe is fenced by the Hartshorn House and the backside (of Hartshorn).

Who Were These People?

Found some of them:
John Hillier – possibly the Hillyard Family of Frimley
William Thayre, Yeoman of Frimley, died 1663, buried in Frimley
George Watts (see above)
John Gunner, Yeoman of Whitewells Farm
William Cobbett, Yeoman of Frimley, 1617 to 1690; Church Warden of Frimley Chapel; related by marriage to John Bartholomew below
Mark Carpenter, born 1633 in Farnborough (just a few miles from Frimley) and was related to William Cobbett above
Richard Gates, Yeoman of Frimley, died 1686, buried in Frimley
Thomas Gunner, Yeoman of Frimley, died 1633, buried in Frimley
John Finch – record of Elizabeth Finch, daughter of John, baptized in Frimley Chapel in 1652
John Bartholomew, Yeoman of Frimley, 1604 to 1658, buried in Frimley; Church Warden of Frimley Chapel; related by marriage to William Cobbett above. * Bartholomew Family prominent in Ash and Frimley for many centuries
Whitewell Farm, Frimley

Hartshorn House: Hartshorn House still exists and is a Grade II Listed Building. At one time, it was the rectory for the clergymen of St Peter’s Church and was probably referred to as ‘the Parsonage’.

Hartshorn House, Ash

George Cobbett , Parish Clerk – now the Archaeologist

George Cobbett added a Memorandum on the discovery of an old wall around the churchyard during post-digging to repair the fence.

‘Memorandum That the Church yard of the church of Ashe in Surrey in the Countie of Surrey was previously some what larger than now it is (Viz as … within the Railes above mentioned) for somewhat without the Railes on the East part of the said Church yard, such as have trenched the Ground there; have dugg upp a Foundation which lay under ground from the North Corner of the said Church yard unto the Highway on the South. And also on the North part of the Church yard aforesaid there is to be seen under Ground the Foundation of a Wall there also.  For John Pratt and Robert Draper Digging Holes on that side for the Posts of John Pratt’s Railes. There appeared under Ground an Evident Foundation of a Wall which I my Selfe saw as well as the Diggers of it’. Signed by George Cobett
Ash Parish Register, 1649

More George Cobbett

A blank page following the marriage records was used by George Cobbett and subsequently scratched out. These doodles were written when the Register was no longer in use: George Cobett of Ash 1669 Anno Dom; George Cobett of Ash in the County of Surrey 1669; George Cobett of Ash in the Country of Britain.

George Cobbett’s Doodles, Ash Register

George has the Last Word

George’s Signature inside back cover of Ash Register

Ash Parish Register Volume I ……… to be continued


  • Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: FRM/1/1-3
  • England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 Record