Suffolk memorial inscriptions

Would you like some memorial inscriptions from Suffolk, including all the churches in Ipswich? As well as East Bergholt, Bramford, etc etc?

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, The East Anglian ran an 81-part series covering inscriptions inside churches, and a separate series listed surnames from headstones in churchyards. In a couple of cases, there’s inscriptions from the churchyards too.

I’ve added links to the pages of The East Anglian where I have register transcriptions for those parishes – so links to all three parts recording East Bergholt’s memorial inscriptions inside the church are on the East Bergholt page. And where I don’t have parish register transcriptions, I’ve put the links together all on one handy page.

Great Ashfield church and churchyard
Great Ashfield church, Suffolk

New Suffolk burials CD!

Photo by Cindy Lilley

This looks good! The Suffolk Family History Society have released a new version of their Suffolk burials CD, with nearly 1,500,000 burials. It’s also available as a download. Ask Father Christmas to put this in your stocking! Get yours now (or direct Father Christmas) to the Suffolk FHS shop.
If you have the previous release (this is number three), I’ve spotted that it now takes parishes such as Clare and Stoke-by-Nayland back to the mid-1500s, while the previous release only went back as far as the mid-1600s. Full coverage of this release is available at the Suffolk FHS shop.

The Essex Wills Beneficiaries Index – what it is and how to use it

I first heard about the Essex Wills Beneficiaries Index (EWBI) in a newsletter from the Essex Society for Family History. It’s a remarkable index compiled over 15 years by Thora Broughton, who went to the Essex Record Office and combed through all the wills held there from 1675-1858, noting the beneficiaries – people named in the wills. Thanks to Thora’s efforts, you can look someone up by name and if they’re mentioned in a will held at the Essex Record Office, they will pop up in the index. They could be a daughter, a grandchild, an executor, someone who happens to live in a house owned by the testator – there’s all sorts of people who’ll come up. It’s been a really useful tool for knocking down brick walls in my family tree, so here’s some tips and information based on my own use of it.

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Don’t diss Frinton’s church!

A painting of Frinton's old parish church. It is tiny.

I’m transcribing records for Frinton at the moment. It once had a tiny population and an equally tiny church. In trying to find out more about life in a tiny village, I found an argument raging in the pages of the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal. It allows us to peek inside the church and visit it back in 1857.

It started off with a letter from Philo Eccles, published on 19 September 1857:

SIR – In the English Churchman of Thursday, the 10th inst., under the head of “Miscellaneous – Ecclesiastical,” I read a description of the parish church of Frinton, in Essex, which loudly claims the attention of the Ordinary. It appears that this church is only opened once on a Sunday, when there is a service in the evening – that the clerk places his hat and pocket handkerchief on the Communion Table, at which he sits in a chair, resting his elbows upon it as he would do in his own cottage – that the cover of the Table is coarse, dirty, and shabby, and the whole interior of the church is in fact in such a condition as to be disgraceful. It appears that the whole parish consists of two farm houses and a cottage;[1]Looking at Frinton on the 1851 census, there’s Frinton Hall and Frinton Wick, which are presumably the two farm houses – Frinton Hall was Richard Stone’s home at the time, and Wick … Continue reading but as the value is £162 per annum, surely something better as to the service of the church furniture ought to be insisted upon.

Perhaps a hint from the Cambridge Chronicle might secure this object.

I am, Sir,

Your very obedient Servant,


At this time, as cities and towns grew, there were parishes catering to much larger populations where the livings were little more than that of Frinton. Over the years, there had been many rectors who enjoyed the income of the living, but rarely set foot in the parish, leaving the cure of souls to their poorly-paid curates.

But it was Frinton’s curate who responded. Over to you, Thomas James Bewsher.

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1 Looking at Frinton on the 1851 census, there’s Frinton Hall and Frinton Wick, which are presumably the two farm houses – Frinton Hall was Richard Stone’s home at the time, and Wick was where Charles Theedam and his family lived. There’s a cottage on Kirby Road where the Snares lived – William Snare, aged 78, was Frinton’s oldest inhabitant on the 1851 census, and might be the person referred to later. Samuel Harvey, a farm labourer, lived at Parsonage House with his wife and family, and a property called Battery House is mentioned on the schedule but was uninhabited. That makes more properties than Philo Eccles counted. In all 30 people were in Frinton on the night of the 1851 census. In 1841 there had been 44, and apparently more properties as well although none are named.

The Griffin family

Credit: Wellcome CollectionAttribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

I decided on a whim to make use of the Buckinghamshire records on Findmypast and research my Griffin ancestors who come from that county. I wasn’t sure I’d find all that much, and I’ve ended up very surprised! One of them sailed with Captain Cook, another founded a Colchester department store, and still another was a linen draper with an apprentice called Arthur Lasenby Liberty – yes, the man who founded another even more well-known shop!

There’s a whole slew of drapers, there’s Baptists and Independents, and there are some extraordinary stories to be told. I have started writing up my research so please do have a read.