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CHRISTOPHER FAMILIES of Edmondsham
and Hazelbury Bryan in Dorset
(c1569-1756)

©Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington December 2011 (last update August 2014)

Link to House of CHRISTOPHER Master File

1. Ancestry of Charles Christopher of Fordington (c1705-1791)

With the release of new records on line it has finally been possible to map out Charles Christophers ancestry back another four generations to his great great grandparents which takes us back well into the 16th century. Charles life and marriage to Elizabeth ALLEN in Fordington in 1727 has already been covered and can be accessed via this link . Charles CHRISTOPHER (1705-1791) . His Ancestry starts just over 30 miles North East of Dorchester at the small village of Edmondsham and the surrounding estate of Edmondsham House.


Edmondsham House
Described as a Grade II Tudor manor house with Georgian additions, the original Tudor house consisted of just the central portion. This was built in local brick for its owner Thomas Hussey in two stages, the bottom two storey's first (1565) , followed by a third storey of Dutch style gabling that was completed in 1589. The two outer wings with their Dutch or Flemish style gables were added by his descendant John Fry Hussey between 1740 and 1750. After his death in 1760, the house passed by descent through a succession of ownerships to the Monro family. In 1825 their eldest son Hector married Henrietta Tregonwell, the daughter of Lewis Tregonwell, generally acknowledged to have been the founder of the seaside town of Bournemouth. A period of alterations and remodeling followed well into the next century, which included stucco rendering in 1837 of the old Tudor brickwork at the front of the house. To this day, the house is still owned by a descendant of the same family.
© Picture Copyright Mike Searle and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.


2. Charles CHRISTOPHER (c1569 - 1629) & Anna (c1570-1627/8)
of Edmondsham in Dorset

His great great grandparents were Charles and Anna CHRISTOPHER and they settled in Edmondsham prior to 1597. Nothing is known about them prior to this date, but Charles is likely to have been born around the year 1569(1) and Anna perhaps a year or two later. Nor do we know where they married except that it was not Edmondsham where parish registers have thankfully survived from the year 1573(2).

We are clearly therefore ensconced in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) (picture left), and the time of the exploits Sir John Hawkins (picture right) and that of Sir Francis Drake with their attempts to seize Spanish bullion. Charles was still a young man around the age of 19 when the Spanish Armada set sail in 1588 which in turn fuelled persecution of Catholics with 22 priest and 11 laity being executed that year. Not that these historical events would have meant a great deal to Charles & Anna, who were undoubtedly illiterate. Their concerns would have been much more concentrated upon survival at a basic level and it seems likely that work is what probably drew them to Edmondsham.

Historically Edmondsham was essentially an Estate Village centred on Edmondsham House, and to a large extent this legacy still exists today. Edmondsham was a small linear settlement extending eastwards from the Parish Church of St Nicholas, itself surrounded by the grounds of Edmondsham House. As Charles & Anna raised a family here we know he must have worked on the estate or perhaps labouring in the surrounding fields owned by the Manor. In their day the house lacked the Georgian and Victorian wings but the major work of adding the third storey was completed in 1589 and it would still have dominated life in the village and surrounding area.


The church of St Nicholas - Edmondsham
The churchyard wherein lie the bodies of Charles & Anna Christopher

© Picture taken 16 Mar 2007 Copyright Miss Steel and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.


The Church of St Nicholas (4) is of outstanding architectural interest (3). The walls of this diminutive building are of Heath Stone Rubble and Flint with ashlar dressing. The roofs are tiled with stone gable copings. The Nave and Chancel in particular date from the twelfth century and the North Aisle was added in the fourteenth century with the squat tower with corner pinnacles projecting above the plain parapets is early fifteenth century as are the main church windows. This church has been caring for the souls of my 10x grandparents for neigh on 400 years.

Charles and Anna had three children baptised in the church of St Nicholas. The ceremony was probably conducted by the Rev Richard Gouge as he appears to have been Rector of Edmondsham from 1575 to 1616(9) . Unfortunately the font used then appears to have been replaced in the 19th century :-
    (2.1) Robert CHRISTOPHER (1597-1635) baptised in the church of St Nicholas Edmondsham on 3rd June 1597. Our line of descendancy is through their eldest son so I will deal with his life in the next section below.

    (2.2) Oliver CHRISTOPHER (1599-?) (5) was baptised at Edmondsham on 31st Oct 1599. It is interesting that Oliver Cromwell was born on 25th April the same year so the name appears to have been popular then. When he was old enough to be independent Oliver Christopher seems to have moved east, probably to Fordingbridge and onto Romsey a distance of 25 miles.

    Romsey was a small market village close to the river test which wends its way for 8 miles down to Southampton, even then a major trading port on the south coast. Clearly a good place to find employment. Romsey was originally the site of a religious community in 907 AD led by Elfaeda the daughter of King Edward the elder who was son of Alfred the Great. King Edward re-founded the site in 960 AD as a Benedictine nunnery and the village gradually established itself around the Abbey. It suffered greatly being sacked by the Vikings in 993 AD when the original church was burnt to the ground. The Abbey was rebuilt around the year 1000 AD and the village prospered until struck by the black death in 1348/9 which halved the 1000 strong community and reduced the nuns by 80% leaving only 19 survivors. Once again it recovered to house over 100 nuns but these were dispersed during the dissolution of Henry the VIII in 1539. Unlike many others however the Abbey escaped destruction and saw a resurgence under Elizabeth I . When Oliver arrived the village was still dominated by the Abbey which generated work in the surrounding area and supported the poor during hard times.


    Romsey Abbey

    Here Oliver met Ellenor BURGES whom he married in Romsey Abbey on 13th Feb 1624/5. They had four children baptised in the parish:-
      (2.2.1). John bap 30th Sep 1627 died pre 1633
      (2.2.2). Richard bap 8th Jan 1630/1
      (2.2.3). John bap 30th June 1633
      (2.2.4). Oliver bap 8th June 1636. Although I have not so far located a marriage he also produced a family in the same parish:-
        (a). Oliver bap 28 Mar 1663
        (b). George bap 17 Jun 1666
        (c). Richard bap 25 Mar 1668
        (d). Mary bap 21 Jan 1670/1
        (e) John bap 2nd Feb 1673/4 (6) Sarah bap 27th May 1681

    (2.3) Anne CHRISTOPHER (1604-?) baptised there on 17th May 1604 of unknown fate. The year after her birth saw the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the houses of Parliament.
Charles CHRISTOPHER as can be seen lived during an interesting part of our social history and would have been in his 50's when the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Cape Cod in 1620. The spread of Puritanism, particularly in Dorset, would have ensured that this event would have been the major topic of the day and known even to estate employees as news was preached from the pulpit every Sunday. The establishment of the colony at Plymouth in 1620 even gave new inspiration to the Rev. John White (1575-1648) in Dorchester to further his view of the godly community by establishing their own colony at Charlestown Massachusetts.

Charles CHRISTOPHER was pre-deceased by his wife Anna and she was buried in the churchyard shown in the above picture on 8th February in the year 1627/8. This was the year that the Duke of Buckingham was assassinated and buried at Westminster Abbey. Charles died the following year joining Anna on 29th August 1629.

Before I leave them however I need to comment upon the way Anna's burial is recorded. It is written as:- " 1627: Anna CHRISTOPHER alias CHARLES the wife of Charles CHRISTOPHER buried upon the eight day of February". Because of it's position in the register we know this was the year 1627/8. The entry for her husband simply states:- "1629 Charles CHRISTOPHER buried upon the 29. day of August". I should perhaps explain that the use of an alias in the 17th century was not a particularly rare event and had none of the connotations which might be associated with it's use today. Used here however it is particularly useful as other records relating to their children also refer to the use this alias helping to confirm relationships.
3. Robert CHRISTOPHER (1597-1635) & Elizabeth TOP
of Edmondsham in Dorset

Charles of Fordington's great grandparents were Robert CHRISTOPHER and Elizabeth TOP. As shown above Robert was the eldest son of Charles & Anna CHRISTOPHER and Robert married Elizabeth in Edmondsham in 1625 (6). There were only two marriages that year of which Robert's was the first, but the end of the record where the day and month are given is damaged denying us that additional information. It was however a remarkable year in as much as it started with Charles I (picture left) ascended the throne on the 27th March(2) and on 1st May he married the staunchly Catholic Henrietta Maria of France (picture right) and set in train a chain of events that led to the Civil War and him being beheaded in 1649.

So on the appropriate day in 1625 Robert and Elizabeth would have stood before the alter in St Nicholas Church and said their vows in front of Charles and Anna who were both still alive then. Others attending that day would almost certainly have been regular parishioners, most of whom would have been other estate workers with their families, and this is likely to have included Elizabeth's as marriage normally would be in the brides parish before her friends and parents. I cannot however trace the Top family as being in Edmondsham and there is so little firm evidence about her its difficult to be sure of anything. I did locate a possible baptism of an Elizabeth Toppe the daughter of Christopher Toppe that took place at Poole about 10 miles south of Edmondsham on 26th April 1598 but subsequent research suggests that she is more likely to have married at Poole in 1618 (8)

This brings me to the actual marriage registration for Robert and Elizabeth's wedding. It states " 1625: Robert CHRISTOPHER alias CHARLES, and Elizabeth TOP were married upon the -----" . The use of the alias again clearly indicates they are all from the same family and Charles and Ann can therefore only be his parents. After their marriage Robert and Elizabeth had four children all baptised at St Nicholas Church in Edmondsham. The resident Rector at the time was Rev. Patrick Kinninmond MA a graduate of St Andrews Oxford who served at St Nicholas from 17 May 1617 until his death in 1636. He does not appear to have had a curate and the handwriting changes in 1617 when he took office, so he almost certainly married them and carried out the following baptisms:-
    (3.1). Richard CHRISTOPHER baptism:- " 1625. Richard Christopher the son of Robert Christopher alias Charles baptised the eighteenth (April)" Noting else is known.

    (3.2). Humphrey CHRISTOPHER baptism:- "1627. Humfrey Christopher alias Charles ye sonne of Robert Christopher alias Charles baptised upon the fifth .5. day of October". See below.

    (3.3). Charles CHRISTOPHER baptism:- "1630. Charles Christopher the sone of Robert Christopher baptised upon the .17. day of April". Just over a month later Henrietta Maria gave birth to Charles II of England on 29th May 1630. It was also the year that Charles and Phillip of Spain signed the Treaty of Madrid ending the 1625-1630 the war with France and Spain.

    (3.4). William CHRISTOPHER baptism:- " 1632. William Charles alias Christopher the sonne of Robert Charles baptised upon the 82? day of December ".
The final record of interest to us at Edmondsham is the burial of Robert himself on 20th May 1635. Unfortunately we have not so far discovered what happened to Richard, Charles or William or the fate of their mother Elizabeth CHRISTOPHER (nee Top), but our line is continued below through the second child Humphrey CHRISTOPHER. There is no evidence of the use of the alias Charles after this date in Humphrey's line so it appears to have only been used in Edmondsham.
The English Civil War
4. Humphrey CHRISTOPHER Senior (1627-1703/4)
& Ann SCAMELL (1624-1668) of Hazelbury Bryan in Dorset

The next documentary evidence that we have for Humphrey after his baptism in Edmondsham is his marriage at the age of 29 at Stoke Wake in Dorset on the 8th April 1656. Stoke Wake in those days was a little over 20 miles east from Edmondsham but is closer to 26 miles using modern roads. At first I wondered what prompted the move but I think we need to remember that the Civil War took place between 1642 and 1651 when the whole country was severely disrupted as various factions sided with the King or Parliament. I know that during the war at one time over 4,000 Royalist troops were stationed at Cranborne and Edmondsham is only about a mile south so a large family estate like this would have been drawn into support for the King. There is some indication that members of the Hussey Family fought for the King but this would need further research and the house seems to have remained in the possession of descendants of Thomas Hussey throughout. Nevertheless local employment was bound to have been severely affected as large numbers of men joined the cause of one side or the other and trade collapsed. Many families ended up relocated at this time.

Stoke Wake is a leafy hamlet situated in the Blackmore Vale under Bulbarrow Hill, 8 miles West of Blandford Forum. Unfortunately for us the current parish church of All Saints was built in 1872 on the site of the ancient church in which Humphrey and Ann married. It was described by Hutchins as being of Perpendicular style with a nave, chancel, south porch and embattled tower containing four bells, one dated 1627. Inside was a 15th century octagonal font with carved panels and a painting of a beggar on the north pillar, with the stern inscription, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man”. At any rate Humphrey CHRISTOPHER married Ann SCAMELL there on 8th day of April in the year 1656, whilst Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) (picture above left) was still Lord Protector of England.

I know very little about Ann apart from her baptism which appears to have taken place 20 miles north east of Stoke Wake in the tiny village of Fovant just over the border in Wiltshire. She was baptised as Hannah SCAMMELL in the Church of St George in Fovant on 28th Nov 1624 but no parentage is given (10). Fovant is only 8 miles west of Salisbury and it's important to have a general appreciation of the events of the Civil War at this time. By June 1643 Royalists forces under Hertford had reached Blandford and the situation in Dorchester which was the headquarters of the Parliamentary forces in Dorset was considered to be serious . The following month the Royalists won the the greatest cavalry victory of the English Civil War at Roundhay Down near Devises when they killed about 600 and captured over 1,000 Parliamentarians.The Royalists quickly realised that this presented them with a great opportunity to capture important Parliamentarian-held towns in the south-west of England. Only two days after the battle, Prince Rupert marched from Oxford, the Royalists' wartime capital, with a large army and captured the important city and port of Bristol. In August Dorchester surrendered when Lord Carnarvon arrived with two thousand horse and dragoons. This was when the library of Rev John White was destroyed by Royalist troops. Later of course when the Parliamentarians gained the upper hand roles were reversed and Dorchester quickly returned to it's roots as a seat of non conformity. In the midst of all this turmoil sits our family of Scammell.

Hannah is in all probability the eldest daughter of six known children of William and Cicely Scammell, her siblings being baptised there in 1621, 1628; 1635; 1637 and 1641. It's clear from Fovant History that Quakers settled in the parish from an early date with a large group being active in the village prior to 1661. According to the Fovant History Interest Group website the Records of the Society of Friends (Quakers) state " that in 1661 John Merryweather and his sons John and Andrew, members of a prominent Fovant Quaker family, were apprehended in their house, arrested and taken to Fisherton Gaol in Salisbury. Members of other Fovant Quaker families, Abbot, Day, Strong, or Scammell also suffered the same fate during the restoration for similar reasons". We therefore know that the Scammell family was in Fovant from before 1621 right through the Civil War which lasted from 1642 to 1651. Quakers were strongly represented in Cromwell's Army so these families in all probability would have been Parliamentarians and some of their most able bodied men could even have been away with their Army. Whilst at this distance we cannot be sure this is what happened we know that the war resulted in the migration of large numbers of people and It's easy to see that Fovant was not a good place for any family to be, let alone Quakers, as the Royalists rampaged around the countryside. Her parents and brothers all seem to have died in Fovant but this does not mean that some did not leave during the worst of the troubles, especially the women and children. No more children were born to William and Cicely after 1641 with the Civil War starting in 1642. This coupled with the fact that Hannah appears to have moved south west away from the battles of Newbury, Roundhay Down and Bristol down the road to Shaftsbury and into the countryside in a direct line towards Dorchester says much about their desire to avoid the war altogether but also to be closer to those who held similar views. Those who fled the troubles still had to find work to survive and perhaps Hannah who would have been 32 when she married found work in the area around Stoke Wake. It's seems to me therefore that the Civil War was the most likely catalyst that brought the families of Christopher & Scammell together in this part of Dorset. Her mother, if she left, certainly returned to Fovant as she was buried there after the Civil War in 1658 followed by her father in 1665.

Eleven months after their marriage Ann CHRISTOPHER gave birth to a baby girl whose name is denied us by a damaged parish register but who was baptised at Stoke Wake on 8th March 1656/7. Oliver Cromwell died on 3rd Sep 1658 which is about the time that Humphrey and his family moved to nearby Hazelbury Bryan where they settled to live. In 1659 Richard Cromwell was forced to resign by the Army and in 1660 Parliament restored Charles II to the throne (picture left above)


Stoke Wake: Looking down from Bulbarrow Hill onto the re-built church of All Saints
where Humphrey Christopher married Ann Scamell in 1656


© Picture Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

Humphrey and Ann moved to Hazelbury Bryan in 1658/9 and had three more children baptised there so their children were:-

    (4.1). Unknown Female CHRISTOPHER baptised Stoke Wake 8th Mar 165/7; no more known

    (4.2). Maria CHRISTOPHER baptised Hazelbury Bryan 27th Jan 1659/60; no more known

    (4.3). John CHRISTOPHER baptised Hazelbury Bryan 2nd Jan 1662/3; John married Agnes STICKLY at Hazelbury Bryan on 22nd May 1682. She was a native of the village having been baptised there as Ann the daughter of Richard & Joan Stickly on the 30th May 1665. Her father Richard Stickly was buried in the parish as well on 5th Nov 1684. They produced a family of four children

      (4.3.1) Jacob CHRISTOPHER bap 25/9/1682;

      (4.3.2) John CHRISTOPHER bap 8/2/1684/5;

      (4.3.3) Maria CHRISTOPHER 21 Jan 1689/90; who as Mary (11) may have married John Crocker at Hazelbury Bryan on 8th Jan 1731/2

      (4.3.4) Humphrey CHRISTOPHER (1692-1776) bap 2nd June 1692. We know that Humphrey left Hazelbury Bryan around the turn of the century to work in the port of Poole as he married by licence to Elizabeth TALBOTT (1694-1735) in St James Church on 29th December 1713 and thankfully his marriage registration states that he was from the parish of Hazelbury in Dorset. The original church of St James dates from the 12th century but was totally rebuilt in 1820. His bride was baptised at Poole on 16th September 1694 as Elizabeth Hurst TALBOT the daughter of William TALBOTT who had married her mother Elizabeth HURSTT by banns in Poole on 11th Nov 1687. There were three elder siblings; Joan (bap.12 Sep 1688); James (bap.29 Sep 1689) and Ann (bap. 6 Aug 1692) but nothing else has so far come to light about her family.

        Note:- I have only ever been able to trace 3 Humphrey Christophers being born, and three being buried in Dorset and of course these are all closely related being father, son and grandson. To give an idea of just how rare this name is, even outside of Dorset I can only trace two other births, one in 1613 in London and one in Cambridge in 1623. Neither as far as I know has any connection with our family. By 1724 this Humphrey was the only one still alive. For many years despite extensive searches we were unable to find any other records relating to him for over 50 years until he apparently turned up at his 1st cousins Anne's wedding to Christopher Cuff in Winterbourne Whitchurch in 1766 as a witness. There was then two burials in the adjacent parish of Winterbourne Clenson of Edith the wife of Humphrey Christopher in 1753 and Humphrey in 1776 so I though we were relatively safe in assuming this accounted for him despite a second marriage and the 53 year gap in records. Information has come to light recently however (for which I am grateful to the Langfords of Portsmouth Family Tree) which suggests that he actually left Dorset to work in London and died in 1745. If this is correct we have a fourth Humphrey Christopher who dies in Winterbourne Clenson who is also closely related to the family but no baptism, or as I write, any idea from whom he is descended. To assist other researchers into the family I will set out the story of Humphrey Christophers life as I now understand it:-

        Poole is primarily a deep water harbour which expanded in trade as the port at Wareham silted up and had exceeded Weymouth in size by as early as 1433. From the beginning of the 17th century it was one of the main ports for trading with Newfoundland, taking out salt and provisions, and bringing back salt fish which was traded in the Mediterranean countries before returning home with wine, olive oil and dried fruits etc. It was also a major port for coastal trade particularly up to the Port of London and a sensible place to find work.


      Immediately after marriage Humphrey and Elizabeth moved to London where Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, a son whom they named Talbot CHRISTOPHER (1714-1731). Talbot was of course Elizabeth's maiden name (just as Elizabeth's 2nd name of Hurst was her mother's maiden name). This baptism record is in the parish of St Paul's in Shadwell in the very heart of the City close to the Tower of London. It is more detailed than most, recording for example that Talbot was 16 days old when baptised on 24th August 1714. This would mean that Elizabeth was 2 months pregnant at her marriage in Poole. Humphrey's occupation is also given as being that of a 'Ballastman' which was a responsible job as it entailed loading wooden ships with ballast to ensure equilibrium. Something that the sailors lives depended upon and presumably a skill he first learnt working at Poole. The registration also gives their place of residence as 'Sarah street'. Tracking down exactly where this was proved difficult because of the huge changes to this area over the last 300 years so I have provided some genealogical notes (12) to help any researchers. I am confident however that 'Sarah Street' was a side street off the eastern side of 'New Gravel Lane' between where it is joined on that side by Milk Yard' and 'Wapping Streets' shown on the map below. As such they were ideally placed for work.

      Small extracts from John Rocque's Map of the City of London dated 1746 (Use link and zoom in to explore the area)
      © Copyright MOTCO Enterprises made available free of charge for individual, non-commercial use only


      Their second child was a girl they named Anne CHRISTOPHER who was born on 1st Oct 1716 and baptised at St Paul's on 28th of the same month (13) . As we might expect they are living in rented accommodation and by the time of Anne's baptism they have moved to live in 'Coleman Street'. This was simply two streets down from 'Sarah Street' leading off the east side of New Gravel Lane and running parallel to Wapping Wall. Both streets survived into Victoria times and can be easily identified in later more detailed maps as shown in the genealogical notes below (12) . Around 1717/8 Humphrey moved again to settle much nearer to the Tower of London at 'Flemish Church Yard' a road which ran into St Catherine's Lane. They remained here for the rest of their lives, Elizabeth giving birth to 9 more children between 1718 and 1733 (at least 6 of which died in infancy). Their eldest son Talbot lived until he was 17 but died in 1731 so they renamed their last child born in 1734 Talbot again. I have given a complete listing of their children in Genealogical Note 14 below. Having given birth to eleven children Elizabeth died at the age of 41 and was buried on 25th January 1735/6 in the Cemetery belonging to the Church of St Katherine by the Tower but separate from the church and accessed from Flemish Church Lane as shown in the map below.

      Although the nine baptisms and seven burial records for their children recorded in the parish registers at St Katherine's Church do not give where they lived within the parish, Land Tax Returns for this part of London survive from 1732 and each years return up to when he died in 1745 shows Humphrey paying an annual rent of usually between 4 and 8 shillings for accommodation in 'Flemish Church Yard'. This is shown on the section of map reproduced below.



      Humphrey CHRISTOPHER (1692-1776) continues to be assessed for rates on 'Flemish Church Yard' after the death of Elizabeth in January 1735/6 until his own death in 1745. Two months prior to Elizabeth's death however their eldest daughter Anne Christopher marries John Morgan at the church of St George in the East. If you use this link again to access John Rocque's Map of the City of London dated 1746 and zoom in and out to get your bearings it's easy to identify St Catherines by the Tower as shown above, St George in the East above the Ratcliff High Way and a bit further on St Paul's in Upper Shadwell. His daughter's marriage seems to have drawn Humphrey to this area as he appears to have remarried on the 23rd April 1737 to Mary ISON (1695-1741) at the same church as his daughter. This record states that he is a widower and that they are both of Virg'n St. This is an abbreviated form for 'Virginia Street' which is the long street running south off the Ratcliffe High Way and situated about half way between St Katherines and St George in the East so within easy walking distance. We have a slight anomonly as Humphrey is still paying for Flemish Church Yard but in reality I think this is probably where Mary was living at the time of their marriage.

      Mary Ison appears to have been the daughter of a waterman George ISON by his wife Mary and was baptised at St Katherines by the Tower on 22nd Dec 1695 so in all probability past child bearing age. Mary Christopher (not designated as a widow) died and was buried at St George in the East on 8th Nov 1741 when her addrees was given as Denmark Street, quite close to the church off Ratcliffe High Way. Humphrey lived to the age of 54 his age being given in the burial register for St Katherine's when he was interred in the cemetery across the road on 18th December 1745.

    (4.4). Humphrey CHRISTOPHER(1665-1724/5) baptised Hazelbury Bryan 14th July 1665 who was Charles of Fordington's Father and is the subject of the Section 5 below.
On 19th May 1662 the First Act of Parliament imposing 'Hearth Money' came into force and the first collection was made the following Michaelmas. It was managed by county and county borough authorities and only taxable hearths were listed. The Tax was levied upon all houses 'which are not worth in yearly value below Twenty Shillings' and the rate payable was 2 shillings per hearth. The tax was payable by the occupier, not the landlord and was assessed on the occupiers ability to pay. The tax was abolished in 1689 but a return for 1664 for Hazelbury Bryan which is based upon the 1662 return lists 64 people who were assessed for the tax and the number of hearths taxed ranges from 1 to 5. Humphrey Christopher's name appears assessed for 1 hearth which shows that the family at least had sufficient wealth to be included in the tax assessment and were not subject to poor relief as they would have been exempted and the Landlord asked to pay.

There were no more children after Humphrey as Ann CHRISTOPHER (nee Scamell) died in 1668 being buried at St Mary and St James Church in the village on 10th October. Her death is recorded as "Anno Dm 1668 sepulti fuerunt Joana ux Humfredi Christophers October 10"   i.e. In the year of Our Lord 1668 buried was Joana the wife of Humphrey Christophers October 10th. Ann of course was a colloquial form of Joanna and we can be sure it was her as there have only ever been 3 Humphrey Christophers in Dorset and apart from her husband the other two were her own son Humphrey then aged 3 and a grandson not born until 1692. Her death would have been around the time of her next pregnancy so she may have died from complications that arose during her term. Humphrey CHRISTOPHER Senior lived to a ripe old age of 76 being interred in the graveyard at Hazelbury Bryan on 16th Jan 1703/4.
5. Humphrey CHRISTOPHER Junior (1665-1724/5) & Anna (bur 1755/6) of Hazelbury Bryan

    As stated in the above section Humphrey CHRISTOPHER Junior was baptised at Hazelbury Bryan on 14th July 1665. Humphrey's arrival into this world was marked by the advent of the Great Plague which reached it's peak that year. It had actually been around for centuries but that summer was particularly hot, and it affected London badly as the population had continued to grow and many lived in squalor and poverty creating ideal conditions for the spread of the disease. It was at it's worst in September 1665 by which time many of the better off had fled London. It affected the whole country and gave rise to the famous poem Ring-a-ring of roses which referred to the red circular blotches that were found on the skin. This was such a traumatic event that I can still remember singing the poem when I was at school and dancing in a ring of children that all fell down on reaching the final line of the poem.

    Samuel Pepys (picture left) wrote in his diary on June 7th 1665 "This day I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon their doors and "Lord have mercy upon us, writ there". The plague was finally killed off in 1666 by the Great Fire of London (painting right depicts the fire on 4th Sep 1666) which destroyed much of London including St Paul's Cathedral. Monumental events indeed which would have been the topic of the day even in Hazelbury Bryan.

    Annoyingly Humphrey's life is not as straightforward as it might have been, mainly because we have not located his marriage and because the accuracy and completeness of some records leaves much to be desired (7) . As a consequence we know nothing about his wife, her name coming to us simply through some of the baptism records and they appear somewhat contradictory. It was traditional for the marriage to be in the brides parish so this probably indicates that she came from a nearby parish. I am hoping that some additional information will come to light.

    Humphrey like his father before him was clearly independent enough to be taxed as I have located returns in the Dorset Quarter Sessions held at Shaston in Dorset on 15th July 1707 and the following year on 13th July 1708. The Order Books which record the courts decisions include a directive to the parish of Hazelbury Bryan to raise a tax for that year to repair the highways that passed through the parish. This helpfully lists all the principal landowners who were taxed, and Humphrey Christopher is listed in both returns and had to pay 7pence each year. So again we are not talking about someone working purely as an agricultural labourer for the landlord but someone who has a smallholding and is largely self sufficient. The correct designation for such a person is husbandman indicating a different social standing within the community.

    We believe Humphrey and Anna had eight children baptised by the Rector Rev William Walters MA who was vicar of Hazelbury Bryan from 1682 until 1729 but these are complicated as well so I have quoted records in full for research purposes and commented accordingly to highlight issues in case others researching the family can shed additional light:-



The church of St Mary and St James - Hazelbury Bryan
where Charles Christopher grew up

© Picture Copyright Basher Eyre and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.
[More pictures of the Church and Font can be accessed via this link.]

(1). Maria CHRISTOPHER (1695-1695) -
    Baptism:    "Ano Dom 1695 Baptizah Fuendo : Maria fil: Humphredi et Mara Christophers Oct 13 borne the 8th of October:" [i.e. In the year of Our Lord 1695 was baptised - Maria the daughter of Humphrey and Mara Christophers October 13th, Born the 8th October]
    Burial:   Under the heading Ano Dm 1695 sepult fuere [i.e. in the year of Our Lord 1695 buried were] "Maria fil: Humphredi et Maria Christophers Nov: 4" [i.e.Maria the daughter of Humphrey and Maria Christophers]
    Comment: This is the only reference that I can find to Humphrey's wife being called Mara or Maria. His father was alive until 1703/4 but was 68 years old and it seems unlikely that he would have remarried this late in life and we cant locate 1 marriage let alone two. Also this baptism forms the first in a logical series so I have to assume its all the one family? Humphrey's wife is called Anne in the next baptism and the last three children so we have 4 references to Anne.
(2). Anna CHRISTOPHER (1697/8-1702) -
    Baptism:   "Ano Dom 1697 Baptizah Fuendo : Anna fil: Humphredi et Anna Christophers - 30 Jan borne Jan: 28th" [i.e. In the year of Our Lord 1697 was baptised- Anna the daughter of Humphrey and Anna Christophers - 30th January, born January 28th]
    Burial:    Page headed Sepult (i.e. buried) Anno 1700 - further down after the start of year 1702 "Anne daughter of Hump: [Humphrey] Christophers Apr: 26"
(3). Charles CHRISTOPHER ( 1701-1701/2)
    Baptism:   Page headed Baptizat Anno: Domn 1700 i.e. Baptised in the year of Our Lord 1701 - further down after the year heading Anno 1701: "Charles son of Humphry Christophers Apr: 30"
    Burial:    Page headed Sepult (i.e. buried) Anno 1700 - further down after the start of year heading of 1701 we have a run of 10 burials the earliest being 27th April. This is followed with 1 for May; 2 in Sep; 1 in Nov; 1 in Dec; 2 in Jan and 1 for 22nd Feb 1701/2. The 10th and last entry under this years heading is the burial of Charles but gives a date of the 19th of April written as :- "Charles son of Humphrey Christophers Ap: 19" This is clearly an error as the year 1701 ended on 24th March 1701/2. What is odd is that having made the error he then correctly starts the new year of 1702 and then repeats the entry. I find this really odd. The simple thing to do was add the year above the entry already there, or start the year 1702 and repeat the entry as he did, but then cross out the entry under 1701. The fact that he didn't (and we know from later events that a Charles Christopher survived) made me wonder whether one entry was meant to be a baptism, the next child being a boy and renamed Charles on the same day the first one was buried? Although possible it's tight given Joseph's baptism on 12th March 1702/3. At this distance in time I don't really see how we can ever now get to the bottom of having a missing baptism and a double burial?]
(4). Joseph CHRISTOPHER (1702-?) Link to an Account of his life.
    Baptism:   No heading on this page but last entry before the start of the year 1703 so date is 12 March 1702/3] "Joseph son of Humphrey Christophers Mar: 12"
    Comment: Joseph does not appear in any other records for Hazelbury Bryan as he left after the death of his father to live and work in Cheselbourne where he obtained settlement and married Joan Hooper in the nearby parish of Hilton on the 16th July 1728. As was traditional she had her first child Simon baptised in her home parish where she had the support of her family on 13th Dec 1730.
(5). Charles CHRISTOPHER (c1705- 1791)   Link to an Account of his life.
    Comment: It is really annoying that we happen to have rather suspect records and clear anomalies over the baptism and burial(s) of the first Charles Christopher (3) above. Certainly we know the re-naming of children after a death was a common practice and Humphrey and Ann themselves had three children baptised as Anne as the first two died so its perfectly reasonable that any male child would have taken the name again. We also have a large gap between the baptism of Joseph in 1702 and that of Anne in 1710 when we would expect her to have had more children. We know that a Charles survived and that both Charles and Joseph left about the time their father died. This was presumably to find work with Joseph settling in Cheselbourne and Charles in Fordington. In fact the only Christopher left in Hazelbury Bryan after the death of their father Humphrey was his widow Anne and if the boys were forced to leave in search of work Anne would have needed some support and had to remain there as it was her place of Settlement inherited on marriage. Charles and Joseph's families remained close, not only did Charles son John look after and bury Joseph's widow Joan in Cheselbourne in 1781 but her son William Trask Christopher when he was old enough to work headed for Fordington and married in the adjacent parish of Stinsford. .
(6). Anne CHRISTOPHER (1710-1713)
    Baptism:   Under a heading of "1710 baptized" - "Anne daughter of Humphrey and Anne Christophers Nov: 6"
    Burial:    Under a heading "1713 Buryed in Woollen" - "Anne Christophers an infant Mar: 14" [i.e. 1713/4]
(7). Elizabeth CHRISTOPHER (bap 1714)

    Baptism:   Under a heading of "1714 baptized" - "Elizabeth daughter of Humphrey and Anne Christophers May 16"
(8). Anne CHRISTOPHER (1718-1776)
    Baptism:   Under a heading of "Baptised 1718:" - "Anne ye daughter of Hump: & Anne Christophers May ye 22nd"
    Comment: She seems to have also left Hazelbury Bryan and possibly at some point lived with her nephew Humphrey Christopher (1692-1776) the son of John Christopher & Agnes Stickley. She married late in life at the age of 50 on 26th May 1766 to Christopher CUFF a widower at Winterbourne Whitechurch who may also have had connections with Hazelbury Bryan through his 1st wife. Christopher was the son of Richard Cuff and had been baptised at Winterbourne Whitechurch on 18th April 1836. When he was 22 years old on 9th July 1758 he married at Winterbourne Whitechurch for the first time to Mary STICKLEY who was already heavily pregnant and then was aged 24. She was a twin with her brother William the children of John STICKLEY and baptised at in the parish on 17th March 1733/4. Christopher and Mary had two children born at Whitechurch (1) William bap 3rd Sep 1758 and (2) Elizabeth bap 14th Oct 1761. Mary died however, still only aged 30, being buried there on 4th August 1765. With two young children to care for he remarried to Anne Christopher who died and was buried in the parish on 28th January 1776.
Humphrey CHRISTOPHER died at the age of 59 and was buried in the churchyard at Hazelbury Bryan on 9th January 1724/5. His widow Anne CHRISTOPHER appears to have lived into her mid 70's being buried there on 18th April 1755 . The last record we have of a Christopher from this family in the parish.
Genealogical Notes:-

(1). Estimated year of birth:- Where year of birth is unknown it has been estimated (identified by use of the letter 'c' for circa before the year) as being 27 years old for a man and 25 years old for a woman. These are averages applying to the Tudor period (1485-1603) for England. See the 'History Today' website under 'Courtship in Tudor England' and many others. It continued however during the House of Stuart (1603-1714). the ' Oxford Illustrated History of Britain' states regarding the Stuart Period" In all social groups, marriage was usually deferred until both partners were in their mid twenties and the wife only had twelve to fifteen childbearing years before her. The reason for this pattern of late marriage seems to be the firm convention that the couple save up enough money to launch themselves as an independent household before they wed. For the better off, this frequently meant university, legal training, an apprenticeship of seven years or more; for the less well off a long term of domestic service, living in with all found but little in the way of cash wages". I have tested this against known birth and marriage dates when writing other biographies and this held up really well for Anthony EAMES (1595 – 1686) of Fordington who emigrated to New England and its true of the Labouring classes as well. We know Charles brother Joseph for example was baptised in 1702 and married in 1728 making him 26 - his wife Joan Hooper was 24.

(2). Parish Registers: Before the reformation, some Monasteries noted births occurring in the leading local families, but there was no standard, country wide system for keeping such records. In 1536 an attempt was made to start parish registers, but it finally became effective only as a result of a mandate of 5th Sep 1538. The registers were to be entered up weekly, and were often kept on loose sheets of paper, so it is not surprising that only about 800 registers nationwide still exist from as early as 1538. In 1555 and 1557 under Mary I, Bishops were required to see that the sponsors were named in baptismal entries but this ceased under the next reign. In 1598 Queen Elizabeth I approved an order of 25th Oct 1597 that registers be kept in parchment books and that all the old register entries be copied into such volumes. The Clergy were however given the option of starting from 1558 (the beginning of the Queen's reign) so a number of registers only start from this date. Registers for Edmondsham were copied back to 1573.

(3). East Dorset District Council Policy Planning Division Supplementary Planning Guidance No.3 September 2005

(4). Listed Building -

(5). Few records have so far been transcribed (as at Sep 2013) for the County of Hampshire so it may be possible to extend our knowledge of these families at a later date

(6). The year 1625 started on the 25th March

(7). In 1821 the Rector appointed to Hazelbury Bryan was Rev. Henry Walter and in the front of the parish register which starts in 1717 he wrote " This register has been kept in a very disgraceful manner at different periods, & I find that the pages which should have contained the burials between Dec 6 1725* and April 1st 1725 have been cut out, apparently with scissors- signed Henry Walter Rector. Note:- * On more careful examination the date must have been that of 1724 signed Henry Walter. Unfortunately for us the Rev. William Walter (who does not appear to have been related to his predecessor) was responsible for the completion of the parish registers between 1682 and 1729. Brides also often came from parishes within 5 miles and the parish registers for 'Woolland' for example have not survived prior to 1720. Even the registers for Stoke Wake have a statement after Sep 1707 " The next four years acct of Baptisms to Feb 1711 were never inserted in any Register owing to the negligence of Mr Clarke who officiated at Stoke during those years."

(8). Elizabeth Top Research Notes:- A lot of parish registers have not survived back to this date so we are never going to get a complete picture of events. The only likely baptism that I came across was in the parish of Poole in Dorset which is 10 miles south of Edmondsham an easy walk, or ride on a cart, by standards of the day. This was recorded as 'April: 26. 1598 Elizabeth TOOP the daughter of Christopher TOOP was baptized'. It was originally recorded incorrectly by ancestry.com as Elizabeth TOPP. If this was her she would be the same age as Robert which was encouraging. Her father Christopher married the year before her birth when he is recorded as "May 30 1597 Christopher Toop and Elizabeth WHIFFIN were married' and they appear to have had at least 4, possibly 5, more children in Poole after Elizabeth so were there up to at least 1609 (Marie Toupe bap 24 Feb 1600; Thomas Toope bap 23 May 1602; Edyth Toope bap 27th Jan 1604; George Toope bap 26th May 1605, and Hope 2nd Nov 1609) but we lose track of them after that. None of the baptisms of the children show Top or Topp only Toupe or Toope but as our Elizabeth was not a native of Edmondsham her name is quite likely to have been spelt differently. As an aside Christopher Toope's baptism is also in the Poole parish register. He was baptised on 27th Oct 1560 the son of Thomas Tope [or Toope] by his wife Alce [Alice] Whest [West] whom he married there on 5th Oct 1555. He had an elder brother Thomas and a younger sister Alice and interestingly the registrations all give their god parents. The big problem with this being our Elizabeth's registration is that there is a marriage in Poole of an Elizabeth Toope to a John Brown on 13th Feb 1618. She would have been 20 so this is a more likely marriage for her than one in Edmondsham. I have kept these notes however in case further information comes to light.

(9). There is a wall plaque in the church showing Richard Gouge as Rector at this time but no dates given. The Clergy of the Church of England database shows that he was originally appointed Rector of Edmondsham under an advowson held by William Tofte of Sopley [Sapley] Hants on 10th June 1575 but this seems to have been revoked. A citation states "Thomas Husey, gent., Anthony Irisshe and Richard Normecote were commanded to appear on 6 August at St. Paul's to show cause why Gouge ought not to be inducted to the rectory. Also followed by a commission to enquire into the right of patronage, 7 June 1575, and process concluding with sentence, 24 Nov. whereby the institution was declared invalid and was annulled". A second institution record however exists within church records dated 18th July 1575 which seems to run counter to the revocation date, but no records have surfaced to show any other rector being appointed until Jacob Lovell took office on 25th Aug 1616 and for some reason his appointment is not listed on the wall plaque in the church. The plaque records the next incumbant who was the Rev Patrick Kinninmond MA a graduate of St Andrews Oxford on 17th May 1617.

(10). This family needs more careful study when Wiltshire records are much more widely available then currently. So far (Apr 2014) we know that Hannah Scammell was baptised in Fovant on 28th Nov 1624. No parentage is given on the transcriptions on the IGI [FHL Film Number:1279401] and ancestry has still to image records for Wiltshire. Some local transcriptions are available on Find my Past. There are five other baptisms that look like they all stem from the same family. All five records give the father as being William and two also quote the mothers name as being Cicely. These baptisms are:- (1) Robert the son of William Skammill baptised on 18th March 1620/1 and probably was buried there 10th March 1680 (See NBI) ; (2) William the son of William Scammell baptised 14th Sep 1628 and probably buried there 20th Nov 1701 (See NBI) ; (3) Henry son of William & Cicily Scammel baptised on 17th June 1635 and buried the following day. (4) Elizabeth the daughter of William and Cicilie Scammel baptised the 23rd July 1637 (5) Jane the daughter of William Scammell baptised 9th april 1641. I could not locate a marriage for Ann or Hannah elsewhere and Cecily was buried in Fovant on 14th Sep 1858 followed by William on 6th Sep 1665. I could not trace a Will or Letter of Administration. Link to information on the quaker families of Fovant. Link to background information on the Quaker movement and it's representation in Dorchester.

(11). Maria is the Latin form of Mary

(12). Research Notes for Sarah Street.
The extracts of the Map of the City of London dated 1746 is important as it shows the layout of the main streets as they were before the development of the dockland. If you follow the link provided to the full map you can play around with the zoom to fully explore the London of 1746 which is the year after Humphrey died.



Some really good maps showing development in this area are also available at Mapco e.g. Reynolds Map of London in 1859 or Stanfords Map of 1864 both show that New Gravel lane survived the development and now cuts through between the London East Dock and Shadwell Basin. The best of these Maps was published by Edward Meller in 1868 from which I have taken the above small extract. To check on your orientation also look at the next section of the map to the west as this shows how the London East Dock connected to The London West Dock and onto St Katherines Dock which was right next to the Tower of London. These maps are higher definition and show more streets, although Sarah street is shown it is not named. Sarah street was actually a small court off the East side of New Gravel Lane and clearly also managed to survive into Victorian times. It is listed for example in the enumerators district description given for St Paul's Shadwell area 2f along with New Gravel Lane. To actually locate the Street however I had to read the famous notebooks produced in 1898 by Charles Booth (1840-1916) - on page 213 he describes how having entered from Milk Yard ( previously known as Middle Yard ") he went "South down New Gravel Lane. On the East side is Sarah St. a court not coloured on the map. 16 two story cottages - asphalt court, houses for 2 families 2 rooms & wash house downstairs & same up. 11 foot frontage". Once you know where it is it is easy to find on all these maps as the short court situated on New Gravel Lane lies between 'Milk Yard' and 'Coleman Street'. Coleman street is actually where they were living when Anne Christopher was baptised on 28th Oct 1716.

(13). Anne's Baptism is under the page heading of '1716 Baptised September' Unfortunately this was an error made by the scribe in the original register If you look at the previous page the end of September is shown on that page along with the heading for October with various dates for baptism from the 1st to the 21st October 1716. The top of the right hand page continues this sequence running from the 20th to 31st October and then continues with the heading of November.

(14). Children of Humphrey CHRISTOPHER (1692-1776) & Elizabeth Hurst TALBOT (1694-1735)

[Note:- The burial registers for St Katherine by the Tower give an indication as to which of 3 places the burial took place. The first was 'in the church' which understandably was quoted least often. Some children are however quoted and this is likely to be because they were being added to existing graves or family vaults within the church. The second place is referred to simply as the 'Green' which appears to refer to the church yard adjacent to the church which was probably full in medieval times so they appear to have expanded north into the larger area shown on the 1746 map with trees which extends right up to the road marked as "The Grene [green] Gardens". The third and final place was an entirely separate cemetery referred to on the map as St Catherine's Churchyard but accessed off 'Flemish Church Yard" . This is annotated in the burial register as "in Flem". As Humphrey and his family all lived in this street, this is where all their burials took place.]
    (1) Talbot CHRISTOPHER (1714-1731) Born on the 8th at Sarah Street (just off New Gravel Lane) he was baptised on the 24th August 1714 at St Paul's Church Shadwell. He lived until the age of 17 moving with them to 'Flemish Church Yard' next to the Tower of London. He was buried at the cemetery across the road belonging to the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower on 19th September 1731.

    (2) Anne CHRISTOPHER (b.1716) Born on the 1st Oct she was baptised at St Paul's in Shadwell on 28th of the same month. She appears to have married a bachelor named James MORGAN at St George in the East church on 12th November 1735. Their address was given as 'Wap. St' which refers to the very long 'Wapping street' which ran right along the Thames through both parishes of St George in the East and St Paul's in Shadwell which are not that far apart. It was also referred to as Wapping dock and later the Wapping Wall.

    (3) Lucy CHRISTOPHER (1718-1718) Born on 23rd Oct she was baptised at the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower on 7th Nov 1718 but died and was buried 2 days later on the 9th of the same month.

    (4) Lucy CHRISTOPHER (1719-1720) Baptised on 7th Nov 1719 at St Katherine's and buried at Flemish Church Yard cemetery on 19th Jan 1720.

    (5) Charles CHRISTOPHER (1720-1721) Born on the 1st and baptised at St Katherine's on 22nd of October 1720. He was buried in Flemish Church Yard Cemetery on 7th Aug 1721

    (6) Charles CHRISTOPHER (b.1722) Born on 11th and baptised at St Katherine's on 31st July 1722. Nothing else known about him.

    (7) Elizabeth CHRISTOPHER (1724-1726) Born on 17th April and baptised at St Katherine's on 12th May 1724. She was buried in Flemish Church Yard Cemetery on 8th March 1726/7

    (8) Elizabeth CHRISTOPHER (b.1728) Born on 8th and baptised at St Katherine's on 30th June 1728. Nothing else known about her.

    (9) Mary CHRISTOPHER (1730-1732) Born 24th June and baptised at St Katherine's on 19th July 1730 she was buried at Flemish Church Yard Cemetery on 19th April 1732

    (10) Mary CHRISTOPHER (1732-1733) Born on 1st September and baptised at St Katherine's on 15th Oct 1732 she was buried at Flemish Church Yard Cemetery on 6th Aug 1733

    (11) Talbot CHRISTOPHER (1733- 1735/6) Born on 26th February and baptised at St Katherine's on 28th April 1734 buried at Flemish Church Yard Cemetery 7th March 1735/6

Fordington Page      OPC Page     Joseph Christopher (b.1702)    Charles Christopher (1705-1791)