Colchester, home of the Cloyes
family in England, is an ancient borough and market town in Essex County,
located eight miles from the sea on the River Colne, and fifty-one miles
The history of Colchester begins before the Roman occupation of Britain, there having been a settlement there as early as the Seventh Century B.C. At the beginning of the 1st century, A.D., the British King Cunobelin, (Shakespeare's Cymbeline) ruled over the kingdoms of the south-east from the capitol of the Colne. This capitol was called Camuloduniun, later became Colchester. The last half of the name Camulodunium, is that from which the present capitol of England derives its name, London.
Excavations have shown that the inhabitants of Camulodunium had imported and exported extensively with the Continent. When Laxden Park (a part of Colchester which was developed in 1924) was being excavated in preparation for home developement, a great treasure of bronzes, armour, ceremonial furniture, gold tissue, and silver ornaments were uncovered. They may now be seen in the Castle Museum in Colchester. Entire tassellated pavements have been dug up and preserved. Several of them depicting British vessels being loaded with imports to the Continent, some with exports from Rome.
Camulodunium was the natural objective of the Roman army when Britain was invaded in 43 A.D., Lexden Ridge was chosen as the site of the first colonia of the Roman soldiers. This accounts for the great find of Roman treasures in 1924, referred to above.
The main streets of the Roman town are today the main streets of modern Colchester. Even though the streets were narrow and winding, the contour was never changed, which makes for present day traffic snarls and requires slow, careful driving.
The Domesday Book shows Colchester to have been a populace town in 1086. By this time a number of churches had been built to accommodate the growing population. One of the oldest churches, Holy Trinity mentioned by name in the Domesday Book, is standing today and is remarkably well preserved. By the end of the 15th century there were eight churches inside the city walls, and eight other churches and Chapels of Ease in the suburbs.
Just before the end of the 11th century, a powerful castle had been built on the ruins of the old Roman Temple. The greater part of the Castle stands today, and houses the Colchester museum with its great collection of Roman artifacts.
Colchester received its first Charter in 1189, when Richard L., granted to the Burgesses the element of self-government. This Charter also protected the burrough's market and confirmed the Burgesses' interest in the great Colne oyster fisheries, as well as that of the flourishing weaving and cloth manufacturers.
In the 16th century, the Dissolution of the Monasteries greatly affected Colchester's economics. There was a great recession in the weavingand cloth trade. However, salvation soon came with the great emigration of Protestant refugees (Frenchman who had fled religious persecution and came to Flanders) who were again forced to leave Flanders, as they would not tolerate the brutality of the Duke of Alva's Spanish rule.
The "Flemings," or Deutsch as they were locally referred to, were skilled makers of various types of cloth. Bays and Says, tapestry and brocade. They came to Britain at this critical period, settled in and around Colchester, (and other parts of Britain) where they firmly established their trades and stabilized the economy of the country. By the end of the century the products of the 'Dutch Bay Hall' in Colchester were internationally famous. Though the Flemings (Dutch and French) were protected by the Corporation and by the Privy Council, these useful settlers--whose industry had brought great wealth and prosperity to Colchester, and whose high moral conduct was worthy of imitation, became greatly annoyed by the conduct of the native British weavers. The British weavers had proferred indictments against the Flemings for fancied wrongs at two Sessions of the Peace. James I., angry at the actions of the British, granted to the Flemings his letters Patent, wherein he provided 'that all strangers of the Dutch (Fleming) Congregation should henceforth peaceably and freely use their trade and enjoy all privileges, liberties and immunities, as had heretofore been allowed them.'
At this period, Colchester had become so populace that not one house remained unoccupied. It can be seen from the Census of 1573 how many of the families had doubled up and lived with relatives or friends. The following account (Census) taken of the Dutch manufacturers was enumerated at 248, and with their wives, children and servants, numbered 1,023.
The Colchester Corporation Archives (known as the Monday Book) contains an accounting or census as follows: "The view of all such strangers, manne, womann and children, as are within the Towne of Colchester, this XXVI dae of Aprill 1573, in the tyme of Robert Lambith and of Thomas Laurence, Bailiffs, which fled out of the countrye of Flanders for their consence sake, by reason of the tiranius usage of the Papists there, and permitted to remain in the Towne of Colchester by Licence from the Queen's Magistrate Privie Council.
The names of the Dutchman (Flemish and French) together with the houses wherein thare dwell."
Nowis(?) Clayce residing in Mother Webbe's house
with his wife.
Joos de Roe in Nicholas Claes home with his wife
and five children.
John de Castiker in Nicholas Claes home with his wife and two children.
Poules Van de Vere in Nicholas Claes home with his wife and two children.
Laurence Van de Vere in Nicholas Claes home with his wife and one child.
Peter Cloise in the widow Playtowe home no wife-one child.
The General Muster of Colchester
The names of Deuchman in the north ward, generally Baymakers and Gardners:
Lorrins Cloyes (This was Lawrence Cloyes, who was the son of Peter and Ellen(Hollandt) Cloyes.)
The French and Dutch (Flemings) were held in high repute for their honest dealing. When their bales and packs were marketed, the purchasers of their wares, Bays and Says, tapestry, brocade, etc., relied solely on the seal attached to each bale. This seal truthfully stated the weight, length, and quality of the contents of the bale or pack to which it was attached. Upward of 60,000 pieces of Bays and Says were manufactured and marketed annually.
The products of the Order (Guild
of Bays and Says) need explanation. Bay is a kind of open, woven, coarse
woolen stuff, having a long nap, sometimes not friesed, and has no wale.
It was woven on a special loom as was flannel. Generally it was pure white.
The word "Bay" is derived from the Latin word, "Badium" which means chestnut
color. No doubt, this was the original color of the cloth.
Say was a kind of serge, or very light weight, cross-woven material. It was favored for linings, and extensively used by the religious for shirts and habits. The Quakers used it for aprons, and when used for that purpose it was usually dyed green. The word "Say" is from the Latin word, "Sagum", which meant the coarse coat of blanket of a Roman soldier. (Reference: Red Book of Colchester Published in 1521 Author-Benham; History and Antiquities of the Ancient Town & Burrough of Colchester, of the County of Essex. Published in London, 1748 Author - Arthur W. Bowyer.)
The Flemings became naturalized
British subjects as soon as they settled in England. Eventually they
threw off their foreign names, and assumed Anglicized versions and spellings.
However, it is surprising to note thatthe names in most instances were
only slightly changed. It would seem the new citizens were almost reluctant
to cut every tie and custom of their native lands. The residents of rural
and suburban areas in South Anglia seem to have retained a nearly original
spelling of their names, than those who settled elsewhere in the British
The name Claes, De La Claes, Claise, became Clayes, Cloyes, and Classe in England. When descendants of this family came to America in the early 1600's, the name was spelled Clayes or Cloyes.
Churches in Colchester
St. Peter's Church in Colchester is mentioned in Domesday Book. This is a beautiful church. Here one sees the finest 13th century scroll hinges on the heavy oaken doors. They are the superb handicraft of Thomas de Leighton, the most talented ironworker of his day. He was the artificer of the Queen Eleanor's grille to be seen in Westminster Abbey. Members of the Clayes, Cloyes family attended services at St. Peters.
St. James Church is almost entirely built of Roman brick. There are two finely executed brasses(?) here to the memory of Alderman Maynard (1569) who was a wealthy clothier, and to his wife Aleys(?) (1584). Several members of the Clayes, Cloyes family worshipped here.
St. Nicholas Church stood on the south side of High Street, between St. Nicholas passage way and St. Nicholas Street. This church was originally built as early as the 12th century. In the 14th century it was replaced by a small cruciform church with a central tower. Later, the tower was rebuilt over the north transcept. By the 18th century, the church was in ruins, and only a part of it existed in the 19th century. In 1876, the remains of this fine old church was absorbed into a new church. This church was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, in the Victorian manner. The church was used until 1952. At this time the congregation had dwindled to a few aging parishioners whose contributions could no longer support this church, so it was officially closed. In 1955, a decision was made to demolish this old building. This was a great loss to Colchester's heritage. However, at least part of the old churchyard survived as a garden, and the few remaining ancient tombstones were saved, and arranged around the outer perimeter of the garden. This was the church in which the children of Peter and Helen Clayse were baptised, and where Peter Clayse married Ellen Hollandt. The site of the old St. Nicholas Church is now occupied by "St. Nicholas House", a modern department store. Diagonally across the street from the old churchyard is a large 16th century house, (on the corner of Wyer and High Streets) in which Nicholas Claes resided in 1560.
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