The Advowson

[A right of nomination or presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice]
of the Vicarage of Epsom

St Martin's Church
St Martin's Church
Drawn by Thomas Allom, engraved by N. J. Starling, from Brayley's History of Surrey 1841
Image courtesy of Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre

Nature of the right

An advowson is held by a patron, who may be an individual or institution, clerical or secular. The patron presents the candidate to the appropriate Bishop for institution and induction, though the nomination may be refused. An advowson is a form of property which may he bought, sold or given away and is subject to civil law. A right of appointment only at the next vacancy may be sold out of the advowson.

An introduction to the exercise of patronage in Epsom

According to Victoria County History, A History of the County of Surrey, ed. H E Malden, 1911, Epsom Advowson: -
"Licence to appropriate was granted to the convent by a bull of Clement III, 1187-91, and a vicarage was ordained before 1291. A further endowment was carried into effect in 1313 [Archives of Winchester Diocese suggest the date to have been 1331 as in Brayley's history] when John Rutherwyk the then abbot was inducted [Rutherwyk, Abbot of Chertsey, 1307 - 1346] . In 1537, when Henry VIII acquired Epsom Manor from the convent of Chertsey, the rectory and the advowson of the church were included, and he granted them with the manor to Sir Nicholas Carew, from which time they have always been included in the grants and sales of the manor till 1770, when the manor went to Sir Joseph Mawbey, and the great tithes and advowson to John Parkhurst. They descended to the Rev. Fleetwood Parkhurst, vicar of Epsom, 1804-39. The advowson has since belonged to the Rev. Wilfred Speer and Captain Speer*, and now belongs to Mr. H. Speer."
[As noted in the Surrey Record Society page on this website - 'monasteries could cream off parish revenue by taking the rectorial tithes and appointing a vicar as a cheaper substitute. Thus we find the bishop overseeing the appropriation of Epsom rectory by Chertsey Abbey (see above) and making sure there was an adequate portion for the vicar.]

Descent of Epsom Manor

A topographical history of Surrey, by E.W. Brayley, 1841, explains:-
"Henry the Eighth, in the 29th year of his reign, 1537-8, obtained possession of the manor of Epsom, together with those of Sutton, Cullesdon, and Horley, which Mr. Manning says he purchased of the abbot of Chertsey; but if the conveyance was in the form of bargain and sale, the price probably was merely nominal, for before that period all the smaller convents had been suppressed by act of parliament, and measures were in progress for securing the surrender of the larger monasteries: indeed, about that time, or very shortly after, the monks of Chertsey were obliged to give up their own house and part of their estates, and remove to Bisham, in Berkshire; and the next year, that convent was also suppressed, and all the lands of the monks escheated to the crown.

But whatever may have been the circumstances under which the manor of Epsom came into the king's hands, it does not appear that he was desirous to retain it, for in the year above-mentioned he granted it with other estates to Sir Nicholas Carew, of Beddington. This gentleman was shortly after accused of treason, convicted, and executed, as stated in the account of Beddington. Epsom beinging forfeited, remained among the crown lands until 1589, when Queen Elizabeth gave it to Edward D'Arcy, esq., a groom of the privy chamber; who sold it to George Mynn, esq., of Lincoln's-Inn. It afterwards belonged to Ann, the daughter of Sir Robert Parkhurst, of Pyrford, and widow of Mr. Mynn; and she bequeathed it to her daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Richard Evelyn, esq., the younger brother of the author of " Sylva." Mrs. Evelyn survived her husband; and her children (four sons and a daughter) having died before her, leaving no issue, she, by will dated January 22nd, 1691-2, devised her estates to Christopher Buckle, esq., of Bansted, and his son, as trustees for her sister Ann, (who had been married to Sir John Lewknor, and was then the wife of Sir William Morley), for her life; with remainder to her nephew, John Lewknor, esq., for his life; remainder to his issue by any wife, his then wife Jane excepted; remainder to John Parkhurst, of Catesby, in Northamptonshire; remainder to his son, Nathaniel Parkhurst . The testatrix died in 1692; and from that time until 1706, manorial courts were held in the names of her trustees. Mr. Lewknor succeeded to the estate on the death of his aunt; but dying without issue, it devolved on Mr. Parkhurst, who held his first court at Epsom in 1707. His son Nathaniel died before him, leaving a son and heir named John; on whose marriage with Ricarda, a daughter of Robert Dormer, a justice of the Common-pleas, his grandfather resigned to him the manor of Epsom, but retained possession of the rectory during his own life. John Parkhurst (the younger) had, by his wife Ricarda, four sons, John, Dormer, Robert, and Fleetwood. By some arrangement in the family, the father obtained power to dispose of his estates; and by his will, dated December 4th, 1762, he devised the manor and rectory to Sir Charles Kenieys Tynte, bart., and George Byrd, esq., on trust for his wife Ricarda, for life, and after her decease, to be sold, and the proceeds divided between the younger sons. The testator gave the advowson of the vicarage to his eldest son, John Parkhurst. He died in December, 1765; and his widow Ricarda dying in 1770..."

Separation of the advowson from lordship of the manor

The advowson of the vicarage was not sold with the manor in 1770, but descended from John Parkhurst to his daughter Susanna, by his first marriage to Susanna Myster. Susanna Parkhurst married Rev James Altham at St Martin's church on 24 April 1773 and he was appointed as Vicar of St Olave Jewry and St Martin Ironmonger Lane, London, together with Harlow, Essex, in 1776. Notoriously, during1782 the Reverend James Altham stood trial for adultery, defamation, and obscenity, having arranged to meet Ann Saunders, a domestic servant, 'at a place called the Shrubbery behind the house of John Edwards'. Apparently as a widow, Mrs S Altham sponsored the institution of Fleetwood Parkhurst to the parish on 16 July 1804. Mrs Altham died in 1813 and was buried on 1 May of that year at St Martin's. The advowson subsequently passed to her half-sister (daughter of Millecent nee Northey), Millecent, who had married the Rev Joseph Thomas. She held it until year 1824, when Henry Pownall (writing in 1825) reported it had been sold to 'Mr Speer of London'.

Oddly, A topographical dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland, John Gorton, 1833, states 'patron (1829) Colonel Rowls' - based on The Clerical Guide or Ecclesiastical Directory, 'being a complete register of of the Dignities and Benefices of the Church of England', published in 1829. This may simply have been an error because the only known 'Rowlls' connections are of the Kingston brewer to various inns locally - Epsom's Magpie & Red Lion [Lehmann 1C23 & 9C26c] and Ewell's King's Head.

Mr Speer is confirmed in 1831 to have been William, father of Rev Wilfred Speer, the incumbent of St Nicholas, Thames Ditton, (installed there in March 1835,who was eventually suspended from his office for persistent drunkenness) and of his brother, Capt. Wilhelm Speer of the 71st Highlanders who died in 1857. From them it is reported to have descended to Mr H. Speer, grandson of Mr. William Speer.

In 1843, a new chapel of ease had been built at Stamford Green between The Cricketers public house and the main road. This is mentioned in A Topographical Dictionary of England, ed. Samuel Lewis, 1848,: -
"Epsom (St Martin)

The living is a discharged vicarage [Under the statute 36 Hen. VIII. c, 3, (confirmed by statute 1 Eliz. c. 4,) all vicarages under ten pounds a year, and all rectories under ten marks, were discharged from the payment of first-fruits.], valued in the king's books at £8. 9. 9½.; net income, £304; patrons, the Family of Speer; impropriator [entitled to great tithes], F. Parkhurst, Esq. The church was rebuilt in 1825, at an expense of £7000, the style of the ancient structure being in most instances carefully preserved; it contains several neat monuments, among which is one of the Rev. John Parkhurst, author of the Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. On Epsom common is a small church, erected in 1845, by subscription, on ground given by J. T. Briscoe, Esq., lord of the manor: the patronage is in the Vicar of Epsom."
St Martin's of Tours - The old church
St Martin's of Tours - The old church c. 1790
Image courtesy of Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre

With the exception of the tower, the old parish church had been pulled down in 1824 and re-built.

Brayley's A Topographical History of Surrey, as revised by Edward Walford (1878 -1881) noted:-
'The patronage [of Epsom vicarage] is now vested in the representatives of the late Captain Speer [obit. 1857], and those of the late Thomas Alers Hankey, Esq. [obit 1872], alternately.* '
*[A 'moiety title' , describing a portion other than a whole of ownership of property, probably arising from having been inherited jointly by the two Steer brothers]

It seems Mrs Sarah Pugh did not acquire the advowson but had made special arrangements by purchasing the right to be his patron at the institution of Rev Benjamin Bradney Bockett in 1839. Mrs Pugh not only sponsored the Rev Bockett's induction to the Vicarage of Epsom in 1839 but three years later contributed money to the fund used to establish a new chapel of ease on Stamford Green. She died on 19 May 1867 at Vale Royal, Tunbridge Wells.

Thomas Alers Hankey (1806 - 1872), of Hankey & Co., Bankers, gave evidence to the Select Committee on Open Spaces (Metropolis) in 1865 in which he said that he had come to live in Epsom about three years earlier. He was then a member of the Board of Health but disagreed with its Clerk, George White, and spoke out against the possibility of enclosing the common. Also a Magistrate (Chairman of the Bench, 1867), his home appears to have been on the Dorking Road opposite Abele Grove. His motives in acquiring the right of patronage to the vicarage of Epsom are unknown. Possibly he wanted to ensure that the next incumbent would be rather less eccentric than Benjamin Bradney Bockett but he died before the matter became an issue. Mrs Elizabeth Alers Hankey, his second wife had predeceased him, aged 59, - registered at Epsom, December Quarter 1868.

An advertisement appeared in The Times, 1 May 1872, placed by the Exors. of Thomas Alers Hankey, of the sale at auction of 'The next presentation to the Vicarage of Epsom, Surrey' - 'The gross income is about £600 per annum, including tithe rent charge, glebe land, dividends , annuities, fees, etc. There are a capital house and garden....The situation is a very desirable one and the age of the present incumbent [Benjamin Bradney Bockett] is 65.' Apparently this was not Hankey's 'turn' with the successor to Captain Speer becoming entitled to the next one following; rather, in the light of what follows, the late Thomas Alers Hankey had only purchased the right of next presentation.

The advowson of the new parish of Christ Church, Epsom common

The 1843 chapel of ease at Stamford Green became too small for a growing congregation.

The original Christ Church
The original Christ Church
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

In 1874/1875, as part of the arrangements for the building and endowment of a new church and parsonage for the Common, it is noted that the patronage of it was initially vested in Rev Benjamin Bradney Bockett, Clerk, as vicar or incumbent of the vicarage of Epsom for the time being. The vicarage of the said parish of Epsom was itself in private patronage, the private patron of the benefice then being Hannibal Speer of 26 The Grove, Boltons, London.

As recorded in the London Gazette, 10 July 1874, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had reported: -
"And whereas the patronage of the said church called Christ Church, situate at Epsom Common as aforesaid, is vested in the Reverend Benjamin Bradney Bockett, clerk, as vicar or incumbent of the vicarage of the said parish of Epsom for the time being. And whereas the vicarage of the said parish of Epsom is a benefice in private patronage. And whereas we, the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England have, in pursuance of the tenth section of the. herein before thirdly mentioned Act, given the notice which in the same section is mentioned to the private patron of the said benefice of Epsom, that is to say, to Hannibal Speer, of No. 26, The Grove, Boltons, in the county of Middlesex, Esquire; to Edward Frederick Sandys, of Winterdown Lodge, Thames Ditton, in the said county of Surrey, on behalf of himself and also on behalf of his infant daughter, Marianne Frances Cecilia Sandys; to Eleanor Dancer, wife of William Dancer, of Cairnoyan Lodge, Preston, near Brighton, in the county of Sussex, Esquire; to Mary Speer Sandys, of No. 26, The Grove, Boltons aforesaid, spinster; and to Eliza Katherine Speer, of No. 27, Ventnor Villas, Hove, in the county of Sussex, an infant, by Mrs. Mary Speer her mother and natural guardian, being all the persons now in being (other than trustees to preserve contingent remainders and other than as hereinafter mentioned) in whom any estate or interest in the advowson of the same benefice is vested, and to Frederick Alers Hankey, of.the Consolidated Bank, Threadneedle Street, in the city of London, Esquire, and Edward Alers Hankey, of Epsom aforesaid, Esquire, and Sydney Alers Hankey, of Heathlands, Wokingham, in the county of Berks, Esquire, being the persons in whom (or in some or one of them) is vested the right to present to the same benefice upon the next avoidance thereof."
they determined that the advowson and perpetual right of patronage of the new district would be vested absolutely in the Bishop of the diocese.

An historical record of the application of the power of appointment of Vicars to St Martin's church

In Some particulars relating to the history of Epsom, 1825, Henry Pownall wrote:-
"The following list of the Patrons and Rectors, with the dates of their respective inductions, has been carefully collated with authentic records, and will, we trust, be found correct" [A commentary has been appended#]
Appointment of Vicars to St Martin's church - Click Image to enlarge
Appointment of Vicars to St Martin's church - Click Image to enlarge

The patrons as listed may be matched with the foregoing particulars.

# Notes amplifying Henry Pownall's schedule
In 1316 Roger Beler granted lands to support a pair of chaplains to say daily masses in the chapel of St. Peter at Kirby Bellars for the souls of himself, his wife Alice, his parents William and Amicia, and others. This was expanded to a chantry comprising a warden and twelve chaplains by 1319. One of the chaplains appears to have been Thomas Clark or Clerk who subsequently became Vicar of Epsom, 29 September 1412. He remained incumbent at 3 April 1433 [East Sussex Record Office DUN 3/13]

Additional details of Rectors and Vicars of Surrey Parishes (supplementing and correcting the lists in Manning and Bray), by H E Malden, may be found in Surrey Archaeological Collections, Vol. 27, 1914. For Epsom, on page 96, it is remarked: -
'Thomas Chylte, vicar, was dead 29 Dec. 1560, and William Tattersall was instituted 16 May 1560 (B.R., Parker, Sede Vac., II, 167, 170. v.)'
[B.R. = Bishops' Registers - Winchester; Sede Vacante = 'the seat being vacant' ].
An inventory of goods and ornaments in St Martin's Epsom, taken in the reign of King Edward VI, appears in SAC Vol. 21, at pp. 51/52. Dated 17 March 3 Edward VI (1548/9), it is signed by 'dominam Thomam Chyttes Vicarium' (Sir Thomas Chyttes, Vicar).

Replies to further enquiries around VI Edw. 6 & 7 - 1552/3 included:-
'To the iiij article we sey there is and was perloyned and embesylled betwen Thomas Childe our vyker and John Byknall our clerk one chalise and patent of silver abowt midsomer last.' - SAC Vol.24 p 5.
Since Robert Cole does not appear to have arrived in the parish until 10 May 1567, his patron would have been Queen Elizabeth I rather than 'The King'. He was cited for barratry in 1578, [Link to Crime In Tudor and Stuart Epsom and Ewell] but in the account which he gave of himself two years later, he comes over as the perfect innocent - 'neither man nor woman can saye that I at any time caulled or reviled, sithens I came to that parishe, any man or woman, no not with suche like worde as knave or drabe; neither have I smitten any maner of person excepting children, the whiche I have taught in learninge'. But alas! he had done his duty by instructing the churchwardens to present Nicolas Saunder for not coming to church, after which 'Mr. Saunder procured great molestations agayenst me by all meanes he could devise' [3 April 1580]. In a letter to Sir William More, sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, dated 16 September 1580, Saunder furiously complained that More, despite feigning goodwill, has opposed Saunder's case against Robert Cole the 'deformed' vicar of his parish, which like a mad man tossed firebrands, and shot deadly arrows at us his own parishioners' who are becoming 'sheep for his shambles'. Allegedly, Cole had corruptly obtained from the Exchequer a process to levy £100 on Saunder's goods. 'Sir William More, if Nicholas Saunder tell you that Robert Cole is a knave, you may believe him, the better because his testimony is so generally ratified true, and by so many records' [SHCOL_ 6279/1/87].

Rev Cole had died by 14 May 1603.

The vicar instituted in his place on that date was Thomas Boyes, LLB, who remained in charge of the parish until his demise , 22 May 1631. 'Geo Tho Boyes or Boyce, LLB', mentioned in Pownall's list for 11 June 1612 seems to have been one and the same man.

About 1633, a son George was born in Epsom to Edward Bright, MA, (Vicar 1631 -1637). The father [in some sources incorrectly identified as a Vicar of St Mary Goudhurst] went on to became a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Minister of the Gospel there. He was the subject of Robert Alfounder's elegy In Obitam Magistri Bright MA Nuper Tutoris mai Charissimi (On the death of Master Bright MA lately my beloved tutor) - buried Christ Church, London 23 December 1656. His son George Bright, D.D. was appointed Dean of St. Asaph and Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty during the period 1689-1696.

Extension of the Pownall list

The Rev Fleetwood Parkhurst, having been instituted on 16 July 1804, remained Vicar until 1839, then died on 29 October 1844. His death was registered at Cheltenham for the December Quarter of 1844 and it is most likely that he expired at the home of his brother in law Anthony Rosenhagen on The Promenade, Cheltenham [Will proved 5 July 1845 - PROB 11/2021/297].

Benjamin Bradney Bockett, who had married Fanny Skinner Bramwell in 1829, was inducted to the Vicarage of Epsom, Surrey, on 5 September 1839. His patroness was named as Mrs Sarah Pugh, formerly of Abele Grove, Fanny's aunt, assumed to have negotiated the right of appointment by purchase from the Speer family of Thames Ditton, out of the advowson, on that occasion.

The marriage of John Samuel, a curate in Hammersmith, to Susan Chaffey Moore was registered at St George Hanover Square for the June Quarter of 1881. It appears that the right to appoint the next Vicar of St Martin's Epsom (previously held by the late Thomas Alers Hankey) had been purchased for her possibly being part of a marriage settlement or as a wedding present. Whatever might have been the case, the Rev John Samuel became incumbent of the parish in 1883 [Bishops' Act Books, Winchester Diocese, in Hampshire Record Office, 21M65 - A2/8, p. 206]. The name of his patron has been established from Bosworth's Clerical Guide and Ecclesiastical Directory for 1887 where it is given as 'Mrs CS Samuel', assumed to have been his wife. He died, aged 56 [reg. Epsom 3/1904], to be interred at Epsom Cemetery in plot A304A, 24 March 1904. His relict, Mrs Susan Chaffey Samuel was not brought to join him until 29 August 1932, aged 92.

Under section 2 of the Benefices Act 1898 a bishop gained power to refuse to institute or admit a presentee to a benefice on certain grounds: that there were irregularities in the transfer of the right of patronage of the benefice; that at the date of presentation not more than three years had elapsed since the presentee was ordained deacon; or, that the presentee was unfit for the discharge of his duties.

Rev. Waldegrave Dent Bainbridge-Bell, M.A. came from Thames Ditton to Epsom in 1904 [Bishops' Act Books, Winchester Diocese, in Hampshire Record Office, 21M65 - A2/10, p. 207], presumably sponsored by H[annibal] Speer who has been named in the Victoria County History, published in 1911, as holding the advowson at that time. His death occurred in January 1924.

The Rev Clive Robertson Pattison Muir, Rector of St Chrysostom's, Victoria Park, Manchester had been appointed to the Vicarage of Epsom by the end of February 1924.

The 1923 Benefices Act 1898 (Amendment) Measure placed a limit on the sale of advowsons so that they could not be sold after two vacancies had occurred subsequent to July 14th 1924. By 16 December 1925, the advowson had become vested in Arthur Moore, Downside, Epsom, Barrister, who transferred the right to the Bishop of Winchester as a memorial to his late wife Lucy Mabel Moore [who had been laid to rest in Epsom Cemetery on 3 April 1924].

The Thames Ditton Connection

William Speer (who had acquired property in Westminster and Fulham on marrying heiress Katherine Wilson) bought Weston Manor Farm. In 1801 his son, also William, bought the remains of the Manor of Weston from the Crown. This comprised 'waste' or common lands and also came with the Lordship of the Manor of Weston alias Barking. William passed on the title of Lord of the Manor of Weston to his son Wilfred Speer, and later it was inherited by Wilfred's son Wilfred Dakin Speer and then Hannibal son of Cecilia Speer and Hannibal Sandys, who took the name of Speer to conform with William's will. At about the same time that Speer bought the manor of Weston, he bought extensive 'wastes' or common lands belonging to the manors of Claygate and Imber Court, which has since been treated as part of the manor of Weston.

The Rev Wilfred Speer died in 1856. In 1867 his son Capt. Wilfred Dakin Speer had been shot dead by an American soldier aboard the Octavia, a paddle steamer on the Missouri River. Another son of Rev. Wilfred, William, died a year after his brother.

When the younger William Speer's grandson Wilfred Dakin Speer was killed in 1867 there was no direct tail male so the Speer estates passed to William junior's eldest surviving daughter, Maria Speer, who died 1871 aged 83. From her they descended to a nephew Hannibal Sandys. Hannibal then took the name of Speer by royal warrant to comply with the terms of William's will and became Lord of the manor of Weston.

The London Gazette, 2 January 1872

Whitehall, December 26, 1871.

The Queen has been pleased to give and grant unto Hannibal Sandys, of The Grove, in the parish of Fulham, in the county of Middlesex, Gentleman, eldest son of Hannibal Sandys, late of Brompton, in the said county, Esquire, by Cecilia, his wife, one of the daughters of William Speer, late of Thames Ditton, in the county of Surrey, Esquire, all deceased, Her Royal licence and authority that he and his issue may (in compliance with a proviso contained in the last will and testament of the said William Speer), henceforth take and use the surname of Speer only, and bear the arms of Speer (quarterly in the first quarter) with his own family arms of Sandys; such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in Her Majesty's College of Arms, otherwise the said Royal licence and permission to be void and of none effect: And also to command that the said Royal concession and declaration be recorded in Her Majesty's College of Arms.

Surrey Coats of Arms [ www.surreycc.gov.uk ] includes: -
"SPEER

Hannibal Speer of The Manor House, Thames Ditton, and 26 The Grove, Boltons, (b.1826), eldest son of Hannibal Sandys, of Brompton, by his wife Cecilia, daughter of William Speer of Weston; he succeeded his aunt, 1870, and assumed the name and arms of Speer by Royal Licence. Arms: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Or a chevron Azure surmounted by another vairy Argent and Gules between three trefoils slipped Vert (Speer); 2 and 3, Erminois on a fess dancetté per pale Gules and Azure between three cross crosslets fitché of the second as many escallops Or (Sandys). Crests: 1, A garb per fess Or and Argent banded Vert a spear erect issuing from the centre Proper (Speer); 2, A griffin segreant per fess Erminois and Azure holding between the paws a cross crosslet fitché as in the arms."
The Old Manor House, Station Road, Thames Ditton, home of Hannibal; (Sandys) Speer carries a blue plaque.

Hannibal Speer, formerly Sandys, died unmarried on 3 April 1915. He was interred in the grave of his maiden aunt Maria Speer - www.gravestonephotos.com

The word 'vicarage' may be found used to mean alternatively the benefice or the parson's house. The latter, depicted below, is the subject of a separate paper on this website. [Link to The Old Vicarage]

18 Church Street, Epsom 2013
18 Church Street, Epsom 2013
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013



Brian Bouchard
February 2013


With grateful acknowledgement of helpful inputs from Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum, Margaret Griffiths, Archivist, Surrey History Centre, and Linda Jackson.



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