The Alabaster Chronicle
The Journal of the Alabaster Society
NUMBER NINETEEN, AUTUMN 2002
by Laraine Hake - October 2002
Welcome to Alabaster Chronicle Number Nineteen! I hope you will find it filled with a variety of different types of information, some of which, at least, you will really enjoy.
2002 seems to have passed so quickly. Already it is the end of October: the lawns are covered in leaves and the nights are drawing in. I do hope that it has been a good year for most of you and that your positive experiences outweigh the negative ones.
As far you will see from the News Pages, the Alabaster family is still doing its level best to populate the world, with several new Alabaster descendants being born. Within the same pages you will see that the Alabaster family really does seem to have had a go at spreading over the whole of the globe - our latest communication having arrived from an Alabaster of Argentian descent!
The Sixth Alabaster Gathering did turn out to be a positive experience for many, judging by the correspondence that I received after it. It is reported in detail further in this Chronicle. Just at the moment, I am not sure how we will equal it, let alone better it…………but 2005 is a long way away!
Those of you who saw the amazing Alabaster Book, produced by Ron Alabaster West and his family, from your contributions, will doubtless have already completed the enclosed form ordering your own copy. Make sure that it is sent direct to Ron. There is also this year's subscription renewal, which should be sent to Robin.
At the end of August, I met up with Oriole Veldhuis and her sister, Faye, who were visiting UK from Canada, and happened to be staying in Norwich for two nights. We had a great day together in Hadleigh, actually trying out Sue Andrews' walk, (page 38), which is when I took the photographs. Oriole and Faye are descendants of Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster, branch IIC.
My apologies that this edition is somewhat behind my self-imposed schedule. The pressures and time needed for school do seem to have grown dramatically of late! Thank you to all those who have contributed to the Chronicle, whether by letters, articles or their own personal reminiscing. I would really appreciate further contributions of these types, as well as your general support!
News from Around the World
Valerie Knobloch, Germany (IV) 13th April 2002
John and Shirley Alabaster (IV) May 2002
Audrey Tilling (nee Alabaster) (IIA) May 2002
Eileen Fowler (WofW) 13th June 2002
Betty (Alabaster!) West (IV) 23rd July 2002
Alan Alabaster, Crawford, Canada (IIIA), 7th August 2002
Angela Alabaster (IIA), 7th August 2002
Robbin & John Churchill, 9th August 2002
John and Shirley Alabaster (IV), 23rd September 2002
Jorge Alabaster (IIA), Argentina, September 2002
In Search of the Alabaster Family Home in Hadleigh
by Sue Andrews
As part of my research into the Alabaster family during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, I set myself the task of discovering the extent of Alabaster property in Hadleigh, Suffolk, and in consequence was able to identify the site of the family home.
I began by looking for Thomas Alabaster in Hadleigh Archive and soon discovered that he had lived at the north end of the town. In 1580, he had become responsible for Hadleigh Bridge Street in a new neighbourhood watch scheme that reported any undesirable strangers to the authorities. (This old street name represents the northern portion of the present High Street and the roads now called Bridge Street and Gallows Hill that lead out of the town towards Kersey.) A sketch map of the town dated 1668 shows ALA BLASTES LAND as being to the west of Hadleigh Bridge Street. I knew then with which area of the town I was dealing but the next clue, the name of the property, still did not fix its exact location.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, clothiers like Thomas invested in real estate in order to safeguard their wealth and make provision for the next generation, so I obtained photocopies of Alabaster Wills from the Public Record Office at Kew. In his Will drawn up in 1591, Thomas refers to various lands and tenements in Hadleigh and Kersey, which are shared out amongst his two sons, his brother and a daughter still living in Hadleigh. However, he does not mention the capital messuage where I dwell, a phrase often used by testators to indicate their head house. As a widower, Thomas might have already handed over his home to the next generation in return for accommodation and care during his remaining years.
The Will of his second son John made in 1637 and the subsequent Inquisition post mortem tell us that Thomas had made provision for the inheritance of the family home in 1584 when John had married Mary Brond of Boxford. This marriage settlement was recited in John's Will and confirmed that Mary would be able to enjoy her widowhood … the Mansion House … wherein I now dwell with my lands called Hannams lying at the end of the Towne going towards Karsey. The IPM recorded that according to an indenture dated 1629, the property was to pass on Mary's death to their eldest son John II and his male heirs.
Unfortunately, Hannams is not a property name known in Hadleigh today and there were no indications as to when or from whom it had originally been purchased by Thomas. As I needed to know the familial relationships beyond the Alabaster name, I consulted the usual genealogical aids, which told me that the year, 1629, had heralded the birth of John III. Seven years earlier, John II had married widow and mother of two young boys, Sibilla Britten, but it was not until there was a male Alabaster heir, John III, that the property was settled upon John II and Sibilla.
Continuing with Wills, apparently John III had married Bridget Bull but predeceased his father in 1654, leaving a baby daughter named Sibilla after her grandmother. This lack of a male heir necessitated John II making a Will in favour of his granddaughter who was to inherit all my lands and tenements at age twenty-one or day of marriage, whichever event was first to occur. John II had nominated his daughter Mary, wife of William Gilbert, Rector of nearby Brent Eleigh, as sole executrix, but she renounced this task in favour of John III's widow Bridget. In 1659, Bridget, as mother of the heir Sibilla and now wife of Robert Appleton esquire, obtained probate of her first father-in-law's Will and began to receive the rents and profits of the real estate, which she would have to apply to the maintenance and education of her daughter.
The family home had now been traced through four generations, from 1584 to 1659, but with Sibilla's eventual marriage, the property would move out of Alabaster ownership, and, still, I was unsure of the site!
I then turned to manorial records held at Bury St Edmunds Record Office and soon found that the site of the Alabaster home came under the jurisdiction of three of Hadleigh's five manors. In 1651, John II acknowledged ownership of a freehold tenement called Langhams. Was this Hannams by another name? Struggling with unyielding, dusty Latin court rolls and rentals, it was not through the name Alabaster that I tracked down the family home however. Firstly, I followed the name of Robert Appleton, who in 1661 held a messuage late in Mr Alabsters occupacion and then George Hunlock, who held the same property in right of his wife late Alabaster in 1685. As Robert Appleton was paying manorial rent on his wife's behalf, it would seem that he and Bridget, whom he had married in 1656, were living here with her daughter Sibilla Alabaster. George Hunlock, a London milliner, was in a similar position having married Sibilla in 1672.
Knowing that the name Hunlock was involved in the property, I was pleased to come across the name when undertaking completely unconnected research at Ipswich Record Office. At the bottom of a box, full of the dirtiest parchment I had ever seen, was the trust deed, dated 1675, confirming property upon Sibilla and George and their heirs but, for want of issue, it was to remain to the son and three daughters of Bridget and Robert Appleton. The document described several pieces of real estate and it began to dawn upon me that I was not dealing with one house but a complex of buildings including the capital messuage wherein John Alabaster gent lately dwelt called the Bridge House.
A swift visit to Bridge Street in Hadleigh left me very disappointed. The present Bridge House, now the nearest building to the bridge, had been the office of the town's former Gas Works originally opened in 1861. Many of the buildings within the vicinity of the bridge had been demolished over the years, so had the Alabaster family home gone long ago?
Being a person who likes to follow through to the bitter end, I decided to continue tracking the Alabaster Bridge House by tracing Sibilla and George's only child Anne who was married in 1718 to Daniel Lock, a cheese factor (merchant) of Ipswich. It would seem that the Alabaster properties were sold off in two stages; firstly in 1712 by Sibilla Hunlock at the death of her husband George, and later in 1731 by Anne Lock, after the death of her mother Sibilla. Although there was no further Alabaster connection with Bridge House, the search continued for its site.
I had already noted from Hadleigh's tithe map of 1839 and its accompanying schedule that a Thomas Gray occupied several fields that John II had once owned together with a site in Bridge Street that was not fully shown on the map as it was partly free from tithe rent. Nearly eighty years earlier, in 1762, another Thomas Gray bequeathed his house and malting office to his wife Jane and a document dated 1764 told me that Widow Gray had paid manorial rent on late Hunlocks late Alabasters. Could I assume that Thomas Gray's part of an extensive site north of the river and to the west of the road included the location of Bridge House?
When Babergh District Council took over the site in 1979, many outhouses and sheds were demolished but five substantial buildings of various architectural styles and dates, including a former malting, were cleverly linked to new structures in order to provide the Council with offices. To fill in the gaps between 1839 and the present, I consulted editions of local directories and followed the malting office from Thomas Gray, through the nineteenth century to Ernest Gayford in 1904. Gayford was a maltster and corn, coal and seed merchant who lived next to his Bridge Street malting in … Bridge House!
Former Bridge House and former malting office, Bridge Street, Hadleigh
The red brick, Grade II listed building faces east on to Bridge Street and dates from the late eighteenth century. However, it probably stands on the site of the Alabaster Bridge House and forms part of a complex of buildings, some of which date back to the seventeenth century. The 1668 sketch map of Hadleigh shows two buildings at this point and with ALA BLASTES LAND to the north and west, it would seem that the search was over.
Now, I wonder where Thomas Alabaster lived when he first came to Hadleigh!
A Remote Connection between Alabasters
by John S. Alabaster (I)
One wonders whether Dr. William Alabaster (1568-1640), who held the living of Therfield, near Royston, Hertfordshire from 1614 until his death, was aware of the distant connection between an early Alabaster and the chantry chapel attached to the north side of the chancel of St. Mary’s church, Therfield, which was still extant in his day and remained so until 1676.
The chapel had been endowed in 1420 by William Paston, a successful lawyer, on the occasion of his marriage to Agnes, heiress of Sir Edmund Berry of Horwelbury, in the neighbouring parish of Kelsall, and was donated in memory of William’s father, Clement, as recorded in one of the windows . Clement was an interesting character, an industrious peasant who believed in education and had borrowed money to send his son William to school and subsequently, with the help of his brother-in-law, to London to study law. William’s son, John Paston married Margaret Mauteby, a remarkable personality who often had to look after the affairs of the family in East Anglia under extremely difficult circumstances when both her husband, and then later her eldest son, were often away from home. This is all recorded in over a thousand family documents that have since been published as The Paston Letters . They speak of wrongful and violent claims to Paston property, a time of civil strife leading to the Wars of the Roses, several periods of imprisonment for her husband and overseas military service for her eldest son.
Among the documents are more than thirty letters covering the years 1450 to 1477 in which James Arblaster is mentioned. (Incidentally, for two of them, the spelling is transcribed ‘Alblaster’). A few of these were written by Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, to whom he seems to have been related by marriage through the Waltons and for whom he was a loyal and valued friend. Tony Springall has already detailed James’ involvement with the de Vere family as well as other aspects of his life.
The remainder of the documents were concerned with James’s activities with the Pastons with whom he was also distantly related. His wife Agnes’s first husband was Robert de Wychingham whose father, Edmund, was a cousin of John Paston and this is consistent with Margaret Paston’s reference to James as her cousin in one of her letters. James acted, amongst other things, as: peacemaker within the family; agent in negotiating rents; accountant; family advisor; administrator of John Paston’s will; and active supporter of John’s son, Sir John, as prospective member of parliament for Maldon.
Is it likely that Dr. William Alabaster knew of James and of this connection with the Pastons? My guess is that he did.
Firstly, I assume that his statement ‘My father’s people belong to the ancient and noble Alabaster family who came to England with the Normans’ has some truth in it. At least the family must have been able to trace its history well back beyond its arrival in Hadleigh, Suffolk, not just to William’s grandfather William of Worsted, Norfolk, but perhaps even back to those Alabasters of Worsted mentioned in the Domesday Book (although there is no evidence to support their having been among the landing party with William the Conqueror ). It is also likely that they would also have known something of their less closely related namesakes living in East Anglia. Secondly, as Tony Springall has pointed out 3, James had two known connections with Hadleigh: in his will he mentioned Archdeacon William Packenham, the builder of the Deanery Tower in Hadleigh; and there was also the association of James’ son with the nearby village of Neyland, Suffolk. A further possible connection relates to a letter from a servant of James to John Paston, ‘Writen at Hadley’ 2 in the year 1494. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, three descendants of James entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge: Edmund Arrabraster in 1564 and two of Edmund’s nephews, Alablaster Wentworth in 1585 and Thomas Mallowes in 1597 . It is hard to imagine that William Alabaster would not have met the latter two in Cambridge, bearing in mind that he entered Trinity in 1583, and at least through them would have known of Edmund Arrabaster and Edmund’s great-grandfather, James Arblaster, and his links with the Paston family.
So, I picture William inspecting the chantry chapel in his church for the first time, reading the inscription there and then suddenly making the distant connection with the legendary James, remembering the family lore about him, and perhaps also reflecting on how times had changed so much since those days.
Alabaster Gathering – Number Six
Tricia Dyer (IIA) 29th April 2002:
Sunday morning at 9.15 am saw a full coach leave the Magdalen Road car park in Hadleigh, bound for Norfolk. Actually, it was not totally full, which was fortunate, as our first stop was at The Holiday Inn, Bramford Road, to pick up Charlotte and Moe Alabaster who had travelled from Florida to join us. In fact, they were due to fly on to Geneva on that Sunday, but had changed their arrangements to allow them to join us on our trip. Moe’s father, Sydney William Alabaster, had been born in Gt Yarmouth in 1887, so our visit to this town was likely to be of special interest to them.
I had intended that members of the coach party would answer a quiz as we travelled, but everybody was so busy talking and generally socialising, I decided to give this a miss! However, I did interrupt to point out when we passed near to Alabaster places of interest. Our coach driver was particularly good, and nobly detoured from the main A12 so that we could pass through Saxmundham and I could point out land owned by the Alabaster family in the 18th century, as well as the church in the distance on the outside of which there is a memorial to the Alabasters. We again left the A12 for another detour later, so that we could pass by the church in Kessingland where the older children of Robert and Mary Ann Alabaster were baptised, between 1808 and 1812, prior to their move to Gt Yarmouth, where they were living by 1814.
The coach dropped us outside the Star Hotel, Gt Yarmouth at 11.15 am. Half of the party made their way to the English Heritage property, the Merchants House and Row 111, for a guided tour of a typical Yarmouth home in the 19th century, whilst the other half of us were met by Yarmouth local historian, Colin Tooke, who took us on a tour of the part of the town in which the Alabaster family lived over one hundred years ago. We met up again at 12.30pm, back at the Star Hotel, for an excellent meal in their Carvery. A good time really was had by all.
Charlotte Alabaster 8th May Florida, USA:
At 2.00pm we reboarded the coach for Worstead. As Tony Springall had told us the previous day, John Alblaster and his wife were responsible for the erection of the screen in Worstead Church at the end of the 15th century, and there is a brass memorial to John on the floor of the church, just in front of the screen. (Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh, our shared many times great grandfather (11 gts for me!) inherited land in Worstead in 1562, so there is definitely a connection, even if we cannot be 100% specific on its nature).
We were welcomed at Worstead by Rev. Anthony Long and some of his parishioners. Father Anthony gave us a very good guided tour around his church, showing us the screen in particular, and the Arblaster/Alabaster arms which appear with others high up on the beams of the roof. We were then provided with an excellent repast of tea and cake. Altogether, it was a wonderful experience for us all.
Stephen Alabaster (IIA) 7th May 2002:
On the return journey to Hadleigh by coach, I did manage to make everybody work by involving the party in one of my quizes………a lighthearted version of Dingbats, all answers being books, musicals or plays. It provided a "different" end to the day!
I had certainly had a great weekend. Unlike the previous Gathering, which was a little stressful for reasons outside our control, I consciously enjoyed this one! It was really wonderful to meet up with so many wonderful people. Thank you all so much for coming and making it possible!
Robbin Churchill (IV) 7th May 2002 Atlanta, Georgia, USA:
What fun it was to regale her with all the details of our memorable weekend. We have you to thank for the beautifully organized Gathering. It was fabulous from beginning to end. It was such a thrill for me to sit in the schoolhouse and look around at all those Alabasters. Gwen says the shape of the ears is a common denominator.
I'm sorry we missed the Sunday trip to Great Yarmouth but Moe and Charlotte said it was wonderful. They caught up with us in France on Monday and gave us a detailed rundown of the day………………. It was a weekend we'll always think of with delight and will never forget.
Rene Healey, Branch IV wrote on 2nd May:
I thought I’d let you know how pleased I am with the Alabaster Chronicle Covers. As I put them in I started to dip into one and then another, picking out especially interesting bits. I then decided to start from Number One and make them my night-time reading for the next two or three weeks!
Many thanks for arranging such an enjoyable and interesting weekend. Branch IV certainly came into its own this weekend one way or another, all good fun. I hope we might visit Kessingland Church later on this year as it obviously played quite an important part in the family. I wonder where great grandfather Henry William West Alabaster was baptised, -- possibly in Great Yarmouth itself.
P.S. A cryptic clue in a Daily Telegraph Crossword Friday 26th April:
Shirley Rowe (IIA):
Saturday was great fun, meeting old and new friends (and relatives) and Sunday given over to covering fresh ground and learning about Branch IV and their association with Gt Yarmouth. An excellent meal at the Star Hotel and trip to Worstead church to see the Alabaster brasses and coat of arms rounded off a successful weekend. We were lucky with the weather, until we arrived back in Hadleigh, when the rain sent us scuttling for our cars. I was only sorry not to say "goodbye" to all on the coach – my apologies. I look forward (D.V.) to seeing you all in 2005!
Pictured right: Moe and Charlotte at the entrance of one of The Rows
Following the walking tour of Great Yarmouth and a delicious meal at the Star Hotel
going to the Church in Worstead was another experience, and the priest who gave the
actual tour of the church was most informative regarding Alabaster history there.
Charlotte Reder Alabaster, wife of Alfred ("Moe") Alabaster.
Maps Derived from the 1881 Census
Jim Alabaster (IIA)
Introduction by Laraine Hake:
Jim Alabaster (IIA) writes:
I was born in 1936 and brought up as a small boy with my younger brother Christopher Robin in Farnborough, Kent, a small village quite close to the war time airfield at Biggin Hill. I remember the war years. Much of the time we lived at night in a "strong room" which my father had built at the bottom of the garden as a safe refuge from the house. My brother and I went to the local school. We often used to walk in the mornings collecting trophies on the way, shrapnel, bullet cases, etc., that littered the road every day after the dog fights above our heads each night.
My father, Sidney Herbert Alabaster, was a builder with his own company based in Bexleyheath, and I remember him going off each morning to work, his daughter Grace, by an earlier marriage, working for him as his secretary.
Living relatively close to London, my brother and I had to be evacuated away from home and my parents chose the private option whereby we were allowed to go with our mother to her family home in Dumbarton to live. My father stayed at our home in Farnborough and continued with his work in Bexleyheath. When we returned -- I have visions of him arriving home in the evening in one of his vans with smoke pouring from the exhaust where he had mixed paraffin with the petrol to eke out the amount he was allowed under the regulations for petrol rationing!
For National Service, I served in the Royal Air Force. Mine was one of the last intakes and I was initially trained as a Radar Fitter. I had moved away from Kent to the West Country and I was living with a lovely family in a very small seaside village called Cawsand on the borders of Cornwall and Devon overlooking Plymouth Sound.
Once I had finished my training I was posted to the Radio Electronic Warfare Unit at Henlow in Bedfordshire. Among many other things I had started competitive dinghy sailing and was lucky enough to get a place in the RAF sailing team where I eventually won my RAF Colours. I was also selected for Officer Training and was posted to the training unit based in the Isle of Man at Jurby. I came away from there as a Pilot Officer found myself in the northern part of Devon at a fighter pilot conversion unit learning to do first line servicing on a squadron of Hunters.
It was not long before I was sent back to college at Henlow in Bedfordshire to study to be an Engineer specialising in Engines, Armaments, and Airframes. Very soon afterwards I married my first wife Pauline whom I had met at a sailing school in Plymouth. We adopted her small two year old daughter, Tiggy, and we were soon expecting our first son, Matthew. He was to be born in Hitchin where we had set up home.
Once I had graduated from the RAF Technical College at Henlow I was posted off to a bomber station in the wilds of Lincolnshire and we set up a new home in the officers' married quarters at RAF Coningsby. I took up my post as a Flying Officer in charge of the line armoury, servicing the needs of three squadrons of Vulcan bombers. These were hectic days with the importance of the nuclear deterrent not far from my doorstep every day of every week. It was my job to load the aircraft with whatever weapons they were carrying each day and to get them away on their daily sorties. Phew! was I glad when that came to an end. I had decided that the Royal Air Force was not for me so looked for alternative employment outside and I joined the Bristol Siddeley Aero Engine company working as an engineer helping to run the test beds, and we were off once again to another new home in Thornbury.
At work we were developing the engines for the new RAF Tactical Strike and Reconnaissance plane, the TSR2 and the first of the vertical take off engines for the new RAF Harriers. Along came Mr Wilson the new Labour Government Prime Minister. He cancelled the TSR2 project. I was lucky, I was offered another job within Bristol Siddeley running the Harrier engines, but I was not happy and I was looking for another challenge.
My love of sailing was tempting me to look for an opportunity in the sailing world and I was lucky. A relatively well known and famous sailmaking company wanted to replace one of their senior managers and so I joined Ratsey and Lapthorn and we were off to Cowes in the Isle of Wight to live for the next ten years. The company had offices in America and clients from all over the World so not only did I sail many types of boats, I also travelled extensively to many countries.
Whilst we were living in Cowes we had our next son, Jonathan. They were happy days but sadly my job was taking me away from home for far too long which led to the break of my marriage and separation from my three children.
It was not long before I met Sandy. We owned a small sailing boat and we were regularly competing in the local regattas in the Solent. We married and set up home together in Cowes. I, meantime, had set up an office in Southampton and was commuting every day across the water from Cowes so we moved back to the mainland to a small village called Emsworth just on the borders of Hampshire and Sussex, close to Chichester. Our son Tom was born in 1979. Sandy had to give up flying and it was whilst Tom was at junior school that I was offered the chance of managing the new America's Cup Challenge due to take place in Newport Rhode Island in the summer of 1983. I jumped at it and this led to working for Peter de Savary for the next 15 years.
We started in 1981 with an office in London, I spent a year as a regular daily commuter from Havant to the West End. We started building new boats and sailing them and by 1982 Sandy, Tom, and I had moved to Rhode Island to live and work. Every day was crew training with two boats match racing one another trying to hone the best out of boats and people. In the winter we moved to the Bahamas to enable us to continue the training and by the summer of 1983 we were back in Newport competing against the best of the world. Unfortunately we were destined to come up against the wonder boat from Australia in the finals. We were narrowly beaten and the Australians went on to beat the Americans and take the Cup back to their base in Perth.
Once the Cup was over I spent a year clearing up and selling the gear and the boats, then off to Antigua for three years to help build a resort hotel and to rescue a beautiful three masted historic schooner that was lying in a berth in the north of the island. That was my first attempt at restoration and using local labour we put her back to her original plans. When finished she was a truly magnificent gaff rigged schooner destined to cross the Atlantic Ocean four times before finally sailing off across the Pacific to Japan where she now lives.
Tom spent two years at school in Antigua but he was beginning to feel homesick and his teacher persuaded us that it was time for him to return to the UK and go to "proper" school. So sadly Tom and Sandy went home to Emsworth whilst I stayed on to complete the schooner and the hotel project in this lovely sunny island. Eventually, however, I too had to return home and by that time another America's Cup Challenge was in the offing and we were off again building new boats and training. This time the base was to be in Falmouth so we moved from our home close to Chichester to a house in Mylor Bridge where we lived for the next ten years. Tom went to school in Truro and was destined to go to Bristol University where he chose to read Politics.
In 1987 the Challenge came to an abrupt halt when the New Zealanders decided to exploit a loophole in the competition rules. We had by that time built up quite a large base in Falmouth so it was decided that we should start a new yacht building facility. We named it Pendennis Shipyard which flourishes to this day. I rebuilt a harbour tug and converted it into a luxury yacht. I also Captained a 65m Motor Yacht which I took to the Mediterranean, and generally I converted from being totally involved in sails and sailing boats to big motor boats.
I was tempted back to Gosport to work for another famous yacht building company, Camper & Nicholsons, before being head-hunted off to Thailand to help with the building of a very large sailboat that was nearing completion in a yard that the American owner was endeavouring to close. It was an interesting time working with people who spoke very little English but had great skills and a yearning to learn.
Model of a luxury motor yacht which is currently under construction in Holland
Some Alabaster Properties in Hadleigh