Picture by Rupert Fox from a design by Michael William Alabaster


The Alabaster Chronicle 

The Journal of the Alabaster Society 






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!

To Contents

News from Around the World

Leos Thivillier KnoblochValerie Knobloch, Germany (IV) 13th April 2002
At last he is here - our little grandson - photo is attached - born on the 07.04.2002, his name is Léos Thivillier Knobloch and his very proud and happy parents are Jennifer Knobloch and Bruno Thivillier.
Jenni and Bruno are so happy and 'Omama and Opapa' too.
At the moment Peter and I are recovering from a very bad flu (otherwise we would be in France now) and will be travelling to France next weekend when we hope to have fully recovered. Unfortunately this will mean that we shall not to coming to the Gathering after all - on one hand I am of course very disappointed but the joy of seeing our little Léos is very great as you can imagine. Please give our best wishes to all 'family members' and hope that the occasion will be something to look back on for a very long time.

John and Shirley Alabaster (IV) May 2002
John and I would be quite happy to research in the London area, (for fellow members of the Alabaster Society) perhaps we could put a note to this effect in the next Chronicle.

Audrey Tilling (nee Alabaster) (IIA) May 2002
Great news for me is the arrival of my fourth great-grandchild, born to grandson Richard and his wife living in Hove, Sussex. On Saturday, my son Alan drove me down to see the little chap. I will now add him to my own family tree - after all, he must have Alabaster blood in him!!

Eileen Fowler (WofW) 13th June 2002
Just to let you know that our son Russell has presented us with our first grandchild - Alyssa Jade Fowler, born on 5th June, weighing 8lbs.8oz, with a mop of red hair. Both Alyssa and her mum, Angela, are doing well and Tia their dalmation has taken to the noisy little intruder with no problems.
Sorry we didn't make the Gathering, but I would be interested in one of the Family Record Books when available.

Betty (Alabaster!) West (IV) 23rd July 2002
Laraine hoped for a comment about 'The Book' from Ron, but alas he felt word bound. So I am writing a few words instead. I know that he really enjoyed compiling the book and was so pleased with everyone's co-operation and interest, but alas Ron's honeymoon with our ancient passed on Apple Mac. computer is sadly at an end. No longer is our dining table and surrounding carpet littered with piles of 'do not touch', 'no photo', 'wrong colour', 'still waiting', papers. Our trips to Northampton to discuss leather colour and how much gold leaf, have ceased. No longer is there an A4 sized cardboard box on the doorstep awaiting the delivery of special boarded envelopes. The long evenings for Rene (Ron's sister) and me when we catalogued and eased papers into special acid free sleeves are no more, the computer has been silenced. It now knows all the mild expletives used in this house while a rookie learned how to centre pages, do horizontal and vertical lines, alphabetically order, etc...etc. The Book is complete. We are now experiencing another honeymoon....with a scanner! I think it will last a long time.
Happily we did not come away from that most successful and beautifully organised 2002 gathering empty handed. Oh, No! We came away with an 'A' - not an A level but an official Alabaster 'A'. Elegance and styleRon's forebears were an immoral, but I am sure a lovely, lot. He only had Alabaster as a middle name, but when we arrived at the gathering we were presented with "Betty and Ron Alabaster West" name labels, we heard ourselves referred to as Alabaster Wests. Several of our wonderful family have written to us since as Mr. and Mrs. Alabaster West...I like it...so when ordering new sticky on address labels asked for Mr. and Mrs. R. A. West and not R. West. I feel a hyphen coming on. Grandpa had one: what do you think?
I've just looked at the photographs taken at the evening meal. Alabaster men and others, you know your ladies really did look special. On a fashion note I can see silk, velvet, beautiful white and exquisite American expensive (I was told) suits, pleated skirts and high heels. The photos taken earlier in the day show our American lady Alabasters each wearing a similar scarf. Rene and I were fascinated by the yarn texture and style. Since then we've received yarn from Robbin in America and have been busily knitting. The results are light and interesting and have a special Alabaster aura about them. They loop so elegantly see photos. Rene and I will be pleased to answer any knitting queries, I hoped that they might become the Alabaster Ladies` Scarf, but as the yarn is a 'trendsetter' from Italy and apparently unobtainable in England this might be difficult. Any suggestions?
Are we establishing a quasi-ladies'-page here? Is this acceptable in such an august chronicle? I will say no more!!!
Goodbye, Betty.

Alan Alabaster, Crawford, Canada (IIIA), 7th August 2002
I would love to share our news - a big bouncing baby boy 10 1/2 lbs called Eoin Patrick Alabaster. The whole procedure of birthing took a few days …….. But it's all worth it now and Eoin is a really robust child. It's a bit strange working with such a large child compared to most newborns. The weight of holding him was a bit of a shock: you certainly get a good upper body workout carrying him.
Nobody could get over the size of the Eoin when he was born even the doctors! He was the talk of the Nursery and people all stopped to have a look at him.
I'll head to bed now as we've just put Eoin to bed and the secret is to sleep when he sleeps. I can't wait.

Angela Alabaster (IIA), 7th August 2002
As a member of the Reigate LINK of Chernobyl Children Lifeline, who have been hosting a visit of 13 children from Belarus, Angela had been supporting a family who had two girls to stay with them. She was very surprised to see in the LINK newsletter that the chairman of a new LINK in Pembrokeshire is……..yet another Alabaster, this time a Carole Alabaster!
I can report that Carole Alabaster is a member of Branch IIIA.

Robbin & John Churchill, 9th August 2002
Dear Friends and Family,
Here's some GREAT news. Karel delivered a beautiful baby girl yesterday, Aug 7, 2002, named Skyler Eve. She was 7 lb 6 oz and 19 in long. Tyler was there with Bob to help bring her into the world. Tye and Karel played with our real life Barbie today - changing her outfit with every click of the camera.
Love to all.

John and Shirley Alabaster (IV), 23rd September 2002
Just a short note to let you know that we are grandparents again. Alison gave birth to a little girl on 21 September 2002. She weighed in at 6lb 11ozs. Both mum and baby are doing well. Richard looked absolutely shattered on Sunday having been up all of Friday night giving encouragement to Alison. Baby is to be called Louise Isobel.

Jorge Alabaster (IIA), Argentina, September 2002
Thanks for your mail. Here is some information that I have in my hand:
Ancestors: Eduardo Alabaster and Margarita Jackman, born and died in England.
They had two sons: Eduardo Alabaster and Federico Alabaster.
Eduardo Alabaster married Isabel Maria Mc Loughlin who had two sons:
Jose Maria Alabaster (born in Argentina August 31st 1897 and died January 20th 1944) and Ethel Maria Alabaster born also in Argentina and died April 16th 1944.
I don't have more information for you and I don't know if this small amount of information can help you.
It really was a surprise for me to know of the site on the web with the Alabaster family details.
Wow!!! This email was in response to a reply that I had sent to Jorge Alabaster after he left a message on the old Alabaster website. He had said that his grandfather came from England and I had asked him for further details.
Edward and Margaret Alabaster (nee Jackman) are part of Branch IIA. Their children include Arthur Alabaster, founder of Alabaster & Wilson and grandfather of Adrian Alabaster, Peter Douglas Alabaster and John Edward Sydenham Alabaster.
According to the notes on my database (original information from Adrian), their first son was an Edward Alabaster born 1854, "Black sheep. Disappeared - possibly to South America" !!!!!!!!!
T'would appear very likely that Jorge is a second cousin to Adrian, Peter and John. Watch this space………..!

To Contents

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!

Bridge House, Hadleigh
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!

To Contents

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. St. Mary`s Church, Hadleigh

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.

To Contents

Alabaster Gathering – Number Six
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April 2002

Thanks to the kindness of our hosts, Tom and Miranda McIntosh, the Old School in Bridge Street, Hadleigh had seen a mini-gathering of several Alabasters during the Friday evening, as we arranged the furniture and display materials ready for the arrival of Alabasters, en masse, on Saturday morning. The visitors on Friday evening included Ivor Smith (IV). He was unable to attend the Gathering the next day, but had made the journey up from Hornchurch, Essex, to say hello to us AND…………….. to present me with an earthenware bottle that had been found at an old tip in Rainham, Essex.

On the front of it are printed the words:


It must have originated from the ginger beer and mineral water manufacturers in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, formerly called Batey & Co, which was purchased on 5th October 1882 by Robert George Alabaster (IIA). His sons, John and Robert James, were directors of the company before it was eventually bought out by R.Whites, I believe, in the first half of the twentieth century. Although I was aware of this, I certainly had not expected to be lucky enough to ever see such a bottle, let alone to own one! What an auspicious start, for me, to the Sixth Alabaster Gathering!

An additional moment of immense excitement for me that evening, was my first sight of the Alabaster Book to which so very many of the society have contributed. It was one of the focal points of attention for the whole Gathering, causing tremendous interest to all those who saw it!

But to get to the first day of the Gathering itself, Saturday 27th April "dawned bright and fair". Fortunately, the traffic problems of 1999 did not repeat themselves and we had a smooth start as more than eighty Alabasters and Alabaster descendants arrived in at the Old School. The first half an hour or so was spent renewing acquaintances with friends and relations, signing the large family tree, looking at the displays and marvelling at the Alabaster Book! There was also time to purchase back numbers of the Chronicle and the brand new Alabaster Chronicle Binders in which to keep them! For the first time we had a raffle, from which all proceeds were going to the "Alabaster" churches at Worstead and Hadleigh. Many thanks are due to my mother, Evelyn, and Pam Springall for nobly selling these. Thanks are also due to all those members who donated prizes, especially Stephen Alabaster of Alabaster & Wilson Ltd, who kindly donated a silver Alabaster brooch. Gathering 2002

We started the more formal part of the Gathering with the General Meeting of the Alabaster Society. I called for order, with the aid of a gavel, specially sent to us for the occasion by George and Millie Knox, and handed over to our guest Chairman, Peter Robert Alabaster.

Peter welcomed everybody, from far and near, particularly Charlotte and Alfred (Moe) Alabaster from Florida, John and Robbin Churchill (nee Alabaster) from Atlanta and Larry and Erica Rocque (nee Alabaster) from New York. He handed over to Robin Alabaster, treasurer, who presented the financial report. Robin’s report included a motion that the annual honorarium paid to the secretary (me!) should be increased to £125, which was passed and for which I thanked the members!

Following this, the meeting was thrown open to the floor and various comments were made, primarily it was suggested that the committee should be enlarged from the two persons it has been, Robin and myself, to five or six. It was decided that it would not be practical, however, to have committee meetings in person, other than once a year, but that communication could be by telephone, letter or email at other times, unless there was a real case of necessity. Various nominations were made and seconded, and the committee was enlarged to include Angela Alabaster, Shirley Alabaster, Tony Springall and Ron Alabaster West, as well as Robin Alabaster (treasurer) and myself, Laraine Hake (editor and secretary). It was decided to hold the first committee meeting after lunch that day.

In the meantime, we all turned out minds to the more interesting events of the day, the talks and visits. Tony Springall started them off. He gave an excellent illustrated talk, entitled 15th and 16th Century Norfolk Alabasters. Tony explained how recent research, based largely on Wills, had taken our line back from Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh (c1520-1592) to positively identify his parents as William Alabaster and Margaret Shaxton. Margaret’s parents were Thomas Shaxton and his wife, Margaret of Bale, Norfolk, whilst it is possible to make reasoned speculation on the parentage of William Alabaster and his connections with John and Agnes Alblaster\Arblaster of Worstead and Thomas Alabaster who left a Will in East Dereham in 1477. Certainly, it would appear that prior to living in Hadleigh, Suffolk in the 16th century, our ancestors were living in the flat fen-like lands of NorthWest Norfolk.

Sue Andrews spoke next. As the Hadleigh Archivist and an associate member of the Alabaster Society, she gave a fascinating talk about the various properties within the town that had been owned by the Alabaster family in the past. It was of particular interest to hear how her detective-like searches had led her to these discoveries. The talk was illustrated with a detailed map of the area, and a suggested walk around town to see the sites. This information is reproduced further on in this Chronicle. The walk is well worth following.

Alabaster Gathering -- Faces

A buffet lunch followed, and then I gave an outline of the Alabasters who lived in Gt Yarmouth during the 19th century, in keeping with our planned visit to this Norfolk seaside town the following day. The various offspring of Robert and Mary Ann Alabaster (nee West) provide a wealth of material for discussion. The eldest son, Samuel, was a baker in London, marrying at least three times, once, under the name of Samuel West, while his former wife was still alive and rearing their children. Hence he was tried for bigamy at the Old Bailey, and found guilty! Another son, William spent three months in prison in Suffolk, for stealing a sovereign, whilst the son of the third son, Daniel, is remembered as Captain Daniel Alabaster, after whom Alabaster Lake is named in New Zealand. Descendants of another son, Horace West Alabaster, went to Greece, Canada, and U.S.A. in the early part of the 20th century, and we had their descendants among us today. Lastly, the youngest son of Robert and Mary Ann, Henry William West Alabaster, who also dropped the Alabaster surname for his own convenience, whose descendants include Ron Alabaster West who has been working so hard on the Alabaster Book! Clearly there is source material here for an article for the Chronicle at a later date!

By now it was 2.30 pm. There had been enough sitting and listening – delegates now made their choice of a guided tour of the Guildhall and Garden, a tour of Hadleigh Church which included an excellent Art Exhibition or the Walk around Hadleigh, following up on Sue Andrews earlier talk. At 4.15 pm, we reconvened in the Old School, refreshing ourselves with tea and biscuits, and the important business of drawing the raffle and said goodbye to those who were unable to stay to dinner.

That evening we ate dinner together, in The Old School, amongst much merriment, if the sound level can be trusted, and then listened to some fascinating anecdotes from Squadron Leader John Bloomfield on "Something of the History of Hadleigh". Thus finished the evening and we bade farewell to those who were unable to join us the following day for the planned outing to Norfolk!

Alabaster Dinner

After the Gathering was over, we were able to make a variety of donations as a means of giving our thanks:

        • Worstead Church £125
        • Hadleigh Archives £80
        • Hadleigh Church £50
        • Hadleigh Guildhall £40
To Contents

Alabaster Chronicle Binders Alabaster Binders

These were available for the first time at the Alabaster Gathering. Each binder will hold 12 copies of the Chronicle.

Cost is £6 for a one binder, including postage and packing:

£11 for two binders, including postage and packing.

Please add 50p per binder for postage out of UK.

Order direct from Laraine, address on inside front cover. Payment in UK pounds, cheques made out to Laraine Hake please.

Please note that these 2002 prices are now out of date. RW

To Contents

To Contents

Tricia Dyer (IIA) 29th April 2002:
Dear Laraine, I expect you are being inundated with e-mails etc. but I just wanted to say how much Colin and I enjoyed Saturday. We thought the whole thing was well organised and enjoyed the talks etc. I particularly liked the different set up of the hall. That hall has a lovely feel about it, I think. Also got to know who lots more of the prominent members are and met some more nice people. Thought the book was great and look forward to getting my copy and reading a bit more about people, it proved quite a talking point…………..
Hope you had a good day on Sunday; ...thought of you all. It would be nice to stay for a weekend - perhaps one day. All for now and thanks again for all you
do. Love Tricia.


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:
……We more than enjoyed meeting all the Alabasters in attendance and all of the happenings on Saturday, but speaking for "Moe", I know the highlight of the weekend was visiting The Rows and walking about that area of Gt Yarmouth. That was a very emotional experience for both of us!

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).

CorbelWe 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:
You asked for comments on the various events and I must say we all enjoyed the Sunday very much. Both the guide at Great Yarmouth and the vicar at Worsted were so well informed and made those visits highly entertaining even to a non-historian like me! The lunch was good value and the tea at Worsted was frightening. How can a full stomach do justice to so much cake?!

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:
We've just arrived home after a week with our son Craig and family in France. Our daughter Tyler (31) came for dinner last night and we brought out all the genealogy charts and newly developed photos of our wonderful Alabaster reunion.

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:
How grateful I continue to be to Millie Knox who spoke on Gloucester Radio about the Alabaster Society and that one of my many Guiding friends heard her and let me know about the Society. We -- Ron, Betty, and I , have enjoyed every minute of being part of it all.

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:
Beautiful stone resulting from a laboratory bloomer (9)
Did someone know we were Gathering ????

Shirley Rowe (IIA):
Once again, and I am sure I speak for everyone present at the 6th Alabaster Gathering, a "good time was had by all". Each time Laraine comes up trumps with new speakers and fresh tours – her organising amazes me.

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!  

Charlotte Alabaster:
We arrived in Hadleigh on the Friday of the Gathering weekend and the area was everything we expected. Charming, to say the least! All of the events on Saturday, for us, were overshadowed by the coach trip to Great Yarmouth on Sunday, though. Charlotte & Moe AlabasterSince we were staying in a motel nearer Ipswich, it was most kind of those on the coach to stop and pick us up...like two hitchhikers! Laraine pointed out all of the Alabaster highlights along the way to Great Yarmouth and upon arriving, many of us chose to go on a walking tour of the old part of the city. For us, that was the most memorable part of the whole weekend, maybe even the most memorable day of the whole UK tour we had been on for almost 20 days prior to the Gathering! The rain and wind made the tour even more interesting for a while but when we approached the area of The Rows, that, for us, was very emotional and I could see it on Moe's face. To be right there where his father, Sydney Alabaster, lived and from where he immigrated to the United States was the highlight of the day!

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.
We've had time now to reflect on our Hadleigh and Great Yarmouth experience and thank you Laraine for putting the whole Gathering weekend together. We're sure you had much help, but we want to say that it was a joy and our great pleasure meeting you and all of the Alabasters that wonderful weekend.

Charlotte Reder Alabaster, wife of Alfred ("Moe") Alabaster.

To Contents

Alabasters in the News at Worstead
To Contents

Maps Derived from the 1881 Census

1881 census
1881 census
To Contents

Jim Alabaster (IIA)

Introduction by Laraine Hake:
In Chronicle Number 18, there was an article about Sidney Herbert Alabaster. It included the details of various of his close relations by whom I had been contacted, completely independently of one another. Amongst those relations was Jim Alabaster, Sidney's son by his second marriage.
At my request, Jim wrote the following article about his own, interesting life which I had intended to include in that Chronicle, but I ran out of space!
I hope you will agree that it represents an interesting piece of "modern history". I would certainly be grateful if there are other Alabasters willing to write details of their lives in this way. As a copy of each Chronicle ends up in the British Library for posterity, it really will represent history for future generations! Laraine.

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. Jim Alabaster

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.

Jim Alabaster Motor Yacht
Model of a luxury motor yacht which is currently under construction in Holland
(February 2002)
To Contents

Some Alabaster Properties in Hadleigh
Then & Now

by Sue Andrews 2002

The George, Hadleigh
(1) The George, High Street  

In 1600, John mentioned in a letter that his father Thomas had held The Jerrge. (The sign should show Saint George and not George I who became king in 1714.)

Pictured left: The George, High Street - 2002


(2) The Library, corner of High Street and Duke Street

From 1588 until 1648, the Alabaster family owned The White Horse. This old inn continued until 1855, when it was pulled down and the present building erected as the Police Station. This is now used as Hadleigh Library.


No 2 Duke Street, Hadleigh

(3) No. 2 Duke Street

Left by Thomas in 1591, as a dole for paupers, the rent of this tenement called Kinges in Duck Lane eventually went to the inmates of the Almshouses. In 1931, the trustees sold the house and it is now privately owned.


Pictured right: No. 2 Duke Street - 2002


(4) Mill Field, Tinker's Lane

Now the ground of Hadleigh United Football Club, in 1577 Thomas sold Childer Meadow to his son-in-law Dr. John Still, Dean of Hadleigh, who later became Bishop of Bath & Wells in Somerset.

(5) Holbecks Cottage, Layham Road

In 1637, when John's school endowment was found to be insufficient, to make up the shortfall, his son John purchased land by Toppesfield Bridge. This became known as School Meadow but was absorbed into Holbecks Park by its new owner when the trustees sold the property in 1868.

(6) Council Offices, Corks Lane

This was the site of the Alabaster family home, which they knew as Bridge House. Its ownership passed down the generations from 1584 until Anne Hunlock (whose mother had been an Alabaster) was married in 1718. Some buildings date from that period. Later, a malting was added while another part became The Anchor Alehouse. Now it is the HQ of Babergh District Council.

(7) Cricket Meadow &
(8) Town Cemetery, Friars Hill

These two areas reflect the involvement of the Alabaster family in cloth production and farming. Finished cloth was stretched and dried on frames on Tainter Meadow (7) and hops for beer brewing were grown in Hop Ground Field (8).

Map of Hadleigh showing former Alabaster properties
To Contents