by Laraine Hake - March 1994
At last, the second edltion of the Alabaster Chronicle and the first half year of the Alabaster Society! I have been
really thrilled by the positive reaction that there has been. At the time of writing this we have 58 full members, that is
58 households: many more if each individual is counted separately.
George William Alabaster (IIIA) also sadly passed away on 21st October. His son, George David, wrote, "My father
was extremely interested in his Alabaster genealogy and the letters, Gatherings, etc made, for him, his ancestors
recognisable." Our thoughts and sympathy go to the immediate relations of each of these. I am pleased, however,
that both Winifred and George were able to join with us on the happy occasions in 1990 and 1993.
This week, I received a letter from a lady in New Zealand who was trying to trace her Alabaster ancestors. I will be writing to let her know that she is descended from Daniel Alabaster, after whom Lake Alabaster was named (see page 14, Alabaster Hut, in this issue).
As promised, there will be an informal Alabaster Gathering at Hadleigh, on Saturday September 10th: a booking form is enclosed. It will be a chance to meet and talk, enjoy a buffet lunch and a brief AGM. I do hope many of us will be there. If you have any opinions or thoughts on where and how our Gatherings should be conducted, please do write and tell me.
Thank you to the many members who have contributed towards this magazine and the next. I would be grateful for any articles or snippets of information for future Chronicles sent to me by 31st July, please, so that I can produce the next one in time for 10th September. Please do not be offended if I do not use your contribution immediately: sometimes there will be an element of juggling involved in what is included, and when! However, please do keep sending them in (and writing me letters)! Lastly, on a personal note, I have been persuaded to take over our local Brownie pack, so now I am a Brown Owl (Steve has already made all possible jokes)! If anybody has any contact with any other Brownie units, especially those overseas, I would be very interested to hear about them. Amongst my Brownies is one Roxanne Stanley, granddaughter of Joy Stanley, nee Alabaster (WofW). Roxanne has now become Sixer of the Sprites, Steve is been making dark noises about nepotism in the Brownies, which is ridiculous. Although I must admit, breeding wlll always show: Roxanne does come from a good family.......
Laraine Hake, 14th March 1994.
Norman Alabaster (IIA), October 1993
I remember, at the first Alabaster Gathering, looking round at a sea of faces and not knowing anyone; and looking
down the endless rows of names on the various branches of the Alabaster tree. Most important, and most helpful,
was Laraine`s willingness to mingle among us with her enthusiasm and charm, making us feel at home. Later came
that which always breaks down the barriers of shyness and the English reserve -- food!
Back in the summer, I contacted some Alabasters in the Leigh/Southend area of Essex with a view to having a mini-Alabaster Gathering; perhaps swapping old memories and photos over the good old ice breakers of coffee and eats. Robin even brought a bottle of wine when he and Monica, along with Shirely Rowe and Joan Millican, came to Leigh-on-Sea during September. We have had another meeting since then, at Joan and May's lovely house at Westcliff-on-Sea.
I suppose you could say, "Well, that is not much to write about: having a night out, plus coffee and eats." I do want to say this though, in conclusion. The two evenings were really worthwhile, for we in the local group now know each other so much better. We are from different walks of life, but found we had much to share. I am looking forward to another local meeting early next year.
by Millie Knox, nee Wing (W of W)
I had better start by introducing myself and my husband, George Knox, who is the grandson of Elizabeth Caroline Johnson, nee Alabaster (W of W). Because of our association with Laraine in the world of family history, we were invited to the First Alabaster Gathering in 1990, along with many others of Alabaster name and descent.
We decided that we would very much like to attend and we looked forward to meeting members of the family that we only knew as names on family trees. We duly sent our acceptance to Laraine, but, unfortunately about a month before the proposed visit to Hadleigh, George came out in a rash from head to foot, due to an allergic reaction to tablets he had taken on prescription. I was worried because he was so ill, but as he slowly recovered we were both disappointed that he was not fit in time to drive the many miles to join the assembly, but vowed that we would take a trip to Suffolk as soon as we were able.
We had to wait until the following summer to keep this promise but it was certainly worth the wait. We found bed and breakfast accommodation in Lavenham, which was an excellent base for our travels. We had the programme with us that had been prepared for the Saturday and Sunday of the Gathering, and visited the churches and churchyards in all the parishes with known Alabaster connections.
At Hadleigh Church we were warmly received by the bookstall ladies who remembered the "Gathering" and said what a lovely group of people they were. At the Guildhall, we were invited in to view the Great Hall, and were once again made very welcome.
An elderly gentleman, aged 81, was tidying the grass in Friston churchyard and on being asked where we could find the Alabaster graves, he also remembered the group as he had addressed them in the church in the absence of the minister. One of the oldest graves in Snape churchyard was covered with a heavy clear plastic cover to protect it from the elements. As this was for the grave of George Alabaster (note 1), aged 37 years, who had died on June 7th 1759, it was a kind thought on the part of someone unknown to us. It would appear that he may have been a grave-digger, as a spade, pick-axe, and cross-bones were engraved on his headstone.
We visited Framlingham where William Alabaster (note 2) had been imprisoned in 1601, and George walked around the walls of the castle. I stayed on the ground as I was suffering from a mild attack of sciatica at the time. The curator was most interested when George explained to him why we were visiting the ancient building.
At Saxmundham, a plaque high up on the wall at the front of the church commemorates William Alabaster (3) who died the 17th April 1743, with his wife Hannah, their daughter Hannah, their son William (4), and his wife Mary.
At Kersey, we had a long conversation with a local shopkeeper who knew of the Alabasters' connection with the village in days gone by. She seemed pleased to have a couple of customers who had time to stand and chat, and told us in some length of the problems caused by living in a listed building. Most of the buildings in the village street came in that category and while they looked very attractive to us they caused their owners many headaches. It was a beautiful village, and we both thought it was the loveliest place that we visited that week. It was enhanced by a family of ducklings with their mother wading in the ford.
On visiting Groton we found the Winthrop family tomb with the inscription, "In the adjoining Chancel was buried Adam Winthrop Esq. (5) who died in 1562 age 64, Master of the Clothworkers Company of London, First Lord of this Manor and Patron of this Church after the Reformation, and in the Tomb on which the original inscription is nearly defaced were buried his son Adam Winthrop Esq. (6), who died in 1623 aged 75, also Lord of this Manor, and Anne his wife, parents of Governor John Winthrop of New England. Near this spot were interred others of the same family". Anne was Adam Winthrop's second wife. His first wife. who died in childbirth was Alice Still, the sister of John Still, the husband of Ann Alabaster (9).
George was able to take quite a lot of photographs of his ancestors' memorials and we spent three or four days of our week just absorbing the atmosphere of the places where his forebears had lived, worked and walked all those years before. It was a very emotional time for both of us, as I have been drawn into the family research over the years and have hopefully been of some assistance to Laraine.
We had booked to attend the second Gathering and the Dedication of the Window in Hadleigh Church in April 1993, but were prevented from attending by illness once again. Fortunately George was not so ill on that occasion and was less spotted. If there is a third Alabaster family meeting I do not think we will book that time, but just come along on the day and surprise everyone, including ourselves! George bought himself a camcorder for the second meeting which he was unable to use. so we are hoping to make another trip to Suffolk to capture even better memories of the county. We can, incidentally, also visit my brother in Bury St. Edmunds while in the area.
We are following the Alabaster Trail even to this day, as we visited Wells Cathedral recently and saw the tomb of John Still, Bishop of Bath & Wells from 1593 to 1607. At the time of his marriage to Ann Alabaster,. he was Rector of Hadleigh. We have found a number of members of the Still family in the clergy in this area and there is currently a Rev. Jonathan Still, a minister in North Petherton in Somerset and we wonder if he is descended from Bishop Still, and this research could well be the subject of a later article. Watch this space.
25th September 1993
(Note 1): George was a churchwarden at Snape fron 1754-1759. He was also an overseer (of the poor?) 1750-1759.
The Winthrop Family of Groton, Suffolk
The brass of Ann Still (9) nee Alabaster,
|No of times||Admitted to Workhouse||Name||Age||Discharge Details|
|1||5 Dec 1815||Mary Alabaster||18||Discharged March 21 1816 with her husband|
|1||5 Dec 1815||Caroline Alabaster||3 months|
|1||13 Dec 1815||Thos Alabaster||22||Bridewell by Mr Panisford As....upon J..... to M for want of sureties|
|2||19 Mar 1816||Thos Alabaster||22||Permissive Pass to Portsmouth March 21 1816 with his wife and child|
|3||4 Jan 1817||Thos Alabaster||23||April 3 1817|
|2||4 Jan 1817||Mary Alabaster||19|
|2||4 Jan 1817||Caroline Alabaster||16 months||Sent to Nurse Newell of
Twickenham March 31 1817
Returned 26 May 1817
|3||26 May 1817||Caroline Alabaster||20 months||Discharged May 26 1817 to father by order of the Board|
|3||16 Sept 1817||Mary Ann Alabaster||20||Sept 22 1817|
|4||Nov 12 1817||Mary Ann Alabaster
with child delivered Nov 16 1817
|20||discharged Dec 9 1817|
|1||Nov 16 1817||Sarah Alabaster born baptised Nov 20 1817||discharged Dec 9 1817 with mother|
|5||5 Dec 1818||Mary Ann Alabaster||21||discharged 30 Jan 1819|
|4||5 Dec 1818||Caroline Alabaster||3-4 mths||discharged 30 Jan 1819 with mother|
|2||5 Dec 1818||Sarah Alabaster||13 mths||discharged 30 Jan 1819 with mother|
|5||1 April 1819||Caroline Alabaster||3||discharged to Thomas Alabaster her father by order 3 May 1819|
|3||1 April 1819||Sarah Alabaster||16 months||discharged to Thomas Alabaster her father by order 3 May 1819|
This certainly appears to be our Thomas. The crime for which he was transported was committed only six weeks after the discharge of his daughters into his care on 3 May 1819. I wonder whatever happened to Caroline and Sarah, or indeed Mary Ann.
Today we hear that little consideration is given to the family of prisoners, who also suffer the punishment. How much less consideration would have been given in 1819! There is no record of any of these three after civil registration began in 1837, so by this time that had either married or died. Perhaps, in time, we will discover.
by May Millican (I)
In 1900, when I was about eighteen months old, my father Richard Alabaster moved down to Southend-on-Sea from East Ham to live in one of the houses he had already built in Tintern Avenue. My mother travelled down with me by train. Our furniture followed in a van drawn by two carthorses and did not arrive at the expected time. My father sought the help of the local police, who discovered that the van was stuck in the mud on Bread and Cheese Hill some miles from Southend. That steep, muddy lane is now part of the busy A13. At bedtime I remember being tucked up in my father's overcoat on the floor, since we had no beds that night. The house was warm, since in those days it was the custom for builders to keep fires burning in newly built property to dry out the walls. When I was older, I was often sent to make up the fires for my father.
Southend celebrated its centenary in 1992 so the town and I have grown old together. At the turn of the century the
area was still quite rural. I walked along the London Road beside cornfields bright with poppies when I attended
Chalkwell School. From our house in Tintern Avenue we could walk across fields to the parish church of St Mary's,
Prittlewell, for Southend was, in fact, the south end of Prittlewell. There were a number of thatched cottages, one of
which was the local inn, brewing its own beer. The Plough public house stands on that site today.
The milkman called three times a day bringing milk from the local farms. He carried churns on his handcart together
with measures (quart, pint, half-pint, and gill) to serve milk at the door.
I remember that we had four deliveries of post each day - the last in the early evening. Shops too were open late at
night. On Christmas Eve there would be turkey auctions in the High Street.
Household chores were very different - no electric cleaners - damp tea leaves were applied to carpets to lay the dust
and then vigorous application of a stiff brush. Coal and log fires meant regular visits from the chimney sweep and
being sent out to see that the brush was really right up the chimney. In spite of the use of dust sheets, thorough
cleaning was needed after each visit to get rid of the soot. One of my Saturday jobs, for pocket money, was to clean
the knives, not stainless steel then, with scouring powder and emeryboard. Wash day was extremely busy, especially
with four girls in the family. First the copper, built into a corner of the scullery, had to be filled with water. Then the
fire was lit beneath it. When washed and rinsed, clothes were put through a mangle which had huge wooden rollers
and was usually kept outside.
At one time my father was on contract work on Canvey Island. Because there was no bridge linking the island to the
mainland, only stepping stones at the ford, he would have to stay overnight unless low tide coincided with the end of
the working day.
As a schoolgirl I travelled with my father on one of the last horse-buses in London. People of my generation have certainly seen many changes in everyday lifestyle with the invention of numerous labour-saving devices: the storage of food in refrigerators and freezers, not to mention the varied means of transport, from the family car to Concorde.
May Millican, nee Alabaster (I) November 1993
Part of Branch I showing the descent of May Millican (née Alabaster)
John Stammers Alabaster (I)
My wife Beryl and I had a wonderful visit to Canada last autumn when, amongst other things, we met up with a cousin of my father's, Ted Stammers Alabaster and his wife Irene, who had emigrated to Canada soon after the last war and now live in Oliver, British Columbia. They had earlier met and put us in touch with Nan Kenyon, the great-granddaughter of Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster (Branch IIC; page 16 of the 1990 Booklet), that remarkable woman who had brought up as her own her three famous nephews: Charles (of New Zealand); Henry (of Siam), and Chaloner (of China), all of whom featured prominently in the notes of the first Alabaster Gathering. Nan lives at Penticton, just north of Oliver, and so we were able to pay her a visit too.
Left: an example of criss-cross writing
William Alabaster, 1567 - 1640, Doctor of Divinity, nephew of Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh
by Robin Alabaster
Sunday 24th February 1991.
My oldest son, Nicholas, and I had just completed eight days of continuous walking on the Keppler and Milford tracks.
We were feeling tired, but fit, and by now we were confident of our ability to cope, having carried all our clothing and
food as "freedom" walkers. We were anxious to visit Lake Alabaster but it was some distance from us at Milford, first
by road, and then seven hours of walking just to the southern end of the Lake, with the prospect of returning by the
same route after first walking the length of the Lake.
Covering the same ground twice was not a pleasant prospect; the alternative was to fly in to the Pyke River airstrip
north of the Lake and walk out. To fly to the Lake itself by sea plane would have been ideal but cost NZ $750; we
chose the cheaper option, available subject to good weather and compatible flight schedules, but to the airstrip. for
NZ $250 (approx £80).
Now. you should know that Fiordland, and
Milford in particular, is the wettest part of
New Zealand. Annual rainfall is five metres on
265 days a year.
The daily record, set in the 1980s, is 23 inches
in 24 hours. On our four days on Keppler we
had had 38 hours of continuous rain but on
Milford it had only rained on the last night,
from 9.00 pm until 9.30 am, so we were well
and truly up against the averages.
Nevertheless, Sunday dawned clear and bright.
The flight was on and at approximately
10.00a.m. our pilot, Russell, arrived at Milford
in an Air Fiordland single-engined six-seater.
Nick sat up front with the pilot. I sat behind,
clutching the neighbouring seat for support,
our packs occupying the back two seats.
Air Traffic Control presented no problems and we were quickly down the runway and airborne. The runway itself points direct to Mitre Peak and, as we took off, the peak itself loomed large in the cockpit between Nick and the pilot. The plane climbed agonisingly slowly, edging along the mountain side. I felt that I could lean out and pick flowers. Then, suddenly, a bump, a fall. We had crossed a pass and the ground was thousands of feet below and I suffered instant vertigo. Nick, a freefall parachutist, was in his element. First into view came Lake McKerrow, then far below, Lake Alabaster and the tiny Alabaster hut lurking in the trees. We flew up the Lake and beyond to the landing strip which linked a bend in the river and was cut through grass little wider than the plane's undercarriage. The pilot turned back to the lake and river and circled for three times with the wings almost vertical while he scrutinised the ground for an alternative landing site. I clutched the neighbouring seat for support, growing giddy at the sight of the revolving ground. Again, Nick was in his element. Finally the pilot returned to the strip and set us down, much to my relief. Out we piled, rucksacks and all. The pilot walked down to the river's edge and returned shaking his head. The river was too deep to cross at that point, and approximately 75 yards across. At last the penny dropped, we were on the wrong side of the river. I understood the earlier air search for an alternative landing site. Back on to the plane, we taxied up the runway and got off at the far end where we were assured we could ford the river without difficulty. I paid the pilot off and waved goodbye.
Stripping off down below, and carrying our boots round our necks, we set off across the river. It was freezing. Before
long it was deep. The strength of the current washed the stones out from under our feet. We were up to our
respective "plimsoll lines". Only by standing together and edging forward an inch at a time were we able to withstand
the current in the mainstream and reach slack water.
Climbing up the muddy bank, we were confronted with
thick undergrowth. On went all our clothes for
protection as we forced our way through in search of
the track, frequently to be checked by thorn bushes
and lawyer vine (so named because once in its
clutches. you can't get out)! After an age, we reached
a narrow track marked by the Conservation
Department's 2"x2" red and white squares. nailed to
trees along the way. Such was our sense of
achievement that we stood and shook hands, proud of
our trailblazing effort through virgin scrub.
Pictured left: Hollyford Track