Picture by Rupert Fox from a design by Michael Alabaster

The Alabaster Society 

The Family History Society
of the Alabaster Family

Books and other Publications about Alabasters
by Members of the Alabaster Society

The Silver Door

by Anthony ('Tony') Springall
375pp (approx).

This is a highly fictionalised account of the first half of the life of Thomas Alabaster, the eldest son of Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh.

The following description of the book is given on Amazon's "The Silver Door" page of the website.

It is 1569, the 11th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and Spain has banned trade with England following rising tension between the two countries. At this unpromising time Thomas, a Cambridge University student, refuses to inherit his father's prosperous clothier business and abandons his studies to seek his fortune as a merchant trading in Seville, the gateway to the fabulous riches of the Spanish Indies. Until the dispute is settled he learns his trade in Kings Lynn and London. During this period he unintentionally becomes involved in the largest smuggling scandal of Elizabeth's reign, acquires the patronage of a rising personage and the enmity of an unknown person or persons, who pursue him over the years.

We follow Thomas through his adventures over two decades trading in England and Barbary and spying and trading in Spain. The story culminates with his release from Seville's Royal prison, his flight to England with information about the imminent departure of the Spanish Armada, and the discovery of the reason for the long held intense enmity.

The e-book is not currently available, but limited numbers of the printed version are available to members from the author at the special price of 4 plus the cost of postage which in the UK is currently 2.80.

For Elise
Unveiling the forgotten woman on the Criddle homestead

by Oriole A. Vane Veldhuis 

For Elise

We are delighted to report that For Elise has won First Prize in the Local History Category of the Margaret McWilliams Award 2012, a prestigious Literary Prize awarded annually by the Manitoba Historical Society of Canada. 

Ray Williamson writes:

This is a story of a family who emigrated to Canada in 1882 to seek new opportunities, a story of resourcefulness and dedication in the face of hardship in times when a wife had no choice but to do as her husband said: Alice Criddle held out for some months to delay their departure.

The man was Percy Criddle, an only child, who had been terribly spoiled by his widowed mother, the distinguished painter born Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster (Mrs Harry Criddle).

Oriole has drawn on a wealth of original diaries, letters, photographs and other documents to craft a story that is at once fantastic, but true-to-life. To use the well-worn phrase, "You couldn`t make it up!"

It is the story told from the point of view of Elise Harrer, the until-now forgotten woman of the title, the author`s great great grandmother, and Percy Criddle`s first love, whom he had originally wanted to marry, but, as he was under age, consent was refused by his mother, Mary Ann, because he was not in a position to support a family. She asked him to get established in a profession first before he took on the responsibilities of a family. At least that is what she said in her letter to Percy when he announced his engagement. She didn't prevent him from going to visit Elise for the first four years before he went for six weeks in the autumn of 1887 and made her pregnant. But that is only part of the amazing picture.

The story is so beautifully written that the characters virtually leap out of the page and speak to you!

If you want a compelling holiday read, look no further: this is it!

  • Family photos, letters and original documents
  • Illustrations
  • Maps and bibliography
  • Soft cover with 4 inch flaps
  • 512 pages ISBN 978-1-896150-72-7
  • Available from author, $24.95 Canadian
  • Web: http://vanecriddle.wordpress.com/

Book cover (illustrated above right) is an original watercolour by Elise Harrer Vane, framed by the cover of her beloved Poesie book.

 A Quintet of Alabasters by Adrian Alabaster (1997) Able Publishing, Knebworth. 259 pp. ISBN 0-907616-70-4 (copies available from The Alabaster Society for postage & a donation). Adrian Alabaster, a meticulous, professional historian and founder member of the Society, gave the lead in writing about five interesting Alabasters. Two were from the Elizabethan period (Thomas Alabaster, a London Merchant and the poet and religious apostate, Dr. William Alabaster), two from Victorian times (Sir Chaloner Alabaster, Consul-General of China and his brother, Henry Alabaster, Advisor to the King of Siam) and one from the present day, Robert Clifford Alabaster, D.S.O, D.F.C.). 
Adrian’s widow Angela contributed to the study especially in compiling the chapter on William.

A Closer Look at William Alabaster (1568-1640): Poet, Theologian, and Spy? by John. S. Alabaster (2003), Occasional Monograph No. 1. 159 pp. The Alabaster Society ISBN 0-9549831-0-6 (out of print: updated pdf files from author) Dr. John Alabaster, another founder member of the Alabaster Society, shared Adrian Alabaster’s interest in Dr. William Alabaster and has dealt in some depth with his poetry, his religious conversion to Catholicism, his spying activities and his rehabilitation as Rector of Therfield, Hertfordshire.

A postscript and an Index were later published in The Alabaster Chronicle No. 22 (2004) pp.14-18 and a further note, William Alabaster’s Stolen Letter and the Earl of Essex was published in The Alabaster Chronicle No. 23 (2004) pp.19-22): both clarify his role as a spy.

Sir Chaloner Alabaster: Correspondence (1840-1880) by John S. Alabaster (2005), Occasional Monograph No. 2. 46 pp. The Alabaster Society ISBN 0-9549831-1-4 (copies available from The Alabaster Society for postage & a donation) Documents, including three family portraits kindly made available by Nan Kenyon of Canada have provided insight into Chaloner’s view of, and career in China and, particularly, of his family relationships. The holographs of the letters and a synopsis are deposited at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; Reference No. MS 380823.

Henry Alabaster of Siam: Correspondence 1856-1884 and Career by John S. Alabaster (2009), Occasional Monograph No. 3. 63 pp. The Alabaster Society ISBN 978-0-9549831-2-3 (copies available from The Alabaster Society for postage & a donation) Letters kindly made available by Nan Kenyon of Canada are simply transcribed in chronological order to help to amplify the story of Henry Alabaster’s life. A note on Thailand’s independence and Henry’s supporting role put in perspective is appended.

Originals or copies of the letters and the transcripts are deposited at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Reference No. MS 380824.

An Alabaster Quest by John S. Alabaster (2011), Occasional Monograph No. 4. 116 pp. (61 illustrations) The Alabaster Society ISBN 978-0-9549831-3-0 (copies available from The Alabaster Society for postage & a donation) The author has made extensive use of documents kindly made by Nan Kenyon of Canada concerning James Chaloner Alabaster, the father of Chaloner Alabaster of China and Henry Alabaster of Siam, to tell the story of his visit to North America in 1837 in pursuit of a claim to Indian land. The book provides insight into the general social, economic and political circumstances of the time and, in particular, James Chaloner’s family relations, business acumen and reactions to America and Canada. The original documents are deposited at the City of Westminster Archives, Accession No. 2369.

Henry Alabaster of Siam: Serving Two Masters by John S. Alabaster (2012), Occasional Monograph No. 5. 147 pp. (71 illustrations). The Alabaster Society ISBN 978-0-9549831-4-7 (copies available from The Alabaster Society for postage & a donation) Foreign Office records researched by Angela Alabaster and newly-found documents have been used to fill in gaps in Henry Alabaster’s biography, particularly about the situation leading to his transfer in mid-career, from employment at the British Consulate in Bangkok to direct service for the King of Siam. His development of an import business of goods into Bangkok, in collaboration with his cousin, Percy Criddle, is highlighted. Hitherto unpublished letters have been appended in full and also added, as holographs where available, to the archive at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; Reference No. MS 380824. His account of the eclipse of the sun in 1868 and that part of his The Wheel of the Law describing his expedition into the hinterland of Thailand are included.

There may still be some copies available of the six books mentioned above. Please enquire to the Hon. Sec., Laraine Hake. Contact information is on the Contact us page.

Apparatvs in Revelationem Iesv Christi

William Alabaster Book is now on CD

Laraine Hake writes:Apparatus in Revelationem Iesu Christi

I am sure you will remember the event of 2006 when we, The Alabaster Society, won at auction a first edition in Latin of William Alabaster's book Apparatus in Revelationem Jesu Christi published in 1607 --------yes, 1607 !!!

This was only possible through the generosity of our members: thank you to all who contributed.

Now that we have the book, we want to be able to share it. Accordingly, Tony Springall has produced a CD which contains a facsimile of the book -- in other words every page has been photographed and can be seen clearly using Adobe Reader.

I have today posted a copy of this CD to every one of you who so kindly contributed towards the cost of the book over those exciting couple of days last January!

Please let me know when they arrive and, most importantly, let me know if it does not arrive.

It is likely that the CD will be of interest to scholars and others outside of the Alabaster family, so we are going to make it available for sale. However, in the meantime, if there is anybody who would like to buy his or her own copy, members of Alabaster Society can buy it for 5 + p&p. Having been to the post office today, I can stipulate that that will be 6 in UK and 7 out of UK (by air mail). We will put this offer in the next Chronicle too, of course, for those who may not have read this.

Alabaster Society members will have priority in receiving copies of the CD. Non-members should enquire of the Hon. Sec. through the Contact us page, or, of course, they could join! 

Hadleigh and the Alabaster Family:
the Story of a Suffolk Town
during the Tudor and Stuart periods

by Sue Andrews and Tony Springall

During the Tudor and Stuart periods, the town of Hadleigh was at its zenith: at the same time, an extraordinary and influential family lived there. The extended Alabaster family included: Book: Hadleigh and the Alabaster Family: the story of a Suffolk Town during the Tudor and Stuart periods, by Sue Andrews and Tony Springall

  • The uncle - Nicholas Shaxton, former Bishop of Salisbury, curate at Hadleigh (1540-1544), failed martyr and, eventually, suffragan Bishop of Ely.
  • The founding father of the Hadleigh dynasty, Thomas Alabaster, became wealthy in the woollen-cloth industry and a 'Chief Inhabitant' of the town.
  • The elder son - Thomas Alabaster, a London merchant and first accountant of the East India Company, traded in Spain where he was involved in spying and smuggling. Following protection by the Crown for much of the last two decades of his life, he ended his days as an outlaw.
  • The son-in-law, Cambridge academic John Still, was Rector of Hadleigh (1571-1592), and later Bishop of Bath and Wells.
  • The founder's younger brother - Roger Alabaster. He married into the Puritan Winthrop family of Groton, became involved in their exploits in Ireland and was uncle to one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.
  • The cleric son of Roger, William Alabaster, raided Cadiz with the Earl of Essex, became a poet, and then a Catholic for which he was imprisoned, but escaped to Rome and eventually found favour with King James I.
  • The founder's younger son - John Alabaster took over his father's business as a clothier, and held office as Hadleigh's second Mayor, founding the town's first elementary school.
  • The later generations - grandsons John and Thomas both served as Mayor, but the early death of a great-grandson caused much of the family's wealth to be dispersed.

The history of Hadleigh at this time provides an opportunity to explore the structures, problems and aspirations of a prosperous early modern town. Through the eyes of the Alabaster family we see kinship ties, property ownership, inheritance and the domination of town government by an elite oligarchy. We meet protagonists at the time of the Reformation and the beloved rector who was martyred on Aldham Common. In contrast, one hundred years later, an unpopular rector was dismissed for sexual offences. Making an appearance are the sexton, the master of the workhouse, miscreants before the Peace Sessions and at the Dean's Court nicknamed 'the bawdy court`. However, this is not an all-male story as tales of local characters like Susanna Kemp, innkeeper at the King's Arms in Benton Street, Ellen Hammond, inmate at the almshouses, and benefactress Alice Humphreys, are also told. Aspects of daily life, both good and bad are featured: misbehaviour in church, punishments on market day and over indulgence in illegal tippling houses; poor pay in the cloth trade, periods of dearth, visitations of plague and the making of wills.

Original research has been undertaken at:

  • The National Archive - Public Record Office
  • County Record Offices of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Wiltshire
  • Hadleigh Archive
  • other specialist archives and libraries

The following surnames are cited on at least five pages of the book:-

Alabaster, Appleton
Bankes, Barnes, Barrell, Beaumont, Blewitt, Bourchier, Britten, Brond / Bronde, Brownsmith, Buckenham, Bull
Calton, Cecil, Clerke, Coleman, Cook / Cooke, Cooper, Cottesford, Cranmer, Cromwell,
Davye, Dorrington, Doyley, Dratsab
Edwardes, Eldred
Flood / Fludd, Forth, Fowler, Foxe, Freeman, Fuller
Gaell, Gardiner, Gates, Gilbert, Glanfield, Goad, Goodall, Gosslen
Halman, Hamond, Harrison, Hubbard, Hudson, Humphrey, Hunlock
Latimer, Lawrence, Locke
Mansell, Martin, Moyse
Parker, Parkins, Parsons, Persons, Pincheon, Pollerne, Pykenham
Raven, Reason, Richardson, Rolfe
Scarlett, Shaxton, Smith, Still, Strutt
Taylor, Turner, Tyther
Vesey / Veysey
Warren, Wellam, Whiting, Winthrop, Wright.

This 384 page illustrated hardback book is available at 14.99 (+ 5.00 p&p in UK) from:
The Federation of Family History Societies' sales website: http://www.genfair.co.uk/supplier.php?sid=7
or from: Sue Andrews, 17 Manor Rd, Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7BG
Purchasers overseas without a sterling account are likely to find it most convenient to buy through Genfair or PayPal, and avoid costly money conversion and transmission charges. 

Profits from sales are shared between The Alabaster Society and the Hadleigh Archive.

 The Alabaster Chronicles

Nearly all Chronicles, except the more recent, can be read online, although copies of most of the past issues are available for sale

They can be obtained by post from the Hon. Sec. Laraine Hake, price 1.50 each, post paid to UK addresses, and 2.00 each post paid overseas (sterling).
Laraine Hake, Tollgate Cottage, The Turnpike, Bunwell, NORWICH NR16 1SR