ID PH01_BLK / Elaine Barker

TitleThe Bullock Family of Great Wigborough
AbstractIn 1925 the Reverend Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock was instituted at St Stephen's Church, Great Wigborough and was to be rector there until 1933.

A descendant of a wealthy Berkshire family, it was fitting that the rector should return to the village where his ancestors, had settled some five hundred years before at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

Some early histories write of a John Bullock holding Moulshams Manor in Great Wigborough and The Manor of Loftes in Great and Little Totham. As the Reverend Bullock wrote in his 1905 book Memoirs of the Family Bullock AD 1166 - 1905

This established the Essex branch of the family which for at least three centuries was the chief representation of the old Arborfield [Berkshire] stock.

In Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of The Landed Gentry Vol.1 the entry for John reads

JOHN BULLOCK Esq; the first of the family who settled at Great Wigborough in Essex where he died 10 February 1595 and was buried in the chancel of the church there.

There is in fact no evidence in the Parish Burials Register to support the burial of a John Bullock in Great Wigborough in February 1595. There is a burial on 12th February 1595, but it is that of Edward Bullock, who has been identified as his son.

We also find, in Rev. Llewellyn Bullock's Memoir, that he believes a branch of the family came to Great Wigborough much earlier than previous histories indicate. This is borne out by two wills.

In a will from 1553, a John Bullock of Moch Wigborowe the Younger left considerable property in that neighbourhood. He left his family the houses of Rowses and Warestock in Great Wigborough together with other land and properties including his holdings in West Mersea.

Rev. Bullock goes on to say, it is pure speculation who the elder John was, but it is quite possible he was one of the seven sons of Thomas 2nd of Arborfield where the family originated.

From another will, that of Henry Bullock, proved in 1579, Rev. Bullock tells us a considerable portion of the family property lay in the Parish of West Mersey. He goes on to say

Among the parishes whose poor benefitted under the wills of John and Henry Bullock were Much Wigborough, Little Wigborough, Fingringhoe, West Mersey, Salcot Wigborough, Tollesbury, Layer Bretton, Peldon and Tolleshunt Knights

Rev. Bullock believed these two men were well-established and possessed of homes and land in this area long before their relative, John.

This is borne out by Bullock family wills that the Reverend clearly did not have sight of.

The earliest Great Wigborough will for the family is that of Margaret Bullock in 1528 which sheds a little more light on the Younger and Elder John Bullocks for she was the mother of both of them. She requests that she be buried next to her late husband, also John, on the South side of Great Wigborough Churchyard. She also has a son William, and a married daughter Johan Deyer (Joan Dyer) She refers to her mansion but not by name.

It is likely that one of her sons is the John Bullock listed in a survey of the Manor of Abbess Hall who, as part of the Manorial Homage, gives testimony to the surveyors in 1529, and the will of 1553 is that of her son, John Bullock, The Younger.

Another will has come to light on microfiche in the Essex Records Office, the registered will of John Bullock in 1560. To date, this is the only will to confirm the Bullock connection with Moulshams which he bequeaths to his son Edward

my lease & tenu[re] of yeares whiche I have of & in the farme called Mowsehames in Muche wigbarrowe

I think it likely this John is 'The Elder' and it was in fact his father, Margaret's husband, who was the first Bullock to come to Great Wigborough from Berkshire some time before 1528.

It would seem that Margaret's late husband John was a contemporary of Thomas II of Arborfield who was a nobleman and Gentleman Usher Extraordinary to Henry VIII. Thomas is recorded in this post in 1516 and in 1544, he supplied archers, billmen and horses for the war with France - leading to the granting by the king the right to display seven bills (billhooks) in the original family crest. He had, it is believed, 7 sons and 6 daughters. Probably born in the 1480s could Thomas have been a brother, nephew or cousin of Margaret's late husband, John?

As for the later members of the family in Wigborough, I believe John the Elder's son who inherited Moulshams was Edward Bullock of Great Wigborough and Loftes who, was buried on 12th February 1595, clearly lived in Great Wigborough and was involved closely with the life of the parish.

On 8th October 1591 Edward witnessed the will of a Great Wigborough widow, Elizabeth Bromfeilde, where he is identified as a yeoman and parish overseer.

In Little Wigborough church's earliest register, he is identified as being one of the landowners responsible for maintaining the fence between their land and the church.

In the Parish Register for Great Wigborough during the incumbency of the Reverend Stephen Gosson (instituted 1591) Edward is listed as a Churchwarden.

In his will of 1595, Edward leaves named properties, Gales and Gobbettes, (I believe Gobbetts could be Gobolts or Godbolts Farm on Paternoster Heath, now in Tolleshunt Knights but once in Great Wigborough). Tantalisingly, Moulshams, is not mentioned by name

my mansion house wherein I now inhabite

The mansion alluded to could be Moulshams or equally Gales and Gobbettes.

His son was to become Sir Edward Bullock (c.1580 - 1644), knighted by King James I in 1609, and a Cavalier in the English Civil War.

Having spent most of his life in the Manor of Loftes of Great and Little Totham, (there are two baptisms - and sadly a death - of his children in the Gt Totham registers) Sir Edward bought Faulkbourne Hall in Witham in 1637 becoming Lord of the Manor there.

This was to remain the family seat until 1898. For 260 years and over ten generations of the family, the Bullocks held Faulkbourne Hall while still owning their estates in and around Great Wigborough.

In the eighteenth century, The Manor of Abbess Hall [Abbots Hall], Great Wigborough, also came into the family by marriage.

Eventually the Great Wigborough estate was to come to Colonel John Bullock (1731 - 1809) who served as a Member of Parliament for 56 years, and was Father of the House. He was colonel of the East Essex Militia and in 1802 the High Sheriff. He was born in 1731, the eldest surviving son of Josiah Bullock and Hannah Cooke, youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Cooke, Member of Parliament for Colchester and governor of the East India Company.

After Colonel John Bullock's death, the Manor of Abbess Hall, Great Wigborough, was sold in two lots in 1810 and then according to the Reverend Llewellyn Bullock, Moulshams Manor was sold in the 1830s to pay for a large extension to Faulkbourne Hall, a picture gallery, needed to house the large collection of paintings in the family's possession.

Several Bullock inscriptions have been lost and swept away in previous restorations of the church in the distant past, but one still survives in the chancel wall, that of Henry Bullock who died in 1609. The brass was fitted to the chancel wall by the Reverend Theobald (incumbent from 1886) to prevent it being lost. In a previous restoration it is believed the Purbeck marble stone it had been attached to - the screws and indentations are still visible - was reused to form the step into the church.

By the time of the 1841 census there is a William Bullock and his family living in an unnamed house close to The Hyde which is situated on Wigborough Hill close to Moulshams Manor. After this there are no references to any of the Bullock family in the Wigboroughs or Peldon but it would seem descendants have lived on Mersea Island into modern times.

Elaine Barker

3 Jan 2021 text updated

AuthorElaine Barker
Keywordsmersea, rouses, rowsers, salcott, bullocke
SourceMersea Museum
IDPH01_BLK
Related Images:
 Here lyeth the body of Henry Bvllocke Late of Wigborowgh in the County of Essex who deceased ye 13 of June 1609.
</p><p>Plaque in Great Wigborough Parish Church.
</p><p>The Parish Registers of Great and Little Wigborough by P.A.F Stephenson gives us its origin:
 <i>A large Purbeck marble slab, now forming the stepping stone into the church from the porch, formerly held a brass, the screws of which still remain with indentations in the marble. This small brass in memory of Henry Bullock now on the chancel wall fits the indentation and was found by the Reverend F Theobald [rector from 1886 - 1925] on his appointment and was inserted by him in its present position for preservation. There is little doubt that during a former restoration the slab being found to fit the doorway was thus made use of and the brass torn off. </i></p>  GWG_CHC_023
ImageID:   GWG_CHC_023
Title: Here lyeth the body of Henry Bvllocke Late of Wigborowgh in the County of Essex who deceased ye 13 of June 1609.

Plaque in Great Wigborough Parish Church.

"The Parish Registers of Great and Little Wigborough" by P.A.F Stephenson gives us its origin:
A large Purbeck marble slab, now forming the stepping stone into the church from the porch, formerly held a brass, the screws of which still remain with indentations in the marble. This small brass in memory of Henry Bullock now on the chancel wall fits the indentation and was found by the Reverend F Theobald [rector from 1886 - 1925] on his appointment and was inserted by him in its present position for preservation. There is little doubt that during a former restoration the slab being found to fit the doorway was thus made use of and the brass torn off.

Date:13 June 1609
Source:Peldon History Project / Elaine Barker