|The Bullock family of Great Wigborough
In 1925 the Reverend Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock was instituted as incumbent of 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 four 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 (the latter was at Broad Green and was a moated hall, long since demolished).
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
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.
However, there is no evidence in the Parish Burials Register to support the burial of a John Bullock in Great Wigborough in February 1595. In fact,
there is a burial on 12th February 1595, but it is that of Edward Bullock, whom, as we shall see, was, in fact, the grandson of the original John Bullock who came to Wigborough.
We do find, in Rev. Llewellyn Bullock's Memoir, that he did suspect a branch of the family came to Great Wigborough much earlier than previous histories indicate. He referred to two wills, those of Henry Bullock and John the Younger, which showed these two men were well established and possessed of homes and a large acreage of land in this area by the mid 1500s.
From the will of Henry Bullock, proved in 1579 Nat. Archives PROB 11/61/174 xx] , 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
In the earlier will he refers to, dated 1553, [Nat.Archives PROB 11/43/553] John Bullock of Moch Wigborowe the Younger left considerable property in that neighbourhood.
John the Younger left his family the houses of Rowses and Warestock in Great Wigborough along with other land and properties including his holdings in West Mersea. At the time of his death he and his wife Margaret had four sons and five daughters.
This will, being that of 'John the Younger', caused Rev. Bullock to speculate who the Elder John was, believing it to be quite
possible he was one of the seven sons of Thomas 2nd of Arborfield where the family originated.
Thomas 2nd of Arborfield was the eldest son and heir of Gilbert and Margaret Bullock and became Lord of the Manors of Arborfield and Barkham by 1514. He was married to Alice and it is said they had seven sons and six daughters, his second wife, Agnes, survived him.
We learn from the website of genealogist and author, Stephen Robert Kuta, that Thomas was his 14 x great grandfather and he gives Thomas's dates as 1482 - 1558.
Thomas became Gentleman Usher Extraordinary to Henry VIII in 1516
and would have spent much time attending the monarch in one of his London palaces or at Windsor Castle
David Nash Ford Royal Berkshire Histories: www.berkshirehistory.com
In 1523 he was appointed as one of the Commissioners for County Berkshire.
In 1544 Thomas was among the Nobles and Gentry of England who supplied men and horses for the war with France. His contingent consisted of
archers eight and billmen thirteen. At this time there was a change made to the family crest and it is not improbable that the seven
billhooks* were granted to him in allusion to his martial aid to his sovereign in time of war.
Rev Llewellyn Bullock: Memoirs of the Family Bullock AD 1166 - 1905
* A billhook was a weapon consisting of a curved blade mounted on a pole, often with two side blades.
A version of the Bullock Coat of Arms showing the stylised billhooks
Of Thomas's seven sons we know Richard was his eldest son and heir and his three youngest sons, were George, William and Gilbert. There were also, according to Stephen Kuta's research, John, Thomas, and Gregory. The story concerning Great Wigborough suggests that it was Thomas's son, William of Stratfield Mortimer, who was father of the John Bullock who first came to Moulshams.
However, earlier wills, which the Reverend clearly did not have sight of, would indicate it couldn't have been Thomas of Arborfield's grandson who first came to Great Wigborough, more likely a contemporary, maybe an uncle, brother or cousin and he was not the son of William of Stratfield Mortimer.
The earliest Great Wigborough will for the family is that of Margaret Bullock in 1528 [ERO D/ABW 3/12] which sheds a little more light on the Younger and Elder John Bullocks for they were both her sons.
In those days, the eldest son was usually named after his father. As an 'insurance', another son was often given the same Christian name to carry on that of his father should the elder boy die.
Margaret requests that she be buried next to her late husband, John, on the South side of Great Wigborough Churchyard. She also makes bequests to
her son William, and a married daughter Johan Deyer (Joan Dyer).
Although we do not have the will of Margaret's husband it would have been likely that Margaret's eldest son, John the Elder, inherited the family
home while allowing his mother to live there during her natural life.
It is the will of a John Bullock in 1560/1 that first mentions Moulshams ERO D/ACR 3/165/2
my lease & tenu[re] of yeares whiche I have of & in the farme called Mowsehomes in Muche wigbarrowe
All the evidence points to this being the will of John 'The Elder' and he leaves the lease of Moulshams to his only son Edward .
We also have the will of Margaret and John's third son, William, [ERO D/ABW 3/154] who, in his mother's will inherited the brand and ear mark so necessary for identifying the family's livestock. He had settled in Layer Breton and it is clear he was a farmer of substance, holding property in Birch, Layer de La Haye, Great Wigborough and Layer Breton and a large amount of livestock. William died in 1549 and had two sons, John and William and three daughters, Joan, Margaret and Anne..
It was these three sons of John and Margaret, John the Elder, John the Younger and William who established the large branch of the Bullock family in Wigborough and then more widely in Essex; the current head of the Bullock family can trace his family line right back to these early settlers in Great Wigborough and their predecessors in Arborfield.
John the Elder's son who inherited Moulshams, was Edward Bullock of Great Wigborough and Loftes; he was buried on 12th February 1595. He is
described in the histories as the son of John Bullock of Moulshams, and seems, from pieces of documentary evidence, to have lived his whole
life in Great Wigborough being involved closely with the church and the parish. He married Joan Collen of High Laver, who may have been the
Jone Bullock buried in 1580 in Great Wigborough, and his will reveals he had married a second time, Bridget, who outlived him.
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 [Nat Archives PROB 11/87/187], Edward left the properties of 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 but it is likely it is
my mansion house wherein I now inhabite
In Edward's will in 1595, he names his wife, Bridget, a son, Edward, and four daughters, Joan, Mary, Anne and Bridget.
His son was to become Sir Edward Bullock (c.1580 - 1644), knighted by King James I in 1609, and a supporter of the King in the years leading up to the English Civil War.
Sir Edward spent much of his adult life in the Manor of Loftes of Great and Little Totham, and his time there is indicated by two baptisms in Great Totham, that of his first-born son, Thomas on 26th February 1599 (who was to die just over two years later) and that of Edward, his only remaining son and heir, in 1610.
The entry reads
Edward Bullocke the sonne of Sir/ Edward Bullocke Knight/ was baptised the 12th of July 1610
both 'Sir' and 'Knight' being added afterwards.
Faulkbourne Hall, Witham
In middle age, Sir Edward, bought Faulkbourne Hall in Witham in 1637 and became Lord of the Manor of Faulkbourne. 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, for some of that time, owning their estates in and around Great Wigborough.
In 1644 (the year of his death), Sir Edward Bullock's name is listed in a Court Roll as having held Seaborough Farm in Great and Little Wigborough.
When the Faulkbourne Bullocks relinquished Moulshams is not known but we know the manor of Loftes at Great Totham remained in the family until
Edward 5th Lord of Faulkbourne died in 1705. According to
the sale was to discharge debts that may have been incurred by his own extensive building work on the east front of Faulkbourne Hall.
A nineteenth century engraving of Faulkbourn Hall, occupied by Jonathan Josiah Christopher Bullock
Abbots Hall, Great Wigborough
In the eighteenth century, The Manor of Abbess Hall, Great Wigborough, now known as Abbots Hall, also came into the family by marriage.
The Great Wigborough Abbots Hall 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 J.P. D.L. (of Faulkbourn and Mincing Lane, London) and Hannah Cooke, youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Cooke, Member of Parliament for Colchester and governor of East India Company.
There is a reference to the estate at Wigborough during this time in Muilman's history of Essex who wrote in 1772
The Manor House [Abbots Hall] is large. John Bullock of Falkborn Hall now enjoys it.
Abbot's Hall, Great Wigborough
Colonel John Bullock and his wife, Elizabeth, had no children so their heir was John's nephew. John left his estates on his death, in 1809, to Jonathan Josiah Christopher Watson, son of his sister, Elizabeth. (She was the wife of Jonathan Watson of Ringhall in Suffolk.) In 1810, Jonathan Josiah Christopher Watson took the surname Bullock under Royal Sign Manual to continue the family name.
The death of the colonel without issue thus led to the first break in the regular family succession since the Essex Branch of the family first came to Great Wigborough. Following the colonel's death, The Manor of Abbess Hall, was sold in two lots in 1810.
For all this time the head of the Bullock family was not resident at Great Wigborough but at Faulkbourne.
An early list of the Lords of the Manor of Moulshams in the Feodary of Castle Hedingham does not include the Bullocks which indicates they were copyhold tenants of the Lord of the Manor. Being a copyhold tenant meant that property could still be inherited or sold but any transactions had to go through the Manorial Courts with certain conditions and payments.
As we have seen, John Bullock the Elder bequeathed his lease and tenure of Moulshams to his son and heir, Edward. When Edward wrote his will in
1595 he referred to my mansion howse wherein I now inhabit but we have no guarantee that this is Moulshams, especially as we know the family also held the manor of Loftes (or Loughts) in Great Totham. Perhaps Edward's service as churchwarden and involvement with village life in Great Wigborough might indicate he was still in Moulshams and in his will he is referred to as Edward Bullock of Great Wigborough.
Following Edward's death, it would appear that if the Bullocks still held Moulshams it was tenanted.
Parish registers reveal a Robert Lawrence living in Moulshams when his servant married in 1600
John Miller of Colchester widower and Marjerie Godwin maydserua[n]te to Rob[er]t Lawre[n]ce of Musa[m]s in Much Wigberow married the 13th April 1600
Robert Lawrence was to die in 1602 and his memorial inscription in St. Stephens Church read Robert Lawrence of Moulshams. This inscription was reported by Essex Antiquarian, Richard Symonds, in the seventeenth century but it appears it was swept away in the Victorian restoration of St Stephens.
In May 1630 an entry in the burials register refers to John Potter of Moulshams.
In a survey of 1769 [ERO D/DU 4/18], Moulshams is listed as having been formerly held by a member of the Mazengarbe family (of Copt Hall) but then by Sir John Shaw, whose family had been Lords of the Manor of Moulshams for generations.
The Rev Llewellyn Bullock believed it likely that Moulsham's estate at Great Wigborough 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.
An agricultural labourer, William Bullock and his family appear in the 1841 census living in an unnamed house close to The Hyde which is situated on Wigborough Hill close to Moulsham's Manor. Was this what remained of Moulsham's Manor estate?
This was the last entry in censuses for Great Wigborough of a member of the Bullock family.
In her book The Parish Registers of Great and Little Wigborough P.A.F Stephenson writes in 1905
The Bullock Family owned and partly resided at Moulsham for nearly 200 years during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The house has fallen into decay and what remains of it is partitioned into cottages and a farmhouse, with 130 acres of land lately owned by Mr Oxenham. The numerous traces of foundations in the neighbourhood of the present house show that in former times it must have been a mansion of some importance.
Mr Oxenham appears in the 1901 census living in Moulsham's Manor but has left by the 1911 census.
Photograph of Moulshams Manor taken in 1938
The Bullock family kept their links with the Wigboroughs and they were represented at the re-opening of the church of St Nicholas, Little
Wigborough, following the church's restoration after the earthquake of 1884. From newspaper reports, we find both Mr and Mrs Bullock of
Faulkbourne attended the service as did a representative of the Radwinter branch of the Bullocks, The Rev. J F W Bullock. The latter also made a donation to the restoration as did the Reverend F Bullock.
The Reverend Llewellyn Bullock, who became incumbent of Great Wigborough's St Stephen's Church in 1925, was himself born at Faulkbourne Hall in 1866, a direct descendant of the Great Wigborough branch, and was instituted at St Stephens when he was about 60 years old.
With the death of Walter Henry Bullock in 1924 who had a son with a daughter, but no son and heir, Walter's brother Rev Llewellyn Bullock became the head of the family and it was through his second son, Sir Christopher Llewellyn Bullock, that the family line has passed right through to the present day.
Following Rev Bullock's incumbency at Great Wigborough, he was to retire to Lexden Road in Colchester in 1933 and died in 1936.
Evidence of the Bullocks in Great Wigborough today
In their time in Great Wigborough the Bullock family held Moulshams, Seaboroughs, Rowses, Sherwins and Abbots Hall, names which still persist today. Along with many parcels of land and smaller properties, they also held Warestock, Bumsteads, Gales and Gobbets and Mellhouse alias Hellhouse whose whereabouts are still being researched.
Little now exists as evidence of such a notable and large family's involvement in Wigborough over several centuries. Although many will have been buried in the churchyard there are no marked graves surviving until those of the Rev Bullock's family in the twentieth century.
The Great Wigborough Parish Register of burials lists 27 members of the Bullock family, some infants, buried between 1573 and 1636, it does not seem to be complete as there are some omissions. It also lists the deaths of several servants of the family.
Conveying the importance of the family there were a number of monumental inscriptions for the Bullocks inside the church but only one of these has survived.
A small brass on the north wall of St. Stephen's nave 3 inches by 14 inches is engraved
Here lyeth the body of Henry Bvllocke
Late of Wigborovgh in the covnty of
Essex who deceased ye 13 of Jvne 1609
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. The Parish Registers
of Great and Little Wigborough P.A.F Stephenson
The brass above was clearly moved again, being now in the nave.
We are told that there was a flat stone under the altar inscribed as follows
Here lyeth the body of
Henry Bvllocke only
Sone of Henry Bvllocke
Of Mvch Wigborovgh whoe
Departed this lyfe the
14 day of Nov ano
P.A.F Stephenson describes a monument to Anne Bullock, late wife of John Bullock ob* 20 Jan 1615 of which we are told there is now no trace. It was there in 1835 and the author surmises it was lost in the church restoration of around 1840.
* abbreviation of obiit the Latin word meaning 'she died'
It was also reported that there was an inscription for a John Bullock, again, along with other inscriptions this disappeared during restoration.
We know from the 1660 will of a John Bullock of Great Wigborough [ERO D/ACW 16/34] that he requested he be buried in the Chancel of St. Stephen's, could this have been a memorial to him?
Moving to the twentieth century, Reverend Llewellyn Bullock's name is to be found on a beautiful framed piece of calligraphy listing all the rectors of Great Wigborough, researched and drawn by the late Tom Millatt. This hangs on the South wall of St Stephen's Church.
Although none of the Reverend Bullock's family remained in Great Wigborough some chose to be buried in St Stephen's Churchyard. There are gravestones for the Reverend Llewellyn Bullock, his wife Margaret and their eldest son, Walter Llewellyn Bullock, who was a professor of Italian Studies at Manchester University He is listed in the 1939 register living in Cheshire, and it is rather touching that Walter should name his house 'Arborfield' in a nod to his family's past. Another son, Osmund Fitz Maurice Llewellyn Bullock is also buried near his parents in the North East corner of Great Wigborough churchyard as is his sister Evelyn Llewellyn Bullock who died in 1987.
The head of the Bullock family today is Osmund Bullock, art historian and actor (he appeared in a 1980 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as Mr Bingley). He is the great grandson of Reverend Llewellyn Bullock and his name links him to his ancestor, Osmund Bullock of Arborfield known to be alive in 1166.
St Stephens, Great Wigborough: A Place for the Community
Reverend Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock
The Bullock Family Part 2 The Peldon Connection
Memoirs of the Family Bullock AD 1166 - 1905 The Reverend Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock Essex Records Office LIB/B/BULL
The Parish Registers of Great and Little Wigborough by P.A.F Stephenson (1905) Essex Records Office
Monumental Inscriptions of St Mary the Virgin, Peldon Essex Records Office T/Z 151/234
Colchester Archaeological Group magazine Vol 51 2011 A Watching Brief in Peldon Churchyard by Don Goodman
The History of Essex Philip Morant 1768
The History of Essex Thomas Wright 1830
7 February 2021 this replaces a shorter version that was on www.merseamuseum.org.uk from July 2020