What we now generally know as Salcott was formerly a hamlet of Great Wigborough, and, separated by a creek, a chapel-of-ease was built at Salcott Wigborough for the people there, but served by the rector of Great Wigborough Tom Millatt The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin: Salcott
Although St Mary's Church, Salcott Wigborough was appendant to St. Stephen's Church in Great Wigborough and did not have its own rector, it did, however, have a chantry priest in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, expressly to pray for the souls of those who had left endowments for that purpose.
In 1480, a chantry was founded at St Mary's with an endowment from wealthy landowner, John Bajon. He owned The Hyde in Great Wigborough and may even have been responsible for having the house built in the mid 1400s. He died in 1480 and willed that the profits from some of his lands be used to fund a chantry priest to sing Mass and administer the sacraments in perpetuity, to commend his soul to God and ensure salvation.
Bajon's endowment, however, was only to last until the Reformation.
Having started with the monasteries, Henry VIII began the dissolution of chantries.
In 1545, an Act was passed to rule that chantries were, in fact, misapplied funds and misappropriated lands. Henry's purpose was to confiscate chantry lands and possessions to fund the war with France. It wasn't until his son, Edward VI, came to the throne and passed an act in 1547, suppressing the 2,374 chantries and guild chapels, that what Henry had begun was completed.
Many chantries had been set up between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Sometimes it was a dedicated building but, in the case of Salcott Wigborough, the Masses were sung in the parish church, St Mary's. Often the chantry priests were older men and they would assist the parish priest serving as curates and sometimes as local schoolmasters. By 1535 there were 65 chantries in Essex including Salcott Wigborough.
From Easter 1548, chantries were dissolved and possessions, along with the endowments, became Crown property. The chantry priests were pensioned off and it is recorded that the priest at Salcott Wigborough was awarded a pension of £6 per annum.
According to the mid-seventeenth century antiquarian, Symonds, it would seem that there was a brass memorial to John Bajon and his wife, Margaret, in Salcott Wigborough's church.
Upon a flat stone inlaid with brass the picture of a man and woman in brass. At their feet a plate of brass in old letters with this inscription
HIC JACET JOHES BAJON ET MARGARETA UXOR EJUS QUI QUIDEM JOHES OB.10 SEPT 1480 QUORUM & ...
Here lies John Bajon and Margaret his wife which same John died 10th September 1480. On whose souls God have mercy.
From the Certificate of Chantry Lands, temp Edward VI 1547 quoted in Holman's History of Essex we learn a wealth of detail about the chantry
Lands and tenements then put in feoffment [grant of ownership] by John Baron and John Marchant*,
clerke, to find a priest to sing in the said Towne of Salcott Wigborow and to minister sacraments
and sacramentalls within the said towne. And one, Sir William Tewys, clerke, of the age of fifty
years and more having none other promotion and of good usage and conversation and learning is now
the incumbent thereof. The said towne of Salcote is very great having in it about the number of
140 houseling people [communicants]. And have no other priest but him the said incumbent celebrateth
in the said church of Salcott. The yerely value of the same doth amount to the sum of £8 12s 8d.
* John Marchant (spelt Marchaunt in his will) was the rector of Salcott Virley in the mid 15th century.
Other bequests had been made by wealthy people for candles and services
John Corell holdeth a piece of land called Paris given to find a light for ever; by the yere 12d
One piece of land conteyning 3 roodes in the tenure of the Churchwardens there to find an obit [church service for the deceased] for ever; by the year 3s 4d. Whereof to the poore 20d; remaining cleere 20d
One tenement with a piece of land called Songar given to find a obit for over 11s. In the tenure of John Sugeworth yerely ...whereof to the poore 6/8; for the reparations of the Church 3/8; remaining cleere 8d
The Chantry of Salcote Wigborough is lately dissolved and all messuages, lands, and tenements, meadows and pastures, marshes and hereditaments whatsoever with the appurtenances in the tenure of William Pore lying in Langenhoe, belonging to the said Chantry; and also a croft of land called Bardfields conteyning 5 acres with the appurtenances lying in Salcot Wigborough, Peldon and Mersey, belonging to the said Chantry; and also that piece of land in the tenure of John Bossewell lying in little Badewe [Baddow]belonging to the said chantry was granted by Edward VI 2 Sept 4 reg to John Raynforth
As we discover from the survey done at the time, the chantry lands, previously used for the endowment, went to the Crown and were then in 1551 granted by King Edward VI to John Raynforth (sometimes spelt Raynsford), Sheriff of Essex. The silver plate was confiscated and Raynforth also took the church bells.
It seems, from the Certificate of Chantry Lands of 1547, the spelling of the name Bajon, had been changed to 'Baron' and, in the unpublished notes from the late Tom Millatt, he traces Bajon's descendants (bearing the name 'Baron') to Layer Breton and Layer Marney where they were wealthy landowners (one marrying into the Tuke family of Layer Marney Tower).
With the Reformation, John Bajon's endowment came to an end after about 68 years - sadly not as
intended in perpetuity.
A History of the Parish Church of St Mary Salcott