Foulsham Archives Copyright
What became of the Major-General
To me,the real fun of genealogy is the puzzle part, making sense of lots of pieces of random information. Identifying ancestors and claiming them as my own is an uncertain business,and i wish there were a way of putting real personalities to the names. I fervently hope there is an afterlife, so i can talk to Susanna Clements and Luke Skippon and all the others.
But the biggest mystery is the Major-General. With a surname like Skippon, it is fairly easy to follow the male line. In the mid-1950s i found that there had been a Major-General Philip Skippon, a very long time ago. But i was an American teenager and the only Civil War i knew was about freeing the slaves.
Several years ago, now living in London ( and with a better grasp on history ) I was asked by my fathers sister to find the birth of Robert Skippon, her great great grand-father ' since you are so close.' And so began one of life's real pleasures, genealogy, finding the names and dates, the occupations and gleanings of personalities. My branch of the Skippons had moved from Swanton Novers to New York in 1836; Robert married Elizabeth Bambridge from neighbouring Gunthorpe ten years later and settled down as a carpenter in Brooklyn. His father, John, and mother, Lucy Wake Skippon, had taken their nine children to America on the Thomas Bennett in 1836, at a time when many of their neighbours were being funded by the parish to emigrate to British America ( Canada ). Joseph Bambridge, Elizabeth's father, intended to migrate to America with his four younger children in 1842 but when he was told his fare would only be paid to a British colony, he stayed in Gunthorpe. Those of his neighbours who did leave for Canada had half there fares paid by the Lord of the Manor, Lord Hastings.
My Skippon line can be traced fairly easily to Luke Skippon, son of Luke ( the elder - in his will ) and Susanna Clements, born Shereford about 1681. They had four surviving children: John,Mary,Luke, and Susanna. With Luke the elder, the mystery begins. Luke Skippon was a family name, which came through marriage to the Constable line, first given by Thomas Skippon to one of his boisterous sons around 1520. In 1572 Bartholomew named his son Luke, later Luke ( Gent ). Luke ( Gent ) married Ann and they had four children, Philip ( born circa 1598, later the M-G ), Mary ( born 1600 in West Lexham, married Edward Shene, brother of an ancestor of Lord Nelson ), Luke ( born 1601, a minister, rector of Whissonsett and holding his post throughout the Parliamentary ruckus, and Susanna ( born 1603 ). The books say the Reverand Luke left no male heirs and the M-G only son Philip, later a member of Parliament but infact each of them had a son named Luke and both were probably alive when their fathers died..
The Reverend Luke married Elizabeth Hearle in Tawstock, Devon in 1635 and they had two children there. Elizabeth and William. William died before they moved back to Norfolk, where Luke worked at Hingham, Litcham, South Lyng, West Bradenham and Mileham. They lived in vicarage at Mileham, where the register records the baptisms of their of their children, Mary, Ann, Susanna, Luke, William, and Jane. There were no burials, Misc. Gen et Her. claims the boys died in infancy, but apart from the fact that they are not named in family wills, there is nothing to show that this is the case.
In fact, the Reverend Luke's will dated 1674 and proved 1676, gives his belongings to his wife Elizabeth '' no doubt that she will have regard to my oldest daughter Franklin's children''. Other beneficiaries were his two unmarried daughters, Mary and Ann, and daughters Frances ( wife of John Franklin, rector of Tittleshall ), Susan ( wife of Clement Higham, rector of Sculthorpe ), and Jane ( wife of Roger Hainsworth, rector of West Lynn ). But what of of his real eldest daughter, Elizabeth? She died two years later and her will clearly identifies her as the daughter of the Reverend Luke and Elizabeth . She seems on excellent terms with her family. She also mentions cousin John ( a groom in Colkirk ), cousin Philip ( son of the M-G ), cousins Mary ( daughter of the M-G ) and Frances ?
What then of Luke and William, born 1647 and 1648 in Mileham?
The Major-General has more than his share of mysteries. He was the eldest son of Luke ( Gent ) and although his father and brother were educated at Cambridge, he went into the army, serving in the Palatinate berfore retiiring to the country home left him by his uncle William, Secretary to the Lord Bath. The hall, in Foulsham, is a lovely building topped off by distinctive chimney pots. The M-G left a wonderful account of his family in his bible, which is reprinted in Misc. Gen. et Her. He married in Frankenthal, in the Rhine region of Germany to Maria Comes, who was born there. Their eldest son William died a soldier in Edinburgh in 1647, aged 19. According to the bible, other surviving children were Anne, Mary, Susanna, Luke and Philip. Luke was born 8th August 1638 in Foulsham and Philip 28th October 1641 in Hackney. ( In fact the Hackney register lists him as Luke, the youngest son of Philip and Ann. The family Bible names him as Philip, son of Mary.)
Luke and Philp were also Cambridge scholars, admitted as fellows of Trinity in 1656 and 1660. Each had rooms at Grey's Inn, London, Luke from February 1655/6 and Philp 1662/3. Luke was last documented in 1658.
The Major-General was a highly respected figure on the Parliamentary side, leader of the New Model Army the Council of War. Second in Command to Fairfax, it is ironic that his opposite number on the Royalist side was Sir Jacob Astley, who lived at Melton Hall, only a few miles from Foulsham, ancestor of Lord Hastings. Both Fairfax and Skippon had grave reservations about passing the death sentance on the King and they stayed away when the vote was taken. The Major-General appears to be an honest man of conviction and no piece of scandal was ever seriously attributed to him. Why then did he pretend to die.?
He served in the Army and in Parliament as MP for Lyme, and was a member of the upper chamber when it was reformed. His wife Maria, died in 1655 and was buried an St Mary's Church, Acton. He married Katherine Oxenbridge Fowler Philips, a well-known playwright who used the name ' Orinda '. Philip's children were growing up, marrying and settling down. In April 1660 Charles !! was invited to return to rule Britian. According to the official biographies, Major-General Philip Skippon died around this time. He will was written in February, but contains a long codicil added in June reflecting the forthcoming marriage of his daughter Mary to Dame Katherine's son, Hector Philips. There is no evidence that this marriage took place.
So when did Philip die? His will was proved in October, 1660. Walter Rye ( Norfolk Families ) says ' Whether the Major- General ever himself lived in the Hall, as told by local tradition, is i think, doubtful'. Lyson, quoted in Musgrave's Obituaries, says the Major-General was living at the restoration but dead before 1686. Quarles was more forthright. According to Foulsham legend, the Hall has a ghost. A poor woman who collected milk each morning from the Hall, arrived early one day and caught sight of a white-haired gentleman walking in the grounds in a dressing gown. Ghost or recluse? There was a rumour of an underground path between the hall and the church, a quarter of a mile away, but there has been no sign of it during the dry summers.
What become of Philip's son Luke? He is certainly not mentioned in his father's will nor is his death recorded in the very fulsome family bible. The Major-General wrote on the facing page of the bible:'' This Bible, mentioned in my Testament, is for my son Luke Skippon, let him have it'' but later young Philip has written that the Bible belongs only to him. Did Luke go into hiding with his father, to care for him? Did he emigrate to Holland or to the American Colonies? Unfortunately these were the worst times for record keeping.
So i have lost two Lukes and need to find a family for Luke of Shereford.
One intriguing entry in the Bale register, about 7 miles north of Foulsham: ''1680. Philip was buried 3rd day of October''.
Written by Jessica Skippon
SIXTEEN SHOPS 1954
Despite the lure of the market towns and the multiple stores,the village still holds its own as a local shopping centre.
There are sixteen shops under private ownership and they supply the needs of many customers over a wide area.
There are two butchers,two bakers and two grocers shops;a drapery and outfitting establishment,and a ladies' and gent's hairdressing salon. The newsagent will supply you with any newspaper,periodical or book,and with many other commodities from his well stocked shelves,whilst the two smaller general shops still hold their own with bigger neighbours . The job master with his horses and broughams disappeared long ago and in his place there are two large garages which cater for the maintenance of your own motor vehicle,or transport you anywhere in one of their own,and at the cycle agents you can be supplied with anything from a reflector to a new cycle.
The Postal and Telegraph Office is a very busy establishment.
The village has a resident doctor and a district nurse and also an up-to-date chemist's shop.Although the main industry is agriculture, there are two large firms of builders and a contractors which employ many hands,and have built many houses for local councils and others. Other tradesmen there are,including the threshing machine proprietor,coal merchant, the carpenter and house decorator,the shoemaker and the sweep,and we must also mention the old-established firm of fish merchants who cure their own herrings and will also smoke you hams or sides of bacon.
PLAN FOR IMPROVED RAIL SERVICES.
A plan for an improved rail service between Norwich, Foulsham, Fakenham,Wells and the Dereham area,drawn up by Mr.E.REYNOLDS, clerk to FOULSHAM Parish Council, is to be submitted to British Railways.
This was decided at a parish meeting in Foulsham on Friday,called to consider the proposal to close the line from Wroxham to County School to passenger traffic.
'' My plan is this,'' said Mr. Reynolds, ''The line from Norwich City Station crosses the Wroxham-County School line at Themelthorpe. It would take just about 25 yards of track to connect these two lines, and would therefore bring travelling time for the journey from Foulsham to Norwich to approximately 30 minutes against the existing time of 67 minutes via Wroxham.''
A further improvement, he continued would be to lay a track through the already existing cutting through Sennowe, which would bring Fakenham within a 40 minute run of Norwich, and enable Walsingham and Wells travellers to reach the city within an hour.
The route suggested would be Norwich City, Drayton.Lenwade, Whitwell ( which would also serve Reepham ), Foulsham,Ryburgh, Fakenham, Walsingham,Wells.
A junction and signal box at Sennowe would allow for connections with Dereham area, and County School Station which had always been a bugbear to travellers,would be redundant and could be closed.
The meeting also approved a resolution protesting against the closure of the line.
Mr. G. EVERETT presided.
The Blogg Family
By Eric Stroulger
Written by Donny Wright 4 pages
Memories of RAF Foulsham
Written by Gordon Ireland
Memories of RAF Foulsham.
Written by Gordon Ireland.