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An account of the ancient town of Frodsham in Cheshire online

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Simeon's Song, published by T. Woodroofe, London, 1659.
In 1679 he wrote a sermon on Ps. xi., 3. In 1683 a sermon
on Job, iii., 8. At Oxford, in 1685, he was joint editor with
R. Abendana, a Jew, in a translation of the English Common
Prayer into Portuguese. At Oxford, in 1700, he published a
defence of the Reformation and the Reformers against the
calumnies "Contra Calumnias Franc. Foris Okokocci," in the
book which he calls An Examination of the Reform made by
Luther and his companion since 1517. In the same year he
published at Oxford a sermon on Tim., vi., 17-19. In 1702 he
published a letter from a member of the House of Commons to
a member of the University. In the same year, at Oxford, he
published a work on the seventy weeks of Daniel, ix., 24-27.
In 1703 he published at Oxford a thanksgiving sermon on
Ps. iii., i. In 1704 he published at Oxford, in Greek, two
dialogues avrapm scripturarum. In 1706 he published at
Oxford a sermon on Ps. xviii. About the same time he
published the case of Gloucester Hall, rectifying the false
state thereof; and the case of Worcester College as it was
represented to the House of Commons. It must have been in
this vicar's time that the Parish Church of Frodsham stood in
great need of repair, and was extensively repaired in the

Frodskam. 239

course of the i8th century ; for in the book of briefs there is
one " for building the Parish Church of Frodsham, in Cheshire,
a very large and ancient fabric near the sea ;" and when
this brief was read in the church of Saint John the Baptist at
Mayatt, in Kent, on the 26th of July, 1724, the sum collected
was only 2s. yd. (Hist. Ches., Helsby's ed., II., 64, in notis.)
The following monuments were put up in the church in this
vicar's time. Against the second pillar, on the south side
from the altar, was a marble monument inscribed

Underneath lies interred the body of

Robert Hyde,
Of Cattenhall, Esquire.

He married Eleanor,

The daughter of John Mather of Chester, gent.,

By whom he had one son and five daughters,

Who all survived him, except

The youngest daughter.

He was a loving husband,

An indulgent father,

A faithful friend, an honest man,

A true son of the Church of England.

He lived well beloved,

And died much lamented,

Feb. 24, A.D. 1715.

Of his age 36.

Arms : Azure a chevron between three lozenges or for Hyde
impaling party per fesse argent, seme'e of trefoils slipped sable,
and ermine on a fesse wavy, azure between three lions rampant
or a bough of a tree ragule vert for Mather. The Cattenhall
here mentioned is the place often spoken of in previous parts
of this work.

(XXXII.) A.D. 1725, Aug. 14. THOMAS ROBERTS, A.M.,
was the next vicar of Frodsham presented by the Dean and
Chapter of Christ Church after the death of Woodroofe, the late
vicar. He was the son of Thomas Roberts, gentleman, of
Crowell, Oxon, and matriculated from Christ Church on the

240 Frodsham.

1 7th of June, 1707, aged 19. He was B.A. 23rd of April, 1711,
and M.A. I7th of March, 1713. (Information of Colonel
Chester.) In his time the church-bells were recast, but his
name does not occur upon them, though the bell-founder and
the churchwardens are there, which they took care not to omit,
and thus to commend them to posterity.

A.M., was presented by the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church
on the death of Thomas Roberts, the late vicar. He was the
son of Peregrine Gastrell, of Slapton, in the county of North-
ampton, esquire. He matriculated from Christ Church on the
I4th of December, 1721, aged 14. He was B.A. loth of July,
1725, and M.A. i6th of May, 1728. (Information of Colonel
Chester.) The vicar bore the same names as the eminent
prelate who compiled the Notitia Cestriensis, the most valuable
record of his diocese, and died Bishop of Chester in 1726.
There seems to have been also a Peregrine Gastrell, one of the
rural deans of the county, but not the rural dean of Frodsham,
who wrote a work on spme parts of the ecclesiastical jurisdic-
tion. (Horse Decanicae Rurales, II., 38.) When Vicar Gastrell
took the living, the vicarage house, which stood then, as it had
stood for ages and stands now, a good bow shot from the
church, being but a mean building and in need of restoration,
was enlarged, amended, and improved by the new vicar.
While he was vicar, Mr. Gastrell bought New Place, a house
of Shakspere's at Stratford-upon-Avon. In its garden there
grew the famous mulberry tree which the poet's hand had
planted, and which crowds of pilgrims visited with reverence ;
but Mr. Gastrell, be it said with pity, neither sympathized with
the worshipping pilgrims nor had the patience to tolerate their
worship, and he wantonly and ruthlessly pulled down the poet's
house and cut down the honoured tree, and by it left a stain
upon the Gastrell name. (Gents. Mag., 61, p. 1159.) The
vicar married at Aston chapel, on the 2ist of May, 1752, Jane,
the daughter of Sir Thomas Aston, baronet. It was in Vicar
Gastrell's time that the Banner epitaph was put up in Frodsham
church, which, but for that which follows it and which we give
from another place, might have been thought unique :

Frodsham. 241

Near this place lies the body of Peter Banner, car-
penter, who died of a dropsy, Oct. 21, 1749, aged 50.
In 33 months he was tapped 58 times, and had 1032
quarts of water taken from him.

There is in Bunhill Fields an epitaph which resembles this :

Here lies dame Mary Page, relict of Sir Gregory Page,
bart. She departed this life on Mar. 4, 1728, in the 56
year of her age. In 67 months she was tapped 66 times,
and had taken away 240 gallons of water, without ever
repining at her case or ever fearing its operation.

The vicar and his wife both died at Frodsham, and we give the
inscriptions placed over them. Mrs. Gastrell left a benefaction
of ;io a year to the Warrington Clergy Charity :

Near this place
Lies the body of
Francis Gastrell,
Late vicar of Frodsham,
Who departed this life

5th April, 1772.

And the body of Jane his wife,

Who departed this life

The 30th Oct., 1791,

In the 8 ist year of her age.

(XXXIV.) A.D. 1753. WILLIAM JONES, styled the
Reverend William Jones, late fellow of Wadham College,
Oxford, was officiating at Frodsham at this time, but it would
seem from the appointment of the next yicar, that he could
only have been Mr. Gastrell's locum tenens. Amongst the
numerous writers of his name, the following, which is given in
Watt's Bibliotheca, would seem from the dates to be from the
pen of the above locum tenens at Frodsham : " William
Jones, F.R.S., a venerable and pious divine of the Church of
England, was born in Northumberland in 1726, and died in


242 Frodsham.

1800. In 1753 he wrote an answer to Bishop Clayton's essay
on the Spirit. In 1756 he wrote The Catholic Doctrine of
the Trinity, proved by above a hundred short and clear
arguments, expressed in the terms of Holy Scripture, compared
after a manner entirely new ; to which is prefixed an address
to the reader on the necessity of faith in the true God ; to
which is added a letter to the common people in answer to
some popular arguments against the Trinity. In 1762 he
wrote an essay on the first principles of Natural Philosophy.
Besides the above, he was the author of numerous other works
down to the year 1792, of which a complete list will be found
in Watt's Bibliotheca." In Lyson's "Cheshire" (p. 381), it is
said the ancient family of the Frodshams, after a continuance of
more than twenty generations, became extinct by the death of
Peter Frodsham, esquire, in 1760.

(XXXV.) A.D. 1722, July 14. GEORGE VILLIERS, A.M.,
was presented by the Dean and Chapter of Oxford, on the
death of Francis Gastrell, the late vicar. The vicar's two
names are very common in the two noble families of Claren-
don and Jersey ; but if he were connected with either of them
it must have been remotely, for he was the son of the Rev.
George Villiers, of Chalgrove (the field where Hampden met
his death), in Oxfordshire. The vicar matriculated from
Christ Church the 2nd of July, 1742, aged 17. He was B.A.
the 22nd of April, 1746, and M.A. the 5th of June, 1749.
(Information of Colonel Chester.) This vicar having died
a young man, held the living but a very short time, as
this monumental inscription on a blue stone near the altar
shows :

M. S.

Of George Villiers, A.M.,

kate Vicar of Frodsham,

Obt. June 24, A.S. 1774,

jEtatis 30. (Qy. 50.)

Some memorials of the Ashley family, which begin about this
time, are inserted here from Mr. Helsby's Ormerod, on a
tombstone at the west end of the south aisle :

Frodsham. 243

Infra requiescunt

Cineres Danielis Ashley, Gent.,

Qui obiit I2mo. kal. Augti., A.S. 1764,

ALtatis suae 60.

De illius vitae morum ratione,

Dicat Fama Superstes,

Robertus films,

Hoc qualecunque monumentum

Suae in parentem pietatis posuit

Juxta parentis cineres requiescunt reliquiae,


Ejusdem Danielis Ashley filiae dilectae,

Quse mortem obiit vi. kal. Oct.,


ALtatis xvii.

Infra quoque jacet


Conjux ejus amantissima,

Animam efflavit x. kal. Feb.,


Franciscus Ashley,

Filius ejusdem hie etiam requiescit,

Qui supremum vitae reddidit spiritum,

v. kal. Feb.




(XXXVI.) A.D. 1774, Oct. 19. JOHN CLEAVER, A.M.,
the next vicar, was appointed by the Dean and Chapter of
Christ Church, after the death of the late Vicar Villiers. John
Cleaver was the son of the Reverend William Cleaver, of


244 Frodsham.

Banbury, in Oxfordshire. He matriculated from Christ
Church, on the nth of June, 1754, aged 17. He became B.A,
on the I3th of April, 1758, and M.A. on the 4th of June, 1761.
(Information of Colonel Chester.) In the I7th century, there
was a William Cleaver, a schoolmaster, and a John Cleaver, a
clergyman, both of them authors, and from one or both of
them, John Cleaver, the vicar of Frodsham, and William
Cleaver, who, in 1787, became bishop of Chester, were probably
descended. John Cleaver, the vicar of Frodsham, on the 25th
of April, 1775, was elected prebendary of Chester, vice Roger
Mostyn, deceased. (Le Neve's Fasti, III., 272.) The succes-
sion of vicars of Frodsham at this time seems to have been
unaccountably rapid. The late vicar Villiers only held the
living two years, and before another two years had expired,
vicar Cleaver was no more.

A.M., was presented by the dean and chapter on the death
of the late Vicar Cleaver. William Page (whose second name
seems to have been adopted subsequently) was the son of
John Page, of Oporto, in Portugal, esquire. He matriculated
from Christ Church (elected from St. Peter's College, West-
minster) 29th May, 1755, aged 18, was B.A. 1759, and M.A.
23rd March, 1762. (Information of Colonel Chester.) On
2Oth December, 1796, he was appointed Prebendary of Chester,
vice Richard Jackson. (Le Neve's Fasti, III., 272.) The
vicar is believed to have been descended from Hugo le Page,
who was owner of the manor of Eardshaw, in the county of
Chester, and a descendant of one of the family who was
bailiff of Drakelow in the reign of Edward III. John Page,
esquire, sold the manor of Eardshaw to Sir Henry Delves.
(Lyson's Hist. Ches., 77.) It is to be regretted that the monu-
mental tablet which formerly commemorated this vicar is now
too much obliterated to be read. In Vicar Page's time there
is a notice in the register of an earthquake which then
occurred, and of which it is desirable to give some particulars.
The parish register, which records of it .that it occurred on the
1 4th September, 1777, says: "There was an earthquake at
Wigan, Warrington, Northwich, Aston Chapel, and several

Frodsham. 245

other places, but not perceived at Frodsham. It happened on
Sunday, in the forenoon, at eleven o'clock, which caused many
people to crowd out of the churches in great surprise, doing
damage in several places. A noise like the running of a
coach was heard shortly before the shock." This earthquake
was also felt at Chorley (co. Lane.), and so alarmed the
congregation that they fled out of the church, forgetting that
no place could be more fit in which to meet a calamity that
threatened the district. (Hist. Lane.) On the i8th March,
1843, after an interval of about 66 years, the shock of another
earthquake was felt in this neighbourhood. Do these pheno-
mena observe cycles and occur at regular intervals, like
comets and some other variations of nature ? We give some
further particulars of what occurred in 1777, which have been
lately communicated by Mr. J. E. Bailey to the Cheshire
Sheaf. Bishop Porteus is the author of the following scarce
tract : " A letter to the Inhabitants of Manchester, Maccles-
field, and the Adjacent Parts, on occasion of the late Earth-
quake in those Places. By the Right Reverend the Lord
Bishop of Chester. Chester : Printed by J. Poole, Foregate-
street." 8vo, pp. 24. Dated October 10, 1777, and signed
" B. Chester." He alludes to the recent date of his relation of
diocesan to the neighbourhood. This earthquake occurred
on Sunday, September 14, 1777, at eleven o'clock in the fore-
noon. Two or three shocks were felt, which particularly
threw the congregations of the churches and chapels of Man-
chester into the greatest confusion. The Manchester Mercury
describes the area affected by the phenomenon : " We have
received intelligence from the country round about, and find
that the villages in this neighbourhood were affected in much
the same manner, and that at Preston, Warrington, Wigan,
Chapel-le-frith, Macclesfield, Stockport, Chatesworth, Mot-
tram, Staley-Bridge, Knutsford, Middleton, and Ashton-under-
Lyne the shocks were as violent and attended with nearly the
same effect as here." The earthquake is also described in a
MS. diary of a local farmer named Poole, a document now in
the Free Library, Manchester. He writes under the datejof
September 14 : "Fair and very fine, wind east, but very mild

246 Frodsham. %

and hot. At a few minutes before eleven I was attending
Divine service in Middleton Church, just as the Rev. Mr.
Ashton was making prayer in the pulpit prior to the text,
when a most sudden and violent trembling of the floor, which
encreasing shooke the whole fabrick in a terrible manner, so
that the church was expected to fall into the churchyard. It
lasted about ten seconds in all." The subject also gave rise
to the publication of the following anonymous tract: "Obser-
vations and Reflections on the late Earthquake, or more
properly called an Airquake, which happened in this town and
neighbourhood on Sunday, the I4th September, 1777, and an
attempt to investigate the causes of these dreaded harbingers
of Divine vengeance to mankind, by a gentleman of the town."
There is an old and true proverb that the glory of children
are their fathers ; but the Vicar Page occupied a place between
the right to boast both of his ancestry and his descendants,
and his right to the latter will appear from the following
portion of the pedigree of his descendants, contained in
Colonel Chester's Westminster Abbey Registers (page 91),
which show that some of those born at Frodsham rose to
honour: 1 80 1, July 5, Mary Harriett, daughter of the Rev.
William Page and Mary his wife, born June ist. The father,
the eldest son of the Rev. William Emanuel Page, rector of
Frodsham, county of Chester, by Jane Bell, his wife, was
born at Frodsham i8th February, 1778. He matriculated at
Oxford from Christ Church (elected from St. Peter's College,
Westminster), 3rd June, 1795, and was B.A. nth April, 1799,
M.A. 4th February, 1802, B.D. 2Oth May, 1809, D.D. I2th May,
1815. He was vicar of Willan, Bucks, from 25th February, 1806,
until his death. In 1812 he became Vicar of Steventon, Berks,
and rector of Nunburnholme, co. York, but he resigned both in
1817, and took the rectory of Quainton, Berks. He was also
sub-almoner to the Archbishop of York. He became second
master of Westminster School in 1802, and head master in
1814. He died at Oxford, 2Oth September, 1819, and was
buried on the 25th, in Christ Church Cathedral. The mother,
who was the daughter of Thomas Davies, of Bicester, county
of Oxford, surgeon, by Hannah Turner, his wife, was born

Frodsham. 247

25th August, 1780. She was married at. St. Margaret's,
Westminster, I2th August, 1803. She died I2th May, 1820,
and was buried at Steeple Aston, county of Oxford. This
daughter, their eldest child, was married at St. Margaret's,
Westminster, 2Oth May, 1828, to the Right Rev. Christopher
Lipscombe, Bishop of Jamaica, to whom she was second
wife. He died 4th April, 1843, an ^ was buried in Jamaica.
She died at Brighton, I4th February, 1860, and was buried
at Hove, near that place. See the baptisms of her brothers
and sisters 9 Oct., 1805; I2 Feb., 1807; 10 May, 1808;
21 Sept., 1809 ; i April, 1811 ; 9 July, 1812 ; 10 Feb., 1814;
13 April, 1816; 10 March, 1818; and the burials of her
brothers and sisters 15 Nov., 1817; 14 Feb., 1823 ; 15 Dec.,
1850. The Vicar of Frodsham, in 1791, must have buried, as
the register informs us, Thomas Blean, of Norley, a cente-
narian aged 1 02.

the next vicar, was presented by the dean and chapter on
the death of Mr. Page, the late vicar. He was the son of
James Sawkins, gentleman, of Lyminge, in the county of
Kent. He matriculated from Christ Church I5th October,
1774, aged 16. He was B.A. 4th July, 1778, and M.A.
loth July, 1781. (Information of Colonel Chester.) On 4th
March, 1801, he was appointed Prebendary of Chester, vice
Page deceased. (Le Neve's Fasti, III., 272.) Vicar Sawkins had
made botany his study from his early years, and as early as
the year 1775 he wrote a beautiful Latin poem called "Ars
Botanica," in praise of his favourite pursuit, and in the same
year his poem was recited in the Oxford Schools, and the
Chancellor's prize was awarded to him for it. When Mr.
Sawkins came to Frodsham no noxious gases had polluted
the air or affected the beautiful flora which adorned the
neighbourhood, and he had a good opportunity, of which he
did not fail to avail himself, of enriching his hortns siccus and
enlarging his knowledge of this branch of nature's beautiful
creation. This helped him in two ways : it made him a con-
stant resident on his living and brought him into frequent
contact with his parishioners in every part of the parish. He

248 Frodsham.

made many personal friends, some of whose descendants still
compliment his memory by bearing his second name as one
of their Christian names. He lies buried at Frodsham, with
this modest inscription on a blue stone facing the altar :

To the memory of the Reverend

Charles Sawkins, M.A.,

Prebendary of Chester, and

For seventeen years the learned

And faithful vicar of this

Parish. He died on the 6th of

April, 1818, in the 59th year

Of his age.

(Helsby's Ormerod, II., 55.)

(XXXIX.) A.D. 1818. JOHN FANSHAWE, M.A., the
next vicar, was presented by the Dean and Chapter of Christ
Church upon the death of the late vicar, Mr. Sawkins. The
new vicar, who was the son of John Fanshawe, gentleman, of
the city of Westminster, matriculated from Christ Church on
the 2 1st of December, 1790, aged 17; became B.A. 23rd of
February, 1795, and M.A. 7th of December, 1797. (Informa-
tion of Colonel Chester.) Only two authors of this name
appear in Watt's Bibliotheca. One of these was Sir Thomas
Fanshawe, a lawyer, who in 1658, during the interregnum,
wrote a work on the Practice of the Court of Exchequer
(Athene Cantabrigienses, II., 295) and some other ephemeral
works on the law, which have long since floated down the
stream of time and left no mark behind them. The other
author of the name was the Right Honourable Sir Richard
Fanshawe, knight, a statesman and a poet, who was born in
Hereford in 1608, and died in 1666. He translated Guarini's
Pastor Fido and Camoens' Lusiad, and also wrote a number of
additional poems. Besides these authors there was also a John
Fanshawe, D.D., who in December, 1735, was appointed Greek
professor at Oxford, and on the 2Oth of October, 1741, was also
appointed Regius Professor of Divinity in the same University,
and died in 1762. (Le Neve's Fasti, III., 510.) The Greek

Frodsham. 249

and divinity professor appears to have left behind him no
trace of authorship ; and although we have not been able to
trace the new vicar's relationship to any of those we have
mentioned, yet the name is not a common one, and he
probably might have claimed his descent from some of these
Fanshawes. The new vicar, who seems to have resided princi-
pally at Dagenham, at or near which place perhaps he held
another benefice, was very seldom at Frodsham, where the
parish duty however was well supplied by his curates, of whom
he had in succession several good men among whom were Mr.
Shakespear, Mr. Turner (afterwards Vicar of Lancaster), Mr.
M'lver (afterwards rector of Lymm), and the Rev. Richard
Greenall (afterwards Archdeacon of Chester). But although
the wants of the parish were thus attended to, such a circum-
stance as the vicar's continued absence was an evil which
would not be allowed to occur now. Before Mr. Fanshawe
became vicar Mr. and Mrs. Allen, the father and mother of
the Right Reverend Joseph Allen, Lord Bishop of Ely, had
come to reside at the Castle Park in Frodsham, where both
of them died (Mrs. Allen having died during the vicar's incum-
bency). In testimony of his affection, and as a tribute to the
memory of his parents, the bishop placed in the chancel of the
church the tablet of white statuary marble, the work of
Chantry, which in taste and beauty puts into shade the other
monuments in the church. The design represents an altar
surmounted by drapery partially drawn aside, with medallion
busts in bas relief of Mr. and Mrs. Allen, with this inscription

William Allen, formerly of

Davy Hulme, but late of Frodsham,

died 30 October, 1792, in his 5/th

year. Ellen his wife died
10 October, 1825, in her 82nd year.

(Helsby's Ormerod, II., 56.)

The following sepulchral memorials of the Lowtons of Manley
fitly find a place here. On a white slab over the Hyde monu-
ments is the following :

250 Frodsham.

To the memory of


Wife of Thomas Lowton, Esquire,
Of Manley, in this county, and of the Inner Temple,


Fourth daughter of Thomas Kevill,

Of Trevenson, in the county of Cornwall, Esquire,

Who died February the 2Oth, MDCCCXX., aged 45 years,

And lies buried under the middle aisle

Of this church.
Also to the memory of

The above-named Thomas Lowton, Esquire.
Who died on the 6th day of June, 1830.

Arms : on a fesse (qy. engr.), sable with plain cotices, gules
between three cross crosslets fitche, sable (qy. az.) as many
escallops (qy. cinque foils) or impaling sable a chevron
erminois on a chief indented three mullets gules, crest a
demigriphon per fesse indented erminois and erm. wings
elevated sable. In the dexter claw a cross crosslet fitche ar.
(qy. sable). (Helsby's Ormerod, II., 56.)




(XL.) A.D. 1844. JOHN ROBERT HALL, A.M., the next vicar
presented by the dean and chapter after the death of the late
Vicar Fanshawe, was the eldest son of the Reverend John
Robert Hall, of Battesford, in the county of Gloucester. He
matriculated from Christ Church, on the I3th of May, 1826,
at the age of 17 ; became B.A. on the 2ist of January, 1830,

Frodsham. 251

and A.M. on the 26th of October, 1832. (Information of
Colonel Chester.) The late vicar having been but rarely seen
in Frodsham during his incumbency, the parish, as soon as it
was understood that the new vicar meant to occupy the vicarage,
and to be a constant resident, heard the intelligence with
satisfaction, and prepared to give him a hearty reception when
he arrived. It was a recommendation to the new vicar coming
into a country parish that he brought with him some acquaint-
ance with agriculture, a love for country pursuits, and above
all a fondness for parochial and pastoral work. No sooner
had he entered into possession of his living than he found
himself in possession of two flocks, one being his parish,
which was the larger of the two, and the other being a small
and woolly flock which fed upon the hills above Frodsham,
and in the management of the one flock as well as the
other he showed himself a good shepherd, and was able

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