Stock History
By Charles Phillips
Catholics were causing a bit of trouble for the Church of England in the area. In the first part of the 18th century the Rector of Stock, Thomas Cox, was also the Rector of Broomfield, and lived in the latter, leaving Stock in the hands of young inexperience curates. In Ingatestone Hall dwelt Lady (Catherine) Petre, the widow of the 7th Lord Petre, and a fervent Catholic. In the locality of Stock, there was working a secular Catholic priest, John Gunston, who was a convert and, like a lot of converts, a little bit over-zealous, He made a large number of converts and in this was aided and abetted by Lady Petre. The inexperienced Anglican curates were no match for them. The Rector of Ramsden Bellhouse, Alexander Jephson, felt concerned about this and in September 1723 wrote a letter of complaint to the Bishop of London about these two. Nothing came of it.
In 1734 Thomas Cox and was succeeded as Rector by his son, also Thomas. In the same year Alexander Jephson died. Thomas Cox was given the living of both Stock and Ramsden Bellhouse, so they became joined.
The area was becoming something of a religious battleground, as in the early 1740s, certainly not later than 1744, the Jesuits arrived at Crondon Park. In that year it is known that Father James Blair, SJ, was in residence there. In 1754 Buttsbury must have mislaid their `proper book' (register), as clandestine marriages were taking place there.
In either 1759 or 1760 a workhouse was built on part of the common, the road being called Workhouse Lane - now known as Common Lane. The workhouse.was a form of poor relief. You went in there if you were desperate - and you had to be, for it was a harsh regime.
In 1764 the Chelmsford newspaper, The Essex Chronicle was founded. Sadly, the first issue of Friday 10th August contains no mention of the village.
In 1769 the first known cricket match is known to have taken place in Stock on the common: it is not known when Stock Cricket Club was established.
Travel in the 1760s could be hazardous and tedious. On 25th November 1768, Thomas Freeman, a farmer of Stock, was robbed by two robbers between Galleywood Common and Chelmsford on his way home from the market. They robbed him of 15 shillings and in his fright he lost a sack containing, amongst other things, some meat and some shoes. The robbers told him not to be frightened, as they wouldn't hurt him, but he didn't believe it.
In July 1769 the Rev William Cawthome Unwin, who was born in 1745, was appointed Rector of Stock and Ramsden Bellhouse. He married Ann Shuttleworth and they had three children, all born in Stock - John (1775), Mary Ann (1779) and William (1781). In 1781 he was presented to the living of Ramsden Crays, which he held at the same time as Stock and Ramsden Bellhouse. William Unwin visited the prisoners in Chelmsford prison and harangued the magistrates into giving them warmer clothes and also fires. He became a friend of Lord Petre, which, as Lord Petre was a Catholic, was rather daring for an Anglican clergyman. His main claim to fame is that he was friend of the poet William Cowper (1731-1800). Unwin first met Cowper in 1765 and they struck up a friendship, which lasted for the rest of Unwin's life. At one time Cowper became engaged to Unwin's widowed mother, Mary.
Unwin found the annual tithe audit very embarrassing, so Cowper wrote a poem for him called `The Yearly Distress or Tithing Time at Stock'. This has been reproduced in two histories of Stock and a limited edition of the poem was printed by the Rev Barry Hall, the Rector of West Hanningfield in 2000. Cowper also wrote a poem of friendship to the Rev
Unwin. Surprisingly, as far as is known, Cowper never visited Stock. However, another acquaintance of Unwin's did - the slavery reformer William Wilberforce, whom Unwin met in January 1786 and who visited the Unwins in Stock that Easter. In November 1786, whilst visiting Winchester he caught fever and died and is buried in the nave of the Cathedral.
In 1767, in survey of Catholics done by the Church of England there were reckoned to be about 120 in the parish of or in parishes adjacent to Stock. The actual number in Stock seems to have been about 45. It seems that Stock was one of the principal places of Catholicism in Essex at that this time, Crondon Park being the principal place of worship.
Meanwhile Lord Petre and a few others had been working away in Parliament to make life easier for Catholics. In 1778 and 1791 the two Catholic Relief Acts were passed which did make life easier for Catholics.
However things were going down hill in Buttsbury and on 7th February 1783 the Benefice of Buttsbury was united to that of Ingatestone. Between 1760 and 1770, the first history of Essex was written by the Rev Philip Morant, who went into the background of the two parishes, but didn't say much about what they were like at that time. He does mention the manufacture of bricks and pottery in the two parishes: the bricks were regarded as very good, but the pottery was just run of the mill stuff.
In those days, Greenwoods was known as Stock Hall, despite technically being in the parish of Buttsbury. The oldest part goes back to the 16th century and was originally owned by the Bate family. In 1738 there is evidence of the Berington family in the village. The Beringtons were Catholics, who had not foresaken the religion. Anne Bate married Thomas Berington. In 1751 Anne Bate inherited Stock Hall from her father George Bate. For a time Stock Hall became a seat of Catholicism. Indeed at the end of the 18th century the Berington family bought Crondon Park from the Petres, the Masons staying on as tenants.
The French Revolution had a surprising impact on the area. A lot of the aristocracy and the religious fled abroad, including England Some ended up Stock and at least one priest, the Abbe Jean-Baptiste Aubert, is known to have settled in the village. He is believed to have lived in a cottage near Crondon Park and initially seems only to have served only the French immigrants in the area, as the English Catholic population were served by an English priest - the Rev Robert Cole. When the latter left he assumed responsibility for both communities.
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If you include any data from this page in your research, please credit Charles Phillips as he has put a lot of work into researching this
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