The Strangman Family of Hadleigh in Essex
During the early part of the 1600s, the Strangman family, once important land owners, had disappeared. No trace of our Hadleigh family is mentioned in old local historical accounts after this period. In Philip Benton’s book on Essex families, he states that on the death of Bartholomew, his brother James and Bartholomew’s son Robert, the family was extinct. The house was left to go to ruins …
… or so we thought until now!
The Strangman family had come from Normandy to England about the time of William The Conqueror (1066-1100 period). William Peregrinus (meaning stranger or strange man/wanderer) was the first to arrive and the family settled in Essex shortly after. His son Richard changed their name to Strangeman and four generations later it was altered to Strangman. By then the family were living at Bradwell, where several generations of the Strangmans were buried.
Nine generations later, we know that William Strangman was living in Hadleigh, although several of his ancestors had also been living in the village previously. John, who died in 1479 and was possibly his great-grandfather; Edward in 1530/3, possibly his grandfather’s brother and Francis, probably a cousin, who had five daughters (d.1551).
The family had also owned other properties and land in Hadleigh – Blossoms Farm estate, Sayers Farm (known then as Stockwoods and later sold to the Kirton family in c.1640) , Gt. Nashes (in Daws Heath) as well as Russells Marsh below the Castle (later owned by the Wood family). They were gentlemen farmers and landowners and owned Hadleigh’s manor house, Strangman Place, believed to have been on the same site as the present Solbys House, within the John Burrows Recreational grounds. (See the photos of Blossoms farmhouse, Sayers farmhouse, and a map showing the location of Gt. Nashes.)
From a survey of 1549 in Norden’s Historical and Chorographical Survey of Essex …
“Nere Hadleigh (Hadleigh) Strangmans” and marked on the map a short distance north of the Church about the site of the later Solby’s from person owning it a Century ago. Called ‘Pollingtons or Strangmans Place’.
By 1577, it is recorded that …
“Hadley ad Castrum the site of the manor there with lands and services of the same Manor in the tenure of Bartholomew Strangman. In possession of Sir Robert Riche, Knight.” (From Essex Record Office, Southend.)
Whilst William Strangman and his wife Mary Barnard,who was the daughter of Sir Thomas Barnard (Barnardiston) a Knight of Suffolk, lived at Hadleigh there was a custom to buy with the Church offertory money, stocks of cows and sheep, which were farmed out to the local landowners (such as the Strangmans) for rent. This was to assist the poor of the parish and rents were to be collected twice a year. (Inventory of Church Goods 1551).
William and Mary had four sons, Bartholomew, James, Edward and John, (the two latter sons died in infancy), plus two daughters. William also had three other daughters from a second marriage to the daughter of William Kemp. (See family tree.)
William died in 1573 and is buried in the churchyard of St James-the-Less Church in Hadleigh – see photo in gallery below. His sons, Bartholomew and James continued to live at Strangman’s Place. James was to become an Antiquarian and is regarded as the first to collect much of the history of Essex.
William’s father, John Strangman, who was a Sergeant at Law and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, owned properties and lands of his own prior to his marriage to Mary Ingrove, who was heiress to her father’s considerable estates.
William’s son, Bartholomew, died in 1580, after which his son Robert (then aged 16 years old) is listed as having been made a ward of Lord Barnardiston, a relative of his Grandmother. Bartholomew’s widow, Mary, married Dudley Fortescue of Falborne/Faulkbourne Manor (near Braintree ) in the following year and lived there until her death in 1602. Bartholomew’s brother, James, died in 1596 in France, having spent much of his earlier life in London.
Bartholomew’s son, Robert, married Susan Cary and by 1598 they were listed as living at Chilton, Suffolk, where the family held lands and later (1601) he may have moved to West Thurrock (Essex) where he purchased property/land. Robert is thought to have died without children in 1609 noted as then being of Brockley, in Suffolk.
But the Hadleigh family did not die out. Robert had a brother, Thomas, and two sisters, Bridget, who was born in 1562, and Anna, in 1562.
Thomas, (born in 1567) who was two years younger than Robert, bought Strangman’s Place at Hadleigh from his brother in 1602, the year their mother died. This also included Sayers Farm which was part of the estate. After his step-father Dudley Fortescue’s death in 1605, Thomas held the lease on lands in Faulkbourne.
At this time, Strangman’s Place looked across the common towards the church and village and beyond to the Thames estuary. Much of the surrounding land was either woodland or pasture. Their house may have been moated. The road to the village church was little more than a track for their horse and carriage. In the opposite direction the unmade road led to the heath, now Daws Heath Road, and their land at Gt. Nashes.
Strangman’s Place was described by the Rev’d. William Heygate in 1857 in his novel ‘Sir Henry Appleton’ …
“The stranger who decided to visit them had to cross a deep moat by a bridge which was cut off by a gate-house, of the same style and material as the mansion itself; then a courtyard met the eye and a long front of low gables with timbers laid close to each other, in various patterns, fringed by bargeboards of exquisite design and variety. The windows were low, with oak mullions and the door was low also. The west end of the building was built in another material. The ragstone of Kent had been brought over the water and a noble room was erected with open oak roof and pointed windows of a date only some 20 years later than the rest of the building with a glorious bay window at one end filled with stained glass.”
This description of their manor house may have been based on some facts. The local church was also built of ragstone from Kent and dates from c1140. Also a pond existed until the 1900s near to the present entrance to the land.
“Fine old house which had been one of the most stately in Hadleigh, fell into decay during the 18th century and no more than part of a moat survives”
Robert’s brother, Thomas, married Dorothy, and in 1612/13 he sold lands at Chilton and Faulkbourne. The family also held property/lands at Liston (Long Melford, Suffolk) which is where Thomas’ son, Samuel Strangman, was born in 1610. Samuel married Hester Warren of Colchester in 1635 and they had 10 children, the first six being born at Colchester.
In 1652, Samuel, his wife and six children moved to Ireland and this is where the remaining four children were born. Within a few years they became Quakers (c1655) and it is from the Quaker records in Dublin that their family’s history can be traced.
By the 1700s, the Hadleigh property and lands were sold to Mr Solby and a new house erected. The old house may well have been over 300 years old.
Seven generations after Samuel (during the 1860-99 period) there was a family of nine children in Ireland belonging to …
Thomas Hancock Strangman and Sarah
Thomas and Sarah both lived in the Cork district of Southern Ireland. They married in 1861. Thomas’s family were to be the last of the Strangman’s of this line to be Quakers, although their ways and beliefs carried on to future generations. Of their nine children, one died in infancy, one son died at the age of 12 years of a shotgun accident and one emigrated to British Columbia in Canada. Of the remaining six …
George Martin White Strangman was born at Waterford near Cork in Southern Ireland (in 1862) and became a doctor. He married Edith Peel who was also born in Waterford and whose great grand-father was Robert Peel the founder of the Police Force (1829) when he was Home Secretary.
George’s two brothers, Thomas and Cecil, were also doctors and they emigrated to South Australia (c1889 and not due to the earlier famine in Ireland nor were they Roman Catholic). Dr. Cecil Lucius Strangman wrote a famous and chilling report on the state of health of the Aborigine in the Northern Territories of Australia.
One of their sisters, Lucia, (Dr. Lucy) worked in the Cork District’s Lunatic Asylum which was next door to the Cork City Goal. She attended to the prisoners psychiatric needs as well as the mental patients (who were then treated like prisoners). She married Doctor John Joseph FitzGerald who also worked in the same premises. (John collated much of the Strangman’s family history relating to his wife from the pedigree chart made by James Pim Strangman, which John’s grandson, Martin, continues with today in Switzerland ).
Another sister, Sylvia, became a nurse and had lived for many years in France, with a flat in London. Their sister, Dr. Mary, (or Auntie Di’ as the family knew her) became the first woman doctor to be accepted as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Gaining a Fellowship of the RCSI in 1902 in England she eventually set up practice in Waterford in Ireland and worked to improve conditions especially in the fields of infant mortality and alcoholism. Apart from becoming a Doctor, she was also a Suffragist, Public Health activist and Waterford’s Town Councillor and had her biography written by Irene Finn in a Women’s Studies Review on ‘the life of Mary Strangman 1872-1943’. ‘She was a pioneer who accommodated the Quaker principles of equality and commitment to good works’.
To have had six out of the nine children, plus one son-in-law, in the medical profession must be something of a record.
Another line of the Strangman family went gold mining. This was Denis Strangman’s great grandfather, William Downing Strangman, who was one of eight brothers from the Cork area of Ireland. He emigrated to Australia in 1853 (200 years after the Strangman had first settled in Ireland), in search of gold. In 1859 William married and moved to the goldfields of Lamplough near Avoca during the gold rush which commenced the following year. There he operated a puddling machine (used to break up clay) for several years. Miners paid the owner of this machine to put their dirt through. The family remained in Avoca for 18 years before moving to New South Wales. Denis and his family still live in Australia.
Other Strangman families also left Ireland during the 1800s and emigrated to New Zealand, South Africa and England where descendants such as Patricia Strand of Somerset now live.
In Ireland, a member of the Strangman family whose ancestor stayed there, named his house ‘Hadleigh’.
Our Hadleigh family of Strangmans have certainly had eventful and interesting lives.
Sandra Harvey (Hadleigh)
Just over 200 years after the Robert Strangman of Hadleigh had died, a new tenant arrived in one of his properties, a cottage in Endway, which had been part of the Blossoms Farm estate. This was James Murrell, known as Cunning Murrell, Hadleigh’s White Wizard.
Compiled from information supplied by Martin FitzGerald (Switzerland), Denis Strangman (Australia) and Patricia Strand (Somerset). See family tree 1066-1947 – The Strangman’s of Hadleigh.