THE WIRELESS − PRO. AND
A TALK ON TITHE
REMINISCENCES OF TRING CHURCH
SEVENTY-FOUR YEARS AGO
A NOTE ON THE MUSIC IN TRING CHURCH
TALK OF THE TOWN — IN
SOCIALLE SECURITIE IN MERRIE ENGLANDE
REGISTER EXTRACTS —1735
THE EXECUTION OF THOMAS
COLLEY — 1751
BYGONE DAYS IN TRING:
THE ARCHDEACONS’ COURTS
THE LOSS OF CHURCH RAILINGS:
THE GORE MONUMENT
THE NAME OF TRING
DEATH OF MR. A. W. VAISEY
Ed. − On the 31st December 1926, the British Broadcasting Company
was dissolved and its business taken over by the non-commercial
British Broadcasting Corporation, ‘The BBC’. Thus began radio
broadcasting as we know it today. The following article from
the Parish Magazine expresses fear about the detrimental impact on
churchgoers of broadcast or ‘arm chair religion’ religion.
Tring Parish Magazine August 1927
THE WIRELESS − PRO. AND CON.
We can only consider in a short paragraph the results of “wireless”
from a religious point of view. In favour of it are the facts
that it has enabled thousands of invalid and agèd people to hear a
religious service from which perhaps they have been cut off for
years and the remainder of their life. Many others, also, who
never attend a place of worship have heard a good sermon each week
and a religious service. In the near future, too, probably it
will be possible to broadcast a service to those thousands of our
own country men and women who are living in isolated parts of our
Empire, and who hardly ever see a clergyman.
We are also told by parents that the “wireless” keeps their young
people at home on weekday evenings when without it they have sought
amusement outside the home. Anything which strengthens home
life is valuable. On the other hand, the wireless keeps people
at home on a Sunday evening also when they would have gone to
Now, listening in an arm chair to a service at your ease, however
much you try to enter into the service, is not the same as going to
Church. No doubt you can hear a better sermon on the wireless
than you get at your own Church, but that is not the point.
Such an arm chair religion is of little value. We ought to go
personally to God’s House regularly not merely to hear a sermon, but
to maintain the public witness to God before the world, but above
all “to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received
at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most
holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and
necessary, as well for the body as the soul.” We have lately
missed some of our regular worshippers. Will they think this
Is such an easy kind of religion as listening to a “service” at home
worth much to you? And is that all you are prepared to give
Almighty God once a week? Religion has got to cost us a great
deal if it is to be worth anything to us at all. The great
insidious danger is that this vicarious kind of worship will act as
a soothing syrup to the conscience and finally put it to sleep.
Above all, no one can plead the sacrifice of the death of Christ and
receive His Body and Blood on the wireless. And that is
“generally necessary to salvation.”
Ed. − in addition to BBC broadcasting (previous article), 1926
also saw the arrival in Tring of mains electricity. The next
article from the Parish Magazine reports on the replacement of the
old electric generating set with mains electricity. The generator,
installed in the Vicarage gatehouse in 1909, comprised a 4½ h.p gas
engine running on coal gas supplied by the mains (fed by the Tring
Gas Light & Coke Company’s works in
Brook Street). The engine drove a dynamo that charged a bank
of lead acid accumulators. Once charged, these could run the
Church lighting system for up to 5 hours.
Tring Parish Magazine, September 1927
The difficulty about the electric Lighting of the Church has been
most happily solved, as it has been found possible to modify the
current of the public supply to suit our present wiring. By
means of a “transformer” we shall be able to use the system we now
have for 2 or 3 years longer, which will give us time to collect the
money for the wiring which will be required by the full power of the
This is a great convenience as the present year has been a heavy
one, and to have found £150 or so before its end would have been a
considerable difficulty. Will people kindly remember the
“Church Electric Wiring Fund” as I believe that it is the intention
of the churchwardens to start such a fund at once? Sometimes when it
is desired to make an “offering” there is doubt as to what it should
be given, and here is something which is a real necessity for our
public religious life and to which it might be suitably devoted.
The Church authorities are most grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Kemp for
the long suffering way in which they have endured our present
private plant upon their premises, until such time as we could
mature plans for being connected with the public supply.
Tring Parish Magazine, November 1927
The faulty condition of the old cable and of other sections of the
apparatus in the Parish Church are the cause of the very poor
lighting, recently, of the main portion of the Church, and it has
become urgently necessary that the substitution of a new cable for
the old one, as well as other necessary work, be taken in hand.
The work to be done now will happily form part of the whole scheme
of re-wiring which must shortly be proceeded with, at an estimated
cost of £150. A fund has been opened and subscriptions are
appealed for without delay that the work may be put in hand as soon
possible. These may be paid into the National Provincial and
Barclay’s Banks, or to the Churchwardens.
The old apparatus has served us for eighteen years, and so it is
apparent that the present state of affairs is by no means
Tring Parish Magazine, January 1928
The first part of the re-wiring and renewals made necessary by the
connecting up with the public electricity supply has been completed
in an entirely satisfactory manner by Mr. Gilbert Grace, at a cost
of £42, which amount will absorb all the present subscriptions to
the Electric Light Fund, together with the amounts realised by the
sale of the old engine and batteries now no longer required.
The transformer and its fitting have yet to be paid for, and the
greater portion of the work, to complete the rewiring scheme, has
yet to be done. Probably more than an additional £100 will be
required, and an urgent appeal is made to all member’s of the
congregation, and to others who may be interested, to subscribe
without delay to the fund now open at the National Provincial and
Barclay’s Banks. The transformer has a life of 2 years; it has
now been in use for 4 months; it is not paid for; and 4 months so
soon becomes 2 years!
Tring Parish Magazine, December 1935
A TALK ON TITHE.
The opening meeting of the new session of the the Men’s
Society was held in the Church House on Monday evening the 4th
November, and we were very fortunate in getting Mr. MacDonald to
come and speak to us on “Tithe,” a subject which in some districts
has caused disturbing incidents, and in general has given rise to a
great deal of controversy.
Mr. MacDonald began by saying that he hoped he would not send us all
to sleep (he evidently was not accustomed to the Church House
Chairs) and then made his audience sit up by stating that there is
now no such thing as Tithe.
He explained that from early times “tithes” or “tenths” of the
produce of the land had been given to the parson, but owing to the
difficulty and inconvenience of collecting the tithes in kind, Tithe
owner and Tithe payer in many cases agreed to a modus or money
payment in lieu of tithe, and that by the Tithe Act 1836 the payment
of tithe in kind was abolished, and land was assessed to tithe
rentcharge according to its then fertility or bearing capacity, the
amount payable varying with the price of corn.
The present Tithe Rentcharge thus became a charge on the land and in
1891 it was made illegal for the Landowner to make his tenant
responsible for its payment.
It could be said on behalf of those who objected to pay “tithe,”
especially in the Eastern Counties where “tithe” is heavy, that when
the tithe rentcharge was assessed in 1835 the land there was good
corn land but that now in many cases it had fallen down to grass,
and the tithe rentcharge perhaps represented more than the present
value of one-tenth of the value of the produce, but it seemed that a
great many of the objectors had bought their land recently with full
knowledge of the charge thereon, and did take, or should have taken,
this into account in arriving at the price paid for the land; so
that in these cases the objection was hardly logical.
Mr. MacDonald explained the difference between small and great
tithes and how the latter were often taken by the absent Rector
leaving only the small tithes for the Vicar of the Parish.
He also gave instances of parishes where there is no tithe, where
there is only Rectorial Tithe, and where there are both Rectorial
and Vicarial Tithes.
Mr. MacDonald’s personal stories and anecdotes in connection with
the buying and selling and collecting of tithe (we did not know
before that Shakespeare was a Tithe Owner) were much appreciated, as
was also his reading of Cowper’s
poem [Ed. see below] on tithe, and those present described
the meeting, as to the numbers present, the subject, and the
lecturer, as one at the best we ever had.
Ed. Following the 1836 Tithe Act, a number of later Acts
changed the law on Tithe payments, which were finally abolished in
the 1977 Finance Act.
TITHING TIME AT STOCK IN ESSEX.
VERSES ADDRESSED TO A COUNTRY CLERGYMAN
COMPLAINING THE DISAGREEABLENESS OF THE DAY ANNUALLY
APPOINTED FOR RECEIVING THE DUES AT THE PARSONAGE.
well, for ’tis no
To laugh it would be wrong;
The troubles of a worthy priest
The burden of my song.
The priest he merry is and blithe
Three quarters of the year,
But oh! it cuts him like a scythe
When tithing time draws near.
He is then full of frights and fears,
As one at point to die,
And long before the day appears
He heaves up many to sigh.
For then the farmers come, jog, jog,
Along the miry road,
Each heart as heavy as a log,
To make their payments good.
In sooth the sorrow of such days
Is there to be express’d,
When he that takes and he pays
Are both alike distress.
Now all unwelcome at his gates
The clumsy swains alight,
With rueful faces and bald pates −
He trembles at the sight.
And well he may, for well he knows
Each bumpkin of the clan,
Instead of paying what he owes,
Will cheat him if he can.
So in they come − each makes his leg,
And flings his head before,
And looks as if he came to beg,
And not to quit a score.
‘And how does
miss and madam do,
The little boy and all?’
‘All tight and
well. And how do you,
Good Mr. What-d’ye-call?’
The dinner comes, and down they sit:
Were e’er such hungry
talking, and no wit;
It is no time to joke.
One wipes his nose on his sleeve,
One spits on the floor,
Yet not to give offense or grieve,
Holds up the cloth before.
The punch goes round, and they are dull
And the lumpish still as ever;
Like barrels with their bellies full,
They only weigh the heavier.
At length the busy time begins,
‘Come neighbours, we
The money chinks, down their chins,
Each lugging out his bag.
One talks of mildew and of frost,
And one of storms and hail,
And one of pigs that he has lost,
By maggots at the tail.
Quoth one, ‘A
rarer man than you
In pulpit none shall hear;
But yet, methinks, to tell you true,
You sell it plaguy dear.’
O, why are farmers made so coarse,
Or clergy made so fine?
A kick that scarce would move to horse,
May kill a sound divine.
Then let the boobies stay at home;
‘Twould cost him, I
Less trouble taking twice the sum,
Without the clowns that pay.
Tring Parish Magazine, December 1941
REMINISCENCES OF TRING CHURCH
SEVENTY-FOUR YEARS AGO.
In 1867, our beautiful Church presented a very different aspect from
that of to-day. The altar was bare, the only ornamentation
being the newly-erected reredos, with three panels, the centre one
containing a cross in white marble, and the sacred monograms on
either side. The Altar Cross, candlesticks and vases were
given at a much later date. The family from the Park occupied
seats in the chancel, and they entered through a doorway in the
south wall, a scene of awe to my childish eyes!
The singing was led by a choir of girls, apprentices at the Silk
Mill, who sat near the small organ in the north aisle of the nave,
and the responses were made by the Parish Clerk. Over the
chancel arch the Ten Commandments were inscribed, and above them the
text: “The Law was our Schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,” on
either side, a picture of Moses and of Aaron, these being afterwards
removed to the end of the north aisle. There was no chancel
screen until a much later date. The seats were nearly all
appropriated, although my father, who was Vicar’s Churchwarden,
wished them to be entirely free and open. The incumbent
preached in the Genevan black gown, and said that he intended doing
so until he was ordered by his Bishop to preach in the surplice;
once I remember seeing a preacher wearing black kid gloves!
Tring Church Reredos today.
Designed by W. F. Howard in 1928, the
Reredos depicts New Testament scenes.
Children’s services were unknown, and families came together to
Church, the younger members patiently attending the long morning
service, consisting of morning prayer, Litany, and the
Ante-Communion service. All the same, there was a large
congregation, and the children never dreamed of not wanting to go to
Church; habits of reverence and self-discipline were being formed,
and God’s House was in later years indeed our spiritual home.
Tring Parish Magazine, January 1944.
A NOTE ON THE MUSIC IN TRING CHURCH
From “The Fiddle’s Father” to the Electric Organ,
by Arthur MacDonald.
The organ console, Tring
The instrument we have today
was originally built in 1890 by Henry Jones & Sons of
South Kensington. It has twice been rebuilt and
extended, first by N. P. Mander & Co. and secondly by
Saxon Aldred of Redbourn.
information courtesy of Cliff Brown,
Organist and Choirmaster,
St. Peter and St. Paul, Tring.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the music in Tring Church
was supplied by a small orchestra housed with the choir in a gallery
fixed to the East wall of the tower, the instruments being a Double
Bass or “Fiddle’s Father,” one or two violins, and some quaint wind
instruments. The School Master led the band, and the
congregation in their horse-box pews were accustomed to turn West
towards the choir when singing.
In course of time a barrel organ replaced the orchestra in the
Western gallery, causing a moral as well as a mechanical revolution.
The choir struck, and refused to sing, stung to this drastic step
not only by the presence of the hurdy-gurdy but by derogatory
remarks as to their performance being “like a parcel of bulls.”
The Vicar was equal to the occasion, and refused to preach — “No
singing, no preaching.“ This outbreak of hostilities was
eventually got over, and peace again reigned.
After the commencement of the restoration of 1861-1881, the Western
Gallery was removed, and a “little organ was hung on to the North
wall, surrounded by a red curtain, above which the Vicar’s gardener
rose to blow the organ by pulling a rope, as for a knell. The
choir boys saw to it that the Christmas decorations included a trail
of the prickliest Holly round the blower’s rope.
It was well towards the end of the great restoration before a new
(or rather second-hand) organ by Gray and Davidson was subscribed
for by the ladies of Tring, and placed in a new organ-chamber, and
the choir, instead of the reigning family, occupied the chancel.
Half way through its life of 60 years, this organ was rebuilt under
the careful supervision of a friend of Tring Church, a blind amateur
organist. Now, in 1943, it remains to fill the organ chamber
in an honourable retirement, and a modern miracle of sound, of
American invention, a Hammond Electric Organ, has been installed and
was dedicated on the 22nd of September, 1943, being provided by a
fund readily subscribed by the parishioners and by friends and
relatives of the late Miss Helen E. Brown, a life-long worshipper in
Tring Church, as a memorial to her.
Some short description of this wonderful instrument may serve to
explain to the majority of us who daily use but do not understand
the telephone and radio, how the sound is produced by the electric
current from the mains, without any of the old concomitants of
pipes, bellows or blower.
A plain but handsome console like a large harmonium, with two
manuals and radiating pedals, is placed inconspicuously below and at
right angles to the chancel steps near the lectern, fed by two small
cables, at a cost of one penny an hour. Invisible wires carry
the impulses from the keys to four concealed sound cabinets from
which the music actually comes, high up in the aisles and chancel.
In place of the terrifying vertical columns of stops to be pulled
out by acrobatic arm action, is a bunch of little white-lettered
black stops occupying a space of about nine inches by six under the
organist’s left hand, pressed down with one finger and reproducing
the tones of every instrument of the orchestra, while a horizontal
row of small white knobs gives every possible combination at will.
The range of tone is far larger than that of a pipe organ, and
varies from a whisper to a volume which makes the roof rattle.
“No words can express its sweetness and versatility of tone,” as was
said by a friend who had heard the auxiliary organ in Canterbury
Many organs of this type have been fixed in this country.
Those of the Guards’ Chapel in Knightsbridge and Princes Risborough
Church in this neighbourhood are in buildings comparable in size to
Now, how are the multitudes of varied sounds made?
The ordinary amateur feels like the dog hearing his master‘s voice
through a gramophone; “Where is he? What’s at the back of this?”
When the undergraduate in for a viva voce was asked, “What is
Electricity?” and said he knew quite well when he came into the
room, but was nervous and had quite forgotten, the Examiner
remarked, “This is nothing less than a catastrophe! There are
only two Beings who know what Electricity is, — the Almighty and
yourself, and you’ve forgotten!”
It is doubtful whether the details of the organ supplied by the
builders will make us any the wiser. This is what they say
“The sound-waves produced by the Hammond organ differ in no way
from those created by any other means. The vibrations which
cause sound to be heard are the same, whether made by a reed a pipe,
a voice, or by an electric current. Research has enabled the
scientist to produce the vibrations which are the basic foundation
of all sound, to mix these vibrations at their source into the
intricate sound-wave forms of which every musical tone is
constituted and to amplify them to the required degree of
The actual mechanism in the sound cabinet by which the electric
current is converted into sound by means of magnets, coils, and 91
rotating metal discs the shape of a three-penny bit and the size of
half-a-crown, is such that no layman can understand or attempt to
describe, so we must be content to enjoy the result of the miracle
without knowing how it is done.
Tring Parish Magazine, February 1946.
TALK OF THE TOWN — IN 1701.
Now that Pendley Manor is so much in the news, it is interesting to
discover that the Pendley estate was at one the the cause of some
considerable friction between the neighbouring parishes of Tring and
Aldbury. Reference to the few existing records of the parish
reveals that about 245 years ago a dispute between the
above-mentioned parishes over their respective boundaries resulted
in a lawsuit, and this is borne out by the following extract from
the Vestry Order Book of that time :—
Novemb. 23rd, 1701.
Whereas there is a suite dependinge both in law and equity between
ye parishioners of Albury and the parishioners of Tringe in the name
of the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poore of the sd. parishes
for and concerninge threescore acres of land beinge the land of
Symon Harecourt, Esq., at Pendley whether the same lyes within the
parish of Albury or the parish of Tringe. It is now ordered
and agreed to at a public Vestry for the sd. parish of Tring.
That the said parishioners will stande by and assist the sd.
Churchwardens and Overseers in the defence of the sd. suite And any
costs and charges shalbe expended in and about the same shalbe
equally and apporconably borne and paid by the said parish.
The order is signed by Dan Clarke, John Rolfe, Thomas Grace, Robert
Harding, and 15 others.
The boundary at the present time divides Pendley into two parts.
The Manor is in Tring, but the farm in Aldbury. I don’t know
myself whether or not the area now in the latter parish was the
disputed land, but it appears quite probable, Aldbury having won the
Pendley was one of the five original manors of Tring, and no doubt
this is but one of many thrilling chapters which it has experienced.
The townsfolk probably found the Pendley steeplechase, mentioned by
Mr. Arthur Macdonald in “That Tring Air,” far more exciting.
Fortunately, Tring can still count the fine present-day institution,
which Pendley has become, one of its most valuable assets.
From the Tring Parish Magazine, March 1946
SOCIALLE SECURITIE IN MERRIE ENGLANDE.
Tring decided as long ago as 1718 that better provision should be
made for the less fortunate members of the community, and resolving
not to wait until 1946 for the Government to act, set about the
problem with typical Tring initiative. I leave the following
extracts from the Vestry Order Book to tell the tale :—
“Whereas the Charge of the poor of the parish of Tring in the said
County is become soe great a Burden . . . the Poores Rate being very
much encreased to what it was in former times, the parishioners have
had severall meetings and came to severall resolutions which are now
conﬁrmed by a Publick Vestry . . . . this 2nd day of November,
There then follows several resolutions, of which I quote a few :—
“that a House of Maintenance be provided for the poor . . . . in
order to prevent the giving or paying of weekely allowances and
Collections or House Rents to or for the said poor to any person or
persons whatsoever.” — “resolved and agreed to take the Parsonage
House . . . . and also the Inclosed Courts and Gardens belonging to
the said House at Eight pounds per annum” — “resolved and thought
convenient that 3 Cowes be bought and kept for the use of the said
House” — “that All Parishioners whatsoever that Aske reliefe . .. .
. shall he lodged, fed, clothed and maintained” — “that A man be
sent to at Once who is thought Experienced in A worke of this nature
. . . .. to treat with the parishioners on this undertaking” —
“whereas it is thought necessary that A Sume not exceeding £200 be
raised . . . . and William Gore, Esqre., haveing been pleased to
offer to lend the money . . . it is agreed to take up such a sume
and pay Interest” — “resolved that the Master . . . . shall have
power and liberty to hire out any of the poor people . . . . to any
. . . . that shall have occasion for their service He receiving what
they shall severally earn and be accountable to the parishioners for
The townsmen wasted no time in their project, and a week later met
again, when they decided to appoint “Mr. Matthew Marriott to
undertake the Care of the poor” and “in consideration of the great
pains and trouble the said Matthew Marriott shall be att ” agreed to
pay him £25 “for the first yeare,” £20 the second, and £18 the third
They also ordered, “for the better regulation of the House,” that
nobody should be admitted “without the Licence under the hands of
five of the chiefest Freeholders and Parishioners and the hands of
the Overseers of the Poor.” Anybody entering the House, or
taking in any Children, to be lodged, without this Licence were to
“be sent to Bridewell and farther punished” (Bridewell — gaol).
An inmate who refused “to worke orderly and soe many hours as the
Master commanded” was to “be sent to the House of Correction.”
Any person who would not work “pretending sicknesse” which might be
“discovered by their Stomachs or otherways ” merited severe
punishment. Anyone found “O Begging or Chaseing” was to be
sent to the House of Correction. Everybody in the House “of
Healthfull Bodyes and able” were to “fix by five or before and goe
to Bedd at nine.” Finally, it was stipulated that “at six of
the Clocke in the afternoon“ each Saturday, all townsmen who were
willing should meet the Overseers of the Poor to adjust the week’s
accounts, and that the Master should, at the end of his weekly
accounts, “sett down in writing all the disorders committed . . .
that the offenders may be examined by the Freeholders and
Inhabitants and punished as deserve.”
Thus did Tring tackle its social problems over 200 years ago.
Tring Parish Magazine, August 1940
June 15th, 1735.
“At a public Vestry of the Parishioners of the parish of Tring this
day assembled upon public notice it aprazing that Richd. Gluttor of
Barkhampstead Surgeon hath commenced an action against Jno. Baldwin
late Oversear of the said parish of Tring in order to charge him as
officer of the said parish with a bill for attending and curing
Daniel Jugg a certificate man of our parish of Tring, of a soar legg,
and we the parishioners aforesaid being willing that the aforesaid
Jno. Baldwin should not bear the whole expense of defending the
action and being satisfied the same is brought without good cause we
do agree to joyne in an equal expense of defending the action.
M. Randolph (Curate), John Harding, Sam Holmes, Edward Browne, John
Kingham, John Pegsworth, Matthew Evans, Daniell Barton, John Lake,
John Howton, Tho Josephs, Tho Kingham.”
This was followed by a decision a year later to permit the
“Overseers John Tompkins and John Lake to borrow of Mr. John Tovey
the sum of Forty-five pounds for the use of the parish in order to
defray the Law Charges in a cause lately determined between Flutter
Tring, March 27, 1744.
“At a Vestry assembled I, M. Randolph, do nominate and appoint Thos.
Humphrey Wheeler to be Church Warden for the ensuing year.
It is likewise agreed at the said Vestry that John Rolfe be the
other Church Warden for the same year.
M. Randolph, Thomas Chappell, John Yates (or Gates), Henry Newman,
Thomas Monk, Hugh Goodspeed.”
There is also a legal document included in the book by which the
Bishop of Lincoln instructed the Minister and Church Wardens to
place parishioners in the pews with which the Hon. William Gore had
seated the Parish Church in 1715. So far as possible they were
to place them in the new pews corresponding to their old sittings,
and these parishioners thus placed were not to be molested under
pain of the law by any other parishioners of Tring. A list of
pew holders followed.
FROM THE MONTHLY CHRONOLOGER:
THE EXECUTION OF THOMAS COLLEY
on the 24th August 1751,
FOR THE MURDER OF RUTH OSBORN, BELIEVED TO BE A WITCH.
At the assizes at Hertford, Thomas Colley received sentence of
death, for the murder of Ruth Osborne at Tring. It appeared on
the trial, which lasted several hours, that some of the neighbours
thinking the deceased was a witch, and her husband John Osborne a
wizard, had it cried at Winslow, Leighten-Buzzard and Hamel
Hempstead, on their several market days, that they were to be
publickly ducked on Monday, April 22, at Tring: That the overseer of
the poor of Tring having heard of this, and believing both the man
and his wife to be very honest people, in order to prevent the same,
sent them into the workhouse. That the master of the workhouse,
hearing on Sunday, April 21, that a number of people would assemble
next day in order to duck them, he in the middle of the night
removed them into the vestry-room adjoining to the church, believing
the sanctity of the place would have some awe upon the mob: That
about 11 on Monday morning, a great mob, thought to be above 5000,
came to the workhouse, and demanded these poor people, and on his
telling them they were not there, they rushed in and searched the
house, and all the closets, boxes and trunks; and that they were so
infatuated, that they searched the very salt-box for them: That
there being a little hole in the ceiling, where the plaister was
broke, Colley hallowed out, Let’s
search the ceiling; which they did accordingly, and not finding
them, declared they would pull the house down if they were not
delivered to them; and accordingly they pulled down a large wall
belonging to the house, and also pulled out all the windows and
window frames, and threatened to burn down not only the workhouse,
but the whole town of Tring, if they were not delivered up: That the
master, fearing the consequences, did at last inform them where the
two unhappy people were: upon this they went to the vestry-room,
broke it open, and took them away in triumph.
The ducking of the Osborns.
It further appeared, by the deposition of several witnesses, that
the man and woman were carried to a pond called, called
Marston-Meer, and separately tied up in two several cloths or
sheets: That a rope was tied under the arms of the deceased, and two
men dragged her into the pond: and then standing one on one side the
pond and the other on the other, they dragged her quite cross the
pond several times: That after this they brought her to the pond
side and set her down, and then served the husband in the same
manner, and so on alternately till the woman being brought to the
shore the 3d time, and laid on the ground, soon expired: That each
of the three times Colley went into the pond, which in mud and water
was not quite 2 foot and ½ deep, and with a stick in his hand,
turned the deceased over and over, and pushed her up and down
several times: That when he came out of the pond, he went round
among the people, and collected money of them as a reward for the
great pains he had taken in shewing them sport by ducking the old
witch as he called the deceased: That when he was in the pond, one
called out to him and desired him to come out, and let the woman
alone, for if he did not, he would certainly kill her: but he
refused to come out, and said she was a witch, and he would duck her
again: and that he did, after that, turn her over and push her about
in the pond several times: that the 3d time of ducking her, the last
before she expired, he took hold of the cloth she was wrapt in, and
pulled her up and down the pond, till the same came off and her body
appeared naked: and that then he pushed her on the breast with his
stick, which she endeavoured with her left hand to catch hold of,
but he pulled it away. -- Thus, according to the opinion of the
surgeon at the trial, this poor woman expired by suffocation with
water and mud. She was in the 70th year of her age: but her husband,
aged 56, being a lusty strong man, survived the inhuman treatment of
these barbarous miscreants. Several other persons were
indicted with Colley, two not yet taken, and the rest to the jurors
unknown: but it is hoped they will soon be discovered and receive
the just reward of their crime.
Saturday 24th August 1751
This day Thomas Colley, for the cruel murder of Ruth Osborne, on
supposition of her being a witch, was executed at Gubblecut-cross
near Marlston-green in the parish of Tring in Hertfordshire.
About 10 on Friday morning he received the sacrament at Hertford,
administered to him by the Rev. Mr. Edward Bouchier, when he signed
a solemn declaration of his belief relating to witchcraft; which he
desired might be carried to the place of of execution, and was there
publickly read, at his earnest request, just before he was turned
off, by the Rev. Mr. Randal, minister of Tring, who attended him in
his last moments. He was escorted by 108 men belonging to the
regiment of horse blue, with their officers, and two trumpets; and
the procession was slow, solemn, and moving. Friday night he
was lodged in St Alban’s
goal; and at five the next morning was put into a one-horse chaise
with the executioner, and came to the place of execution, about
eleven and after half an hour spent in prayer he was executed, and
immediately after hung up in chains on the same gibbet he was hanged
on. The infatuation of most of the people in that part of the
county was such, that they would not be seen near the place of
execution, insisting that it was a hard case to hang a man for
destroying an old woman that had done so much damage by her
witchcraft. It was said, he was to have been executed a week sooner,
but when the proper officers came to convey him from the goal, a
prodigious mob assembled and would not suffer him to be taken out of
His Declaration, above mentioned, was as follows.
I BESEECH you all to take warning by an unhappy man’s
suffering; that you be not deluded into so absurd and wicked a
conceit, as to believe that there are any such beings upon earth as
It was that foolish and vain imagination, heightened and inflamed by
the strength of liquor, which prompted me to be instrumental (with
others as mad brained as myself) in the horrid and barbarous murder
of Ruth Osborne, the supposed witch, for which I am now deservedly
to suffer death.
I am fully convinced of my former error, and with the sincerity of a
dying man, declare that I do not believe there is such a thing in
being as a witch; and pray God that none of you, thro’
a contrary persuasion, may hereafter be induced to think, that you
have a right in any shape to persecute, much less endanger the life
of a fellow creature.
I beg of you all to pray to God to forgive me, and to wash clean my
polluted soul in the blood of Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer.
So exhorteth you all, the dying Thomas Colley.
Ed. − Colley was executed at Gubblecote Cross. His body
was then hung from the gibbet in chains, where it is reputed to have
remained for years.
Tring Parish Magazine April 1925
BYGONE DAYS IN TRING: 1793
Vaisey has shown us an old copy of the Star newspaper dated
March 20th, 1793 in which is given a long account of a Meeting of
the principal inhabitants of Tring assembled together to uphold the
government and constitution in Church and State and to pass certain
The document is too long to quote in full but begins as follows:—
“We, the inhabitants of the Parish of Tring, Herts., assembled in
Pursuance of an Advertisement signed by the Church-wardens, think it
our duty to express our sentiments and resolutions on this and
arduous conjuncture of public affairs.
Then follow Sixteen Statements.
1. We declare that our attachment to the present Constitution of our
Country in Church and State is ﬁrm and unchangeable
2. We do not hestitate to assert that no government, either of
antiquity or modern times, has ever consulted so judiciously the
collective and individual happiness of the human race.
8. We proclaim in this public manner our unshaken loyality to
his present Majesty King George III, the father of his people; under
whose mild and equitable reign this nation enjoys an unexampled
stroke of public and private prosperity.
16. We therefore associate for the purpose of resisting the designs
of nefarious men, who have all to gain, and, nothing to lose, by a
change: and are come to the following resolution.
Here followed certain resolutions.
“Resolved, that we will defend to the utmost of our power, the
British constitution, composed of King, Lords and Commons, etc.
Resolved, that Drummond Smith, Esq., Thomas Harding, Esq., Rev. Dr.
Dupré, Rev. Marmaduke Bannister, Rev. Michael Dupré, William
Cunningham, M.D., Mr. John Rolfe, Mr. Samuel Snelson, Mr.
Bartholomew Rolls, Mr. Richard Mead, Mr. Edward Foster, and Mr.
Samuel Herbert, be a Committee.
Resolved, that these resolutions be inserted once in the Star,
and once in the County Herald.”
John Dupré, Chairman
Tring Parish Magazine, August 1944
THE ARCHDEACONS’ COURTS.
Our Venerable and revered Archdeacon, in whose County-wide work we
are all keenly interested, is relieved of the invidious duties of
his predecessors of the post-Reformation period of holding Courts of
inquisition into the unorthodox misdeeds of every parishioner in his
Deaneries, and of punishing by fine, imprisonment, or public
confession the smallest deviations from their ecclesiastical or
moral obligations. I believe some of these intolerant old laws
are still in force. Imagine our Archdeacon fining or
imprisoning all the Non-conformists of Tring, and all those
buttresses of the Church who neglect regular attendance at Divine
Worship, and condemning all persons of either sex who make an
occasional lapse from strict morality, to perambulate the streets in
a white sheet and make public confession of their fault!
Yet this is the sort of thing which his predecessors of the 16th and
17th centuries had to do, as recorded in the “Acta” or records of
the Archdeacons’ Courts. These were usually written in such
impossible script and Latin as to be unintelligible to all but the
specially expert. Dr. John Brown, however, in his life of John
Bunyan, has managed to decipher for us some items from the “Acta” of
the Archeacons’ Courts of our neighbouring County of Bedford, which
may give us some idea of the unruly and hilarious doings of our
ancestors, and of the beneficial effects of the removal of
Gestapo-like inquisitions formerly conducted by the Church into the
behaviour of all its members and officials.
The Church of England Courts.
We find one man bringing judgment upon himself for “marrying his
wife in their Parish Church in her mask”; another “for being married
to his wife under a bush”; and yet a third “for that the day he was
marryed he did blowe out the lightes upon the altar and wolde suffer
no lights to bourne.”
A shoemaker was punished “for that he kepeth his bed upon the
Sundaies and other holy days at time of mattens and mass, as it were
a hownde that shuld kepe his kenell.”
One man came into trouble for “folding some sheep in the church
during a snow-storm”; and another for “living in the church porch
and suffering his wife to travail in childbirth there, and to
continue there her whole moneth.” Women fell under the
judgment of the Court for coming to be churched “not as other honest
women, but comynge in her hatt, and a quarter about her neck”; or
“for not coming in a vaile"; and one brisk housewife, striking out a
bright idea on a rainy day, found to her cost that she had offended
by “hanginge her lynnen in the church to dry.”
The clergy and churchwardens were often in trouble in the Courts.
One rector was cited for refusing to hear confessions “because it
greeves him to heare the confessions made”; another went quite wrong
by “taking upon himself to the scandal of his calling, to be lord of
misrule at Christmas among certain yongelings”; another by leaving
some ecclesiastical ceremony to be present at the more exciting
spectacle of an execution.
The churchwardens incurred penalty “by suffering unrulie persons to
ring and jingle the bells out of due season,” by permitting a
minstrel to play in church at a wedding, and because the white sheet
used for penance was missing.
Finally, that chartered libertine the Parish Clerk was dealt with
summarily “for that he singeth the psalms in the church with such a
jesticulous tone and altitonant voyce, viz. squeaking like a pigg,
which doth not only interrupt the other voyces, but is altogether
dissonant and disagreeing unto any musicall harmonie.”
Sabbath and Saints’ days observance was strictly enforced. Various
parishioners were punished for looking on football players, for
playing at nine-holes, for killing meat, and dressing a calf, on
Sunday. Others for performing agricultural operations, or for
putting up nets and catching larks, on a Saint’s- day, and others
for not frequenting church; Richard Reade, of Keysoe, “sitting with
his hatt on usually at the reading of the Epistle and Gospell,” and
William Shackspeare, of Odell, for not communicating.
Harman Sheppard, the curate of Woburn, was presented in 1612 for
baiting a bear in the church, and some years later the
church-wardens of Knotting were cited because on three successive
Shrove Tuesdays they and their sons and Mr. Alvey, the Rector of the
parish, “permitted and were present at cock fightings in the
chancell of the said church in or about the sacred place where the
communion table stands, many persons being there assembled and
In still later years the Rector of Carlton was presented because
“immediately before service he did lead his horse in at the South
doore into the chancell of Carlton church, where he sett him there
and continued all the time of the said service and sermon.”
A Court had to deal with a clergyman who was charged with ensuring
an audience to the end of his discourses by the simple expedient of
locking the church door upon his congregation, and keeping them
there until it was quite dark. The Rector of Stondon was cited
“for reading divine service without a surplice, though it was proved
by witnesses that at that time his surplice was at the washers.”
These sacrilegious practices seem to us so far off as to have been
impossible, but there are the “Acta” for those who can‘ read them.
The Archdeacons’ Courts were abolished in the middle of the 17th
century, and we may congratulate our Archdeacon, and ourselves, that
he no longer has to deal with the modern equivalents of these
Tring Parish Magazine, June 1942.
THE LOSS OF CHURCH RAILINGS:
THE GORE MONUMENT.
The loss of the railings up the centre path, the iron railings
around the 18th century tombs in the Churchyard, the railings round
the St. Martha’s Church, and those round the Church House, are now
all gone. All we are allowed to retain are the War Memorial
gates, the gate and protective railings at the west end of the
Church, the Vestry gate and the old Churchyard gates. Most
people seem to think the Churchyard is improved by the disappearance
of the low railings: but some, I know, feel very much grieved and
hurt. The Parochial Church Council did everything possible in
making their official application for the retention of such railings
as might be considered to be of artistic, historic, or protective
value. The Archdeacon of St. Albans came over and he and I
sent a further joint request to the Government official in London.
Till the very last day we thought we had saved the St. Martha’s
railings, but on that day I had a telephone message from the Office
of Works and Buildings to say that they and everything else must go
with the exceptions above mentioned. This is just one more
reminder that we have consented through our representatives in
Parliament to yield up what is asked of us towards the winning of
The chief problem is going to be the prevention of the use of the
Churchyard as a playground. The Vicar and and the
Churchwardens would be very grateful if members of the Church would
give a kind of reminder to any children whom they may see running
about within the Church grounds.
This note would not be complete without a word of most grateful
thanks to Mr. Westron for his work and help in watching the
interests of the Church throughout in this matter of the railings.
Above: Tring Parish Church before its iron railings
Below: Sir William Gore and Dame
Elizabeth Gore Monument (detail),
Tring Parish Church.
The other Church note concerns the Gore monument. Within the
last few weeks a representative of the British Museum has been down
to photograph this monument on the N. wall of the Church. When
asking him if he could confirm the important theory of its being the
work of Grinling Gibbons in the 18th century, he referred the
question to Mrs. Esdaile, the great authority in England on this
kind of work. Space forbids full quotation from her reply, but
she says that in 1936 she thought it was Gibbons’ work. But
now, as a result of close enquiry and research, she says that there
are many points which contradict this, e.g., the cherubs are not
Gibbons’ work; the whole architectural framework is unlike his
architecturing, likewise the outwork, the drapery and the wig. “On
the other hand, all these points occur in the work of John Nost who
came over as assistant to Gibbons’ partner, Arnold Quellin, and
whose monumental work is well known. He uses the internal
frame of that form, is fond of that type of drapery, uses exquisite
marble outwork on the signed monument at Sherborne, and uses this
type of shield, which is not Gibbons. In short, he fills the
bill and explains also the ‘Gibbons’ feeling of the thing combined
with his own particular technique.”
The use of the pea-pod, Gibbons’ signature, on the monument, is to
be explained by the fact that Nost was so closely connected with the
Gibbons’ school. Mrs. Esdaile adds in her letter that this
John Nost was the author of the William III and Mary Memorial, set
up on the Royal Exchange.
Tring Parish Magazine, January 1944
THE NAME OF TRING.
I have noted in “That Tring Air” that this compact little name has
puzzled all the antiquarians, and that no satisfactory derivation
has been arrived at, though there have been many guesses.
There are also very many spellings, adding to the obscurity of its
origin. The earliest recorded appears to be Treing, Treung, in
Domesday Book, 1086. Two very learned local antiquaries have
written me on the subject since the publication of my booklet.
The first says: “What can you or I know about this difficult
question? Let us leave it to the experts. The great
Ekwall has no doubt about it. From one of the 10th century
spellings, Trehangr, he concludes that it is Tree-hanger, i.e.,
a hillside covered with trees.” To this I ventured to reply:
“It is true that Tree or Treow is an old Saxon word, that ‘Hanger’
is still in use in the Chilterns for a wood ‘hanging’ on a hill
side, as the charming name Turlhanger for the triangular wood above
Northfield in our neighbour parish of Aldbury, and that this and the
Tring woods are about the first along the line of the Chilterns from
the North East to clothe the hills, the Ivinghoe and Dunstable Downs
and their continuation into Norfolk being for the most part bare.
But the South Western extension into Dorset is nearly all wooded,
and there are “Hangers” in every parish. Gilbert White
mentions the “Hanger” in his parish of Selborne, Hants. Why
then, was not every parish at the foot of the South Western
Chilterns called Tree-hanger or Tring? Names were given for
something distinctive, not generic.”
The second antiquary wrote; “It is perfectly plain to me. Ing
or Ung (plural) meant ‘the men or inhabitants of.’ For the
first syllable, the only word in any language ever spoken in England
is the Saxon ‘Treow,’ pronounced and meaning ‘Tree,’ so Tring means
‘The men of the Tree,’ referring to the custom of the Hundred-mote
or Court of a division of a County being held at a well-known and
conspicuous, tree.” Tring was the head town of the Hundred of
Tring in Saxon times afterwards merged with Danias Hundred into the
still existing Hundred of Dacorum. The Hundreds, or divisions
of the Counties for legal, military and local government purposes,
into areas perhaps comprising a hundred families, were constituted,
possibly at the same time as the Counties, before King Alfred’s
This derivation seems rather more plausible than Ekwall’s, but is
open to the same objection; — why were not the other Hundreds whose
court was held at a tree (and there were many) not called Treing or
Tring? Also, the place must have had a name before the
Hundreds were formed. There certainly are some names which are
generic and not distinctive. There is a place in Cornwall
called “Rock,” and several rivers called Ouse and Avon, which simply
mean water. So, to my mind, the origin of the name of our town
is still “wrapped in mystery.”
The perpetuation of old field names by giving them to modern houses
is instanced by my own house, “Hazely,” my late lamented neighbour,
Miss Williams’s “Hawkwell,” by “Dunsley” Farm, opposite, and
“Goldfield” Windmill. All these were names of the three or
four hundred acre arable fields before the Inclosure of the Parish
in c1800, cultivated by the communal plough and oxen. Another,
Hounslow has not been appropriated, perhaps because of its
associations with highwaymen and Gunpowder mills.
From the Bucks Herald, 8th December 1939.
DEATH OF MR. A. W. VAISEY
TRING LOSES A VETERAN TOWNSMAN
62 Years a Practising Solicitor
Lifetime’s Work for the Parish Council
FORMER COUNCIL CLERK FOR HALF-A-CENTURY
As announced in last Friday’s issue of the Bucks Herald, the
death of Mr. Arthur William Vaisey, one of Tring’s most prominent
townsmen for over 60 years, and senior member of the firm of Messrs.
Vaisey and Turner, solicitors, Tring, occurred at his residence,
“Holly Field,” The Grove, Tring, on Wednesday of last week, in his
88th year. He had maintained his full professional and public
activities until the week-end before his death, so that despite his
great age and the fact that he was unwell during the early part of
last week, his passing was quite unexpected and is deeply regretted.
“Holly Field” in Grove
Demolished in the 1970s and the land redeveloped as Hollyfield
The large house just visible was called “Netherby”.
It too has gone.
Mrs Vaisey predeceased her husband on September 4th, 1925, at the
age of 71. Mr. Vaisey is now survived by an only son (Mr. H.
B. Vaisey, K.C. and Doctor of Civil Law, Vicar General of the
province of York and Chancellor of the Dioceses of York, Carlisle,
Derby and Wakefield) and seven daughters, together with
grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Miss M. Vaisey, one of
his daughters, is a member of the Tring Urban District Council.
His younger son,
M. Vaisey, of the R.F.A., a solicitor, who had practiced in
partnership with his father, was killed in action on September 7th,
By his death Tring has lost one who, coming to the town while quite
a young man, was destined throughout his long life to take a
noteworthy and highly responsible part in its life and in the
direction of its main affairs. There have been few whose loyal
and devoted service have left so permanent an imprint on the history
and indeed the character of the town in which he spent and devoted
his life. Wide and varied experience, sound judgement, tact
and marked efficiency, combined with his sound legal knowledge,
established his high reputation as a lawyer. All these
qualities he brought to bear on the work of every one of his public
offices. In his social and religious activities his fine
influence and abilities were always sought and used to lasting
advantage, and were always freely given. But reputation,
responsibility and personal importance, thrust upon him by both men
and affairs, never spoilt his nobleness of character and his obvious
innate sense of proportion. His approach to the ordinary
situations of every-day life and his personal relations with all his
fellow townsmen were essentially human, revealing wide sympathies
and a keen understanding. A doyen of the Victorian era, he
found no difficulty in keeping his keen and progressive mind fully
abreast of the times. In him were combined a delightful
old-world courtesy and charm and a keen insight into the outlook and
aims of the youngest generation, which made him a contemporary and a
popular and inevitable figure. To the very last he filled a
place and played a part which could not have been undertaken with
the same effect and grace by anyone else. For a long time
Tring will not be quite the same without his venerable and dignified
presence, without the power and touch of his contributions to
discussion and his suggestions for the solution of a difficult
problem. For the last half-century “Tring” and “Vaisey” have
been synonymous terms in all that was best, highest and true.
Many old Tring memories, already fast becoming beyond recall, go
with him. He leaves the memory of one whose strength of
character and singular purposefulness of life and mind were always
associated with lofty spiritual and secular ideals.
Mr. Vaisey was the eldest son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
Vaisey, of Stratton, Cirencester. He was born at Cirencester on
February 8th, 1852. He was educated at King’s School, Gloucester,
was articled to Messrs. Millings, Ellett & Co., solicitors, of
Cirencester, and was admitted a solicitor at Michaelmas, 1874.
In June, 1877, he came to Tring, having acquired the legal practice
of Mr. Shugar, in which he continued to be actively engaged till the
last. Now known as Messrs. Vaisey & Turner, he was senior
member of that firm. He was thus one of the oldest practising
solicitors in England.
At 25 years of age, in the year 1877, he was appointed Clerk to the
old Tring Local Board, in which office he continued for 18 years,
until, in 1895, the Board was succeeded by the present Urban
District Council, which he continued to serve in the same capacity
for another 32 years, his retirement, in April, 1927, at the age of
75, thus marking 50 years’ service as Clerk to the two authorities.
During that half-century he had service under seven chairmen, all of
whom died before him. They were Messrs. William Brown, F.
Butcher, Richardson Carr, the Rev. Charles Pearce, Messrs.
Christopher Batchelor, John Bly and John Stenhouse. He was
succeeded as Clerk by Mr. A. Brooke-Turner, his partner in the firm
of Messrs. Vaisey and Turner, who had hitherto been responsible for
much of the work and who has since in turn been succeeded by Mr. H.
J. Gurney, the present Clerk, who had been Finance Officer to the
Council and who had assisted Mr. Brooke-Turner in his Council work.
So long a period of distinguished local government work was worthily
recognised at the Urban District Council meeting at April, 1927,
during the chairmanship of the late Councillor E. Stenhouse and
vice-chairmanship of the late Councillor John Bly, and many tributes
were paid to the devotion, skill and prudence which had
characterised his work as Clerk. Mr. Vaisey was presented with
a framed and enlarged photograph of himself and an illuminated
address as “a recognition of his devoted and valued labours,” these
being the gifts of past and present members. The late Lord
Rothschild was among the former members attended the Council meeting
to honour Mr. Vaisey, and to pay personal tribute and wish him many
years of health and happy retirement.
The photograph has ever since occupied a prominent position in the
FREEDOM FROM LITIGATION.
In acknowledging these gifts and expressions Mr. Vaisey related that
when he was appointed Clerk the Board had been in litigation for
many years with the [Grand Junction] Canal Company and hundreds of
pounds had been spent in legal expenses. The year after he was
appointed there was a writ issued against the Council to carry out
some work at the reservoir at the Silk Mill, in accordance with an
agreement signed years before. The Master of the Rolls held
that it was quite impossible for the Council to carry out the work
demanded, and ordered each party to pay his own costs; and their
costs came to about £60. Since then (in 1878) they had not one
penny to pay in law costs.
His services to the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul and to
church work in Tring generally, were equally devoted and had been
continuous during the whole period of over 60 years that he had
lived in Tring. He was the first sidesman to be appointed in
Tring, in 1893, when sidesmen were first appointed. At Easter,
1924, he retired, as Vicar’s Churchwarden, after 17 years’ in the
office, and nearly half-a-century of church work was then marked by
the presentation to him of a silver cup and a silver breakfast disk,
both appropriately inscribed, from his friends, together with an
album containing the names of 500 subscribers. The late Mr. F.
J. Brown was appointed to succeed Mr. Vaisey as Warden to the then
Vicar (the late Rev. T. V. Garnier).
This by no means marked any diminution in Mr. Vaisey’s interest or
enthusiasm for church work, which he continued with unabated vigour
until the last. He continued with great regularity to read the
Lessons at church on Sundays, his last appearance in that capacity
being two Sundays before his death. He had continued as a
member of the Parochial Church Council, of which he was lay
vice-chairman, and as a Tring representative of the Diocesan and
ruri-decanal conferences, a work he had carried out for many years.
For many years he was on the Board of Management of the Tring Church
School, and was a former secretary to the School Managers. He
took a prominent part in the movement for the restoration of the
schools after the Great War of 1914-1918, and had taken the same
absorbing interest in the appeal and preparations for the new Church
Senior School, a scheme for which the necessary initial outlay had
been raised, but which was placed in abeyance by reason of the
present war. The restoration of the Parish Church at different
times claimed his ardent and enthusiastic support.