Thomas Sanders of Fladbury and the non-jurors

In the last post I summarised what I know about the Forrest family of Fladbury, Worcestershire. I have good reason to believe that my 9 x great grandfather, Thomas Forrest, a London citizen and haberdasher who died in 1678, was born in Fladbury, though I’ve yet to prove it.

As always, I’m interested in the religious and political affiliations of my ancestors, and their connection with historical events. For example, I was intrigued to discover that in 1723-5, Thomas Sanders or Saunders, a ‘gentleman’ of Moor in Fladbury, was listed in a ‘Return of papists’ and nonjurors’ estates’. I’m fairly sure that this is ‘Mr Thomas Saunders of Moore’ to whose three children William Forrest of Badsey (brother of my ancestor Thomas) left money in his will of 1698. Saunders had married one of the daughters of William’s (and Thomas’) sister Alice (the wife of William Boulton), at some point in the 1680s. As I noted in the last post, one of the children of this marriage, Hester Saunders, married Thomas Crabb, and their son Henry Crabb Boulton would serve as the Member of Parliament for Worcester and chairman of the East India Company. Thomas Saunders or Sanders was probably born in the 1660s, so he would have been in his sixties when the return of nonjurors’ estates was published. It seems unlikely that there were two men of the same name in the tiny hamlet of Hill and Moor. A Thomas Sanders was included in a list of Fladbury electors in 1702, and there’s a good chance this was the person mentioned both in William Forrest’s will four years earlier, and in the list of nonjurors twenty or so years later.

1715 rising: the 'Old Pretender' lands in Scotland

1715:  the ‘Old Pretender’ lands in Scotland

The description of the list of nonjurors at the National Archives reads as follows:

Following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, all catholics refusing to take oaths of loyalty to king and government were required to register their names and estates at quarter sessions. Lands not so registered would be forfeit.

This series consists of returns by clerks of the peace for most counties of England and Wales and several towns of the names and estate details of catholics and nonjurors, registered pursuant to an Act of 1722.

The returns describe the estates in detail, giving precise locations and dimensions of lands; land and building names; topographical and building details; and all privileges and appurtenances. Tenants are named, with details of tenure, and rents are sometimes given. In most instances it is not clear whether the returnees were catholics or nonjurors.

Also in this series are a few certificates of the Land Tax Commissioners, concerning the assessment of double tax on the property of catholics.

As this note explains, inclusion in the list does not necessarily mean that the person named was a Catholic. Many nonjurors were Anglicans, as explained in this Wikipedia entry:

The nonjuring schism was a split in the Anglican churches of England, Scotland and Ireland in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, over whether William of Orange and his wife Mary could legally be recognised as King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The word ‘nonjuring’ means ‘not swearing [an oath]’, from the Latin word iuro or juro meaning ‘to swear an oath’.

Many of the Anglican clergy felt legally bound by their previous oaths of allegiance to James II and, though they could accept William as regent, they could not accept him as king. It was not necessarily a split on matters of religious doctrine, but more of a political issue and a matter of conscience, though most of the conjurors were high church Anglicans. Thus, latitudinarian Anglicans were handed control of the Church of England. The nonjurors thus were nominally Jacobite, although they generally did not actively support the Jacobite rebellions in 1715 or 1745.

So Thomas Sanders or Saunders might have been a high church Anglican rather than a Catholic; I’ve found no evidence of Catholic affiliation among his descendants. However, there is certainly evidence of continuing nonjuring sympathies among the population in that part of Worcestershire. Apparently Worcestershire in general was strongly royalist during the Civil War. We also know that the Throckmortons, one of the prominent landowning families in the Fladbury area, remained Catholic, supported the King in the Civil War, and suffered loss of their estates as a result. Thomas Throckmorton of Coughton was mentioned in the same legal document as Robert, William and Thomas Forrest ‘all of Hill in Fladbury, husbandmen’ in 1608.

Sir Robert Throckmorton

Sir Robert Throckmorton (via Wikipedia)

In the election of 1702, another prominent local landowner and politician, Sir John Pakington of Westwood Park, a staunch Tory and Anglican traditionalist, faced a vigorous campaign against him by William Lloyd, the Bishop of Worcester. In the words of one source:

Lloyd used the occasion of his episcopal visitation to issue veiled exhortations to the voters to eschew Pakington, and in private excoriated the baronet for debauchery and adherence to the Pretender. The dispute between Pakington and Lloyd epitomized one of the most important divisions within the Church, that between an increasingly Whiggish, Latitudinarian episcopate and a High Anglican, Tory squirearchy.

Lloyd went so far as to write to local vicars to encourage them to put pressure on their electors to vote against Pakington. One letter, ‘To the Reverend Poutney, Rector of Fladbury’ berates the local electors for voting for Pakington in the past and adds a postscript: ‘The enclosed is a list of the voters from Fladbury at the last election. I pray God direct them this time to vote better or to stay away’. The list then follows –and it’s from this list that we know that Thomas Sanders was one of those entitled to a vote in the parish, as well as one or two other familiar names, such as Thomas Horniblow and William and Richard Bushell.

Sir John Pakington

Sir John Pakington

I’ve been reading a great deal recently about the political and religious conflicts of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including James and Ben Long’s gripping Traitor to the Crown, which describes the little-known episode in which Samuel Pepys was arrested on a charge of treason in the aftermath of the imagined ‘Popish Plot’, and Meriol Trevor’s enjoyably revisionist biography of Pepys’ erstwhile employer James Stuart, Duke of York and later (briefly) James II of England and VII of Scotland. I’m intrigued to discover on which side of these disputes my ancestors found themselves.

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