Church of England
Chiltern District Council
SP 950 059
Hawridge, St. Mary : Ledgerstone 1
Rectangular vault cover slab; the southern edge is concealed beneath the front choir stall
Aligned East to West
an inlaid brass bottonée cross is positioned at the
top of the slab with the inscription below it
the lettering is incised in roman caps and l/c
Condition fair – the inscription is worn on the north side of the slab, but more legible on the south side
Gray granite: brass
Visible area: 27.5 x 40 inches
700 x 1015 mm
The slab predates the present church, rebuilt in
1855, and is not quite central in the chancel but a
little off-set to the south, indicating that the layout
of the church is slightly different now. A
window dedicated to the memory of the Revd John
Merry was saved from the previous church and
installed in the south wall of the chancel of this
The Revd John Merry was baptised on 12thMay
1822 at Chettle, Dorset. He matriculated 2nd
November 1838, aged 18 at the Queen’s College,
Oxford where it says that he was the eldest son of
John Merry of Cofton, Worcestershire. He
married Catherine Ann Trinder at Cirencester in
1851 and the same year he became rector of
Hawridge, Bucks. He died of apoplexy on the
23rd September 1852. (ref a,b)
References: a) Alumni Oxonienses 1715-1886 by
Joseph Foster b) BMD & Census records.
THE Revd JOHN MERRY’S
Hawridge, St. Mary : Ledgerstone 2
rectangular plain slab
aligned east / west
incised inscription on the upper half of the slab to
the memory of John Seare and Mary his wife, their
daughter Mary and grandson John.
the lettering is incised in roman caps and l/c with
condition good – legible inscription
78.5 x 45 inches
1995 x 1145 mm
Sir Thomas Peniston was lord of this manor, in the reign of Henry
VIII. Soon afterwards it was held by the family of Tasburgh, who
sold it to the Seares in 1630 (ref.a). In 1748 Robert Dayrell had
bought the Manors of both Hawridge and Cholesbury from the Seares
When, in 1634-5 Charles I revived the Ship Tax and extended
liability to pay to inland towns. John Seare paid the largest amount in
Hawridge in 1636, which indicates that he was then the occupant of
Hawridge Court, the largest property in the village. In 1641, twentythree
residents took the oath on the Protestation return (to defend the
Protestant religion), but the only refusals in Hawridge were John
Seare, his son and two servants, and one other person (ref.b).
His son, Richard Seare of Great Missenden, stated in his will of 1713
that he held estates in the parishes of Hawridge, Choulsbury (sic) and
Ellesborough, together with the advowson of Hawridge Church,
where he wishes to be buried.
References: a) Magna Britannia: Buckinghamshire by Lysons 1806;
b) Hilltop Villages of the Chilterns by David and Joan Hey
Here lyes ye Body of IOHN SEARE of this Parih
gent who departed this life ye 14th of March 1682
in ye 80th yeare of his Age, & MARY his wife who
dyed ye 28th of december 1685 Aged 50. & MARY
their daughter who dyed ye 13th of Augt : 1687
Aged 27 yeares : Alo IOHN ye Son of RICHARD
SEARE gent : and ELIZABETH his wife & grand
on of ye aid IOHN who departed this life ye 24th : of
February 1699 at a month Old
Hawridge, St. Mary : Ledgerstone 3A
rectangular slab with heraldic plate
aligned east /west
the heraldic plate is placed centrally within the top half of the slab. There is evidence of brass fixing studs for other plates having been fixed to the slab, one of which is now mounted on the south wall (see 003B). It is possible that this plate was fixed 23·75ins from the bottom of the slab where parts of 6 metallic studs remain coinciding with the studs on 003B.
Blazon: Dexter: Sable three lucies hauriant Argent, a chief Or [KITSON]
Sinister: Quarterly: 1 & 4, Paly of Argent and Azure six on a chief Gules three besants, [DONNINGTON] 2 & 3, [-] a chevron [-] between three mullets [-].
This shield appears to refer to the second marriage of Sir Thomas Kitson (Dorothy’s father) with Margaret, daughter of John Donnington of Stoke Newington. (ref.a) Although the blazon is quoted in full there is no colouring on the brass.
The brass is worn
Gray stone with rough surface; brass
slab: l.78·5 x w. 35·00ins (l.1994 x w.890mm)
heraldic plate: h. 6·5 x w. 5·25ins (h.163 x w.133mm)
top of slab to heraldic plate: 19·25ins (489mm)
bottom of plate to bottom of slab: 52·75ins (1400mm)
Dorothy Pakington, née Kitson, was born in London in 1531. Her father, Sir Thomas Kitson (1485 – 1540), was a merchant and local politician who accumulated a substantial fortune by exporting cloth. Born in Lancashire, he acquired properties in Suffolk, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, as well as in London and Stoke Newington. He built Hengrave Hall, Bury St. Edmunds, 1525-38. He was elected alderman of the Castle Baynard ward in the City of London, was twice Warden of the Mercers’ Company, and knighted in 1533. His second wife was Margaret, only child of John Donnington of Stoke Newington, a member of the Salters’ Company, and they had four daughters, including Dorothy, and a son born after his father’s death. (ref. b)
The VCH, Bucks states “In the nave is a slab which now retains only the brass of a shield with the arms of Kitson impaling Donington, but there are indents for two other shields which bore the arms of Packington & Kitson and Tasburgh & Kitson. The names of the families whose arms are impaled are inscribed above each shield. The
brass inscription belonging to this slab is affixed to the south wall of the church, close by, and commemorates Dame Dorothy Packington, daughter of Sir Thomas Kitson and wife of Sir Thomas Packington and afterwards of Thomas Tasburgh. She died in 1577.” (ref. c)
This inscription is quoted in 003B. The other two shields can no longer be found.
References: a) John Allen, adviser on heraldry. b) ODNB. c) VCH, Bucks,
Record 003B is part of the record of Dorothy Pakyngton. One of the plates in 1c above, originally fixed to the slab, was mounted on the south wall and is described as 003B.
Hawridge, St. Mary : Ledgerstone 3B
a wall tablet consisting of a rectangular brass plate.
the plate on the South wall of the nave, is fixed by six screws to an oak panel with chamfered edges.
the tablet bears an incised inscription in gothic (black letter) caps and l/c with archaic spelling. There is evidence of the lettering having had white colouring and there is some damage to the lettering which may have occurred when the plate was removed from the floor slab in the nave (003A).
the brass is heavily patinated
brass: h. 5·5 x w. 21·1ins (h. 140 x w. 536mm)
panel: h. 7·75 x w.23·5ins (h.197 x w. 597mm)
Dorothy Pakington was born in 1531, daughter of Sir Thomas Kitson, who died in 1540. Dorothy’s widowed mother remarried the same year, and on 20 September 1546, days before her stepfather’s death, Dorothy was granted a dispensation to marry Sir Thomas Pakington (c. 1530-1571) of Hampton, Worcs.
They had three sons and three daughters and, after Thomas’s death in June 1571, Dorothy remained a widow for at least a year before taking as her second husband the young Buckinghamshire lawyer Thomas Tasburgh of Hawridge (c. 1554-1602) (ref. a).
Shortly before Dorothy married Thomas Pakington, he had inherited the lordship of Aylesbury from Chief Justice John Baldwin, his maternal grandfather and guardian. In 1554 Aylesbury was incorporated as a borough under the control of the Pakington family, who usually returned their friends as MPs. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Aylesbury has been justly described as an Elizabethan pocket borough (ref. a). In his Will, “Sir Thomas Pakington of Aylesbury” left, among other things, several manors in Buckinghamshire to Lady Dorothy. As a
widow, Dorothy Pakington exercised the full powers of lordship herself, proclaiming in 1572 “To all Christian people to whom this present writing shall come, I, Dame Dorothy Pakington, widow, late wife of Sir John Pakington, Knight, Lord and owner of the town of Aylesbury, send greeting. Know ye, me, the said Dame Dorothy Pakington, to have chosen, named, and appointed my trustee and well beloved Thomas Litchfield [son-in-law] and George Burden Esqrs. to be my Burgesses of my said town of Aylesbury. And whatsoever the said Thomas and George burgesses shall do in the service of the Queen’s Highness in that present Parliament to be holden at Westminster the eighth day of May next ensuing the date hereof, I, the same Dorothy Pakington, do ratify
and approve to be my own Act, as fully and wholly as if I were or might be present there. In witness whereof . . .” (ref. b).
Although this return was not unique, returns of MPs by widows were extremely rare in early modern England. They presented the authorities with a dilemma, for in 1586 the privy council expressed concern at a woman nominating burgesses, yet at the same time there was a powerful reluctance to restrict any property rights, even when exercised by widows (ref. a).
Three hundred years later, Dame Dorothy’s example was used in the argument for women’s suffrage, but in his Constitutional History of England, first published 1861, Sir Thomas Erskine May wrote “In the Middle Ages and up to the beginning of the seventeenth century the property franchise was occasionally exercised by women as well as by men. The franchise was attached not to citizenship but to property, and so long as the root idea of the House of Commons was that of the assemblage, at the bidding of the Crown, of the representatives of owners of property in order that they might, before or after the redress of their grievances as the case might be, give and grant some part of the property of those whom they represented or of their own to the Crown to be
applied to public ends, there appeared to be no reason why property should be less represented when its owner was a woman than when he was a man. Accordingly we find that a certain Dame Dorothy Pakington in the reign of
Elizabeth returned two members to represent her or her property in the House of Commons. But the practice of women voting had fallen into disuse even before its formal condemnation by Lord Coke, and the dictum of that great authority was for the time conclusive.” (ref. c)
Dame Dorothy’s second husband, Thomas Tasburgh, acquired the manor of
Hawridge in 1574 (ref. b) and in her Will, she asked for “my bodye to be buryed . . . within the Churche of
Hawridge and that without all . . . pompe”. She died
References: a) ODNB. b) Hilltop Villages of the Chilterns by David and Joan Hay, via Buckinghamshire: A Record of Local Occurrences, Vol. 1 (1878) by R. Gibbs. c) The Constitutional History of England since the Accession of George III, 1760 – 1840, Vol. 3 by Sir Thomas Erskine May.
Here lyeth buried the body of Dame Dorothe Pakyngton. A
Daughter of SR Thomas Kyton late of London Knight who was
the wyfe firt of SR Thomas Pakyngton Knight, and lat of Thomas
Taburgh Equier, she lyved very vertuouly, and Departed this
lyfe, a moote faythfull and godly Chritian, the 2de of Maye, when
she had lyved xlvi yeare and vii monethes, anno dm. 1577.
Record 003A is part of the record of Dorothy Pakyngton.