Ledgerstones by King’s Lynn Sculptors 1680-1820

AHSE, William (d.1682)

In the early 1680s, a stonecutter of Lynn supplied a ledgerstone commemorating Captain Thomas Simmell (d.1680), buried at St Ives, Huntingdonshire. In 1684 John Forman told the heraldic visitors that he had employed the stonecutter to make his wife’s uncle’s slab, the interest of the heralds being the arms on the slab Simnell had claimed during his lifetime. The slab was not found when the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments published its Huntingdonshire volume and may have been destroyed in the same hurricane on 8th September 1741 that badly damaged the churches of St Margaret and St Nicholas in Lynn, as the two Lynn churches were reported as having had their spires blown down which the church at St Ives was simply reported as blown down. The stonecutter’s identity is unknown. It could have been William Ahsem a free stone mason of Lynn, whose will was proved in 1682, or Michael Losnetz, a carver active 1682-1716.

ELDREDGE, William (b.1749; d.1819) and/or ELDREDGE, Richard (fl.1790-1820)

William Eldredge was the son of Joseph Eldredge of King’s Lynn, a mason who had been apprenticed to John Fellowes (q.v.) of King’s Lynn in 1725. Similarly, Richard Eldredge was the son of William. It difficult to distinguish their individual chisels, though Jon Bayliss is of the opinion that the Benezet monument at Swaffham and the Hammond monument at South Wootton may both be by Richard Eldredge.

According to Jon Baylis, Richard Eldredge was paid £6 6s for a gravestone for Esther Watson of King’s Lynn in a probate account (Norwich Archive Centre) dated 1806. This may well be for a ledgerstone. As it is not recorded in E M W Hovell, Inscriptions on the Tablets, Slabs and Monuments in the Chapel of St Nicholas, King’s Lynn, King’s Lynn (G R Oswell) 1937, it may have been for either St Margaret’s or All Saints. According to the Universal British Dictionary, a partnership in the mid-1790s was entered into between Martin Short and Richard Eldgredge.

According to E Hillen, History of King’s Lynn, vol.1, Norwich (Hillen) 1907, 387, Start & Eldridge bought for £4 10s in 1787 the slabs from St Margaret’s church, King’s Lynn from which the churchwardens had torn off the brasses. Could this have been William Eldredge, or his father Joseph?

FELLOWS, John (fl.1714-1756)

As a ‘free stone-mason’ Fellowes, or Fellows, became a Freeman of King’s Lynn in 1714 as Alderman Burney’s freeman, and between 1714 and 1717 built the library at the west end of the south aisle of St Margaret’s church, which was destroyed in 1874. In 1723 he made the chimney-piece of black and grey marble (now in the smoking-room) for Raynham Hall, Norfolk. With John Parsons of Wells, Norfolk he rebuilt the nave of St Margaret’s church, King’s Lynn in 1742 from the designs of Matthew Brettingham. He married Elizabeth, the widow of John Kirrich of Wolferton (d.1728), and had a son and daughter by her, the latter baptised in December 1731. The will of John Fellows, gentleman, was made 25th October 1756 and proved 6th December the same year. It was witnessed by, among others, John Kirk, his former apprentice. Apart from a bequest of £50 to his daughter Mary Harvey, he left everything to his son William.

Gunnis notes that he took as his apprentice in 1721 his son William who only became a freeman of Lynn in 1758. There is confusion here because John Fellows took his nephew William Fellows as apprentice in 1714/15 and 1721 is the date of William’s freedom. The younger William was apprenticed to his father John Fellows in 1747/8 and was no doubt the same man who was described as a gentleman when he was given his freedom in 1757. The situation is further complicated by the dates assigned to john’s signed monuments. Linnell suggested a date of c.1770 for the pyramidal 1741 Shropham tablet signed by J Fellow, which would indicate a second John Fellows. Hoever, the freeman’s book does not list a second one. Linnell also suggested the same date for the 1735 monument at West Acre signed by John Fellows, which Gunnis mistakenly says is signed by William and which has an added date of 1771. Jon Bayliss thinks that this rather earlier than the Shropham tablet and that a date in the 1740s is not inmpossible for Shropham, which is close to the design on the left of plate 133 of Batty Langley’s 1739 book. The tablet at Wereham commemorates Adamsons dying between 1742 and 1786, with the first Adamsons named in the inscription dying in 1744, which looks a likely date for it being commissioned in the 1740s. While it, too, looks later than the Browne monument at West Acre, it seems that Fellows had his own style, as witnessed by West Acre, the Walsham and Dickinson monuments at Woodston and related unsigned monuments, but could also produce monuments from other people’s designs if asked to do so. The 1738 monument to Richard Dashwood at Cockley Cley is pyramidal and looks later than those at Shropham and Wereham.

John Fellows looks seminal in the development of Lynn as a centre for the monumental trade but the lack of signatures during the rest of the 18th-century hampers the identification of Lynn monument. He took ten apprentices, of whom seven, apart from his son, became freemen but the only signature to appear on Lynn monuments during the second half of the century is Eldridge. Fellows took a Joseph Eldridge as apprentice. According to Gunnis, it was the latter’s son (b.1749; d.1819) who signed a number of monuments, although Jon Bayliss suspects some of these to be by Richard Eldridge, a further generation on.

1730 Wolferton, St Peter John Kirrich, monument and ledger

1737 Litcham, All Saints John Glover, monument and ledger

1739 Holbeach, Lincs, All Saints Sarah Callow, ledgerstone

n.d. King’s Lynn, St Margaret Mrs Julian . . . Ledger, date eroded.

KIRK, John (fl.1752-1781)

From apprenticeship records, Kirk appears to be the most significant figure among Fellows’s ten apprentices, taking five of his own, all of whom became freemen. Unlike Fellows, he appears to have signed none of his work. Fortunately three architectural tablets and a black marble ledger are documented, which enables some view to be formed of his ouvre. While the three tablets are treated very starkly compared to his master’s, it would be unwise to come to too definite a conclusion as the best Lynn work of this period is more decorative. Unfortunately, the ledgerstone has only a short inscription, so wider conclusion about his ledgerstone style can be drawn only with difficulty until Andrew Taylor’s is examined.

John Kirk took no apprentices until 1758 despite being free since 1739/40. He was a witness to Fellows’ will. In 1752 he signed the receipts for a monument at Sporle. It cost £45 16d 6d in 1752 and was paid for by Mrs Susanna Edwards. A rather conservative architectural tablet in the church commemorates William Edwards (d.1724). One of his children mentioned in the inscription was called Susannah. A payment of £27 6s 6d to Kirk in 1761 by a Mr Rolfe of Heacham, as executor of Andrew Taylor (d.1760) of Beechamwell, may be a payment for a monument. Farrer records a heraldic ledgerstone to Taylor at Tottenhill but the amount suggests a small tablet too. According to executors’ accounts, in December 1776 Kirk and Baly were paid £52 12s for two monuments to Edmund Rolfe (d.1774) and his first wife, Ann Smith (d.1739), following Edmund’s death and burial at Heacham. They were also paid £8 3s 2d for a black marble ledgerstone in May 1775, the receipt naming Kirk & Baly on the obverse but Kirk & Co on the reverse. The tablets are identical, somewhat plain and, like Sporle, have open pediments. The ledger has a short inscription only. Baly must be John Baly, whose son’s apprenticeship to a grocer in 1788 appears to be the only mention of him in the Lynn apprenticeship and freedom rolls. He married John Kirk’s daughter, Ann. Kirk made his will in 1781 but it was not proved until 1790. John Norman of Hillington, gentleman, Kirk’s esteemed friend, was an executor and undertook the administration. It seems likely that he was related to Kirk’s apprentice Robert Norman, whose location was given as Hillington at the time his partnership with Charles Bottomley of Wells was terminated in 1783.

The receipt for the 1775 Edmund Role ledger at Heacham makes interesting reading[1]:

Edmund Rolfe Esqr Dr. to Kirk & Baly

To 24 feet in black marble Gravestone £ s d

Fitt for Lettering @6s740

To 19 Large Letters @ 2d32

To Glazing[2] the Stone 4 0

To Loading & Laying down Do. At

Heacham & Raising another[3] 12 0


LOSNETZ, Michael (fl.1670-1730)

There are a number of ledgerstones in the King’s Lynn area dating from 1670-1730 by a lettercutter whose lower case ‘w’ is cut as an ‘i’ and a ‘u’: “ . . iuho died . .”. Jon Bayliss has identified this distinctive chisel as that of Michael Losnetz. In the Archive Centre at Norwich is an account from Michael Losnetz, as he signs himself, to Sir Nicholas L’Estrange on behalf of James Calthorpe for £2 3s for engraving the arms and inscription in 1716 on a ledgerstone at East Barsham to Mrs Barbara Strutt (d.1714)[4]. Mrs Strutt’s slab was bought from William Allen, who may have been a Lynn merchant.

Examples can be seen in various churches in the King’s Lynn area and further afield, such as Ely Cathedral. At Great Massingham, the 1866 restoration by Daniel Penning saw the replacement of the nave floor, when the civilian ledgerstones were all moved to the west end of the nave and those to former incumbents went into the churchyard, at the east end of the chancel. It is among the latter that an example of 1699 off this chisel can be found.

Losnetz was employed as a carver on the Market cross at Lynn, erected 1708-1710, and on the St James Workhouse between 1682-1683, though he was not paid until 1691 for the figures of a boy and girl flanking the pediment over the doorway.

1673 King’s Lynn, All Saints Thomas Spensly (d.1673) and

Francis Spensly (d.1709)[5]

1673 King’s Lynn, St Margaret Thomas Hobson

1676 Ely, Cambridgeshire John Mingay[6]

1681 Walpole St Peter, St Peter Robert Cony

1682 Fleet, Lincolnshire Ann Parks[7]

1683 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Robert Pr—e

1685 South Wootton, St Mary Anthony Hammond

1687 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Bridget Keene, with additional

inscription to Benjamin (d.1709)

1687 Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen Francis Spensley

1694 Middleton, St Mary Thomas Peirson

1695 Great Massingham, St Mary the Virgin Charles Brown

1696 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Alice Tussett

1696 Sandringham, St Mary Rev Thomas Stringer[8]

1696 Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen Thomas Knight (d.1696) and wife

Susanna (d.1678)

1697 Houghton, St Martin Edward Walpole

1699 Anmer, St Mary Francis Dusgate

1699 Great Massingham, St Mary the Virgin Yet to ascertain

1699 Sandringham, St Mary James Hoste

1699 Stanhoe, All Saints Thomas Sedgwick

1700 Houghton, St Martin Robert Walpole

1700 Swaffham, SS Peter and Paul John Case

1701 Didlington, St Michael Robert Wilson[9]

1701 Islington, St Mary Nicholas Edwards (d.1701) and

Anne Edwards (d.1688)[10]

1701 Sandringham, St Mary Elizabeth Hoste

1701 Watlington, SS Peter and Paul Bridget Davis

1702 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas John Karey Jnr

1702 Mileham, St John Baptist Edward Barnwell (d.1666) and

Charles Barnwell (d.1702)[11]

1703 King’s Lynn, St Margaret Benjamin Holly

1703 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Nathaniel Revett[12]

1703 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Ann Rolfe, with addition to

daughter Bridget (d.1716)

1703 Middleton, St Mary Thomas Barker

1704 King’s Lynn, St Margaret Edward Bodham

1704 South Wootton, St Mary Edmund Hammond MA, added to

mother’s slab

1704 Tilney All Saints, All Saints George Towers

1705 Burnham Westgate, Mary Thurlow

1705 Hilgay, All Saints Nicholas Spencer

1705 Methwold, St George Richard Swift

1705 Mileham, St John Baptist Elizabeth Barnwell

1705 North Runcton, All Saints James Burges

1705 Salle, SS Peter and Paul Roger Howman

1706 Ely, Cambridgeshire Nathaniel Browne[13]

1706 Great Bircham, St Mary Alexander Booty

1706 Hilgay, All Saints John Wainford[14]

1706 South Wootton, St Mary John Hatfield

1706 Watlington, SS Peter and Paul Gregory Davis

1707 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Susanna Cropley[15]

1707 Sandringham Elizabeth Hoste

1708 Didlington, St Michael Edward Wilson[16]

1708 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Mary Turner

1708 North Runcton, All Saints Edmund Buttrie[17]

1709 East Ruston, St Mary Joseph Watts

1709 West Lynn, St Peter Children of Samuel and Mary Brown, 1698 to 1709

1710 Hilgay, All Saints Margaret Musson

1710 Watlington, SS Peter and Paul Gregory Davis

1711 East Walton, St Mary Elizabeth Richardson

1711 King’s Lynn, St Margaret Alice Holly

1711 Terrington St Clement, St Clement Rev John Henson and wife


1713 Swaffham, SS Peter and Paul Mary Skippon

1714 Dersingham, St Nicholas John Pell

1714 Gaywood, St Faith Rev’d Thomas Thurlin

1714 Northwold, St Andrew Thomas Holder

1715 Denver, St Mary Francis Jenny[19]

1715 King’s Lynn, All Saints William Stringer (d.1715) and

Hannah Stringer (d.1716)[20]

1716 East Barsham, All Saints Barbara Strutt (d.1714)

1717 East Barsham, All Saints James Calthorpe

1717 Hilborough, All Saints Amy Wace

1717 Middleton, St Mary Robert Barker

1723 Mileham, St John Baptist Mary Barnwell (d.1711), Philip

Barnwell (d.1715) and Ann

Barnwell (d.1723), infants.

1727 King’s Lynn, All Saints John Barsham (d.1727) and Alice

Barsham (1703)[21]

1727 King’s Lynn, St Nicholas Hawsley ledger[22]

n.d. Fring, All Saints John Vincent[23]

n.d. Soham, Cambridgeshire Thomas Docwra and wife Mary


n.d. South Wootton, St Mary Edmund Hammond (d.1643) and

wife Mary Salter[25]

islington_edwards_img1 islington_edwards_img2

[1] NRO HEA 486 Executor Papers

[2] Polishing

[3] ‘Raising another’ probably meant lifting and taking away the temporary freestone slab.

[4] Although called ‘Mrs’, Barbara Strutt was a spinster. According to the inscription her ledgerstone, she

was the second daughter ofof Robert and Grace Strutt of Hadley, Suffolk – Grace Strutt being the

daughter of Christopher Calthorpe of Cockthorpe (Norfolk) – and died in 1714 aged 81 years.

[5] Later inscription also by Losnetz.

[6] In Ely Cathedral, west end south choir aisle. Mingay was Receiver of the Hon Co of the Great Levels.

[7] Later inscription by Losnetz to her husband, Richard

[8] Now in churchyard, having been removed from church during 19th-century restoration work.

[9] Mural monument.

[10] Ledger provided by Losnetz in 1701.

[11] This stone was presumably cut in 1702.

[12] This appears as an additional inscription on the ledger for Michael Revet, d.1667.

[13] In Ely Cathedral, north choir aisle by Lady Chapel corridor. Browne was a draper in Ely.

[14] Mural monument, on the exterior of the building. Now no longer there.

[15] This appears as an additional inscription on the ledger for Thomas Say, d.1682.

[16] Mural monument.

[17] Headstone in churchyard.

[18] Formerly on an altar-tomb but now laid flat.

[19] Mural monument on the outside wall of the chancel. Now no longer there.

[20] Presumably laid in 1716?

[21] Both inscriptions by Losnetz; presumably laid in 1727.

[22] The three additional inscriptions to Elizabeth (d.1727), Elizabeth (d.1745) and Susanna Hawley

(d.1746), all by the Master of the Archaic W, appear on the ledger for Susanna Ferrour (d.1678).

Could it be that the later two inscriptions are from an imitator the Master of the Archaic W?

[23] Headstone in churchyard.

[24] The ledgerstone pre-dates Mary Docwra’s death.

[25] Tomb-chest in churchyard. Presumably erected after Mary Salter’s death.