Friday 29 June 2012

Fornham St Genevieve

The Church of St Genevieve in Fornham Park was badly damaged by fire on Wednesday 17 May 1775 (FN1). All that now remains is the West Tower. The curious cause of the fire was reported in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser on 23 May 1775:
Extract of a letter from Bury, May 19.
Wednesday morning, about five o'clock, a fire broke out at a new erected farm house situated on Culford Heath (the property of the Right Hon, the Earl Cornwallis,) which in a short time consumed the same; the flames were so rapid that two cottages, (also newly erected) were consumed; by which the poor cottagers lost their all, and two children were with much difficulty saved. Also this morning the church of Fornham St. Jenoveve, was burnt down, except the bare wall. The former was occasioned by the chimney catching fire and communicating to the thatch. The latter, by means of a gun being fired at some jack daws which had lodged on the steeple; the wad lodging in the thatch, the church was very soon on fire, and as soon consumed; one of the bells broke in falling; the large engine was sent from this place, and kept constantly playing on the house of Charles Kent, Esq; a very elegant seat, near the church, which escaped the rapidity of the flames.
Until its destruction the church contained at least one memorial inscription relating to the Tyldesley family, recorded by Estcourt (FN2):
Here lyeth the body of Mrs. Eliz. Tyldesley, who died 31 Jan., 1727, ætatis suæ 27 ; also Mrs. Mary Tyldesley, 25 Mar., 1728, ætatis suæ, 25. Requiescant in pace.
Elizabeth and Mary Tyldesley were two of the daughters of John Tyldesley who was born in 1655 and died in 1723. John Tyldesley was originally of Stanzacre in Lancashire and it is not known what caused him to move to Suffolk. He married Catherine Stafford and appears to have had at least five children: Frances, John, Elizabeth, Mary and William.

Like all Tyldesleys at that time, John Tyldesley was a recusant Catholic. As a consequence his property is itemised in the Registry of the Papists Estates within the Division of St Edmunds produced on 29 April 1719. The tenants of his property in Fornham St Genevieve are named as John Flowerdew, Nathaniel Marchall, Thomas Osborn, William Langham, John Bloise, Joseph Johnson, Robert Batrum, John Cooke, William Leppingwell and Ellis How.

Estcourt records that John Tyldesley died on 18 February 1723 at the age of 68 at the Lodge in Lancashire. John Tyldesley's son—also John Tyldesley—married Jane and had at least two children, Frances and Bridget. Bridget Tyldesley was to marry Francis Hanne and have a daughter, Bridget Hanne. Details of the Hanne family are available from Eddie Hann's Hann Family History site.

Lunn (FN3) ignores the Suffolk branch of the family but mentions as an "unidentified Tyldesley" one Anthony Tyldesley, a Franciscan who died on 24 July 1718 at the age of 32 and is "buried in the parish church of St Edmundsbury, in Suffolk".  Anthony Tyldesley was from Lancashire and it is not clear how he is related to the Suffolk Tyldesleys. Typically, Lunn offers no source for the details he gives, but it seems likely that he was relying solely on the Necrology of the English Order of Friars Minor of the Order of St Francis 1618-1761 (FN4):
Antonius Tyldesley—Anno Dmni 1718 die 24ta Julii In Anglia dum animarum Saluti incumberet oibus S : Matris Ecclesiæ Sacramentis munitus pientissime Obiit P : F : Antonius Tyldesley Lancastriensis ætatis suæ 32 : Relig : 15 : Sacerd : 8 : missionis 5 : Sepultus est in Ecclesia Parochiali Sti Edmundi Bury In Suffolcia. R.I.P. 
Further information on the Church of St Genevieve and many other churches in Suffolk is available from Simon Knott's excellent Suffolk Churches site.

1. Some sources, including English Heritage, suggest the date of the fire to be 24 June 1782 but this appears to be erroneous. Contemporary sources confirm the correct date:
  • London Evening Post 20 May 1775 to 23 May 1775
  • Middlesex Journal and Evening Advertiser 20 May 1775 to 23 May 1775
  • London Chronicle 20 May 1775 to 23 May 1775
  • Daily Advertiser 23 May 1775
  • Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser 24 May 1775 
  • The Craftsman or Say's Weekly Journal 27 May 1775
2. The English Catholic Non-Jurors of 1715, Edgar Estcourt, 1885
3. History of the Tyldesleys of Lancashire, John Lunn, 1966
4. The English Franciscan Nuns 1619-1821 and The Friars Minor of the same Province 1618-761, Catholic Record Society Volume 24, 1922