The December 2013 edition of the Lopping Times has now been sent out to all members.
The Lopping Times is our twice yearly journal where we write up some of the more interesting items discovered during our genealogical research.
This edition contains the following articles:
Addition to the Willingale Family
Willingale Court Martial
Les Willingale Award
It’s been a while since we blogged anything, however that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy researching. The family tree on the website continues to grow thanks to the efforts of our three researchers, Graham, Kim and Linda.
In one of my regular sweeps of the net for new information I’ve come across a couple of items that warrant review.
Firstly, the photo we have of the ‘Willingale Axe‘ may not actually be the Willingale Axe! A Bob Burgess who runs the Billhooks website has noted that the axe I photographed was made by a William Swift of Kent. He was still producing billhooks in 1911, which sort of rules out that axe being over 100 years old as quoted in by the Essex Field Club. Was the Essex Field Club wrong, or have we photographed the wrong axe? Unfortunately, as mentioned previously, the records of the EFC & Corporation relating to the axe are not all they could be.
Secondly I came across another blog which mentioned Thomas Willingale, where again the classic mistake of Thomas being imprisoned is made and this time a photo captioned as Thomas Willingale is included in the blog. This photo is in fact Thomas Willingale Jnr (Thomas the Lopper’s son) whose only contribution to saving Epping Forest was to be fined for poaching. We know this is not Thomas the Lopper, because he died in 1870 when photography was still very cumbersome, especially for outdoor shots like the one shown. This photo is held in a collection at the Museum of English Rural Life, which also has shots of William Willingale, another of Thomas the Lopper’s sons, and Thomas Jnr in the same setting, and from their ages we can deduce they are most likely brothers rather than father & son. It’s interesting to note that these images are from a collection originally belonging to the Commons Preservation Society, now the Open Spaces Society. Yet the only photos they have are of Thomas & William, who were notorious for claiming involvement in the saving of the forest, but have no photos of Samuel Willingale, Alfred Willingale or William Higgins, who were actually imprisoned for exercising their right to lop.
Just a short note to say we have recently passed 10,000 names on the main family tree. Back in December 2002 at our first AGM we had a tree containing 539 names on display, so the tree has grown substantially over the past 10 years!
Also our ‘Willingale Archive’ of photos, documents and press cuttings is now just shy of 1,700 items.
The WFS Committee wish all members a Merry Christmas and a healthy, Happy New Year. We hope you will continue to support the Society in 2013.
We are expecting delivery of our special 10th Anniversary Journal back from the printers shortly. This contains some of our best research work over the past 10 years.
The articles include:
- Willingale History
- Where Did We Originate?
- Willingale DNA Surname Project
- Willingale Honours/Commendations
- Able Seaman William Willingale
- Sylvia Willingale
- A BAFTA Tribute to Betty Willingale
- Origins of Willingale Family Society
- Unveiling of Thomas Willingale Blue Plaque
- Willingales imprisoned in the Tower of London Part 1
- Willingales imprisoned in the Tower of London Part 2
- Emily Goddard La Hogue Willingale
- Thomas Samuel Willingale (1800—1869)
- Photo Mysteries
- The Mysterious “Royal Windsor”
- Willingale’s Restaurant
- Thomas Willingale Junior’s Prized Volume
- Hannah Passelar & St Mary’s Church, Maldon
- The Steam Ship Willingale
Unfortunately the news from the Corporation of London is not encouraging. It seems that records kept over the past 100 years by the Essex Field Club and the Corporation are not able to prove 100% that the Axe on display at The View is the Willingale Billhook.
I’m hopeful that over time some more records will be found that enable us to prove that this is the Willingale Axe. For example in 1978 there was an exhibition in Loughton Library, called ‘A Keeper’s Tale’. I have a couple of photos of this exhibition, and can just make out a Billhook on display in one of the cabinets titled ‘The Willingale Collection’. If anyone has a better photo of this display we may be able to confirm if it’s the same billhook as now displayed at The View. Hopefully there are other photos, descriptions or drawing of these Axes in existence, which we are currently unaware of, that will allow us to positively confirm the Billhook as the one formerly owned by Thomas Willingale.
A full write up on the Axe will appear in next year’s summer Journal. This year’s winter journal is almost complete and is a celebration of our first ten years. It contains some of our best research since the society started, along with an update on the DNA project, which attempts to explain the issues with the Charles branch, plus a transcript of Thomas Willingale (the Lopper’s) letter to the Woodford, Buckhurst-Hill & Loughton Advertiser in December 1866, plus the letter which prompted his correspondence.
I visited The View today, the new interpretation centre in Chingford, next to Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge which opened for the first time in July 2012. It contains a lot of information on the forest including its habitat and of course the events leading up to its saving in the late 1800s.
Mention is made of John Whitaker Maitland, Thomas Nelson, George Burney, Octavia Hill, the Commons Preservation Society along with Thomas & Samuel Willingale. One of the displays proposes the Cow as the saviour of Epping Forest (the legal action by the Corporation of London which finally brought the Forest Enclosures to an end, was based on the intercommoning rights of cattle…)
I’m pleased to say none of the ‘classic’ errors regarding Thomas’s involvement in the forest were repeated. The display regarding Thomas includes the Court judgement of 9th November 1866 evicting Thomas Willingale from property which he rented off Maitland in Baldwins Road, Loughton and ordering him to pay Maitland’s costs and ‘mesne profits’.  Mention is also made of the Kings Head, where Maitland allegedly locked the Loughton Loppers inside, in an attempt to deprive them of their Lopping Rights.
One thing did trouble me though. I believe the Corporation of London have two axes, or more correctly a Loppers axe and a Billhook, which used to belong to the Willingale family. I photographed the billhook some 10-12 years ago at the Hunting Lodge. The display in The View does include an axe & billhook but these are just referenced as example tools from the forest, and unfortunately from my photos I can’t confirm if the billhook is the same one I photographed. Surely if these are the Willingale axes, it would be appropriate to say so, if they are not I would have thought this would have been an ideal opportunity to have them on display. I have asked the staff at The View this question and hopefully I should have an answer back shortly.
 Mesne (pronounced “mean”) profits are sums of money paid for the occupation of land to a person with right of immediate occupation, where no permission has been given for that occupation. The concept is feudal in origin, and common in countries which rely on the English legal system. The word is derived from the root word demesne.
It’s been a while since we last blogged so we have a few updates this time:
- All the July Journals have now been dispatched to members. Those of you who did not take up last year’s multi-year membership offer will need to renew your membership – renewal forms were enclosed with the Journal where applicable. Our membership year runs from 1st August to 31st July.
- Research into the family tree is ongoing and the family tree in the members area has been updated on a more or less daily basis since the beginning of the year.
- The Willingale archive now numbers an impressive 1,500 items. We hope to start a new project looking at historic press articles shortly, now that the National Newspaper Library is available online.
- Finally we have been considering how to recognise the tenth anniversary of our formation. Some of you will have responded to a questionnaire seeking your views, in particular whether we should organise a get-together. Holding meetings is seen as an objective of the society but it would seem that we need rather more members to make it viable, so whilst there was some support for the idea it was not enough to justify the costs and effort involved as we have more pressing uses for our limited funds. What we did decide to do was to publish an anniversary edition of the journal, which will contain some of the best articles from our first 10 years. The aim is to produce this in time for it to be used as presents next Christmas.
We now have Steve’s DNA test back from the lab. His results are a close match to those already received from the Thomas, John, William and Samuel branches of the family. The latest comparison grid can be found here while members can find a full analysis here.
We are interested in testing further male Willingale’s, especially those from the problematic Charles branch.