Names on this Page, in no Particular Order
Henry Stanley's Grandfather was The Right Honourable Henry Labouchere, Lord Taunton PC who had amassed a great fortune, bought a lot of land and built Quantock Lodge as his country seat in Over Stowey. Henry Stanley was therefore heir to the great estate which dominated the village at the time. He played cricket for Somerset and had his own cricket pitch in the grounds of Quantock lodge so that he could invite his friends to play matches at his home. He must have been twenty-six years old when he went to South Africa to fight the Boer.
The letters home of Corporal P. T. Ross were published after the end of the war and contain a detailed account of the death and burial of Stanley.
Lieutenant Stanley, well-known in the cricket world as a Somerset county man... who took command of us when we left Pretoria a fortnight ago, had soon become very popular, for he was a thorough sportsman, keen as mustard, quite unaffected and absolutely fearless.
He recounts how the mounted squadrons of Imperial Yeomanry are sent out on early reconnaissance when they come under fire from a hilltop. They dismount and taking cover in a ditch are returning fire when Stanley is hit by a bullet in the head. At first Stanley is still able to speak although 'in a voice like that of a drunken man' and they try to carry him back to safety but are unable to do so. The Yeomen are obliged to withdraw but Ross waits with Stanley until he realises that he is dead and the firing having ceased he retreats himself. Stanley's body is recovered the next day and taken for burial:
About three-quarters of a mile from our present camp, in the garden of a Scotchman, named Jennings, by a murmuring, running stream, and beneath some willows, we laid him..... Sewn up in his rough, brown, military blanket, he was lowered to his last resting-place, the major reading the Burial Service."—— Is cut down like a flower."
He could not have been more than twenty-five. Then, "Fire three volleys of blank ammunition in the air. Ready! Present! Fire!" Again and again, and the obsequies of a brave officer and true English gentleman and sportsman were over.
Quantock Lodge had no more use for a cricket pitch and trees were planted on it, each one in the position of a batsman or fielder in mid game.
The full text of Ross's letters are available online at the Gutenberg Project.
Thomas Ward was a partner of Thomas Poole of Nether Stowey and friend to Coleridge and Southey. He used to make quills for Coleridge and Coleridge wrote him the following letter of thanks, full of the most excruciating pen-puns:
Octob. 7, 1799.
Most exquisite Pennefactor!
I will speak dirt and daggers of the wretch who shall deny thee to be the most heaven-inspired, muniﬁcent Penmaker that these latter Times, these superﬁcial, weak, and evirtuate ages, have produced to redeem them-selves from ignominy! And may he, great Calamist who shall vilipend or derogate from thy pen-making merits, do penance, and suffer penitential penalty, penn’d up in some penurious peninsula of penal ﬁre. pensive and pendulous, pending a huge slice of eternity! Were I to write till Pentecost, ﬁlling whole Pentateuchs, my grateful expressions would still remain, merely a Penumbra of my Debt and Gratitude.
S. T. Coleridge
To Mr. Ward,
This pentagonal letter comes pencil'd as well as penn'd. Your messenger neither came nor returns penniless.
Ward and his family moved to Marsh Mills House in Over Stowey in the late 1820s. He died in 1854. His Youngest daughter Kate Ward wrote a brief memoir in 1924 entitled Memories recorded in my Hundredth Year in which she remembers:
One of the great interests of my childhood was the long controversy about emancipation of the slaves. My father was an ardent admirer and follower of Wilberforce, and had long been forbidding the use of sugar - a product of slave labour - in his house, honey being invariably substituted. After leaving Stowey Coleridge referred in a letter to the excellent honey-pie of which he had partaken in our house.
Robert & Phebe Dyer
Robert and Phebe Dyer are mentioned daily in the diaries of William Holland. Robert is the son of a farmer Dyer of Cockercombe and is Holland's manservant and clerk. He thatches ricks, makes cider, cuts hedges, tends the garden and runs errands about the parish for the vicar. Phebe Simons is the housemaid.
Monday November 12th 1810
Early this day my wife went off behind Dyer to Stowgurcy to Mr. Davis, and on his return his father, brother and sister came, and Phebe’s father and two sisters, and Ann Knight was here, and I went to church and married my servants Robert Dyer and Phebe, and I trust they will be happy in each other. And I gave them and their friends a dinner on the occasion, and they are to continue with me as servants till Lady [Day] next, when I hope to be provided with others—and if they turn out as faithful and trusty as these have then I shall rejoice. Dyer [had] desired me to publish the banns now, and they were to be married about Christmas. I answered, if the banns be published, ’tis best marrying immediately, and they took my advice.
They would both have been thirty years old when they married.
Edmund Rich of Cross Farm
Cross Farm is a quarter mile to the North of the church on a right angle bend in the road which was once a cross-roads. William Holland wrote in his diary for November 5th 1815:
We had a good many at church, among others Mr. Edmund Rich of Crosse with two of his sons and some strangers of his acquaintance. Indeed I had spoken to him a day or two before about his non-appearance at church, but he it seems is a Methodist—an ignorant, illiterate man, though he is now come to some property. I fear I shall have some trouble with them, for they have not yet said anything to me on the subject of tithe, but I shall try gentleness with him and see what that will do.
Holland detests the Methodists and in 1816 writes
None of the Riches of Crosse were at church except one young man, but they go constantly to the Meeting at Stowey and seduce as many as they can from my parish to follow them. Poor ignorant, illiterate people, who scarce know what they are about. ...These Methodists preach salvation through faith in Christ without repentance from sin, and I preach repentance from sin and then salvation through Christ. No wonder that the first takes with disorderly people more than the last, for if they may be saved without forsaking their sins. ’Tis an easy thing to say they have faith, but it is not so easy a thing to forsake their sins.
But Edmund Rich and his Wife Jane still occasionally attended church and seem to have ended up in the graveyard.
The Lansdown Family occupied Hockpitt Farm for several generations. The Western Daily Press in December 1930 reported on the probate of "George Edmund Lansdowne, of Hockpitt Barton, Over Stowey, Somerset, former member of the County Council, and for many years chairman the Bridgwater Board of Guardians and Rural District Council."
Elsie Lansdown moved to Stakes Cottage, Bincombe after her husband's death.
Rev William Buller
While William Buller was vicar of Over Stowey he buried his sister Edith, his daughter Jane and his son Robert