Paul Mabbott's

Notes on Visits to Dursley Area - February, April and August 2000

There is a certain amount of doubt regarding the line relations when we get back a couple of hundred years. My line has been traced back through census returns to Charles born in Almondsbury Gloucester on 15th January 1804. He was the son of William and Ann Mabbott and it is here that the story gets confused. There was certainly more than one William and Ann Mabbott combination in the area at that time.

As we have only parish records to establish the probable line a certain amount of faith is required. The most logical of the marriages is between William 1775 and Ann 1779 who probably got married about 1800. So far however, I have not been able to establish the source of this information. Nick Mabbott didn’t find any references when he researched at the Bristol records office. What he did find was an entry in the Northwick parish records of the death of William Mabbott in 1838 who was christened in North Nibley on the 8th July 1756. It is quite within the realm of possibility that this was the father of our Charles (1804) although he would have been in his forties by the time that our Charles arrived.

Nick Mabbott went on to research this William’s line in the Gloucester records office and traced it back to John born about 1661 near Coaley. I would like to believe that this is our ancestor, although the evidence is not overwhelming.

I took a holiday and explored the area and this is an account of my findings.

Click on to view photographs

    Coaley (a low lying meadow in a cove or recess according to the Oxford book of place names)

Situated in the district of Stroud and in the Vale of Berkeley that borders the estuary of the river Severn, Coaley is a village based on agriculture. It lies under the escarpment of the Cotswold Hills, which rise 700 feet over the valley and provide several excellent viewpoints.

John Mabbott is recorded as being a Yeoman (owned and farmed a small estate) and a churchwarden in Coaley between 1706 and 1708. There is an inscription on a tomb in Stinchcombe which appears to refer to this John who died in 1721.

The churchyard is rather run down with several of the gravestones having collapsed and most of them being so ravaged by the weather as to be illegible: Certainly nothing physical, that I could find, to tie in with our family. The buildings in the village are of various ages so that the whole place looks rather disorganised. The Fox and Hounds pub is presentable and serves meals as well as a good variety of local ales.

Writing in 1779 in his 'A new history of Gloucestershire' Samuel Rudder was somewhat scathing in his description of the village. His description is as follows - "The public roads are the worst that can be conceived; and the poor labouring people are so abandoned to nastiness, that they throw every thing within a yard or two of their doors, where the filth makes a putrid stench, to the injury of their own health, and the annoyance of travelers, if any came among them.  The better houses are gone to ruin, and there is not a gentleman resident in the parish; but this is not particular to Coaley..."

The registers of the parish of Coaley commence in the year 1581, but the first volume which extends from that year until 1738, is extremely irregular, and in many cases badly written. Evidently the entries were often made by the incompetent hand of a parish clerk. Curiously enough, the period during which the register was best kept was that from 1650 to 1660, and the parish was clearly very fortunate at that time in obtaining the services of a competent registrar.

   Uley (Yew Wood)

I left Coaley via the narrow lane, which leads to Owlpen via the delightful old cloth-making village of Uley. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Uley was a hive of economic activity, and as early as 1608, it was recorded that three local cloth-merchants earned a living from marketing the products of 29 local weavers, most of whom produced broadcloth.

On a promontory on the escarpment to the north west of the village stands an Iron Age hill fort known as Uley Bury. Banked ditches mark the outer rim of this 32- acre construction, which are mostly given over to the cultivation of arable crops and remain largely unexcavated. However in recent years, some evidence of the wealthy community who inhabited the fort in the first century BC has been unearthed. Items discovered include bronze, glass and shale jewellery, gold coins and iron ingots which have been attributed to the Dobunni tribe within whose lands Uley Bury is situated.

There are excellent views across the valley to the West. A well sign-posted footpath to the south east of the fort leads down to the church of Uley. This is an imposing building built on a promontory but again I could find no gravestones dedicated to any member of the Mabbott clan. The pub, The Crown (or was it The Old Crown?) serves locally brewed beer and it is, appropriately, opposite the church at the top of the narrow lane that leads downhill to the East and Owlpen.

Rudder's (1779) comments on Uley were less than complementary - "This village, though' not large, is very populous, from a manufacture of fine broad cloth long established here.  It is still carried on by several persons in a very extensive manner, and furnishes employment for the lower class of people. But idleness and debauchery are so deeply rooted in them, by means of those seminaries of vice called Alehouses, that the poor are very burthensome. These houses are scattered all over the country, and are daily increasing, which we owe either to the magistrates inattention, or indulgence, or, perhaps, to a mistaken notion of serving the community by increasing the public revenue from licences; but they may be assured that nothing can compensate for depravity of morals, and loss of industry.

It should, perhaps, be pointed out that Rudder was a vicar and the Puritans were active in the area in the preceding years.

   Owlpen (Olla’s pen or enclosure)

John Mabbott married Anne and their children were christened in the parish of Owlpen.  John went on to become a yeoman (owner and farmer of a small estate) in Coaley in 1706 to 1708.  The land may well be that referred to in the Will of  John Mabbott of Stinchcombe dated 17 October 1776.

According to Mark Mabbott's researches in the Gloucestershire records office the children of John Mabbott (1661) are as follows -

John Mabut on 4th march 1687 and he probably died before his tenth birthday;

Ann Mabbott 19th May 1690; Mary Mabbet 29th December 1695; John Mabbett 15th December 1696; She worked at Owlpen Manor as a kitchen servant in the early 1700 and married John Gunter in Wooten-under-Edge in 1723.

Mary Mabbet 29 December 1695;

John Mabbett 15 December 1696, He appears to have died aged 26 in Stinchcombe parish.

Anthony Mabbott 31st August 1701. Apparently variations in spelling of surnames was not unusual at that time. Such a small hamlet even in those days was unlikely to boast more than one John and Anne with the same surname.  He is our probable line, and also appears in Stinchcombe parish but has left less in the way of memorial.

The manor is situated in a natural bowl with the two promontories of Uleybury and Stinchcombe hill on either side and the escarpment of the Cotswolds behind. Springs feed a small stream that has been damned to provide a fishpond for the manor.  Situated over the dam is a mill house with a copper cap. A vegetable garden is sited between the stream and the manor house taking advantage of the south-facing slope. Three hundred years ago this must have been a self sufficient, well to do, manor.

The manor house is not an elaborate building; a straightforward three-gabled house, it does not have an architectural wholeness, parts dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. But it possesses elegance of line and a simple beauty, enhanced by the yew trees on the lawns in front of it, and by a simple church and dense woodland in the background.

The manor, small church, and a couple of small cottages remain today and are open to the public between April and October.  I went there during the "open" season (13th April 2000 for the record). Despite the open signs accessing the site, the ticket office, manor house, office and restaurant (Tithe barn) were all "closed". There are a lot of signs advising that access is forbidden unless in possession of a ticket (the ticket office was closed), and even more advising that dogs are not allowed.  The present church was not built until 1887 so a wander around the churchyard didn’t bear fruit. I don’t know where the old parish church was located.

There are two very narrow lanes leading to Owlpen, but it can be approached on a third route from the East by an unpaved track which drops, down the escarpment through the wood to the manor house and visitor parking. This route is well sign posted and undoubtedly reduces visitor frustration during the "season".

   Dursley (Deorsige’s Leah (pasture or wood))

Has been modernised to such an extent that little remains of the original Cotswold town. The market house still stands at the centre of the town and the recessed statue of Queen Anne gazing across at the church. This commemorates the Queen’s grant of cash to assist the repair of the church following the collapse of the spire in 1698. It seems that the spire was in poor shape and was patched up with a considerable quantity of lead and tiles. To celebrate completion of the work the bells were rung and the vibration brought the spire down, killing several ringers.

There was a local (Gloucestershire) proverb which refers to "a man of Dursley". This it is said, was a man that will promise much but perform nothing. It’s origin is attributed to a trader named Webb and his son who were inclined to sell high quality wool – which was indeed high quality on the outside where it could be sampled but inside the bale was of inferior material.

The earliest reference I have so far encountered to Dursley comes from John Leland who somewhere around 1540 wrote (and you will need to translate from the words in use at that time – I found that sounding each letter as written and assuming a Gloucester accent all became clear):

…Doursley, where is a praty clothinge towne stoninge on a pece of the clyvinge of a hill, privilegid a 9 yers sins with a market. There is in the towne selfe a goodly springe, and is as the principall hedd of the broke servynge the tukkyng miles about the towne….

   Cam (Crooked stream)

Lower Cam, Cam and Dursley are built up today and effectively form one small town. Cam dates from the 11th century when its manor, known as Camma, formed part of the huge Berkeley estate. The village has been a cloth-making centre for centuries and today Cam Mill continues the practice, which began in 1522. Hopton Manor school was founded in 1730 making it one of the oldest primary schools in the country.

Jane, youngest daughter of John (1661) and Ann was christened in Cam on the 2nd of January 1705. So it looks probable that the family left Owlpen and moved via Cam to settle in Coaley around this time.

Just the Coaley side of Cam there are three hills which are outcrops of the escarpment.

The caps of these hills are of lower inferior oolite (why do I like that term so much?) with a layer of cotteswold sand, upper lias clay, marlestone rock bed and finally middle and lower lias clays reading from the peaks downward.

The largest of these hills is known as Downham hill and was the site of an 18th century smallpox hospital. I wonder if any Mabbott family members spent time there?

The middle hill is known as Cam Long Down and was quarried for limestone in Victorian times.

The smallest and nearest to Cam is appropriately known as Cam Peak. It is easily climbed (I did) but be advised that it is less steep to go to the mid-point between Cam Peak and Cam Long Down and then south up the (slightly) gentler slope. The view from the top is rewarding. Berkeley Nuclear power station Slimbridge wildlife park and the M5 would not have been seen by our ancestors of course, but the river Severn and beyond that the Forest of Dean, and the hills of South Wales won’t have changed much. To the South Dursley nestles beneath Stinchcombe hill and the Tyndale monument is clearly visible.

Traditionally the people of the area climb Cam Peak on the 1st of May each year and roll hard-boiled eggs down the steep slope. Peculiar!

   Stinchcombe (Valley infested by gnats)

I didn’t see any gnats during my visit. The village has all but gone with a few houses and a well preserved church and churchyard. The M5 thunders past barely a hundred yards away. The village nestles beneath Stinchcombe Hill on the edge of the Vale of Berkeley.

Anthony Mabbott was christened on the 31st August 1701 in Owlpen and he married Sarah. Anthony died in the parish on 18th May 1736, they had five children all were christened in Stinchcombe:

John Mabbet Feb. 20th 1724,

Daniel Mabbott 27th July 1727;

Anne Mabbett 21st Jan 1730,

Mary Mabbott 1st December 1732

Elizabeth Mabbott 8th September 1734.

Stinchcombe Church yard = The Mabbett gravestones

The church is comparatively well preserved and still in use today. On the spire is the figure 1632 that, presumably, is the year in which the church was built. The church is dedicated to St. Cyr. I have never heard of this saint but immediately wondered if the people of Stinchcombe were sincere (sorry that is supposed to be a pun!).

Amongst the tombs (vault or stone monument in which one or more people are buried) to the left of the main door are four in a plot which appears to belong to the Browning/Mabbett family dating from about 1700 through to 1880. These are amongst the most impressive in the comparatively well preserved church-yard being of the rectangular box shaped style standing about three feet in height, seven feet long, and three wide. Unfortunately weathering has made reading the inscriptions difficult and therefore suspect. They are best guess efforts on my part. They seemed clearer in the sunlight of February than the drizzle of April! There appear to be too many gaps/overlaps to draw up a single family tree.

From the church wall the first tomb is to the Browning family. This name occurs again a couple of generations later as a middle name in the Mabbett family so there is probably a family connection. Belinda Mabbott found a Jane Mabbet Marrying Henry Browning in Shipton Moyne in 1621 but more encouragingly Susan Hamer’s researches in the Gloucester records office turned up John Mabbett marrying Mary Browning in Stinchcombe in 1695.

This first (most southerly nearest the church wall) tomb has two inscriptions. On the side nearest the church:

In Memory of

John Browning of this Parish

Died August 20th 1711 at 70

Richard his son died March 1705

On the side further from the church wall:

In Memory of

Mary relict of John Browning

Of this faith who died

September 4th 1727 aged 82

And also of John son of said John

Mary Browning aged 24

The second tomb from the church wall inside bears the Mabbett name and links in with the John born 1661 who sired John Thomas Ann etc. who were registered in nearby Owlpen:

In Memory of

John Mabbott of Coaley

Who died March 24th 1721

Aged 71 years

On the outer side there is an inscription which reads as follows:


Who died July 23rd 1731

Aged just 26

Our comforts soon decrease

….(There is more verse which was less legible but did not appear to include any names or dates)


Thomas would have been born in 1711. From Susan Hamer’s research of the Gloucester Records for this parish there is an entry for the burial of Thomas Mabbett on the 26th July 1731. To be buried 3 days after he died seems reasonable.

I didn’t spot on my first visit, that on the end of this tomb there is another inscription, which is completely legible and reads as follows:

In memory

Of John Mabbett

Who died

Sept 23rd 1722

Aged 26

John Mabbett christened in Owlpen on 15th December 1696 and is almost certainly one and the same. He would, probably, have been the oldest surviving son of John (1661) and as such may well have inherited the family lands in Coaley. The presence of Anthony in Stinchcombe parish around this time supports this supposition. There is also an entry in the Gloucester burials for Stinchcombe burial on 25th September 1722 of John Mabbett. Furthermore assuming that his eldest son was also christened John and was born around 1720 he could well have passed the estate on to the next in line.

The next tomb on the side further from the church:


Is dedicated to the Memory of


Of this parish who departed this life

March 22nd 1792 aged 72 years


If the inscriptions were less weathered it would help. Also some research at the Gloucester records office shows the burial of John Mabbett 26th March 1792.

He is probably the same John whose Will was summarised by Susan Hamer on this same day that I "found" these monuments. In this will he spells his name either Mabbett or Mabbott and refers to lands (Davies’s Leaze) that he owns in the parish of Coaley which he leaves to his brother Thomas. He also refers to freehold messuages Lands and Tenements Woods and Hereditaments situate and being in Stinchcombe. Probate was granted on 20th May 1795.

On the more sheltered road side of this monument is covered in red lichen and therefore difficult to read. Moreover my handkerchief was completely in tatters by this time so I was not able to read the entire inscription:

John Mabbett

? Feb 1811

? Aged 82

And below that:


Died January 1801

? Aged 8? Years

The third rectangular tomb is the most recent and better preserved than most of the others. On the inside weather side the inscription:

John Browning

Only son of

John Mabbett

Died Nov 9 1854

Aged 20

In the 1851 Census John Mabbett of Stinchcombe aged 50 and a landed property owner of 140 acres in Stinchcombe, is recorded as being married to Martha aged 54 who was born in North Wraxall. They appear to have two children Mary aged 23 and John Browning Mabbett aged 16.

Alongside that the following:

Mary Mabbett

Daughter of

John & Martha


Died May 8th 1890

Aged 62

Which again ties in with the information taken from the 1851 Census.

And finally on the road side of the third tomb:

John Mabbett

Died June 15 1879

Aged 78



Wife of

John Mabbett

Died March 18 1871

Aged 74

Which again ties in with the 1851 census information.

   North Nibley (Point, peak tip or the like. Name taken from neighbouring hill)

The church is prominently placed with great views over the valley. The churchyard is overgrown and the gravestones generally in disrepair. The local children are using it as an area for the study and conservation of small animal and insect life.

North Nibley was also the birthplace of William Tyndale in 1484. He is thought to be one of the first scholars to translate the scriptures into English, and it is upon his work that the authorised version of the Bible was subsequently based. For his trouble he was unfortunately strangled and burned at the stake at Vilvorde near Brussels in 1536.

The Tyndale monument was later constructed to commemorate the life and work of this early pioneer. Built in 1866 by public subscription, the monument stands 111 feet high on top of a 700-foot escarpment and forms a prominent landmark on the route of the Cotswold Way.

North Nibley is also noted for being the site of the last "private" battle in England between the rival barons William Lord Berkeley and the Viscount De Lisle.

Daniel who had been christened in Stinchcombe in 1727 was married to Betty Cowley on the 19th October 1755 in the parish of North Nibley. They had six children christened in the parish who were:

William 8th of July 1756;

Sarah 1758; John 1760;

Daniel 1762; Anthony 1767 (he later married Hannah Evans on 4th October 1790) and

Ann 1772.

William Mabbott, christened here on 8th of July 1756, later migrated 15 miles to the South and eventually died in the parish of Northwick. He is our possible link with the Mabb*tt family who figure above.

North Nibley was also the birthplace of William Tyndale in 1484. He is thought to be one of the first scholars to translate the scriptures into English, and it is upon his work that the authorised version of the Bible was subsequently based. For his trouble he was unfortunately strangled and burned at the stake at Vilvorde near Brussels in 1536.

The Tyndale monument was later constructed to commemorate the life and work of this early pioneer. Built in 1866 by public subscription, the monument stands 111 feet high on top of a 700-foot escarpment and forms a prominent landmark on the route of the Cotswold Way.

North Nibley is also noted for being the site of the last "private" battle in England between the rival barons William Lord Berkeley and the Viscount De Lisle.



The Inhabitants of Olveston, Glos in 1742

The population at that time was estimated as 588 persons in Olveston and Tockington. The census was compiled by the Rev Christopher Shute, Vicar of Olveston. (He obviously does not like Quakers!!) The transcription was published in the Bristol and Avon FHS Journal No 15 Spring 1979.


Pilnend 7 houses

Auckley 2 houses

Woodhouse 8 houses

Tockington Park 1 house

Ridgeway 4 houses

Shipcomb - house down

Tockington Town - 37 houses

Priestcroft - 1 house

The Tything of Tockington

Samuel ADAMS, wife, man and maid

*Edward NELMES at Auckley in the Marsh, wife, maid, man and a little girl

Christopher LAWRENCE (poorman) at Auckley, wife and Charity PROWSE and her child

*Thomas POPE of Pilnings in the Marsh, wife, 4 children, a servant boy and 2 maids

Joseph WILLIAMS of Pilnings, wife, man, 2 maids and 2 children

Thomas MEREDITH has at his upper house at Pilnings, himself, wife, 5 children and 2 maids

Ditto keeps at his lower house in Pilnings a man and maid

William ORCHARD of Pilnings, wife, maid servant and 2 children

Roger EDWARDS of Pilnings, wife maidservant and 3 children

Job TOVEY OF Pilnings, wife, two children and a servant-maid

John WOODWARD of Haw Lane (labourer) wife and two children and Mary NEAL and her daughter

Methusalem EDWARDS (labourer) in one of the Town houses, wife, and 2 children

*Samuel NELMES (labourer) at the first house on the right hand as one goes in Tockington from Olveston, wife and 2 children

Mapson THOMAS, wife and 2 children, man and maid

Mr.  PRIG and Farmer CONEY his tenant, two men and a maid

Jacob WHITE (labourer), wife, mother and 2 children

James PARKER (labourer) wife and Isaac WEST a joiner

Isaac PIERCE (smith) wife, apprentice and 2 children

Stephen HOSIER (carpenter) wife and 2 children

Mrs DAVIS, her daughter, and grandchild

William BROWN (labourer) wife and 4 children

William THOMAS, wife and daughter

Benjamin PROSSER (labourer) wife and Ara MAY and her 2 children

John CHAMPION (labourer) and his wife

Robert BURCOMB, wife, son, Daughter and 2 servants

Samuel BOULTON, his sister and her 2 children and 2 servants

Richard TYLER (labourer) wife and 6 children

Richard VOWLER (mason), wife and 5 children

Walter PEW (Taylor), wife and 1 child

George TROSSETT, wife, 2 children and 1 servant

Mr. CASEMAJOR, wife and 1 child, Mrs HORTON, a boarder and also Mrs TURTON and 3 of her children and 3 servants

Thomas WILLIAMS (labourer) and his sister Anne

Mary KINGSCOTT of Shipcomb and 3 servants

John WILLIS of Ridgeway and his mother

John BAKER of Ridgeway (labourer), wife and 3 children

Widow ROACH of Ridgeway, 2 daughters, apprentice boy and one HARRIS a writing master

Nathaniel LIPPITT (horse driver) of Ridgeway, wife two daughter and a son

Dan FRYER (carpenter) and 1 servant

**Mary ALFORD (Inkeeper at the Swan) and her niece and William SANDYMAN, a gardener**

A loitering mason by name John HIGGS

Elizabeth VINCENT (a fat Quaker) and a servant girl


William OLIVER (labourer) wife and 1 child

James PERRYMAN, wife, wife's mother, two children, maid, man and apprentice

Deborah MEREDITH and her Daughter

William JONES (labourer) wife and 2 children

Thomas LONG, son and Daughter and an Excise man whose name is Prophet NASH

Thomas PROWSE (labourer) wife and 2 children

Thomas EDWARDS (glazier) wife and mother-in-law

Arthur JEFFREYS (labourer) and wife

William HOBBS (labourer) and Daughter

William CHITTS, 6 children and 2 servants

William BALL (turner) wife and 4 children

Thomas JOHNSON's Daughter, two grandchildren, 2 servants, and a parish girl

Martha LYNCH (a poor woman)

Jonathan HOUSE of Woodhouse, wife, maid and 6 children

Mr. WESTON (attorney at law) of Woodhouse, wife, sister-in-law, young maid servant, clerk and an apprentice servant

Roger WALTERS of Woodhouse (labourer), wife and child

William WOOD of Woodhouse, wife and 2 children

Joshua LEE of Woodhouse (labourer), wife and 3 children

John WOOD of Woodhouse, Daughter and 2 servants

John BAKER (Thatcher)

John SMITH of Tockington Park, wife 2 children, 3 servants maids and a man



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