William Hovell 1715 – 1769 “…a Doctor of Physick”

William HOVELL is interred beneath a freestone ledger slab in the South Aisle of St. Mary’s Church together with his daughter Jane Phillipa Manning (neé HOVELL).  As far as we are aware, this is the oldest memorial inside the church.   The text on the slab reads:

In memory of William Hovell Esquire who departed this life the 18th July 1769 Aged 54 years.  Also of his daughter Jane Philippa Wife of Mr. John Manning of Mendelsham Obt March 1770 Aged 31 Years.

The Tomb in St Mary’s Church, Badwell Ash

William is described in 1760 as living at Battles Green, Badwell Ash, a “doctor of physick”.  There’s no reference to “Battles Green” today and its whereabouts is a mystery unless it is a mis-spelling of Badwell Green? Or maybe “Battlies Green” just to the south of Thurston?  William was born circa 1715 in Badwell Ash. On 30th March 1736, aged 21 he married Elizabeth Burrell then aged 19 at St Benet’s Pauls Wharf in London.  Elizabeth was a daughter of the Revd. Alexander Burrell, Rector of Adstock, Bucks. and Prebendary of Lincoln.  A Prebendary is a senior member of clergy, usually a canon who is supported by the revenues from an estate or parish. Elizabeth died In October 1764 aged 52 and was buried in the Chancel of Adstock Church with her parents, not with her husband. William died 5 years later on the 18th July 1769 and was buried on 21st July 1769 in St. Mary’s.

Detail of the Tomb of William Hovell

It’s believed William and Elizabeth had 10 children, 5 of whom died in infancy. The eldest was Jane Philippa born in 1738. She married John Manning of Mendelsham and they had 4 children. She died in 1770 aged 32 and is buried alongside her father at St. Mary’s.   Next was Elizabeth who was born in 1740 and who married an Ellis Pett, they had 3 children. She died in 1805 aged 67. Then there was Timothy, born in 1746 and who died in 1747 as an infant. Isabella, followed in 1748 but died in the same year.  Penprunella was also born in 1748 (maybe twins) and also died as an infant in 1748. Arabella who was born in 1750 survived and married John Dent and they had 3 children.  Anne was born in 1752 but there’s no further information about her so it’s possible hers was also an infant death.   Deborah was born in 1753 and she also died as an infant.  Maria, born in 1755 died in 1840 aged 85. She married John Lamb and they had 7 children. Finally, in 1757 John was born although we know nothing more of his life.

It’s believed the HOVELL family began with HIALLT, a Norman Viking, circa 852-888. He was born in Norway but moved south to Normandy. Here he was given a Barony by Rollo a Scandanavian Viking from Norway who became the first Duke of Normandy.  He settled in a village called Hialtus Villa (Latin for high town) which became Hauteville. Today it is acknowledged that this is the town of Hauteville-la-Guichard in Normandy near Saint-Lo and that the family name of HOVELL is a derivation of Hauteville.  His grandson, Tancrede de Hauteville, left Normandy to conquer the south of Italy in 1036. In Sicily they founded a powerful kingdom and developed one of the most outstanding civilisations in the Middle Ages.  The family took part in the Crusades, became kings of Sicily in the C11, Princes of Jerusalem, and Lords of various places in Italy.

One member of the family, Ralf de Hautville was a Knight and Sergeant to William the Conqueror and came over to England with him in 1066. Ralf is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a tenant-in-chief in Burbage and Wolfhall in Wiltshire.

Detail of the Coat of Arms for William Hovell

The “HOVELL family” had close connections with both Great Ashfield and Wyverstone. Ralf de Hautville’s brother, Richard was Lord of Hovell’s Manor at Wyverstone and a “Robert HOVELL” held Wyverstone Manor in the C12 although the manor was lost after the death of Margery HOVELL in 1350 and there is no trace of it today.   After the late C13/early C14 written records cannot be traced and many were destroyed at the time of the War of the Roses (1455-1485).

In approximately 1490 a Simon Ffolkys (1470-1508) married Margaret ? at Westley and they had a son, Martyn (1503-1569) who had a daughter, Joan (1525-1550) she in turn married a Stephen Hovell (1525-1550).  They then had a son Edward (1550-1578) who married Margaret Morden in about 1578.  Their son Oliver Hovell was born in 1584 and lived at High Hall, Badwell Green.  He married Elizabeth Kempe in 1608. They had a son, Oliver (1615-1673) who was William’s great grandfather.  Oliver married Mary Curtis in about 1615 and they had a son William, who was our William’s grandfather.  He married a Rachel Carter in 1680 and they had a son, Oliver (William’s father) in 1681.  Oliver, who lived at Wyverstone married Elizabeth Dent in 1711 and their son, our William was born in 1715.  Oliver died in 1731 and William’s mother, Elizabeth died in 1711.

At least 4 generations of the HOVELL family were “Doctors of Physic” including our William.  One of the family, Thomas Mark HOVELL practiced in Harley Street, London and was Physician to the German Emperor, Frederick III.

Through William’s brother, Thomas, it’s possible to trace the descendants of the family up to the present day including a branch who now live in New Zealand.


Howard Newman ©

Badwell Ash History Society

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