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All Saints; the parish church of Purleigh - geograph.org.uk - 757703.jpg
All Saints Church, Purleigh
Purleigh is located in Essex
 Purleigh shown within Essex
OS grid reference TL838020
District Maldon
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Maldon
Postcode district CM3
Dialling code 01245 & 01621
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Maldon
List of places

Coordinates: 51°41′13″N 0°39′32″E / 51.687°N 0.659°E / 51.687; 0.659

Purleigh is a village on the Dengie peninsula about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Maldon in the English county of Essex. The village is part of the Purleigh ward of the Maldon district.[1]

Descent of the manor[edit]

Eustace, Earl of Boulogne[edit]

At the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, the manor of Purleigh was held by Eustace II, Count of Boulogne (d.1087).


Arms of Denys/Dennis family of Siston, Gloucestershire: Gules, 3 leopard's faces or jessant-de-lys azure over all a bend engrailled azure

Having previously been possessed by the Grey and Capel families,[2] in the late 15th century the manor was acquired by Hugh Denys (d.1511), Groom of the Stool to King Henry VII (1485–1509). He died without progeny and bequeathed the manor to his younger half-nephew John Denys of Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, in which family, having modernised the spelling of its name to "Dennis", the manor remained until the early 18th.century. William Dennis, 5th in descent from John, died in 1701 and was buried at Pucklechurch. He was Sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1689 and died without male issue leaving two daughters as his co-heiresses. Mary (d.1739)[3] the eldest married Col. James Butler, of the family of the Earls of Ormonde and Elizabeth the younger daughter married, as his second wife, Sir Alexander Cuming of Culter, Aberdeenshire.[4] The manor was retained by both sisters jointly, but was occupied by the tenant John Leaver, and comprised the manor house called Purleigh Hall, a garden, orchard, 100 acres of land, 80 acres of meadow, 140 acres of pasture and 80 acres of woodland. It then passed, probably by sale, to William Neale, described as a "clerk" in a decree of the High Court of Chancery dated 29 January 1741, in an action brought by the nieces of Mary Dennis and by Cassandra Cuming, the daughter of Elizabeth Dennis and the representatives of the infant James Cuming.


Arms of Bonnell, granted 1691, shown in a lozenge as borne by a female: Argent, a cross gules quarterly pierced nine crosses crosslet three, three and three counterchanged[5]
Pelling Place, Old Windsor, garden front, in 1820. Seat of Bonnell family. Aquatint after John Grendall

Neale sold it in 1742 to James Bonnell.[6] James was the son of Captain John Bonnell (d.1703), a merchant of London, possibly the Captain John Bonnell of the East India Company who sailed the Chandos to Madras 4 February 1689 -1 January 1691.[7] James was executor of the will of his mother Margaretta Bonnell (d.1737), his father's second wife, and sister and heiress of a moiety of the estate of Edmund Waterson of Graces in Little Baddow [8] who by his last will ordered his personal estate to be invested in land in Suffolk [9] James's siblings, John and Sarah Bonnell, authorised him to pay £4,000 (out of the total moiety of £14,735 5s.) for the purchase of the manor and farm of Purleigh Hall. Sarah Bonnell (d.1768) left at her death £3,500 in public funds for the endowment of a charity school for girls in West Ham, still surviving as the Sarah Bonnell School, the oldest girls' school in England. An elaborate white marble monument exists to Capt John Bonnell and his family in the Monoux Chapel of Walthamstow Church, inscribed thus:[10]

"Here lyeth interred the Body of Mary, the Wife of Captain John Bonnell of London, Mariner, and Daughter of John Morrice of London, Esq; and Grand-daughter to Sir William Morris, Knt. late Secretary of State to King Charles II. She dyed the 16th of September, 1691, in the 27th Year of her Age. Gratior c pulchro non vixit corpore Virtus, Purior ad superas mens non ascenderat oias, Fœmina chara suis, vixit, chara omnibus, almo Charior at sponso, coelo charissima obivit. Here also lye interred two Sons of Capt. John Bonnell and Mary his Wife, viz. Nicolas Bonnel, who was born the 19th of March, and dyed the 17th of June 1688; and John Bonnel, born the 22d of May 1687, and dyed the 30th of January 1688-9. Here lyeth interred also the Body of Margaret, Daughter of John Bonnel and Margaret his Wife; who departed the 12 th of September 1694. Aged 14 Months, wanting two Days.

Here also, under a flat Stone, near the Monument of his Wife, deceased, lyes the Body of Capt. John Bonnel. Who departed this Life the 7th of Jan. 1702-3.. Aetat. 44. Also the Body of Eliz. Atkins, Grand-daughter to the said Captain and Mary his Wife. Who departed this Life the 25th of July, 1711. Aged five Years and two Months".

Further inscriptions read as follows:[11]

"Under the same gravestone with Captain John Bonnell lyeth also interred the body of Margaretta Bonnell, his second wife, | only daughter and heiress to William Waterson Esq | late of the Custom House an excellent woman who departed this life the 13 January 1736 in the 61st year of her age. Here also lyeth the body of Sarah Bonnell the only daughter of John & Margaretta Bonnell a lady throughout her whole life religious and charitable. As a convincing proof she left at her death the amount of £3,500 capital in the Public Funds for the endowment of a Charity School for Girls at the Parish of West Ham in this County. She died 28th day of February 1766 Aged 70 years and left her only surviving brother JAMES BONNELL esq her executor and residuary legatee who consented and concurr'd in obtaining a Decree in Chancery for securing the said funds and establishing the said school, departed this life I the 27th June 1774 in the 77th year of his age and lies buried here"

Arms: a cross gules quarterly pierced, nine crosses crosslet, 3, 3, and 3 counterchanged (Bonnell), upon an inescutcheon azure a fess between three annulets or ( Waterson), quartering, argent, a chevron between three boars passant sable. The whole impaling the inescutcheon.

"Sacred to the memory of JAMES BEAL BONNELL ESQ" who departed this life September the 12th 1815 I aged 80 years. If integrity of mind and conduct when founded on religious principles can elevate man then the spirit of the deceased may await in humble and pious trust the resurrection of the dead. His afflicted widow, conscious of his virtues, has raised this monumental tablet (as a) memorial of his character. Also to the memory of SOPHIA JANE MARIA BEAL BONNELL relict of the above James Beal Bonnell esq of Upton House, Essex, and Pelling Place, Old Windsor, Berks., who departed this life March the 18th 1841 Aged 93 years".

Arms: Argent, a cross quarterly pierced gules nine crosses crosslet 3, 3, and 3 counterchanged. Impaling gules, a chevron or, in chief a bar of the last.

"Sacred to the memory of JANE BONNELL | who departed this life September 23rd 1841, aged 42 Precious will her memory be to those who knew her well and loved her most It is humbly and firmly hoped that she is gone to receive Through the merits of the Redeemer her everlasting reward. Also of MARY JANE HARVEY BONNELL of Pelling Place, Old Windsor, in the County of Berks; who departed this life Nov. 15th 1853 in the (?) year of her age. | She lived with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit and died with the grace of humble faith in her Redeemer".

Arms: In an ornamental lozenge the Bonnell Arms as above, the first quarter ermine for difference, as granted to Mary Jane Harvey Bonnell.

James Bonnell was lord of the manor of Purleigh in 1759.[12] James Bonnell purchased Pelling Place and adjoining land including Beaumont Lodge in Old Windsor, Berkshire.[13] James Bonnell of Spring Gardens, St Martin-in-the-Field, Westminster, died in 1774 and his estate was the subject of a case in Chancery between James Beal (d.1815), of St. James's, Westminster, plaintiff, who had assumed by royal licence dated 1774 the additional surname and arms of Bonnell, as was required by the will of James Bonnell,[14] and John Bonnell of Newcastle and other Bonnell deforciants from Durham .[15] In 1853 by deed of gift Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell (1763–1853), spinster, of Pelling Place, Windsor, lady of the manor of Purleigh,[16] who had herself adopted the additional surname of Bonnell in 1841,[17] conveyed to James Bonnell, esq., the whole Bonnell estate. James was the middle son of James Bonnell (d.1850), who set up as a chemist and druggist in Carlisle when a young man in 1796, who became a manufacturer of aerated soda water, trading from premises in English Street, Carlisle. He sold the business in 1846, none of his sons having wished to continue in the trade. James jnr. in 1854 married Elizabeth Lowther, his cousin through his mother Esther Lowry (1771–1822).[18][19] In 1860 James Bonnell obtained a licence to add the name Harvey before Bonnell.[20] James Harvey Bonnell died in 1869 aged 60, as his gravestone in Purleigh Churchyard attests.[21] The tenant in occupation in 1836 was William Clarke (senior) [22] Clarke was born at Little Halingbury, about 20 miles away but his wife was born in 1814 at Purleigh.[23] A painting of the Bonnell family armorials is held by Essex Archives,[24] blazoned as follows: Argent, a cross gules charged with five cross crosslets argent between four of the fame gules, alternatively: Argent, a cross gules quarterly pierced 9 cross crosslets 3, 3 and 3 counter-charged. Queen Adelaide breakfasted with the Bonnell family on one occasion at Pelling Place, when the family gave her a shell-work vase, one of a pair home-made circa 1779-1781 by Mrs Beal Bonnell and Miss Harvey Bonnell, the other of which stood on a mantelpiece at Pelling and is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.[25]


The manor passed to the Irving family by the marriage in 1871 of Elizabeth Bonnell, of Pelling Place, to William John Irving of Penrith, Cumbria. The marriage settlement dated 6 March 1871 deals with the manors of Purleigh and Waltons, together with a number of farms, land, a windmill, as well as Pelling Place itself and large tracts of land in Old Windsor.[26] William was a solicitor, the son of William Irving (1808–1870), FRCS, of Crown Square, Penrith, by Jane Raw of Leaming House, Watermillock.[27] A tragedy occurred in the summer of 1884 when William J. Irving and his children Elizabeth, Charles and John drowned.[28]

Current ownership[edit]

There are extensive vineyards in Purleigh, owned and operated by New Hall Vineyards. The firm was established in 1969 and produces c. 250,000 bottles a year.

Washington connection[edit]

Lawrence Washington (1602–1655), the great-great-grandfather of the first U.S. president, George Washington, was rector in the village from 1632 until 1643.[29]

Purleigh Colony[edit]

The Purleigh Colony,[30] established in 1896 at Cock Clarks, was a Tolstoyan Anarchist colony that grew out of the Croydon Brotherhood Church. Initially based on a 10-acre plot, as the group grew the colony rented local cottages with land attached. The colony ran a printing press, publishing translations of Tolstoy and for a while The New Order magazine. For a time the colony sheltered some of the Doukhobors, members of the sect forced to leave Russia to avoid political persecution. Some of the colonists went with the Doukhobors to Canada, and a group went to form the Whiteway Colony in Gloucestershire after a disagreement. This exodus seems to have resulted in the closure of the colony in 1899.

Local amenities[edit]

There are two public houses, The Bell and The Fox and Hounds. The Bell is a 14th-century building that was refurbished in the 16th century.

The local school is Purleigh Community Primary School.

Purleigh playing field is home to Purleigh Cricket Club, who in 2008 broke a British record by scoring 499–5 in just 45 overs[31] against Herongate II.

Religious sites[edit]

The parish church is All Saints. It is of 14thcentury origin[32]

Rev Robert Francis Walker[33] who was a Curate, from 1819 to 1854, and well known translator of Christian books from German to English is buried in the Churchyard.


  1. ^ Maldon District Council
  2. ^ White's Directory of Essex 1848
  3. ^ Will dated 26 Jan. 1739, recited in D/DHn L8, Essex Archives
  4. ^ Bristol Archives, P/Puc?HM/1, "Barnard Papers", includes a pedigree of Denys family; Pucklechurch parish records
  5. ^ Burke's General Armory 1884
  6. ^ Essex Archives, D/DHn T57, Deeds of Bonnell and Irving Estates in Essex and Berkshire
  7. ^ East India Company: Ship's logs, ledgers and receipt books, 1605-1701, British Library, London, L/MAR/A, Reel 8, no 89, Log book of the Chandos Journal of a voyage to Madras Captain John Bonnell 4February 1689 -1 January 1691
  8. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn T21
  9. ^ notes, 1742, signed by John and Sarah Bonnell, Essex Archives, D/DHn T18
  10. ^ A survey of the cities of London and Westminster, borough of Southwark, etc. By John Stow, John Mottley, pp.853-7
  11. ^ Monumental Inscriptions Walthamstow, Part 2, Walthamstow antiquarian society, Official publication no. 27, 1932, The Bonnell Monument in Walthamstow Church, by Stephen J. Barns
  12. ^ "On 10 Apr. 1759 Mr. James Bonnell, Lord of the Manor did: "grant unto the Hon. Lieutenant General Richard Onslow Esq., and Pooley his wife licience to let or lease his copyhold land to George Thrussell of Purleigh, yeoman, for 21 years from Michaelmas (29 Sept.) past." Court Rolls for Purleigh- 29 Oct. 1759, quoted in [1]
  13. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn T69
  14. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn F15
  15. ^ Essex Archives, will of James Bonnell, original exemplification, D/DHn L9
  16. ^ Essex Archives D/DC 27/972
  17. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn F18
  18. ^ Cumberland News & Star, 3 Oct 2008, "Man with the magic soda water fountain"
  19. ^ Marriage settlement on marriage of James Bonnell of Pelling Place, Old Windsor, Berkshire and Elizabeth Lowry, spinster, of Green Gill, Penrith, Cumberland (25 October 1854) and release of claim (15 Sept.1869), Essex Archives D/DHn F20
  20. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn T12
  21. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GScid=2310580&GRid=74993136&
  22. ^ 1836 Whites Directory
  23. ^ Roots Web Ancestry
  24. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn F24
  25. ^ Item no. W.70-1981 Gallery location:British Galleries, room 120, case 15
  26. ^ Deed source: "Dominic Winter, 7 March 2002, lot 204"
  27. ^ http://www.clanirving.com/pdfs/Descendant%20Chart%20for%20the%20Irvings%20of%20Cumberland.pdf
  28. ^ Essex Archives D/DHn F23; D/DHn F2
  29. ^ The Link from Rev Lawrence Washington of Purleigh to President George Washington
  30. ^ Utopias and Utopians: An Historical Dictionary by R. C. S. Trahair p326
  31. ^ "BBC News report on Purleigh Cricket Club". 27 June 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  32. ^ White's Directory, 1848
  33. ^ "The life of Robert Francis Walker". 

External links[edit]

Media related to Purleigh at Wikimedia Commons