Stondon Massey: Roman catholicism

Page 247

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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At Stondon, as at Navestock and Kelvedon Hatch, some of the gentry remained Roman Catholic after the Reformation. William Shelley, lord of the manor in the late 16th century, suffered imprisonment and forfeiture of his estates for his recusancy and for his part in Catholic plots. (fn. 1) William Byrd the musician, of Stondon Place, was also a Roman Catholic. In 1605 he had his wife, son, and daughter-in-law were all presented to the archdeacon for their recusancy and failure to attend the parish church. Byrd was also charged with having seduced into popery John Wright, son and heir of John Wright of Kelvedon Hatch. (fn. 2) In 1612 Byrd was presented again, this time for failure to pay a church rate. (fn. 3) Other members of his family were presented as recusants from time to time after his death. (fn. 4) No evidence has been found of any recusancy in the parish after they ceased to live there.


  • 1. See above, Manor.
  • 2. E.R.O., D/AEA 23. And cf. Kelvedon Hatch.
  • 3. E. H. L. Reeve, 'William Byrd', E.R. xxxii, 168.
  • 4. Reeve, Stondon Massey, 37 and n. For Byrd's Catholic associations see E. Fellowes, William Byrd, chap. iii.