The Whitcombe Family c.1918
L> Christopher (1913-2006) Annie née Evans (1872-1962) Cyril in uniform (1897-1979) Edgar (1906-1993) Elizabeth /Betty (1895-1977) Katharine (1914-2007) Robert (1862-1922) Maurice in uniform (1900-1984) Guy (1908-1996) Philip in uniform (1893-1989)

At the time of this photo Robert Whitcombe was Archdeacon & Suffragan Bishop of Colchester.
Information on his mother and her family.

Betty Whitcombe Steer in 1900

Unattributed sketch in Charles Steer III's effects - probably by him of Kaffin c1916

Here they all are 70 years later.

… from a family history written and circulated by Christopher Whitcombe in 1993.

Their grandparents & spouses


Here is the latest up-date of our family tree. I hope you will find it interesting and that it will spur you to get in touch with other membecs of the family you don't often see or even know. There is still work that can be done on it. Anyone with a leaning to historical research would find it absorbing to try to fill in more detail where it is needed. It calls for a slow and painstaking approach hut the result would be well worth the effort. We already have a long lineage which has been proven and to ensure that the rest was correct would be very satisfying. I have included the Evans family line because we seem to have inherited some of their artistic talent.

If you study the pedigree below the most significant impression is uniformity. There are no great names, at least in that part which has been authenticated, and generations succeed each other without rising or falling much from their position in society. The family has produced a continuity of worthy citizens who thlrough their lives have served the nation in many different ways. The careers they have chosen are so often the army, the church, medicine, national or local government. Even the rest show a strong measure of service to others. It would be unfair to omit a reference to the wives who so clearly come from a similar background, encouraging this tradition and raising the next generation to keep it a live. Some wives were even heiresses and that must have helped the family fortunes!

The links before Robert Wydecombe are to some degree speculative but they may well be genuine. More research is required but this is now beyond me, so there is scope here for some enthusiatic but younger genealogist in the family to follow it up. A visit to the local reference library could be illuminating. You should be able to find out quite a lot about St. Angilbert and his son Nitard and their relationship to Charlemagne. Also about Eustace, Count de Boulogne, who was a companion of William the Conqueror and is depicted with him on the Bayeux Tapestry [see below]. He was nicknamed 'aux-grenons' on account of his great moustache. Richard Whitcombe who was born in 1794 perfected the pedigree, as far as he could, up to 1816. We had a common ancestor in the Rev. William Whitcombe of Eastham. Harold Whitcombe who updated it a hundred years later was a second cousin of mine. It was through him that my brother Phil became interested and added his own contributions. Now I have updated it to cover all of the present generation from my mother and father onwards. I have left unaltered all the earlier part which precedes them.

One branch emigrated to New Zealand. My sister Betty met some of them there. They were well known having founded the publishing firm of Whitcombe & Tombs which only passed out of Whitcombe hands in the 1980s. They are probably the major line of the family extant. I have a dual interest in that direction because my wife, Rosemary, is related to Samuel Marsden who founded the first permanent European settlement there. He is known as the Apostle of New Zealand. There is even a Whitcombe mountain in the South Island.

Another branch is in America though I know nothing about them. I did meet an American business man whose brother had Whitcombe as a second name. but we were unable to work out the link. I happened to have on me a photograph of Whitcombe church in Dorset which I gave to him, much to his delight; although he took it hack for his brother I heard no more. There is or was a firm of locomotive builders in the U.S. which included Whitcombe in the name; I contemplated applying for a job there as I also was building locomotives at that time! but I never did.

My grandfather's brother was Robert Henry and I think it must have been after him that my Father was named. He founded, early in the last century, a firm of solicitors in Bewdley which continued to practise there until the 1960s. Two of his sons followed him; they lived next door to each other and the house of one of them was later owned by Stanley Baldwin. They had a sister Annie who lived to be over a hundred. I never met her but Phil did. One of the family bought, c.1900, Cateshill House in Bewdley which was built in the grounds of Tickenhill Palace. In the garden is a famous sweet chestnut tree reputedly planted for Catherine de Braganza who liked to enjoy the view from that spot. It is a fine house and it recently came on the market for sale.

Last summer we visited Shropshire whence our family came. The Shrewsbury Local History Library was a mine of information. They produced an enormous leather bound volume of the family trees of noted Shropshire families. It was compiled early in the 19thC and the Whitcombes are well covered. Attingham Park at Atcham, a National Trust property, was another port of call. It was here that we found the site of our former ancestral home, Whitcombe Mansion. It was latterly called Grants Mansion after the husband of Mary Whitcombe who had inherited it. We also went to Cleobury Mortimer and made other discoveries. The church has a window in memory of my great-grandfather and a plaque to his father. We looked for a postcard of the church in a local bookshop. Not only did we find a postcard but we also found the owner was the secretary of the local history society. He told us that a previous owner of his premises had been a doctor who had died in 1848. He had a copy of the doctor's will showing legacies to various Whitcombes to whom he was related. From this will we were able to identify the house at Hollywaste where my great-grandfather lived and my grandfather was probably born.

Our daughter Sarah lives at Belbroughton near the borders of Shropshire and Worcestershire. She has been making her own discoveries. She found the Parsonage House at Eastham, near Tenbury Wells, which was built by the Reverend William Whitcombe in 1735. In the church there are memorial plaques to some of our forbears. She could not locate the Morrey, referred to in the tree, but did find Orleton Court where we believe Whitcombes lived; one became mayor of Worcester. In Bewdley she foundi the houses of the two solicitor brothers.

I cannot be sure that all the detail in the tree is truly accurate as I kept finding discrepancies. These arise through changes in spelling down the ages, also from faulty memory and actual errors when recording facts. I have now called it a day and you must forgive me if you discover something in the tree with which you disagree or think wrong.

Christopher Whitcombe (1993)

As a footnote to the above, I was contacted in 2011 with an enquiry concerning the signature of Sandford William Whitcombe found hand-engraved on a pane of window glass in a house named Robin's End, Eastham, with a young lady who might be inferred to be his sweetheart.

As yet I haven't been able to ascertain the relationship of Sandford to the main the main Whitcombe lineage given above.

MMS 2011

Family Connexions

Richard Whitcombe, barrister at law, perfected the Whitcombe Pedigree at the Heralds' College in 1816 so far as he could gather information. It was further researched by Harold A. Whitcombe of Birmingham and his findings entered in the Pedigree Register of 1910 and 1912. It was updated by Philip Whitcombe of Lake in the 1960s. The present updating has been made by Christopher Whitcombe of Chester in 1993.

According to the Domesday Survey the township of Martock in the county of Somerset was held in chief of the Conqueror by Eustace, Count of Boulogne. His daughter, who was his heir, conveyed it through marriage to Stephen, Count de Blois, afterwards King of England. Their younger son, William, Count de Boulogne, then conceded it to his kinsman, Pharamus de Bolonia.

It iIs interesting to note that Pharamus was the grandson of Geoffrey de Bolonia (or Boulogne) whose eldest brother was the illustrious Godfrey de Bolonia, Duke of Lorraine, the famous Crusader who was elected the first Christian King of Jerusalem.

Pharamus seems to have settled the lordships of Wydecombe and Ashe within the manor of Martock, on his brother Eustace who is shown on the tree above. They passed to the latter's son, Thomas, and in turn to his son, Pharamus, who is recorded as a knight in 1242/3. It was around 1150 that the name Wydecombe first emerged. Succeeding generations gradually adopted "de Wydecombe" as the surname which in time became "Whitcombe". Notes in the church history of All Saints Martock, c.1937, refer to the de Widcombes and to the original Manor House. A John de Widcombe was buried in Martock church as late as 1527. A new Manor House was built in the 17thC in the main street. All that remained in 1937 of the old Manor was an ancient bridge that had crossed the moat. The old Manor is where Pharamus the elder must have lived. His brother Eustace probably settled at Ashe on assuming the lordships there. What is now Witcombe Farm, Ash, was most likely his home and that of his descendant Robert Whitcombe, later MP for Shrewsbury.

The Pedigree after Robert Whitcombe is authentic, but that which precedes it is to some degree apocryphal since several of the links are rather speculative. Robert was a Somerset man and his son, Thomas, married Edith who was the heiress of Malveysin. Thus the lordship of Berwick Mavesyn (now Maviston) passed to the Whitcombe family. The manor of Malveysin, within the parish of Atcham in Salop, had been granted by William the Conqueror to his companion Walter de Malvoisin: his name appears in the famous Roll of Battle Abbey. Edith was the niece of John Mavesyn who was twelfth in descent from Walter Malvoisin.

In like manner the lordship passed to the Grants when Mary, the last Whitcombe heiress, married Thomas Grant of Hambrook in the county of Gloucester. Their grandson Richard Grant sold the entire heritage in 1777 to Thomas Hill of Tern Hall which is now Attingham Park. Hill's son became Lord Berwick having taken his title from Berwick Maviston. The house of the Whitcombes, which was moated, was by then called Grant's Mansion.

It was demolished c.1798 by the second Lord Berwick. Part of the moat and the outline of buildings can still be seen in the undergrowth by the Home Farm at Attlngham. The present Whitcombe descendants, as shown on the family tree, left Berwick Malvesyn c.1600. They lived at The Morrey, Orleton and Eastham near Tenbury Wells.

William who became Rector of Eastham built the Parsonage House there in 1735. His son, Edmund, was a surgeon and he lived at Cleoury Mortimer where he practised medicine. He died in 1782 and there is a plaque in the church in his memory and beside it is a window to his son who died in 1848. He also was a surgeon and he lived at Hollywaste a mile outside Cleobury on the Ludlow road.

Philip, his son followed in the family tradition and became a doctor. He trained at Guy's in London and when qualified he bought a horse and rode to Bristol where he practised for a while. He then rode his horse back to London to become Medical Officer to the Port of London. He was the instigator of the Yellow Jack which had to be flown by any ship having an infectious disease aboard before entering port.

He settled at Gravesend where Robert Henry, my father, was born. Known as Harry, he won a scholarship to Winchester and then took a double first at New College, Oxford. He trained as a barrister but was never called. After teaching at Wellington for three years and at Eton for ten years, where he married Annie Evans daughter of Samuel Evans, the school Drawing Master, Harry was ordained and became a parish priest, first at Hardwick in Buckinghamshire and then at Romford in Essex, before being appointed Suffragan Bishop of Colchester.

Samuel was the son of William Evans who had been Drawing Master before him and founded Evans House. His son W Sidney V Evans, retired in 1922, bringing to an end an Eton connexion that had lasted four generations. Harry's son, Philip Sidney, became a professional soldier and retired as a Major General after serving in both world wars.

It is hoped that this tree will enable the younger generations to make contact with each other and keep the spirit of this long line alive.

Christopher Whitcombe

Whitcombe Farm in 2009

Steer Family Connexions
Steer main
Evans main
Parry memoirConnor
Catharine Biddlecombe Steer Memoir 1850
Elsa Steer Memoir 1957
Prospectus of Forelands sale 1919
Charles Steer IV Memoir 1999
Inventory of the Limpsfield Rectory 1931

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