It would be impossible to write about the majority of people who have worshipped at Holy Trinity over its 750-year history, but there are a number of families who are recorded for a variety of reasons. The main one is the burial of family members in the church or grounds. Another is their own writing about the church, a third is their occupation in the town or church, perhaps as a Warden or member of the Society, under the Town’s Royal Charter or as a churchwarden.
Rectors are described in a separate section here.
People associated with the church because they have written about its history or firms of architects and photographers include some who also worshipped at Holy Trinity, but, again, they are listed on a separate page (click on the highlighted text).
Prominent members of the clergy who were not incumbents are included on the Rectors’ section here.
This section gives general information about a number of families, who are listed alphabetically by the family surname below.
One of the most famed of the headmasters of Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, Charles was also a member of the congregation, and his memorial under the tower in the church testifies to an untimely and perhaps unpleasant death in 1842.
He does not appear always to have seen eye to eye with the church or town authorities and the matter of the extension of the churchyard led him to distance himself from both in matters of his school headship!
Agnes Ann Bracken (1800-77) is mainly remembered as one of the historians of Sutton Coldfield, alongside her sister whose initial is L, possibly Louise.
Richard Holbeche notes in his diary of the 1850s that “The Miss Brackens sat under us”. This would have been in a box pew in the nave area on the South side.
Agnes was also an artist and her local views survive in a collection in Sutton Coldfield Library.
Bull, Josias (1570-1621)
Described as a gentleman on the brass plaque commemorating his burial in the chancel, not much is known about this early member of the congregation. The plaque shows his coat of arms and also likenesses of his children.
Charles Edward Chavasse was a churchwarden for several years and a wine merchant by trade. He was unusual in being the son of Dr Thomas Chavasse who did not follow the family tradition of becoming either a doctor or a Bishop!
The stained glass window on the south side of the south-west corner of the church is dedicated to him.
Norman Evans writes: The Chavasses are well-known in the Midlands: Francis James Chavasse became Bishop of Liverpool, and his son was made Bishop of Rochester. The last of the Sutton doctors retired from his practice in 1948.”
The Colmores who settled in Birmingham in the fifteenth century are still a well-known name in the area, commemorated most famously in Colmore Row in the city centre.
There are two members of this family particularly associated with Holy Trinity. Thomas was warden of the Town in 1864-66, dying in 1870.
A window in the South chapel is dedicated to Quintus Charles Colmore (1851-1904).
Elyot, Roger and Barbara
Roger Elyot was a seventeenth century Rector of Holy Trinity. His wife died tragically young and he gave silverware to the church in her memory.
The memorial plaque at the East end of the chancel is one of only two brass memorials commemorating burials in the chancel, and these are both of lay people not clergy (the other being that of Josias Bull).
The third baron, Henry, Lord Ffolliott was from Ireland, but married Elizabeth, one of the daughters of the famous local couple Henry and Jane Pudsey, and had Four Oaks Hall built as their home.
He also had a family gallery built in the West end of the church. Elizabeth is buried in the Pudsey vault under the Vesey Chapel. It is not clear where Henry is buried, possibly not at Holy Trinity at all.
While the most famous Harman, John is better known as Vesey, the name his father William took in later life with John following suit, we must note the memorial to both John’s uncle Hugo Harman (his father’s brother) and to his parents (William and Joan) which are in the Vesey Chapel above the Bishop’s tomb.
In relation to this family we can do no better than quote Roger Lea from his History Spot on the subject of this family from 20th March 2009:
” ‘Verily there are snobs of every degree’ – so wrote Richard Holbeche in 1892. He was remembering the 1860s, when the Hartopp family of Four Oaks Hall always arrived late at church, and made a great display of going to their seats with “ridiculous dignity”. Four Oaks Hall had been purchased by Sir William Hartopp for £12,000 in 1792. It was the family of his descendant, Sir William Edmund Cradock Hartopp, Bart., whose airs disgusted Richard Holbeche.
The family was at home at the time of the 1861 census, and the Census Enumerator recorded them – the 66-year old Baronet and his wife Lady Jane, daughters Matilda, Louisa and Julia aged 25, 19 and 18, and 14-year old Edmund. But these were not the only ones to walk down the aisle with their noses in the air, because the Hartopps had visitors – the 18-year-old Marquis of Hastings, Lady North with her two boys the Earl of Guildford and the Honourable Martin, and Robert Wright, Lieutenant in the army.
The Hall also accommodated 25 servants. There was a housekeeper, 32 years old, born in Northumberland, and twelve maids, the youngest a housemaid of 16 and the oldest a laundry maid aged 39. Then there were the butler and the under-butler, cook, coachman, two valets, two footmen, a groom, a postillion, a stable boy and a poster. None of the servants were native to Sutton Coldfield, places of birth included Scotland, Montgomery, Wiltshire and Dorset.
Sir William had succeeded his brother Sir Edmund Cradock Hartopp, to whom the poet H. H. Horton dedicated his pastoral poem Sutton Park, published in 1850. According to the poet their father, old Sir William, was remembered with affection:
How goodness beamed around his aged face,
“His looks adorned the venerable place”
Nor did his features all his worth belie,
Though high his rank, his virtues stood as high.
No doubt the high-ranking Hartopps welcomed such flattery.”
Roger Lea, History Spot no. 46. Available here with a lovely photograph of Four Oaks Hall interior before it was demolished.
Hill, Henry Charles
Henry Hill was educated at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School and became Inspector General of Forests to the Indian Government. In 1892 he gave the church a misericord made from wood of Indian or Burmese origin. The history of this piece of furniture, which is no longer in the church, can be found in the page relating to woodwork.
His own memorial in brass is on the south wall of the south aisle in the angle under the stairs leading to the south gallery.
This large family is one of the best-known and probably best-loved of those associated with Holy Trinity.
The reason for this is that three members of the family wrote about the town and the church, observing the behaviours of their neighbours. These were generally reminiscence-based, so there is a different flavour to them from a traditional daily diary.
The family association starts with Thomas Holbeche (d. 1848) who married Sarah (d. 1841). They had one son, Vincent, followed by seven daughters, the oldest of whom was Sarah and the second youngest Helen – the two ‘diarists’ of this generation.
Roger Lea describes their family home as follows:
Sarah Holbeche was born in 1802 at Ivy House, now no. 20 High Street, Sutton Coldfield. Then, Sarah recalled, in 1804 ‘My father and mother with their one child moved to what is now Mrs. Sadler’s House (now 36 High Street) where Mary, Vincent, Thomas, Elizabeth, Francis, Jane, Aemilian, Martin and John were born.’ Her father, Thomas Holbeche rented 36 High Street from Mr. Guest; Mr. Guest sold the house ‘over my father’s head’ in 1817, leaving the Holbeches homeless. The Rector of Sutton came to the rescue, offering to sell the house he owned in Sutton – now 1,3 and 5 Coleshill Street – ‘My father bought it in 1817, it was the property of our old Rector Rev John Riland who offered it to my father, sympathising with him. £1700 the purchase money.’ ”
Roger Lea, History Spot, The Holbeche Swan (no. 396), 22nd Jan 2016
Vincent married Emma Addenbrooke (the daughter of his partner in the family legal firm) and they had seven children (of whom Gertrude and Arthur were twins). The third of these was Richard (1850 – 1914) whose diary speaks particularly of the congregation at Holy Trinity in the 1860s!
The oldest two were Thomas Vincent (1846-1904) and Edward Addenbrooke (Ted) (1847-1887) who were educated at Rugby and Marlborough respectively.
In later years six of the sisters (not Mary) of the older generation all lived at 58 High Street in Sutton Coldfield. This building was opposite what is now the Royal Hotel, and had to be demolished in 1869 at the coming of the railway to Sutton Coldfield.
Roger Lea’s History Spot “High Street 2” No. 477 from August 2017 gives the full story of this and included a photograph of the Holbeche sisters’ house.
Sarah also gave a stained glass window commemorating one of the Rectors of Holy Trinity, Dr Williamson.
A book has been published on the family as follows:
Ince, Laurence – A History of the Holbeche Family of Warwickshire and the Holbech Family of Farnborough, Brewin Books 2012.
The Jesson family are linked by marriage to other families at Holy Trinity, notably the Pudseys, and are chiefly remembered for the main memorial in the Vesey Chapel and the memorial plaque now on the wall at the end of the north aisle of the church (above the sink in the kitchen!) to the last member of the Pudsey Jesson line of the family who died in Lisbon in the Peninsular War in 1810 – William Jesson Pearson.
The main memorial is in the south-eastern corner of the Vesey Chapel (next to the chancel) above the doorway (now filled in) which led the schoolgirls into their own balcony in the Vesey gallery between 1828 and 1868.
The Pudseys have the grandest memorial in the church, apart from Bishop Vesey’s tomb! This is in the Vesy Chapel also, next to the tomb, and it is thought may have been afforded such a special place as Henry Pudsey claimed descent from Hugo Harman, Bishop Vesey’s uncle.
The Pudseys have links with numerous other families . For example, Henry and Jane’s daughter was married to Baron Ffolliott (qv) and Jane’s second husband was William Wilson, the stonemason who made Henry’s memorial.
George Sacheverell of New Hall had a vault constructed at the west end of the south aisle in 1706 for his family. Sadly, he died without issue as did his nephew who was required to add the name Sacheverell to his own (becoming Charles Sacheverell Chadwick), but he too died childless. Five lead coffins were discovered during essential repairs in 1969 bearing the names of these two and other relatives. One unnamed coffin is presumed to contain George’s widow, Mary. A memorial with Latin inscription is on the wall above the vault.
The Sadler family lived on High Street. Richard Sadler senior rescued the font which is now in the church, and his son Richard, who was a church warden, gave it to the church in 1856. A plaque on the font commemorates this.
John Skelton was a church warden from 1893 to 1919, overseeing a number of changes and events in the church. Following his death in 1827 in his 83rd year, a memorial was designed to him by Charles Bateman as part of the 1929 decoration of the church. This was a painted metal screen in gold and black erected in the upper portion of the Eastern arch between the chancel and what is now the choir vestry (south chapel). It is still in place there.
Ralph Vale (1879-1964) was a church member for 80 years, and a chorister for 61 of those years. A memorial is inscribed on one of the stones in the stairway to the West door on the south side.
The Webster family vault is in the churchyard and there is a stone to commemorate the family in church on the west end wall of the north aisle (in what is now the kitchen).
The family firm in Penns was famous for the production of the first transatlantic cable. The credit for this was afforded to Baron Dickinson Webster, although, when the company provided the wire for the first successful Atlantic cables in 1865 and 1866, it was after the death of Baron and the closure of the Penns Mill.
More about this story is in Roger Lea’s book, The Sutton Coldfield Blue Plaque trail (pp 29-31)
Wilson, Sir William
The owner of the Moat House on the Lichfield Road was an accomplished architect and stonemason and responsible for the memorial to Henry Pudsey (qv) commissioned by his widow Jan. They fell in love and she used family influence to secure William a knighthood, but he was still considered to be below her status, and when he asked that, when the time came, he be buried with her, this was denied him.
The story goes that he suggested he should be buried outside the (then) adjoining church wall and that he would find his way through the wall to her, being a stonemason.
When the clergy vestry was added on to this wall (i.e. the other side of the Vesey Chapel) William then came inside the church. His memorial is therefore now in the clergy vestry.