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 in 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 death in 1842. His horse returned home without him and his body was later recovered.
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!
The Bracken family
The Bracken family came from Erdington, then moved to Aldridge where the father of the family, Richard, died in 1816. At this time, Richard’s widow, Anne brought her four daughters, Anne, Catherine, Emily and Everilda, to live in Sutton to a house described by Sarah Holbeche as “Mrs Duncomb’s house”.
“The Bracken family remained there until 1820 when they moved into Vesey House in the High Street. Local historian Janet Jordan has written extensively about Anne Bracken and her family (see Historians). In her work she writes about the houses in which the family lived as follows:
‘1820: Acorn House divided for Dr Pearson and Mrs Bracken, each taking up their separate residences. They were son and daughter of Pearson bookseller in Birmingham and the descendant of Aris – Aris’s Gazette.’
Acorn House was originally named after a stone acorn on its parapet overlooking High Street, but later named Vesey House. Five years later, a notice appeared in Aris’s Birmingham Gazette on the 16th May 1825:
‘To be let, and entered upon at Midsummer, a very genteel House, situate in a pleasant part of the town of Sutton Coldfield, and late in the occupation of Richard Pearson, Esq, M.D.’
Many years later, Agnes was to purchase the whole property, but one wonders if a new tenant was found for Dr Pearson’s half of the house at this stage? This was one of the most prestigious properties in High Street and it would have cost a lot of money to maintain. Records show that Agnes was employed as a teacher, amongst her many other skills, and she was, no doubt, a very confident young woman.” (Jordan, p 7)
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.
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).
There is a memorial in the South East corner of the church, just before the choir vestry (south chapel) entrance to Joseph Duncumb.
He inherited Moat House, the property built by Sir William Wilson (see architects and contractors) for his new wife, nee Jane Pudsey. On Wilson’s death this had passed to a nephew, John Barnes, whose son, also called John, an only child, sadly died at the age of 18 in 1730 before his parents. Moat House then passed to John Barnes senior’s nephew, William Lunn, and was sold by him to Joseph Duncumb.
Joseph was Warden of Sutton in 1760-61, a Capital Burgess (magistrate) and a Commissioner of the Peace for Warwickshire. His daughter Elizabeth inherited Moat House and married a lawyer by the name of Mr Shirley Farmer Steele Perkins, who himself became Warden in 1804. The memorial in church commemorates Elizabeth and the families on the Steele Perkins side as well as Joseph.
Joseph’s widow owned another property which is thought to have been the one occupied by the Bracken family from 1816-20. Janet Jordan writes about this in her work on the Bracken family (see above) as follows:
“Mrs Duncumb was the widow of Joseph Duncumb who lived at Moat House. In his will of 1773 he bequeathed funds for her to purchase furniture for an alternative property should she wish not to live with her daughter after his death.
Not long after Joseph’s death in 1792, their daughter Elizabeth married Shirley Farmer Steele Perkins and he became the owner of Moat House, leading one to surmise that Mrs Duncumb then moved to another house.
It is believed that Mrs Duncumb’s new home was a property known at some time as The White Hart in High Street. This has yet to be verified. It was situated opposite No. 58 High Street, the home of Sarah Holbeche and her sisters, which itself was demolished to make way for the railway in the 1870s.” (Jordan, p7)
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. Henry’s death is recorded in the burial records for Holy Trinity of 23rd October 1716, but there is no record as to whether burial was in the Pudsey vault or not.
While the most famous Harman, John is better known as Vesey, (the name John took in later life), we must note the memorial to both John’s brother, Hugo Harman, and to his parents (William and Joan) which are in the Vesey Chapel above the Bishop’s tomb. William died in 1471. Joan and Hugo both died in 1523.
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 fourteen children, all of whom but one, Martin (1814-15), survived to adulthood. Sarah was the oldest, and the second youngest was Helen – the two ‘diarists’ of this generation. Vincent was the oldest son (and heir).
Roger Lea describes their family home as follows:
Sarah Holbeche was born in 1803 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 includes 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.
Simon Luttrell was a noteworthy and notorious member of the congregation who bought Four Oaks Hall in 1746 following the death of Elizabeth Ffolliott (qv). He had a balcony constructed in a central position in the west arch (the opening of the tower area) as part of the 1760 pewing work and other alterations. It was named the Four Oaks Gallery (the previous smaller one was pulled down) and he, his wife and family of 8 children would regularly arrive late to Sunday worship, holding up the proceedings until they were settled.
His reputation as an MP was not high, and two of his daughters went on to achieve notoriety in different ways. Roger Lea has written about this in a History Spot (no. 157) of 2011 entitled “Bad Lady Betty / Luttrell Family.”
The Pudseys have the grandest memorial in the church, apart from Bishop Vesey’s tomb! This is in the Vesey Chapel also, on the north wall 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 brother.
The Pudseys have links with other families who have memorials in the church. Jane’s second husband was William Wilson (qv), the stonemason who made Henry’s memorial.
Henry and Jane’s two surviving children, both daughters, married as follows. Elizabeth was married to Baron Ffolliott (qv) and Anne, married glovemaker William Jesson. She inherited the family home of Langley Hall and they had ten children, though not all survived.
The two daughters are buried in the Pudsey vault, but there is a memorial to the Jesson family, including the next generation, the Pudsey Jessons, in the South East corner of the Vesey Chapel.
The last of the Pudsey Jesson line was William Jesson Pearson who died in Lisbon in 1910 aged 26, serving in the Peninsular War. His memorial is on the wall in the North-West corner of the church.
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.