Genealogy Notes for the Village of Bardfield Saling (or Little Saling), Essex
A miscellany of pictures and data arising out of research into the KIRBY's family trees (but not all linked to them). This is a work in progress so please treat the data with appropriate caution. For related information see List, Place Index and Wills Index

Location and general description

3531c1.jpgBardfield Saling lies amongst the arable lands and market towns to the west of Braintree and the area appears to have been  dedicated to arable farming for at least the last two centuries. It is a curious place as it also goes by the name Little Saling. The confusion appears to have arisen because it is half way between Great Bardfield, Essex, and Great Saling, Essex, so nobody was quite sure which village it related to. On a trip to the area in 2005 I was told by a local that Saling should be pronounced with a long 'a' sound as in Sailing. I also discovered that locals (at least the one I asked) still seem to use the two names interchangably.

In the centre of the village, and set back from the road, are a number of older cottages. Many follow the sort of style of the one shown to the right. Cottages in Bardfield Saling



St Peter & St Pauls Church

The church of St Peter & St Paul lies opposite Arundels Farm and apart somewhat from the main village. The church is attractively set amidst gently undulating arable fields with scattered woodland. 
St Peter & St Paul's St Peter & St Paul's Font in St Peter & St Paul'sthumb_3530.jpg             St Peter & St Pauls's

During its history it suffered times of neglect. Parts of the church are in soft limestone (chalk?) and have suffered as a result. In the porch and elsewhere there are initials carved with 18thC dates.
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In some cases the graffiti is more elaborate. One pillar has a sketch of a churchwarden (clearly visible in the false colour image to the right)

In the 19th C the village was one of several local villages involved in the thriving  cottage industry of Straw Plaiting. Almost everyone in the village would have been involved in some way. Some fine examples, now too fragile to risk moving, still hang in the church. The vine and grapes motif was apparently a speciality of the village of Bardfield Saling.
thumb_3524.jpg  thumb_3528.jpg thumb_3527c1.jpg thumb_3528c2.jpgthumb_3528c1.jpg
The industry in Essex was never so prolific as in Bedfordshire or Hertfordshire. A interesting short history of the occupation can be found at The 1851 Census for Hertfordshire has Hicks straw plaiters in Royston and Hemel Hempsted.  The land owning Hicks family in Bardfield Saling had links with Royston so these may have been relatives. In the 19th C the straw plait business was under considerable pressure (e.g. in Hemel Hempstead from cheap imports of straw hats from China) and gradually folded up. A report from 1850 describes how, in the Castle Hedingham district, a good plaiter could earn 3s 6d (17.5 pence) per score and make one and a half score per week. Thus suplementing the agricultural workers wages of 6-7s (30-35 pence) per week.


The village has a number of more substantial old farmhouses such as New Green Farm and Arundels Farm shown below.
New Green Farm New Green Farm Arundels Farm Arundels Farm    


The HICKS family

The Quaker families of HICKS and SMITH were closely related and many from these families are buried in the Quaker burial ground at Great Bardfield. They included major local landowners. It is not yet clear whether they relate to any of the main trees on this site, however there are some Wills included on the Probate Wills page.
The family of John HICKS (1812-) lived at New Green. On the wall of the church in Great Bardfield hangs a tithe map. New green is clearly shown and runs vertically about a third of the way in from the left. North is to the left. thumb_3542m1.jpg
During the time that our family were in the area they were not the only local HICKS family. Other HICKS families had significant land holdings in the area. At present I have been unable to trace any connection between our family and these other HICKS groups but a link is quite likely. Another big local land holder was the SMITH family.
Both the HICKS and SMITH families appear to have been Quakers and they frequently seem to have intermarried. The Quaker (or Friend's, as they are also known) burial ground in Great Bardfield is full of Smith gravestones and also has a few Hicks ones. One of these, relegated to a corner and with a damaged surface, is particularly tantelising as all that is readable is 'HN HIC' so it could well be for [JO]HN HIC[KS]. 
Gravestone for 'HN HIC'
One Charles Hicks owned both Arundels Farm and Woolpits Farm (he is listed as owner of Woolpits Farm in Whites Directory for 1848, under Great Saling, Essex). One John Hicks (not necessarily the one mentioned here) owned land in bardfield Saling and leased land in Stebbing.
His relative George Hicks owned land in Great Saling and Little Saling. I have traced several probate documents that appear to relate to this family and I am in the process of transcribing them. Summaries are included below. The rather sketchy understanding I have of this family to date is summed up in a Saling/Stanstead Hicks PDF. Arundels Farm

Summary of Will of Charles Hicks of Saling, Farmer - Written 1841, proved 1849

The will is quite complex so the precise arrangements below could do with being checked by a lawer!
Cousin Charles Hicks of Stanstead, Farmer and Joseph Sterry the Younger of High Street, Southwark, Oilman to act as trustees.
All Personal stock & effects to be sold and everything to be used to buy parliamentary stocks or public funds that will form the basis of a trust fund.
Trust fund to be used to support his Mother, Elizabeth Hicks of Saling for the rest of her life.
Upon Elizabeth’s death the fund to be divided into 12 equal parts
  • Six parts to the trustees (i.e. Charles & Joseph).
  • One part to go to his Brother Robert Hicks of Royston immediately, the remainder to be held in trust to provide an annuity for Robert and his as yet unidentified wife (space left in will for name to be added). Should both Robert and his wife both pre-decease Elizabeth then the five shares in trust should be used for the support Adolphus Richardson natural son of Robert Hicks and Ann Richardson (daughter of Robert Richardson of Boreham, Essex). To administered by the trust during his minority.
  • Three shares to Adolphus Richardson of Boreham, Essex at age 21
Residuary part of the estate be equally divided between his Cousins Charles Hicks & Edward Hicks of Stanstead, Henry Hicks of Chelmsford, and Joseph Sterry
Executors were Charles Hicks & Joseph Sterry
Witnessed by John Hicks & Elizabeth Hicks
Signed 6th Aug 1841
Proved 30th Apr 1849
A full transcription has been produced for the probate record for this will, see the Probate Records Index.

Summary of Will of George Hicks of Gt Bardfield, Farmer - Written 1837, proved 1840

He was a Farmer of Saling, Essex
Nephew Charles Hicks of Stansted Mountfitchet (farmer) and Joseph Sterry the younger of the Borough of Southwark (oilman) to get lands and property in Great Saling, Little Saling, and elsewhere, upon trust that they sell it and use the proceeds to provide an annuity of 50 for his wife Elizabeth Hicks
This annuity is intended to be in satisfaction of any claim she might have on his real estate.
100 to be paid in weekly sums of 5s to his son Robert Hicks
After the death of Elizabeth the residue to go in equal shares to his sons George Hicks and Charles Hicks
Executor George Hicks (Son). Charles Hicks (Nephew), Joseph Sterry
Witnessed by Samuel Jesper, Joseph Whitehead, John Redgwell
Signed 17th September 1837
Proved 12th April 1840
A full transcription has been produced for the probate record for this will, see the Probate Records Index.

Summary of Will of John Hicks of Great Bardfield - Written 1846, proved 1854

He was of Great Bardfield, Essex (no occupation given)
Friend Joseph Whitehead of Stebbing to get 10
Wife Elizabeth Hicks to get freehold and leasehold lands, and a tenement mill, for the remainder of her natural life (all in Bardfield Saling), also to get the household goods and copyhold and leasehold property in Stebbing.
After Elizabeth’s death 350 to go to nephew Charles Hicks of Bardfield Saling (son of John’s late brother George)
The residue to be divided share and share alike between the sons of John’s late brother Charles
  • Nephew Charles Hicks of Stansted Moutfitchet
  • Nephew Edward Hicks of Stansted Moutfitchet
  • Nephew Henry Hicks of Springfield Mill
Executors were Elizabeth Hicks (Wife), Henry Hicks of Springfield Mill (Nephew) and Joseph Whitehead of Stebbing (friend & Miller)
Witnessed by Alfred Baker, William Young, John Brown
Signed 19th Feb 1846
Proved 16th October 1854
A full transcription has been produced for the probate record for this will, see the Probate Records Index.

Summary of Will of Charles Hicks of Stansted Mountfitchet, Farmer and Maltster - Written 1826, proved 1826

He was a Farmer and Maltster in Stanstead Mountfitchet, Essex
He left to his wife Sarah Hicks all she had inherited from her first husband John Harrison and excluded his children from any claim on this.
His sons Edward Hicks and Charles Hicks to get tenancy in common to property in Stansted Mountfitchet that had been purchased from Samuel Gains and his wife (including a Malting Office), and in return for this to provide a 20 annuity for Sarah Hicks in lieu of Dowry or Thirds. After her death 250 to go to her son John Harrison, to be divided between his heirs if he is dead.
Son Charles Hicks to get copyhold property in Stansted Mountfitchet linked to the Manor of Bentfieldbury (purchased from Sarah Day and occupied by John Stainer and Philip Enwill
Son Edward Hicks to get freehold land lying in Stansted Street (occupied by Joseph Harrington and Charles Warwick) and in Handy Field Common in Stansted Mountfitchet (two parcels in Charles’ own occupation).
Wife Sarah Hicks to get two freehold cottages in Stansted Mountfitchet (purchased from Oliver? Saunders and occupied by Charles’ son Henry Hicks and Mrs Walsh), provided she does not marry. After she dies or if she marries than Henry Hicks to get these. Also to get 100 and the household goods etc she brought with her into the marriage.
Henry Hicks to get 400 to make his share equivalent to that of the other brothers
Charles Hicks to get term & interest in the farm Charles occupies and an option to buy furniture, mowing & dairy equipment, and beer casks (for 200 Guineas).
Books & plate to be equally divided amongst the children.
Sons Charles & Edward Hicks to get term & interest in Joseph Heaths Malting.
Son Edward Hicks to get term & interest in a farm at Burton End.
Son Henry Hicks to get term & interest in Windmill & Malting Sheds of Henry Chaplain. Also Mill Field (owned by Mr Maintland and occupied by Charles) and lands called Pot Ash (from Mr Jay).
Son in Law Joseph Sterry of London to get 10 Guineas for execution of the will.
Residue to be divided between the three sons Charles, Edward and Henry.
Executors were his sons Charles Hicks and Edward Hicks, and Brother in Law Joseph Sterry
Witnessed by William Gee, Andrew Barber, Thomas Ley
Signed 8th April 1826
Proved 5th December 1826
A full transcription has been produced for the probate record for this will, see the Probate Records Index.

Related links

A selection of links to other sites with information about this place




The Straw Plait Industry in the Dacorum area., in Hemel Today, 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing, accessed 30 Mar 2006
Andrew Clarke, Sunday, June 12, 2005 Strawplaiting in The Hysterical Historian, The Web Log for the Foxearth and District Local History Society., accessed 30 Mar 2006

Any transcripts and images on this page are Copyright R I Kirby 2005 unless stated otherwise.