Parish History - Other Lives

Sir Thomas Urswick died in 1479 and was buried in the chancel of Dagenham Parish Church (St Peter and St Paul). He studied law and was appointed common sergeant of London and he became recorder on 3rd October 1455.  In the War of The Roses (1455-1485) he sided with the Yorkists.  When Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV ) arrived in London, Urswick was appointed to the commission to try Lancastrian partisans at the Guildhall.  When Margaret of Anjou (wife of Henry VI) won the second battle of St Albans (1460-61) and ousted Edward, Urswick was chosen by the Lord Mayor to go to Barnet to explain the delay of citizens in sending her supplies. Edward IV regained the throne after winning the Battle of Barnet and the Battle of Tewkesbury. Urswick was elected to Parliament in 1461 and 1467. Margaret again ousted Edward in 1470.  Urswick secretly enabled Edward IV’s return to London and after the battle of Tewkesbury he vigorously opposed Fauconberg’s attack on the City.  As a reward he was Knighted on 14th June 1471 and the following year he was made chief Baron of The Exchequer. He was Chief Justice for eight years. His first wife was a Miss Needham by whom he had a daughter who became a Nun. His second wife was Anne Rich by whom he had four sons and eight daughters.  Only five of the daughters outlived him.  His widow married John Palmer in 1482, three years after Urswick died.

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The Revd Herbert Samuel James Marshall was born in 1899 at Islington. He studied at King’s College London and the London College of Divinity at Highbury. He married Margaret Cain in 1928. They had one son Bryan Henry James Marshall born in 1932.  Herbert served as Curate in Leyton and Stratford and was in charge of St Aidan’s in Stratford in 1928.  He was appointed Vicar of St George’s Dagenham in 1929.  In the 1950s he was Vicar of Chadwell Heath. His signature appears several times in the registers of the Churches of Becontree South as he covered services during illnesses and vacancies.

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Laurence William Roper was killed on active service on 27th August 1942. He was the first of the communicants of St Martin’s Church to be killed in the Second World War.  He had been an altar server, Sunday School Teacher and member of the Parochial Church Council.

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Mr W G Samways spent much of his time in February 1949 posting letters in Chelmsford Post office.  Mr Samways was verger of St John The Divine, Becontree and was organising a meeting of all Vergers in the Chelmsford Diocese to form a Chelmsford branch of the Vergers Guild.  He addressed and sent off over 200 envelopes.  Mr Samways was married with two daughters, one at school and the other in the W.R.A.C.

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Lynn Foster (Born Evelyn Elsie Ellis) died in June 2014 aged 80.  For very many years Lynn was a devoted and steadfast member of the Church of St John The Divine, Dagenham.  Lynn was elected Churchwarden in 1967 and later became Secretary and Treasurer of the Deanery Synod.  It was Mrs F who looked after the grass at the church, swept the leaves, arranged the flowers and tirelessly pushed a pram around the parish collecting clothes and bric-a-brac for fundraising jumble sales.  So frequently was Lynn at the Church that she had a gate installed in her fence in Canonsleigh Road  to enable her to get to and from Church quickly.  Mrs F arranged social events and her legendary New Year’s Eve parties were always sold out. When St John’s closed in 1994 Lynn transferred her attention to the portacabins and later to the new St John’s centre and was available to open and close the centre whenever required. Her funeral procession paused outside the St John’s Centre on its way to her funeral at St Alban’s Church.

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The Mann Family

Gerard Noel Cornwallis Mann was born in Falmouth, Cornwall on 28th October 1872. He was baptised on the 21st December that year.  His father, Charles Noel Mann was Vicar of the parish of St Issy in Cornwall.  His mother, Emily Mary was 38 when Gerard was born.  Gerard had two sisters, Eleanor who was 11 years older and Gertrude who was 7 years older.

Gerard studied at Marlborough College and Trinity College Oxford.  He also studied engineering at Durham University. 

In 1897 Gerard joined a Masonic Lodge in Torquay.

In July of 1899 when he was 26 Gerard married Ethel Alice Palmer aged 24 in Loughborough.  The couple had five children: Doris, born in 1900 who died in infancy; Gertrude Mary T, born 30 January 1902; Charles Gerard, born in 1904; Audrey Eleanor T, born on 1st November 1906 and Edward Noel Cornwallis Mann who was born in 1907.

Meanwhile Gerard had founded his own company G.N.C. & Co – Electrical Bell Fitters.

In 1911 the family, living in Norwich, had four live-in servants: Florence aged 34, a nurse; Annie aged 30, a cook; and two housemaids: Gertrude aged 22 and Ida aged 16.

On 3rd September 1932 Gerard, his daughter Audrey and his son Edward arrived in London from Gibralter aboard the P & O Ship Mantua.  They had travelled First Class. Their address in London was given as the Berners Hotel, Berners Road, London W1. (In 2020 a room at The Berners costs £585 per night).

At the beginning of 1934 The Revd Edward Mann, having studied at Marlborough College and Trinity College Oxford, was appointed Church of England minister of the new district of St John The Divine Becontree with responsibility for thousands of souls but no permanent Church building. The congregation met in a hut off the A13.  Edward conducted his first baptism on 18th March 1934.  It is said that he neglected his own welfare, did not eat properly and was consumed by overwork.  On 22nd August 1934 Edward fell in front of a train at Charing Cross station and was killed instantly.

The Foundation stone for the permanent St John’s Church was laid on 9th March 1935 and the Rev Mann’s Bible was placed under the foundation stone.

Edward’s father, Gerard N C Mann, died on 4th October 1941 in Norwich just before his 69th birthday. His estate was valued at £10,740.8s.4d

Edward’s mother, Ethel Alice Mann, presented St John’s Church with a silver chalice, set with amethysts, in memory of her son.

Ethel Mann died in January 1971 in Norwich.  She was 95. Her son, Charles Gerard had died 2 years previously in Hastings aged 65. She was survived by her daughter Gertrude Mary T who died in 1980 aged 78 and her daughter Audrey Eleanor T (who had married Leslie Hills in 1949) who died in April 2003 in Gloucestershire aged 96.

The Chalice given in memory of the Revd Edward Mann is still in use at St Alban’s Church, Becontree.

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Mr Dudley Hales was appointed Organist of St Martin’s Church, Dagenham Dock in May 1943 at the age of 38.  He took over from the temporary organist, Mr McCoughty who had stood in when the Church Organist Mr Gorman, had gone to serve in the Armed Forces in May of 1942. Thirteen years later Dudley became organist of St Alban’s Church, Becontree where he guided and influenced many choirboys not only in singing but in establishing themselves in business and professional careers. Dudley was well known to Musical Directors of several cathedral Choirs, all of whom recognised his musical talent.  He died on 23rd March 1994 aged 89.