Friday 2 February 2018

St Mary-on-the-Hill Church, Chester

My family history is associated with many places around the world - as far afield as Nicaragua, Kiev, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Russia, Europe as well as Britain. Some buildings in particular have a close association with the family.

This article focuses on some of my ancestors associated with the Church and Parish of St Mary-on-the-Hill, Chester. Although the church building itself is no longer used as a church, it is still there and when open you can visit it and visit some of the tombs and effigies associated with my ancestors, in particularly from the Gamul and Brerewood lines.

In fact it was a line found in the parish registers at the Church that let me to link the Kelsall family (who married the Glenton who married the Hindleys who married the Heywood's) with the Brerewoods and hence back to royalty:

"1683 Mr Thomas Kelsall of Trafford of Flimstone parish and Miss Christian Brerewood were married the 3rd of July." (Other records show this marriage may have been at nearby St Oswalds Church or that there may have been a service at both)

More information on St Mary's can be found in JP Earwaker's book "The History of the Church and Parish of St Mary-on-the-Hill, Chester, together with an account of the new church of St Mary-without-the-Walls". ISBN 9 781178 500318 and at

Robert Brerewood was my 12x great grandfather, born in the mid 1500s, and dying on 29 May 1600. He was three times Mayor of the City of Chester, and was a wet glover by trade.

Son of Robert Brerewood (a Sheriff of Chester and a glover) and his wife Lucy, Robert Jr married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth Horton (died 1580) was my 12 x great grandmother whose eldest son with Robert was my direct line John Brerewood (1560-1599), another Sheriff of Chester. Their other children were Edward Brerewood (1565-1613), a famous scholar, and antiquary, mathematician and logican; Elizabeth Brerewood (died 1579); and Alice Brerewood (1571-1604).

Robert was buried in Troutbeck Chapel within St Mary-on-the-Hill Church, Chester on 2 June 1600.

JP Earwaker, in his book on the church, added that "At the upper end of the Chappell lye the the body of the late famous Citizen Robert Brerewood Alderman and thrice Mayor of this City, of whom I find no other Monument there, save only his coat, crest and streamer advanced over him, the words thereof are 'Labour prudentra equitale ' which were well fitted to him in whom those virtues were all eminent".

One tomb belongs to my 11x great grandparents Alice Bavand (d1640) and her husband Thomas Gamul (1571-1613). JP Earwaker in his book on the church, gives the following description:

"In this chapel on the north side, formally dedicated to St Katherine, there still remains two handsome monuments which are of much interest. One was erected to the memory of Thomas Gamul Esq., Recorder of Chester, a member of a very old Chester family, who died in 1613, the other to the memory of Peter Oldfield Esq., a distinguished Chester lawyer who died in 1616. Considering the proximity of the church to the castle and the many vicissitudes it must have passed through, it is extraordinary that both these monuments should be in such excellent state of preservation as they are now...

"The Gamul tomb has full length effigies of Thomas Gamul, Esq. Recorder of Chester, who died on the 10th August 1613, and of his wife Alice (Bavand) who died in. August 1640. He is habited in a long gown over his coat and trunk hose, his hands are joined together in prayer and his head is uncovered resting on cushions. He wears a small ruff around his neck and has a pointed beard and moustache. His wife wears a large ruff and a very full pleated dress having a long cloak without sleeves hanging from her shoulders. She has her hair turned back from her forehead under a jewelled head dress, her head rests on two cushions and her hands are clasped in prayer. Their only surviving son, Francis Gamul, afterwards Sir Francis Gamul, Knt and Bart, is shown kneeling on one knee at his mothers feet, his head leaning on his right hand and an open prayer book on the other knee. He wears a broad collar, close fitting jacket and trunk hose. On the front of the monument, as shown in the accompanying plate, are two shields of arms and the kneeling figures of three children, two sons and a daughter, each of whom holds a skull, showing that they died in their infancy."

Anne Brerewood (born Mainwaring) was the daughter of Sir Randle Mainwaring (d 1632) of Over Peover and his wife Jane (born Smith). She married famous Serjeant at Law Sir Robert Brerewood (1587-1654) in 1615. Together they had five children, only one of whom made it to adulthood, John (1616-1700). Anne died on 23 December 1630 and was buried in Troutbeck Chapel within St Mary-on-the-Hill Church. Her husband and son are also buried in the church.
JP Earwaker, in his book on the church states that a monumental inscription formerly in the church said:
"Anne daughter of Sir Randle Mainwaring of Peover, knight, and late wife unto Robert Brerewood, Esq died the 23 day of December Anni Dm 1630"

Sir Francis Gamul, 1st Baronet (1606–1654) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1640 to 1644. He supported the Royalist side in the English Civil War and was active in the defence of Chester.

Gamull was the son of Thomas Gamull. The family was of Buerton, Chester He entered Inner Temple in November 1622. In 1634 he became mayor of Chester. He was elected Member of Parliament for City of Chester for the Long Parliament in November 1640.

During the Civil War, Gamull was very active in the defence of Chester. In June 1643 he established a town guard, of which he was colonel, and enlisted all able-bodied men between 16 and 60. After the governor, Sir Nicholas Byron, was captured in March 1644, King Charles proposed Gamull in his place, but Gamull was rejected because he was unpopular with the citizens and opposed by other royalist leaders. Gamull was disabled from sitting in parliament on 22 January 1644, but was created in the baronet of Chester in April 1644. He was nominated as mayor in 1644 but was rejected. By April 1645 there were signs of popular antagonism towards Gamull and his Welsh soldiers, as conditions under the siege became increasingly difficult. Gamull entertained King Charles at town house in Chester and was with him on the Phoenix Tower when they watched the defeat of the Royalist army at the Battle of Rowton Heath.

After the siege was ended Gamull and other Royalists were dismissed from the town's administration in October 1646, and he was fined £940.Gamull died at the age of 48 after an abortive uprising for the future Charles II. His son-in-law stated that he was executed at Exeter. The Parish Register of St. Mary-on-the-Hill (pictured) in Chester states that he was buried there on 27 November 1654.

Gamull married, as his first wife, Christian Grosvenor daughter of Sir Richard Grosvenor, 1st Baronet in 1621. They had two daughters, and his baronetcy became extinct on his death.
Sir Robert Brerewood was born in Chester to John Brerewood (1560 - 1599), the Sheriff of Chester in 1598, and his wife Mary Perry ( - 1592), Robert was Christened on 10 January 1588.In 1605, he was sent to Brasenose College, Oxford and later to the Middle Temple. He was called to bar on 13 November 1615, and practised for 22 years.

He also published his uncle Edward Brerewood's (1565 – 1613) work.In 1615, Robert married Anne Mainwaring ( - 1630), daughter of Sir Randle Mainwaring ( - 1632) and Jane Smith of Over Peover. He had the following children with Anne:

  • Robert Brerewood (1620 – 1623)  
  • Jane Brerewood (1621 - )  
  • Thomas Brerewood (1623 – 1624) Elizabeth Brerewood (1624 - )  
  • John Brerewood (1616 – 1700), who married Sydney Gamul (1635 – 1666)

Anne died in 1630, and Robert then married Katherine Lee ( - 1691), daughter of Sir Richard Lee of Lee and Darnall. He had the following children with Katherine:

  • Henry Brerewood (1635 – after 1703) 
  •  Thomas Brerewood (1640 – 1641) 
  •  Robert Brerewood (1643 ) 
  • Elizabeth Brerewood (1634 – died young) 
  •  Elizabeth Brerewood (1636/7 - ) 
  • Edward Brerewood (1634 ) 
  • William Brerewood (1638 - )  
  • Francis Brerewood (1641 - ), who became Treasurer of Christ’s Hospital, London.

In 1637, Robert was appointed a judge in north Wales, and a reader of the Middle Temple in 1638.In 1639, he became Recorder of Chester.

In April 1640, Robert was returned as Member of Parliament for Chester in the Short Parliament.

He was also appointed Serjeant-at-Law and King's Serjeant. He was knighted by Charles I in 1643, and became Judge of the Common Pleas.

He retired to Chester after Charles' execution in 1649.

Sir Robert died on 8 April 1654, and was buried the following day at St Mary’s on the Hill Church, Chester.

According to JP Earwaker in his book on the church, a monumental inscription which is no longer in the church read (translated from the Latin):

"Here lies the body of Sur Robert Brerewood, Knight, one of the Justices of the Court of King's Bench, son and heir of a John Brerewood of the city of Chester, gentleman, who - the same Robert Brerewood - at about the age of 17 years in the year of our Lord 1605, entered Brasenose College in the University of Oxford, and after a stay there if two years left the said University, and in the month of Ictober in the year of our Lord 1607 was admitted to the Middle Temple Inn, London, and after being there for just about the space of the next following seven years was called to the Bar, and further in the beginning of the month of December in the year of our Lord 1637 was appointed one of our Lord King's Justices for the Counties of Anglesey, Carbarvin, and Merioneth, and in the Lent following was in his turn Reader at the Middle Temple Inn, aforesaid and further in the week after the festival of Easter in the year of our Lord 1639 was chosen to the office of Recorder of the said city of Chester, and further in Trinity Term in the year of our Lord 1640, at the meeting then held if Sergeants-at-Law was made a Sergeant-at-Law and afterwards in Hilary Term in the year of our Lord 1641 was, by Letters Patent of Our Lady the Queen appointed Sergeant-at-Law to our said Lady the Queen, and further on the 5th day of December the year of our Lord 1643 was Knighted and then the Letters Patent of our Lord King Charles, bearing the date the 31st day of January in the 18th year of the King's reign, and in the year of our Lord 1643, was appointed one of the Justices of the Court of King's Bench and was sworn in to his office aforesaid in full Court in Hilary Term on the 6th day of February at Oxford, and died on the 8th day of September in the year 1654 in the 67th year of his age. In his time he had two wives namely Anne Mainwaring, daughter of Sir Randle Mainwaring of Peever in the County of Chester, knight, as his first wife and Katherine Lee, daughter of Sir Richard Lee of Lee in the County of Chester, knight, as his second wife, by which wives he had and left separate issue both sons and daughters."

A summary of other ancestors based on the church records as written by JD Earwaker in his book on the church:

Baptism of Robert Brerewood son of Richard Brerewood and Elizabeth his wife December 1547

Baptism of Jane daughter of James Brerewood and Luce his wife 10 April 1549. Also her burial 18 April 1549

Baptism of Alice Brerewood 23 September 1571

Burial of James Brerewood 21 July 1549

Burial of Robert Brerewood 13 January(?) 1601

Baptism of John Brerewood ? January(?) 1616

John Brerewood burial ?? 1622

Baptism of Elizabeth Brerewood 31 October 1624

Baptism of Francis Gamul 6 November 1625

Thomas Gamul baptised 30 December 1627

Mr Mainwaring "beinge buryed in Saint Katherens Ielle" 1588

Thomas Gamul Esq "in St Catherin's Ile in the vaute sometyme being recorder of the cittie of Chester" 1613

Edmund Gammull Alderman "in St Catherins Chappell" 1616

Mrs Christian Gamul wife of ffrancis Gamul Esq bur in the vault in St Katherine's Ile 11th day of June 1640. (Direct ancestor died in childbirth)

Robert sonne of Robert Brerewood Esq buried some halfe yard from the side of the upper tombe in Troutbecks Chappell 23 day of October 1643

Captaine Thomas Gammull Esq sonne of Colonell Sir Francis Gamul Knt and Baronett buried in the vault in St Katherine's Ile 12 day of June 1644

Sir Robert Brerewood buried in Troutsbeck Chappell the ninth day of September 1654

Sir Francis Gamul buried in his own vault 27th of November 1654

Francis son of Mr John Brerewood buried in Troutsbeck Chappell the 25th day of April 1663

Sidney Brerewood (born Gamul) wife of John Brerewood Esq buried on the 16th day of February 1665

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