The Spicer Surname in England – and My Dorset Family.


When 14 years old, Henry Spicer junior, my grandfather, was one of 4021 people with that surname on the 1881 census of England. Only one of 215 in the County of Dorset, the surname had its concentration in the southeast of England, ranking 1126 in a population of 24,397,385 souls. (Footnote: About one in six thousand were named Spicer. The British 19th Century Surname Atlas (DVD, Archer Software, 2015). Wikipedia for total population. )

Yet the surname stretches likely back to the Norman invasion with a French origin. “spicer” was a trade. In the French language, épicer is a verb meaning to season or add spice to a dish. They may very well have been wholesale importers to London of various exotic spices used for cooking or medicinal purposes.


While very few medieval records of trade and traders have been retained, one that has is in the city of Canterbury where research has revealed that the surname was associated with the trade as early as the 13th century. And as a trade it was of importance and standing: the first mention of citizens and burgesses of Canterbury representing the city at Westminster is in 1294-5. In 1304-5 and again in 1307-8 it was Stephen le Spicer who was one of the two representatives to Westminster. In the two years 1310-12 Edmond le Spicer had the honor, as did Richard Spicer in 1332. (Footnote: Mathews, Leslie G. “Spicers and Apothecaries in the City of Canterbury,” Journal of Medical History (1965; 9(3):289-291. )

However, after 1453 there are no further listings of spicer as a trade in the records of Canterbury. From then on, the trade was carried on by men delineated in the record books as grocers or apothecaries. Épicerie is French for grocery, or groceries. That didn’t mean the name disappeared in the records of Canterbury, but no Spicer surnames appear as grocers or apothecaries. The Spicer surname does appear in the listings of freemen from 1587 to 1704. Seven men of that name, or the variation Spyser or Spycer, appear on the lists of freemen, yet the name appears even earlier; in 1409, Richard Raulyn, a shearman, becomes a freeman by virtue of marrying Christina, the daughter of freeman John Spicer.

  Freemen By Men who were freemen, either by birth, marriage to a Spicer, or redemption (fee).
1409   Christina, d/o John Spicer married Richard Raulyn, shearman, in 1409.
1410   Christiana, d/o Philip Spicer married John Cobbe in 1410 becoming a freeman (Philip does not appear on the list of freemen.
1427   Joan, d/o John Spycer married Thomas Bonde, saddler, in 1427 becoming a freeman
1562 Redemption Spycer, Richard, basketmaker, 1562
1587 Birth Spicer (Spycer), Edward, basketmaker, s. of Richard Spycer, basketmaker. 1587.
1613 Birth Spyser, John, basketmaker, s. of Edward Spyser, basketmaker. 1613.
1618 Redemption Spycer, Henry, innholder, 1618
1640 Birth Spicer, Abraham, basketmaker, s. of John Spicer, basketmaker. 1640.
1641 Birth Spicer, Edward, basketmaker, s. of Edward Spicer, basketmaker. 1641.
1653   Elizabeth, d/o John Spicer, basketmaker, married Simon Carter 1653 becoming a freeman.
1660 Birth Spicer, Isaac, basketmaker, by virtue of his father's copie. 1660.
1664   Mary, d/o Abraham Spicer, basketmaker, married Samuel Tailer, bricklayer in 1664 becoming a freeman.
1673 Birth Spicer, John, basketmaker, s. of Abraham Spicer, basketmaker. 1673.
1704 Birth Spicer, John, husbandman, s. of John Spicer, basketmaker. 1704.
Table gleaned from Cowper's Roll of the Freemen of the City of Canturbury from A.D. 1392 to 1800 (Footnote: Cowper, J M. The Roll of the Freemen of the City of Canterbury from A.D. 1392-to 1800.(Canterbury, Eng: Printed by Cross and Jackman, 1903.) Internet resource )

While it doesn’t appear that men with the surname Spicer were actually in the trade of grocer of apothecary in Canterbury, the last entry gives an indication that they may have been slowly abandoning the trade of basket makers to take up farming.


- These maps contain places mentioned in the text below and are for reference.

Guide to maps on the right: Wales and SW England

Click on the maps to the right to enlarge.
Dorset / Affpuddle: locations of my Spicer family 1600-1939
Significant locations in Spicer history in Dorset.
The links below will open in a new window or tab.
Zoom in or out in both Google and the Ordinance Survey Maps.
Tolpuddle and Affpuddle from 1888 Ordinance Survey Map
Corsley, Wiltshire: James Spicer in 1841 & 1851
Hethfelton Farm: James Spicer 1851-his death, Ann Spicer to 1864.
Corfe Castle - Langton Matravers where three of Henry Spicer's children were born
Harwarden & Ewloe Woods: where Alice and William James Spicer were born. 1868-1877

My Spicer Ancestry in Dorset

Note: Direct line ancestors are in bold at least once.

The first seven generations.

Dorchester is a long way from Canterbury, some 160 miles to the west as the crow flies, but seven miles east of my Great Grandfather’s homeland. The Spicer surname goes back as far as it does in Canterbury. William Spicer wrote a will in 1410 in which he names his wife Margery, son Robert and daughter Alice. William evidently held some standing in the ancient capital of the county having acquired property through wills and ran a small shop of some nature unknown. When his wife Margery followed him to the grave in 1428, she left the property to two men and indications from the will is that they left no issue. (Footnote: Mayo, Charles Herbert & Gould, Arthur, The municipal records of the borough of Dorchester, Dorset; (Dorchester, 1908). Pages 235-236 and page 261 On line at )

Whatever the relationship, or the issue, a John Spicer does appear two centuries later in Dorchester towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign, 1583, (Footnote: Mayo, pages 364-5. A witness to the charter of William Miller of his land on the north side of Pease lane. ) and then again as one of the first burgesses of the new corporation of Dorchester. He evidently was an important personage in Dorset as he was the first representative to the first Parliament of James I in 1603-4. (Footnote: Hutchins, John, The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (London, 1774), Vol I, page 611. Internet Resource at ) John died about 1623 when James Gould replaced him as a Capital Burgess (Footnote: Mayo, page 464. “Election of Capital Burgesses: ….1623-4 Jan 12. James Gould v. John Spicer, decd.” ), but he is listed as present, on August 9th, at the 1623 Visitation of the county of Dorset. (Footnote: St. George, Henry; College of Arms; Lennard, Samson; Rylands, J. Paul ed.; Colby, Frederic, joint ed. The Visitation of the County of Dorset, taken in the year 1623. (1885, London) online at page 3. )

It is presumptive that he is the same John Spicer who was the father of Thomas (c. 1602) and Walter (c. 1603) per the parish register of Holy Trinity, Dorchester. That he is the father, with Thomasine Reade (c. 10 Feb 1581) his wife, is clear from the parish registers and also from the 1608 will of William Reade, Thomasine’s father, who gives “…to daughter Thomasine to wife of John Spicer 40s; To Thomas and Walter Spicer, sons of John Spicer and Thomasine 20s…” (Footnote: Abstract at Dorchester Index of Wills and Letters of Administration (1413-1700): ) However circumstantial that he is the same man, the dates and place would indicate that he was indeed the Burgess as well as father of Thomas and Walter.

Walter Spicer appears in the Minutes of the Corporation in 1639-40 as promising to pay off a debt he owed and to renew his Sunday school teaching of the children of the hospital. (Footnote: “ appeareth Walter Spicer oweth 12li. 7s. and promised to give his owne security for it to pay xxs. a weeke vntil the debt bee paid, and is now ordered and hath promised to catechist the children of the Hospitall twice a weeke from henceforth, which he was to doe by agreement, but hath for a good tyme neclected it.” (Mayo, page 515.) ) He married 15 or 16-year-old Sarah Russell (Footnote: While the marriage in 1630 is confirmed, the age and parentage of Sarah Russell seems a bit enigmatic. There is definitely a family with that surname in Dorchester in the first decades of the 1600s at Holy Trinity Church. The Dorset Online Parish clerk transcription of a record that I have not seen the original of has a Sarah Russell daughter of John Russell baptized May 28, 1617, noting that she was the second child from the marriage of John Russell to Dorothe Randall. This, however, would mean that she was twelve years old when she married Walter Spicer. Not inconceivable, but evidently dates are wrong or I am missing children since their first child was not born until 1641. ) in February of 1629/30 and had two children with her that are known: John (c. 12 Dec 1641) and Walter (c. 12 Jun 1644). (Footnote: Dorset OPC Project," transcriptions, Dorset Online Parish Clerks ( : accessed 8 Sep 2020), Holy Trinity Church Dorchester; Marriages 1560-1712; AND Dorchester Baptisms Holy Trinity Church 1559-1617: )

While I know little for certain of Walter yet, his brother John Spicer (c. 1641) had at least four children with Mary, whose maiden name is unknown. Four known children were born in Upper Cerne, about eight miles due north of Dorchester, and both Mary and John are buried there. (Footnote: Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, "Dorset History Centre; Dorchester, England; Dorset Parish Registers; Reference: PE/UPC:RE2," Up Cerne > Image 11 (Mary’s), Image 13 (John). ) The known children, John (c. 1676), Richard (c. 1678), Ursula (c. 1680), and Sarah (c. 1682) all appear in the baptism registers of Upper Cerne although the registers are in bad shape and the indexing on is incorrect for several of them. (Footnote: Dorset Parish Registers, Up Cerne > Images 2, 3, and 4. )

To simplify: (for more complete go here.)

1-John Spicer b. est 1570, d. Abt 1623

+ Thomasine Read b. 1581,d. After 1660

2-Walter Spicer b. 1603, d. 1681

+ Sarah Russell c.1615

3-John Spicer b. Dec 1641, d. 1719

+ Mary b. 1640, d. 1708

4-Richard Spicer b. 1678, d. 1746

+ Catherine d. 1721

5-Thomas Spicer b.1701/02, d. 1774

+ Anne Swyer b. 1713, d. 1781

6-Walter Swyer Spicer b. 1734, d. 1789

+ Mary Talbot b. 1753, d. 1797

7-Robert Talbot Spicer b. 1772, d. 1839

+ Sarah Rosanna Frizell b. 1782, d. 1866

Richard (c. 1678) married twice and had at least fourteen children with his two wives, all born in Upper Cerne. His first wife, Catherine, he married about 1697 and she was buried on June 14, 1721 in Upper Cerne. (Footnote: Dorset Parish Registers, Up Cerne > Image 13. ) Their second son, Thomas, was born in 1701/2 (c. 21 Jan 1702). (Footnote: Ancestry Dorset Parish Registers, Up Cerne > Image 6. ) While all his children were born in Upper Cerne between 1698 and 1735, the last six were with his wife Mary Watts whom he married in 1722 in Woodsford. Richard was buried in Upper Cerne in November of 1746, his wife Mary in November of 1750.

Thomas married Anne Swyer (c. 30 Jul 1713 in Winfrith Newburgh) on January 7, 1732/33 in Broadmayne. She was the second known daughter of Walter Swyre and his wife Anne. It is possible that he moved to Broadmayne because that is where his grandfather, John’s brother Walter, had located. There are a number of Spicers buried in Broadmayne in second half of the 1700s, including a Walter who was buried there in 1789. Thomas and Anne had only two children that are known: Walter Swyer Spicer (c. 7 Mar 1733/4) (Footnote: Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, "Dorset History Centre; Dorchester, England; Dorset Parish Registers; Reference: PE/BDM:RE1/1," Broadmayne > Image 13; ) and John who died as an infant. Thomas was buried in 1774, Anne in 1781, both in Broadmayne. John's will was signed by his mark in 1761 and proved by Anne in 1774. (Footnote: In part Thomas's will reads "I give + bequeath to my son Walter Spicer the sum of five pounds to be paid him in a twelve month after my decease. Item I give + bequeath to my two Brothers John + Richard Spicer + and also to my two Sisters Catharine Hillier + Mary Lock one shilling each to be paid them in a twelve month after my decease." (The rest to "my loving wife Ann Spicer.")
Ann's will, proved April 17, 1781, gave her son Walter "that appartment of my Dwelling house, called by the name of Hitchon End, (could be Kitchon End) the Hall, 3 chambers and a [?feure] House adjoining said House. I will that the wife of the said Walter Spicer to have a residence therin as long as she shall continue in his Name, Also I give and bequeath unto my Grand daughter Anne Spicer that other appartment called the Parlour and Chamber over the [?saw, and Foud] house therto adjoining, with the all household goods, consisting of..." After a detail of the household goods, Ann wills to her granddaughter Catherine all the above if Anne should "die under age." She also states that if Ann and Catherine die the same should go to her son Walter and his heirs.
Two grandsons were born to her son Walter and Mary after she died, thus not named in her will.)

With Walter Swyer Spicer the story gets a bit intriguing. He married Mary Talbot (c. 28 Mar 1753) in 1775 in West Knighton, she having a three-year-old son, Robert Talbot Spicer (c. 11 Oct 1772). (Footnote: Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, "Dorset History Centre; Dorchester, England; Dorset Parish Registers; Reference: PE/BDM:RE1/2," Broadmayne > Image 22: “1772__Oct 11 Robert Talbot…base born” ) Walter was 41 and Mary was 22 when they married, and Mary was 19 when her “base born” son Robert was baptized in the somewhat run-down St. Martins Church in Broadmayne. It is the will of Mary’s father which makes the story intriguing. William Talbot (Footnote: The ancestry of William Talbot goes back a number of generations through Talbots, Hennings, to Robert Warham, my 16th great-grandfather whose sons included my 15th great-grandfather John as well as his brother, the Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham (abt. 1450 – 1532) who put the crown on Henry VIII’s head and solemnized his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. ) owned a rather substantial farm west of Broadmayne which had come down to him through the generations. Evidently only Mary was married when he wrote his will in 1777. He willed his daughters Elisabeth, Jane, and Susanna each £100, his son George £300 and

“To Robert Talbot, the Son of my Daughter Mary Spicer the Sum of fifty pounds to be paid him at his age of one and twenty years and in the meantime to be Educated and Maintained by my said Trustees out of the Rents and profits.”

To Mary he gave one shilling. But before that he had put in his will that he gave

“To my Daughter Mary the Wife of Walter Spicer One hundred Pounds which said One hundred Pounds my Will and meaning is shall go in Payment and discharge of one Bond of Obligation wherein I now stand bound to the said Walter Spicer for that Sum.” (Footnote: Original digital copy attached. )

So, he didn’t exactly leave Mary and Walter out of his will, just forgave them a debt. They were evidently not held in good favor. Both Walter and Mary were buried in Broadmayne, he in 1789 and she in 1797. After they were married, they had four more children that are known. The question does arise as to whether Walter Spicer was indeed the biological father of Robert Talbot, but given the terms of his father-in-law’s will, it would seem reasonable that he was just more than some bloke who made Mary an honest woman; if so, they might have been treated kindlier in the will, but we will never know for sure.

Robert Talbot Spicer was a “brick wall” in my ancestry for a number of years until I made the connection to his mother and the fact that he was born out of wedlock. Marrying Sarah Frizell (c. 3 Feb 1783 in Sturminster Newton) in 1805, they had eleven children, the youngest being baptized in Affpuddle where he was on the vestry of St. Laurence church in 1823 and farmed near there. He died in 1839, she in 1866; they are buried side by side in Owermoigne, just five and half miles south of Affpuddle. Their descendants are manifold and those that I have recorded are in the descendant report on another page.

James, Henry senior and junior.

Robert and Sarah Spicer had eleven children. The descendancy of those children are in the report, but here I will concentrate on my line beginning with their second son, James Spicer (Footnote: It’s hard to imagine that James Spicer lived anything but a hard and sorrowful life. Only two of his seven children lived to maturity, dying at ages two, eleven, eight and twenty-nine, although I don’t really know what happened to Matilda. His first wife Sarah died at thirty after less than six years of their marriage. He himself died at the young age of forty-seven in 1855. A farm worker, he found himself, at age twenty-two, right in the middle of one of the seminal events of British labor movement of the nineteenth century, the conviction and transportation to Australia of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834. Wages for agricultural workers were at a below subsistence level and in 1830, while labor unions had established themselves in the north and the urban areas of England, the revolt of agricultural laborers began in the south, scaring and bringing harsh reprisals from the landowners, and in James’ case from the man, James Frampton, who had rented a farm to his father Robert where James no doubt worked. ) who was born in West Stafford in 1808. (Footnote: "Dorset History Centre; Dorchester, England; Dorset Parish Registers; Reference: PE/WSF:RE1/2," image 53 in Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 > West Stafford; digital images. ) At 29 he married Sarah Pitt, the 24-year-old daughter of William Pitt, a farmer in Wimborne Minster, which lies just to the north of Bournemouth and 15 miles east of Affpuddle, to which William would relocate sometime in the 1830s. (Footnote: In 1838, the year of Henry’s birth in Tolpuddle, William Pitt was on the vestry of St. Laurence church in Affpuddle along with Henry’s future father-in-law, William Branston. ( Dorset Parish Registers, Affpuddle.) ) James had three children with Sarah before she died, possibly in childbirth, in 1843. James had moved to Corsley in Wiltshire about 1840 where he was a tenant farmer for a decade.

Following the death of Sarah in 1843, James married her sister Ann in London, with whom he had four children. It's likely they married in London because technically it was illegal for a widower to marry the sister of his deceased wife. They returned to Corsley where he and Ann had three children before leaving Corsley for Hethfelton Farm in East Stoke, Dorset where their fourth, and last child, Albert, was born in 1852. James died three years later in East Stoke where he is buried. (Footnote: It's hard not to believe that in some degree James was in some way involved in the reform movement for agricultural laborers, although that is all speculation. One thing that stands out is that he was in Tolpuddle in 1838 when his eldest child, Henry, was born. The area had been ripe with discontent for years; poverty conditions, the result of depression, the Poor Laws and the introduction of mechanical threshing machines had led to outright revolt in 1830 that lasted as laborers destroyed the new machines in protest. In Tolpuddle in 1834, six men had organized the first ever union by swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. Convicted in March of 1834 on trumped up charges and sentenced to transportation, they became martyrs to the cause of the laborers and a vast demonstration of up to 100,000 people ensued in April in London. The pressure from all over England resulted in their pardon, but poor conditions continued for farm laborers like James. ) He left a will naming his wife, "Ann Pitt otherwise Spicer," leaving his estate with provisions for her death or remarriage. Ann stayed on farming the 400 acres of Hethfelton Farm with the help of her step-son Henry, employing 9 laborers and 2 boys. She died at 47, nine years after James.

Of his seven children, only two lived to maturity, although I don’t really know what happened to Matilda, his second child with Ann. Eliza Spicer (b. 1842, d. 1924), his third child with Sarah, married Henry Longman in Affpuddle in 1865. Two of his children with Ann, Edward and Elizabeth, died young and are buried in East Stoke. Alfred, who died at 27, is buried near his step-brother Henry in the St. Laurence churchyard in Affpuddle. The full line, as I have it, of James Spicer in the descendant report begins in generation two.

Hethfelton Farmhouse in 2004 courtesy cousin Nigel Gale

Henry Spicer senior was born in Southover, a farm a mile across the Piddle River south of Tolpuddle, [click here for the map] four years after the Tolpuddle Matyrs were sentenced to transportation, and the same year as the coronation of Queen Victoria: 1838. Two years later, four miles to the east, Thomas Hardy would be born but young Henry was on his way north into Wilshire. Henry grew up a farmer, a young lad on his father’s farm in Corsley before, at the age of about 11, the family moved to East Stoke. There he helped his step-mother farm Hethfelton Farm until just before she died in 1864. Henry’s roots were a bit to the west, and in 1863 he married Kitty Branston, the daughter of the man who farmed East Farm in Affpuddle, William Branston. For several years they farmed Coombe Farm near Corfe Castle and Langton Matravers where their first three children were born, Maud (Footnote: "Maud" is often spelled with an ending "e", but in her baptism record and also in her father's will, handwritten by him, it is spelled without an "e". ) and Kate baptized in Langton Matravers and Henry junior in Corfe Castle. [Click here for the area map]
[Click here for 1888 Ordinance Survey map showing Coombe Farm in new window or tab.]

In the last years of the 1860s the family moved, a major move of some 180 miles north, as the crow flies, to Ewloe Wood in Wales, about 20 miles south of Liverpool. Ewloe Wood was described in an 1870 gazetteer as one of two townships in Hawarden parish, 1 3/4-miles NW of Hawarden; it is the location of Ewloe Castle; Henry is listed as a farmer of 300 acres. They lived at Ewloe Barn Farm. The 1871 census household includes two servants: a domestic servant and a farm servant. Sheep were his specialty. In 1872 he won a medal for the best pen of five shearling Shropshire-down ewes at the 31st annual show of the Denbighshire and Flintshire Agricultural Society in Wrexham, an annual farm fair of some size which is still going strong, (Footnote: For a bit of history of this show see this page. ) and the local papers had ads selling prime manure from his farm. Kitty and Henry’s fourth and fifth children were born there, Alice and William James, whose name is a combination of his grandfather’s names, William Branston and James Spicer. (My father and brother inherited that name.)

To simplify my direct line. Full descendancy is here.

1-Robert Talbot Spicer b. 1772, d. 1839

+ Sarah Rosanna Frizell b. 1782, m. 1804 d. 1866

2-James Spicer b. 1808, d. 1855

+ Sarah Pitt b. 1813, m. 1837, d. 1843

3-Henry Spicer b. 1838, d. 1903

+ Kitty Branston b. 1829, m. 1863, d. 1900

4-Maud Mary Spicer b. 1865, d. 1934

4-Kate Spicer b. 1866, d. 1957

+ Frederick John Johnson b. 1861, m. 1893, d. 1941

4-Henry Spicer II b. 1867, d. 1939

+ Anabel Thurston b. 1868, m. 1888, d. 1942

4-Alice Jane Spicer b. 1869, d. 1948

+ Frederic Algernon Kent c. 1871, m. 1900, d. 1958

4-William James Spicer b. 1872, d. 1925

Click the thumbnail below to see the house they lived in when at Ewloe Barn Farm at the Flintshire Record Office Flickr album. The house was eventually torn down by the brickworks who owned the land and wanted to expand. Photo about 1920.

In 1876 Kitty’s bachelor brother James died. He had taken over East Farm in Affpuddle when their mother, the widow Mary Branston (née Woodrow), had died in 1861. James’ brother Charles, and their brother-in-law Henry Spicer were named executors of his will in 1877. Henry said good-bye to Wales and took over the tenancy of East Farm. Likely as a going-away present, ten-year-old Henry junior was given a new book of poems by, and inscribed by, Catherine Gladstone, the four-time prime minister of England’s wife. No doubt fellow parishioners at St. Deiniol’s church in Hawarden, another legendary family story is that the Prime Minister, out cutting wood, scared Henry senior’s horse drawn cart and Gladstone helped him chase down and calm the horse. For fun I've included the cover and inscription of Pretty Poems. I really should scan the whole book for the illustrations and poems are very Victorian.

Just for fun:
(Footnote: Pretty Poems for Young People with thirty-nine illustrations. (London, Cassell Petter & Galpin, 1877): )
Henry senior

Taking over East Farm in 1878, (Footnote: Brocklebank, Joan, Affpuddle in the county of Dorset A.D. 987-1953. (1968, Bournemouth: Horace G. Commin Ltd., 124 pages with illustrations and maps), page 79 citing the Frampton Estate Diaries: "1878_ East Farm let to Mr. H. Spicer at a rather increased rent" ) extensive repairs were done to the farm and farmhouse over the next decade including a new addition to the house in 1889, but a very serious fire in 1890 wiped out the barn, cart-house, stable, cider house and the piggeries. A native to the area and well-known, he was soon on the vestry at St. Laurence church, appointed a churchwarden in 1882. In 1894 he was elected Chairman of the newly formed, by act of Parliament, Parish Council. (Footnote: Brocklebank, page 51. ) When Kitty, ten years his senior, died in 1900, Henry was left with only two of his children at home, Maud, his oldest, and William James, his youngest. Alice married that same year, and Kate had married seven years earlier, and Henry junior had gone to America, marrying Anabel Thurston in Minnesota in 1888.

At the time of the funeral, Henry junior having come from America, the siblings evidently gathered for "box camera" photos. While the individuals were identified years later with writing on the back, the question marks next to the names present problems. I believe I have it correct.

When Henry died in 1903 his lengthy obituary in the Western Gazette mentions that he was a prominent member of various Farmers’ Clubs and as an “…uncompromising Liberal, advocated various legislative reforms affecting agriculture, especially in the interests of the tenant farmer.” He was also the doyen of the South Dorset Hunt, at one point considered to take charge of the pack thereby becoming the Master of the Hunt. While he never was Master, a great number of members of the Hunt attended his funeral. His son, Henry junior, traveled back to Dorset from Minnesota to attend his funeral. His obituary is very revealing, not only of his standing in the community, but also for family connections which I’ve detailed in the notes to the transcription.

Two funeral attendees are worthy of note. His first cousin James Spicer and one of his daughters came from Bovington Farm which is just a stone’s throw west of Hethfelton, and was part of the Frampton Estate. A farm of 1000 acres, half of which was taken over by the Army at the beginning of World War One, it is today a tank training ground for the Army and museum. It is also home to Monkey World, an ape rescue center and zoo. The son of Henry’s uncle William Spicer, the family connections went back a century in the parish and the descendants are manifold. A view of the area on the 1888 Ordinance Survey map is at the marvelous National Library of Scotland Map Archive.

Henry's will was probated a month after his death, with total Effects at £4330, or about half a million US dollars in today's money. In the final division accounting, £3006 was divided between four of the beneficiaries with £751 10s each to Alice, Maude, Will and Henry. (Footnote: Online Database, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966; 1903 > S > Sp; Final division accounting statement in my possession along with the handwritten will of 1900. )

This photo, taken at the same time as the other, has the extended family at the time of Henry senior's death
Click to enlarge for identifcation

As charged by Henry’s will, his son-in-law, Frederic Johnson, Kate’s husband, tried to manage the farm along with Maud. The household goods were sold at auction in 1905 and eventually the farm was sold in 1914 along with several others to Ernest Debenham, whose dream was to establish a self-sufficient agricultural enterprise, the Bladen Estate by name. Of their five children, Maud Mary and William James never married, Alice married Frederic Kent, but their one son died at age eleven, Henry junior, my grandfather, raised four boys in Minnesota, all of whom had issue. Frederic Johnson was on the vestry of St. Laurence church in 1905, but by the 1911 census he and Kate were raising their family in Charminster north of Dorchester. Three of their five sons died in WWI, detailed at my article at the Guild of One-Name Studies WWI project page. One daughter, Lena Maud, married Celred Bateman (1894-1967) and had two children which had issue. My father visited Lena about 1977 and gave him a good deal of family history that provided a starting point for my researches.

1905 Auction ad:

A Family Photo Album

The Spicer Siblings: about 1895-1905.

These photos were taken at various times. The identification of Maud Mary and Alice remains somewhat problematic. They looked alike, and on Alice the identification on the back was with a question mark. The photo of Henry junior was from a Mankato, Minnesota studio.
Maud Mary
Henry Junior

More photos.

Frederic Johnson with his five boys at the beginning of WWI. John, Alfred and Alec would die in that war to end all wars.
The Spicers were great horsemen. Henry Spicer senior died from complications of an injury when he fell from a horse. This one of Will.
Kate, Maud and Alice at the bottom of the garden, Affpuddle.
Henry Spicer's first cousin James Spicer and his wife Lucy Scutt Spicer. Like Henry, an influential personage as his 1934 obituary makes evident.

East Farm front main entrance faces north-west putting the conservatory facing slightly south-west.

1890s photo of East Farm entrance. Looks to be Kitty standing at the door.
The south side - East Farm in Affpuddle.
This photo of East Farm is from 1943 when photos were taken by the National Recovery Board to document structures that might be damaged by Nazi bombers. (Footnote: The N.R.B. photos of the 1940s are now cataloged online by Historic England ( This photo of East Farm is in a collection of very interesting photos of Affpuddle which can be seen at the Gallery at Historic England. )
East Farm today.
The brokerage firm Savills has an eight page brochure online with floor plan and other interesting photos.

House in Godmanston where Will and Maud lived. Both are buried in Godmanston.
A contemporary photo of Henry and Kitty's grave at St. Laurence church yard.
Alice Spicer Kent. Date unknown.

An Appendix with further notes, footnotes and acknowledgements

Further Resources and Bibliography

  1. Brocklebank, Joan, Affpuddle in the county of Dorset A.D. 987-1953. (1968, Bournemouth: Horace G. Commin Ltd., 124 pages with illustrations and maps). An invaluable source of information on the parish. My father must have met her in 1977 as I have an inscribed copy.
  2. The National Library of Scotland Map Archive is an amazing resource for exploring England and Scotland.I always find something new on those maps that I didn't know before. (New window or tab.)

Background and secondary sources available online at

  1. Hutchins, John, The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (London, 1774).
  2. Cowper, J M. The Roll of the Freemen of the City of Canterbury from A.D. 1392-to 1800. (Canterbury, Eng: Printed by Cross and Jackman, 1903.)
  3. Mathews, Leslie G. “Spicers and Apothecaries in the City of Canterbury,” Journal of Medical History (1965; 9(3):289-291.
  4. Mayo, Charles Herbert & Gould, Arthur, The municipal records of the borough of Dorchester, Dorset; (Dorchester, 1908). Pages 235-236 and page 261.
  5. Page, William. The Victoria History of the County of Dorset (London, 1908).

Wills in my possession:

Wills and obituaries are invaluable for finding family connections, especially in finding maiden names. The following is a list of wills I have collected.

  1. William Spicer (1420, Dorchester)- Abstract in Mayo
  2. Woodrow, George (1731 Bere Regis) Kitty Branston’s 3rd great grandfather, my 6th.
  3. Spicer, Thomas (1761, Broadmayne) died 1774. 5th great grandfather
  4. Ann Swyer Spicer (1781, Broadmayne), 5th great grandmother
  5. John Swyer (1761, Broadmayne), relationship TBD.
  6. William Hooper (1851, Affpuddle) No connection yet but a yeoman of Affpuddle.
  7. William Pitt (1854, Affpuddle) Henry Spicer senior’s grandfather, my 3rd great grandfather.
  8. Charles Woodrow (1854, Affpuddle) Kitty Branston’s grandfather, my 3rd great grandfather
  9. John Stickland (1855, Broadmayne) Connection unknown.
  10. James Spicer (1855, Hethfelton, East Stoke) Henry Spicer’s father, my 2nd great grandfather
  11. William Henry Branston (1851, Affpuddle) Kitty’s father
  12. Rosanna Frizell Spicer (1867, Wool (Bovington Farm)) Administration only to John Spicer of Tincleton.
  13. Henry Spicer, Sr. (1903, Affpuddle)

The following wills are related to the ancestry of Mary Talbot, a subject for a future study.

  1. William Talbot (1574, Broadmayne) my 12th great grandfather.
  2. William Talbot (1616, Broadmayne) my 11th great grandfather.
  3. John Hennynge (1617, Poxwell, Dorset) Mary Talbot’s 6th Great-Grandfather, my 12th.
  4. Edmond Talbot (1636, Blandford Forum) Brother of my 10th great grandfather William Talbot
  5. William Talbot (1731, Broadmayne) Inventory only.
  6. Mary [-?-] widow of William Talbot (1756, Broadmayne) Mary Talbot’s grandmother.
  7. William Talbot (1777, Broadmayne) Mary Talbot’s father.


Three England cousins, all descendants of James Spicer, Henry Spicer senior’s cousin of Bovington Farm, have all contributed to my knowledge of this line: Chris Joyce, James Spicer and Michael Drew. Also, Pam and Peter Johnston have been very helpful with their information on the Scutt family, and important tenant holder in 18th and 19th century Affpuddle parish into which Henry’s cousin James Spicer married. Robert Hillier has provided a translation of George Woodrow’s will as well as insights into this family. Dan Talbot of Reading, England was an incredible help in unraveling Mary Talbot’s ancestry through a number of Talbot generations. That, and the Branston and Woodrow ancestry, will have to be the subject of another study revolving around 19th century Affpuddle parish.

I probably wouldn’t know half the things I know if it weren’t for the research of my 2nd cousin Nigel Gale, Kate Spicer’s great-grandson. Nigel solved the problem of Henry Spicer’s father leading to more generations. His data collection prior to my own provided a great starting point.

And, of course, my father the Rev. William James Spicer, who saved and passed down a marvelous collection of family photos as well as the bare bones of the ancestry of his aunts and uncles.



Page created September, 2020 from data collected for twenty years.

© Text copyright: Steve Spicer

Feel free contact me about this page.