Some immigrants to our area

Posted in Local History at 7:24 pm by henrysgauntlet

Immigration is a recurrent issue of political concern to modern governments. Widely differing views are held on how to tackle the question depending on the standpoint of those worried by the phenomenon. But immigration is not a new issue, whether it originates from other parts of this country or, indeed, from other parts of the world. Our parish registers, which for several centuries recorded births, marriages and deaths, provide ample evidence of this.

 At Vange, in February, 1711-12, John Tulopp, “a black”, was baptised; in January, 1721-22, a fourteen year old black boy called Joseph, who was servant to Nathaniel Grantham, was similarly baptised in West Thurrock’s parish church. The case of the black man baptised in Grays in September, 1734 was more unusual because we know that he was about twenty five years of age and came from Guinea, presumably on the west coast of Africa rather than from further east. Captain Towers’s negro servant, Francis Spenders, had three prominent local figures as his godparents when he was baptised at Pitsea in August, 1745. And “John, a blackamoor, servant to Mr Phillips, Brewer, at Ratcliffe Cross, London”, who was baptised in Fobbing in July, 1753, must have had some long-standing local connection: he was given the surname “Stanford”.

These examples remind us of the importance of this area as a crossroads for travellers seeking to  cross the Thames to and from Kent and as a thoroughfare for merchants and others sailing to and from London. These factors endure as, indeed, does immigration itself. 

Author  –  Christopher Thompson



RIP – Geoff Percival

Posted in Geoff Percival, RIP at 12:03 pm by henrysgauntlet

Henry was very sad to hear today of the death of Geoff Percival.

Geoff was the political reporter of the Evening Echo, the daily paper covering Southend and south Essex, and part of the same group as the Thurrock Gazette.

Chris Hatton (Evening Echo) has kindly let Geoff’s friends know that he died in the early hours of this morning, following a short but dignified battle against lung cancer.

Geoff was unique  –  a legend in his own lifetime.  He had his own style of political reporting, and could truly be described as of the old school of newspapermen.

He was pretty unique in another way too  –  he was a Conservative, and there are not too many of those in journalism.   His roots went back into the good old days of Young Conservatism in Essex and the Eastern Area.

Henry recalls once inviting Geoff to speak at a political supper club on the western side of Essex.   It was quite clear Geoff was enjoying himself, and he gave the audience a good evening’s entertainment, beaming at them from his heavy spectacles.   When the time came to go home, he was, perhaps, a little the worse for wear.   So Henry drove him through the night to Wickham Bishops, giving rise to another hour of political anecdotes.

Geoff Percival will be much missed in Essex, and by his old friend, Henry.