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VCH Balsham

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Parish Register Image

Thomas Sutton

Family of Love

Balsham - History

One line of my family comes from the village of Balsham in SE Cambridgeshire. I have worked on the history of the village, and from this page you can navigate to others.

The first stop for any one interested in local history has to be the Victoria County History (VCH), which is complete in 10 volumes for Cambridgeshire, and is available online: use the link on the left to view the Balsham entry.

The parish register from Balsham starts in the year 1558, the year Elizabeth 1 came to the throne. In 1597 an Act of Parliament required that registers be kept on parchment, not on paper as many had been, and that the extant registers were to be copied on to parchment, especially from the start of the Queen's reign. The original registers for both Balsham and the nearby parish of Borough Green in Cambridgeshire (not to be confused with Borough Green in Kent) have the same handwriting for the entries from 1558 to 1598, and so I think were copied by the same scribe. (Other registers for the area may be in the same hand, I have only seen the original registers for those two parishes.) Once you get to 1598 the entries were made by the incumbent as the events happened, the handwriting becomes more of an untidy scrawl, as can be seen in my picture taken from the register.

Around 1590, Thomas Sutton bought the lordship of the manor of Balsham. He donated the manor to his foundation, the Charterhouse, when he died in 1611, and the Charterhouse continued to be lords of the manor for many years thereafter.

My ancestors from Balsham include the Rule family and the Ellam family. Both of these families have parish register entries from the village in the late sixteenth century. The baptism of Alice, daughter of Richard Rule, can be seen in the image, dated 29 April 1599. Another line of ancestors is the Ellam Family, and I found that there were still Ellams, to whom I am distantly related, living in the village in 2000.

A few years ago I wrote a piece about migration from the village in the nineteenth century using the 1851 and 1881 census returns, and a copy of it is here.

However, the most interesting feature of the village is that a group of it inhabitants were members of a sect called the Family of Love.