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HomepageCullens of Upton, Nottinghamshire
The Rude Forefathers


Main Line of "The Rude Forefathers"

The Cullens that lived in Upton, Nottinghamshire were a comparatively wealthy family of yeoman farmers who lived in Upton from probably the late 15'th century ( or earlier ) up to about the early twentieth century. Besides frequent entries in the parish records and mentions in the account books, the Cullens also received attention in "The Rude Forefathers", a book written in 1947 by Frank West. The title was likely taken from a poem written by Thomas Gray. The Venerable Francis H. West was Vicar of Upton 1947-1951, Archdeacon of Newark 1947-1962, and Bishop of Taunton 1962-1977. Mr West moved to Upton after serving for a period as an army chaplain during the war. Soon after his arrival, England suffered a prolonged snow storm and he was unable to leave Upton for several weeks. The winter of 1947 is sometimes referred to as 'the worst winter of this century'. It was during this long period of enforced idleness that Mr West discovered the account books of Upton stored away in the parish chest. From the Churchwardens' and Constable's accounts one could assemble a nearly continuous narrative of local life and how it was changed during one of the most distressful times in English history, the Civil War. The account books may have been particularly informative and interesting since often, during the war when the men of the village were called away to duty, the women of the village were obliged to stand in for their husbands as churchwarden or constable. Their duties would have included maintenance of the account books. As an example, Jane Parlethorpe served as churchwarden in 1643 and her entries in the account book are recognized as some of the longest and most detailed. From these records Mr West compiled his research and prepared it for publication in book form, released in 1949 as "The Rude Forefathers". A chapter in Mr. West's book describes the life of the yeoman farmer and, fortunately for us, he chose the records of the Cullen family as an example. This page is a summary of that information, combined with other sources regarding the same families, beginning with Richard Cullen of Upton and ending with Thomas Cullen the Elder, Yeoman of Upton. Concerning the book itself, our family has located and purchased two copies of this hard to find volume, and it has now become an important part of our family history collection. Frank West published four other books after "Rude Forefathers". He retired in 1977 from his position as Bishop of Taunton. Francis H. West passed away in 1999. Based on his career in the church and the high regards paid for his skill as an author, particularly for "Rude Forefathers" which is still recognized as a milestone publication, Mr West was certainly an outstanding individual.

Rude Forefathers - First Edition - 1949 Bannisdale Press - Francis Horner West author.
From the Introduction

In the Nottinghamshire village of Upton-by-Southwell two ancient account books have survived the destruction which has been the fate of so many parish records elsewhere. The Churchwardens' book for the years 1601- 1642 and the Constables' book for 1642-1666 give a vivid picture of village life from the last years of Queen Elizabeth to the Restoration of Charles II. This picture is of general interest because it is typical of the life and conduct of every English village in the first sixty years of the 17th century. To Nottinghamshire historians the Upton books are of special value because they throw light on the relationship between a parish in the ecclesiastical Peculiar of Southwell and the Chapter during one of the most eventful periods in the history of the Church of England. But by far the most interesting information which the books provide is a day to day record of the effect of the Great Rebellion on the rustics of a small community; for Newark, the nearest market town, was under siege for the best part of four years. Here is to be found a diary of the Civil War written from a very unusual angle.

Second Edition 1989
This new edition of Mr West's pioneering work also includes a new chapter - "Postscript" - which brings the tale of Upton into the 20'th century with a nostalgic tour of the village in 1949. From the 'Foreword' by Philip Blyth: "It is a model interpretation of parish records, written in a clear and readable style ... Many have followed in the footsteps of 'Rude Forefathers' but few have surpassed it." The original illustrations by Alice West have been preserved and there is an additional aerial photograph of Upton from 1950. Several extra copies of the second edition of 'Rude Forefathers' were sent to the author by the publisher and, after Frank West passed, these copies were inherited by his son. I am indebted to the author's son for his kindness in forwarding me a copy of this new edition of a rare classic. The inclusion of a personal note slipped inside the front cover makes this copy of 'Rude Forefathers' one-of-a-kind and a priceless gift from the West family.
Rude Forefathers - 2'nd Edition - 1989 Cromwell Press - Frank West author - Alice West illustrator.

If you've studied these families for any amount of time, you will have already noticed the prominence of the name Gervase in this family line. Gervase is an English patronymic name and was brought into England by the Normans after 1066. As such, the name contains Germanic root words: geri (meaning 'spear') and vase (meaning is not certain) which, when taken together, is said to mean 'honorable'. Jervis, Jarvie, and Jarvis are variations from this origin. Other variations, such as Gervas and Gervis, are said to have originated as a placename. Jervaulx, the site of a Cistercian monastery in Northern Yorkshire, is a name that derives from the Anglo-Norman-French name for the river Ure and the word for valley 'vaulx', making 'Ure-vaulx'.

The genealogical information on the Cullens of Upton, Nottinghamshire is currently as follows:



Richard Cullen (abt 1540 - 1580): Husbandsman, of Upton. Will dated Feb 11,1580. He requested that he be buried next to his first wife (name unknown). Based on the names of his children and the known history of the cousin families in Ireland, it could be conjectured that either Richard or his immediate ancestors had some connection to families in Scotland.

Married: First wife unknown, second wife Agnes.

Children: Margerie (d. May 25, 1592), Jennett, William, Katherine (d.1610 of the Plague), Margaret, Thomas.

Notes: There is a lack of Baptismal records for the children of Richard Cullen, at least at Upton. There are records however, for a contemporary of Richard. William Calyn (or Callyn, Collin, or Collyn) of Upton has several children recorded as being baptised at Upton. An unknown child Calyn in Jan1591, William Calyn on 05Mar1592, Thomas Calyn on 02May1598, Richard Calyn in 1602, Eliz Collin in 1603, Katheran Collin in 1605, and Gervas Collin in 1608. There is also a very early baptism of a Barbara Collin with father Thomas listed in Jan1585.

Richard Cullen requested burial in the Upton churchyard next to his first wife (name unknown). From Richard's will, we find that the family farm was left to his wife Agnes. She in turn passed the farm on to their son Thomas. Son William was left a house that Richard had leased to 'Lytlewood's wife'. Margerie and Jennett were left a house that was leased to 'Forrest'. Another daughter Margaret was left a heifer. Katherine was left two sheep and a 'quarter' of corn. She died in June of 1610 of the Plague "in ye cabine in ye fields die Veneries (Friday) and was buried ye night of 15 June." Those who contracted Plague were sent to live in a small cottage outside of the village where they either recovered or, more likely, expired and were subsequently buried.

Katherine Cullen, who died 15Jun1610 of the Plague, was a servant to Owen Oglethorpe (gent). Owen Oglethorpe is among the owners of Upton Hall, listed in 1622 in Shilton's History of Southwell, passed to this family from the Packenhams (Robert Bagenham lived there 1335). The same Owen is said to have lived in the Manor House in 1620 and died in nearby Blidworth during a Plague. In 1609 William Oglethorpe of Upton & Eleanor (or Helen) Oglethorpe of Bramham were married. William s/o Michael Oglethorpe of Thorner. William's second son Martin Oglethorpe was buried in Upton in 1673 at the age of 59. Martin Oglethorpe was Squire in Upton in 1645 during the Civil War. There is a mention of a gravestone in the floor of the chapel in Upton dedicated to a member of the Oglethorpe family who died there in 1643, according to Gill's article on Upton Church. Their were several memorials to the family in the church, one being William Oglethorpe who died 14Aug1717.

Richard's descendants were numerous in Upton for several centuries. It has been speculated that these early generations also represented a fairly wealthy and respected family. Richard's son Thomas is recorded as churchwarden in 1619. George Culling was churchwarden in 1680. At least four Cullens served as constables in Upton between the years of 1640 and 1666. William Cullen (wife was named Jane) in 1645, Gervaise Cullen in 1653, John Cullen in 1659, and Richard Cullen in 1666. Also of interest is the hearth tax returns for 1674. Follows is the name and number of hearths; John Cullen Snr - 2, John Cullen Jnr - 2, George Cullen - 2, and two Cullen widows with two hearths each.

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Thomas Cullen (abt 1573 - 1628): Yeoman, of Upton. This Thomas was Church Warden in 1619 and is the 'Goodman' Thomas Cullen referred to in Frank West's "Rude Forefathers".

Married: Agnes Kitchen at Upton Nov 17, 1593. Agnes died Aug 6,1611 and Thomas then married Susanne. There is a marriage recorded between Thomas Cullen and Susan Saman on 19Nov1611 at Upton, just a few months after Agnes died. The burial for a Susanna Cullen, widow, is recorded at Upton on 19Dec1652. Thomas died in 1628, his burial recorded as being on August 5'th of that year, just a few months after Mr Wilson the Vicar. We find the record of the burial of Thomas Wilson, Vicar of Upton, on April 25, 1628 at Upton. He was succeeded by Martin Ballard who was then Vicar until his own death in 1663.

Children: (From Thomas Cullen's will) John(1615), William(1617), Thomas(1618), George(1625), Sarah(1612), and Richard(1621).

Notes: From the Baptismal records at Upton we find these children listed with Thomas Cullen, husband (or Yeoman) of Upton, as the father: Sara on 04Oct1612, John on 10Apr1615, William on 30Mar1617, Thomas on 06Mar1618, Richard on 03Feb1621, George on 31Jul1624, and George again on 09Jun1625. Evidently a son named George died at birth in 1624 as his burial is recorded on 01Aug1624. For such early baptismal records at Upton only the father is listed - entries with mother's and father's names given did not appear until 1641.

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Thomas Cullen (dates ?):

Married: Susan Saman at Upton Nov 19, 1611. Not a lot is known about this family which is a shame; this is the generation where the line begins to spread out. It is highly likely that this Thomas Cullen and the previous Thomas (1573-1628) are one and the same, though it is questionable whether or not Gervase b.1628 and Margaret b.1629 are children of this Thomas.

Children: William (1617), Thomas (1618), Richard (1621), Gervase (1628) , Margaret (1629).

Notes: If Thomas Cullen of Gen2 and Gen3 are one and the same, and this Thomas Cullen died in 1628, then it becomes difficult to fit Margaret in as a child of Thomas. It is just possible, with one month to spare, that Thomas' wife became pregnant and he then died immediately afterwards. In the records for baptisms at Upton, All the children are recorded as being the son of Thomas, Husbandman (or Yeoman), of Upton - except for the last two children; Gervase and Margaret - separated from the rest of the children by a gap of seven years. Certainly there is an overlap of the children for this Thomas Cullen and the children of the Thomas Cullen given in the previous generation.

Will of Susanna Cullin: Warren McKay, a descendant of the Upton Cullens living in New Zealand, has located the will of Susanna Cullen made 18Dec1652 and is presumably the will of the Susanna Cullin, wife of Thomas, who died about 19Dec1652. The will was found in the UK National Archives. The will of Susanna Cullin, widow of Upton, Nottinghamshire, was proved 29 Sep 1653. The will doesn't name her husband or any daughters, but does give the names of her sons and the daughters of her sons. The list of sons of Susanna includes the sons from both Thomas' listed above. There is now a page available for reading all the details of the Will of Susanna Cullin, with many thanks to Warren McKay.

Here are notes on possible marriages for the children:

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Gervase Cullen (Apr 2, 1628 - Jan 13, 1665/6): Yeoman, of Upton. Name was also found to be spelled as Jarvis Cullin and Cullinge.

Married: Katherine Robinson at Upton Jan 28, 1648.

Children: Susanna (Mar 5,1649), Thomas (b. Apr 14,1652), Mary (b. Apr 17, 1654), Debora (b. Jun 22, 1656), Katheran (b. May 4, 1660), Gervase (b. Sep 22, 1662 & d. 1717), Sarah (b. Jan 9, 1664). A named cousin is William Robinson, a framework knitter. Here are notes on possible marriages for the children:

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Thomas Cullen (Apr 14, 1652 - Apr 30, 1715): Yeoman, of Upton. Had allotments of land in Leicester as well as the farm at Upton, which were left to his sons Thomas and John. For an interesting example of early English documentation, see the Will of Thomas Cullen, probated in 1715.

Married: Elizabeth Bennett of Bottesford, Lincolnshire, Jul 9, 1696 at Upton, Notts. Thomas married a second time but her name and date of the marriage are unknown.

Children: Elizabeth (1697), Thomas (Mar 2, 1703) , John ( dates ?), and three other daughters.

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Thomas Cullen (Mar 2, 1703 - Mar 23, 1773): Yeoman, of Upton.

Married: Elizabeth Flinders at Grantham, Lincolnshire Feb 4, 1729. She died Dec 29, 1733. Thomas married Anne Pindor Dec 20, 1734 at Upton. He must have married a third time since his will mentions his wife Alice. Alice died Apr 23, 1776.

Children: (All born at Upton)Theo (Nov 1, 1730), Anne (Jun 13, 1731), and John (May 28, 1732), Mary (May 5, 1734), Eliz. (May 23, 1736), Wm. (Mar 4, 1738), Eliz. (Jan 3, 1741), Sarah (May 12, 1745), and Benjamin (Jul 17, 1747).

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John Cullen (May 28, 1732 - May 25, 1805):

Married: Mary Bailey Oct 5, 1776 at Upton. There is no record of Mary's death but it is believed that John remarried to Mary Tow on Aug 7, 1777 at Upton.

Children: (From John Cullen's will and all born at Upton) Elizabeth (Dec 21, 1777), Thomas (May 9, 1779), John (Aug 27, 1780), Anne (Mar 30, 1782), Sarah (May 4, 1783), Mary (Feb 18, 1787), Benjamin (Apr 20, 1788), Joseph (Dec 12, 1790), Frances (May 25, 1792), Jane (Jun 8, 1794).

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Benjamin Cullen (Jul 17, 1747 - ):

Married: Sarah Standley Jan 28, 1770 at Nottingham St. Nicholas. Sarah was born Mar 5, 1749.

Children: Benjamin (Dec 17, 1770), Sarah (Mar 8, 1773), Thomas (Mar 6, 1775), Thomas (Jan 8, 1777), Elizabeth (Mar 19, 1778), William (Aug 24, 1780), Ann (Sep 10, 1782), Jane (Sep 2, 1784), Nathaniel Stanley (Jan 4, 1786), Nathaniel (Apr 22, 1788), Jane (Jan 28, 1790).

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