The Origins of "Westerns" in England

England had a large sheep population huge quantities of spun wool but not many proficient weavers. The spun wool was sent to Belgium or Flanders to be woven into cloth. during the time of Edward 111 his queen Phillipa, France imposed restrictions on imports of wool from England to Flanders. Flemish weavers were coaxed to come to England with the promise that once settled "they should feed on the fat beef and mutton till nothing but their fullness should stint their stomachs".

The We Sternes were amongst those weavers that came to London, settling in the parish of St Dunstans in the East, of Dyce Quay, Lower Thames Street. The Church of St Dunstans was at the west end of Thames Street somewhere near Idol Lane, built probably in the 13th Century. Here many We Sterne were married, baptised buried. It is probable that the houses would have been built of lath plaster very simple. London would have been a very filthy city as most cities were, with garbage sewerage tossed into the street.

Westerne as they became know, were weavers industrious thrifty people, because 150 or so years later they had branched out William b 1576, married Francis Trott (another Flemish?) became a grocer. A grocer in those days was perhaps also an importer of things like spices, fruit wine etc. The Grocers Guild was considered one of the most powerful he was a member as was his brother Robert. Robert was also a member of the Haberdashers Co of Ironmonger Lane.

William was buried in Mercers Hall Chapel. How many of these Guild Halls survive to this day?

Thomas 4th son of William & Francis, became quite wealthy as the younger son he had made his own way in life married a wealthy lady of Sussex - Martha Gott. her family were engaged in sheep rearing agriculture. Thomas purchased large tracts of woodland one or more forges blast furnaces, where he manufactured iron. he also supplied large quantities of timber to the Navy Commissioners (Samuel Pepys?). Also they made the iron railings for St Paul's Cathedral and a small portion of these are in Lewes castle.

It is not known if any family members died of the Plague, but it is likely that their part of London would have been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 as it started in Pudding Lane, not far from where they originally lived.

Anyhow, between 1677-1686 Thomas purchased the manor estate of Rivenhall which they owned until just before WW2.

Rivenhall is situated in Witham in Essex. Originally the estate comprised manor house, church, village public house where they brewed their own ale. Now the manor house has very few acres is owned by Arabs?. The church contains many memorials to various Westerns buried underneath. A large plaque on the floor names the family of William etc. although not all are buried there.

The pub is called "The Western Arms". Examples of Coat of arms on most memorials. One Western buried outside.

 

 

 

 

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