Picture by Rupert Fox from a design by Michael William Alabaster


The Alabaster Chronicle 

The Journal of the Alabaster Society 




by Laraine Hake - March 2000 

Here, at last, is Chronicle Number Fourteen! My apologies that this “Spring” edition really is behind its season - what can I blame; the pressures of a different school (I had yet another Ofsted inspection in January!) which I am thoroughly enjoying, the pressures of a wonderful garden which demands a lot of time but is also tremendously enjoyable, the lack of pressure of an imminent Gathering, or the changing of the seasons with “global warming” ? Yes, I think I can definitely put the delay in the production of this Chronicle down to global warming! I do hope you enjoy this edition, which includes articles on research into the distant past, happenings in the present day as well as some real “hands on” research! Do, please, think about contributing a few words yourself for the next Chronicle. Talking about gatherings, I have just glanced back at past Editorials for inspiration and note that in the Spring 1997 edition, I referred to a suggested date for the next Alabaster Gathering, to take place in 1999! If I am to follow that precedent, I suppose here and now is the time to mention the possibility of April 2002...........! Your comments and ideas would be much appreciated. There have been suggestions that we could attempt to hold one in Norfolk, but 1999 at the Old School, Hadleigh was really good too. Should we take that as our base again? We are now up to member no. 115. Many thanks to the vast majority of you who have renewed your subscription; I include a subtle reminder to those of you who have not done so! With the renewal form in the last Chronicle, members were asked to cast their votes on the payment of an honorarium to its secretary, me! I am instructed to report that, by the cut-off date 38 members voted for it, there were 11 abstentions and none against..........so the resolution was passed! Thank you.

To Contents

The Early Alabasters

by Anthony Springall (IIA)

Three recent events have changed the prospects for early Alabaster research. First, the Public Record Office released a computer catalogue, available both at Kew and on the Internet, of its holdings. Searching on 'Alabaster' and its variant spellings produces references to over 100 documents. Those of you with appropriate equipment to explore the PRO catalogue can find it at http://catalogue.pro.gov.uk/ Second, Brian Hill contacted Laraine. Brian is of Alabaster descent but has declined to join the Society because he wants to carry out all his own research. Nevertheless, late last year he provided some references of great promise which we did not possess.

Third, Laraine settled in Norfolk!!

Spurred by these developments, Laraine and I have started to follow up the new leads. By March we had made significant progress and we turned our thoughts to how to inform the Society of the new developments. Our first efforts at a note for the Chronicle fell between two stalls, being too brief for those who wanted to follow the chase or to examine our reasoning in detail and too lengthy for those who just wanted the basic results.

So what, in brief, have we found about the early Alabasters? The Wills of Thomas Chaxton of Bale (1532), Thomas Shaxton of Bale (1537), and John Shaxton of South Lynn (1547), in conjunction with the Will of John Alabaster of Wiggenhall (1556), make it clear that Margaret Shaxton was the mother of Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh and that her second husband was probably Robert Halman. It is also probable that Nicholas Shaxton, sometime Bishop of Salisbury, vicar of East Winch and assistant curate of Hadleigh was her brother.

It appears that Thomas’s father, William Alabaster, was originally from East Dereham but that by 1522 he was living in Bale. This suggests that Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh was born in that little north Norfolk village, famous for its huge oak tree. However, the presence in 1537 of a William Alabaster in East Winch, the village where Nicholas Shaxton was the vicar in 1530, suggests that Thomas and his brothers may have spent their youth in west Norfolk. After their mothers remarriage, they probably lived in the adjacent village of West Bilney where Robert Halman was renting land from John Shaxton in 1546. Such a move to west Norfolk explains John Alabaster’s presence in Wiggenhall.

It is possible that Thomas and Roger Alabaster later moved to Hadleigh under the patronage of Nicholas Shaxton. Certainly Thomas Alabaster maintained contact with his probable uncle because, in 1556, Bishop Shaxton willed half his estate 'to the behoof and profit of his [Thomas Alabaster's] lad by him named Thomas Dratsab'.

One of Brian Hill's references was: 1532 Will of Thomas Chaxton of Bale refers to Margaret Albaster & to children of Margaret Alabaster, witnessed Thomas Albaster Clerk (Norfolk Record Office MF41 No 40 Folio 215)

Might this Will provide the link between Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh and Bishop Nicholas Shaxton? Might it explain why Bishop Shaxton willed half his estate 'to the behoof and profit of his [Thomas Alabaster's] lad by him named Thomas Dratsab'. The brother of Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh, John Alabaster of Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen, willed in 1556 ten shillings to' my mother Margaret Halman'. Could this be the Margaret in the above Chaxton reference?

The 1532 Will duly arrived by post and mentioned three definite relationships to Thomas Chaxton: his wife Margaret and his two sons Thomas and John. In addition, among the beneficiaries, he mentions Nicholas Chaxton, Margaret Alabaster and her children (no names), Margaret Chaxton, Cecele Chaxton, the children of Thomas Poynter (no names) and the children of Thomas Chaxton (no names). Nicholas Chaxton, priest, was one of the executors and Thomas Alabaster, clerk, and John Houghton were among the witnesses.

From the context of his bequests, it appeared probable that Margaret Alabaster was Thomas Chaxton's daughter and that Margaret and Cecele Chaxton were the wives of Thomas and John Chaxton, the sons. It was also probable that Thomas Poynter was the husband of a deceased daughter.

The mention of Nicholas Chaxton, priest, was exciting, although it was not clear that Nicholas Chaxton, the beneficiary, was the same person as Nicholas Chaxton, the priest and executor.

How could we establish whether Margaret Alabaster was the daughter of Thomas Chaxton?

We decided to look for Norfolk Wills of Shaxtons (and Halmans & Poynters). The first Will Laraine looked at in the Norfolk Record Office was that of John Shaxton of South Lynn, probate 1547, and the first words she read were: 'my Syster Margaret halman'. It also mentioned his three sons Francis, John and Thomas, with Robert Halman as one of his executors and Robert Houghton as supervisor witness. It was now clear that this Will, in conjunction with those of Thomas Chaxton and John Alabaster, showed that Margaret Shaxton was the mother of Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh. It also appeared likely that Robert Halman was Margaret's second husband.

The 1537 Will of Thomas Shaxton of Bale mentioned his wife Margaret, his sons Nicholas and John and his daughters Cecily and Alice, with John Shaxton and Robert Houghton as his executors and John Poynter as one of his witnesses. It seemed clear that this Thomas and the John Shaxton of the previous paragraph were the sons of Thomas Chaxton mentioned in his Will.

As mentioned earlier, the Society has long had a number of documents regarding the Norfolk origins of the Hadleigh Alabasters. Among these are several that show that Alabasters were in East Dereham at least as early as 1456. If Thomas' father, William, did come from East Dereham, how did he meet Margaret Shaxton? Did William visit Thomas Alabaster, rector of Bale church, when he would undoubtedly have been introduced to the Shaxtons?

Several facts suggest that Thomas Alabaster of Bale, rector from 1512 to 1543, was William's brother:-
John Alabaster of Worstead left 40s to 'Thomas Alblastre priste' and, in1524, his wife, Agnes Alabaster, willed land, possibly that which Thomas of Hadleigh disputed in 1562, to a Thomas Alabaster. The 1562 land dispute document implies that Thomas, the brother of William, had no children and that William predeceased Thomas. The lack of children is compatible with Thomas being a priest and although there is no proof that William predeceased Thomas of Bale they certainly appear to have died within a few years of each other. Thomas probably died in 1543 as he relinquished the livings of South Lynn and Bale that year. We have a reference [PROSC6/HENVIII/2622] from Brian Hill, still to be confirmed, that William may have been alive in 1536 and paying farm rent in East Winch. William was dead by 1547 as Margaret had become Margaret Halman by that date.

If the William in East Winch, occupying land previously of Pentney Priory,was Thomas of Hadleigh's father, what was he doing near Kings Lynn in 1536? He was not there alone: his brother, Thomas Alabaster, was rector of South Lynn from 1535; his son John died at Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen in 1556 and his brother-in-law, John Shaxton, was of South Lynn at his death in 1547, bequesting land in West Winch, Bilney and Gaywood, and owning land,previously of Pentney Priory, in West Bilney in 1536/7 [PRO SC6/HENVIII/2622]. This is probably the land John Shaxton willed that his son John 'shall have the lease and terme of yeres that I have in a croft with the appurtinces in Bylneye in the occupacon of Robert Halman'.

While writing this report another link with the Kings Lynn area, and specifically East Winch, turned up in 'Three Carrow Account Rolls' by L.J. Redstone (Norfolk Archaeology Vol 29, 1946) in which it is noted that the the Priory received from East Winch' £4 13s. 4d. from Nicholas Shaxton clerk for the Rectory with rent there, this being the second year, ending 1 Aug., 1530, of his lease; and......'. I find it most unlikely that the placing of both Nicholas and William in East Winch is a coincidence. Given that Nicholas is associated with the Alabaster family, this document must greatly enhance the chances that the East Winch William is the husband of Margaret Shaxton.

Why the move to Fenland; it may have been due to the acquisitive habits of Henry VIII and Nicholas Shaxton's loyalty to his family:- Nicholas Shaxton was an important figure in the Salisbury diocese [treasurer from 1533 to 1535 and Bishop from 1535 to 1539] and an activist in the dissolution of monastic establishments in the diocese. Volume 3 of the Victoria History of Wiltshire has two intriguing entries for a John Shaxton. In 1538 he was involved in drawing up the inventory of goods of two dissolved religious houses in Salisbury; the Franciscan and Dominican Friars. Could this John be Margaret Alabaster's brother and did Nicholas involve him? Certainly Nicholas was in a position of influence to involve his family, including William Alabaster, in the dissolution of Pentney Priory, and hence precipitate the migration west.

Given the Carrow Roll entry, we cannot exclude the possibility that William arrived at East Winch when Nicholas was in occupation, in which case it would rule out the dissolution of Pentney Priory as the reason for William's move. Alternatively, with his knowledge of East Winch, Nicholas may have just provided information at the time of the dissolution which helped William procure the land?

Whatever the reason for the move, it appears probable that, in their youth,Thomas and Roger of Hadleigh, and their brother John, lived in East Winch with their father and/or in Bilney with their probable stepfather Robert Halman.

What was Nicholas Shaxton's relationship to Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh? The National Dictionary of Biography speculates that Nicholas was born in 1485 and was the younger brother of the Thomas Shaxton who died in 1537.

In other words, that he was Thomas' uncle. No other Nicholas Shaxton of about the right age has been detected other than in the 1532 Will of Thomas Shaxton, and in that document it is ambiguous whether the 'two' Nicholas are the same person. I tend to favour the NDB speculation but it is still open to some doubt.

The connection between the Alabasters and the Shaxtons was enduring, with Thomas Alabaster, clerk, being a witness of Thomas Chaxton's 1532 Will, John Shaxton an executor of Thomas Alabaster clerk c1543, Francis Shaxton being a witness & the writer of John Alabaster of Wiggenhall's 1556 Will and Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh leaving bequests to Elizabeth and Mary Shaxton in his 1591/2 Will.

We can speculate that Thomas moved to Hadleigh- prior to 1550 according a PRO reference which is still to be viewed -because Nicholas Shaxton was or had been minister there. Did his experience with wool farming and the opportunities presented by the breakdown of the wool trading links, due to the Dissolution, encourage him to become a merchant or did he move because of the Thomas Alabaster alias Dratsab issue? We should remember that Nicholas Shaxton was condemned to death because of his protestant views, which had extended to him taking a wife. Although he recanted in 1546, the existence of a child could have adversely swung the balance. The history of Gonville & Caius college does suggest that Thomas Dratsab was Nicholas`s child and not the first child of Thomas. Would a nephew, if that is the relationship, have taken the burden under such circumstances? Adrian Alabaster in his book A Quintet of Alabasters thought that Thomas Dratsab was Thomas of Hadleigh's child. Whatever the solution to that riddle, we have to consider whether the dynamism and rebelliousness of the Hadleigh Alabasters owed less to their Alabaster and more to their Shaxton blood - the life of William Alabaster D.D. seems a mirror image of that of Nicholas Shaxton.

There is a family tree which explores the relationship between the Alabasters and Shaxtons.

At the time of writing, a number of documents are in the process of being deciphered (anyone any good at Latin!?) and many references have yet to be viewed. We can but hope that some of these will provide new theories or insights. Certainly, one document, a testimony by Roger Alabaster, holds out the promise that we can identify some of the fields owned by Thomas in Hadleigh.

In summary, it is clear that Margaret Shaxton was the mother of Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh; it is probable that Nicholas Shaxton was her brotherand that Robert Halman was her second husband; it is likely that Thomas and his brothers spent their youth in western Norfolk and it may be that John Shaxton and the Alabasters moved there under the patronage of Nicholas Shaxton. Finally, it is possible that Thomas and Roger Alabaster moved to Hadleigh also because of Nicholas. Incidently, the Roger Alabaster testimony document mentioned above implies that Roger moved to Hadleigh when he was about sixteen years of age.

Of course, in family history research, the questions never cease but answers to some obvious ones could advance our understanding considerably:-

When was Nicholas Shaxton minister in Hadleigh? When was Roger Alabaster born? Was the William Alabaster of East Winch Thomas' father and when did he move there? Does the Will of Thomas Alabaster, rector of Bale and South Lynn, ( c1543) survive and, if so, where is it?

Thomas of East Dereham (Will of 1477) had a son, William, who was married to Joan. Could that William have later married Margaret Shaxton or have had a son, William, who married her? Thomas of East Dereham had a son Richard who had a son John. Could that John have been the John of Worstead who left 6/8 (6s 8d) to each child of William of East Dereham? John of Worstead was a clerk, despite being married. Was he the vicar of Gedney mentioned in the 1477 Will?

We have a real possibility of answering many of these questions over the next year and thus obtaining much greater insight into the lives of our 15-16th century ancestors, including why they went to Hadleigh. Of course, if you know the answer to any of them please let us know.

To Contents

News from Around the World

Doris Robson, March 1999:
Shirley Rowe wrote to Doris Robson, author of "Gaslight on the Cobbles -- family life in Stoke Newington, 1923-1955" which had a reference to "the Alabaster boys" (Chronicle 12). The reply included the following:
I don`t know a great deal about the Alabasters. I know at one time they lived at No. 56 Gibson Gardens...... The eldest son was Joe who I believe was a coal miner. I do not remember him as he was up north somewhere......Then came (Les) who ......lives at Highams Park......Then came Len who married Mabel Ashby. I used to be taken to the Church by my Grandmother to see all the Gibson Gdns weddings and of course I saw Len & Mabel get married.
The youngest son was Ronnie. I was just a schoolgirl when he used to go off to work each morning either whistling or singing his heart out. I had a crush on him and knew it was time to get out of bed and get ready for school when I heard him (better than an alarm clock).
This really makes Alabasters come to life! A Frances Hilda Mabel Ashby married Leonard James Alabaster in 1928. Leonard was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Alabaster of Branch IIIB. Presumably the "Alabaster boys" were Leonard and his brothers, Joseph Henry, George Ernest, Edward Charles, and Ronald Frederick!

Beryl Cathro (I), Australia, 19th September 1999:
Just thought that you would be interested to know that we are about to add another Amanda to the extended Alabaster tree ......my son Adam is to marry Amanda Marshall next Friday. I think that makes about 4 Amandas on the Alabaster family tree........
My daughter also got married this year, to Mark Hogan, in April. They are hoping to add to the family tree in the next year or so!

John Cornelius (Bryan), Connecticut, USA April 1999:
Many thanks for "making my day"! Another piece of the family jigsaw now falls into place. Stephen Prentice and Abigail (Alabaster) were my 4 x gt grandparents on my mother's side. Their son Stephen married Elizabeth Felgate circa 1776. Their son Samuel, became a butcher in Streatham, Surrey and his son, Samuel Robert Gee Prentice was my great grandfather. (John has since joined the Alabaster Society. He is the first member who is descended from Bryan Alabaster, brother of William (I, II & III) and John (IV) , all sons of John and Elizabeth Alabaster (m.c1650). Consequently, I have labelled his branch “Bryan”, but perhaps it should be Branch V...........)

Millie Knox (WofW) Somerset, 20th July 1999:
Just to let you know that our grandson was born on Monday 19th July. He is to be called Thomas Arthur Knox-Clifton and certainly looks like a little boy.

Tricia Dyer (IIA), Kent, 31st July 1999:
My great-nephew JAMES SYDNEY ARMSTRONG was born on 18th July, to Samantha Alabaster and Philip Armstrong. The “Sydney” is after my brother who died aged 62 last Christmas. James would be great, great grandson of “Uncle Sid”.

John Stammers Alabaster (I), Hertfordshire, 6th November 1999:
.....regarding a table or tables for the Knot Garden, Brian, as an exhibitor at Chelsea and Hampton Court next year, (will) get on the Society’s behalf ....anything that was .....thought suitable (also) a memorial plaque cast in bronze or aluminium...
This follows from Adrian’s bequest, discussed at the 1999 Gathering. We hope to be able to provide a table for the Knot Garden at Hadleigh Guildhall.

Tony Springall (IIA) Somerset 19th February 2000:
.......we now have a grandson. He is Daniel James Springall, born 7/1/2000, weighed 6 lbs 14 oz and, of course, he is beautiful. His parents are our middle son, Jeremy Colin and his wife, Louise. We are all meeting up with my Dad tomorrow to get a photograph of 4 generations of Springalls.

Sue MacLusky of the BBC, 4th April 2000:
Dear Laraine Hake, ...My name is Sue MacLusky and I am writing to you in the hope that you may be able to help me in my search for possible new stories for 'Blood ties'. I am working on the second series of the BBC tv series about family history. I'm looking for interesting family history stories with a 'bit of a twist' if you like. ...........Someone told me a story about a famous Alabaster who escaped from the Tower of London. Do you know about this? I look forward to hearing from you. Sue MacLusky - Assistant Producer, Bloodties.
Well this was a turn-up for the books! For those of you unaware, Bloodties is a 30 minute TV programme on genealogy.......... Unfortunately, when I contacted Sue MacLusky, she made it clear that the BBC wanted something that would make “good television” cheaply (so the trip to Henry’s memorial in Bangkok was out)! They wanted something of interest that had not yet been researched......but could be “discovered” - something of a contradiction in terms - that would possible follow the history of a whole community, e.g. coal mining! Still she has my name on file: we all know just how very interesting the Alabaster family is!

To Contents


Alabaster & Hake........

by Peter Robert Alabaster (WofW)

Introduction by Laraine Hake..... From amongst her collection of Alabaster treasures and memorabilia taken to Canada by her grandfather, Percy Criddle, Nan Kenyon (IIC) had found receipts and a plan from The General Cemetery Company, Bloomsbury, London, which related to “All Souls’ Cemetery, Kensall Green”, dating from 1840, of which she sent me copies.

I discovered that Kensal Green Cemetery still exists calling itself “The Capital’s First Necropolis”. According to their present day literature, in the form of a pamphlet,
“Kensal Green, established ....1832......is the longest surviving English cemetery that remains in private ownership. Since opening in January 1833 .....it has become the final home for many of the good and great. Amongst the more noble are: Augustus Frederick Duke of Sussex & Princess Sophia (children of King George III),.....Wilkie Collins, .......Thomas Hood, Trollope, Thackeray.......Isambard Kingdom Brunel..........”
and, it appeared, some Alabasters!

I thought it could be interesting to see what survived, and mentioned this to Peter Robert Alabaster (WofW) during the Alabaster Gathering held in April 1996. As he lived on that side of London, perhaps he would be willing to “pop in” to the cemetery, take a few photographs and report back!        Laraine.

Peter’s Report..............

Early in 1996, Laraine asked me to visit Kensal Green cemetery in north London to locate the grave of James Chaloner Alabaster and his family.

I visited the cemetery on Wednesday 29 May 1996 with a map that had an ‘x’ in square 107 to mark the position of the grave. It is a double grave, so I thought it would be easy to find. I should have taken a machete and an axe; this part of the cemetery has become overgrown with dense vegetation - many of the graves have trees growing out of them. This is designated as a wildlife preservation cemetery (!) I struggled through the gloomy undergrowth for about 20 feet, occasionally coming across a gravestone covered with ivy, or with its inscription crumbled to dust, or toppled over. In this jungle, I found the grave of a John Clark, who died in 1840, and others of the same period, but there was no trace of James’s grave.

I spoke to the cemetery superintendent who confirmed that the grave was in square 107, but an appointment would have to be made to have the exact location identified. I returned on Sunday 23 June for a quick visit, but still couldn’t find it.

Plan of Kensal Green Cemetery

 Laraine was keen to find this grave, so we agreed to go there in the winter when much of the undergrowth would have died down. We went on Wednesday 12 February 1997. Previously, Nan Kenyon had sent Laraine an old map of the cemetery that was older than the earliest map the Cemetery Company possessed. The superintendent was very pleased to be able to take a copy, frame it, and hang it in his office. When we arrived, he took us by black cab (honest) around the cemetery and pointed out the exact position of the grave. It was by the side of the road, so my excursions into the jungle had been unnecessary. The grave consisted of a double-width horizontal slab covered by weeds, several inches of earth, and with a tree growing out of it. The footstone was visible, so we scratched away at many decades of leaf mould and plants, and were excited to discover the right grave numbers. So, we knew this was the right grave, but we needed garden tools to reveal the slabs. Of course, we had none. We scraped away as best we could with our hands and a piece of wood, eventually uncovering an A. More frantic scraping revealed an L, then another A, then B, A, S, and T. This proved to our satisfaction that it was the right grave. We agreed to cover it up return later with a collection of tools. We returned six months later, on Monday 4 August 1997. The first thing to do was to saw off a six-inch thick tree root growing across the grave. We were able to uncover most of the inscription, but to uncover all of it would have involved cutting down the entire tree. Unfortunately, Laraine had forgotten to bring her chainsaw.

This is what we found  (brackets indicate unclear inscription ):

Left hand gravestone


DIED MARCH ( ? )th 1840 AGED ( 42? )
DIED OCT ( ? ) 1832 AGED 1 YEAR

Gravestone,Chaloner, Harriet, and Mary Alabaster, Kensal Green

Alabaster gravestone, Kensal Green, London

 Right hand gravestone

( ? ? ? ? )                             
BORN ( ? ? )
TO THE ( ? ?)
( ???????????? )
BORN 8th DEC 18 ( ?? )


An entry in the cemetery register, dated 10 March 1840, reads:

No. 2391 Grave Sq. 107 7’6” x 2’6” 16’ Deep
Harriet S. Alabaster 1840 3495
James C. Alabaster -- -- 3723 Granted 9th March 1840 for £5. 16. 6.
to James Chaloner Alabaster of No 58 Piccadilly Middlesex

2392 Grave Sq. 107 7’6” x 2’6” 16’ Deep
Frances Alabaster 1842 5531
Harry Criddle 1857 28256
Granted 9th March 1840 for £5. 16. 6.
to Same as above.
Memorandum that Frances Alabaster, Mary Ann the wife of Harry Criddle, also Harry Criddle, Katherine Greeves and her daughter Mary Greeves & her husband John Greeves, are to be allowed to be interred in this grave.
Dated 14th March 1840. James Chaloner Alabaster.

The office secretary would not allow me to see the numbered register entries. After 160 years, the company is still bound by rules of confidentiality. She told me that the lawful owner of the graves would have access. The lawful owner would be a direct descendant of the person who bought and registered the graves – in this case James Chaloner. In October 1996, Virginia Bird from Hong Kong, great great granddaughter of James Chaloner, wrote to the Superintendent about the possibility of re-registering the graves. Unfortunately, no one since 1840 has applied to have ownership registered in their name. Because of the failure to keep ownership of the graves registered, the graves have been forfeited. It will never be possible to re-register the graves. This probably means that no one will ever be allowed to see the numbered register entries. In West Norwood Cemetery, South London, the family grave of Ellen and Robert Alabaster (Branch IIB) is now a grass covered plot. In 1933, the headstone was in a dangerous condition and liable to fall. It was removed and disposed of as landfill. The graves in Kensal Green obviously cannot fall over, but they will be disposed of if the area is redeveloped for new burials. I wrote to the cemetery office about the possibility of purchasing, if not the graves, then at least the gravestones. They replied that they have taken note of my request and that if ever they come to the point of clearing the stonework in square 107, they will advise us beforehand. Perhaps Laraine will be able to find a corner of her garden for their relocation.

Alabasters, Kensal Green Cemetery, London
 Peter Robert Alabaster (WofW)

It was all tremendously exciting. Many thanks to Peter for making the experience of gravedigging possible for me! Laraine.

To Contents

One Alabaster Meets Another.....

by Martin Alabaster (IIB)

As every Alabaster knows, being born with an unusual name means that you can't help but stand out from the crowd a little. Although this can sometimes be a mixed blessing, I think life has definitely been richer for not being a Smith or a Jones. Never has this been truer than since I attended the first Alabaster gathering with my wife, Erica. Fired up with genealogical enthusiasm afterwards, I was curious to discover how many of us were 'on-line' on the CompuServe computer network of which I was a member Searching the directory of members for Alabasters revealed three of them so I sent a message to each asking if they were aware of Laraine's family researches and, if not, were they interested in finding out? Almost immediately I had a reply from a Harold Alabaster in America who was intrigued and gave me details of his parents and grandparents. I phoned Laraine and after a few e-mail exchanges we discovered that Harold’s family was descended from Robert Alabaster and Mary Ann West in Branch IV - a link which was quite exciting for us all.

Since then we have been corresponding regularly via e-mail with Hal (as he prefers to be called) and his wife Diane. When my wife and I decided to take a holiday on a cruise ship to Alaska we realised that the return route was via Hal & Diane's home town, Seattle, so we booked a stopover and got in touch to see if we could meet them.

On the journey out to the ship we had a one day stopover in Vancouver and, whilst looking for somewhere to eat that evening, discovered that there was an "Alabaster Restaurant" in town, so of course we had to try it. Tired and jet-lagged as we were, we couldn't fail to appreciate the excellent food and wine we were served, unfortunately the name was not derived from any family link but from the alabaster carving which was the centrepiece of the dining area so no family discount was forthcoming! A week later after a magical tour of the Alaskan wilderness and glaciers we were flying in from Anchorage to Seattle airport with a certain amount of trepidation, after all, Hal was only a very distant relative and there was no guarantee that we would get on as people. We therefore resolved to be on our best behaviour and avoid talking about religion or politics! We had promised to ring Hal from the hotel and, providing we were not too late, would meet them for a drink in the hotel bar that evening and they would take us around the area the next day.

After the usual bus tour of city's hotels it wasn't until 9 o'clock that we trudged wearily into ours and were momentarily taken aback when the desk clerk told us there was a message from the "other Mr. Alabaster" to say that he was waiting for us in the bar. A quick glance across the foyer and we recognised Hal & Diane waving furiously at us, so obviously the photographs we had exchanged were a good enough likeness.

For the rest of the evening we shared drinks and conversation with the people with whom we had been corresponding via email for the last 18 months. Talk naturally turned to families and Hal remarked that we were the first Alabasters he had met who were not immediate family. The next day they very kindly took us out for a tour of downtown Seattle, to a local winery and to see the Issaquah Salmon hatchery and some of the area. After some serious shopping at the local delicatessen we settled into a wonderful evening of pasta, salad, wine and lots of chat - activities that suited us all down to the ground. Hal and Di looked at the photos we had taken of his nearest relatives in Branch IV and we also talked religion and politics after all. We were relieved to find that we were not just comfortable in each other's company but positively relished it.

They say you can choose your friends but you are stuck with your family, however, by the end of the evening we had two new friends and have remained so ever since, so thank you Hal & Di for your hospitality and for showing us your beautiful home town - and thank goodness we are all Alabasters! Martin Alabaster (IIB)


Martin is a member of Branch IIB, 4 x great grandson of William Alabaster who died in 1836 in Suttons Hospital, Charterhouse, London. William, born 1761 in Baylham, Suffolk, was one of the family of Alabasters who migrated to London and became part of the straw hat trade as detailed in Chronicle No.6.

Hal’s immediate ancestors were, on the other hand, quite unknown to me before we started to correspond, and they appear fascinating in their own right!
Hal is a member of Branch IV, 3 x great grandson of Robert Alabaster and Mary Ann West of Great Yarmouth. Hal’s grandfather, Arthur Albert Alabaster, was born in Yarmouth in 1882. Arthur’s father, Horace, was a tailor, and moved, with his wife, Jessie, and their six children,to London some time at the end of the 1880s. Certainly, by the time of the 1891 census, they were living at 19 Amberley Road, Paddington, where four further children were born.

Hal has various notes in his possession which relate to his forebears, written by a relative some years ago, one of which says:

Grandfather`s (Horace) occupation (was) a tailor - working for a firm in Bond Street - was so good at his work he was asked to go to Athens as tailor for King George 1st of Greece - King George 1st was later assassinated.

Arthur was apprenticed to be a cabinet maker but at the end of his apprenticeship he joined the army and fought in the Boer War in South Africa in 1900. After the war he returned to England.

According to further notes from Hal, Arthur then went to Greece where his father and mother were working. He worked in the British Embassy in Athens as a butler, also at the Turkish Embassy in Constantinople. He was valet to Sir Francis Elliot in Athens. Sir Francis was Godfather to Ted.

Certainly Arthur married Letty Maria Turner at the British Consulate, Pieaeus, Greece in 1907 and their son, Hal’s father, Theodore Horace Alabaster (Ted) was born in Athens in 1908.

In 1909 they moved to Newport, Isle of Wight, renting a pub “The Plough”...........but decided he was not cut out for that type of work.. .........While abroad (he) had become quite a linguist and was approached by Sir Everet Hambro - Head of the Bank of England - would he be interested in working in the foreign division of the bank in London? He jumped at the opportunity but there was such a long delay and being bored with nothing to do - he was (forced) to accept an offer to go to South America, Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.

The day of his departure from Hayes - a letter came from Sir Everitt Hambro telling him he had got to report for work on a given day.

(He) could have .....stopped at the port but instead the job was held open for him for 6 months should he not like it in South America.

From South America, he came with the Guinness Family to New York, living at 8 Washington Square. He liked the US and wanted to settle (there). He sent for (his wife and children ) and they arrived in New York 29 January 1912 in the ship Philadelphia.

Clearly, Arthur Albert Alabaster did eventually settle down in USA. He lived to the age of almost 70, ending his days in Miami, Florida, where he died in 1958. Hal, Arthur’s grandson, now lives on the west coast of USA at Seattle, which is where he and Martin met up!


Oddly enough, during the past few months I have had contact with yet another descendant of Horace and Jessie Alabaster, through a completely different source; Robbin Churchill, nee Alabaster, was a passenger on a British Airways flight when, to her astonishment, the name of the first officer was announced as Rob Alabaster! She sent him a message via a stewardess to see if she could find out more.

Thus it was that Daniel Robert Alabaster (Rob), a member of our society, who is a pilot with British Airways, following in the footsteps of his father Robert Clifford Alabaster (IIIA), phoned me to ask if he could forward my email address to Robbin, and thus I was contacted by Charlotte Alabaster of “The Florida Alabasters”!

She wrote “My husband's father, Sidney Alabaster was from Great Yarmouth and he passed away many years ago. Sidney Alabaster left Great Yarmouth, UK and immigrated to the United States arriving in New York in 1904 at the age of 16.”

I have been sent a detailed tree of Sidney’s descendants in America, as well as a few details about Sidney himself.

Sidney’s career as an artist and engraver included working as an engraver for Tiffany & Company. He specialised in bookplates. He also worked for Georg Jensen. His major accomplishment was to engrave the alphabet on the head of a straight pin.

After some thought and checking up I realised that Sidney was the younger brother of Arthur, Sidney being three years old at the time of the 1891 census in Paddington. It is possible that he had been with his parents in Greece but whether they too went to America I have been unable to ascertain so far. In fact, I realise that I do not have a note of the death of Horace or Jessie, so perhaps they did go to USA, or Canada, too!

To Contents

Alabaster Family Web Site

by Ivor Smith (Branch IV)

The earliest Alabasters could not have envisaged the steps their descendants would use to perpetuate the family name across the world. The Alabaster family has now made it into the 21st century with the birth of its new web site which can be found at www.alabaster.org.uk This project is in its very early stages. We have a front page, the coat of arms and some contact information to get us started. We now need articles. To start off the site we shall endeavour to include extracts from many of the previous chronicles produced by Laraine. That in itself is a mammoth task. It is also intended to produce a directory of e-mail contacts throughout the world. You can now have your own e-mail address linked from this site e.g. laraine.hake@alabaster.org.uk and/or one for all the family. In the UK you will also receive a free dial up account (with local dial up telephone number) remember though, you will be responsible for your own telephone charges. You can even have your own family page if you want one. Such are the wonders of the Internet. For further information on the web site or for your own free dial up account please contact Ivor Smith (BranchIV) on 01708 474425 or e-mail .

For overseas members, it is still possible to have an "alabaster.org.uk" e-mail address. You will however have to use your own local Internet Service Provider, but once connected to the World Wide Web you can download or send your e-mail though our site. My brother has his Internet Service provider in Plano, Texas, and his e-mail address is in the UK.

Whilst on the subject of Branch IV, a tip from Laraine led me to the Public Record Office web site at www.pro.gov.uk and what a mine of information was revealed. I have been trying to trace any records or information regarding Walter Alabaster-West, my great-grandfather`s youngest brother. Many of you will be aware that in my part of the Branch the search for information was complicated in the late 1800's by some of the family interchanging the names West and Alabaster. However a search of the PRO site has revealed that in 1924 a Walter Leonard West-Alabaster was a bankrupt. Application has been made to obtain copy of the papers in relation to this event, so watch this space.
Ivor Smith (IV)

This website business -- mark my words, it won`t last!  RW

To Contents

The following article was published in the Evening Post, Wellington, New Zealand, on 4th February 2000. It is reprinted with the full permission of the Publishers, for which were are very grateful.

Alabaster Name Bowls on and on

by Lynn McConnell, Cricket Writer, Wellington Newspapers Ltd

After decades at the bowling crease, the "other" Alabaster shows no signs of losing his guile or giving up his leg spin.
His surname, Alabaster, provides part of the answer, but his age, 68, would leave many shaking their heads and wondering what makes him turn out for cricket week-in and week-out.
He's Derek Alabaster, leg-spin bowler and regular player in Wellington's third grade, whose two brothers, Jack and Gren, played international cricket.
Fame passed him by, but a search for perfection and a desire to keep himself in shape is the motivation for Alabaster staying in the game.
He plays for the Wellington Collegians club, but has been a member of Melbourne's prestigious cricket club, the Singapore Cricket Club, and the Staten Island Cricket Club in New York.
When much younger, he was also opening batsman for Wellington Collegians, recalling days attempting to score runs against Kilbirnie firebrands, Richard Collinge and Mike Coles. Now retired from his job as a travel commissioner for the old Tourism and Publicity Department, he has oodles of time for the game that challenges him.
There was an occasion not too long ago when a case of shingles forced him to have six weeks off work, "But once I recovered, I made the decision that I would attempt to play cricket for as long as I could."
The sight of such a veteran lining up to bowl always draws a typical response from some of the young bucks determined to take the old fellow apart.
"A lot of guys underestimate me. You float one up to them and their eyes light up and they think 'here it goes', then the ball goes through and castles them," he said.
There was another occasion when a prominent Plunket Shield player fell to his bowling.
"Being a leg-spinner you always strive for perfection and you tend to last a bit longer," he says.
He recently took a hat-trick for Wanderers against Dannevirke High School. "The first ball was a wrong'un which turned 18 inches and took centre stump. The second I got leg before wicket when the batsman was right back on his stumps and the third was a repeat of the first. They were three perfect balls that you dream about."
Having brothers who have played for New Zealand has been interesting - such as when he and Jack were both back in home town Invercargill after having been at University in Dunedin. “Jack played for the Invercargill club because our father was a life member there and I went and played for the Old Boys club. We won the competition and I led him by one wicket all season. He played for Otago and New Zealand, and I played for Southland B," he said.
He found his wrist spin was appreciated in Melbourne, where he spent more than a month helping Australian test batsman Paul Sheahan overcome problems against leg-spin. And while in New York, he played for an Invitation XI against a Packer World Series team in Shea Stadium, home of the New York Yankees, and took a six-wicket bag.
"It takes a long time to develop your bowling and you have to work at it. I used to go down to Anderson Park and use a fence post as a wicket and even now I walk up to the velodrome and bowl in the softball nets for an hour," he said. Alabaster gets frustrated watching players bowl both sides of the wicket and he finds too many batsmen trying to hit across the line.
"If you score in the gaps you don't have to go looking for runs with cross bat shots," he said.
As long as batsmen keep treating Alabaster's bowling that way he'll pick up his 40-50 club wickets a season.

Derek Alabaster is a member of Branch IIC, descended from Charles (1833-1865) (see family tree). Derek`s sister, Molly Duffy, is a member of the Alabaster Society.

To Contents

A Caribbean Connection?!

Last December, a number of extra regions of the IGI became available on the internet. Naturally, I examined these but found little new, except for the following in the Caribbean Islands!

Eugenius Martiens ALABASTER, born 11 Jan 1881 Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean, son of Leopold ALABASTER and Mevr. Isabella ALABASTER

Pedro Martin ALABASTER, born 8 Sept 1883 Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean, son of Leopold ALABASTER and Mevr. Isabella ALABASTER

Fermina Florencia ALABASTER, born 7 July 1888 Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean, daughter of Leopold ALABASTER and Mevr. Isabella ALABASTER

Louisa Virginia Clementia ALABASTER, born 25 Aug 1901 Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean, daughter of Eugenius Martiens ALABASTER and Hiliria Obispo Confesor OSTIANA

Eugenius Martiens ALABASTER married 25 Jan 1911 (sic) to Hiliria Obispo Confesor OSTIANA, Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean

These Alabasters are completely new to me! Any thoughts, ideas or comments would be gratefully received!  LH

To Contents