Ezekiel Sanford: Birth: BEF 26 DEC 1612.
Note: Of the Sanfords nothing further has been found of record in connection with their stay at Hatfield Broad Oak. Short though this stay there was, this town was the home of the mother of the emigrants; and Thomas (the emigrant) and his brother John were probably born here, in their mother's girlhood home. Would the reader care to know something of this sober village, upon the slope of a low hill, ere we follow Ezekiel and family back to the little farm, in Stanstead Mountfitchet, of his grandparents Richard and Elizabeth Sanford?
Thirty miles from London, and 8671 acres in extent, was old Hatfield Broad Oak, also called Hatfield Regis or King's Hatfield, and Hatfield, partly because it was all owned by a king of England, and also to distinguish it from Hatfield Peverel, another place in Essex. In 1860, the town was divided into three parishes, the additional two being Hatfield Heath and Bush End. Hatfield proper is still ancient in appearance despite its several mansions and the modern country houses of London men. Its three miles from the railway should keep the old houses from destruction yet awhile. The town is happily on the gently rising slopes (south and west) of an eminence, which affords views over The well reaped fields. The village street is more business-like than that at Much Hadham. Which ones of the many fields were those of John Warner, there is scarcely any means of knowing now. Richard Sanford of Much Hadham, however, specified that one of his houses in Hatfield was "a tenement in Hatfelde lying highest in the town." Perhaps he would not quite identify one of those now standing near the hill-crest as his, for alterations have made some of them less artistic than of yore. The thoughtful, well-informed visitor will have no difficulty in suiting his fancy as to which house in its earlier glory of the rustic beauty of simplicity, fits the sort of man Ezekiel Sanford's father-in-law was.
There was once a Benedictine priory here, founded by Alberie or Aubrey de Vere, second of that name and father of the first Earl of Oxford, in 1135. This foundation was dedicated to God, St. Mary and St. Melanius Redonensis, a British or Amorican saint, who, as his name implies, sprung from Rennes, in Brittany, where there was an abbey bearing his name. There were nine monks here and the priory stood until the reformation in England, when Henry VIII. ordered all such ecclesiastical institutions demolished, or confiscated, and severing the churches in England from papal control, perhaps forever. The old parish church has its venerable features, but prosperity hereabouts, has wrought modern changes in it. It is a large structure for a country town, generally in the perpendicular style of architecture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Some portions appear to be of an older date and formed part of the original priory church. There is a chancel, a clerestoried nave of six bays, north porch, and a lofty embattled tower facing the west, as do nearly all of the old church-towers of England.
No old Warner or Sanford gravestones exist. In the church is an effigy of Robert de Vere, third Earl of Oxford, one of the barons appointed to enforce Magna Charta, "the Englishman's first declaration of independence," in the year 1215. He died in 1221. The windows of the church and furniture are all modern.
Hatfield Forest, of about a thousand acres, lies to the northwest of the town and is the property of a gentleman whose seat adjoins the forest. This is a favorite resort for Londoners seeking a quiet day in the country. In the forest are the remains of a very large old oak (now carefully fenced round and preserved) called the "Doodle Oak" and conjectured to be that from which the place acquired the name of Broad Oak. The visitor must not miss a stroll through the forest. The manor of Hatfield was a royal manor held under the Crown and granted first after the Conquest (1066) to the family of de Gernon, which took the name of Mountfitchet; on their extinction, King Henry III. granted it to Isabella de Bruce. She fixed her residence at Bromesho Bury, a house in Hatfield, as did her son Robert, Earl of Carrick. The latter's son Robert, became a competitor for the crown of Scotland, and so forfeited his property in Hatfield. The manor of Hatfield was long regarded as most desirable property. Noted families have held it. Some of the old lords of it were the de Bohuns, the Staffords, the Riches, the Barringtons, and the Lowndes. Bromesho Bury, where the de Bruces resided, is worth seeing; it is now a farm house, surrounded by a moat, and belongs to the Earl of Roden. Old Barrington Hall, the original seat of the Barringtons, is also now a farmhouse at the edge of the forest. A newer Barrington Hall was erected about 1740; and the stately timber amid which the hall stands renders the surrounding park a fine one. Another ancient place here to be visited is Gladwyns, near Hatfield Heath; it has borne that name since temp Edward II (1307). No Warners or Sanfords reside in Hatfield now.
Ezekiel saw no future for himself here. In fact, the prospect of a brilliant future for any of his family was hardly imaginable, as life went in those days, for men of unpretentious birth. His father had bequeathed to him three plots of land of three acres in Stanstead Mountfitchet, which had been Ezekiel's grandfather's, so he made the most of it by settling upon it.
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