Answers to Questions


CULLING, Hertingfordbury, 17/18 century

January, 2012




Shirley Eelrick (shirley.elrick @t gmail.com) writes from Australia: I am a descendent of James CULLING who was born c1710. He married Mary MAYOR in Norfolk in 1736. James and his sons left Wills with substantial funds.

I recently discovered Elizabeth CULLING the Mistress of Sir William (First Earl COWPER who was the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain for a while) (source National Archives detailed on line index of Hertfordshire records). I have ordered a copy of the probate documents of Elizabeth's Will (1702/3) - leaving her fortune to her children. She was the heiress of John CULLING of Hertingfordbury Park, Hertfordshire. John had only 2 children - his son John died without issue. John the elder died c1687, having bought Hertingfordbury Park in 1681

John the elder had a brother Charles CULLING. He is mentioned in Chancery records in relation to Elizabeth's will. I want to explore the possibility that Charles is the ancestor of the CULLING family of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The above James 1710 is the farthest back I have been able to take them.

""Hertingfordbury Park was an appurtenance to the Castle of Hertford, and appears to have been conveyed, by William Earl of Salisbury to Sir William HARRINGTON, who sold it to the Keightlys, from whom it was purchased by John CULLING Esq. The heirs of Elizabeth, his daughter conveyed it to Spencer COWPER Esq. Chief Justice of Chester from whose family it has been purchased by the BARKERs of Bayford Bury"" - source The Beauties of England & Wales Volume 7 dated c 1808


1. Are there are MI for the Culling family in or near Hertingfordbury Park, John the father was buried in St Bishopsgate London, Elizabeth is buried in Hertingfordbury Park

2. Is it possible to get a look up of burial records for Charles CULLING, Elizabeth's Uncle. I do not have a date of birth or death, but I would assume b to be before 1660, and he was still alive in 1703 when Elizabeth died. He may have been alive in 1715 when a Charles and William CULLING are mentioned "Deed of trust  DE/P/F86  16 Jan 1715/16" in the Hertfordshire Archives.

3.  As this is a substantial, landed, local family, are there any published genealogies.

I have created a new page on Hertingfordbury Park which contains a picture and some relevant references to the Culling involvement with the area.

Apart from the surname and the fact that both families were clearly well to do you don't say why you think John Culling of Hertingfordbury is related to James Culling of Norfolk. Of course they may be but it is quite easy to go off on a wild goose chase by following up such "leads" - see Right Name, Wrong Body to understand some of the pitfalls.

If the Culling family were significant landowners with a history of living in the area I would have expected a memorial in Hertingfordbury Church. I don't have details of the current memorials, but Cussans' History of Hertfordshire has details of the important monuments before the church was significantly altered and does not mention a Culling memorial. John Culling was a London man who purchased the estate in 1681, built the house, and died in 1687. It may have been intended only as a rural retreat (or an investment towards his retirement) a convenient distance from London and he may not have lived in the completed house much or at all. His wife was left with underage children and remarried and presumably she and the children lived with William Bacon, of Grays Inn, London. Definitely they are not mentioned in any of the family trees published in Clutterbuck's The History of the County of Hertford or in Evelyn Wright's Forgotten Families of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. There are no other possibly relevant references to the surname in the Hertford Hundred or the whole county in the old reference books I have examined. In fact it might be better to consider them to be a London family who happened to own property in Hertfordshire - and look for John Culling senior's parents in London.

The only Hertfordshire reference to a Charles Culling I have found comes from Chauncy's The Historical Antiques of Hertfordshire which has an undated 17th century reference in the description of Hertford. It reads:

Mr [Edward] Cox [of Cheshunt] erected another house situated upon the Castle Wall towards Castle-street; which came to his Daughter and Heir, who married Charles Culling, Gent, the present Possessor thereof.

I have not been able to trace the marriage (assuming it occurred in Hertfordshire).

Neither Clutterbuck or Cussans (in his History of Hertfordshire) mention any Culling memorials in the church, and Cussans adds that the mansion was pulled down in 1810 by William Baker.

February, 2012

Shirley sends an update: I am transcribing Elizabeth's will slowly. Elizabeth asked to be buried in Hertingfordbury. The will says "my body I give to the earth whereof it was made to be buried in the Churchyard of the parish of Hertingfordbury the south side of the church near the Yew tree. And my desire is that my coffin be made of lead only and my grave to be curbed round and a marble stone to be laid thereon. ***** things convenient and necessary for my funeral." The ***** is a word I cannot make out.

She leaves some money to her mother who is now Mrs William BACON, so this confirms Martha's second marriage. Not that it was needed of course.

Elizabeth was the mistress of the first Earl William COWPER, who fathered her 2 children. These children were acknowledged. William was the Lord Chancellor of England, and Spencer (who bought the house) was his older brother. Elizabeth's will was written in the year she died, and the children are 7 and 3, so I am guessing that the house was sold by the executors. It is hard to make out the names of the executors, but none of them are COWPERs.

January 2012   Page created
February 2012   Update from SHirley