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Stiffkey, Norfolk
Type Ancient Parish
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred North Greenhoe
County Norfolk
Poor Law Union Walsingham PLU
Registration District Walsingham
Records begin
Parish registers: 1548
Bishop's Transcripts: 1600
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery Walsingham
Diocese Norwich
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Court of the Archdeaconry of Norwich
Location of Archive
Norfolk Record Office

Contents

Parish History

STIFFKEY (St. John), a parish, in the union of Walsingham, hundred of North Greenhoe, W. division of Norfolk, 3½ miles (E.) from Wells. [1] Also known as Stewkey.

Stiffkey St John the Baptist is an Ancient parish in the Walsingham deanery of the Diocese of Norwich.

Stiffkey would have remained an obscure Norfolk parish were it not for the appointment of the Reverend Harold Francis Davidson as Rector in 1906.
Davidson, who came from a long line of clerics, was appointed the Rector of Stiffkey in 1906. Despite his commitments to his parishioners, Davidson felt that he should also minister to ‘fallen women’ and spent much of his time on the streets of Soho, in London. He would regularly take the train from Wells Next the Sea to London, returning just in time to take Sunday worship in Stiffkey. His wife became pregnant by another man while he was serving in the First World War, and this led to him spending even more time in London.

Some of his parishioners began to resent the amount of time he was spending away from Stiffkey, and the situation came to a head one Sunday in November 1930. Davidson was delayed in London and arrived in Stiffkey too late to take the Remembrance Day services. This was the final straw for Major Hammond, a Church Warden, who reported Davidson to the Bishop of Norwich for his “immoral” behaviour.

The Bishop launched an investigation and found that the overwhelming majority of the people of Stiffkey, and street girls of London, had nothing but praise for the Rector. Despite this, he was put on trial in March 1932 on charges of ‘systematically misbehaving’ himself with young women. The trial lasted over three months and created front page headlines. The case has been described as “Britain’s first sex scandal” and the publicity helped make Davidson a household name and national celebrity. At his trial, Davidson denied the charges against him, but in July 1932 he was found guilty on all counts. He was formally defrocked from the clergy at Norwich Cathedral in October 1932

Davidson claimed that the charges were an establishment conspiracy against him, and there are still people including most residents of Stiffkey and his own grandchildren who support this theory.

After he was defrocked Davidson he moved to Blackpool where holidaymakers queued to see him sitting on a barrel protesting his innocence; and paying two pence each for the privilege. He unsuccessfully applied to become the manager of Blackpool Football Club, and is rumored to have founded a naturist colony.

Later, he moved to the East Coast at Skegness. Here he embarked on the act that would cost him his life. He recreated the Biblical story of Daniel by praying and preaching from inside a lions’ cage. One day in July 1938, a lion turned on him and took him round the cage by the scruff of the neck. The audience laughed and cheered; unaware that what they were witnessing was not part of the act. The injuries proved fatal and he died a few days after the mauling.

Resources

Civil Registration

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

  • Walsingham 1837-1938
  • Fakenham 1939-1974

The Register Office, Fakenham Connect, Oak Street, Fakenham, NR21 9SR.
Tel: 01328 850111. E-mail: registration.fakenham@norfolk.gov.uk

Church records

Stiffkey, Norfolk parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:

FREG = FreeREG - free[2]
FS ATs = England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812 (FamilySearch) - free[3]
FS BTs = England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941 (FamilySearch) - free[4]
FS PRs = England, Norfolk, Parish Registers, 1538-1900 (FamilySearch) - free[5]
JOIN = The Joiner Marriage Index - (£)[6]
NTA = Norfolk Transcription Archive - free[7]
TIN = Tinstaafl Transcripts - free[8]
Stiffkey, Norfolk Online Records

Baptisms
Marriages
Burials

Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
FREG 1600-1880
1600-1919
1600-1902
FS ATs 1600-1812 1600-1812 1600-1812
FS BTs Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined
FS PRs Undefined 1538-1902 Undefined 1538-1919 Undefined 1538-1991
JOIN
1754-1837

NTA 1813-1865
1754-1901; 1758-1812 (Banns)
1813-1902
TIN 1813-1880


Norfolk Record Office reference PD 492/1-7

Census records

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library. The first film number is 438859.


http://www.btinternet.com/~e.c.apling/1891Census/Stiffkey.htm transcript of 1891 census

Manorial Records

  • Manorial Records of London, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. Contains copies and abstracts of various records relating to manors and lands of Sir Henry Calthorpe. Includes the following manors and lands: Stiffkey, Wiveton, Blakeney, etc. FHL British FIlm 1471770 item 28.

Poor Law Unions

For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's web site: www.workhouses.org.uk and http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Walsingham/Walsingham.shtml


Walsingham Poor Law Union 

Norfolk Poor Law Unions

Probate records

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Norfolk Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.

Websites

References

  1. Samuel A. Lewis,A Topographical Dictionary of England(1848), pp. 205-207. Date accessed: 11 June 2013.
  2. 'Norfolk Coverage', FreeREG, accessed 27 February 2014.
  3. 'England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812,' FamilySearch, accessed 31 March 2014.
  4. 'England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941', FamilySearch, accessed 31 March 2014.
  5. 'England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1538-1900', FamilySearch, accessed 17 March 2014.
  6. 'Norfolk Coverage,' The Joiner Marriage Index, accessed 11 February 2014.
  7. Norfolk Transcription Archive, accessed 15 April 2014.
  8. 'Norfolk Baptism Project 1813 to 1880,' Tinstaafl Transcripts, accessed 10 April 2014.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 24 April 2014, at 19:10.
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