A Summary of Research into a  Much Dewchurch Family


Before I embarked on this family history journey in 1965, my father's cousin wrote that I would find the VERRY family pure "salt of the earth". How right! The Verrior's of Herefordshire were of those good God-fearing yeoman stock, the same that had France trembling at Agincourt in earlier times. There is nothing extraordinary to be told about them. They lived their lives honourably and often employed help then fell down the social ladder to be labourers themselves. Some had two chimneys when others had one, should that be a measure of wealth. I doubt if it mattered much to them except when it came to pay King Charles his Hearth Tax "for the better support of his Crown and Dignity".

At various times in the 17th century they were Churchwardens in MUCH DEWCHURCH and MUCH BIRCH and for that moment, may have been of some importance though it is doubtful if their opinion mattered much and certainly not in any neighbouring parish, where they were probably "foreigners". Like all of their class, they were subsumed by their landowners and generally held their landlords' opinion whatever it was. In Elizabethan Much Dewchurch they probably held to the old church like most of the shire, but attended the new order. Seating in church was according to social status and occasionally disputes arose like the one in the 1590's between the Lewis and Bower Families of Dewchurch which reached the Star Chamber.

In sickness they turned to prayer and to herbal remedies passed down, mother to daughter. Their day began with some home-cured bacon, bread and cheese, washed down with cider or ale. Evenings were for fireside talk, perhaps organising their "fellow" the farm worker, for the following day's work in the fields, side by side; while wife or maid churned some butter or made clothing - an extended family in many respects. As for their children, little is known. They played with rudimentary toys, were dressed after the fashion of their parents and no doubt got in the way as children have forever done.

Quite often our agricultural forebears lived close to the margin, alternating between plenty of harvest and the leanest of lent and at any time one or more of a family could be struck down by pestilence they attributed to God. It was a story repeated all over England, made better only by improvements in agricultural methods of the 18th century and medicine and hygiene in the 19th. 


The parish, a little south of Hereford City, was anciently Welsh, in the area of Ergying (or Archenfield). Its church is dedicated to St David and the Welsh name was Llan Ddewi Faw - Great St David. The parish register is remarkably complete from its commencement in 1558 and one cannot resist the conclusion that as late as 1600 this little community comprised two clear social elements, one Welsh, the other English, living side by side and progressively intermarrying until the Welsh language was no more. Dialect was a soft speech, less broad than that of Devon and without the hardness of the Midlands. Hereford was spoken 'Erefurd.. Clearly the Welsh influence remained. A visitor to the Black Swan in the 1500's would have heard the chatter of both languages. Between 1558 and 1600 the population was probably no more than 200, rising to over 500 in the 19th century. Hereford Archives hold a typescript history of the parish written by a local historian in the 1930's, somewhat
fanciful in parts, but valuable nevertheless. There are extracts from it in my section on the parish history.


                        ST DAVID'S                                                 BLACK SWAN INN BUILT CIRCA 1440
                                                                                                    MUCH DEWCHURCH                                                                                                         


More on the history of Much Dewchurch can be found here

VERRIOR - a possible origin

The investigations by the local historian (Hubert Reade) of Church Farm, Much Dewchurch in the 1920's suggests that the first Verrior in Much Dewchurch was a glassmaker, Floren or Floris, a Walloon who arrived from the French speaking Catholic Netherlands in the time of Henry VIII. That may be so but I have been unable to verify his research. The family is in the Much Dewchurch parish register in Elizabethan times, in increasing numbers, suggestive of an arrival in the early 1500's. Reade wrote of  glass furnaces there in the Elizabethan era, but they were probably discontinued before about 1600 because timber for fuel was being rapidly depleted, or their purpose - window glass for mansions - had been fulfilled; and certainly by 1615, when timber as fuel for their furnaces was made unlawful. A typical run of glass consumed as much timber as would make a house. In 1623 the register records the burial of one Catherine JENKIN from GLAZIERS CLOSE. It is doubtful if this rural parish had a glazier in the modern sense of the word and it may allude to an old glass furnace site. So little is known of these "forest glassmakers" in England but at Much Dewchurch glass "frit" has been found in a field still known in the 19th Century as "Brick Kiln field", on the Lowe farm near the village and on the Hill Farm. It is believed that the outcrop of sand on Reignold's Ridge in the parish had been used to provide the silica.

Reade in correspondence (1925) to George Marshall of the Woohope Club refers more specifically to this in -

"a field on the Lowe Farm which lies to the west of Lowes Lane running from Much Dewchurch to Callow Hill which was called by the old people the "Brick" as there was a tradition that there had been a brick kiln in it and there was a mound from which fragments of bricks were picked up."

"This field lies on the left hand of the Worm Brook and is the second field in the valley down stream from the ford where Lowes Lane crosses the Worm."

He expresses belief that it was the site of a glasshouse belonging to (sponsored by?) Lewis WATKINGE of Kivernoll (a hamlet and estate in Much Dewchurch) - and later refurbished to the Continental Style c. 1597 by Van Der HENZEY, a well-documented glassmaker from Lorraine then living at Eggelshall, Staffordshire.

Well, a brick  kiln is not a glass furnace and Reade wrote that he knew of no glass frit or slag being found. However, since he wrote (1925) glass and stone "bricks" have been ploughed up, possibily as a result of deeper ploughing techniques. The late Albert VERRY of Cinderford was shown several pieces ranging from very dark green to lighter green, possibly vessel and window glass respectively. On checking the parish register I have found a Lewis WATKIN having children christened in the latter 1500's and have tentatively concluded that the site is possibly a collapsed glass furnace dating from that period.

And as these furnaces in the so-called "forest" glassmaking era (presuming such a date may be attributed to it), were often relocated nearer to the diminishing timber fuel, there may well be undiscovered sites nearby. Finds of glass on Hill Farm suggest this possibility.

In another note Reade refers to a glass furnance sponsored by Richard LEWIS, a wealthy land owner of Kivernoll. I checked his will (PCC1567) but found no reference to a glass furnance, the will merely referring to estate in general terms.

Despite great efforts to discover Reade's sources, I have failed to do so. His correspondence and reports indicate that he had access to material perhaps no longer extant, and yet his reports are occasionally contradictory. There the matter must rest.

NOTE: Since this research was done, the website "Historic Herefordshire on-line" mentions a post-medieval glassmaking site at Minster Farm, Much Birch, recorded in 1988 - "Slag from glassmaking  has been found in and around the farm and is quite common particularly in field at 50 504314. It is possible that here is another outlier of glass industry centred around Forest of Dean as that at Glasshouse Farm, St Weonards". This site may be linked to those at Much Dewchurch, recorded by Reade. Minster Farm is directly just one and a half mile from the site on Lowes Farm. The parish register dates from 1599, a little late to be useful and in any case, if it was an outlier of the Dewchurch industry, that parish would probably be used given the short distance.

For a general appraisal of medieval and post-medieval glassmaking in England this link is useful.