SOUTHALL: A Brief History

In 1638 Christopher Merrick gave a new pulpit, a cushion and a pew for the minister and clerk of the church18. The Merrick family gradually grew in importance during the rest of the century, as we shall see, and this is one of the earliest references to them. This Christopher was presumably the son of another of the same name who had died on 24th December, 1614 according to a memorial in the church. At one time Christopher Merrick was described as a steward to the Awsiters, but the family appear to have been more distinguished than this suggests as Sir John Merrick (an uncle of Christopher?) was James I’s ambassador to Muscovy. The heraldic visitation which denies arms to the Awsiters acords them to the Merricks, though it calls them of Southcoate, which I take to be a telescopic form of Southall and Northcote.

In about 1640 Richard Awsiter died and the manor passed to his son, another Francis. He must have been born sometime after 1606 since he was still under 21 when his grandmother’s will was drawn up in 1626; his wife was Dorothy Cole. The Civil War began shortly after, but as far as we know the war had little direct effect on the lives of the inhabitants of Southall: there were Parliamentary camps at Uxbridge, Hounslow and Brentford, and it is probably true to say that the sympathy of most people was with the Parliamentary faction as in the rest of Middlesex. The Awsiters may have been puritans and thus may have lost some of their influence upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, but this is surmise, and many other causes may have led to their eclipse. The poor-rate books show that the famous Parliamentary general Sir William Waller, then owner of Osterley Park, paid a poor-rate for some of his land in Norwood.

A tally of lands undertaken in 1649 shows that in the precinct the biggest landowner was Francis Awsiter with 425 acres; second was Christopher Merrick with 241 acres; and third came Robert Hampton of Dormans Well with 203 acres.16

The Commonwealth appointed comissioners to enquire into the state of ecclesiastical benefices. They reported19 in 1650 as follows:

‘Norwood. Then we present that we have a chappel of ease belonging to the parish of Hayes 3 miles and one Mr. James Chibbald is our present preaching minister presented by Thomas Jennings of Hayes aforesaid who alloweth him for his salary out of the tithes within the Precinct of Norwood the yearly sum of £48. And we conceive the tithes within the said precinct of Norwood to be worth about £200 p.a. and think it very convenient that Norwood (being distinct in all duties and parish business from Hayes) should be made a parish church entire of itself’.

This recommedation had to wait for another two centuries before being adopted.