|   The Family of Dummer
of British Origin       .
A Brief Outline by Michael Dummer
with a few cameos
All Saints Church, Dummer, Hampshire;
the church of the old family of Dummer
BEGINNINGS. THE VILLAGE. THE CHURCH
The earliest Dummers took their family name from the village of Dummer in northern Hampshire. The name of the village is derived from Dun (meaning hill) and Mer (lake or pond). A hill there certainly is, in the shape of Dummer Down, but what form the water took is uncertain, for there is no lake or pond there today. It is likely that there was once a dew-pond on the down.
Dummer is a small village just off the busy M3 Motorway where it is joined by the A30 trunk road. The village, with its
thatched cottages and ancient church, has somehow managed to stay fairly unspoilt. The general air is that of a prosperous community.
The church dates back to around 1200, not many years after William the Conqueror seized the English throne, and about the time that he
decreed that a great survey be made of his new kingdom - the Domesday Survey. It is about this time too that we first come across the
THE DUMMER GROUPS
Dummers were originally centred in three main areas: Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Sussex. We do not yet know if they were all from a
commom origin. The adoption of DNA testing in family history in future will bring some very interesting resuts. By testing living people known to be
from each of the groups it may be possible to find the links, although it should always be born in mind that Grannie may not have been telling the truth
about the father of her son! Perhaps even testing of identified remains of the very earliest Dummers may be permitted. Time will tell.
THE DUMMERS OF DUMMER AND PENDOMER
The Dummers of Dummer form the earliest of the main groups. As was the custom, the principal landowner took the name of the
village as an identity for himself and his family. These Lords of the Manor of Dummer flourished from the beginning of the 12th century until the last of
the line died without living offspring at the end of the 16th century. His memorial can still be seen beside the altar of Dummer church.
Through marriage, they also had a presence in Somerset for 200 years, bequeathing the family name to the villages of Pendomer and Chilthorne Domer.
The earliest people bearing the name Dummer were from the village of that name, and they bore it in the form de Dummer (or de Dumer/Dommer/Domer), e.g. Geoffrey de Dummer- Geoffrey of or from Dummer - to distinguish themselves from other people of the same first name. In due course the use of "de" was dropped. Thus the Lords of the Manor of Dummer assumed the name of the village shortly after the Norman Conquest (1066) and their descendants continued to use the name for the next five and a half centuries.
Sir John de Dummer at rest at Pendomer Church,
Somerset, on his 14th century tombstone.
The Dummer arms are clearly visible on his breast
Ralph (Radulphus) de Domer, who died before 1205, was one of the earliest recorded members of the family. He married Agnes, heiress of Penne in Somerset, thereby acquiring land in that county to add to his holdings in Hampshire. The hamlet of Pendomer, south-west of Yeovil in Somerset bears witness to their presence their. In the tiny church perched on the hill (pen) at the end of a long country lane, the well-preserved stone figure of Sir John de Dommer, great-grandson of Ralph, clad in chain mail with the Dummer arms shown on his breast and shield, lies on his tombstone, where he has lain for over 700 years. A few miles away at Chilthorne Domer the well-worn effigy of his father William is tucked away behind a chair in the chancel . The lands at Dummer and Somerset were split between the descendants of Sir John. His great-grandson Sir Edmund sold the Somerset lands in 1409. Sir John's great-grand-daughter Ellen became heiress of the lands at Dummer, Hampshire. Ellen married Sir Nicholas Atmore who assumed her surname. Their children were known as Atmore alias Dummer, or vice versa. The last of the line, William Atmore alias Dummer, Comptroller of the Lord Mayor's Chamber in London, died in 1593 in the 36th year of Queen Elizabeth's reign. His sickly son and heir had died before him. His brass plate, originally showing the figures of his wife and son, is fixed to the chancel wall at Dummer church, to the left of the altar.
A cousin of Sir John de Dummer, Sir Richard, also owned a hide of land in the manor of Hartley, 3.5 miles south of Reading, which was afterwards
known as Hartley Dummer.
THE PYLDREN DUMMERS
Before the Dummers of Dummer died out in 1593, other Dummers are recorded only a few miles from Dummer village, probably descended from a branch
of the more ancient family.One of them, Maud or Matilda Dummer, married Richard Pyldren, and their descendants used the name Dummer in preference to
their father's original name. These "Pyldren" Dummers were probably originally small farmers or yeomen, at a time when wealthin the country was
starting to be filtered down from a few extremely rich landowners to a wider body of smaller landowners, and by virtue of skillful exploitation of
resources the Dummers began to prosper, some moving up the social scale to merchants, lawyers and Gentlemen. They came to amass huge holdings of
land in Hampshire, built their mansions and, by virtue of their wealth, exerted considerable influence in the region.
Some held Office of State and served as Members of Parliament. One of their number was a founding father of Massachusetts. Their descendants
are to be found in North America, Australia and elsewhere. Overall, this was the most successful branch of the family, and certainly the best known.
Edmund Dummer of Swaythling Grange,
Southampton, Hampshire, lawyer, 1701.
A fine and very early tapestry portrait,
now in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
PYLDREN alias DUMMER
Richard Pyldren married Matilda (or Maud) Dummer sometime before 1523. Richard was a freeholder at Overton, just 5 miles west of Dummer village,
and 22 miles north of Southampton. Matilda was probably the heiress oof John Dummer, the local representative of the King at Overton.
Richard variously used either Pyldren or Dummer as his surname, as did his children, but subsequent generations dropped the Pyldren name.
The family initially lived at Owslebury, later at Durley. We know of five grandchildren of Richard and Matilda, of which Thomas was the one
who continued the mainstream of the family. Thomas married Joane, held land at Bishopstoke and at Swaythling village in North Stoneham parish,
dying before 1626, but it was four of his children (John, Richard, Thomas and Stephen) who were to make Dummer a name to be reckoned with.
John Dummer, probably the eldest son of Thomas and Joane, is commemorated by a plaque at North Stoneham Church. His descendants continued to increase the family wealth, notably at law.
His son Edmund (born 1663) inherited the family home at Swaythling Grange, Southampton. His fine tapestry portrait was produced upon his death in 1701 (see above).
Edmund's son, also called Edmund Dummer, (born 1663) was appointed Clerk of the Great Wardrobe, one of those archaic positions at the Sovereign's court which were later abolished. He was based in Swaythling but spending much of his time in Hanover Square, London. By the time of his death he had estates in Middlesex, Hampshire and elsewhere. His aim was to keep all the estates in the Dummer family, and in case he had no surviving male heir at the time of his death he drafted a eccentric and complicated will, which, alas, was ultimately unsuccesful!
Edmund had married late in life and when he died in 1724, on a visit to Bath to take the waters, he left his still young wife Leonora Sophia with three infants; Mary, John and Elizabeth. Leonora Sophia married again to Denis Bond of Grange in Dorset and her children grew up with the Bond family. Eventually Mary Dummer married John Bond, the nephew of her stepfather, and her sister Elizabeth married Valentine Knightly. Because of their father Edmundís convoluted will, Mary and Elizabeth had to wait until 1765 to inherit his vast estates, by which time they were middle-aged. Their brother John had died 16 years earlier so all their father's estates went from the Dummer family.
Edmund's brother Thomas became Deputy Keeper of the Great Wardrobe, a position he held for 43 years. A barrister of the Middle temple, he acted extensively for the Duke of Montague, and his name features frequently on legal documents of the time. His passage through the lanes around Bishopstoke in a coach with six horses in Court trappings and rich livery was long remembered. Under the terms of his brother Edmundís will all of the latterís estates were passed to Thomas and his son Thomas Lee to look after for life in an attempt to keep them in the hands of Dummers. In consequence they were not handed over to Edmundís children until 1765.
Thomas' son, Thomas Lee Dummer, was a colourful character. He bought Cranbury Park and Mansion near Winchester in 1737, and wanting something to adorn his new park, he purchased the Winchester City Cross from the City Fathers, but the good citizens of the town drove his workmen away, and he had to make do with a plaster replica which the rain washed away. However, the lack of male heirs to the vast estates was to cause bitter strife between cousins, and as a result all the estates passed out of the Dummer family.
Mary Bond, nee Dummer, 1717-1787,
daughter of Edmund Dummer,
Clerk of the Great Wardrobe.
She eventually inherited half
of her fatherís many estates.
The Mansion, Cranbury Park, Otterbourne
Richard Dummer, also a son of Thomas and Joane, is believed to have made his
fortune as a trader, operating out of the port of Southampton.
He was a Puritan, which at times was contrary to the Established Church and the monarch. He emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, becoming
a founding father there, setting up a stock company, acquiring estates, and establishing a milling business. His eldest son
Shubael was slain by Indians.
Another of his sons Jeremiah Dummer
was the America's first American-born silversmith. His grandson William Dummer
was Governor of Boston and instrumental in bringing
to an end the Indian Wars. William was childless, and he bequeathed his estates to trustees for the establishment of what became in 1763
Dummer Academy, the first school of its kind in the Province.
A third son of Thommas and Joane was Thomas Dummer who inherited Chickenhall Farm or estate and passed it on to his son, also Thomas.
The latter's son was one of the most notable members of the Dummer family.
became the Surveyor of the Navy and was responsible for setting
up Devonport Dockyard, and undertaking improvements at Portsmouth. His Survey of the South Coast is a valuable and well-known historic document.
Edmund was later discharged from the post after some murky goings-on, whereupon he set up the pioneering Packet Boat service to the West Indies.
Misfortune in the business attended him again however, and the cost of building his elegant mansion at South Stoneham (now part of Southampton
University) was proving a strain. Sadly one of the most ingenious men of his era died a bankrupt. Lack of heirs was again to result in the estates
passing out of the family.
South Stoneham House, Edmund Dummer's
mansion which helped to bankrupt him
Stephen Dummer was another son of Thomas and Joane. He inherited Middle Street and Hole Farms in Bishopstoke. He married Alice Archer then,
like his brother Richard, emigrated to New England with his wife and children. There his daughter Jane married Henry Sewall. (Henry and Jane's
son, Samuel Sewall, became an assistant magistrate presiding over the Salem Witch Trials and was ultimately to become Chief Justice of Massachusetts.
In later years he regretted the judgement at Salem and also spoke out against slavery). Stephen Dummer brought his family back to Bishopstoke in 1646
and he was buried there in 1670. Stephen's line was the one that survived in Great Britain,
and it is from Stephen that today's "Pyldren" Dummers in the UK are descended. Middlestreet Farm seems to have passed out of
the family, but Hole (later Foxhole) Farm remained until the mid-nineteenth century.
Stephen Dummer's house at Horton Heath.
He built a little chapel in the garden.
Later his son William Chamberlayne Dummer
ran the new Independant Chapel nearby for many years.
DUMMER'S FARM & THE CATHOLIC DISSENTERS
One of the Pyldren Dummers appears in the little village of Shipley, Sussex, at the end of the 16th century. John Dummer married Mary Michell there in 1596. Mary was to give him 5 children. Their son John is the one we know most about because he was listed as a "Papal Dissenter" in 1641 - Catholics were suspect and a register of them was compiled. This John married twice, his second wife bearing him a little daughter, Mary. John was a yeoman farmer and his farm at Shipley was still known as "Dummer's Farm" until just a few years ago when an unappreciative farmer changed it to Drummer's Farm! John's old oak barn still stood there until recently when it was disassembled and sold. Dummer's Farm Barn
Little Mary Dummer was only 12 years old when her father John died and was buried in the churchyard. Just five years later she married John Michell and bore him an only son. She died at the age of 25 and John Michell buried her under a table top tomb just outside the North door of the church. John Michell married again but the Michell family obviously never forgot little Mary for a memorial plaque in the north aisle of the church commemorates her. Originally the plaque bore the arms of the Pyldren Dummers but during the last century the arms went missing.
We can only speculate as to why John Dummer moved to Shipley, away from the other Pyldren Dummers. The reason probably lies in their religion. The other Dummers were ardent Protestants; in fact, Puritans, who would have despised them.
THE SUSSEX DUMMERS
We can only trace the main body of Sussex Dummers back to the 1690s when John and Mary Dummer had their children baptised at the little church in the village of
Heyshott, just north of the South Downs. John and most of his descendants were agricultural labourers working the fields around the market
town of Midhurst for two or more centuries, in contrast to the Pyldren Dummers of Hampshire who in general were wealthy landowners.
JAMES THE MILLER
James Dummer, born 1793, became a miller and pursued his trade at various mills around Midhurst. He too experienced poverty, being sent back
to Cocking, his village of birth when he could no longer support himself and his young family. It seems that he was the first of the line
to start tracing his ancestors. His motive was probably to live out his dreams, for these Sussex Dummers believed that the family had previously
been wealthy but had been cheated out of its rightful inheritances. He corresponded with Stephen Dummer of Foxhole Farm at Horton Heath, Bishopstoke,
with a view to trying to win back into the Dummer family some of the estates that they claimed had wrongly passed from the family. He studied the
complicated wills of the Pyldren Dummers and produced a long and detailed paper to justify the claims, demonstrating a surprising level of education
for somebody of the rural class. His brother William took a more practical course and proceeded to Cranbury Park at Otterbourne and dug up the front
lawn of the former Dummer mansion in an attempt to get himself arrested, so that he could prove his claim in a court of law - without success -
the Chamberlain family would not prosecute! He had another go at North Stoneham Park where he cut down a tree. Although he was arrested this time,
the magistrate discharged him. William never was able to put his case in law and he died, frustrated, some years later.
After James' death his son Charles carried on the campaign, with similar lack of success. Charles, a millwright, married Julie Isaline
Susanne Marie Martin from Switzerland at Terwick church. The hopeless situation in agriculture in the mid-nineteenth century caused Charles to
take his young wife and parents to Portsmouth where he worked as a shipwright in the Royal Dockyard. The Royal Navy was changing over to steam propulsion,
recruiting labour from far and wide, and the skills of a millwright would have been useful. Like many others who took part in the drift from the land
to the tightly packed streets of industrial towns in the 19th century, the 21-year old Charles must have found the experience difficult at first,
particularly as both his parents died at his home within 18 months.
When Charles died in 1917 all the family history papers went into storage for 50 years until they were passed to the present author in 1960.
Fifty years of further research has resulted in the present one-name study of the Dummer families.
The young Charles Dummer & his Swiss wife
Julie Isaline Susanne Marie Martin. They married at Terwick 1866.
THE LACOCK DUMMERS|
Dummers first appear in the parish registers of St Cyriac's church, Lacock, Wiltshire, in 1559. It is evident that at the time there were
already several members of the family there. How far back they went, and where they came from we don't know. Unfortunately we can't link them
to other branches of the family. During the succeeding centuries
their name crops up regularly as children are born, young people are wed and remains are buried. It is no surprise to find that some were weavers,
for this part of Wiltshire was noted for sheep and wool.
Dummer's Bridge at Lacock,
just down the lane by the church.
THE WELSH DUMMERS
John Dummer appears at Margam, near Port Talbot in Wales in 1801. He was almost certainly a Lacock Dummer, although he claimed that he was born in
Bristol. He was probably the John Dummer who was baptised in 1771 at Chippenham, near Lacock.
The Talbot family of Lacock
had been instrumental in opening up the coal mines in South Wales, and to service the industry it had created the port which bears its name.
The family would naturally try to recruit labour from the rural workers on their estates in Wiltshire.
John Dummer himself did not become a miner, however, but
most of his descendants did work in the mines, the steelworks or tinplate works. Hard work, dirty work, and most of all, dangerous
work. John married twice and both his brides had the same surname, David. Whether they were related is not clear -
Welsh names can cause real problems to researchers! He progressed from farm labourer to farmer at Lad y Pade Farm, Taibach, with 22 acres.
In spite of the hazardous nature of their employment the Welsh Dummers grew to become one of the largest groups of the name
(John had 76 great-grandchildren), and they have spread
beyond the borders of the Principality, some back to England, thereby losing the accent their ancestors had picked up many generations previous, and
others to Australia and America, like Edward of Llandilo who became a tinplate worker at Wheeling, West Virginia. Back in Wales, Evan Dummer
became mayor of Port Talbot in 1929.
Llety Piod, formerly known as
Lad y Pade Farm, Taibach
(from "Old Port Talbot Vol. 4,
published by Port Talbot Historical Society )
WILLIAM DUMMER, THE BISHOPSTOKE BLACKSMITH
William Dummer, the blacksmith of Bishopstoke, Hampshire, married Amey Scorey on Christmas Eve in 1802. Amey bore him 12 children and they became grand-parents to 45. Nowadays their descendants can be found in England, America and Australia, many of whom would dearly love to know exactly who William was. Bishopstoke had very much been Dummer territory over the years but at that time William was the only one living there. It is extremely likely that he was a "Pyldren" Dummer, probably born in the Bishops Waltham area. Hopefully, one day we may find his birth.
William's children spread across Hampshire, from Romsey to Portsmouth. Son William was a carpenter, John a gardener and James a boat builder. Two of their grand-daughters, Alice Lavinia and Elizabeth Ann, married Dummer brothers, grandchildren of farmer Stephen Dummer of Horton Heath (see above) and sailed off on the ship Rohilla to a new life in Australia. Two of William's grandsons, Charles and William Henry, sailed off in the opposite direction, taking their parents and children with them to New York before setting off on the long trek to Salt Lake City and the Muddy River Settlement in Nevada. On the way childen were born and their father died. At Salt Lake City William Henry's daughter Elizabeth married William Henry Cottle, a small Welshman who during his lengthy journey across the continent had been attacked by Indians. His mother was carried off, two of the party were killed, and others died later of wounds. It must have seemed a long way from Bishopstoke.
Robert Dummer married Mary Trigger in the mid-eighteenth century and lived in the Titchfield and Alverstoke area of Hampshire, near Fareham. Again, Robert was almost certainly a "Pyldren" Dummer. One of his descendants, William, crossed the waters of Portsmouth Harbour and set up a clothing business in Portsmouth, which prospered such that by 1851 he was employing 63 workers, and had risen to prominence in the social and political life of the town. However, he was horrified one day to discover that his eldest son William had secretly married a young girl, Ann James, of an inferior class six years previously and that they had a baby boy called James. Old William was furious, and his son quickly vanished from the scene. After old William had arranged for a baptism, the babe and his mother also disappeared. The old man died in 1884 and younger son John Dummer took over the family Naval and Civilian Outfitters business in Commercial Road. Like his father before him, John rose to a position of distinction in Portsmouth, becoming Councillor and Alderman.
Many years later the former baby James appeared upon the scene attempting to find out about his father and confronted his uncle John Dummer. It appears that James grew up with the surname Bartley and only found out from his mother in her old age that he was really a Dummer, the grandson of old William. His uncle John Dummer however laughed in his face, insisting that there was no truth in the story. Obviously he saw James as a threat to his position and wealth because he would be the heir of the eldest son. James spent some years trying to trace his father and to find the true story of what had gone on, but eventually he stopped to spare his old mother's feelings. In his heart he knew he was a Dummer and he even had a brass plate made engraved James Dummer. A fascinating tale.
John Dummer's shop in Commercial Road,
Portsmouth, just after he sold it
to the Public Benefit Boot Co.
A FOUL DEED
In Australia, 32 year old William Dummer was out of work and struggling. One night William hit the bottle, came home drunk, and hit his wife Annie with a door scraper. Annie died 3 days later. Who was William? And did he hang for his crime?
Brickfields feature prominently in the saga of Dummers in the nineteenth century. It was the time of great increase in population, particulary in the London area, and people needed houses to live in, which meant an enormous demand for bricks. Young Dummer sons moved to London in search of work and all too often ended up in the brickfields. John Dummer and Sophia Mattenly and their children were one such family at Hillingdon. We have yet to discover where John came from. One of their grandchildren decided that this was not the life for him and sailed for America. Another Dummer, married Susannah Peake at Shoreditch in 1861 and became a brickfield worker in Islington. Their eldest son later worked in the same industry in Hornsea. There are quite a number of these small groups working in all sorts of industries and agriculture who have not as yet been traced back beyond th nineteenth century. Tracing their origins is a fascinating challenge for today's Dummer researchers.
Examples of the arms borne by the old family of Dummer can be seen at Dummer village church and Pendomer church. At Dummer church the Arms are quartered with those of the Atmore family on the brass plate to the left of the altar. At Pendomer the recumbant figure of sir John de Dummer has the arms on his breast. The arms are described as "Azure, a golden crescent between 6 billets, 3,2,1, or". A golden crescent between golden rectangles on a blue background.
The "Pyldren" Dummers used different arms: "Azure, 3 fleur de lis or, on a chief of the second a demi-lion of the first". Whether the arms came from the Pyldren side or the Dummer side of the family is not known. The arms were originally used unofficially, but at the height of the family's prosperity 3 members sought permission to have their use regularised by the Earl Marshall, which was granted.
A little later they also requested approval to use the original arms of the Dummers of Dummer, from whom they claimed descent,
however, they were only permitted to use a variant, namely: "Gules, 9 billetts argent, 4,3,2, and a bezant in the base".
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE?     See below:
|THE ONE-NAME STUDY OF THE DUMMER FAMILY
Book and CD
The author is the registered member of The Guild of One-Name Studies for the family of Dummer. He has researched Dummer family history for over 40 years. Virtually all his findings have now been made available as a comprehensive book - The Family of Dummer of British Origin, by Michael Dummer, Seventh Edition June 2005.
The book consists of 360 A4 size pages: 111 pages of descriptive text, 150 photographs, transcripts of important wills, facsimile copies of important nineteenth century studies, family album, other relevant documents, a 55 page listing of all the entries of Dummers in the General Record Office Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths from 1837 until the mid-twentieth century, a list of all sources used in the study, and an index of persons.
WHERE TO SEE IT
Printed copies of the book can be consulted at a number of record offices and libraries, including the British Library, the Library of Congress at Washington, the Library of the Genealogical Society of Utah at Salt Lake City, the Library of the Society of Genealogists at London, Hampshire Record Office at Winchester, Southampton Archives at the Guildhall Southampton, West Sussex Record Office at Chichester, the libraries of the Hampshire Genealogical Society, the Sussex Family History Society and the Guild of One-Name Studies. We regret that printed copies of the book are not available for purchase.
THE COMPACT DISC
The study is also available on an inexpensive CD from which the book can be printed out. Copies can be obtained from the Church Wardens of All Saints Church at Dummer village, Hampshire - the ancient church of the Dummer family. All proceeeds from the sale of the CD go towards maintenance of Dummer church. Email the church wardens at email@example.com or go to the church website by clicking on the link below, then on Local Links, then on The Family of Dummer CDROM
The author is also prepared to try to answer questions on Dummer family history. Email him by keying in the address below (omitting the gap in the word dummer in the address which has been put there in an attempt to avoid spam).
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ARE YOU RESEARCHING OTHER NAMES?
The author is a member of The Guild of One-Name Studies dedicated to researching persons bearing the name of Dummer over the centuries. The Guild consists of like-minded individuals similarly researching a nominated surname. There are currently over 2300 members researching more than 7850 surnames. Are the names in which you are interested amongst them? Why not have a look at the Guild's website www.one-name.org?