The Bishop Family History




Victor Bishop

Stratford-Upon-Avon, 2003


Some members of the family have a copy of the family history. The title page describes it as:

























Printed for Private Distribution only









The book opens with a coat of arms subscribed “John Bishop 1390” but the narrative starts at 1400. The book was printed in 1877 and it is possible that more records have since been discovered which might tell something about who John Bishop was and where he came from. However, the thirteen hundreds were the time of the great plague, the French wars and the Wars of the Roses; eligible bachelors were probably in demand and John Bishop might have had the entrée into landed families including that of Agnes Burguillon, through whom he inherited part of the Manor of Kidderminster.


The family married well: their in-laws included Lord Verdon, Lord Lovetot, Lord Furnival, Sir John de Eynesford, Sir John Blacket, Sir John Bendysh, Sir Robert Dunbar and Sir James Webster Wedderburn. They were also quite substantial landowners. John’s great grandson married the heir to Simon Milbourne of Tillington, Co. Hereford and the next generation acquired Holway Co. Dorset, which is still a fine property and sold for £60,000 over one hundred years ago- and that was real money! In 1635 Richard Bishop acquired South Warnborough – also a fine property – was Sheriff of the County of Hampshire and lent money to the King in aid of the royal cause. His son acquired Frensham and his tombstone is still in Frensham church (or was when we went there).


John Skynner Egerton’s grandfather was John of Kingsclere, who appears to have started our branch of the family. He was the second son of Richard, baptised 1728, who was the eldest son of Richard, whose father, also Richard, was the second son of William of Holway and South Warnborough. John was not Lord of the Manor of Kingsclere and we could not find his house. However in the churchyard was the tombstone of Mary Bishop, who died 1807; she is not mentioned in the book but was possibly John’s sister. The Vicar of Kingsclere in the mid nineteenth century was named Barnes; he might have been the F. Barnes who married John’s granddaughter and whose second daughter married my grandfather Henry Davenport.


We have a miniature and on the back was the inscription “Maria Augusta Bishop taken in Paris shortly before her marriage to our father Frederic Barnes”. She is the image of Phillipa, the daughter of Peter Bishop, son of Ernest John Bishop, son of Herbert Orlebar Bishop son of John Skynner Egerton Bishop whose father John Green Bishop was also the father of Maria Augusta. Thus six generations and still the Bishop features reappear!


There is a lot more interesting stuff about the various manors and families associated with the Bishops and armorial bearings which are recorded and authenticated by the College of Heralds in London. When the Dr. S. O. Bishop Trust is wound up I hope to trace all the grandchildren of John Skynner Egerton and some of their children and grandchildren, but I have no idea where the descendants of the senior branches of the family have got to; if they are anything like ours they are all over the world!


The history also includes several illustrations of the family’s Armorial Bearings which it summarises as

Armorial Bearings


Argent, on a bend cotised gules three bezants crest




An eagle’s head erased, party per fesse or and gules, beaked of the last




Pro Deo Et Ecclesiâ


John Skinner Egerton Bishop is our most recent common ancestor. He was born January 1816, on 12 August 1841 married his cousin, Emily Davenport, only daughter of Christopher Hunter MD. He was the eldest son of John Green Bishop who was the eldest son of John Bishop of Kingsclere (Hants) born 29 August 1763, and was the second surviving son of Richard Bishop, baptised January 1728 and died March 1772.


Earlier in this genealogical history only the issue of the inheriting sons have been listed in their second and subsequent generations. The descendants of John of Kingsclere are listed in a supplement and we are indebted to someone for preparing it and having it inserted in the original bindings of the history. It takes us to the birth of  John Skynner’s youngest child Emily Constance on 3 May 1864.


Not much is known about John Skynner’s life. He was reputed to have been a merchant in the City of London who lived in Islington, North London, but later retired to an estate in Devonshire. He had nine children: seven sons and two daughters.

John Hunter Bishop the eldest was born in Belgium 23 March 1844 but was brought up in UK. He went to India as a missionary and died 17 May 1913. He received eulogistic obituaries from periodicals published by the church in the Madras area. He first left England on 16 September 1867 in the sailing ship “Gosforth”, he arrived in Madras on Christmas Eve, having of course gone round the Cape. On this voyage he met a Miss E. A. Egar, whom he married in Madras in 1868. There is no mention of any family but in his will of January 1916 Sydney Olive bequeathed “to James Bishop whose present postal address is c/o Reverend Graham of Saint Andrew Colonial Home, Kalimpong, Bengal, India the sum of …”  Is James a relative; does anyone know?


Henry Davenport Bishop was John Skynner’s second son; he was born 2 June 1846 and in April 1876 married Maria Augusta second daughter of F. Barnes Esquire.

Henry Davenport Bishop was in France for a period (the legend is silk farming) and his eldest son George Stanley was born in Saint Etienne in April 1880 and the birth registered in Lyons.


George Stanley went to South Africa before the first world war and taught at St. Andrews, Grahamstown; on one of his voyages he met Elsie Gordon Milne; they married and had five children of whom Mary and Robert were born in Grahamstown. My hero has always been George Stanley’s brother Phillip who ran away from school when the second Boer War started. He joined the Cape Mounted Rifles and stayed as a regular. I was overwhelmed with pride when he came to visit us in the UK in the thirties.


Sydney Olive Bishop, the third son of John Skynner, has a name which is known to us all, although we really know very little about him. He was born in February 1848. He married but we don’t know when, and died in 1917. By all accounts he seems to have been a character. He was a doctor and trained at St Bartholomew’s. He also went out to India and in his own words was “Medical officer to the Golaghat District Assam and a surgeon in the Peruvian Navy”. In 1909 he published a book which he entitled “A Touch of Liver”. It contains a number of anecdotes about life in India; in the Peruvian Navy; about getting from South America to Liverpool; and about “London in the Sixties”


Ernest Prior Bishop, the fourth son, was born December 1849. He lived in Japan and died there in 1916. He had two children whose own children (Ernest Prior’s grandchildren and great grandchildren) are now living in British Columbia, Ontario and in the United Kingdom.


Herbert Orlebar Bishop was the fifth son and was born in 1851; he died in April 1920 in Australia. He left three children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren! His grandson, Peter Orlebar Bishop has been Professor Emeritus of the Australian National University since 1983. Peter’s entry in “Who’s who” lists a flattering number of achievements. The one that made the headlines was in January 1993 when he shared in that year’s Australia Prize for pioneering work on the brain and senses of sight and touch. Herbert Orlebar is father, grandfather and great grandfather to most of our relatives in Australia.


The exceptions are some of Henry Davenport’s descendants. After the Second World War, James William Bishop was an ophthalmic Surgeon in Coventry, UK. He said he did not like the paper work in the NHS and settled in Geelong, Victoria and was later senior ophthalmic consultant to Melbourne General Hospital. His widow, Mary, son Ian and daughter, Mrs McLennan are in Australia today.


Edmund Epworth Bishop was born March 1855 and died unmarried and without issue in December 1874.


Arthur Stanley Bishop, the youngest son was born August 1860 and died January 1934. He was a solicitor in Brighton, UK and appears to have wandered less than his brothers. He had three children: Edmund, who was killed in action April 1916, Nellie who died November 1990 and Rose. Nellie and Rose lived on in their father’s home in which they had both been born, and for a while had quite a Bishop colony around them. When George Stanley retired at the end of World War II he and Elsie Gordon went to live in Brighton, so did his sister Augusta Maria Bishop when she retired as Matron of Salisbury General Infirmary. Rose still lives in her father’s house and provided much of the information about her uncles and her grandfather. She also gave me many many photographs. Unfortunately none of them are named; one day we’ll try them on the web site to see if anyone recognises them!


Where did they come from?


The family history tells us about where the family lived from 1400 onwards but little about where they were before that: “John Bysshop” the earliest recorded ancestor of this family named in the Heraldic Visitation married, temp Richard II Agnes Burguillon heir to part of the manor of Kidderminster”. That was recorded in 1400.


His grandson, also John, was from Poundesford, County Somerset and died at Farnham, County Surrey; his son, again John, was Provost of Downton, County Wiltshire and had a son, yet another John. He came from Burford, County Oxford now known as “the Gateway to the Cotswolds” He was buried at Hook Norton, County Oxford, which is a short way north east of Burford. He married Margaret one of the co-heirs of Tillington Court., County Hereford and of Westbury County Gloucester and other Manors.


His son Thomas was named as “of Tillington Court” and “of Frome St Quintin and Holway Manor, County Dorset temp, Henry VIII”.


In October 1552 the family estates were resettled by deed of entail on William Bishop and his issue, presumably by John Bishop the son of Thomas, temp Henry VIII (above).


From here on for the next hundred and more years members of the family are referred to as of Holway, Sidling, Frome St Quintin, Metford and Chalmington all in Dorset in the Parish of Cattistock.


This does not answer the question “Where did they come from?” There is no positive answer in the history.  These early Bishops who married into the squirearchy could have come from anywhere but if one had to gamble the best choice would probably be Oxfordshire or one of its neighbouring counties.




In the middle of the sixteenth century, that is about 1552, when the Deed of Entail settled the family estates on William Bishop, born 1541, it seemed that the family was making up its mind to be landowners and that the manors near Cattistock, County Dorset, should be their “ancestral heritage”.


But did it work out like that? In 1635, less than 100 years after the deed of entail, Richard, grandson of William, born 1541, acquired the Manor of South Warnborough, County Hants. Why did Richard do that?


Wifely pressure to be nearer London? Richard had married Mary Walcot in London at the church of St. Dunstans in the East, but she was not a Londoner. She came from Walcot, County Salop and the marriage was in May 1625, eight years earlier.


Was it political? Richard Bishop was Sheriff at the County of Hants in 1647 and was reputed to have advanced moneys to the king in aid of the Royal Cause.


Was it to subvert the entail? His eldest son Richard was his heir but under “the provisions of his father’s will” William his second son succeeded to the Manor of South Warnborough (the manor came back to the heir in 1661 when Richard the eldest son succeeded on the death of his younger brother William).


Richard Bisshop, baptised 1592 was possibly influenced by each of these factors when he bought South Warnborough in 1635. The family used all the properties and births, weddings and burials are reported as at South Warnborough, and the properties in County Dorset and also, in the late sixteen hundreds, at Frensham, County Surrey. However William Bishop, born at Frensham August 1730, inherited a life interest in estates in the Counties of Essex, Cambridge, Huntingdon and disposed of the manors of Holway and In-Park and properties at “Seal, Frensham, Elsted and Bentley”.


Later the history refers to William Bishop of Frathinghurst and Greyswood County Surrey and there is a footnote to say that “Frathinghurst is a manor in the Parish of Chiddingfold, County Surrey which has been in the possession of the family for many generations and adjoins Greyswood, a small estate purchased by Mr Bishop”.


William Bishop joined the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and was called to the Bar in 1806.


Thus the drift toward London which started when Richard Bishop acquired the Manor of South Warnborough in 1635 continued until the death of William (born 1780) in 1833. When William (born 1780) died he left six children, but none of them are credited with any issue.


Where have they all gone to?


At times Sidney Olive’s will was a nightmare. He died in 1917 leaving several annuities one of which continued until the annuitant died in 1987. When I became a trustee I suggested buying an annuity so that we could then wind up the Trust. I was told that the annuitant was South American and had no birth certificate and no one would sell an annuity without firm evidence of age. During her life the ‘issue’ of the four brothers, Ernest, Herbert, Arthur and Henry had multiplied. The Australians were fairly easy to trace, for we’d been in touch with Peter Bishop and Anne Fitzhardinge but we had lost touch with Philip’s issue in South Africa and with both the Canadian and UK descendents of Ernest Prior.


Now, thanks to Sidney Olive’s will and the unknown who produced the supplement of the descendants of John of Kingsclere we have a family tree starting with John Bishop in 1400 and going on to his descendants today.


The family history gives us little idea of the present day descendents of other branches of the family. We left the ‘wanderlust’ at the children of William (born 1780) of Frithinghurst and Greyswood, county Surrey. They were a very military family.

John, the eldest, died of wounds received at the battle of Moodkee, December 1845, Henry was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Artillery, Richard was a major in the Royal Irish Regiment of Foot and two of the three girls married officers in the army. Did they leave any children? Possibly not, but we don’t know of them or the date of the history may have prevented their discovery and inclusion.


We are descendants of John of Kingsclere the grandson of Richard Bishop, born 1692, the second son of William Bishop of Holway, South Warnborough and Frensham who died in 1726.  The great nephew of John of Kingsclere married the heiress of Shelton Hall County Stafford and his son William Chatterley Bishop married Janet, youngest daughter of Sir Robert Dunbar of Burn, County Banff. There the record ends. Did they have any children?


John himself had many uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Did they not have children?  The same question also applies for earlier generations of the family. At each generation the history lists all the children but continues “on his death Mr. Bishop was succeeded by his eldest son”. It then lists his eldest son’s children, but ignores siblings. The earlier Bishops seemed to be as prolific as John of Kingsclere, John Skynner Egerton and their descendants; thus we must have untraced relatives by the hundred and relatives scattered everywhere – even to the Peruvian Navy!