Local Authors

arranged in approximate chronological order

Characters from the past are listed separately here...


Revd. Edward Howes




Rector of Goldhanger in 1650, conversed by letter extensively with the first governor of Massachusetts John Winthrop, including writing to him about "a magneficall engine" which would enable them to "sympathize at a distance". This was in effect a proposal for form of telegraphy long before the basics of electricity were understood. He also published a book on a "new and brief arithmetic" which, he promised, would enable even a "mean capacity person" to attain skill and facility.

John Winthop's importance as a founding father of the USA has resulted in all the correspondence between Howes and the governor being carefully preserved by the Massachusetts Historical Society and much of it is now available on the internet. More about. . . Edward Howes


Revd Dr Daniel Williams

The Revd Williams had the reputation in the early 1700s of being a formidable non-conformist preacher in London who was well connected with royalty and politicians. He owned Beckingham Hall in Tolleshunt Major and several other large estates.

At his death he bequeathed the income from his lands in trust for 2000 years to the New England Company in Massachusetts (which was, and still is, a missionary society), to Harvard College in Boston and to Glasgow university. He also created a library in London which even today bears his name specialising in English protestant nonconformity. He was the author of many religious books during his lifetime. More about. . . Dr Daniel Williams




The Revd John Atkinson


The Revd John Atkinson (1787-1828), the Goldhanger curate, was also a well know ornithologist in his day and a short biography of him is included at the beginning of Miller Christy's Birds of Essex, published in 1890.

More about the two. . . Revd. Atkinsons


The Revd John Christopher Atkinson



The Revd. Atkinson was a prolific author and antiquary. He was born on 9 May 1814 in Goldhanger, and the son of curate the Revd. John Atkinson (above), and later became a well known author of historical works, folklore and ornithology.

He spent the first 24 years of his life in Essex and was educated at Kelvedon school before becoming a sizar to St John's College, Cambridge. The rest of his life he was the vicar of Danby in the North Riding of Yorkshire. One of his early books: Walks and Talks was semi-autobiographical and was based on Kelvedon and the Essex Marshes.

More about the two. . . Revd. Atkinsons


Henry Coe Coape

H C Coape was a wealthy Goldhanger and Heybridge landowner and a Victorian author of some repute. Fifteen literary works written by him covering novels, plays, operas and short stories have been identified. He used the pseudonym Mervyn Merriton for some of his work. During his lifetime he received notoriety for being prosecuted for fraud and being 'scandalously divorced for adultery' from his wealthy wife. More about. . . H C Coape

Coape sm


Miller Christy


Miller Christy portrait.jpg

Miller Christy (1861 - 1928) was a respected authority on Essex archaeology and ornithology, and over a forty year period he published many books and articles on these subjects. Although he did not live locally, some of his literature refers to the Blackwater region and this has contributed significantly to our local history and to the Goldhanger Past website. He lived two miles west of Chelmsford in the small village of Chignal St. James, but is said to have stayed at the Mill House in Fish St, Goldhanger on occasions, probably while undertaking local research work.

More about. . . Miller Christy


Dr. Henry Salter


Although not a Goldhanger resident, Dr. Salter was the local GP between 1864 and 1932 who lived and worked in Tolleshunt Darcy, so he was the village GP for 68 years. All his working life he maintained a detailed diary of his many exploits and interests which was published in 1933 after his death.

The 400 page diary contains many references to Goldhanger and the immediate area, and is a wealth of local historical information. Although he was involved in organising and funding the Spitzbergen expeditions from Goldhanger, his diary does not record that he went himself. Extracts from the diary are at. . . Dr Salter's Diary. As the local Medical Officer of Health his diary also gives us an insight into the village Public Health in the past. More about. . . Dr. Salter

Salter Dr John Henry


Ernest Mansfield



Ernest Mansfield came to lived int Goldhanger in about 1904, having been a mine manager in Canada and New Zealand. His friendship with the rector the Revd. Gardner and the local GP Dr Salter resulted in him leading many expeditions to Spitzbergen to prospecting for gold an other minerals between 1904 - 1919.

Several other Goldhanger residents became involved and initially the company they formed did very well. Mansfield was, and still is, well known on Spitzbergen/Svalbard and he wrote a semi-autographical novel which was clearly based on this experience. More about. . . Ernest Mansfield


H Crawshay Frost


Mr Frost lived in several addresses Fish St between 1920s & 1960s. He studied history at Oxford, was injured in the Great War and came to the village originally to be a teacher. He then involved himself in local history, archaeology, languages, art, sculpture, music, ornithology, horticulture, photography, antiquarian book, and writing. Fostie also established a reputation as an eccentric local philanthropist.

He delighted in writing articles and letters to newspapers and magazines, but perhaps the most telling aspect of his life is the volume of material written about him by others since his death. He also left a legacy of unusual photographs of birds and local people. More about... Crawshay Frost


Major Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay


Hay, major L F

Major Hay was a career army major in the Black Watch and the intelligence service and lived at Follyfaunts in the 1930s. He served in the Great War and was twice wounded and was decorated. At 6ft 11inchs he was tallest man in the army at the time and nicknamed The Lampost. He was the author of four books. His first novel, It Wasn't a Nightmare which has an espionage theme, and said to be semi-autobiographical. In later life he became a very well known collector of expensive quality Ming China and his name is still used in auction room statements of provenance to this day. More about. . . Major L F Hay


Maura Benham

Maura lived in Church St between the 1970s and the 1990s and is best known locally as the author of the only book published on the history of the village:

Goldhanger - an Estuary Village (1977)

Miss Benham was also author of the following publications:

An Introduction To The Birds Of Hong Kong (1963)

Medical Social Work in Hong Kong (1980)

The Story of the Wesleyan Chapel in Goldhanger

The Story of Tiptree Jam - the First Hundred Years

Byrthnoth's Last Journey: from Maldon to Ely

                   More about. . . Maura Benham




Maura's history of Goldhanger is out of print, but her executors have kindly given permission for the material to be digitised and made available for non-profit uses. It is on-line in full at. . .

Goldhanger - An Estuary Village

Much of the material used in the page on the History of St Peters Church originates from her book.


Cyril Southgate



Cyril lived in Goldhanger since childhood and attended the village school, he was always an enthusiastic church supporter, choir master, church warden, and the bell tower captain. He also maintained the churchyard for many years.

In 2002 when Cyril decided to move to Tiptree to be nearer to his family he wrote his early Memories of Goldhanger, which with the permission of his family are preserved in the village history archives, and presented here. . . Cyril's early Goldhanger memories. ...and see also:  Funeral of a Bellringer


Chris Thorby

Chris worked for BBC Radio for over 30 years in various capacities, including as a presenter, music editorial work and management. For most of that time he lived in Church Street and will be remembered locally for his role as a lay preacher, initially at St Peters, Goldhanger and then at the Maldon United Reform Church. He served on the management boards of St Clare's Hospice, Maldon and Farleigh Hospice, Chelmsford. In the last two years of his life, while suffering from a debilitating illness, Chris wrote and published a book entitled Life Journeys and created a website.


Thorby, Chris sm.JPG


Peter Padfield


Padfield, Peter

Peter Padfield is a well known naval historian and biographer who lived in Fish Street in the 1960s while working in nautical journalism, and where he wrote two of his earliest books. He then moved to Woodbridge, where he still lives. Over the last 50 years he has writing about 30 books or marine and military subjects. He is also an accomplished artist. More about Peter's books at. . . Peter Padfield


Joseph Canning

Joe Canning is a retired journalist who has spent thirty-five years working on morning daily and evening newspapers and is the author of several semi-biographical novels. He was brought up in Goldhanger and attended the village school, but now lives in the north of England. Once Upon An Island was his first novel (2006) which is clearly semi-autobiographical. His own words describing the book are: It is written about places that exist and characters I knew. I grew up along the estuary and in the village I describe. More about Joe's books at. . . Joe Canning


David Newman


David Newman has published two books. In 2012 he was co-author of Ernest Mansfield - Gold or Iím a Dutchman, the biography of a Goldhanger resident and gold prospector in the early 1900s. The co-authors were Susan Barr in Oslo and Greg Nesteroff in British Columbia. In 2016 he was author of Goldhanger in the Past. This book was sold locally to raise funds for St Peterís Church and the Village Hall improvement project. He is also the author of this Goldhanger Past website and the website for Ellacombe Chimes Support.


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