A UTTOXETER couple who found a clasp belonging to a wealthy and influential businessman from the 1700s are appealing for information on its owner.
John Ward and Jackie Marsh, who live on the Birdland estate, have been researching the life of Anthony Rhudde and his family since finding a clasp inscribed ‘A Rhudde Esq. Uttoxeter’ in 2009.
Mr Ward, 67, was exploring a field near Uttoxeter with his metal detector when he found the clasp which began the long journey of discovery with his partner.
After three years of dedicated research, the duo has found that Anthony Rhudde and his family were wealthy and influential gentry and land owners.
Ms Marsh, 65, said: “Anthony’s name was associated with many high profile characters and local dignitaries of his time, including Samuel Johnson, Thomas Astle, and he was great uncle to John Constable’s wife.” Mr Rhudde was born in 1738 and a gentleman’s magazine announced his death in 1816 at the age of 78, saying he was ‘devoted to public service of the town and neighbourhood where he resided’.
Ms Marsh added: “We know that Anthony married Mary Wood (nee Astle) in 1776 (widow of Ralph Wood) and that she was sister of Thomas Astle, antiquarian, and Rev Daniel Astle, vicar of Bramshall, their father was Daniel Astle, keeper of the Needwood Forsest.
“Anthony’s brother was Reverend Durand Rhudde (1733-1819): Rector of Brantham with East Bergholt and Chaplain-in-order to George III.
“We know Anthony owned land in Uttoxeter. The 1838 map of Uttoxeter by John Wood clearly shows ‘DEV’s of A Rhudde’ which covered most of the footprint of the current Thomas Alleyne’s school and some of the playing fields.” The couple’s research has found Mr Rhudde was president of the British and Foreign Bible Society in Uttoxeter and many members of his family were connected to the clergy.
Ms Marsh said: “The Rhudde family are frequently mentioned in books about John Constable’s life, Anthony was known by Samuel Johnson, and named on documents regarding land transactions in and around Uttoxeter and in newspapers of the 18th century.
“It’s interesting to note that the family are not recorded by either Frances Redfern in his famous book on the history of Uttoxeter or later by William Torrance in his extensive development of the history of the town and local villages.
“Other records continue to offer new information and the journey continues to find out more about the life of this gentleman and his family.” They are now appealing for people who can help to continue their research, such as genealogists, help in finding the grave at All Saints Church, in Leigh, people good at translating old documents and anyone with old documents which could help.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Ms Marsh by phoning 0771 8877376 or e-mailing jackiemarsh172@ btinternet.com