1662, Ralph Ironside petitions for a vicarage and chapel in Dorset

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1660s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, Ralph Ironside, clerk. SP 29/49 f. 21 (1662).

To the Kings most excellent majestie

The humble peticion of Ralph Ironside clarke

Sheweth that the viccaridge of Netherburie with the chappell of Beaminster therunto annexed in the countie of Dorset is be=come voyd by the death of Doctor Paule Godwyn the last incumbent

That your peticioner hath ever been a loyall and faithfull subject to your majestie and late father of ever blessed memorie and a true son of the Church of England

That your peticioner havinge obtained a presentacion to the said viccaridge from Mistress Joane Strode widdow patroness therof but doubtinge the same in strictnes of law is lapsed to your majestie

Humbly desires your majesties presentacion thereto howsoever voyd and in your majesties guift for the corroboracion of his title

And your peticioner shall pray etc.

[Paratext:] I am assured that this petitioner is very capable of your majesties favour

January 3 1661

Gilbert London

Report by Sarah Harris

In this petition, Ralph Ironside sought to take over the vicarage of Netherbury and the Chapel of Beaminster which had fallen vacant on the death of Paul Godwin. This had been suggested by Mistress Joan Strode, a widow and patroness.

Paul Godwyn or Godwin and Ralph Ironside

Paul Godwyn or Godwin was vicar of Netherbury between 1622 and 1638, and from 1641 until his death on 28 August 1662.[1]

Ralph Ironside was born in or about 1605 in Long Bredy, Dorset.  His father, also Ralph Ironside, was a Minister of Long Bredy. Ralph matriculated from Wadham College, Oxford in 1622, was rector of Upcerne to 1625 and Long Bredy and Little Bredy from 1628 (he was installed as rector on the death of his father). He married Margaret Strode, daughter of John Strode of County of Dorset in 1632. They had 11 children. His brother, Gilbert, was the Bishop of Bristol.[2]

Dorset was mostly devoted to the Royalist cause and suffered exceptionally badly in the Civil Wars. Ralph Ironside was deprived of his benefice by the Long Parliament in 1650. His house was plundered two days after his wife had given birth and he was held in Dorchester Gaol accused of continuing to use the Book of Common Prayer after Parliament had forbidden its use. He fled to the Isle of Portland (near Weymouth) where he stayed until the Restoration in 1660. He picked stones for two pence a day and received sustenance from a poor woman called Mary Bartlett.[3]

On the Restoration, Ralph was reinstated in his living, was chosen proctor for the clergy in convocation and made Archdeacon of Dorset in 1671.  It is stressed this was not by patronage but on account of his own merit.  He died in 1682 and his wife died three days later. They were buried together under the North Wall of the chancel of St. Peter’s, Netherbury.

Joan Strode and Margaret Strode

Mistress Joan Strode (b. 1583) would appear to be the widow of John Strode of Stoke under Hamden in Somerset, who died in 1621. In his will, he left ‘To Robert Strode my son my parsonage of Netherbury, County of Dorset. To Joan Strode my wife all that my provostrie, free chapel and rectory of Stoke under Hamden and all my customary lands and houses in Netherbury’.

Margaret, Ralph Ironside’s wife, was the daughter of Joan Strode. The parish of Netherbury was therefore in the gift of the Strodes, and Ralph, having fallen on hard times during the Civil War, was, by means of this petition, seeking to re-establish his position after the Restoration.


[1] ‘Paul Godwyn (CCEd Person ID 57064)’, The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540–1835 <http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk>

[2] ‘Ralph Ironside’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Ironside

[3] J. Hutchinson, History of Dorset, vol II, p. 19; F. W. Weaver, Somerset & Dorset Notes & Queries Magazine (vol. XIX 208-212).

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reign of Charles II, 1660-1685’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.