Family Graves at St. Mary's Churchyard
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St Marys Church, Wargrave, was rebuilt after a fire in 1914 which destroyed much of the building. However, the first mention of a church at Wargrave is in 1121, and it is likely that the family worshipped here from at least the fourteenth century. Certainly for hundreds of years they were main fillers of the parish registers, during which time they were also Church Wardens.
There are six known burial plots, all close to the church building.
The oldest grave is that of John ABear who died on 20th July 1771, aged 73. He was the only surviving son by his fathers first marriage to Grace Gunnell. (His fathers second marriage to Ann led to six more children being born).
It was this John who married Alice Whitfield in 1744; and through this marriage that the ABear fortunes were to change. Alice Whitfield (born Alice Burton) was a wealthy widow of a prosperous land agent and speculator.
Marrying into money, Johns 17th century farmhouse called The Hill was quickly extended and became a substantial house. The inscription reads:
Here lieth the body of Mr John A'Bear late of the Hill in this Parish who dies July 20 1771 Aged 73 Years
For further information see John A'Bear (1698 - 1771) gen 9A
John and Alice had three children. The eldest of these, another John, was born one year after their marriage, and married Mary Newell in 1767. John died in 1795, aged 50. Of John and Marys five children, two sons are also buried here. One son, another John, died at the age of only 34 in 1819. Mary lived to the age of 77, dying in 1828. Their youngest son, John Newell ABear died in 1840 at the age of 53.
The inscriptions read:
Mr John ABear died July 3rd 1795 aged 50 years
Mr John ABear died 7th Jan 1819 aged 34 years
Mrs Mary ABear the relict of Mr John ABear senior
who died Feb 11th 1828 aged 77 years
Also Mr John Newel ABear
This tomb is a Grade II listed building.
For further information see John ABear (1745 1795) gen 10A, John ABear (1784 1819) gen 11A & John Newell ABear (1785 1840) gen 11A.
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Though the elder of these two sons only lived to the age of 34, he married Sarah Stevens and had three children. All three survived, his second son being named John Burton ABear. John Burton was born in 1816, and married Jane Ann May in 1855. Their offspring numbered nine, but their third daughter, Alice Jane, died at the age of only 8 years 11 months. In this grave lie the daughter, who died in 1876, and father who died in 1881.
For further information see John Burton ABear (1816 1881) gen 12A & Alice Jane ABear (1867 1876) gen 13A.
John Burtons only sister, another Alice, died in 1895, aged 77, and his widow Jane died on Jan 16th 1909. This grave names both people. It was Jane who remained at The Hill after her husbands death for twenty more years, but it was also Alices home.In 1901, aged 67, Jane sold the property, thereby ending this remarkably long family ownership.The inscriptions on this tombstone are easily legible, and read:
In loving memory of Alice A'Bear
Died December 14th 1895 Aged 77 Years
Come unto me ye weary and I will give you rest
Also Jane Ann ABear died January 16th 1909
Widow of John Burton ABear of Hare Hatch
The God of Love and Peace shall be with you
For further information see Alice ABear (1818 1895) gen 12A & Jane Ann ABear nee May (1832 1909) gen 12A.
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The John ABear who married Mary Newell had a younger sister and brother. This brother (another John Burton) had five children, the second son being named Edmund Whitfield ABear. Born in 1779, he married Mary Ann Bowlby on 25th October 1813. This grave is that of Edmund (who died in 1856) and Mary (who died in1869).
Edmund Whitfield ABear died Jan 11th 1856 aged 76
Also of Mary Ann ABear widow of the above
Died March 25th 1869 aged 79 years
For further information see Edmund Whitfield ABear (1779 1856) gen 11A.
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The most recently discovered grave is that of Joshua A'Bear. This grave was believed to be that of Joshua Beard, but close examination, later supported by family papers, gave us indisputable evidence. Joshua was born in 1757 and is most likely the youngest son of Caleb A'Bear of Gibstude Farm. Caleb and his family were stricken with misfortune throughout their lives. At the time of Joshua's death, his only living relative was his sister Diana who paid for his burial. This grave is to the North side of the church, halfway between the vestry door and the North porch on the left side of the path (next to William Butler d.1809 aged 23).
Sacred to the Memory of Joshua A'Bear
who departed this life February 15th 1800 Aged 43 years
Then, to whatever End Affliction's sent
To try our Virtues, or for Punishment
We bear it calmly, tho' a ponderous Woe
And still adore the Hand that gives the Blow.
For further information see Joshua ABear (1757 1800) gen 10B.
Another grave, recorded in TAFOW p68, is that of Jane ABear (1681 1735) gen 8J. Stephen Leach, the author, recalled that this grave was not near the others and was extremely difficult to read. His father recorded it originally, but he does not think he was able to find it again when he returned recently. It states:
Jane Abare wife of William Silver of Henley and daughter of John Abare died Oct 29th 1735
Other even earlier ancestors requested in their wills that they be buried in this graveyard. These include:
John A Beyre (c1475 1550) gen 1J
Thomas Abere (c1495 1544) gen 2W
John Abeare (1576 1647/8) gen 4J.
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