Monk Bretton: Alfred Lambert

Alfred Lambert, Alice Ann’s father, was vicar of Monk Bretton for forty four years. It was virtually his only posting.

St Paul's, Monk Bretton in 2009

St Paul's, Monk Bretton in 2009

Monk Bretton, in South Yorkshire, is named for the nearby ruined priory, once belonging to the Cluniac order of monks: they broke away from nearby Pontefract Castle in the twelfth century, and lasted until they were closed down by Henry VIII three hundred years later.

The village of Monk Bretton is actually a couple of miles away from the priory. It was a mining village, though Monk Bretton Colliery has been closed for many years. It is effectively a suburb of Barnsley, though quite distinct from it.

Once again it was the church I wanted to visit: the succession of clerics in the family has made it quite straightforward to track them all down, however complex the families might have been. Monk Bretton church (St Pauls) turned out to have been rebuilt in 1876, which was during Alfred Lambert’s tenure there.

I found a gravestone lying on the ground close to the southeast corner of the church, with the inscription:

Alfred Lambert
(44 years vicar of this parish)
born Sept 6th 1805,
died May 3rd 1886
Looking into Jesus the author and finisher
of our faith (Hebr 12.2)

Also of Mary, widow of the above,
born July 23rd 1834,
died May 29th 1902

Mary? I knew that Alfred’s wife, my great great grandmother, was Jane Lambert, née Metcalfe. I have a photograph of her, and knew her children and her parents. Who was Mary? The answer would be revealed by later searching on the internet, but I glanced up and found another inscription, this time a plaque on the church wall. It was in memory of Jane Lambert, born Aug 27 1816, died Jan 7 1879, and seven other people, either named Lambert or Burke, some obviously Jane’s children, and some her grandchildren, either through a son, or through her daughter Katherine Burke, whose grave I had found at Conisholme.

Memorial to Jane Lambert and others at Monk Bretton Church

Memorial to Jane Lambert and others at Monk Bretton Church

All the children had died either in infancy or as children – the eldest one lived to just 12. They were all children that Jane Lambert had buried. Seeing all these names together on one stone brought tears to my eyes: the more so seeing that Jane was not buried with her husband of 43 years, who had another woman there!

Looking at the dates, and after searching the internet for census and marriage records, I found the full story. Jane Lambert had died in 1879, when Alfred was 74 years old. Nearly four years later (aged 78) he had married a 49-year-old schoolteacher, Mary Smeeton, who lived inLeedswith her sister. Three years later (1886) he died. Mary presumably had to move out, as the vicarage would have been required for the next incumbent. She is shown in the 1891 census as a clergyman’s widow (of independent means!), living inHarrogate. Although her time with Alfred was short, she was buried with him when her time came in 1902 – when she was sixteen years a widow.

possibly Revd Alfred Lambert?

possibly Revd Alfred Lambert?

Jane Lambert,    c 1870

Jane Lambert, c 1870

I have no idea what occupied Alfred Lambert, apart from his clerical duties. I have an unidentified photo that I suspect may be of him (it is on the same photographer’s card as one that my mother identified as Jane Lambert) – I want it to be Alfred! They are a very impressive looking couple.

Alfred’s family go back through yet more vicars to Westmoreland and Durham, while Jane’s family were in Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales. Her mother was Ann Galloway: we have a sampler sewn by her at the age of 12, in 1785.

The line of vicars is intriguing. Joseph Lambert was Vicar of Marrick and Rector of Seaham in Co Durham in the early 1800s. Two sons went into the church: the eldest, Johnson Lambert (rector of Bowes), and the youngest Alfred (of Monk Bretton). Alfred also had two sons who went into the church: Joseph Christopher and Claude Alfred. Alfred’s daughter married a churchman (Thomas Longley) and their daughter in turn married a churchman (Reginald Longley).


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