Henry Lawrence Randall

Henry Randall was Cocking’s longest serving priest since the Reformation, being the rector for nearly 38 years from his installation in November 1888 until his death in October 1926. During his time in office, he oversaw the second phase of improvements to the church, including the rebuilding of the chancel and east window, before guiding the parishioners through the First World War, after which he took charge of the erection of the memorial to the men from the village who died in the conflict.

Henry Lawrence Randall was born on 12 March 1855 at Headingley, Yorkshire, the fourth child (and second son) of ten children born to Revd. William Randall (c. 1820 – 1901) and his wife, Louisa née Langley (c. 1831 – 1901).

Family background

William Randall had been born near Wexford in Ireland and educated at Dublin University from where he graduated as Bachelor of Arts, going on to obtain his Doctorate of Divinity. He was licenced at St John’s, Bradford in November 1846, before being appointed vicar at All Saints, Leeds in January 1848. On 23 October 1849, William married 18-year old Louisa Langley, from Dublin, at St John’s Church, Paddington.

The couple’s first child, William Sidney Randall was born in Leeds in September 1850, followed by two daughters.

The fourth child, Henry was born on 12 March 1855 at Headingley. Shortly after Henry’s birth, William was appointed vicar at the Church of the Holy Cross, at Avening in Gloucestershire, where Henry was baptised on 5 September 1855.

A further daughter was born at Avening in 1856, before the family were on the move again, this time to Southport in Lancashire, where William was appointed curate at Christ Church in October 1858. This appointment was short-lived and in March 1859, William moved to Hayes in Middlesex, initially as curate at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, before his appointment as rector in November 1860.

Four further children were born at Hayes, before William took up his final appointment as rector  of Handsworth, near Birmingham in June 1873. He served as rural dean from 1879 to 1890.

William Randall retired in 1891, moving to Hove in Sussex, where he died on 2 March 1901, aged 81. His widow, Louisa, died three months later, on 27 June. They were buried alongside each other at St Mary the Virgin church in Hayes.

Before Cocking

At the 1861 census, 6-year old Henry Randall  was living with his parents and seven siblings at the Rectory in Hayes, together with six servants. 10 years later, he was recorded as a scholar at Westminster School, living at Little Deans Yard.

Henry matriculated in 1874, and was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge as a pensioner on 24 September that year. He graduated as Bachelor of Arts in 1878, and obtained his Master of Arts from the University of Cambridge thirty years later.

On Trinity Sunday 16 June 1878, Henry was ordained as a deacon at Salisbury Cathedral by Bishop George Moberley following which he was licensed as curate at St John’s Church, Weymouth in Dorset. A year later, he was ordained as a priest at Salisbury by Bishop Moberley.

In July 1882, he left Weymouth and was installed as vicar of St James’s Church, Handsworth where his father was rector. In September the following year, he moved parishes in Handsworth to take up the position as vicar of St Michael’s Church.

On 24 November 1888, Henry Randall was instituted as rector at Cocking by the Bishop of Chichester, Richard Durnford, to replace Drummond Ash who had  taken up the position of Rector of Saxby All Saints in North Lincolnshire.

As a single man, Henry initially did not occupy the rectory, but lived in the Blue Bell Inn, before renting rooms at the railway station, across the road from the rectory. In the April 1891 census, Henry Randall, aged 36, was living at the railway station with his younger sister, Stella, and the stationmaster, George Naper and his widowed mother. At this time, the rectory was occupied by 54-year old Robert Fraser and his family. Fraser’s father, also Robert, had been rector of Cheriton, Hampshire from 1849 until his death in 1866.

On 24 September 1891, Henry married 36-year old widow, Lucy Usill in St Mary’s  Church at Woodbridge in Suffolk, Lucy’s home town. The marriage service was conducted by Revd. John Vaudrey, vicar of Osmington, near Weymouth in Dorset, assisted by the rector of Woodbridge, Revd. Sydney Field, whose wife Edith was a first cousin to Lucy. After “the short and quiet service”, the reception was held at the bride’s country house at Bealings, three miles west of Woodbridge, before a short honeymoon in France.

 Lucy Meller

Lucy was born at Woodbridge on 30 December 1854, the daughter of Revd. Thomas William Meller, rector at Woodbridge for 25 years until his death in January 1871, and his wife Emma née Edwards (1819–1903).

Lucy had been widowed twice before her wedding to Henry Randall. She first married Theodore Barker, a solicitor, in Ipswich on 18 April 1877. He was the son of Revd. William Gibbs Barker,  formerly the rector of Holy Trinity Church, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire and of Holy Trinity, Lyonsdown in New Barnet, north London. She had a daughter with Theodore Barker, Katherine, born in Surbiton on 10 September 1878. Theodore Barker died at St John’s Lodge, Bournemouth on 20 November 1878, aged 34 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. The cause of death was recorded as “Phthisis Pulmonalis (Tuberculosis) 2 years 3 months”: thus, Theodore would have been terminally ill at the time of his marriage.

At the time of the 1881 census, Lucy and her daughter were living at Upperton Road, Eastbourne. On 22 August 1882, she married Revd. James Harley Usill in the first marriage ceremony conducted at the newly built All Saints Church, Eastbourne, where James Usill was the first incumbent. He had been vicar at Fulbourn, near Cambridge for many years and was a widower following the death of his first wife, Katherine, in April 1875, aged 44. Shortly after the death of his first wife, he moved to Eastbourne where he was instrumental in the building and consecration of the new church.

After the marriage, Lucy and James Usill lived at Fulbourne(sic) Lodge, on the corner of Blackwater Road and Meads Road, ¼ of a mile from All Saints Church. James Usill died at home on 15 December 1884, aged 55. The cause of death was recorded as “Thrombus (blood clot) 11 weeks; softening of the brain (Cerebral softening, also known as encephalomalacia)”. Three days later, his coffin was taken by train to Cambridge, where he was buried alongside his first wife at St Vigor’s with All Saints, Fulbourn on 18 December 1884.

At the census in April 1891, Lucy and her daughter, Katherine were still living at Fulbourne Lodge, with four servants and five lodgers.

Lucy was a keen amateur painter and a member of the Ipswich Art Club from 1911 to 1923. She held an exhibition at Cocking Rectory in 1911, showing three paintings “FitzGerald’s Walk, Bredfield, Suffolk”, “Evening-Sands End, Yorkshire” and “Charlton, Goodwood, Sussex” and was a regular exhibitor at Ipswich including in 1921 when she exhibited three pictures, “Woodbridge from Sutton Hard”, “After the Heat of the Day, Sussex Downs” and “Lane in Guernsey”.

Life in Cocking

After the wedding, Henry and Lucy settled into the rectory in Bell Lane. Their only child, Gerald Frayne Randall, was born at South Square, Eastbourne on 31 May 1893 and baptised at Cocking church on 16 July 1893.

At the 1901 census, the family – Henry, Lucy, Katherine and Gerald – were living at the rectory together with a groom, a cook and four maid servants. Ten years later, Katherine was now married, leaving Henry, Lucy and Gerald living at the rectory, together with a groom, a cook and three maids.

According to “A Short History of Cocking”, Revd. Randall was “very active in village affairs”. He used to ride his bicycle round the village but Mrs. Randall rode in a carriage and “expected the children of the village to acknowledge her carriage as it passed, otherwise she would call at the school to protest”.

According to Kelly’s Directory of Sussex for 1890, the living was a rectory “average tithe-rent charge £275, net yearly value £220, with residence and 27 acres of glebe”.

Restoration of the chancel in 1896

In 1896, a faculty was granted to Revd. Henry Randall for the restoration of the chancel at Cocking  church at his own expense. The work involved the replacement of the east wall of the chancel, installing a new east window and the removal of the grave stones from the chancel floor to be placed around the walls of the chancel. Other works at this time included the re-opening of the Norman window in the south side of the nave to reveal the early 13th century painting of shepherds and their dog looking up at an angel, and the construction of the vestry to the north of the chancel. Following the death of his predecessor, Drummond Ash in June 1896,  a memorial window was dedicated to his memory in the south wall of the chancel. The newly extended and refurbished chancel saw its first service on 24 January 1897.

In 1901, Revd. Randall played a leading role in the campaign to convert a cottage that stood in the road outside the school into a reading room for the benefit of all residents in the village aged over 18 years. He was also a member of Cocking Parish Council, chairman of the Cocking Friendly Society and involved in the affairs of the village school.

Following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Revd. Randall “devoted himself to a steady encouragement of the martial spirit among those who naturally look to the clergy for guidance when a great crisis occurs in the national life” and “threw all the weight of his influence into the task of raising a strong local contingent for the new army”. By late October 1914, nearly 50 men from Cocking were either already serving in the armed forces or had volunteered, including Henry and Lucy’s son, Gerald, as well as their son-in-law, Captain Anthony May Capron Hollist.

Cocking War Memorial in its original location outside the village school

By the end of the war, 15 men from the village had lost their lives as a result of the conflict. Revd. Henry Randall led the moves to erect a memorial in the village and in December 1918, he convened a meeting of the parish council in the reading room which stood  in front of the school at the end of Mill Lane. Following the meeting, it was agreed that a memorial should be erected on the corner of the Main Road and Mill Lane, in the garden of the school. Plans for the monument were approved at a public meeting in October 1919 with the cost of £120 to be met by public subscription. The memorial was unveiled on 31 October 1920.

By late 1924, Henry’s health began to fail and eventually his duties were taken over by Revd. John Ashton. After a long illness, Henry died at the Rectory on 22 October 1926, from a cerebral haemorrhage, aged 71, having served the village as rector for nearly 38 years.

His funeral, “remarkable for its simplicity and quietness” was held at Cocking church on 25 October. The service was conducted by Revd. Charles E. Hoyle, vicar of Easebourne, assisted by the Archdeacon of Chichester, Benedict Hoskyns. Although he was buried in the churchyard, no trace of his grave can now be located.

Subsequent family history

Henry Lawrence’s step-daughter, Katherine, married Anthony M. Capron Hollist, son of Lt. Col. E.O. Hollist of Lodsworth at Cocking church on 4 October 1902. The service was conducted by Revd. Charles Samuel Chilver, vicar of Lodsworth from 1884 to 1900, assisted by the current vicar of Lodsworth, Revd. Edward Ord Edgell.

Anthony Hollist had previously served in the Boer War with the South African Light Horse Regiment, and in September 1914 joined The Queen’s’ Royal West Surrey Regiment before transferring to the East Kent infantry Regiment. He was reported missing in the Battle of Loos in September 1915 and eventually declared dead December 1916. He was 42 at the time he went missing.

Katherine and Anthony Hollist had two daughters, Lucy and Susan, who died in 1997 and 2006 respectively. Katherine died in Fernhurst on 13 November 1977, aged 99.

Henry’s son, Gerald Frayne Randall was educated at Charterhouse School before starting to train as an architect. At the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the Officers’ Training Corps, before serving with the Sussex Yeomanry. In March 1915, he was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in the 9th (Cycle) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. In July 1916, he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps as an assistant equipment officer, being promoted to lieutenant in the Hampshire Regiment in November 1917.

In June 1918, his posting to the Royal Air Force was made permanent, with the rank of Lieutenant (Admin.) with No. 57 Squadron. He remained with the RAF until he was discharged in April 1919, before re-starting his career as an architect.

On 18 August 1917, he married Gertrude Barbara, the only daughter of Courtenay Carew Robinson (a barrister) at St Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, London. Her family had a home in Bepton. Their only child, Howard was born in Yeovil, Somerset on 2 September 1931.

At the time of his death, Gerald was described as “a popular figure in sporting circles in the district for many years” who was a keen huntsman and motorist.

By 1939, it would appear that his marriage to Barbara was in difficulties as he was living at Tillington with his mother, who died there on 22 May 1939. At the October 1939 Register, he was living at Westmoor, Tillington with Edith McPherson and two servants, while his wife was living in a council house in Yeovil with her son, Howard, and four others.

Gerald died at Stoneycrest Nursing Home in Hindhead, Surrey on 2 January 1941, aged 47 after an operation to remove a carcinoma of the rectum. It seems that he and Barbara were now divorced, as a share of his estate was left to her in her new married name of Furiani. She died in Brescia, Italy in September 1979, aged 84.




1851 England Census

1861 England Census

1881 England Census

1891 England Census

1901 England Census

1911 England Census

1939 England and Wales Register

Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966

Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1913

UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946

UK, Clergy List, 1897

Westminster, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1935

ACAD (A Cambridge Alumni Database). RNDL874HL: Randall, Henry Lawrence.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette: 20 June 1878. Ordinations – Salisbury

Bognor Regis Observer: 3 November 1926. The Late Rev. H.L. Randall. Funeral at Cocking

Bristol Mercury: 6 July 1882. Preferments and Appointments

Bucks Herald:

27 November 1858. Marriages. Usill – Sendall

7 June 1873. The Church

Cocking History Group (2005). A Short History of Cocking. pp.33–34, 94

Eastbourne Chronicle: 20 December 1884. Death and Funeral of the Rev. J.H. Usill

Eastbourne Gazette: 23 August 1882. Marriage at All Saints’ Church


Avening Parish Register. Baptism: Henry Laurence Randall. 1855

Cocking Parish Register. Baptism: Gerald Frayne Randall. 1893

The Globe:

17 January 1848. Preferments and Appointments

Hampshire Telegraph: 28 March 1941. £36,000 Estate of Architect-Sportsman

Handsworth St. Mary: History: Rectors of Handsworth

Howard, Joseph Jackson: Visitation of England and Wales (1899) p.154 Meller family

Ipswich Journal: 27 December 1884. Deaths

John Bull: 29 October 1849. Married

Lichfield Mercury: 20 June 1890. Local News

London Daily News: 29 September 1891. Marriages: Randall – Usill

Morning Post: 7 November 1846. Ecclesiastical News

Norfolk Chronicle: 1 May 1875. Deaths

Rother Valley War Memorials:

Captain Anthony May Capron Hollist

Cocking War Memorial

Southern Times and Dorset County Herald: 15 September 1883. Local News

Suffolk Artists: Randall, Lucy (1855 – 1939)

Sussex Agricultural Express:

1 December 1888. Cocking – Institution of the Rector

29 September 1891. Marriages: Randall – Usill

6 June 1893. Births: Randall

11 October 1902. Marriages: Hollist – Barker

24 August 1917. Marriages: Randall – Carew-Robinson

Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser: 11 June 1879. Ordinations – Salisbury

Western Gazette: 29 November 1878. Deaths.

West Sussex Gazette:

1 October 1891. Cocking: Marriage of the Rector.

22 October 1914. For King and Country. Local Men for the Front

25 March 1915. Military News: Cocking

9 January 1941. Tillington: The Late Mr. Gerald Randall