William Mattock


William Mattock was vicar of Cocking from 1606 until his death in 1629. Like his predecessors, he probably never visited the parish and no doubt owed his position to his family relationship with the Bishop of Chichester.

Mattock was the second son of John Mattock and Anne Watson. His elder brother, John, was born at Church Langton in Leicestershire in about 1571, so it is probable that William was also born there. Anne Watson was the sister of Anthony Watson, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1596 until his death in 1605.

William Mattock is recorded as matriculating as a sizarNote 1 at Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1593, which would suggest that he was born about 1575. Mattock graduated as a Bachelor of Arts from Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1597, receiving his Master of Arts in 1600.

On 14 September 1600, he was ordained as both a deacon and a priest at Downham Market in Norfolk. His patron was his uncle, Bishop Watson, although he was ordained by Martin Heton, Bishop of Ely.

On 3 July 1601, Mattock was collated as vicar of Westbourne, 8 miles west of Chichester, and was inducted on 10 July. The Westbourne parish register records the tolling of the church bell on this occasion. At this time, Westbourne had both a rector, Thomas Wilsha, and a vicar.

On 16 June 1608, the Westbourne parish register records the marriage of William Mattock to Bridget, the daughter of the Revd. Thomas Wilsha. The couple’s first child, William was baptised at St John the Baptist’s Church, Westbourne on 8 February 1609 but, sadly, was buried the next day. A second son, Thomas, was baptised at Westbourne on 11 March 1610.

In 1605, Mattock was appointed to the Heathfield prebend at Chichester Cathedral and was licenced to preach throughout the dioceses of Chichester, Winchester and Lincoln.

Following the resignation of Roger Andrewes as vicar of Cocking in July 1609, Mattock was appointed to the vacancy. Bishop Anthony Watson had died in September 1605, and his successor, Lancelot Andrewes (brother of Roger Andrewes), was Mattock’s patron for his appointment at Cocking.

Mattock probably spent little if any time in his parish at Cocking – he is not mentioned in the Cocking parish register and during his incumbency the spiritual needs of the parishioners were met by the curates, Andrew Smyth and John Pelham.

In 1607, William Mattock was a party in a case that came before the ecclesiastical court at the Chichester Archdeaconry. The case was against a Westbourne parishioner, Joan Pay, who was accused of

“using irreverent words against our vicar, Mr William Mattock, namely she did take exception to a sermon which he delivered on the twenty third of November and affirms that he preached like a fool in a play, and that he is more fit to be a fiddler or a tinker than a minister etc., as appears in the bill.”

Joan was ordered to “undergo compurgation by five of her neighbours”Note 2; she failed to do so, and was ordered “to acknowledge her fault in the aforesaid parish church on the next Sunday in time of divine service”.

In 1612, Mattock was involved in two court cases involving tithes, with John Love of Singleton in respect of Cocking, and with Thomas Jocham at Westbourne.

The Westbourne parish register records the marriage of William Mattock to Margaret Meere on 23 January 1622, although there is no record of the death of his first wife, Bridget. Margaret survived Mattock and re-married at Westbourne, to William Carr on 2 May 1633.

William Mattock died at Westbourne in January 1629, although his burial is not recorded in the parish register. In his will, proved on 2 February 1629, his estate, including property at Westbourne and at Grantham in Lincolnshire, was left to his “loving and dearest wife”, Margaret, and to his son, Thomas.

Mattock’s three brothers also became priests in the Chichester diocese, thanks to the patronage of their uncle, Bishop Watson. John Mattock (1571–1612) graduated from Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1590 and was ordained at Lincoln Cathedral in 1595. He was appointed vicar of Icklesham, near Hastings in 1597, before becoming Archdeacon of Lewes in December 1598 and rector of Rodmell, near Lewes, in 1602. He retained all three positions until his death.

Anthony Mattock (c.1580–1636) graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1601 and was ordained at Colchester in January 1603. He was vicar of Ditchling, near Brighton, from 1604 to 1607 and then vicar at West Firle near Lewes. On the death of his brother, John, he succeeded him as rector of Rodmell, again retaining both appointments until his death.

The youngest brother, Walter Mattock (c.1584–1646) was the black sheep of the family. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1606 and was instituted as vicar of Storrington in August 1621. In 1629, he had a parishioner arrested. The parishioner’s wife protested that she “cared not a fart nor a turd for never a black coat in England” and hoped to live “to tread a hundred such black coats under my feet”.

In 1641, Walter Mattock appeared at the ecclesiastical court being charged that he “refuseth to church women if they have not on a veil and come not up to the rail”. In 1643, he was sequestered for

“zealously practising the late innovations; swearing, cursing, gambling and tippling with loose and lewd companions; has not preached above once or twice in four years”.

Despite this, he retained his appointment at Storrington until his death in 1646.


Note 1.    A “sizar” was a student who received some form of assistance such as meals, lower fees or lodging during his or her period of study.

Note 2.    “Compurgation” was a form of trial in which an accused person could call a number of people to swear to their belief in his or her innocence.