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The Last Slave of Harlow….

Lifestyle / Wed 2nd Nov 2016 at 04:21pm

hester-woodleyIN 2017, YourHarlow will be presenting a major heritage project (more of that to come).

As we undertake our research, we are coming across a number of fascinating stories that may not, as they say end up in the mix but should not be ignored.

One of those stories is that of Hester Woodley.

In 1738 Mr Edward Parson married Ms Mary Woodley the daughter of a Wealthy West Indies sugar planter.

In 1741 Edward Parson a sugar planter from Montserrat left the West Indies with his wife and young daughter
and sailed to England to make a grand estate in Little Parndon, Harlow.

He came with his mother in law, Bridget Woodley and several Negro slaves including James Lewis and Hester.

Hester was a faithful servant who served as a Housekeeper.

Hester was 35 when she left West Indies and was a mother of several children.

It’s likely that at least one of her daughters was included in the party.

In 1761 the following entry appears in Little Parndon parish records.
“A Negro woman of the age of twenty five years and upwards was baptised by the name of
Jane Woodley the 6th day of August”.

Hester died 13th May 1767. She was buried in St Mary’s Church, Little Parndon

Hester was buried in a marked grave which was very unusual. Hester’s memorial was moved inside St Mary’s in the 1980’s
due to the wear and tear of the elements over the years.

The headstone says: Here lieth the body of Hester Woodley who died the 13th of May 1767 aged 62,

This Stone was erected by John Woodley Esq of Cork street London

“As a grateful remembrance of her faithfully discharging her duty with the
utmost attention and integrity in the service of his late mother Mrs Bridget Woodley
to whom she belonged during her life and after her death to her daughter.”

Mrs Mary Woodley by virtue of a reciprocal agreement between the said Mrs Bridget Woodley and her son John Woodley whose property she would otherwise have been at her decease.

Hester’s memory still lives on in Harlow The former rectory had become a retirement home and now is a TA ‘Temporary Accommodation’ and is named HESTER HOUSE

Mary Woodley also lends her name to a four storey block of flats near The Stow shopping centre.

Thank you to;
The Author Mrs Hazel Lake who wrote
‘A History of Mark Hall Manor’ & ‘The Arkwrights and Harlow’ & ‘Sugar planters in Little Parndon’.

Also The Harlow Museum and St Mary’s Church.

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1 Comment for The Last Slave of Harlow….:

Mick PATRICK
2023-03-21 16:47:08

A very moving service & History .A long time in waiting for a blue Plaque.Have long heard of this story.

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