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Axford, Issac

Male Abt 1647 - 1729


Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Born  Abt 1647  Of Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  Y  [1, 2
    Buried  17 Nov 1729  Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I03032  My Genealogy
    Last Modified  20 Jan 2015 

    Father  Axford, Jonathon,   b. Abt 1610, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1687, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Baker, Grace,   b. Abt 1615, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1686, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  Abt 1633  Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F00905  Group Sheet

    Family  Somner, Elianor,   b. Abt 1644, Of Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 16 Oct 1726, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  31 May 1669  Great Cheverell, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    >1. Axford, Henry,   b. Abt 1670, Of Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 7 Mar 1728, St John the Baptist, Devizes, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    >2. Axford, Issac,   c. 8 Nov 1671, Great Cheverell, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 6 Nov 1739, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    >3. Axford, John,   b. Abt 1672, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 27 Sept 1727, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    >4. Axford, Elinor,   b. Abt 1674, Of Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1719-1723, Of Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    >5. Axford, Anne,   b. Abt 1682, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1761, Of Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Axford, William,   b. Abt 1686, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 28 Apr 1761, Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    >7. Axford, Grace,   b. Abt 1690, Of Erlestoke, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1719, Of Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F01070  Group Sheet

  • Headstones
    Axford Memorial Erlestoke, Wiltshire
    Axford Memorial Erlestoke, Wiltshire

  • Notes 
    • Will of Issac Axford Earle Stoke
      Sons Issac, Henry and William
      Daughters Elinor Mortimer and Anne George
      Grandson John Mortimer
      Anabaptists

      Check for mention of Grace in will??

      An Issac Axford buried Erlestroke in 1729 and 1739

      Many Axfrod at Great Cheverell-were the family originally from here?

      What's in a Name?
      Tracing one's ancestry can lead to interesting masonic findings, as Professor Sir Ian Axford discovered
      I visited the church in Erlestoke to search for additional information concerning the family and found a memorial to Isaac the Elder and his wife Eleanor. It takes the form of a small bronze plaque attached to a wall inside the Church where it has been protected from weathering. The plaque carries a very simple inscription:

      Here Lyeth the Body
      of Eleanor, the Wife of
      Isaac Axford, Gent.
      Who departed this Life
      The 16th Day of October 1726
      In the 83rd Year of her Age.
      Here also Lyeth the Body
      Of Isaac Axford, Gent. Who
      Departed this life the 17th of
      November, 1729, in the 83rd year
      of his Age.

      ...It is striking that not a single word of this inscription is in any way religious. Even more remarkably, the plaque is decorated with the following symbols and words:
      An eye ? the ?All-Seeing Eye? ? at the top of the frame; the words ?Memento Mori?, immediately below this; a skull with crossed bones behind it, below these words; an hour glass, to the left of the skull; a pickaxe crossed with a shovel, to the right of the skull.
      The lower jaw of the skull is missing and there is a heavy line engraved on the left temple. There is a decorative edging, but it does not appear to have any significance.
      The present Erlestoke church was built around 1800, replacing an older church, which was situated a couple of hundred metres away. The vicar of the time had the good sense to record the memorials contained within the old church; a number of which involved members of the Axford family, and he saved five memorials, which could be detached.
      These included the bronze plaque described above and a painted board carrying a memorial to John Axford (probably Isaac's brother) in the form of an acrostic based on his name. The plaque, which is now simply screwed to the wall, might originally have been contained in a carved stone surround, taking the form of an arch with pillars at either side.
      I am sure that the symbols on the plaque are Masonic. The A1l-Seeing Eye, the hourglass and the words ?Memento Mori? are typically Masonic, the skull and bones indicating that Isaac was a Master Mason, and the pickaxe and shovel indicate his membership of the Royal Arch and that he had, presumably, been Master of his Lodge.
      However, the date, 1729, is earlier than the earliest known mention of the Royal Arch (1743) according to the numerous histories of Freemasonry I have on my bookshelves (e.g. The ?Freemasons' Guide and Compendium? by B.E. Jones, Harrap & Co., 1956). Furthermore, one might ask why a woman should be included on such a memorial.
      There is another puzzling feature in that the parish burial records state:
      1727 19/10 Elinor, wife of Isaac Sen.
      1729 20/11 Mr. Isaac Sen. was committed to the ground without Xtian burial.
      In view of the Masonic symbolism on the plaque, one might reasonably conclude that Isaac, who was probably the most influential person in the village at the time, was given a Masonic funeral. However, about 25 such ?non-Xtian? burials were performed during the period 1700 to 1750, and half of them involved women! According to Jones, Masonic funerals ?had a distinctly Masonic character? and were accompanied by ?esoteric observances?. They were largely discontinued after 1754 when Grand Lodge prohibited brothers from attending a funeral clothed as a Mason, except by dispensation of the Grand Master. On the other hand, it is possible that those concerned were simply Baptists or Quakers who had not been christened in the church.
      There appears to be only one way to account for these facts: it requires that Isaac was a member of the Royal Arch. He was a ?gentleman?, a property owner with farming connections and certainly not an operative mason. The pickaxe and shovel are symbols that can be found on Royal Arch tracing boards, and appear prominently (together with a crow bar) on a famous depiction of the Royal Arch legend ( Figure 4).
      The pickaxe, shovel and a crowbar are also brought together in a symbol associated with the Royal Arch, the Royal Arch of Enoch and the Knights of the Ninth Arch (Figure 3). The fact that the dates on the plaque are too early according to the standard histories, simply indicates that these histories (which rely on limited documentary evidence) are wrong on this point.
      The use of a Masonic funeral service for women might be accounted for, if necessary, by the fact that, in certain Rites, there are adoptive degrees, such as the Heroine of Jericho and the Order of the Eastern Star.
      These can be given to the wife or widow of a Royal Arch Mason by a Royal Arch Mason other than her husband. However, for any of this to be true, it must be assumed that the Royal Arch existed well before 1727.
      In support of these arguments there is a curious piece of Erlestoke history. On an oldmap dated 1796 there is a building shown, called ?The Temple?, that is no longer in existence. It has been suggested that a number of stone images, now decorating the fronts of several houses in the village which were upgraded in the 19th century, originally came from this ?Temple?. Was this a Masonic temple? Some further investigation is clearly warranted.
      However, there is a better way to deal with these problems, namely to look for similar symbols on memorials in other churches. During the past 250 years at least, many Freemasons have arranged that their membership of the Craft be recorded on their tombstones. Fashions change with time and place but the symbols are unmistakable.
      For example, in St. Petersburg, I have found examples of 18th century graves comprised of a simple rectangular sarcophagus with a carved marble (acacia) branch emerging from the top, depicting the Legend of Hiram Abiff.
      In the United States it is common to find the simple square and compass of the Master Mason, and usually the Masonic ?G? on gravestones from the period 1900-1950. During the 19th century the broken pillar, obelisks and other Egyptian symbols were popular although perhaps not exclusively Masonic.
      The skull and bones of the Master Mason are commonly found in Scottish graveyards of the 18th century (Curry, Temple, Arbroath Abbey), but they are often well weathered and it is not always easy to discern the details.
      I have found it best to look for memorials that have been sheltered from the weather, usually inside a church or cathedral.
      I have made a brief search of a number of Scottish churches and English cathedrals and have been surprised to find that Masonic symbols, including those associated with the Royal Arch, are quite common, especially in the period 1600-1700. There are examples in the churchyard of Greyfriars in Edinburgh with the skull, bones, pickaxe, shovel and hourglass found on Isaac Axford's memorial (Figure 1).
      The cathedrals in York, Lincoln, Hereford and Gloucester have several very fine examples, beautifully carved in marble (Figure 2). For Londoners who wish to look for themselves, Westminster Abbey has a splendid example dating from the early part of the 17th century. None of these seem to have been noticed by anyone in charge, although in one case, the guidebook remarks innocently on the bizarre collection of ?gravedigger implements?.
      What does all this mean? First, it is clear that the Royal Arch degree must be much older than is usually assumed, by perhaps 150 years. It was clearly of importance for a number of distinguished citizens of the realm, who could afford to be commemorate in grand style in our better-known churches and cathedrals, to let it be known that they were members of the Royal Arch.
      Secondly, since the Royal Arch belongs to the Antients rather than the Moderns, the Antients must indeed have been ancient and have existed, fully developed as speculative Masons, long before the Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717. Finally, since I have found some interesting things in churches elsewhere in Europe, not described here, so there are more surprises in store.
      It is a salutary lesson to discover that the history of Freemasonry is not only to be read in fragile and usually inaccessible old documents, but is also appropriately carved in stone for all to see.

      There is a will of an Issac Axford of Earl Stoke dated 1727. Mentions daughter Elinor married to a Mortimer, daughter Anne George and sons Henry, William and Issac. Correct man??
      Is this the correct Issac?
      Will of Isaac Axford, Gentleman of Erlestoke, Wiltshire 08 May 1730 PROB 11/637
      Mentions the Anabaptists in his will. Also son William, Issac and Henry and daughter Anne Goerge and Elinor Mortimer and grandson John Mortimer. No others mentioned.

      Household, Exchequer and various commissions
      Division within C Records of Equity Side: the Six Clerks
      C 11 Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings 1714 to 1758
      Subseries within C 11 Sewell Division
      Record Summary
      Scope and content Axford v Axford. Two bills and two answers. Plaintiffs: Henry Axford of Devizes, Wilts, gent (son of Isaac Axford of Erlestoke, Wilts, gent). Defendants: Isaac Axford and William Axford.
      Covering dates 1713
      Availability Open Document, Open Description, Normal Closure before FOI Act: 30 years
      Note bbrr (2 bills and 2 answers)
      Held by The National Archives, Kew

      Will of Isaac Axford
      This is the last will and testament of me Isaac Axford of Earl Stroke in the county of Wilts gent made this fifteenth day of Sept in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and twenty seven. Impris I give and devise unto my three sons viz: Isaac Axford the younger Henry Axford and William Axford all and singular my lands tenements and hereditments whatsoever with their and every of their appurtenances whatsoever situate lying and being in the parish of Imber in the County of Wilts which I formerly purchased of Thomas Dowse and Phillip Ballard or one of them and also all the other my lands tenements and hereditaments whatsoever which I am entitled to in fees simple situate and lying with the kingdom of Great Britain to have and to hold all and singular the said land tenements appurtenances unto them the said Isaac Axford Henry Axford and William Axford their heirs and assignees in Common and not as joint tenants. Item I give and bequeath unto my son William Axford all that my leasehold yet to come of and in my yard lands called Bankes? With its appurtenances situate lying and being in Earle Stroke aforesaid which I formerly purchases of Dauntesey Bromcher Esq. together also with five acres of land and two beast leaze called Hulbert in Earle Stroke aforesaid. And all other my leasehold estate or estates lying within the said parish or village of Earle Stroke with there and every of their appurtenances provided always and upon this condition nevertheless that my said son William Axford his executors administrators and assignees or some or one of them do and shall well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto my daughter Elionar Mortimer and into her own hands and for her sole and proper use (for and during her natural life if the term and estate which I now have in therefore mentioned premises shall so long continue) an annuity or yearly sum of ten pounds of British money at the feast of St Michael the Archangel and the Annunciation of the blessed virgin Mary by equal portions the first payment thereof to begin and be paid at such of the said feast days as shall first and next happen to be after my decease and my will is that in case the said annuity or any part thereof shall happen to be in arrear and unpaid by the space of twenty days after the same shall become payable as aforesaid that it shall and may be lawful to and for my said daughter and her assignees into the said premises or any part thereof to enter and destroy and the distress or distresses so there had and taken to carry away and impound and afterwards to sell and dispose the same for the satisfying for the said annuity and arrears thereof and costs about the same according to the laws of this realm and so in like manner forfit quoties as often as the said annuity shall be in arrears shall be in arrear and unpaid and my will is that the said annuity or any part thereof shall in no wise be liable or subject to any the debts release charge assignment or any encumbrances whatsoever of the husband of my said daughter nor he to be in any wise entitled to the same or intermeddle therewith and I do also give unto my said daughter Elinor the sum of one hundred pounds to be paid her in six months after my decease to be also and remain to her sole and separate use and not subject to any other debts of her said husband nor he to intermeddle therewith as aforesaid. Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Anne George the sum of two hundred pounds of British money to be paid in six months after my decease but my will is that the said sum or any part thereof shall in not wise be liable or subject to any the debts release assignment or otherwise of her husband nor her to have any manner of power to intermeddle therewith and I do also hereby give unto my said daughters Elianor Mortimer and Anne George all my pewter and brass vessels beds bedding and linen to be equally divided between them and to their sole and respective uses as aforesaid. Item I give and bequeath unto my grandson john Merewether the some of one hundred pounds of British money to be paid his father in trust for him my said grandson whose receipt for the same shall be a sufficient discharge to my executors. Item I give unto the poor of Earle Stroke aforesaid the sum of five pounds and into the Assembly or meeting of the Anabaptists in Earle Stroke aforesaid the like sum of five pounds and as for the and concerning all the rest and residue of my goods rights debts credits and personal estate of what kind and quality so ever (after my debts legacies hereby and funeral expenses) are paid and discharged I do give and bequeath the same unto my aforesaid three sons Isaac Axford, Henry Axford and William Axford whom I do hereby nominate make and appoint joint executors of this my last will and testament and hereby also revoking all other wills by me at any time formerly made. In witness whereof I the said Isaac Axford have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written the mark of Isaac Axford the testator . Signed sealed published and declared by the above named Isaac Axford the testator in the presence of us whose names are herein subscribed as witnesses who set the same also in the said testatorís presence.
      James Townsend, John Tilly Leah Alderidge.

  • Sources 
    1. [S00123] St Stephen Coleman Street London Parish Registers (Film No.0375013).

    2. [S00132] Erlestoke Wiltshire Parrish Registers, "Mr. Isaac Sen. was committed to the ground without Christian burial"..