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Monday, 1 December 2014

Charles Frederick Denne Sperling (1861 to 1938)

Charles Frederick Denne Sperling

Celebrating the project of digitizing the back catalogue of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History’s publications, and heralding the beginning of another project to make the archives of the Society available to its Members, we begin this winter season with a biography of C. F. D. Sperling (his obituary), whose many research papers and notebooks came to the Society.

The obituary was written by G.M.B., who was the Reverend G. Montagu Benton.  Papers written by him for the Transactions relating to Wills will also be published on the blog this winter.

In Memoriam; Charles Frederick Denne Sperling
Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society ‘New Series’ Volume 22 Part 2

By the death of Charles Frederick Denne Sperling on 5 January, 1938, at the age of 76,  The Essex Archaeological  Society lost a member of the type that ca n be ill spared.

The son of the late Mr. C. B. Sperling, of Dynes Hall, Great Maplestead, he was educated a t Harrow and Magdalene College, Oxford, and was called to the Bar, but did not practice.  Although for many years he lived outside the county – at Leamington – his interest in Essex remained constant.  He was one of the senior magistrates, and sat regularly at Hedingham Petty Sessions, having been chairman since 1927.  He also served on the Belchamp and Halstead District Education Committee; and for a time was a Warden of All Saints' Church, Sudbury.  He had been a member of the Chelmsford Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches since its inception.

Having the blood of Philip Morant in his vein s, he was a born local historian, and his knowledge of the heraldry and genealogy, as well as the antiquities, of North-West Essex was unrivalled.  He was the oldest surviving member of our Society, having been elected as far back as 1884; he had served on the Council since 1893, and was president from 1928 to 1933.  In 1927 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.  Latterly he had taken an active part in the scheme, completed just before his death, of indexing the marriage entries in Essex Parish Registers.

Notwithstanding his life-long studies Mr. Sperling published comparatively little. His contributions to these Transactions include "Some Notes on the Parish Registers of Halstead" (1894); "On the Custom of setting up the Royal Arms in Churches' (1896); "Ballingdon Hall and the Eden Family" (1926); and "Dynes Hall, Great Maplestead" (1930).  The two latter papers, however, would probably never have appeared had he not been urged to write them.

To the Essex Review he communicated, among other notes and papers, valuable accounts of the Essex historians, Morant, Jekyll, and Holman (1894); and in 1896 he issued "A Short History of the Borough of Sudbury, Suffolk," compiled from materials collected by W. W. Hodson. But his printed work by no means represents the contribution he made to Essex history, for nothing gave him greater pleasure than to share his learning with other students. The writer of this notice will not be alone in recalling with gratitude the help received from him, and in cherishing memories of visits paid to Ballingdon Hall, near Sudbury, the picturesque Elizabethan house which had been his home since his retirement.

This tribute would be imperfect without some reference to Mr. Sperling's quiet and attractive personality.  He was diffident almost to the extent of humility, and was always unwilling to thrust himself into the foreground.  It may be said that his reverence for the past was united with the best attributes of the Victorian gentleman.  His garden meant much to him.

He was twice married, his second wife being Mrs. Helen May Syer, daughter of the late Canon H. S. Hicks, and widow of Captain Hubert L. Syer. He is survived by her, and by a daughter, Mrs. Gould, issue of his former marriage.  His only son, Lieut. Charles Auriol Sperling, was killed at the battle of Jutland in 1916.

A portrait of Mr. Sperling, whose funeral took place at Great Maplestead, appeared in vol. xxi of the Transactions.-R.I.P.


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