People: Cushing's Rise to Fame

Updated on 23 July, 2012

sir ralph shelton brass

There are a few notable, interesting and famous people associated with North Norfolk and even these two little villages.

This section of the website is dedicated to the people - from the far-distant past to the 19th century - who made a mark in Great or Little Snoring.

The Cushing Family

Thursford Museum BadgeMy introduction to the Cushing family of Norfolk was a visit (one of many over the years) to the "Thursford Organs" as it was then.

At that time, it wasn't a tourist attraction but a local entertainment on a Sunday when Mr Cushing would play some of the fairground organs he'd collected. (He had tractors and steam engines too, but as a girl it was the music that interested me.)

We would travel to the village of Thursford, not far from our market town of Fakenham. There in a farmer's field was a large pre-fab agricultural store, with a dirt floor and high corrugated iron roof.

The wide open barn doors made it quite chilly on a cool day. But inside was a treasure trove for a child - row after row of brightly-coloured fairground organs! Many of them would be fired up in turn and you could hear the pipes, see the little dancing figurines and enjoy the music.

The local branch of the Salvation Army would turn out and play some hymns, and you could wander round on the cold bare floor and gaze at the organs and other machinery.

They did a Christmas Special too, but I was never taken to one of those. Today you have to book many months in advance, it's world famous, and over 170 thousand people watched it last year.

When I read the bit about the dancing penguins and milkmaids, I laughed so hard I covered my keyboard with the water I'd been drinking in a classic sitcom piece of slapstick. I thought "who knew?" Remembering that barn, it seemed unbelievable that it's now become such a world-leading entertainment venue.

George Cushing who founded the collection was a member of one of the more distinguished Norfolk families, although he probably did not realise this. I was to come across many Cushing entries in the Little Snoring parish records. (which see below)

Founded by George Cushing (1904-2003)

George Thomas Henry Cushing  was born at Thursford on March 25, 1904, the son of a farm labourer. After leaving school aged 12, he became a farmhand, but had developed a childhood fascination with steam engines. Wanting to preserve these now increasingly obsolete items, he started a collection in old farm sheds and personally showed people round when he chose to have an open day. See the links above to find out what it's become today!

THE CUSHING FAMILY (from the book introduction)

Cushing ArmsThe remote ancestry of the Cushing family has been the subject of a number of investigations, which have succeeded in tracing the family to very early times. The first work of importance was undertaken by the Hon. Caleb Cushing, the 23rd Attorney General of the United States. He traced the family to Norfolk.

[Later] Mr. Somerby - during the years 1851-1853 - examined the ancient manuscripts in the British Museum, the Subsidy Rolls and Heraldic Visitations for Norfolk, the parish registers and ancient deeds and wills connected with various estates and manors in Hardingham, Hingham, and other places [and] established the fact that the Cushings were one of the leading families in Norfolk during the 15th and 16th centuries, being lords of numerous manors.

Hon. Lemuel Cushing, a lawyer from Montreal, having received the papers and correspondence relating to the subject from the Hon. Caleb Cushing, continued the work, adding many details, and published the first edition of "The Genealogy of the Cushing Family" in 1877 which traces the family back to Thomas Cushing of Hardingham, Norfolk in the early part of the 15th century.

More recently, a sequel to "The Genealogy of the Cushing Family 1905 - 1969" by Allston Tattrie Cushing was published by the author in Kansas City, Missouri in 1969. Allston Cushing was a Civil Engineer formerly with the Pennsylvania Railroad and the United States Government.

The book mentioned has this to say of the Cushings:

" Few families in the country have been more celebrated than the Cushings, and probably no other has furnished more Judges for our Probate, Municipal, and Supreme Courts. In all its branches it has been highly respectable, and it still maintains its ancient standing." — History of Hanover, Mass, by J. S. Barry, Boston, 1853. High praise, but by no means undeserved, as the merest glance down the "roll of fame," as imperfectly transcribed in this work, will convince the most sceptical. The Genealogy of the Cushing Family forms of itself almost a 'synopsis of the colonizing and early settlement of the New England States and a portion at least of the Province of Quebec, and by that best and purest of its stock, the Puritans'.

The Name "Cushing."

The derivation of the name is somewhat uncertain. The present form is used by all the American descendants of Matthew Cushing who came to America in 1638, and was probably the established orthography for several generations before this, as the English and Irish branches use the same spelling.

Before the sixteenth century, however, like most proper names, it was most variously written. For example, in various deeds, wills and charters still extant in Norfolk, referring to the direct lineal ancestors of Matthew, we find Cushyng, Cushin, Cushyn, Cusshyn, Cussheyn, Cusseyn, Cussyn, Cusyn, and Cosyn. Before the fourteenth century it was spelled Cusyn, Cosyn, or Cosseyn ; after this it is always spelt with a u and generally sh, e.g., Cussheyn, Cusshyn. The final g does not appear until 1500, when we find Cushyng, though Cushyn and Cushin are stiil frequent spellings.

There is no evidence that the name is Irish as some have asserted ; the Cushings of Ireland appear to have gone there in Cromwell's time. The late Mr. Frank Hamilton Cushing makes two suggestions : — 1st, that the name is derived from the Anglo- Norman designation of Cousin (Cosseyn or Cusseyn) ; or, 2nd, that it arose from usage in connection with the land title of Cossey.

Thus, in the 'Domesday ' of William the Conqueror, we find that " the ancient village and manor of Fokethorpe (Later Flockthorpe) lying in the Forehoe hundred " was in several parts, " two of which belonged to Cossey."  This same manor of Flockthorpe was possessed by the Cushings for several generations thereafter.

The Cushing Arms (see sidebar and book)

The Cushings of Norfolk were entitled to bear arms for many successive generations through their holding the manors of Chosely, Hardingham, etc. The original arms of the Cushing family were undoubtedly "gules an eagle displayed argent". These were the arms of Roger Cossyn, William Cusseyn and others until John. From this all the others have been derived. Later, by a marriage with an heiress, the arms were quartered. In the year 1563, in which the marriage is given of John Oldham, Shimpling, of Norfolk, with Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Francis Cushin of Hingham, Norfolk, the Cushing Arms are described as follows: — "Gules, an eagle displayed argent; quarter ing, gules, three right hands torn from the wrists, a canton chequery or and az."

The Emigration to America

Matthew Cushing (1588-1660), born in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, son of Peter Cushing of Norfolk, whose grandfather had possessed large estates in Lombard street, London, married 5 August 1613 Nazareth Pitcher, daughter of Henry Pitcher, of the famous family of Admiral Pitcher of England.

For the first fifty years of his life he lived in Hardingham and Hingham, Norfolk, and had, as by register of old Hingham: Daniel, baptized 20 April 1619; Jeremiah, 1 January 1621; Matthew, 5 April 1623; Deborah, 17 February 1625; and John, whose baptism is, I believe, omitted and I have heard, that it was in a neighboring parish.

With his wife and five children, and his wife's sister (Widow Francis Riecroft, who died a few weeks after their arrival), he embarked in the ship "Diligent" of Ipswich, which sailed from Gravesend, 26 April 1638, with 133 passengers, among whom was Robert Peck, M.A., Rector of the parish of Hingham, England.

The immediate occasion of their departure seems to have been trouble in ecclesiastical matters. Their rector, doubtless with the sympathy and aid of most of those constituting the emigrating party, had pulled down the rails of chancel and altar, and leveled the latter a foot below the church, as it remains to this day. Being prosecuted by Bishop Wren, he left the Kingdom, together with his friends - who sold their estates at half their real value.

The party, having landed at Boston Massachusetts, 10 August 1638, immediately proceeded to their destination, Hingham Massachusetts, so named after the name of the former home of the Cushing family in England. At a town meeting held in 1638, a house lot of five acres, first below Pear Tree Hill, on Bachelor (Main) St., was given to Matthew Cushing, and it continued in the possession of the family until 1887.

He was early engaged in the public affairs of the town, became a deacon in Reverend Hobart's church, and was the progenitor of many eminent descendants. It is now a pretty well established fact that, with the exception of a few families who have come to this country during the past century, all the persons bearing the surname of Cushing in the United States and Canada are his direct lineal descendants.

He died aged 95 on 30th September 1660 and was buried in the Old Ship Cemetery (Hingham Cemetery), Hingham, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Peter Cushing (1562-1615) the father of Matthew

Peter Cushing the son of Thomas Cushing was born at Hardingham but removed to Hingham about 1600, in which year the parish register of Hingham begins. He married Susan Hawes at Hardingham, 2 June 1583. He was buried at Hingham, Eng., 2 March 1615. His wife was buried 26 April 1641. He was probably one of the first of the Cushings to embrace the Protestant faith, for the wills of his father and eldest brother are not in the Protestant form.

Little Snoring BMDs

Baptisms at Lt Snoring

Aug 1647 Mary Richard Ann? CUZEN  
16 Mar 1660/1 Ales John Mary CUSHING
Sep 1667 Mary John Mary CUSHINGE
3 Sep 1671 John John Mary CUSHING
10 Feb 1679/80 *Male* John CUSHINGE Date Uncertain; Name Smith?
19 Dec 1688 Mary Richard Margaret CUSHINGE
Feb 1690/1 Anne Richard Margaret CUSHINGE
20 Mar 1692/3 John Richard Margaret CUSHINGE
15 Apr 1697 Richard Richard Margaret CUSHINGE
27 May 1699 Mary Richard Ellen CUSHING
Aug 1700 Jonathan Rich Ellen CUSHING
30 Dec 1701 John Richd Ellen CUSHING
18 May 1704 Jonathan Richd Ellen CUSHING Ellen spelt Elling
24 Feb 1705/6 Richard Richard Elling CUSHING
30 Sep 1708 Richard Richard Ellen CUSHING  
9 Jan 1711/2 Samuel Richard CUSHING
24 Jan 1712/3 Ellen Richard Ellen CUSHEN
19 Apr 1715 Alice Richard Elon CUSHIN Note in record *and buryd by 31st*
10 * 1718 Nathaniel Richard Ellen CUSHIN


Burials at Little Snoring

9 Dec 1655 Matthias CUSHING
11 Sep 1657 Alse CUSHING Widow
8 Jan 1682/3 Mary CUSHING Widow
1694 John CUSHING Son of Richard CUSHING
25 May 1697 Margaret CUSHINGE Wife of Richard CUSHINGE
27 Nov 1700 Jonathan CUSHING Son of Richd CUSHING
12 Jun 1723 John CUSHING          
25 Apr 1734 Richard CUSHION
03 Feb 1735/6 Mary CUSHION Dau of Henry Mary CORK Surname Cushion-Cork; father probably Henry Cork
3 Feb 1735/6 Mary CUSHION Dau of Henry Mary CUSHION
14 Sep 1743 Helen CUSHION Widow
14 Jan 1784 Samuel CUSHEN

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