Going to the Chapel – Reverend William Squire

Last week’s post focused on an Anglican minister who lived during the 18th century. The focus of this week’s post is another Anglican minister who lived during the mid 16th century.

Reverend William Squire (died 1567) is my 12th great grandfather, and the grandfather of my 10th great grandmother, Edith (Squire) Adams, who immigrated to Massachusetts with her husband Henry Adams in about 1632.

St. Mary the Virgin, Charlton Mackrell, Somerset, England

Little is known about Reverend William Squire prior to 1542. He was likely from Somerset and his wife, Alicen, was probably from the same area. No evidence of formal religious training has been discovered, but in 1541 he was appointed the rector of the church at Charlton Mackrell in Somerset. He was mentioned as a reverend in the will of Revered George Levermore, the minister of the church at Barton St. David, on 21 September 1545. Barton St. David was just 3 miles down the road, and 50 years later, William’s granddaughter Edith would marry Henry Adams, a native of that town.

St. Mary the Virgin Church, Charlton Mackrell, Somerset, England

William was appointed as the Charlton Mackrell minister during the end of the reign of King Henry VIII, who had broken with the Catholic Church and created the Church of England. Ministers were now allowed to marry, and William took full advantage of that by “going to the chapel” and marrying Alice Skarlett in about 1551.

In 1553, Queen Mary I ascended to the throne, and she ordered that all married clergymen in England divorce their wives. Fifty-two year old William refused to divorce Alice, so on 10 April 1554, William was deprived of his position as minister.

On 2 May 1561, William was again appointed as the minister of Charlton Mackrell. Queen Elizabeth I had been ruling England for several years, which is most likely why William was able to return to his position.

No death record for William has been found, but he was dead by 15 September 1567 as on that day, Reverend John Sprynt, moved into the rectory after the death of the last minister (William).

Baptismal font where Reverend William Squire baptized congregation members.

I think William was very brave, refusing to divorce his wife even if it meant losing his livelihood. William spent his life going in and out of the church in Charlton Mackrell as a minister, for his marriage, and when he was deprived and reinstated in his position. A few years ago, I was fortunate to travel with my mom to Charlton Mackrell to visit the St. Mary the Virgin Church where William preached for years and where his children and grandchildren were baptized. All of the pictures in this post are from that trip!