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Burges

 John Burge junior was arrested for dept in 1608 and the Burge or Burges family appear consistently in the records of Chewton Mendip up to the 20th century. It is probable that Burges’s Combe was named the Burges family who were paying poor rates and acting as overseers in West End in the 18th century and probably earlier. A member of another branch of the Burges family may have played a brief, but nationally significant, role in the history of Chewton Mendip. He developed into a fiery Calvinist and a firm opponent of the high church Bishops of Bath & Wells during the conflict that lead to the English Civil War in 1642.
 Cornelius Burges was born in Stanton Drew and  was the son of Robert Burges. They not have been directly related to the Burges family of Chewton Mendip but they probably came from a similar social background. The Chewton Mendip Burges’ were mainly respectable rather than wealthy people but Robert Burges may have been more prosperous, or at least better conncted.
Cornelius Burges may have stood out as an intelligent young man  so he was sent to Oxford University in 1611. He graduated from Wadham College on 5th July 1615. He migrated to Lincoln College in 1616 and obtained a second degree from that college  on 9th November of that year. He was admitted as a reader at the Bodleian library and retained that role for the rest of his life.lected to be educated.
 He was ordained as a priest and came under the patronage of Edward Russell, the third earl of Bedford. This patronage helps to explain how Cornelius subsequently gained positions that made hm a wealthy man. It may also have introduced him to the Kingsmills who were involved with earls of Bedford at the time of the reformation. This connection may also be an early indication of Cornelius Burges’ conversion from the main stream Church of England to puritanism. The Russells and Kingsmills were staunch protestants during the reformation and both benefited financially from the dissolution of the monasteries.
 Cornelius Burges married Abigail, the daughter of John Burgess of Sutton Coldfield on, on 30th January 1618 0r 1619.Abigail died in 1627 and Cornelius later remarried. No family connection is proven but John Burges was also a churchman who had links to the Russell family and the Bishop of Bath & Wells.
 John Burges was born in Peterborough in 1563. He was probably the second son of John Burges and his wife Ales  (d1588). He was probably the incumbent of St Peter Hungate, Norwich in 1589 which may have bought him into contact with the Quarles family who were churchmen based in Norfolk.
Cornelius Burges had an eventful career. In 1620 followed n his father-in-laws footsteps when he accompanied sir Horatio Vere as a military chaplain. Sir Horatio of Horace was the commander of the English volunteer forces who fought for the protestants in the 30 years war on the continent.
He had his first pamphlet on theological issues published in 1622. Cornelius was offered the rectory of St Magnus in London  in 1627 which was then in the possession of the bishop of London. He was also made a Doctor of Divinity (DD) by Oxford University in that year and defended the Calvanist position on the certainty of salvation and perseverance. This did not stop him holding several senior positions in the church based in London and elsewhere.
 He continued to write pamphlets that covered a range of issues that showed that his views did not fit neatly into what would later be the Royalist of Parliamentarian positions. He had a successful, but controversial career in the church and was able to accumulate a great deal of personal wealth which also conflicted with some of his puritanical views.
 Cornelius supported the parliamentarian during the Civil War and continued to  publish pamphlets. One pamphlet called the ‘whip’ was answered by Francis Quarles in ‘The Whipper Whipt’  in about 1644. It is unclear what relationship, if any, Francis was to Edmund Quarles who became the vicar of Chewton Mendip.
 The bishops were abolished during the Commonwealth period and Cornelius Burges acquired the lands once held by the Bishop of Bath & Wells in dubious circumstances. Wells was run by a corporation that was similar to the vestery comitee that ran Chewton Mendip but on a larger scale. In both cases an oligarchy of reasonably prosperous businessmen and minor gentry took turns to hold offices elected by a relatively small group.
 John Casbeard was a bristol attorney who was the son of one of the members of the Wells corporation and he spotted a opportunity for himself and others when the episcopal property became available. He worked for the trustees for the sale of bishops lands as one of the surveyors of the diocese of Exeter.
 John Casbeard exploited his position, training and family influence to negotiate a deal between the corporation of Wells and Cornelius Burges about the purchase of the bishop’s lands. The verbal agreements were written up by John Casbeard and duly signed by Wells Corporation who later found they had been duped. Legal challenges were made but Cornelius Burges retained his ill-gotten gains and made structural changes to the Bishop’s Palace and Dean’s house.
 Cornelius Burges speculated in Mendip lead which may have bought him into contact with the Plaisters who were lead reaves for the Waldegrave family.
A number of records were deliberately destroyed, conveniently lost or never made in the first place. No specific record has been found  that Cornelius Burges purchased land in Chewton Mendip but the probability is that he did.
It is possible that Kingsmills may have also benefited from the misappropriation of the bishop’s lands but there is no doubt that they were the patrons of Chewton Mendip when the bishops lands were restored along with the monarchy.
Another possibility is that John Bown acquired the church lands of Chewton Mendip from the mysterious Richard Pugh and Robert Tounsend who were listed ast the patrons of Richard Long in 1635.
Cornelius Burges was deprived of  the land he acquired without compensation when Charles II became king and he died in poverty in 1665.
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