Boxted: Historical journey leads former senator to village

Poignant visit: John Warner with his wife Jeanne. Picture: TERRY WEEDEN (XXG6E-05)

Poignant visit: John Warner with his wife Jeanne. Picture: TERRY WEEDEN (XXG6E-05)

First published in News by

A former United States senator has been discovering his roots in a Colchester village.

Boxted was the home of John Warner's forefather William before he emigrated to Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1637.

Keen to tread the same land as his ancestors, the 82-year-old former senator for Virginia visited the village last week with his wife Jeanne.

He was met by Douglas Carter, a resident and keen local historian who wrote Boxted: Portrait of an English Village in 2006.

Mr Carter said William Warner had lived in Gulson's Farm in Church Street and worked as a farmer on his own land.

But he decided to leave England when Charles I decreed that those with land had to give 10 per cent of its value to the crown.

“He went with his children Abigail, John and Daniel,” said Mr Carter, who was coincidentally born in the same month as Mr Warner in 1927.

“We think his wife Ellen died before then but we haven't found a burial site for her.

“In Massachusetts, William became a planter which is the same as a farmer, with about 300 acres of land.

“He also became a freeman of Ipswich which was a religious title.

“He died in 1649, when he was about 64.”

While in Boxted last Friday, **Nov 20** Mr Warner was welcomed to St Peter's Church by Rev Dr Tim Bull, church warden Graham Pullen and Annette Whybrow on behalf of her husband Stephen, the parochial church council secretary.

The father-of-three, who was previously married to Elizabeth Taylor, told the County Standard that he had long had a keen interest in the history of his ancestors.

“The Mormon Church, who are the world experts in genealogy, spent about two years researching my family,” said the Republican, who represented Virginia for 30 years.

“There were five volumes in all – on my mother's side, my great, great, great uncle built Balmoral Castle.”

He added: “My life has been filled with excitements but to be in Boxted is very exciting.

“It's inspired me to live longer so I can bring my grandchildren here.”

Mr Warner ended his visit with a £50 donation to the £110,000 appeal to modernise the church's facilities.

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