EDMUND FISHER senior and EDMUND FISHER junior
From the French
Revolution in 1789 until the Great Exhibition of 1851 the
Fishers of Linton House exercised a dominant role in Linton
affairs. The Fisher family resided there from 1789 and the
house became known as the Vicarage since Linton had no suitable
house for a vicar at that time.
Edmund Fisher senior had purchased the property, which at
that period only extended to the river for £375. Fisher
senior was already vicar of Duxford St. Peter’s and
had married Sarah Trott, the only child of the wealthy Richard
Trott of Duxford in 1764. The Trott Manors covered over 1100
acres in 1830 at the time of the Duxford Enclosure, and incorporated
most of the present day airport site.
Two years after the death of his wife in 1787, and within
weeks of the death of his father in law, the grieving Fisher
senior moved to Linton with his four surviving children. Mary
was 24 years of age, Judith 17, Edmund junior 15 and the youngest,
Ann only 13 years old, four other children had died very young.
The Church at this time was very different from our present
building. Boards above the Chancel arch displayed the Ten
Commandments in bright gilded letters, the Church windows
were largely of plain glass and some were boarded up. The
pulpit was a north facing three decker located against a large
pier on the south aisle. This pier was taken down in 1870
but you can still see the width of the arch if you stand in
the south aisle.
The Church was filled with large dark breast high pews most
of which faced south. The 13th century font was located under
the second arch from the west, by the north aisle. The present
Sclater- Bacon Memorial was sited under the south Chancel
arch, churchgoers had a clear view of the magnificent Millicent
Memorial, and the Flack and Lone Memorials were all located
in the Chancel. The tower was blocked off by pews and Edmund
Fisher’s first act was to authorise the construction
of the West Gallery in June,1790. Stairs near the present
half arch in the south aisle gave access to this gallery.
A clarinet player used the gallery to lead the choir until
Edmund Fisher junior purchased a finger organ for £130
in 1847. The Royal Arms were placed on the front of the new
gallery and a gilt faced clock was fitted above.
On 13 October 1798 an event took place on the front lawn of
Linton House. The family turned out to celebrate Nelson’s
victory at the Nile over the Franco-Spanish fleet. The Cambridge
Chronicle reported that, “ the illuminations were such
as have seldom been seen, the devices too various to be easily
described” and commented that the vicar was distantly
related to the gallant Admiral.
Edmund Fisher senior resigned as vicar in March, 1800 but
lived on in Linton House until his death in 1819 at the grand
age of 90. Edmund Fisher junior, the new vicar was 26 years
old and immediately married Mary Collin, the daughter of a
Saffron Walden land agent in April 1800. Edmund junior needed
to be more dynamic than his father since the Church was now
challenged by a vibrant Congregational Chapel led by the newly
installed Minister, Thomas Hopkins.
Edmund Fisher junior, like the rest of the landed classes
was also threatened by the social and revolutionary movements
arising from the French Wars, which lasted from 1793 to 1815.
The harsh Corn Laws (1815 to 1846), the economic depression
of the late 1810’s and early 1820’s and the ruinously
expensive Poor Laws all made his tenure of office very difficult.
Law and order often broke down in the immediate post-war period
and Fisher was a leading member of the Linton Association,
formed by local gentry in 1818 to curb crime by offering rewards
In 1833 a mob assaulted the local magistrates near the old
Crown by the Market Place and broke down the main gates of
Linton House. Fisher bravely faced their anger and successfully
dispersed them, the eight leaders were later jailed for between
12 to 24 months.
We need to judge Fisher’s achievements against this
unstable background. He founded a Sunday School in 1807. A
superintendent and two mistresses taught the catechism to
over 80 children in 1833. In 1830 he introduced a series of
Sacred Concerts which were held in the Church to raise funds
for Addenbrooke’s hospital. The Linton and Walden choirs
performed the works of Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Hayden
and the orchestra consisted of fifty musicians.
The Church was re-decorated in 1829 when three workmen took
twelve days to whitewash the walls and colour the ceilings
at a cost of just over £47. A small clock bell was erected
on the tower in 1810 and a man was paid 2/- in July, 1830
to ring the bell to commemorate the funeral of George IV.
The near doubling of the local population between 1800 and
1850, from around 1,100 inhabitants to over 2,000 placed immense
pressure on Church accommodation. The old fashioned pews were
the cause of cramped conditions but the pew rent system made
their removal impractical at this time.
Fisher resolved the immediate problem by securing the construction
of a Singing Gallery in 1831-1832 positioned along the northern
aisle. It was built by Daniel Day (Paintin’s today)
at a total cost of £150-2-11d and provided space for
over 100 children. £60 of the cost came from a grant
made by the Incorporated Society for the Building and Enlarging
of Churches. Access to the gallery was by stairs from the
north aisle, close to the north door.
Pressure on burial ground space was resolved by securing land
at Enclosure to enlarge the churchyard in 1840. The new ground
was consecrated in 1849 and consisted of the area between
the school /river pathway and the line of trees half way to
the Camping Close.
Edmund Fisher was instrumental in securing the agreement of
Pembroke College and the Keene Linton lords to the Enclosure
of Linton in 1838 to 1840, and also implemented the Computation
of Church Tithes in 1841(gave a monetary value in place of
Fisher farmed the Pembroke Rectory lands from his main farm
house at the Guildhall, and was fully trusted by the College
to represent their best interests. His lasting legacy to the
village was the National Church School which he founded in
1840, the land was donated Linton lords. This is the site
of the present day Infants School. The £300 annual cost
of running this new school was partly met by subscriptions
and partly by the one penny weekly fees paid by the eighty
Edmund Fisher retired in October, 1844 at the age of 70 years
and a full congregation assembled for his last sermon. By
this time Linton Church communicants numbered 130, up from
the 60 of 1800. The three Sunday services attracted a combined
congregation of 550 adults and children. The Church was overcrowded
, yet many pews were half empty. The Cambridge paper said
that the Reverend Fisher had the respect of both churchmen
and dissenters, he was a kind and liberal man.
Two of his four children survived him, his sons Richard Trott
Fisher and Horatio Nelson Fisher, the latter born in January
1806 soon after Trafalgar. Tragically, Edmund’s wife
had died in 1807 at the young age of 27 years leaving four
children under the age of six years. Fisher never re-married
and depended in later life on the support of his unmarried
daughter, Mary. She ran the household but passed away in 1839
at the age of 37 years. Her name appears with those of her
parents on the Memorial positioned on the south wall of the
In 1846 Fisher bought the whole of the Bull Estate for £1500
and this purchase extended the garden of Linton House across
the river into the present day orchard. In September, 1846
Fisher he had his portrait painted by Mr. Whittle and this
sketch of a “pot bellied” figure is our only visual
record of this esteemed gentleman.
Edmund Fisher junior died on December 8th, 1851 and Linton
House was sold to Miss Sophia Keene in October, 1852. Linton
still lacked a house for the vicar and we had to wait until
1896 before the vicarage issue was resolved.
To the Memory of
Vicar of this Parish from 1800 to 1844
Beloved and Respected
December 8th 1851, aged 77 years.
Also of Mary, his wife,
Who died September 17th, 1807
Aged 27 years
Also of Mary, their only
who died November 12th, 1839
aged 37 years.