Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

John Harington of Stepney

Farmer BullshotI have recently obtained a copy of Ruth Hughey’s book John Harington of Stepney: Tudor Gentleman, published in 1971. How does it compare to my own research and does it contain any other useful information?

I have deliberately avoided reading Ruth’s account of the life of John up to now so that I wouldn’t be influenced while I was doing my own research – this being the only book ever published about the life of John Harington of Stepney, my 11x great grandfather.

John Harington of StepneyRuth includes a portrait of John, clearly in his later years. This is held by the Victoria Gallery in Bath and although it has not been authenticated as being John Harington of Stepney it came originally from the Harington family portrait collection.

Generally I think we agree about John and the key events in his life and much of the generally available information about him clearly comes from this book or from the same sources that Ruth identifies.

That John is often confused with his cousin, Sir John of Exton, is also mentioned and the source of some of the confusion is identified, but this doesn’t prevent incorrect information still being circulated today and the publication by his son, Sir John of Kelston, Nugae Antiquae, doesn’t help.

This book does show up some issues with my current Harington tree which I will need to sort out, in particular the relationship with the Exton branch of the family, but mostly it supports my current research.

One thing that Ruth did point out was that John, unlike other poets and writers of the period [who’s works John collected], was prominent through the lives of four different monarchs – Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and then Elizabeth.

But first of all who was John Harington, son of Alexander, and why was he living in poverty in Stepney only a few years after his family were the most prominent family in the north of England?

Lost Fortunes

One of the family that was killed at the battle of Wakefield in 1460 was Sir John Harington of Hornby, the brother of Sir James of Brierley who later died at Bosworth in 1585 and to whom John Harington claimed kinship.

The Stanley family, despite desperate attempts by their Harington cousins, managed to gain the wardship of the two daughters [and heirs] of Sir John and married them into the Stanley family in an attempt to claim the Hornby estates.

But it was the defeat of Richard III at Bosworth – to whom the Haringtons had been loyal followers – that destroyed the family fortunes, with the remaining family members attainted and their properties forfeit, to the benefit of the Stanleys, who switched sides during the battle.

The Stanley family could be said to have created the Tudor dynasty by this single act of betrayal at Bosworth and at the same time destroyed their main rivals in the north and several of their allied families; they became one of the most powerful families in England and the Haringtons were reduced to poverty.

It is interesting, then, to see how John Harington of Stepney could have been so devoted to the Tudors that had destroyed his family, unless this was just an attempt to recover the lost family fortunes any way he could.

Despite being loyal to Elizabeth during the reign of her catholic sister, his involvement in the Lady Jane affair and his allegiance to Admiral Seymour, for which he ended up in the Tower of London several times, he managed to survive Tudor life and pass on a comfortable inheritance to his descendants – although perhaps not the inheritance he had hoped for.

Gentleman of the Chapel

John was perhaps born earlier than my previous estimate of 1525 as he seems to have been in the royal household in 1538. But, as a chorister my estimated age of 13 may not be too far from the truth, although Ruth suggests a year or two older.

In this year he was granted an annuity of twenty marks along with Avery Burnet, described as a “gentleman of the King’s Chapel”, although it seems this form of address did not apply to John himself.

An earlier birth date of 1517, suggested by the Dictionary of National Biography  and repeated in the History of Parliament and Wikipedia, would mean he was about 21 at this point, and surely entitled to be called a gentleman?

John Harington (or Harrington) (c.1517-1582) was an English official working for Henry VIII. [wikipedia]

But this may be due to the assumption that John was older in order to hold the position of treasurer under Henry VIII. That position was actually held by his distant cousin, Sir John Harington of Exton, who was about 20 years older, and even if John had been 21 this is still too young to have held such a responsible position.

thomas-tallisIn some commentaries John is said to have been organist at the chapel royal in 1540 [which would again imply that he was older than 13] but this is incorrect and it was Thomas Tallis who became organist at this time and John studied music under him.

Whether John was actually the organist for the chapel at any point is not recorded but he was “much skilled at musicke which was pleasing to the king” according to the writings of his son.

John’s father, Alexander, is said to have died in 1539, however Ruth identifies another record from 1544 regarding the purchase of “The Red Lion” by one Alexander Harington so is the earlier death record incorrect, or was there another son, Alexander, who either died in 1539 or was the one purchasing the property?

Ruth also says that John had at least one other brother, Thomas, who is shown in records about this time, again in relation to property. Perhaps he had some sort of inheritance from their father, Alexander, if he had died 5 years earlier, although this disagrees with other accounts regarding the family’s poverty.

John was supposedly born in the prebend house in Stepney, which implies that his father, Alexander, may have been associated with the church.

Prebend: The portion of the revenues of a cathedral or collegiate church formerly granted to a canon or member of the chapter as his stipend.

Perhaps it was his father’s association with the church that helped John obtain his position in the Chapel Royal, rather than any family links with Sir John Harington of Exton or another [closer] cousin, James who was Clerk of the Bakehouse at court and who, in any case, had died by 1524?

It is possible the John only had access to this property later in life [or perhaps another close to St. Paul’s] and he may have lived elsewhere with his father, Alexander, and his mother in Stepney. There is some later mention of a garden and servants and of entertaining important and influential friends, which goes somewhat against the family’s claims of poverty.

Grant of Arms

Later in his life, John Harington and his son, Sir John of Kelston, spend much time and money trying to re-establish themselves as legitimate heirs to the Harington family ancestral lands of Brierley and Hornby but without success.

The granting of arms to John Harington of Stepney in 1568 is a bit vague about his pedigree saying only that he was descended from a younger son of the Brierley branch of the family.

John Harington of Kelston in the Countie of Somersett sonne of Alexander Harington descended of a younger brother of the Haringtons of Brierley in the Countie of Yorke …

This “younger brother” has been assumed to mean Sir James, Dean of York, but Ruth suggests that Alexander’s father may have been from a different branch of the family – or even a different family altogether, which is explored below.

Had the College of Arms been persuaded to grant these arms, against their better judgement, but would not go as far as identifying a direct pedigree? Or had they established a link to the family but had simply omitted some of the details, and if so then why would they do this?

The design of the arms granted had a checked border “for difference” around the Harington arms, which did not seem to please the family and both John and his son continued to force their claim and eventually were able to use the Brierley arms, although they never reclaimed the associated lands.

In 1635 the succeeding John Harington of Kelston surrendered to the king his interest in the manors of Brierley, co. York; Farleton in Lonsdale, co. Lans.; Farleton in Kendale, co. Westmorland; and in all other lands of Sir James Harington, attainted in 1485, which John Harington (of Stepney) had by grant from Queen Elizabeth in 1570. page


The key to this mystery is the identity of John’s father, Alexander of Stepney, who is widely identified as the illegitimate son of Sir James Harington, Dean of York. But the identity of his mother could be equally as important.

The name Alexander is not used in the Harington family but is widely used in the Radcliffe family – who have close connections to the Haringtons – giving some weight to the theory, suggested to Ruth and repeated in her book, that Alexander may have been a member of the Radcliffe family and had changed his name.

As a natural son, Alexander would probably have taken his surname from his mother [perhaps Radcliffe], but it is possible for him to have been officially recognised by his father and then to have used the Harington name. However if his father was Sir James, Dean of York, he may not have wanted to acknowledge a illegitimate son or perhaps he simply died before this could be done?

James died on 1st December 1512, apparently naming his cousin James Harington, Clerk of the Bakehouse, as his sole heir in his will. According to Misc. Gen III. [and Ian Grimble in his book about the Harington family], this will was written on 2 Sep 1497 which would have been after the birth of any son – at least from my estimates. If he had intended to recognise a son and heir it would probably have been in his will.

But there are no references to this will elsewhere and Ruth states that he died intestate so perhaps this was based on information that came from James of the Bakehouse saying that he was the heir of James, Dean of York? Certainly he seemed to be the closest living member of the family who could make such a claim at the time.

To back up Ruth’s view there are records that it was the church that managed James’ estate and his debts after his death, and there seems to have been some provision made in the administration if an heir should appear about the next feast of St. Michael [29 September].

aliqui agnate consanguini seu affine ipsius Jacobi defuncti

I estimate that Alexander was born around 1595 when James would have still been a young man and he may have visited his father regularly at about this time of the year. He would have been about 21 when James died and he may then have used the Harington name whether entitled to do so or not.

Was Alexander his illegitimate son or did James take a young wife who died in childbirth? If so then the marriage is not recorded and I would go for the first theory, although neither could be the truth.

According to Ruth one pedigree shows James having two sons, James and Alexander, which would probably best fit into a scenario where he had actually married, rather than having two illegitimate sons, but this could be a simple mistake where the name of his son and his own name were confused.

If he had married then I don’t think there would have been any controversy about the pedigree of John of Stepney, and his claims for the Brierley estate may have been more successful – even if official records had been lost there would still have been family members and other officials who had some recollection of the event.

Also according to Ruth at least two pedigrees show that another John Harington, the natural son of Sir James of Brierley, had a daughter, Anne, who may be another key player in this whole mystery.

This John had been officially recognised by his father as heir and is then said to have been poisoned by the Stanleys after his father was killed at Bosworth, to prevent any further claims on the estates that the Stanley family had inherited.

In printed pedigrees the death of John of Brierley was in 1510, some time after the death of his father and it may be that he just died of natural causes and the Stanley’s involvement was a malicious rumour. The source of this rumour seems to have been a letter written by one of the two Harington daughters that were married into the Stanley family.

harington pedigree 3

According to Ruth, Anne is shown in one pedigree as having married A. Radcliffe but also as having married James Harington, the son of Sir James, Dean of York.

Is it possible that Anne actually married Alexander Harington, the son of James, who would be a second cousin, and would also have been known as Alexander Radcliffe having taken his mother’s name due to his illegitimacy – assuming she was a Radcliffe?

If so then both pedigrees are correct and Anne Harington was the mother to John of Stepney thus bringing together two branches of the family and strengthening the later claims on the Brierley estates by John and his son.

Thomas = Elizabeth Dacre
  James of Brierley = Joan Neville
    John = ?
      Anne = Alexander Harington alias Radcliffe
  Robert = Isabella Balderston
    James, Dean of York = ? Radcliffe
      Alexander = Anne Harington

I think this is a good solution that fits in with most of the known facts and accounts for some of the differences – but could it be true?

Working back from the birth of John of Stepney in about 1521, I estimate that Anne was born about 1500 [assuming that her father died in 1510, as stated] and Alexander 5 or 10 years earlier when his father was still a young man and before he entered the church.

I do not have any evidence that Anne actually existed, other than the claims in Ruth’s book, but if she did [and was John of Stepney’s mother] it would help resolve several issues with regard to his claims on the Brierley estates.

And it would certainly go some way to explain the rather vague pedigree attached to the grant of arms, with neither parent being entirely legitimate or entitled to inherit.

Possibly Anne, daughter of John who died in 1510, may have been mixed up with Anne, daughter of Sir John, who was killed at Wakefield in 1460 and who was one of the two sisters married into the Stanley family.


Another possibility, suggested earlier, was that Alexander was never a Harington, but simply changed his name – but he must have had a very close relationship with the Harington family for any chance of the grant of arms to his son, John, to be successful.

If Alexander had married Anne Harington, daughter of the poisoned John, then there may have been a family effort to regain the estates and changing his name to that of his wife may have been a part of that process.

One possible candidate is Alexander, the second son of Sir Alexander Radcliffe of Ordsall (1476-1548)  who’s grandmother was Agnes, daughter of Sir William Harington of Hornby. page

If correct then this Alexander was born about 1502 and that little is known about him makes sense if he changed his name. Personally I think he may not fit with other events, but it is chronologically possible for him to have married Anne, born about the same time, changed his name to Harington and had a son, John, by about 1521.

Another source, A Catalogue of Books Printed in the Fifteenth Century held in the Bodleian Library, shows Alexander, from this family, deceased in 1570, which indicates that he had not changed his name and cannot be the same Alexander who died in 1539, unless, of course, this record is incorrect.

alexander radcliffe

But if not this Alexander then perhaps another member of the family – or perhaps not a Radcliffe at all!

Another possibility is yet another Alexander Radcliffe, the third son of Alexander Radcliffe and Agnes Harington [and uncle to the Alexander mentioned above].

Pedigrees show that he married Anne Travers and became the ancestor of a line of Radcliffes settled in the counties of Buckingham and Middlesex.

He would have been born about 1440 so is unlikely to have been the father of John Harington, but he could have had a son – or even a grandson – Alexander who could have married Anne Harington.

radcliffe 3

The fact that the family were associated with Middlesex and the close family associations with the Haringtons helps to place him into this story but I think the arguments for this are very weak.

Two descendants, Dorothy and Edward [shown above], married into the Gerard family of Harrow on the hill, a family with strong business connections to William Stubbes who married Hester Harington the son of John of Stepney and Awdrey Malte.


Sir James Harington, of Wolphege Manor, Brixworth [1443-1497] was another cousin from a relatively unremarkable branch of the family – so unremarkable that Ian Grimble, in this definitive work on the Harington Family, doesn’t mention them at all!

This Sir James, who was apparently knighted at the coronation of Henry VII, was a cousin to both Sir James, Dean of York and Sir James who died at Bosworth, the father of poisoned John and also of James Clerk of the Bakehouse [who’s son Stephen, was the last heir to the Harington estates with a documented pedigree, and who held the reversion of the Brierley estates]. page

Sir James married Isabella, the daughter of Alexander Radcliffe of Ordsall [and sister of Alexander, mentioned above] although Isabella is shown as Anne in the pedigree below, and this pedigree does not entirely agree with that in Ruth’s book or Ian Grimble’s history of the Haringtons.

harrington 1

The inquisition after his death shows that this James Harington left ten daughters – Agnes, Elizabeth, Alice [Alicia], Margaret, Isabella, Allianore, Joan [Johanna], Anne, Clemence and Katherine.

There was also a son, William, who drowned crossing the river Mersey at Northenden along with his wife “submersus cum uxore” on the day they were married in 1490. page

Strangely this was also the fate of William Tatton, of Northenden, in 1616 who’s father Robert, is mentioned in several of my other writings, and it sounds as if both Williams may have drowned at exactly the same place, close to a weir owned by the Tatton family. page

One of these daughters, Alice, was married to Ralph Standish and they had a son Alexander, possibly named after his maternal [Radcliffe] grandfather, but this was also a common name in the Standish family.

Alexander Standish was born about 1503, the son of Ralph and Alice, and died, [coincidentally?], on 17 June 1539, the same year as the death of John of Stepney’s father.

According to some pedigrees he married Anne, the daughter of William Molyneaux of Sefton and had several daughters, but could he also be the father of a son born about 1521?

This partial pedigree shows just how closely the Radcliffe, Standish and Harington families were related over several generations.

John Radcliffe = Clemence Standish
Alexander Radcliffe = Agnes Harington dau. William
James Harington = Isabella Radcliffe
Ralph Standish = Alice Harington
Alexander Standish = Anne Molyneux?

Some records show that Alexander and Anne Molyneux were married in 1518 but most show that Anne was born in 1509, so would have only been 9 years old when married and could not have had any children until about 1525, even if this date is correct.

Could John have been Alexander’s son, born before he married Anne, or perhaps even the son from a previous marriage?

If so then John’s mother could have been Anne, the daughter of the poisoned John Harington, mentioned above, which would also have strengthened his claims on the Brierley arms and estates.

And could the record of Alexander’s death therefore actually be correct, but the name of Standish forgotten – or ignored? Could he have actually have married Anne Harington and not Anne Molineaux?

The record of Alexander Harington alive in 1544, mentioned by Ruth, could be unrelated and where does the death record for John’s father in 1539 come from anyway? This date may have been assumed from a poem written by John for his mother in 1540, presumed to be about the death of his father.

But if John’s father was Alexander Standish then what about his brother, Thomas? Why would he take the Harington name just because his brother had done so, unless this is yet another assumed relationship and Thomas was not his brother at all?

Although the dates for Alexander Standish match [almost perfectly] to John’s father, his mother must have been a Harington otherwise there could be no claim on either the Brierley or Hornby estates.

The only other surviving branch of the family was that of another James, know as James Generosus who was Clerk of the Bakehouse in the royal household, and he held the reversion to the family estates which was passed to his son Stephen when he died in 1524.

At some point John Harington of Stepney acquired these rights from Stephen, perhaps in exchange for paying his debt, but the Brierley and Hornby estates were never recovered by his family, possibly because John [unlike Stephen] could not prove his direct lineage and therefore his entitlement.

Some ancestral trees show several children to Alexander Standish and Anne – although none of them are consistent – and Alexander is shown to have died in Standish, but again this may have been assumed.

The History of the County, Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster, Volume 4, through the ownership of the manor of Clifton, shows that Ann Molineux had actually married someone else.

Elizabeth Clifton the heir of Cuthbert Clifton, who died 1512, had married, as her second husband, Sir William Molineux of Sefton who died in 1548.

Ann Molineux, his daughter, heiress of her brother Thomas, who inhabited Clifton, conveyed the manor in marriage to Henry Halsall, of Halsall.

Perhaps this Anne was a previous generation or a cousin, but if Alexander Standish did not marry Ann Molineux then who did he marry?


In order to improve his chances of a claim on the Brierley estates it may have been necessary for John of Stepney to fabricate [or at least suggest] a male Harington ancestor and it is easy to see why Sir James, Dean of York would have been chosen for this subterfuge having never married, or had any known children, and who died without making a will.

Perhaps John was deliberately vague about his pedigree when he applied for a grant of arms in order to help create the impression that his father, Alexander, was the natural son of James with little knowledge of his father?

Later claims by Sir John Harington, that he was directly descended from Sir James of Brierley, may therefore be more accurate than previously thought if his mother was Anne, daughter of James’ son John.

In this case Alexander’s son, John of Stepney – who may have been named after his maternal grandfather – was descended from a younger son of the Brierley branch of the family, as mentioned in the grant of arms, but I doubt this helped his claim on the Brierley and Hornby estates not being a direct male descendant.

And this proved to be the case, so perhaps we are not too far from the real story here.

More Illegitimacy

Awdrey Malte, John Harington’s first wife, had previously been engaged to an illegitimate son of Sir Richard Southwell, Richard Darcy [his mothers name], according to the history of parliament, probably based on the following extract from the will of  her father and royal tailor, John Malte written in September 1546.

And all suche other manours landes tenement[es] and hereditament[es] as I have to her lymyted gyven assigned and appoynted in as full ample and large maner as is declared and comprised in a pair of indentures made betwene me and sir Richard Sothewell1 knyght and other concernyng the mariage of the said Audrey …

This has been interpreted as an arrangement between John Malte and his good friend Richard Southwell for the marriage of Awdrey with Richard’s son and perhaps other documents support this that I have not seen?
John Malte died shortly after making his will, and was replaced as royal tailor in December 1546 but probate was not granted until June of the following year.
Royal InheritanceI think it unlikely that the King had already matched his darling daughter with John Harington at this point and her marriage was not arranged until after the king’s death in January 1547 and the rise of the Seymours during the reign of Edward VI. But it was certainly what was believed by later generations of the Harington and Markham families.
For a more romantic interpretation of this story I can recommend Royal Inheritance by Kate Emerson.

Incidentally Sir Richard Southwell sat on the commission that finally released John Harington from the Tower in January 1555. John had spent £1000 to secure his release, according to his son, although the official amount on his release was £100 …

Bound for their good abearing, order and fine at Pleasure.

Does this show an element of exaggeration on the part of Sir John or did his father have to spend more money in order to get to the point of being considered for release, or just for the general cost of being confined?

This is another point that Ruth and I agree on; the unreliability of Sir John Harington of Kelston when it comes to information about his father and the earlier periods of his life, and in particular his first wife.

Brierley Arms

Harrington KnotRuth noted that it was not until 1597 that Sir John Harington was finally granted the right to use the arms of the Brierley branch of the family  – the single fret design.

This is perhaps why the older arms of the Harington family are shown on the Codrington memorial in Bristol cathedral and had, until recently, been unidentified.

The marriage between Robert Codrington and Anne Stubbes was in 1595, just a few years before the final grant of the Brierley arms.

Anne Stubbes was the eldest daughter of Hester Harington, the daughter of John and Awdrey, who had married William Stubbes, an agent of Sir Francis Walsingham, when she was about twenty years old.

Clearly Anne was proud of both her Stubbes and Harington pedigrees as both designs were included on the memorial, which she had commissioned after the death of her husband, Robert Codrington, in February 1618 [1619].

The fretty design used on the memorial is also reflected in the dress worn by Mary Rogers, the wife of Sir John of Kelston, in a portrait which was painted in 1592 a few years before the final grant to use the Brierley arms, although these are represented by the single knot design that she is holding in her left hand. page


There is some mention of Awdrey Malte in Ruth’s book, although little about her daughter Hester, but I think I have been able to fill in some of the gaps in my other writings. page

… in 1568, Hester, Harington’s daughter by Ethelreda, who had probably just come of age, passed her rights to the manor of Watchyngfeld, and other lands there, to her father. This appears to be the last reference to Hester.

There is a mention of a portrait of Hester, but not of her mother as in other references. The description of the sitter differs from another comments but could still be the same little girl, just a different interpretation.

A portrait … is traditionally held to be a contemporary painting of Hester as a child of eight or nine. It shows a pathetic little girl with a sad expression, much beyond her years.

If Hester was born in late 1554 then she would certainly have been under 5 years of age when her mother died sometime before 1559 [probably by 1556], and perhaps this reflects her sad appearance several years later.

If there is a portrait of Awdrey then it cannot be contemporary with the one of her daughter described above.

John and Awdrey were married for about 7 years before the birth of Hester, but whether there had been any other children is not known – certainly Hester is the only one that survived.

Hester married William Stubbes, an agent and receiver of Sir Francis Walsingham, in 1573, had three daughters that survived [a son “Harington” and several other daughters did not] and died in 1639 at the age of 85 in Watchfield, Berkshire.

John Malte

It seems as if Ruth had not seen a full transcription of the will of John Malte as she references only an extract in her book.

In particular she quotes later writings by Sir John Harington in regard to King Henry himself being involved in matching his daughter Etheldreda with John of Stepney.

However the will appears to show that Awdrey was engaged to a son of Sir Richard Southwell, and it was only after the Seymours came to power, following the death of Henry, that John and Awdrey were married.

John Harington was part of the household of Thomas Seymour, the younger of king Edward’s two uncles, and they had prominent positions at court during the early years of his reign.

And although John Harington had been well established in Henry’s court it is unlikely that he was personally known to the king other than through Henry appreciating his music, in particular his Black Sanctus, written while studying under Thomas Tallis.

At one point, in the writings of Sir John Harington, he refers to his father’s first wife as Hester instead of Awdrey or Ethelreda.

My father is wont to say, that Kynge Henry was used in pleasant mood to sing this verse; and my father, who had his good countenance, and a goodlie office in his Courte, and also his goodlie Esther to wife, did sometyme receive the honour of hearing his own songe … having been much skilled in musicke which was pleasing to the king, and which he learnt in the fellowship of good Maister Tallis, when a young man.

Personally, and based on other writings of Sir John regarding his father and his first wife, I think this is more likely to be a misremembrance, and perhaps shows that John Harington  senior did not pass accurate information about his first wife to his later family.

Or perhaps Sir John was just a bit confused with what he had been told.


One thing that is not quite right in my previous writing is the relationship between the Exton and Brierley branches of the family.

John Harington of Stepney is often confused with his distant cousin John Harington, of Exton who was treasurer to Henry VIII and a generation older.

Like the two branches of the Codrington family, that descended from two of the sons of John Codrington, standard bearer to Henry V at Agincourt [a position also said to be held by Sir William Harington] page, the Harington dynasty started with John, the first Baron who died in 1359.

According to Ruth the branch of the family that lived at Brierley, Farleton and Hornby started with Sir John, the second son of the first baron. And the Fleet [Lincolnshire] and Exton [Rutland] branch descended from a grandson of the first Baron, Sir Robert Harington, who was the younger brother of John the second Baron.

This sounds a bit confused but clearly there are quite a number of generations between John of Stepney and John of Exton, treasurer to Henry VIII and they were only very distant cousins.


I  also now have a copy of The Harington Family, by Ian Grimble so perhaps this is a good time to make some sense of the pedigrees of the various branches of the Harington in this story.

1. The Haringtons of Brierley

John, first Baron Harington d.1347
  Sir John of Farleton d.1359
    Sir Nicholas of Farleton d.1403
      Sir William of Hornby d.1440
        Sir Thomas of Hornby d.1461 at Wakefield
          Sir James of Brierley d.1485 at Bosworth
            John d.1510 [poisoned?]
              Anne = Alexander Radcliffe?

2. The Haringtons of Hornby

John, first Baron Harington d.1347
  Sir John of Farleton d.1359
    Sir Nicholas of Farleton d.1403
      Sir William of Hornby d.1440
        Sir Thomas of Hornby d.1461 at Wakefield
          Sir Robert of Hornby d.1490?
           Sir James, Dean of York d.1512

3. The Haringtons of Farleton

John, first Baron Harington d.1347
  Sir John of Farleton d.1359
    Sir Nicholas of Farleton d.1403
      Sir James of Farleton d.1417
        Sir Richard d.1467
          Sir William d.1488
            Nicholas of Westleigh d.1497
              James, Generosus, Clerk of the Bakehouse d.1524

The term Generosus – meaning of noble birth – is used by Ian Grimble in his book to identify James, who held the position of Clerk of the Bakehouse in the royal court.

4. The Haringtons of Wolphege (Brixworth)

John, first Baron Harington d.1347
  Sir John of Farleton d.1359
    Sir Nicholas of Farleton d.1403
      Sir James of Farleton d.1417
        Sir Richard d.1467
          Sir William d.1488
            Sir James of Brixworth d.1497
              Alice = Ralph Standish

5. The Haringtons of Exton

John, first Baron Harington d.1347
  Sir Robert of Aldingham d.1334?
    Sir Robert of Fleet d.1399
      John Harington of Fleet d.1401
        Robert of Fleet d.1419
          John of Fleet d.1460?
            Robert of Exton d. 1501
              Sir John of Exton d.1524
                Sir John of Exton d.1553, Treasurer

Most of these are based on the pedigrees from The Harington Family, by Ian Grimble with additional informations from Ruth’s book and other published pedigrees available on-line.


Having read Ruth’s book I think that I now have a better understanding as to what may have been going on here.

She has opened up some new possibilities in the challenge to identify the pedigree of John Harington of Stepney – in particular the suggested connection with the Radcliffe family has proved extremely interesting.

The suggested links to the Standish family are my own although the death of Alexander Standish in 1539 was noted [and dismissed] in Ruth’s book.

It is possible that Alexander, the father of John of Stepney, was a member of the Radcliffe family who married Anne, the daughter of John Harington [who was poisoned by the Stanleys] and the grandson of Sir James of Brierley.

If this is the case then James, Dean of York was involved in this only as part of the subterfuge by John Harington in his attempt to try and recover the Brierley and Hornby estates, by suggesting a more direct male connection.

But this connection may also have been added later by further attempts to establish the Harington claims to the lost estates, or at least to establish their pedigree.

Alexander could have been the natural son of James, Dean of York, raised by a Radcliffe mother and changed his name to that of his father after he died. He may also have married Anne, daughter of John of Brierley, strengthening his claim to those estates.

Or perhaps he was the son of Ralph Standish and Alice Harington – illegitimate or not. But the claim to the Brierley estates would have been fairly weak unless he had also married [or had a child with] Anne Harington, daughter of poisoned John – if she actually existed.

Ruth did appear to be thinking along these lines, but it seems she did not want to commit herself to one particular version of events in her book.

In 12 July 1565 John Harington appointed his  young nephew Thomas Harington – son of his brother Thomas – to the living of St. Mary the Virgin at Kelston [Misc. Gen. IV]. I think it is therefore unlikely that both brothers would have adopted the Harington name if their father, Alexander, was named either Radcliffe or Standish.

It is not unheard of for a son to take the name of his mother’s family in order to satisfy the conditions of an inheritance. But does this make it more likely that Alexander was the son of Sir James, Dean of York over any other theory?

I think that important evidence is missing from all of these suggestions, but whether any evidence actually exists is another matter. Some evidence to the existence of Anne as daughter of John Harington of Brierley would be useful to all of the theories.

The strange thing is that one of these options is probably close to the truth.

Nothing in the pedigree of John Harington of Stepney seems to be entirely genuine and he could have been the son of either Alexander Standish and Alice Harington or Alexander Radcliffe and Anne Harington.

But even if he was only descended from the female Harington line John may have felt that he had a genuine claim to at least some of the twenty five estates lost by his ancestors.

Whatever his plan – if, indeed there was a plan – John did manage to restore the family fortunes, but only through his loyalties to Henry VIII, Admiral Seymour and princess Elizabeth and, of course, his marriage to Awdrey Malte which gave him the foundations on which to build a new Harington dynasty.

Farmer BullshotHere are some of the incorrect facts that are commonly published about John Harington of Stepney. Most of them originated from the brief introduction to Nugae Antiquae, published by his son, Sir John Harington of Kelston.

1. He was treasurer to Henry VIII.

No, he was much too young and a member of the Chapel Royal, probably as a chorister, in Henry’s court. His distant cousin, another John Harington, from the Exton branch of the family, and a generation older, was treasurer. John of Stepney was known to the King, but only for his music and poetry.

2. The king arranged for John’s marriage to his darling daughter Etheldreda.

This is highly unlikely as Awdrey was engaged to be married to the son of Richard Southwell when the king died in January 1547, as shown in the will of Awdrey’s father, John Malte, who died only a few months before Henry.

Richard Southwell was close to the king and was left money in his will, so perhaps the grants of land were directed at Awdrey with the intention of them being passed to the Southwell family through marriage?

It was probably the Seymours who arranged the marriage of John and Awdrey during the early reign of Edward VI – John Harington was one of Thomas Seymour’s men. This arrangement was probably more about the estates that had been left to Awdrey by her father, rather than any romantic match-making.

John was probably about 25 years old when he married Awdrey, sometime in 1547, and she would have been fifteen having been shown as under this age in her father’s will dated September 1546. [She may have been born in June 1532 if named after St. Etheldreda].

3. John Harington paid £1000 to secure his release from the tower.

John was in the tower for about 11 months in 1554, and the fine he paid on his release was £100. This does not mean that it didn’t cost him £1000 in expenses during his confinement, or that he hadn’t paid out money in bribes to try and get released earlier, but if this was the case then it didn’t seem to have helped.

4. John was in the Tower of London with his wife, Isabella Markham.

There is documentary evidence that John was still married to his first wife, Awdrey, until at least 1555 although she is thought to have been ill, probably after the birth of daughter Hester, and may have died soon after at the age of just 23.

Isabella may have been in the tower as one of the attendants of princess Elizabeth, who was there for several months at the same time as John. But her father, Sir John Markham, was Lieutenant of the Tower at the time and it may have been seen as inappropriate for her to be there as an attendant to Elizabeth.

The comment that John made about his wife, whilst confined in the tower, was certainly about Awdrey and not Isabella Markham, who he married in June 1559.

My wife ys her servant, and dothe but rejoice in thys, our miserie, when we looke with whom we are holden in bondage.

I estimate that their daughter, Hester, was born in late 1554 and it is likely that she was therefore conceived in the tower when both her parents were there together earlier that year. This is based on Hester being fourteen [of legal age] in the autumn of 1568 when she and her father were involved in the recovery of the manor of Watchfield. page

Perhaps the reason that Awdrey is not shown as Elizabeth’s attendant after she was released from the tower was because of her pregnancy and subsequent illness and she may have retired to St. Catherine’s court in Somerset and, perhaps, died there, probably about 1556.

I would like to think that John had some affection for his first wife and that he did not start pursuing Isabella until after her death, but the first poem written about Isabella dates from about 1549 only a few years after he married Awdrey and before the birth of their daughter.

This indicates more than anything that John married Awdrey for the benefits it brought him in restoring the family fortunes and not for any romantic notion of marrying the King’s daughter, although that may have appealed to his poetic nature.

If Awdrey was not the King’s daughter then it would be difficult to see why John would have had much interest in her at all and I would have thought that he had much bigger ambitions for his marriage than the daughter of a tailor and a servant – even a rich one.

Farmer BullshotIn a  previous post I have questioned why Awdrey held a position as an attendant to princess Elizabeth, and concluded that it could only be because she was the daughter of the king and the half-sister of Elizabeth.

But it may also have been through the influence of her husband, who was devoted to Elizabeth, having been imprisoned in the tower for carrying messages to her in the first place. Possibly she was there in place of Isabella Markham who does not appear to have been in the tower with Elizabeth in 1554.

Perhaps this does weaken the claim that Awdrey was the natural daughter of Henry VIII if she was an attendant to the princess simply because she the wife of John Harington and just filling in for someone else.

But I am still confident that Awdrey is more likely to be the daughter of Henry VIII than not, as it would be difficult to explain some of the other events in her life – in particular the grants of land [whoever they were intended for] – if she was just the natural daughter of John Malte and Joanne Dingley.

speech50One thing that is cleared up in the book is the names of the two Gloucestershire manors – Bibury and Alrington – that John purchased in 1547 in exchange for his annuity from the lordship of Denbigh that he had been granted nine years earlier.

 Chris Sidney 2016



Farmer BullshotElizabeth Codrington was the elder daughter of Richard Codrington of Dodington in Gloucestershire and had – shall we say – an interesting life.

Richard was a member of the junior branch of the Codrington family, descended from Thomas, the youngest son of John Codrington of Agincourt. He married Joyce, the daughter of John Borlase, Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, of Little Marlow, and several of their children were born there. The family home, however, was in Dodington in Gloucestershire and this is where Elizabeth was born about 1595.

There are many similarities between the two branches of the Codrington family at the time. Richard was born in 1560 and died in 1613, leaving a large family. Robert Codrington was a distant cousin from the senior branch, about the same age and his family lived at nearby Didmarton. With his wife Anne Stubbes they also had a large family – many of them having the same names as the family of Richard and Joyce.

This has partly contributed to the confusion between the families, especially as Christopher Codrington, the great grand-son of Robert, purchased Dodington from Samuel Codrington of the junior branch of the family in about 1700 with the profits from his sugar plantations. page

Robert died in 1618, just a few years after his cousin Richard, and both of them left a significant amount of money in their wills to their sons, for their education, and to their daughters for their marriages.

Richard, justice of the peace for Gloucestershire, left about £400 [about £50,000] to each of his sons for the …

“ … maintenance and lyvliehood and educacion in Learninge, both at the Universities and elsewhere … “

And it is this legacy that seems to have been the cause of some problems for both his sons and daughters.

Richard and Robert

After Samuel the two eldest sons of Richard and Joyce, were Richard and Robert and both attended Oxford university. It was Robert from this family that has been incorrectly attributed to the Didmarton family of Robert and Anne, and this is discussed elsewhere in more detail. page

The change of ownership of the Dodington property between the two branches of the family and an incorrect entry in the Oxford records [suggesting the parentage of Robert] have lead to this confusion, but I have little doubt that it was this Robert who attended Oxford, moved to Norfolk and became a writer, translator and poet.

Richard attended Pembroke College and Robert was at Magdalen but both may have lodged with John Browne and his wife Mihill, who lived in Oxford by means of …

“the selling of tobacco and the keeping of a tippling house.”

In a court case, brought by the brothers, the Brownes are accused of seducing the two boys into:

“loose and inordinate courses causing them to spend and consume their whole portions [of their inheritance].” 

Robert was “utterly ruinated” and was, at one point, imprisoned in the “Counter of London”, by Browne.

In these proceedings Joyce is named as the mother of these two, and Elizabeth Codrington as their sister.

Elizabeth – described as a gentlewoman – was involved by pledging bonds to get her brothers out of debt, in order that their mother did not get to know of the affair, but the Brownes also tried to get their hands on her inheritance as well.

A few years before this, however, it was Elizabeth who’s inheritance – due on her marriage – got her into trouble.


Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Richard and Joyce, had been “appoynted a porcion to a great value” following the death of her father [in 1613].

This was £500, the equivalent of about £70,000 today.

There are several documents in the National Archives relating to Elizabeth:

Subject: Kidnapping Elizabeth Codrington, daughter of Richard Codrington esq. deceased, the said John Rodman’s master and attempt to marry her at Malmesbury church.

These charges were made by Elizabeth’s mother, Joyce [through Sir Henry Yelverton, the Attorney General], against John Rodman on Tuesday, 21 October 1617 in the star chamber.

There are several defendants in this case:

John Rodman, son of Hugh Rodman of Alston, blacksmith, Richard Hayes, a ‘reputed minister’, William Bruton, Thomas Bushopp, William Cary, Thomas Gilman, husbandman.

The Bill of Complaint starts with a VERY long sentence describing John Rodman and the events that occurred, from the point of view of Joyce.

I have tried to break this down into manageable chunks:

John Rodman is identified as a serving man, the son of Hugh Rodman of Alliston [probably Alveston] in Gloucestershire, a blacksmith  and a very poore man.

For three of four years John had served Richard Codrington at Dodington as a horse-keeper and coachman and following the death of Richard continued to be employed by his widow, Joyce;

“havinge an especiall opinion confidence and trust in the honesty & fidelity of the said John Rodman”.

After about three years, however, John was dismissed for “incontinent discources” regarding love-potions and in particular:

“how farre a man might prevaile in getting of woemens good wills to yield to unlawful affections thereby and that he could make any woman, by such means, to come after him.”

This sounds simply like a bit of male bravado – but things went further than this.

At the beginning of February 1617 the said John Rodman was planning how he might get the said Elizabeth Codrington into his possession and so at his pleasure intermarry with her.

He and William Bruton of Titherington gathered a motley cast of characters in order to execute his plans.

Richard Hayes a reputed minister.

“one which hath used to marry sundry evill and disordered persons together without any licence or Bannes in such behalfe and is a Common agent in Clandestyne marriage”

William Cary the son in Law of the said Richard Hayes

Thomas Gylman of Malmsbury.

“who hath bene often in prison for suspicion of Felonies supposed to be done by him”

Phillip Hyott the wife[?] of Francis Hyott and one Elizabeth Hopkins

“beinge all persons of base quality and lewd life and diverse other persons yet unknowne”.

The conclusion of their conspiracy was that:

… the said Elizabeth should be somtyme at night trayned forth of her mothers howse at Dodington afore said by some devise or other and beinge soe trayned and by sleight gott abroade, they the said John Rodman Will[ia]m Bruton and Thomas Bushopp should in the night when theire practisse could not be discovered, take and Carry awaye the said Elizabeth Codrington from Dodington aforesaid unto Malmsbury aforesaid and there cause the said John Rodman and Elizabeth to be marryed together.

The plan was carried out on 4th February at about 9 o’clock at night.

Joyce accuses unknown conspirators, by “false and cunning pretences”, of taking Elizabeth from the house without her “hatte maske or gloves safegard or any other thing fit for riding.”

The said John Rodman and Will[ia]m Bruton lyinge there ready p[re]pared for the purpose rushed both out of a grove in Dodington aforesaid called the Alders and laid handes upon her the said Elizabeth Codrington and by Force and stronge hand contrary to the intent and much entreaty of the said Elizabeth Codrington did one by one arme and the other by the other arme take and leade awaye the said Elizabeth Codrington over the Feilde.

They met up with Thomas Bishopp who was waiting with horses and Elizabeth was lifted onto a horse behind John Rodman and taken to Malmsbury ten miles from Dodington.

Joyce says that Elizabeth did not cry out as she feared she would be murdered or evily used by the conspirators.

The group gained entry to the church at Malmesbury by “ryott and disorder” in the middle of the night and there – by great threats and menaces – endeavour to constrain Elizabeth and marry her to John Rodman.

Fearing that they had been discovered they left Malmsbury and carried Elizabeth to Cricklade in Wiltshire about eight miles away

But a warrant had been issued and the conspirators were captured and brought before Sir John Hungerford, Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire page and, upon the entreaty of Elizabeth she was delivered from the conspirators and admitted to go home to her mother.


On discovering her daughter was missing Joyce caused the groves and fields to be searched and when Elizabeth could not be found had fallen into “extasyes and expressions of sorrow and grief and had been much impaired in her health since”.

John Rodman William Bruton and Thomas Bishopp were indicted for:

Felonious takinge awaye the said Elizabeth Codrington against her will unlawfully contrary to a Statute in that behalf made in the third yere of the Raigne of Kinge Henry the Seaventh late Kinge of England [1488]

But they were found not guilty and this court proceeding is actually an appeal against that decision.

John Rodman William Bruton and Thomas Bushopp then and there by due and lawful Course of proceeding were found by the Jury not guilty of the said Felony …

Joyce seems to have been concerned about reputations and keeping servants in their place.

But never the less for as much as all the said Conspiracies, combinations, practises and misdemeanours were all committed, perpetrated and done since your Highness’ most gracious general & free pardon and every other pardon which pardons …

… such haughty and lewd practises are much against the peace, quiet & good government of this, your highness’ realm, and was in the said John Rodman contrary to the fidelity of an ancient servant and doe tend as well to the utter heaviness, disparagement and disgrace of the kindred and friends of the said Elizabeth Codrington, they being of great worship and of very ancient descent of gentry, as also to the very evil example and emboldening of servants and others of base quality to attempt the like upon their Masters children and the children of others of great dignity and worth if punishment be not inflicted upon the said malefactors.

The defendants were acquitted under the statute of 3 Henry VII [c. 2, Abduction of women]

But there are two sides to every story and that of John Rodman is, as you would expect, contrary to what Joyce has indicated.

It is true that he this defendant was a servant in the house to Richard Codrington, late of Doddington in the County of Gloucester esquire, whilst he lived,  and that the said Richard about two years since died leaving behind him – amongst divers other children – a daughter called Elizabeth then of the age of nineteen or twenty years, and left unto her a portion [inheritance] of five hundred pounds or thereabouts.

Richard’s widow, Joyce, continued to employ John and during this period he became familiar with Elizabeth, aged about twenty, and that their long familiarity was such that she was enforced to require his care and she desired him to carry her away and marry her.

Joyce found out about this and dismissed John but Elizabeth continued to write letters to him entreating him to fetch her away and arranged to meet with John so they could be married.

William Bruton and Thomas Bishopp say that the defendant Rodman acquainted them that he was to ryde to fetche home a wief & intreated them to accompany him tellinge them that she was a woeman of yeares and discretion and appointed him that night to Fetche her And they accompanied him to or near the place appointed wheare they met.

They then went to Malmsbury church in Wiltshire where Rodman and Elizabeth were married together.

After this the defendants were pursued to Cricklade by the means of the said Joyce and were taken before Sir John Hungerford, justice of the peace for Wiltshire, where Elizabeth acknowledged her own desires in regard to John Rodman.

Despite this admission by Elizabeth, John Rodman was imprisoned for six months before being found not guilty at his trial.

So what is the truth of the matter?

If Elizabeth had planned to run away and marry John Rodman, then surely she would have dressed for February weather?

This indicates that she may well have been taken from the house (by persons unknown) as suggested by Joyce and did not have any part in the plan – or had decided not to take part but John went ahead anyway.

On the other hand Elizabeth did indicate that she was part of the plan to marry John Rodman before Sir John Hungerford and there is no evidence of anyone else involved in actually taking her from the house.

However unwisely perhaps she did want to marry John Rodman – or at least thought that she did? Maybe John was not simply trying get his hands on her inheritance, although that would have been a bonus.

The evidence from the defendants indicate that the marriage did actually happen, but perhaps it was declared invalid?

Farmer BullshotI am not sure what happened to Elizabeth. According to the History of Antigua one Elizabeth married William Bucke in 1636 when she would have been 40 but perhaps this is to another Elizabeth?

There is also a record of a marriage between Elizabeth and Samuel Stokes but this record should be for her younger sister Isabella.

If Elizabeth had been officially married to John Rodman then any further marriage record would reflected this and I cannot find a record of Elizabeth Rodman.

There is a record of a will dated 1688 for Elizabeth Codrington 93.

I had attributed this to another Elizabeth who died in 1687 but perhaps this was for this Elizabeth as the 93 matches with her age?

In this case she lead a long, but perhaps not so happy, life at Dodington.

Chris Sidney 2015

Fun with GEDCOM files

Farmer BullshotI came across the GEDCOM data format file some years ago and I have been surprised how little it has changed since it was originally defined back in the 1980’s.

A GEDCOM file is used to transfer family trees between different software applications and websites or just to keep as a backup. The format is based on specifications defined and maintained by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I recently had a need to split a GEDCOM file, but despite how long they have been around there are very few options for doing this, although most applications will merge files.

Strangely it is more recent innovations in DNA ancestry that brought about this requirement; there are several websites and applications that will process your DNA files for you, but to make it more beneficial they require you to upload your tree using a GEDCOM file.

But these sites only need the file to contain your direct pedigree – anyone who is not a blood relative is irrelevant and simply adds clutter to the matching  – but how do you extract your direct pedigree from your tree?

There is one website that offers a splitting service but some have been suspicious of uploading their family tree onto the internet.

So I decided to have a look at the GEDCOM format in more detail and see if I could come up with something simple that would work as a Windows desktop application.

The first question is why has the format for this file changed so little in over three decades – surely using a modern XML file format would be the way to go?

The GEDCOM format was designed for an older time with simpler computer storage – the floppy disc!

Therefore the size of a GEDCOM file was very important – and is still important today.

Converting the file to an XML format would be fairly easy, but would also increase the file size at least 10 times, and although the size is still pretty small compared to other files it is still 10 x larger than it needs to be.


The GEDCOM file format is fairly simple but it does have a few quirks and you need to know how to get at the information you need.

There a number of different collections in the file

Individuals and Families are the most important and the relationship between these two collections basically defines the tree – the other collections are just references and cross-references

Each item in the file is identifies with a LEVEL – the main item of each individual has a level of 0 (zero), so it is fairly easy to break up the file into individual items.

Following the item ID is a TAG that says what the record is followed by other references and successive lines with a different tree LEVEL.

Technically there can be up to 99 levels but there are rarely more than 3 or four.

0 @P1@ INDI

1 FAMC @F3@

1 FAMS @F2@

Notice one of the odd quirks in the file format – the position of the ID and TAG in the first record when compared with sub-items. I can only imagine that this is a belt-and-braces approach to be able to positively identify the first item in each record.


Each Individual can belong to multiple families, either as a parent or a child.

References are added to each individual indicating which families they belong to and each family record contains a reference to the individuals belonging to the family.

FAMS @F2@ The person is a spouse (parent) in this family)

FAMC @F3@ The person is a child in this family.

Person references are identified as @P1@ and family references as @F2@ but this one-to-one relationship does mean that both collections have to be kept synchronised or everything falls apart.

From each family record individuals are referenced as a Husband, Wife or Child.




So in order to identify your pedigree you need to do the following:

1. Identify the Home person @P1@

2. Find the family where they are a child @F3@ using the FAMC reference

3. Find the Husband @P2@ in that family and repeat the process.

The whole process is a single procedure that calls itself repeatedly until it runs out of Husbands, at which point it comes back down the tree and does the same for the Wife in each of the families.

If you want to export all of the family branch then you also have to process children and their descendants and spouses which is the same process but going down the tree using the FAMS record instead of going up using the FAMC record for each person.


What I ended up with was a small desktop application named – for the moment anyway – GedMate which you can try for yourself.

GedMate has several options for processing your tree but the main purpose is to identify all of the ancestors of the selected home person.

Capture2This can be limited to either the Paternal or Maternal line if necessary.

You can choose whether to include all of the branches from this tree – both up the tree and down and back up again until all related individuals are included.

You can also choose to include the descendants of the Home person, so by selecting all of these options you should be able to export your whole tree.

However this will not include any orphan records so this can be used as a way of purging your tree of any records that are not directly connected with the home person.

If necessary you can limit the number of generations that will be processed.


Capture1If you would like to use GedMate then please download it using the link below and give it a go – it’s completely free.

Download GedMate

The application should run on any version of Windows from XP to Windows 10.

GedMate does not make any changes to your original GEDCOM file, but you should always back things up just in case.

The header details provided in the original file will be included unchanged – apart from the Home Person – in the exported file.


A useful tool for checking the data in a GEDCOM file is Gedcom Validator from Chronoplex Software.

When checking the exported data from GedMate you will need to make a comparison with the original GEDCOM to identify differences; a lot of errors are identified by this application that are not related to anything that GedMate has done.

You can then upload the exported GEDCOM file into any desktop or web-based application to check the structure of the tree such as Chronoplex My Family Tree which is free.

Chris Sidney 2016





Robert of Norwich

Farmer BullshotIn a previous post I have argued that Robert Codrington, the writer and translator, was more likely to be the son of Richard Codrington of Dodington, than the second son of Robert Codrington of Didmarton.

But then a new piece of evidence comes along …

We will get to that in a minute, but first a bit of background. The record for Robert Codrington at Oxford identifies him as the second son of Robert Codrington of Didmarton, but I believe that this is a simple mistake and Robert was the son of Richard Codrington of Dodington.

Robert Codrington A14

There does not appear to be any evidence that there were two Robert Codringtons at Oxford, and I have concluded that one of them – Robert of Didmarton – never existed, died young or, at the very least, did not go to Oxford University, and the Oxford record is mistaken as to his pedigree.


Robert Henry Codrington, in his definitive work on the Codrington family, believed that Cotherington may have been the original spelling of the family name although pronounced as Cutherington.

So I have been slowly searching the internet using all the possible spellings of the name and coming up with some interesting results.

Codrington, Codringtonne, Codryngton, Codrinton, Codrintonne, Codrynton, Coddrington, Cotherington, Cotherinton, Cotheryngton, Coderyngton, Cudrington, Cuddrington, Cuderington, Cutherington, Goodryngton, Guderington, Gudderington, Cothrindton, Cowdrington, Cooaddoringtonn.

The possibility, of course, is that some of the alternate spellings of the Codrington name actually belong to other, unrelated families.

RHC may have dismissed some spellings such as Godrington as belonging elsewhere, however I have come across several members of the Codrington family with alternative spellings not mentioned in the list, so it is not a definitive reference.

One similar name that could fit this category is Codington [of Surrey] but this does not match the alternative spellings identified above.

All of these spellings have a “d” or “th” sound followed by an “r” or sometime “l” – and this is what really distinguishes the family name from others.

Having said that a record has turned up for Robert Cotherington of Norfolk that may indicate that there were two Roberts who both lived in Norfolk at about the same time.

Robert Codrington and his wife Hennigham Drury [of Norfolk] had a son named Robert who was baptised in London 1635.

robert codringtom 1635

This Robert was the one who moved to Barbados and had a daughter, Henningham [named after her grandmother], who married Paul Carrington.

The new record for Robert Cotherington of Norwich shows a son – also named Robert – who was born 1633 and this could be the son of Robert and Henningham, assuming that he was baptized some time later in London.

In this record, Robert is shown as a clergyman and the record itself is related to his son’s admission to the Merchant Taylor’s school in 1645, when Robert junior would have been 12.

robert cotherington

But none of the accounts I have seen about Robert, the writer, indicate that he had any relationship with the church, other than being described as a puritan [and a parliamentarian] by Anthony Wood in Athenæ Oxonienses. p.699 page

Wood was contemporary with Robert and his biographical work of Oxford [University] writers was published in 1691, only 25 years after Robert died, so if Robert had been a clergyman I guess Wood would have known this – unless it wasn’t that important to record what Robert did outside of his writing.

In the baptism record of his son, Robert is identified as  a yeoman and he probably had land in Norfolk from his marriage, but he later moved to Middlesex, London.

The Merchant Taylor’s school was [and still is] located in London – the original site was destroyed in the great fire in 1666.

“The grammar school, founded in the Parish of St. Lawrence Pountney in London in the yere of our Lord God one thousand fyve hundred, sixty-one by this worshipfull company of the Marchaunt-Taylors of the Cytty of London, in the honor of Christ Jesu”

In 1645 the Headmaster of the school was William Dugard, the cousin of Sir James Harrington a parliamentarian and one of the commissioners at the trial of Charles I.

Whether the politics of the time influenced the choice of school can only be guessed at, but Robert was described as a parliamentarian by Wood based on one of his more significant publications:

The Life and Death of the Illustrious Robert Earle of Essex, & c. Containing at large the wars he managed, and the commands he had in Holland, the Palatinate, and in England, etc.

Robert of Norwich

So just who was Robert Cotherington of Norwich?

There are several possibilities:

1. Robert was the son of Robert and Anne Codrington of Didmarton.

There is no mention of a son named Robert in the court proceedings of the Codrington family following the death of Robert in 1618 and the marriage of his widow, Anne, to Ralph Marsh.

If he had taken holy orders and moved to Norfolk then perhaps he had no further claims against his father’s estate, although all of the other children of Robert and Anne have been mentioned in one or other of the documents, even if they had died.

If this Robert was of Didmarton then it is likely that he also married Henningham Drury and his son, Robert, was the one who went to Barbados.

In this scenario Robert of Dodington may have still completed his degree [perhaps not at Oxford] and become the translator of Aesop’s fables, but did not necessarily have any connection to Norfolk.

2. Robert was the son of Richard and Joyce Codrington of Dodington.

Robert of Dodington may not have completed his Oxford degree – after the incident with the Brownes – and instead moved to Norfolk to become a clergyman. page

If he did not complete his degree he may not have been recorded [officially] as having been at Oxford, but clearly he was there, based on the records of the court case with the Brownes.

It is also possible that he did complete his degree and still become a clergyman and also married Henningham Drury. page

Perhaps the clergyman reference was a mistake by whoever made the original record?

Possibly he had sold the land in Norfolk when he moved to London and could no longer be called Yeoman, and perhaps he did have some sort of position as a clerk or within the church while he pursued his writing and translating.

Or possibly the record has been transcribed incorrectly and this should say gentleman – but I think this unlikely.

3. Robert was not related to either the Didmarton or Dodington Codrington families.

This seems possible, given that there are no other records for Cotherington [or Codrington] living in Norfolk.

But if he is not from either family then where does he come from?

Possibly he is related to an older branch of the Codrington family who have been unrecorded, or records have not yet been found.

Or perhaps a member of the Codington family who has been mis-recorded.

Farmer BullshotIt is possible that Robert, the writer and translator, was a member of the clergy and that his son, Robert was born in Norfolk but baptised in London.

Most accounts about the life of Robert could fit with this time-line, despite no mention of any connection to the clergy.

Codrington, Robert, a miscellaneous writer and translator of the seventeenth century, was born of an ancient family in Gloucestershire, in 1602, and educated at Oxford, where he was elected demy of Magdalen college, in July 1619, and completed his degree of M. A. in 1626. He then travelled, and on his return settled as a private gentleman in Norfolk, where he married. He died of the plague in London, in 1665.

But was the son of Robert of Norwich the one who went to Barbados?

If he was from the Didmarton family then his uncle was Christopher Codrington, so there were certainly family connections he could take advantage of. page

In this case he would also have had to be the one that married into the Drury family, simply because of the name of his daughter, Henningham.

But if he was the son of Robert Codrington of Didmarton, then I still do not understand why there was no mention of him in any of the court proceedings following his mother’s marriage to Ralph Marsh.

These proceedings were relevant to his inheritance as, in 1618 when his father Robert died, he would not yet have completed his studies at Oxford. page

Farmer BullshotOf the two Codrington links the most likely is that Robert of Norwich was the son of Richard and Joyce Codrington of Dodington, which then enriches our knowledge of him and of his son Robert.

But as far as I know none of the biographies of Robert Codrington mention him being a member of the clergy and I cannot find any other records relating to him in Norfolk.

If Robert the writer was a clergyman in 1645, when his son attended Merchant Taylor’s school, then surely this would have been mentioned in his biography or in one of his letters or publications?

Having said that most biographies are based on what Anthony Wood had to say about Robert, most of which was a simply a list of his writings and translations rather than personal or family details.

If Robert of Norwich could be linked with the Didmarton family, it would clear up the missing son from the will of Robert Codrington in 1618.

But I do not think that this can be true for reasons already discussed. page

If Robert of Norwich is not Robert the writer then this leaves us with the possibility of either an unknown member of the Codrington family, or a member of another family with a similar sounding name, such as Codington.


There are some references to the Codington family in Suffolk in the 16th century – in particular of Richard Codington who has a tomb in Ixworth church dated 1567 – and it is possible for a descendant of his to be living in Norfolk a century later.

In 1538, King Henry VIII granted it [Little Melton] to Richard Codington of Codington in Surrey, in exchange for the manor of Codington, along with the manor of Ixworth, &c.

There are also references to William Codington of Boston in Lincolnshire, the son of a Robert Codington who died 1615.

William was treasurer to the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 and went there with the first voyage in 1630. He was governor of Newport in 1640 and of Rhode Island in 1678, the same year he died.

William could have been a brother of Robert Codington born about 1600 and possibly related to Richard of Suffolk and this seems a reasonable explanation – a simple transcription or recording error from Codington to Cotherington.

But I can find no records to support Robert being from the Codington family either, so, for now at least, I am going to stick with my original assumptions about the other two Robert Codringtons as described elsewhere. page

Until another piece of evidence turns up anyway.


coddingtonThis is the introduction page to a publication about the Coddington family of Woodbridge, New Jersey. page

Strangely – having gone to the trouble to show the variations in spelling – there appears to be a reference here to the origins of the  Codrington family name and not the Coddingtons at all.

This just proves how easy it is to get mixed up between the two families.

Chris Sidney 2015



Farmer BullshotRobert Tatton, the heir to the Wythenshawe estate in Cheshire, was disinherited by his father, William. But what had Robert done to deserve this?

For background information it is recommended that you read Tatton v Stubbes before reading this.

It seems to me a little harsh to disinherit your only son and pass your estate to your grandson instead, but this is what William Tatton of Wythenshawe did in his will of 1606. His only son, Robert – the father of William who inherited the estate – is not mentioned at all.

About 1605 Robert eloped with Susan Stubbes, the daughter of William Stubbes and Hester Harington – who was due to be married to another man a few days later – and married her against the wishes of her parents, as shown in Tatton v Stubbes, however it seems unlikely that this is the reason that he was disowned.

But this is not all that happened about this time.

There are two other documents dated 1603 in the National Archives relating to charges made against Robert Tatton that was heard before the star chamber and instigated by William Tatton, Robert’s father.

Rob[er]t Tatton of Marybone in the County of Midd[lesex] gent[leman] sworne &c

We have both the deposition of Robert, in answer to the charges, and the inquisition document itself, the title on its own making interesting reading:

Sale of tithes and mortgage in Bowdon, conspiracy to murder, land in The Poole, Lancashire.

Conspiracy to murder?

This is certainly a pretty good reason for being disinherited, but just what did Robert get involved in, and who was to be murdered?

Robert Tatton

Robert Tatton 1566I am still not quite sure whether Robert was a charming, but devious man, intent on getting his hands on his inheritance (and anything else he wanted), or was just sensitive and kind and ill-used by his friends and relations – and anyone else he met.

William Stubbes, his father-in-law, certainly held a poor opinion of Robert’s character due to the way that he believed his daughter, Susan, and her children were treated by Robert.

But this may be due to his disinheritance and the subsequent large amounts of money that Robert borrowed – mainly from William’s friends and family.

Apart from being disinherited, I do not think that there were any other consequences following these charges, unless you count the sad expression that he has in his portrait – painted just before he died in January 1624.

The Charges

Interrogatories to be ministred unto Robert Tatton gentleman defendant upon the Informacion of Edward Coke Esquire Attorney general to our late soveraigne Ladye Queene Elizabeth deceased at & by the Relation of William Tatton Esquire as followeth:

John Warren-1The first items are related to the mortgage on the rectory of Bowdon taken out by William Tatton. The sums of £600 and  £800 are mentioned as well as the names of Sir Edward Warren and his father John Warren, of Poynton who died in 1587.

It seems that Robert had obtained the statute for £800 that his father had taken out on his properties from John Warren, and were now held by his son Sir Edward Warren.

… and by that meanes to have gotten the possession from your father of & in his Capitall howses of Wythenshawe & Peele and his demeasne Landes & goodes there into your owen handes & to your owen use.

Sir Edward Warren-1Robert – along with Edward – is accused of “practising to extend his fathers landes”, as well as the supply of “meate drinke and weapons” to those who would hold the landes of his father.

To this Robert replies that …

… he was pryvye that the said Sir Edward Warren dyd purpose and intende to extende the landes of this defendants said father & knoweth that parte therof was extended by the said Sir Edward.

Howbeit he this defendant dyd not by himself or by any others at any tyme perswade or practyce with the said Sir Edward to extende the same: but confesseth that he dyd trethe the said Sir Edward Warren – beinge his wyves brother & suche as were in the said Sir Edwards Company & before possession against his father – with meat dryncke and lodging.

And he thincketh that somme of them dyd to keepe the said possession taken somme wepons owt of this defendants howse.

Robert says also that he:

… bought the estate and interest of the said statute of £800 for the better securing [of himself] concerning certen articles of agreement formerly made betwixt this deffendants said father and [himself].

This earlier agreement – held by Manchester University – was made in October 1592 and concerns various properties in the possession of his father.

There is a note attached to the document that says that it was also exhibited in a suit dated 16 April 1605, two years after this inquisition.

Articles of Agreament Indented had made & Concluded upon betwene William Tatton of Wythinshawe within the Countie of Chester Esquier upon th’one partye And Roberte Tatton gentleman son & heire apparant of the saide William upon th’other partye by the mediacion of dyvers their good & loving [original damaged] frendes

One of these properties, the rectory at Bowden is also mentioned in this inquisition.

That the saide Roberte Tatton shall & maie proceade with George Bouthe of Dunham in the saide Countie of Chester Esquier for the Reobteyninge and Repurchasinge of the Rcorye [Rectory] and tythes of Bowdon in the saide Countie of Chester …

If anyone can provide a good definition of “extending lands” then I would be grateful. From the way the interrogations are worded it cannot be a good thing – at least not for Robert’s father.


Robert also denies another accusation that he attempted to have his father arrested.

Neyther dyd he come to his fathers said howse in Companye with the sheriffe of the sayd Countie uppon purpose to have entred and kepte possession there or to have mayneteyned and furthered the same against his father.

Neyther hathe he at any tyme layd plottes with Sheriffe Baylyeffe or with anye other to take arreste and attache his fathers boddye intendinge or myndinge to have him imprisoned as in this Interrogatory is supposed But the defendant dyd many tymes doe his best endevor to keepe his said father from beinge arrested or imprisoned.

It seems that it was after this that Robert was forced into an agreement to end the controversies and disagreements between him and his father, and that he was advised that if he did not stand by such agreement that his father would disinherit him.

… that there was an agreement made and sett downe in wrytinge by certen Knightes & gentlemen for the fynall endinge of all controversies and disagrements betwixt this defendants father & this defendant But this defendant doth not remember that anye boddy dyd advise him to stande to such said agreement least his father would disinherytt him or that hee this defendant dyd make anye suche undutifull & unrespective agrement as in this Interrogatory ys mencioned.

Private Conversation

It seems that Robert’s father, William, was suffering from syphilis and being treated by a surgeon named Plante – William would have been nearly 70 years old and this was a serious condition.

wythenshaw built by Robert Tatton (1650)Robert is accused of sending one Peter Warren to visit the surgeon Plante at his father’s house [Wythenshawe] to arrange a meeting with him in private, but without the knowledge of any of his father’s servants, leading to suspicions about the purpose of the meeting.

Robert does say that he did have a private conversation with Plante, but this was at his father’s house …

… in or neare a chamber at the said howse called the Gatehowse Chamber, the [purpose] of which speche was to understand what disease his said father had, & to desire the said Plante to take greate care to cure the same

This meeting was arranged through Sir George Leycester – whose daughter was to marry Robert’s eldest son – and who was travelling between Robert and his father in order to work a reconcilement between them.

Based on this conversation it is accused that Robert did …

… move or perswade hime the said Plant to use or laye somthinge to your fathers Sore or some other parte & place of his Bodye whereby to swell & Corrupte his said Bodye & take awaye his Liefe sayeinge further to the saide Plant that if your father did Amende & recover his healthe of that disease It would be to your undoeinge, for that yow sayde yow muste paye greate summes of money for hime.

Robert replies that that he …

… dyd not crave or perswade the sayd Plante to use or laye any thing to his fathers sore or anye other parte or place of his fathers boddy whereby to make the same to swell & to corrupte his boddy & to take awaye his lyef as is supposed neither dyd he this defendant utter suche speches to the said Plante as in this Interrogatory  are mencioned or any speches to anye such effecte.

From the above accusation it seems that he owed a great amount of money, which, perhaps, he was hoping would be covered by the death of his father and his inheritance.

Plante does seem to have made the accusation himself about Robert who, of course, denies anything other than trying to obtain the best possible care for his father, and making sensible arrangements should he die.

To that end he is accused of asking Peter Warren to send him word when his father died, in the expectation that it would be soon.

Did yow tell the said Peter Warren that yow muste Comit truste unto hime touchinge matter wherein he muste use greate secresie tellinge hime that he was of your wyves fleshe & bloudde & that frendes muste holde together, and whether did yow tell the said Warren that yow did knowe your father colde not live fower dayes, and therefore desired hime that presently upon your fathers deathe he woulde come unto yow or send yow worde thereof.

Perhaps he was expecting this, considering the poor health and old age of his father, but it seems to have been taken to mean that he was expecting news of his father’s death because he had something to do with it, especially because of the conspiratorial nature of the conversation with Peter Warren.

Peter was probably a younger brother of his wife, but may also have been in the service of Robert’s father so was in a position to be able to get a message to Robert [presumably in London] quickly.

Misdemeanors & Offences

Robert is next questioned as to whether he had …

…. of late come to your fathers Howse havinge a dagge or Pystoll charged aboute yow and at the same tyme sent unto your father & desired to see hime, and whether did yow tell any person & whome, that yow weare Counselled or Intended to Kyll one John Bellers whoe (being deposed) was thoughte (as yow sayde) colde accuse yow of manye lewde undutifull & trecherous dealinges misdemeanors & Offences by yow Committed & doene or used againste the said William Tatton your Father.

John Bellers is likely to have been a trusted servant of his father.

dagger-pistolWhat Robert was carrying was probably a Dagger Pistol, which was, as the name suggests, a combination of a dagger and a pistol, but is not really the sort of personal defence that a gentleman might carry.

Robert replies to this charge …

… that hee dyd of late ryde from London allone to his fathers howse, having about him for his necessary defence a dagg or pistoll charged. 

And when he came to the owter gate of the said howse he desired one of his fathers men to goe & tell his father that hee was come thither to crave his blessinge & with an intent in all dutifull manner to satisfye his said father concerning any matters that he should objecte against him if he this defendant might be admytted to his presenc.

But this defendant dyd not tell any boddy that he was councelled or intended to kill anie John Bellers in this Interrogatory mencioned for any cause whatsoever neyther dyd this defendant intende any such thing nor was councelled by any boddy to doe any suche thinge.


Robert says that he was informed about the accusations made by Plante by Mr Davenporte & John Makepeace who told him that:

… Plant had accused him this defendant unto them that he had practized with him to laye some plaster or other infectious thing to his fathers sore which might swell upp into his boddy & take away his lief.

The only reason that I can see for Plante making up this story is if William had died, and wanted to blame someone else, or Robert had refused to pay his fees – assuming it was his responsibility in the first place. As far as I can tell neither of these happened.

But Robert denies trying to persuade Plante to change his story saying that all he wanted was for Plante to tell the truth. He also says that he did not:

… gyve over in speches that this defendants said father had or was infected with the frenche pockes or with any other odious diseases but rather allwayes desired to conceale his said fathers infyrmities & diseases.

Farmer BullshotRoberts responses seem quite reasonable but his replies also seem to strengthen the opinion that William Stubbes had of him, as a skilled and believable orator.

… by the fayer and flatteringe speches of the complainant …

… uppon the faithfull promises and earnest protestacions made by the said complainant …

It is possible that Robert did not have any reason to want his father dead and this was all a terrible misunderstanding. But there seems overwhelming evidence that the opposite was true – certainly his father believed that Robert wanted him dead.

One other scenario is that William simply did not trust his son with the estate, and made up the accusations so that he could disown him and pass the estate to his grandson, William. He would have needed the support of the surgeon Plante and several other of the characters in this story and is not impossible that he did this, however I think it unlikely.

When William wrote his will in 1606 there is no mention of Robert at all and everything is passed to his grandson, William, Robert’s eldest son.

speech50Some records attribute the portrait of Robert Tatton to his grandson, also named Robert (1606-1669), but this cannot be correct.

A copy of the portrait held in the Manchester City Art Galleries is signed by the artist – Cornelius Johnson – and dated 1625, the year after Robert died and when his grandson would have only been 19 years old.

Robert Tatton 1566But the most significant clue is the wedding ring on the chain around the sitter’s neck. The younger Robert died in 1669 a year before his wife, Anne Brereton, so this would have been inappropriate

On the other hand the elder Robert’s wife, Eleanor Warren, died about 1605, or perhaps before, and Robert remarried Susan Stubbes before 1608 – although this evidence for the second marriage is hidden by Robert’s left hand being in his pocket. page

Having your portrait painted, yet alone to this standard, was not cheap and I am not sure who paid for this, given Robert’s history with money!

Some background information

Poole, which is now in Cheshire, was owned by the Leycester family. Katherine Leycester married William Tatton, the eldest son of Robert, and heir to the Wythenshawe estates, who drowned crossing the Mersey in 1616. In 1602 George Leycester, of Toft, was High Sherriff of Cheshire and he was also involved in negotiating between Robert and his father.

The Elcock or Elcocke family held the manor of White-Poole, which included Poole Farm, from around 1600, and this is the site of the later Poole Hall. The Leycester family probably held another of the three manors. In 1601, Poole had a watermill at Poole Bridge.

Wythenshawe Hall 1837Wythenshawe Hall was built by Robert Tatton, the grand-father of this Robert, in about 1540 and was in the same family until 1926, when it was sold to pay debts and death duties. The property was bought by Lord and Lady Simon and donated to the city of Manchester for the use of the public.

The hall has been used by the local council as an art gallery and is now being opened to the public by the Friends of Wythenshawe Hall.

speech50In his deposition, dated 18th May 1603, Robert refers to his wife’s brother which indicates that his first wife, Eleanor Warren, may still have been alive or, at least, he had not yet married Susan Stubbes, which I suspect was around this time when she would have been 21 years old.

S[i]r Edward Warren – beinge his wyves brother

Perhaps Susan was older than 21 when she was due to be married? They were married before 1608 so perhaps 1605 is a more realistic estimate of Susan’s marriage at the age of 23 – especially if Robert’s first wife, Eleanor, was still alive in 1603.

Eleanor must, however, have died shortly after this – she would have been about 40 years old and possibly died in child birth  – but there is no record of her death.

speech50There is another document in the National Archives dated 1603-1625 which mentions both Robert Tatton and his son, another Robert.

Robert Tatton the elder, Robert Tatton the younger and Katherine Tatton, widow.

Katherine [Leycester] would have been the widow of Robert’s eldest son William (and heir of Wythenshawe) who drowned crossing the Mersey in 1616.

If Robert the younger was the son of his marriage to Susan Stubbes then he would probably have been too young to have been mentioned in a legal document of 1616, so he is much more likely to have been the second son from his first marriage to Eleanor Warren.

The same would also be true of Robert, the son of William and grandson of Robert who was born in 1606. This Robert would eventually inherit Wythenshaw from his deceased father, but was too young at the time and had been made a ward of court, so is unlikely to be the younger Robert mentioned.

In the articles of agreement document of 1593, Robert is said to have at least two sons – presumably William and Robert – and several daughters, although none are specifically named.

Chris Sidney 2015


John Codrington II

Farmer BullshotJohn Codrington died on 9th October 1475. This date is engraved on his tomb in St. Peter’s church in Wapley, Gloucestershire along with his age – 111 years, 5 months and 13 days.

I have removed  some parts of this article because it was getting much too long. My thoughts on the grant of arms to John Codrington and associated information can now be be found in The Codrington Arms although some references are included below where they are relevant to this article.

Eleventy One, as Bilbo Baggins said at his birthday party, is a great age and extremely unusual – even today – so could John Codrington really have beaten the odds and reach this grand age in the 15th century?

RHC in his “Memoirs of the Codrington family” [see below] calculated the birth of John Codrington as 23rd April 1364 from his age and the date that he died, which are both recorded on his tomb.

John Codrington Tomb inscriptionThe age being recorded so precisely is quite unusual, suggesting that it was, indeed, exceptional. But one hundred and eleven?

One suggestion is that the stonemasons made an error with the Roman numerals – or the instructions they were given were incorrect – and the age on the tomb should be 91 XCI instead of 111 CXI, but even this age is noteworthy.

Of the six possible combinations of the roman numerals on the tomb, only three are valid: CXI = 111, CIX = 109, XCI = 91 and the most obvious error is to swap the first two characters.

If true then the date of his birth should be 26th April 1384. page

RHC had himself seen the inscription in 1852 and was convinced that it had not been tampered with but he had no way of knowing if it was actually correct to begin with and took the age at face value.

Here lies Johannes Codry’ton knight, who died on the ninth day of the month of November in the year of our Lord 1475, having the age on the day that he died of 111 years, 5 months 13 days, may God bless his soul. Amen

If the lower age is correct then this would help to clarify some aspects of the life of John Codrington. For a start he would have been 20 years younger during Agincourt at the age of 30, and would have also married at a more sensible age.

But it opens up other issues, in particular about his father, Robert, who would have been quite an old man when John was born, and whether there are any missing generations.

Robert Henry CodringtonThis article is based largely on the definitive work on the Codrington family by Robert Henry Codrington [RHC] – the snappily titled “Memoir of the Family of Codrington of Codrington, Didmarton, Frampton-On-Severn and Dodington.” – which was itself based on notes made by the historian, Sir John Maclean. page

Sir John had intended to follow up on his Memoirs of the Poyntz and Guise families – who are related to the Codringtons through various marriages – but illness prevented him from doing so.

In his document, Robert identifies John Codrington as A1; the head of the senior branch of the Codrington family and his brother Thomas as B2; the head of the junior branch.

Robert also says that:

John returned from France and married a young woman, survived his son, and died in extreme old age.

But I don’t think it is as simple as that.

Robert Codrington

John’s  father was, according to all know pedigrees, Robert Codrington of Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, who “was in good standing” during the reign of Henry IV.

He appears in several jury records around the end of the 14th century – with various spellings of his name. The last record we have for him is when he appeared on a jury list at Chipping Sodbury 20 May 1421.

Some have assumed that this date was when John inherited the Codrington property, but was it from Robert and was it some time later than 1421.

The first reference to John in relation to the property seems to be in 1429 when he and his wife made an application to the pope for a portable altar, so all we can say for sure was that he inherited the property, and married, before this date.

Why was Robert never described as being of Codrington and Wapley? Could it be that Robert was not, after all, the father of John?

John Codrington is remembered as the Standard Bearer for King Henry V at the battle of Agincourt as described elsewhere. page

It should be noted that John Codrington was never knighted for his service and references to Sir John Codrington seem to have originated with a number of military figurines, as well as various  books about Agincourt one of which has him pictured on the front cover and labelled inside as Sir John.

Sir John CodringtonOn his tomb he is referred to as Joh’es Codry’ton armiger, which only means that he has the right to bear arms. In a document of 1471 he is John Codrington Esquire and this is confirmed by the way the helmet is shown on the family crest, at an angle and not facing forward.

It is easy to see why you might assume that he was knighted, being standard bearer to the king, and I am as guilty as anyone of repeating this without checking if it is actually correct.

RHC does not make this mistake and he is referred to as either gentleman or esquire, although I am unsure at what point he was able to use this later address.

Possibly the title is related to when he became lord of the manor of Codrington, after purchasing it from the abbey of Stanleigh in 1455.

It is also possible that this was a title used when addressing him formally, simply because he was a knight, rather than having been knighted – we still sent letters these days starting “Dear Sir“.

It has been suggested that John Codrington may have been knighted on the battlefield, or by someone other than the king.

At Agincourt he was in the retinue of Sir William Bourchier. who was probably senior enough to have been able to do this.

Sir William Bourchier, was one of the foremost captains at the Battle of Agincourt, leading 102 men. In November 1415 he was made Constable of the Tower of London (replacing the Duke of York, who had died in the Battle), with special responsibility for the French prisoners. He returned to serve in France in 1417, and in 1419 was made Count of Eu in Normandy. His arms were those of Bourchier quartered with those of Louvaine (the arms of his mother, an heraldic heiress). page

But if John was knighted for his services there is no evidence of the title ever being used.

In 1429 John is a layman of the diocese – in the request for a portable altar –  and in 1441 an 1445 grants of arms he is a Gentleman. It is only in the 1471 Levy of Fines that he is referenced as Esquire, technically the rank below knight.

In the list of the retinue of William Bourchier John is well down the list of men at arms, showing that he was – at that time at least – not particularly important.

He is also shown in some accounts as John Codington so perhaps Symon Codington, in the retinue of Lord Camoys, was related? page

Two Wives

There are two different wives suggested for John in “memoirs”, both named Alice.

She could have been Alice Young, daughter of Thomas Young, an influential Bristol merchant, or Alice Hawys the sister of Margaret, who was married to Sir Peter Bessiles.

The name of Hawys has been transcribed as Hannys orHauuys and also shown as Hewes and Hawes.

It has proved difficult to find connections to these families at about the right time. What we do know is that Alice survived her husband – and two of her sons – and so I have come to the conclusion that John probably had two wives, perhaps both named Alice.

Why wouldn’t he? Some men have two or three wives in a much shorter lifetime.

In some family records Margaret (Margerie) Hawes married Sir Peter Bessiles, of Bessiles Leigh, Berkshire in about 1389, so it would seem that John could have married her sister at about the same time – certainly before Agincourt.

The following is commonly used in other trees.

Peter DE BESSILES was born in 1364 in Bromland, Somersetshire, England. Parents: Thomas DE BESSILES and Katherine LEIGH.

Margery HANNYS and Peter DE BESSILES were married about 1389 in Besiles Leigh Berkshire England.

John Codrington and first wife Alice may have had a daughter, Margaret, who married Sir John le Veale, but the timings only work with a marriage some time before Agincourt.

JOHN (Johannes) VELE (Veal), son of Thomas and Hawise Veal, married MARGARET, and he died in 1430, the 9th year of the reign of Henry VI, leaving one son. [1]

[1] There may have been a son, John, born about 1405, as well as daughter Susan, born 1409.

Another possibility is that Margaret was a younger sister to John Codrington rather than a daughter, which could also work in this scenario.

A Codrington pedigree held by the College of Arms shows only Mar and Viel, which some have taken to refer to a son Morvail Codrington, but is more likely to be an abbreviation of Margaret or could simply be an abbreviation for Married, where the name of a daughter is not known, or not recorded, to someone named Veil.

Susan la Veale

But this scenario does not fit with some other records that show that Margery Hawys married Peter Bessiles a generation later.

More importantly she is mentioned in documents dating from 1470 as the widow of Peter so must have been much younger and probably married much later than 1389.

Her sister, Alice, is therefore unlikely to be the first wife of John Codrington I.

speech50One other problem with this theory is that there is a record for one Alice Hawes married to Henry Bromley in 1390, with an estimated birth date for Alice about 1365.

This clashes with the estimated birth of John’s first wife who must have been born about the same time in order to have a daughter, Margaret, born about 1385.

Alice Hawys, who married John Codrington, was probably the niece of this Alice assuming they are both related to John Hawes of Solihull.

According to RHC the daughter of Margaret and John le Veale, Susan, married firstly James Berkeley of Bradley and, secondly, Richard Ivy of Kingston.

Margaret [Codrington] had died in 1409 after the birth of daughter, Susan.

John Codrington A1 (1364) = Alice I
.. Margaret Codrington (1390-1409) = John la Veele (1384-1430)
…. Susan le Veele (1409-)

There are some differences in the College of Arms pedigree as the name of husband James, is shown as Broseley, and it was an un-named sister of Susan that married [Richard] Ivey of Kingston.

Another pedigree – that of Samson Samuel Lloyd esq., who is descended from the Berkeley family – shows Susan as the widow of one Waddall adding even more confusion.

susan veel

So perhaps it was a sister of Susan that married Richard Ivye? Richard is likely to have come from (Chipping) Sodbury in Gloucestershire and it was later generations of the family that lived at West Kingston in Wiltshire.

besseles coa colouredThere are also suggestions, from other family trees, that Sir Peter Bessiles was born about 1390, and having looked into his pedigree the later date does fit better with other family records and with those of Margaret and Susan.

It is perhaps more likely that he simply married much later in life than estimated and it was his wife, Margery Hawys, that was from a later generation, with about 25 years difference between them.

In this scenario it seems as if John’s first wife was another Alice, possibly Alice Young – the daughter or [more likely] sister of Thomas Young – with whom he had a daughter, Margaret, who married John la Veale – assuming that this marriage is correct.

Thomas Young was about the same age as John Codrington and did have a sister [either Alice or Mary] who he could have married. If she was a daughter of Thomas then she would have been born a generation later which doesn’t work with a grand-daughter, Susan la Veele, born in 1409.

In this scenario John Codrington married again, after the death of his first wife, to Alice Hawys, the sister of Margery (widow of Sir Peter Bessiles), and had three sons; Humphrey, John and Thomas.

This makes it possible for Margery Hawys – born later than suggested above – to be mentioned in the Levy of Fines of 1470 [see below] without having been more than 100 years old.

Mind the Gap

Sir John CodringtonI have wondered why there was such a gap after John returned from Agincourt before he married. The simply answer could be that he was already married, and at the age of 50 he probably had no plans to marry again – even when his wife died.

We do not know how long John was in the service to the king after Agincourt and he may have returned to France for the campaign that began in 1417, and may even have made it to Paris, where Henry V died five years later in 1422.

If he was 50 years old during Agincourt then I doubt he would have been able to sustain a prolonged campaign. However if he was 20 years younger then he could have been with the king for a significant period, and this is perhaps why he is not recorded back in Gloucestershire until some time later.

Certainly he was back home and living in Codrington by 1429 – when he applied for a portable altar – but that is really all we can tell for sure.

John could have been about 65 and perhaps either he, or his wife, were unable to attend their local church easily and wanted to perform mass at home.

But this may also have been, as suggested by RHC, to avoid paying fees at nearby Wapley for his household.

… to John Codrington, layman of the diocese of Worcester, and to his wife then being …

John, although he didn’t know it, had another 50 years to live, and it is possible that he started looking around for another wife.

Based on the death of second wife Alice II, in 1489, she was probably born about 1415 and married John Codrington about 1435 – shortly after the death of his first wife – and their three sons were then born between 1435 and 1440.

This is quite late for John to have fathered three sons – he would have been in his sixties – and although not impossible it is just one more thing that doesn’t sit right with me.

The period when the boys are likely to have been born can be calculated by working backwards from the birth of grandson and heir, Christopher, in 1467 and assuming that his father, John, was about 30 years old when he married, putting his birth at about 1437.

We are now 20 years after Agincourt and John Codrington was already an old man, but there is an alternative to this that allows it bit more flexibility with the dates.

John Codrington and first wife, Alice, could have had a son … also called John.

John II

John II would have been born about 1390, a sister to Margaret, and may have been too young to accompany his father to Agincourt.

He could have been married to Alice II by 1425 and their sons born earlier than I have already estimated, which makes it easier to explain how two of them had died before their mother.

Grandson and heir Christopher Codrington would therefore have been born when his father, John III, was about 40.

John I may have transferred the Codrington estate to his son John II and his wife before 1471 even though he lived for some time afterwards, and any references to Alice and John regarding the property are for his son and his wife.

In the Levy of Fines from 1471 John is referred to as John Codrington Esquire, which is the correct address for John I, but could also be used for his eldest son as shown in the same document for eldest son Humphrey.

And afterwards the day after All Souls, 49 Henry VI [3 November 1471]. Parties: William Bolaker and Philip Parker, querents, and John Codrynton’, esquire, and Alice, his wife, deforciant.

John II would himself have been an old man of about 80 by his time and probably died before his father.

Humphrey, his eldest son, was Escheator for Gloucestershire in 1467, a position that demanded a certain amount of respect and probably not a position for a young man, but he could still have been born about 1435.

Grant of Arms

Codrington of CodringtonThere were two grants of arms to John Codrington in 1441 and 1445 – the first being a confirmation of the arms used by John during his service to the king, as used by the senior branch of the family.

Whether these two grants were to the same John Codrington is discussed in The Codrington Arms, but there is some evidence that there may be another John Codrington in Gloucestershire at the time who could have been granted the second arms.

This John Codrington resided in Clyfe [Bishop’s Cleeve] near Tewkesbury, in the north of Gloucestershire and is recorded there in 1421 and of Tewkesbury in 1423. page

Could John Codrington have lived in Tewkesbury after Agincourt but before inheriting Codrington and Wapley from his father, or is this another John?

One indication that this is a different John is that there was no mention – in the levy of fines of 1471 or the inquisition into the death of Alice Codrington – of any properties in the north of the county of Gloucestershire owned by the family.

There is an earlier record of a John Codrington from 1337, who was an attorney to the king and could be related to John Codrington of Clyfe and Tewkesbury.

See below for more information about him.


The earliest reference linking the Codrington property to the family is for Stephen of Codrington and Wapley, who made a donation to Stanleigh Abbey – who owned the Codrington and Wapley manor – in 1379.

2 Ric. 2. receit. et confirm. donationes: P. 869. cart. antiq. X. n. 6, fcil. 2 Ric 2. confirm. donationem R. fil. Stephani de Codinton et Wapalee.

Possibly Stephen had died without an heir and passed Codrington to brother Robert, or directly to nephew John?

Or possibly it was Stephen who was father to John I and Robert was his younger brother which is why he never inherited the Codrington and Wapley properties and is described only as being of Chipping Sodbury?

RHC says that the two arms granted to John Codrington have only been used quartered together so perhaps there was a marriage between the two branches of the family and the second grant of arms was requested prior to a marriage between the families?

It is therefore possible that one of the children of John II could have married a cousin, the daughter of John Codrington of Clyfe. This would explain the quartering of the two designs and why they were never used in their own right if this second John had no sons.

Perhaps this was the marriage of Humphrey, the eldest son? If he married a cousin Agnes Codrington about 1445 – after the second grant of arms – he could have been born around 1425, fitting better with John II being his father.

There is no evidence of this of course; certainly there are no properties or lands held by the Codrington family in the north of Gloucestershire, either inherited or passed through marriage.

IMG_1055-1 (WIDTH-1000)The only use of both arms I have found was 300 years later, and this may have been in error on the assumption that they were for the same John Codrington.

Having not seen the text of the actual grants – only extracts from them in various forms – I am not really in a position to do anything other than speculate as to whether they are for the same John based on other interpretations of the grants.

Levy of Fines

In 1471 John and Alice levied a fine on their lands to their sons, Humphrey, John and Thomas and this could have been either, John II and his wife Alice Hawes as mentioned earlier, or John I and his second wife.

Also mentioned is Margery, late wife of Peter Bessiles, who was the sister of Alice II, with Peter Bessiles being born later than shown in some references – or at least marrying much later and Alice being much younger than he was.

William and Philip have granted to John and Alice the tenements and have rendered them to them in the court, to hold to John and Alice, without impeachment of waste, of the chief lords for the lives of John and Alice. And after the decease of John and Alice 2 messuages, 1 toft, 240 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow and 40 acres of pasture in the vills of Codrynton’ and Tormerton’ shall remain to Humphrey Codrynton’, esquire, son of John and Alice, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to John Codrynton’, brother of the aforesaid Humphrey, and the heirs of his body, (2) to Thomas Codrynton’, brother of the same John, and the heirs of his body, (3) to the heirs of the bodies of the aforesaid John Codrynton’ and Alice, (4) to Margery Besiles, late the wife of Peter Besiles, knight, and the heirs of her body and (5) to the right heirs of Alice. And also after the decease of John Codrynton’ and Alice 5 messuages, 1 toft, 5 gardens, 60 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow and 40 acres of pasture in the vills of Oldesodbury, Chepyngsodbury, Lygrove and Dodyngton’ shall remain to the aforesaid John Codrynton’, son of John Codrynton’ and Alice, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to the aforesaid Thomas, brother of the same John, and the heirs of his body, (2) to the aforesaid Humphrey, brother of the same Thomas, and the heirs of his body, (3) to the heirs of the bodies of the aforesaid John Codrynton’ and Alice, (4) to the aforesaid Margery Besiles and the heirs of her body and (5) to the right heirs of Alice. And besides after the decease of John Codryngton’ and Alice 6 messuages, 2 tofts, 1 garden, 1 dove-cot, 100 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow and 40 acres of pasture in the vills of Bristoll’, Leyghterton’, Haukesbury and Upton’ Hamell’ shall remain to the aforesaid Thomas, son of John Codrynton’ and Alice, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to the aforesaid John Codrynton’, brother of the same Thomas, and the heirs of his body, (2) to the aforesaid Humphrey, brother of the same John, and the heirs of his body, (3) to the heirs of the bodies of the aforesaid John Codrynton’ and Alice, (4) to the aforesaid Margery Besiles and the heirs of her body and (5) to the right heirs of Alice.

According to RHC, Margaret Hawys, the widow of Peter Bessilles, Knight, died in 1483, making her a similar age to Alice who died a few years later. I have not found information anywhere else to confirm this date, but some pedigrees show Peter Bessilles being born in 1390 instead of 1364 making it much easier to estimate a later marriage. But even the earlier date does not mean he did not marry Margery – she would just have been much younger – a lot younger.

The inquisition into the death of Alice identifies Christopher Codrington as her heir.

“… aged 22 and more, is her cousin and heir, viz son of John, her son.”

Not quite sure why he isn’t just referred to as her grandson – the term cousin is usually used to indicate a close, but indirect, relationship.

Also mentioned in a deed dated 1490 are  Thomas Codrington [assumed to be the youngest son], William Besylys, Christopher Twynyho, Clerk and William Twynyho, Esquire, which confirms that there were relationships between these families.

Christopher Codrington, heir of Alice, married into the Twynho family and William Bessiles was, no doubt, related to Alice and Margery.

speech50I still think is a bit unusual to mention Margery Bessiles in the levy, unless she was actually a daughter of John and Alice and not the sister of Alice at all. But if she was the sister to Humphrey, John and Thomas she would have been born much to late to have been married to Peter Bessiles.

According to records for the manor of Leigh, Margery and Peter Bessiles did not have any children, but other pedigrees show a son, Thomas, so what is going on?

Sir Peter was noted for his deeds of charity and his gifts to religious houses, and by his will he directed that all his manors should be sold by his co-feoffees in alms for his soul. He died childless in 1424

The history of the manor during the next few years is involved, because Sir Peter’s will was not very honestly performed. Margery, his widow, and one of the executors of his will, had a life interest in Leigh, and her second husband William Warbleton held it in her right in 1428. page

Margery married again – before 1428 – to William Warbleton and died in 1483, so she was still young at the time she was widowed. Some records show a son, Thomas, born in 1390, but this is much too early – even if Margery lived to be 100 years old!

The History of Parliament adds some additional information which makes it easier to understand what is going on, in particular that Margery was the second wife of Peter Bessiles and that she also had an illegitimate son.

He left no immediate heirs, and Thomas, the illegitimate son of his second wife Margery Haines (who afterwards called himself Thomas Bessels and claimed to be Sir Peter’s son and heir), received no more by the terms of the will than a life interest in a small estate at Longworth together with the expenses of his education. Margery was permitted to keep the manors of Bessels Leigh and Kingston for her lifetime, but these were then to be sold. page

As Margery lived until 1483 she cannot have been born before about 1400 and must have been very young when she gave birth and married to Peter. It seems that the marriage was a formal arrangement and, based on that, I would think that Thomas probably was the son of Peter Bessiles, otherwise why would he have married a young woman with an illegitimate son?

Eventually Margery managed to get some of the property for her son and his heirs, although it sounds as if Thomas had already died.

By outliving Sir Peter by nearly 50 years, the widow successfully contrived to have Radcot and Grafton entailed to the advantage of the issue of her bastard son Thomas.

Thomas married Clemence de Noires and their son, William, married into the important Harcourt family of Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire, so illegitimacy hadn’t done him much harm.

In the Levy of Fines document of 1471 Margery is still shown as the widow of Peter Bessiles and not the widow of William Warbleton who died 1469, which is quite odd.

Also if Margery was Haines and not Hawys then the wife of John Codrington must also be Alice Haines and calls for some further investigation.

Margery’s legitimate heir was her nephew, John Haines of Salop.

Probably, however, this name was assumed from the name of her nephew, who may be the son of another sister who married into the Haines family.

Three generation later Dorothy Fettiplace, great grand-daughter of Thomas Bessiles, married John Codrington, the eldest son of Christopher Codrington (great-grandson of John of Agincourt) but he died in Appleton, Berkshire in 1518 and Dorothy ended her days in the Abbey of Syon along with two of her sisters.


Humphrey is a bit of an enigma. It appears – from some records – that he was significantly older than his brother John III, the father of Christopher [who inherited the Codrington property] and died without any children, although it is possible that he was married.

There are chancery records dated 1431-1443 for Humphrey meaning that he would have been born significantly earlier then 1435, especially as these dates relate to his position of escheator.

He could therefore have been a brother to John II or at least a son from the earlier marriage of John I and Alice Young. He was alive in 1471 but dead before 1483.

So perhaps all three sons were much older than suggested and the birth of Christopher in 1467 may simply mean that John III, the father of Christopher, had a family later in life?

But that also suggests that Alice, the mother of the three boys, would have been born about 1400 – or even earlier – and about 90 when she died, or that she married John I and did not have any children of her own.

One option is that Humphrey had, indeed, been born earlier to Alice I, but his two brothers were born to the second wife of John I – or these two were the sons of John II, making John II the brother of Humphrey, but this does not fit with the account in the levy.

Another possibility is that there were two Humphrey Codringtons, one a brother of John I and another his son. This would account for the earlier chancery records and for the younger Humphrey being escheator in 1467 some thirty years later.

Humphrey was alive until at least 14 May 1475 as shown by a record in the National Archives.

Debtor: Humphrey Codrington of Codrington in Glos., esquire, John Lypiat of Lasborugh in Glos., gentleman, and Thomas Payne, formerly of Gloucester, gentleman.

Humphrey may also have had a wife, Agnes, but I am not sure where this reference to Agnes comes from.

speech50The name Humphrey may have come from the Poyntz family where it is not uncommon and this gives some weight to the idea that John’s mother was a member of the Poyntz family, and Humphrey was named after one of his grandmother’s relations.

Like Humphrey, Robert Poyntz, of Iron Acton, was escheator of Gloucestershire 1395-7, 1399-1400, 1402-1404 (as well as sheriff 1396-97) so perhaps there is some earlier connection between the families than previously recorded.


Another record, however, suggests that Humphrey may not be what he seems.

GotheringtonThere is another village in Gloucestershire called Gotherington, near Tewkesbury, and there is a record dated 1477 of another Humphrey there:

Debtor: Humphrey Godryngton of Gotherington {Godryngton} in [Cleeve Hundred] Glos., esquire. Creditor: John Brugge, esquire. Amount: £80 of legal English money [£44,000].

In 1371 the manor of Gotherington appears to have been pretty run down and there seems to have been no connection to the Codryngton or even the Gotherington families.

No repairs have been done to the abbey church for three years past and more. The manor of Gotherynton lies waste.

It seems clear that one John Codryngton lived at nearby Clyfe [Bishop’s Cleeve] in 1421 and of Tewkesbury in 1423, but did he take his name from nearby Gotherington or was he part of the Codryngton family?

Gotherington itself seems to be a small village and if there was a family that took it’s name from the location there should be some record of them, and I can find none.

The village of Codrington is in the hundred of Grumbold’s Ash, some distance south of Tewkesbury, so there may have been some confusion between these two Humphreys, or at least how they have been identified in some records.

Possibly whoever wrote the document was mistaken and was familiar with the village of Gotherington but not with Codrington, and assumed the rest.

Or perhaps it was the creditor, John Brugge, that was from Gotherington and it was assumed that Humphrey was also from there having a similar sounding name.

The village of Codrington is also named Godrington in some references, and Gotherington, near Tewkesbury, was originally named Godrinton in the Domesday book, just to confuse things.

Codrington WapleyRHC identifies a long list of different spellings, all associated with the Codrington family, including Gooderington (but not Gotherington) but does this necessarily mean that all of these spellings should be taken as belonging to the same family?

Codrington, itself, is not in the doomsday book, so could the family have originally come from Gotherington near Tewkesbury? The Gotheringtons then acquired land near Wapley that took it’s name from the family?

This would account for links to Clyfe and Tewkesbury in some documents, but if the family owned any land in that area there is no reference to it in the levy of fines or the inquisition after Alice’s death.

This could indicate that the Codringtons recorded as being of Clyfe and Tewkesbury were not from the same branch of the Codrington family, or maybe not even not Codringtons at all but Gotheringtons, who’s name had been changed?

There is also a manor on Devon named Godryngton [usually Godryngton and Norton].

speech50There is records in the National Archives that casts doubt over the dates in the earlier chancery records relating to Humphrey Codrington, as mentioned above.

The later dates shown below would fit much better with a later Humphrey in this case, presumably related to his position as Escheator for Gloucestershire:

Short title: Fouler v Codryngton.
Plaintiffs: Richard Fouler and John Sydenham, the younger.
Defendants: Humphrey Codryngton.
Subject: Wardship and marriage of Isabel de la Ryver, heiress of Maurice de la Ryver, esq., granted by the King to petitioners. Gloucestershire
Date: 1432-1443, possibly 1467-1470

If the earlier dates are incorrect then it makes it much easier to fit Humphrey as the eldest of three brothers born about 1525-1535 and for him to have been a respectable age as escheator of Gloucestershire.

Or perhaps there were two Humphreys – one the brother of John I and another his eldest son – who both held the position of escheator at different times?

RHC states that Alice Codrington, the widow of John Codrington, lived till 20th April 1489, six years after her sister Margery, widow of Peter Bessilles.

However the inquisition into her death taken on 20th September, 6 Henry VII [1490] says she died 16th July last so clearly something is not quite right – perhaps that was the date that the will was proved?

Because of the way that regnal dates are calculated – based on when the monarch acceded to the throne – 16th July 1490 would be 5 Henry VII although the precise date of her death is not specifically important at this point.

Other possibilities

If John II was from the first marriage of John I then this explains why the first son from his second marriage was named Humphrey and not John, but doesn’t help explain where the name came from, unless there was another, older Humphrey – possibly a brother to John.

The name does appear again in the Codrington family – although several hundred years later – and may have come from the maternal line of a previous marriage.

If the elder son John II died about 1445 then John I and Alice II could have named their second son John. The timing would be tight, but the birth of John III could be as late as 1445 based on the birth of his son Christopher.

Perhaps all the sons were from the first marriage and John I simply remarried after his first wife died, but had no further children?

This would certainly explain why the two eldest sons had died before their step-mother, but is in no way conclusive. It could also explain why the heir of Alice, Christopher, is described as cousin and not grandson.

But, if this were the case, Christopher, the son of John III, would have been born significantly earlier. We know that he was born about 1467 because in the inquisition following Alice’s death in 1489 he was 22 years old.

John I was shown to be married in 1429 [in the request for an altar], so there is time for his first wife to have died and for him to remarry and to have been the father of the three boys if they were born about 1435.

If John had already remarried by 1429 then the boys could have been born earlier – possibly 10 years earlier – than proposed.

Working backwards from Christopher it is possible to have a guess at the marriage of his parents and the birth of his father – assuming John II existed.

John I 1364 = Alice I, married about 1390
.. John II 1395 = Alice II, married about 1425
…. John III 1437 = Alice? Poyntz [i], married about 1465
…… Christopher 1467 = Ankarette Twynyho

If there was no first wife then I cannot see why John I would have waited so long after Agincourt to get married. After all he would have been about 60 years old – even his son John II, from his first marriage [if he existed] would have been 40.

It is curious that the term “and his wife then being” is used in granting the permission for the altar in 1429, but perhaps I am reading too much into this.

[i] The wife of Sir John Poyntz was Alice Cox, and there are no other daughters in the family pedigree with this name so it is possible, even likely, that there would have been a daughter named Alice after her mother.

CXI Investigations

Perhaps the age on the tomb is wrong, as suggested earlier, and John actually died at 91 – still a remarkable age – so he then would have married at the age of about 35, after Agincourt.

This does mean that there was probably another John, his father, as suggested, but it was the younger John who was at Agincourt and not the elder and this fits with an older John marrying well before Agincourt and John II marrying Alice Hawys.

There is also another name mentioned as the first wife of John I, Margery Chalkley, and two sons John and Geoffrey, so perhaps there was only one wife named Alice? Or the second Alice was married to his son John?

This could fit well with John I being born earlier – perhaps about 1360 with father Robert being about 35 years old – and John II being born about 1385, along with sister Margaret who could have been named after her mother.

It also makes his later marriage much less unusual as it fits exactly with the average marrying age of Codrington men of 35. The earlier John could even be the one who was attorney to the king in 1337, as mentioned below, but I think this would be too early and John the attorney is more likely from a different branch of the family or an earlier generation.

Robert also seems to have lived a long life if he died after 1419, and it is therefore also likely that he was the younger brother of John I as he did not inherit the Codrington property and is only ever recorded as being of Chipping Sodbury.

I would guess that John I probably died before Agincourt, or was certainly too old to take part and this leaves the earlier Codrington tree looking a bit different …

Geoffrey 1300-
.. Robert I 1330-
…. Robert II 1360- 1419 of Chipping Sodbury
…. John I 1360-
…… John II 1384 – 1475 of Agincourt

If John was born in 1384 then Margaret, who married John la Veale could not have been his daughter or sister, but can only have been an aunt, if she married and had a son and daughter [and died] by 1409.

The other Geoffrey

An earlier John, apprentice and attorney to the king in 1337 [see below], could have been the brother of the earlier Robert and have been the grand-father of John of Clyfe and Tewkesbury

He could even have been the one who was married to Margery Chalkley and the father of John and Geoffrey.

Geoffrey Codrington appears in a document about the Percy family of Great Chalfield, Wiltshire, where he is shown to have married the grand-daughter of Constance – cousin to the bishop of Salisbury – who married into the Percy family. page

geoffrey codringtonI have estimated that Geoffrey was born about 1370 based on his marriage to Isabel Beaushyn [and her estimated birth] and he was the father of Alice Codrington, born about 1400, who married Alexander Martin.

Isabel Beaushyn born about 1380, was the daughter of Thomas Beaushyn of Dorset and Joan Fitzwaryn, who was the daughter of Constance [who married a Percy] by her third husband, Sir Philip Fitzwaryn.

The same document about the Percy family also makes reference to Thomas Ivye of Sherston who married Agnes Tropenell and may have a connection to Susan le Veele mentioned earlier.

If the first marriage of John Codrington was to Margaret Chalkley and they had sons John and Geoffrey, then could these fit into the main Codrington tree?

Geoffrey probably married Isabel Beaushyn about 1400, putting his birth about 1370. If he was a younger brother to John of Agincourt, born in 1384 then this would be practically impossible.

Sir Philip Fitzwaryn and Constance, Isabel’s grand-parents, married about 1361 – Philip was the third wife of Constance. This means that their daughter Johan, could not have been of an age to marry much before 1380. Her daughter, Isabel, could have been born about this time and married before 1400 but not by much.

Perhaps Geoffrey was the elder brother of John but died shortly after his marriage to Isabel leaving one child – daughter Alice – and his brother John as the heir?

Isabel later remarried to William Haukesoke.

[More information shows that Geoffrey and Isabel were a generation later]

It is possible that Geoffrey married Isabel towards the end of the 14th century but then died before he inherited from his father. But he would have been quite a bit older than brother John for this to be possible.

John I (1335) = Margery Chalkeley
.. Margery (1365) = John le Veale
.. Geoffrey (1370) = Isabel Beaushyn
.. John II (1384) of Agincourt = Alice Hawys

It also squeezes Robert out as the father of John I as the marriage of John and Margery would have been much too early considering he was alive in 1419, but he could still be another brother of the elder John.

There is even time here for a third John Codrington  [and another Alice] if John II was born about 1365, in which case Margery would have been his aunt and not his daughter.

John I (1335) = Margery Chalkeley
.. Margery (1365) = John le Veale
.. John II (1365) = Alice Young
…. John III (1384) of Agincourt = Alice Hawys
.. Geoffrey (1365) = Isabel Beaushyn

Robert Codrington of Chipping Sodbury could fit into this tree as the brother of John II and Geoffrey, but probably not the father of John III of Agincourt.

There is a link to the Chalkley family through Margery Hawys – the sister of John Codrington’s wife, Alice – and her second husband William Warbleton.

In 1460 he and his wife recovered £120 [£62000] damages from Thomas Chalkley of Clanfield, Oxfordshire. page

I have not been able to find any more information about the Chalkely family.

William Warbleton was also at Agincourt in the retinue of the King himself.

william warbleton agincourt

Thomas Codrington

Codrington of SodburySo what, then, of Thomas, supposedly the brother of John Codrington of Agincourt and the head of the junior branch of the family?

His position in the tree is identified by the arms that were used by the family and were those originally used – and then modified – by John of Agincourt before 1441.

Both of these arms can be seen in the stained glass window of the Castle house in Calne, Wiltshire as described by RHC in his first work on the Codrington family. page

The modified version of the arms was then used by the senior branch of the family and the original arms by the junior, as shown in The Codrington Arms.

The declaration in 1419 by Henry V seems to have been the point when the use of arms was formalised as being only by inheritance or by a grant from the crown, and before this date the use of arms may not have been so rigorously controlled.

Codrington of CodringtonIt seems that Thomas, who heads the junior branch of the family, is unlikely to be Thomas, the son of John and Alice, as he would  have used the arms of his father.

Seemingly to contradict this the arms I have used in this article, as those of John Codrington of Agincourt, are actually titled – in their original document –  as the arms of Thomas Codrington in the 15th century.

The only Thomas around in the 15th century was Thomas the son of John who was known to be alive in 1489 when his mother died.

RHC identifies Thomas as B1, the head of the junior branch, and then assigns son Ambrose as B2 followed by William B3 and makes William the husband of Mary Teste, but this is based on Thomas having died in 1427 [6 Henry VI] and being the brother of John of Agincourt.

B1 Thomas (d.1427, 6 Henry VI)
.. B2 Ambrose (b.1425) [#1]
…. B3 William (Married to Mary Teste)
…… B4 Francis (b.1512) = Margaret Shipman

[#1] Because of the date for the death of his father, Ambrose must have been born before 1427.

Most pedigrees acknowledge Ambrose as being the husband of Mary Teste and if Thomas was born about 1435 [and the son of John] then Ambrose could have been married to Mary and William probably did not exist – or at least was a brother.

William B3 does not appear in the Codrington pedigree held by the College of Arms, and neither is he in the pedigree shown in “memoirs” despite being added to the line of inheritance later in the document.

If there was a simple transcription error for the death of Thomas, and it should be Henry VII instead of Henry VI, then his death would have been 1490, which fits with him being alive at the inquisition of Alice in 1489 and the birth of Ambrose would be around the same time as his cousin, Christopher, which we know was 1467.

The manor of Frampton on Severn was bequeathed by Giles Teste [who inherited from his father Lawrence] to his sister Mary, the wife of Ambrose Codrington, on his death in 1545.

If Ambrose was alive at this time – Mary is not shown as a widow – he would have been about 80 years old – but would certainly not have been alive if his father, Thomas had died in 1427.

Assuming Thomas is the son of John A1 and brother of John A2 things do fit much better and we can leave out William altogether.

B1 Thomas (d.1490, 6 Henry VII )
.. B2 Ambrose (b. about 1465) = Mary Teste
…. B4 Francis (b.1512) = Margaret Shipman

Some lands were granted specifically to Thomas, the son of John and Alice, in the 1471 Levy of Fines, so it would be interesting to see who actually inherited these properties.

And besides after the decease of John Codryngton’ and Alice 6 messuages, 2 tofts, 1 garden, 1 dove-cot, 100 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow and 40 acres of pasture in the vills of Bristoll’, Leyghterton’, Haukesbury and Upton’ Hamell’ shall remain to the aforesaid Thomas, son of John Codrynton’ and Alice, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever.

Thomas was known to have be at Chipping Sodbury in 1474 – from documents relating to Alderton Manor – possibly in the property previously occupied by Robert.

The Overseers were Sir Richard Beuchamp of Bromham, Sir John Seyntlow of Tormarton and Thomas Codryngton of Chepynge Sodbury, signed at Lockyngton 1st March. These are the names on the indenture renting Alderton to the Pophams.

The only reference we have to his father, Ambrose, shows that he was living in Bristol 1501 where he was a trustee of the Fraternity of the Blessed Mary of Bellhouse, a chapel in the church of St Peter’s, but it is likely that he lived until at least 1545.

Junior Branch

So was the junior branch actually descended from Thomas the son of John Codrington of Wapley and not his brother?

If so then why are all the arms of the junior branch in the window of Castle House at Calne shown as a different version of the arms and not those used by his father?

In the section of “memoirs” on the junior branch, RHC says that Thomas – as the head of the junior branch – was shown as the son of John of Codrington in a pedigree held by the Heralds College [possibly the one shown below], and married to Elizabeth the daughter of Robert Poyntz, but that some other pedigrees disagree.

As Robert Poyntz was a generation before Nicholas [mentioned above] it seems that a daughter Elizabeth would have been much to old to have married this Thomas, but could have married a brother of John of Agincourt.

The main reason for assuming that the head of the junior branch was a brother of John Codrington of Wapley are the use of the original arms – and not those of John himself, but the pedigree of the Poyntz family also seem to play a role in this.

If Thomas was the son of John of Agincourt then both he, and his brother John, appear to have married into the same generation of the Poyntz family.

I can find lots of issues with both of these scenarios. But perhaps there is another answer to this – perhaps the head of the junior branch is neither the brother of John, or his son?

One pedigree say that Thomas died in 1427 and RHC says that he belongs to an earlier generation than John Codrington A2 as does Ambrose, the son of Thomas, but this is based on his brother, John, having been born 1364.

If we assume that John was actually born 20 years later then originally thought – dying at the age of 91 – then Thomas could actually be an uncle to John and brother of Robert, his father. He could also have been the brother of John, born about 1385, and dying at the disappointing age of just 42.

But that still leaves the mysterious William having to fill in the missing generation in the early pedigree of the junior branch.

The 1623 visitation of Gloucestershire does show William Codrington as being married to Margaret Teste, the daughter of Lawrence.

William Codrington - Margaret Teste

Interestingly the arms of this William are shown as those of John Codrington A1 with the embattled fesse and not those used by other members of the junior branch.

There is also another Margaret shown in the tree and a reference to Mary, but the son of William is shown as Gyles missing out Francis [born in 1512] so this information may not be entirely accurate – especially as it is shown as part of the Clifford pedigree and not specifically the Codringtons.


The name used in the pedigree should be Ambrose and not William. But where did the name William come from?

I think that this was just a simple mistake:

The pedigree was taken from the visitation of Gloucestershire in 1623, but the Codrington family are included only as part of the Clifford family. It is likely, therefore, that the person giving evidence to the visitation was not actually a member of the Codrington family.

Francis Codrington, born about 1512 who married Margaret Shipman, is missing from this pedigree, so clearly there is a gap in the knowledge of the Codrington pedigree.

I think the name William came from the father-in-law of Francis, William Shipman.

If Ambrose had died relatively young – few records exist of him – then his name may not have been well-known to the Clifford family and William was a prominent merchant as well as being major of Bristol in 1533. page

Francis and William were both in shipping, no doubt Francis was taken into the family business after his marriage to Margaret. Francis was made burgess of Bristol in 1532.

francis codrington burgess of bristol 1532

The missing generation is possibly why the names of both Mary and Margaret are shown as the wife of “William” in the pedigree.

Records show that Ambrose of Bristol, son and heir, married Mary (Maria) Teste and Francis married Margaret Shipman. The will of John Shipman confirms that Francis married Margaret and not Mary, making it more likely that Ambrose (William) married Mary.

francis codrington - will of john shipman

So it appear to me that two generations of the Codrington family have simply been mis-remembered and mixed up in the Clifford tree.

Wives and Daughters

RHC says that the wife of John Codrington A2 was a daughter of Nicholas Poyntz of Iron Acton, based on the work done by Sir John Maclean. page

However this is incorrect as the pedigree actually shows that this was the daughter of John Poyntz [son of Nicholas] and Alice Cox, and RHC may have been simply mistaken.

poyntz - codrington

John Poyntz was born about 1433 and had died by 1468, so a daughter is likely to have been born around 1450 and this could fit with a daughter – possibly named Alice after her mother –  marrying John Codrington A2 with a son Christopher being born 1467.

Thomas Codrington is also shown to have married Elizabeth Poyntz and if he was the brother of John then Elizabeth must have been a sister, or cousin of whoever John married.

As can be seen from the pedigree above [from Sir John Maclean’s “Memoirs of the Poyntz family”], Elizabeth, the sister of Alice and daughter of John Poyntz, does not seem to have been married at all so it is not clear who this Elizabeth was.

The pedigree from the College of Arms says that she was the daughter of Sir R Poyntz.

poyntzSir Robert Poyntz, of Iron Acton, was the brother to the daughter of John Poyntz said to have married John Codrington A2, and apart from the obvious date problems his daughter, Elizabeth, is shown to have married Nicholas Wykes of Doddington.

An earlier Robert Poyntz Esq. was born 1359 and was the father of Nicholas, and grandfather of Sir Robert but this would be much too early and there is no record of a daughter Elizabeth.

Perhaps John the younger actually married someone else – possibly Alice Young, as shown in the College of Arms pedigree – and it was his  brother Thomas that married a daughter of John Poyntz and not Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert?

Alice could then have been the daughter of Thomas Young [who was born about 1420] as mentioned in the college of arms pedigree.

A1 John Codrington = Alice Hawes dau. John
.. A2 John Codrington = Alice Young dau. Thomas [born about 1450]
.. B1 Thomas Codrington = Elizabeth Poyntz dau. John

Perhaps both John and Thomas married daughters of John Poyntz, but only John seems to have been remembered [even if the name of his wife is not].

The visitation of Gloucestershire in 1623 shows Elizabeth as the daughter of John Poyntz and Alice Cox and married to an unknown son of an unknown Codrington.

Elizabeth Poyntz

This daughter is also shown as the wife of Robert Veale and it appears that Thomas could have married the widow of this Robert and John, perhaps, married the other unidentified daughter “Alice”.

In “memoirs of the Poyntz family” Elizabeth is shown only as being nurse to a son of Henry VIII  in 1510, but she could have been the widow of both Robert Veale and Thomas if he had died in 1490.

Perhaps Sir John Maclean simply did not appreciate that Elizabeth and the unknown daughter who married a Codrington were one and the same?

The pedigree held by the College of Arms is quite interesting in that it shows Humphrey, John and Thomas as the three sons of Robert Codrington.

Codrington pedigree coa-1 (WIDTH-1000)

Based on other documents  – such as the levy of fines and the inquisition into the death of Alice – this cannot be correct and the pedigree is missing several generations, but somewhere hidden in here – no doubt – is some truth.

Other Codringtons

John Codrington of Codrington and Wapley is not the earliest person recorded with that name and in 1337 one John Codrington was “apprentice to our lord the King [Edward III], and attorney”.

It seems he is recorded in history because he had been commanded to attend Sir John de Ros, at Orwell on 17th March 1337 and wasn’t too happy about it:

“…well and completely armed and apparelled as a man-at-arms, and that, upon pain of being hanged.”

John petitioned the king to be excused this service and seems to have earned a reprieve.

“Inasmuch as he is an attorney, let it be commanded to Sir J. de Ros, or his lieutenant, that they surcease from the demand which they make about him, and the distress which they do to him for this cause.”

The hundred year war with France started in this year so no doubt the command was related to the formation of armies for the campaign.

Whether this John lived in Gloucestershire is not recorded, but there are no other branches of the family known at the time in other parts of the country.

One Sir John Coderyngton appears in records relating to the seizing of the Chantries in 1547 during the first year of the reign of Edward VI.

He was the incumbent of Holy Trinity, Dursley, Gloucestershire and was paid to say prayers for the deceased, his income coming from endowments left for the saying of masses.

… of the age of 80 years, and having no other living than in the said service, which amounted to £6 13s. 4d.

This may be the same John Coderyngton who, 20 years earlier, was the prior of the rather unruly Malmesbury Abbey.

… Thomas Gloucester had often cast away his habit, had climbed over the walls and consorted with harlots, and had seized the possessions of others for his own use, and John London was nearly as bad, and had apostatized and offered violence, and Robert Ciscetur was frequently drunk. Other monks, continued the abbot, were little better: several had broken out at night, the prior, John Codryngton, was remiss and openly admitted it in light-hearted fashion …

The title Sir John Codryngton must have been an affectation as there are no records for a Sir John. He would have been born about 1467 but there is no obvious place in the senior Codrington tree for him.

Probably then he is from the junior branch of the family, a younger brother to William [Ambrose] Codrington, born 1462 of Frampton-on-Severn? It was often the younger sons that went into the church and his age fits with this scenario.

Stephen Codrington is mentioned in Notita Monastica page in relation to Stanlegh Abbey in Wiltshire, 1379. He could easily be a cousin or even brother of John Codrington I and I think this must be the first reference to any of the Codrington family being of Codrington and Wapley.

2 Ric. 2. receit. et confirm. donationes: P. 869. cart. antiq. X. n. 6, fcil. 2 Ric 2. confirm. donationem R. fil. Stephani de Codinton et Wapalee.

This appears to be a record of a donation to the abbey and there are also references in the same book to the manor of Codrington with a much earlier date.

15 Ed 1 [1286]. quo war. rot. 7. d. pro libertat in maner de Codrington [for freedom in the manor of Codrington].

It was John Codrington [of Agincourt] who purchased the manor at Codrington from Stanlegh Abbey about 60 years after the record of the donation by Stephen, and this does show family connections with the Abbey. The abbey also had connections to St. Augustine’s in Bristol where Robert Codrington was later buried – St Augustine’s was also the parent church to St Peter’s in Wapley.

Pat. 33 Hen 6 [1454] p. 2. m.. de maner. de Codrington [Gloucestr.] concedendo Joanni Codrington: fin. div. com.

Could Stephen actually be the father of John Codrington I with John Codrington II being his son and the one who was at Agincourt?

What we can surmise from this record is the possible age of Stephen. In order to be in a position to make a donation to the abbey he must have been successful and probably not a young man. We could also say that he was of an age to “contemplate his own mortality” and was probably making a donation to the abbey in preparation for his after-life, possibly for prayers to be said for him, as done by John Codrington and Alice [see below].

Based on this I would estimate his age as about 50 years old and therefore born in 1329. This is not an exact science but does give us some idea of which generation he belongs to.

If John was born in 1384, and died aged 91, then it is unlikely that Stephen was his father and more likely an uncle. If this was the case then John, or more likely his father, was Stephen’s heir  – somehow or other John inherited the property at Codrington and Wapley.

Farmer BullshotI am only exploring possibilities and my own ideas here – there are are lot of facts that just do not quite fit. A later birth date for John and shorter life of 91 would go some way to make this puzzle a little easier to understand, but there is no evidence that the age on the tomb is incorrect.

Whatever actually happened, and who is related to who, may never be known for sure – perhaps a combination of several of the above scenarios? There is time in the life of John for him to have married at least three times (or more) and to have had several families – even if he only lived until the age of 91.

Or maybe I am too doubting and it was simply as RHC surmised:

John returned from Agincourt, married a young woman, survived his son, and died in extreme old age.

Although I am not sure that he fully believed that this was correct.

Farmer BullshotI will be updating my family tree to take into account some of the ideas that I have discussed, to better fit with other pedigrees, and adding John II, based on very little evidence.

If the age on the tomb is correct then my best guess is that John Codrington had two wives, with his children all being born from his first marriage, which is why two had died before his second wife. After the death of Alice I he remarried but did not have any more children.

What confuses this slightly is the birth of grandson and heir Christopher, who’s father would have been quite old when he was born in 1467, but you can’t have everything.

If the age on the tomb is incorrect and he died aged ninety-one, then things become a little easier to understand with John at Agincourt aged 30 and married shortly afterwards.

Personally this scenario appeals to me as it is much neater and fits with most other facts and estimates, and I will be pursuing this further.

In this case Robert could be the younger brother of John I and therefore the uncle of John of Agincourt, which is why he was only ever of Chipping Sodbury and did not inherit Codrington and Wapley.

Both John I and Robert could also be the sons of Stephen who is shown to be of Codrington and Wapley in 1379 or possibly John Codrington who married Margery Chalkeley.

Stephen of Codrington and Wapley
.. John I
…. John II of Agincourt = Alice Hawys
…… Humphrey – Escheator of Gloucestershire
…… John III
…….. Christopher – Heir of Alice
…… Thomas
…. Robert of Chipping Sodbury
…. Thomas [junior branch]

I think there is also enough evidence to say that it is more than likely that Thomas B1 was the son, and not brother, of John A1.

This does mean, technically, that John III should be the head of the senior branch A1 and not John of Agincourt.

The Elder Tree

Some additional information about Geoffrey Codrington and Isabel Beaushyn has made me change a few things – in particular they are shown elsewhere to be a generation later than I have estimated – meaning that Geoffrey is probably the brother of both John of Agincourt.

This makes John and Margaret Chalkley the parents of John of Agincourt leaving Alice Young to be the wife of John’s son John [father of Christopher].

Margaret – who married John le Veale – must also be the sister to John II and Geoffrey II.

But this does mean that there is a generation missing between the earlier Geoffrey I [estimated as being born about 1300 by RHC] and John I. Possibly the earlier Geoffrey was a generation later and Geoffrey II was his son [and named after him]. He could also have been the eldest of the two brothers, but died without a son leaving John II as the heir.

As Peter of Codrington and Wapley was recorded making a donation to the Abbey of Stanleigh in 1379 he must have been about 50 and therefore could fit into the gap between Geoffrey I and John I. Robert of Chipping Sodbury then becomes the brother of John I and the uncle of John II of Agincourt. John I would have inherited the Codrington property from his father, Peter, and passed it to his son.

There is a reference to Richard Goderyngton, who was shown as Deacon in the records of Bishop William Ginsborough for 1304/5, and this is now the oldest record I have found, assuming Richard is a member of the same family.

Another John Codrington – attorney to the king in 1337 – is probably related to this Richard or his son Geoffrey. Other records show that there was a branch of the family based around Tewksbury and Gloucester. This, perhaps, shows a link between the Codrington family of Wapley and the village of Goderyngton although it is also possible that the two are not related.

Richard Goderyngton (1275)
.. Geoffrey (1300)
.. Ralph
.. Thomas
.. John (1325) Attorney to the King
…. John (1350)
…… John (1380) of Bishop’s Cleeve
…….. Anselm Codrington of Gloucester

From all the information available at the moment the early Codrington pedigree could be something like this:

Richard (1275)
.. Geoffrey (1300)
…. Peter of Codrington & Wapley (1330)
…… Robert of Chipping Sodbury
…… John I (1360) = Margery Chalkley
…….. Margery (1390) = John le Veale
…….. Geoffrey (1385) = Isabel Beaushyn
…….. John II A1 (1384) of Agincourt = Alice Hawys
………. Humphrey = ?Agnes?
………. John III A2 (1435) = Alice Young
………… Christopher A3(1467) = Ankarette Twynyho dau. William *
………….. John A4 (1490) = Dorothy Fettiplace
………… Edward A7(1469) = Elizabeth Tywnyho dau. John
………….. Thomas A8 (1515) = Mary Kellaway
……………. Simon A9 (1554) = Agnes Seacole
……………… Robert A11 (1574) = Anne Stubbes dau. Willliam
………. Thomas B1 (1435) = Elizabeth Poyntz
………… Ambrose B2 (1470) = Mary Teste
………….. Francis B4 (1515) = Margaret Shipman dau. William
……………. Gyles B5 (1535) = Isabella Porter
……………… Francis B6 (1559) = Margaret Bromwich *
……………… Richard B7 (1560) = Joyce Burlace

* Line passed to brother/heir.

speech50The wife of John Codrington was Alice Hawys. This has also been transcribed as Hannys and Hauuys which is understandable. Alice’s sister Margery is also named as Hawes and Haines, in documents relating to the will of Peter Bessiles. I have stuck to the Hawys spelling for consistency as much as possible.

speech50Another record, not mentioned by RHC, is that John and Alice Codrington paid for a chantry in the Dominican friary at Bristol.

John and Alice Codryngton of Gloucestershire established a perpetual chantry in 1469 in the Dominican house at Bristol where a daily Mass was to be celebrated for the benefit of their souls, those of their ancestors and all the faithful departed, with additional services for their anniversaries.

John Codrington I would have been over 100 years old at this time and even a younger John would have been 80.

Chris Sidney 2015


The Codrington Arms

Farmer BullshotThere are several different coats of arms used by the Codrington family, two of which were granted to John Codrington of Gloucestershire in the 15th century. Can these arms help us to identify the origins of the Codrington family?

Codrington of SodburyAccording to most sources these are the first known arms used by the Codrington family.

of silver a fesse sable between three lions passant gules.

An enhanced version of these arms are used by the senior branch of the Codrington family – those descended from John Codrington, Standard-bearer for Henry V at Agincourt.

The original arms continue to be used by the junior branch of the family who descended from Thomas, the brother of John, indicating that these arms were in use by the Codrington family before Agincourt.

According to RHC these are similar to those granted to Sir John de la Hoese of Berkshire, in the reign of Edward III, so is it possible that the Codrington family itself descended from a member of this family who took the Codrington surname?

Confirmation of Arms

Codrington of CodringtonRHC was confused by the requests for the confirmation of arms by John Codrington in 1441 and the additional grant in 1445, but it is the first of these that is used by the senior branch of the family to this day.

of silver a veece [fesse] of Sable Batale counter batale Frett with Gowles [gules], between three Lyons passants of the same.

The second grant of arms, which has no similarities to the first, have never been used, other than quartered with the first.

of Synoble iii Roses of goules in a Bende of Silver; A Right Hand of the Bende in the left Quarter.

I doubt that John I would have applied for – but then never used – a second grant of arms, but it is possible. One suggestion is that it was to show his support for the house of Lancaster, but there is no hint of this in the wording of the grant.

Of sinople, sinopre, synoble

(a) A red ocher used in making a vermilion coloring material; also, the color vermilion, red;
(b) her[aldry]. The tincture vert, green [the change in meaning from red to green prob. does not antedate the 15th cent. in England] page

The colour synoble in this case probably references a green (vert) background.

Second Grant of Arms

Codrington of WapleyThe description associated with the second grant also seems much less formal than the first, which clearly identifies a military relationship with the King.

“… John Codrington hath been armed in the present armes in the service of our Sovereign Lord King Henry the Fifth in Battle Watch and Ward, under the said our Sovereign Lord’s Banner …”

The second grant is to John Codrington, gentleman of the shire of Gloucester.

“… for the good service he has done, and shall do to our Sovereign Lord, and the worship of Knighthood  … “

The hand represents sincerity and justice, perhaps suggesting that the owner was involved in the law rather than a military hero and I am not entirely convinced that this is a second grant to the same John.

john codrington arms x 2

Both grants are to John Codrington, gentleman.

The hand is also said to represent John’s commitment of service to the king alone  – possibly as his right hand – but perhaps on pain of having his hand removed.

Robert Codrington Esq.

IMG_1055-1 (WIDTH-1000)The only place I have seen the second arms used is on a copper engraving from 1709  by Johannes Kip of the Didmarton estate in Gloucestershire.

Didmarton the Seat of Robert Codrington Esq.

As this is nearly 300 years after the original grant it cannot be said for certain if the design is correct, although it does show that the second grant was associated with the family, or, at least, that is what the artist believed at the time.

Robert Codrington – at the time of the engraving – was the husband of Agnes Samwell and John Codrington I was his 4x great grandfather. The Didmarton manor house was passed to the Codrington family by the marriage of his great-grandfather Simon who married Agnes Seacole in 1571.

didmarton tintedThe engraving was originally printed in Britannia Illustrata, or Views of Several of the Queens Palaces also of the Principal Seats of the Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain published in 1724, and was not commissioned by the family.

The book was not published until several years after the death of Robert in 1717 and the Manor was sold by 1750.

A tinted version of the same image adds colours to the coats of arms showing the green [synoble] on the second arms.

The motto on the engraving “IMMERSABILIS EST VERA VIRTUS” translates [approximately] as “True power is unsinkable” and is also identified in the The General Armoury [see later].

Another John

So if the second grant of arms was not to John Codrington of Wapley then who was it for?

There is a record for another John of Coderyngton, student and attorney to the king, in 1337, and a descendant of his could have requested the arms, perhaps to distinguish his family from that of John Codrington of Agincourt.

The arms could also show their support for the Lancastrian dynasty who the family may have been serving as attorneys for several generations.

In a record for the court of common pleas in 1421 is one John Codrington, gentleman of Clyfe Gloucestershire. In this case Clyfe is Bishop’s Cleeve near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, which is later connected to Humphrey – the eldest son of John Codrington of Wapley – just to confuse things further.

In this record John Codrington of Clyfe, along with several other gentlemen, is standing as surety for the defendant, John Malle, a butcher of Northleach so he is likely to have some standing in the area.

Court of Common Pleas, CP 40/641, rot. 363
Term: Easter 1421
John Codryngton. Gentleman of ‘Clyfe’ Gloucestershire, England. Surety for defendant.

There is also a license dated 1423 for John Codrington of Tewkesbury to export wheat through Bristol. page

license for John Codrington 1423

Could John Codrington have lived in Tewkesbury after Agincourt but before inheriting the properties at Codrington and Wapley from his father, or is this a different John?

See John Codrington II for more information about this subject.

A Different View

Another document “Grantees of arms named in docquets and patents to the end of the seventeenth centurypage identifies the two grants as being to the same John Codrington.

Possibly the author assumed this, but there may be more information in the actual grant to identify that both were the same person, that I have not seen.

In this document John Codrington is specifically identified as John Codrington of Codrington co. Glouc. and some of the dates differ slightly.

Codrington arms 1441 & 1445

The second grant is also clearly identified as an “alteration” to the first, and the first arms [with the embattlements] are identified as having been used during his service with Henry V.

In 1419 Henry V issued a proclamation forbidding all persons who had not borne arms at Agincourt to assume them, except by virtue of inheritance, or of a grant from the crown.

From this is does not seem clear to me why John would have needed to confirm his arms that were used by him in the service of the king?

And why was this done over  twenty years after the original proclamation?

BourchierArmsAs he was part of the retinue of Sir William Burchier then perhaps he did not wear his own arms – or at least not the enhanced version – and assumed them afterwards in which case he may have wanted to confirm the later design.

In his document “Memoirs” RHC quotes from the confirmation but does not identify John as being specifically of Codrington as mentioned above.

Neither does he mention that John was of Gloucester as mentioned above (and in the second grant), but it is clear from the description that this first grant is to John, who was in the military service of the king.

Perhaps the record above is a combination of the two grants, under the assumption that they were both for the same person and some details have been combined?

Every comment on the two grants that I have seen so far, seems to extract certain bits of information from both grants rather than just publishing them in full. This makes me wonder if some pieces that do not fit the scenario of both grants being for John Codrington of Wapley have been ignored.

That may well be my suspicious nature and, of course, both could well be for John Codrington, hero of Agincourt, but why he requested [or was given] the second grant of arms remains a mystery.

De la Hoese

de la Hoese coaRHC mentions the arms of Sir John de la Hoese (Hussey), of Berkshire, being similar to the original Codrington arms so maybe there is a family connection?

Argent, une fese Sable ent. iii lioncells Goulis

The differences between the arms are that the Codrington lions are passant [not rampant] and in the grant of 1441 the fesse has “battlements” top and bottom, also there is a fret pattern on the fesse.

Geoffrey is a name that appears in the de la Hoese (Huse, Hussey) family – so perhaps Geoffrey de Codrington was a member of this important family and took his name from where he lived?

The de la Hoese family held lands in Somerset after the Norman conquest – Hubert de Hoese was probably with William during the Conquest in 1066.

The early de la Hoese family history following 1066, is documented on-line under the Battle Abbey Roll. page

The Husseys came from a place a mile North of Rouen, which is now called ‘le Houssel.’ La Houssaie is still a common name in Normandy.”—Lower’s Sussex. They certainly date from the time of the Conquest in this country. Gautier Heuse is on the Dives Roll, and was either the same “Walterius Hosatus” who witnessed a charter of John Bishop of Bath in 1106, or his father. In Domesday, William Hosed or Hosatus held Charlcomb, in Somersetshire, of Bath Abbey, as well as other manors in the county: and the first lords of Bath-Eaton were of this family. They had afterwards estates in Wiltshire and in Sussex, where Harting appears to have been their principal residence; though “one of these lords built much at Shockerwicke, in Somersetshire, and the manor from thence was in succeeding times called the manor of Husei’s Court.”—Collinson’s Somerset.

There are a number of family names derived from the original family – Hussey being the main one. If other branches of the family had already Anglicised their names then Geoffrey [or one of his ancestors] may have done the same.

In 1296 one Nicolas de Hoese was summoned from Wiltshire to perform military service against the Scots.

In 1301 and again in 1304 he was summoned from Gloucester – again to fight the Scots – where he held lands worth £40 and more, showing that the family did own lands in Gloucestershire.

Half a Knight’s fee

Geoffrey Codrington [Galfridus de Coldrintone] held half a knight’s fee under Pagan de Mandubel, an old Norman family, at the time of Henry II (1154-1189) [1]

If he is the earliest recorded Codrington – and contemporary with Pagen (1123-1170) – then there are a lot of missing generations between him and Robert.

The descendants of Ibert Payne Mundabiel, [who may have been with William the Conquerer in 1066] were the Chaworth family of Shropshire.

chaworth coaHis daughter, Wilburga, married Patrick de Chaworth but their son, also Payne, took his maternal grandfather’s surname – probably to settle an inheritance – however the name changed back to Chaworth with Payne’s son Patrick.

In 1297 Maud de Chaworth married Henry, Earl of Lancaster. Her mother Isabel Beauchamp (1252-1306) had married Patrick de Chaworth – a descendant of Pagan Mundabiel – but, after he died in 1283, she remarried to Ralph de la Hoese.

If Geoffrey was from the de la Hoese family, and born earlier than suggested by RHC, then he may have been a brother to Ralph, and if he was the son of Ralph and Isabel Beauchamp he could have been born about 1300.

Possibly the family held land in Gloucestershire which he may have inherited, along with the name.

There is no specific evidence of a change of name from de la Hoese to Codryngton but it was not uncommon to Anglicise French names at this time – Hussey being the most common change from de la Hoese. If Geoffrey chose to change his name using the place where he lived then nothing much would have been thought of it.

However the dates attributed to Geoffrey as being contemporary with Henry II, indicate a much earlier ancestor using the Codringtone name than 1300, the date usually assigned to Geoffrey.

I am not sure, based on these dates, why it is assumed that Geoffrey was born about 1300.

[1] This reference to Galfridus de Codringtone comes from the Black Book of the Exchequer as referenced in “memoirs”.

speech50The similarity between the Codrington and de la Hoese arms, and the possible link between the families, is based on the assumption that the arms – with the simple, black fesse – were older than those used by John Codrington at Agincourt.

As these arms now appear not to have been used until the 16th century, and the junior branch is most likely descended from Thomas, the son of John – who used his father’s arms – then the link made by RHC is probably incorrect.

That is not to say that there isn’t a link between the families, but perhaps later than first thought.

There seems to have been a connection between the families several generations later in relation to property in Wiltshire:

Final concord from Easter into one month, 20 Henry VIII (May, 1529), between Bartholomew Husey and Christopher Codrynton, querents, and Edward Codrynton and Elizabeth his wife and William Southe, deforciants, of the manor of Swaloclyff. page

The Twynyho family are also mentioned in this article regarding the South family and the inheritance of properties in Wiltshire.

One of these properties, Swallowcliffe, ended up with the Codrington family for a while. page

Calne House

RHC, in his first publication on the Codrington family, lists the fourteen arms depicted in a stained glass window at Castle House, Calne, Wiltshire. page

These shields, which relate to marriages within the extended Codrington family, contain the arms of both the junior and the senior branches of the family but not the second arms granted to John Codrington in 1445.

Castle House Calne Stained GlassIt is not know what the connection is between the property and the Codringtons. Possibly these were originally in the Bristol home of Robert Codrington [as mentioned in Memoirs] and relocated at some point by a member of the Ernle family, who lived in Calne and also married into the Codrington family.

RHC suggests another link with the manor house at Berwick Bassett and the Goddard family who married into the junior branch of the Codrington family.

The Castle House property was purchased by the local council at some point and left to ruin until recently renovated as flats and holiday accommodation. It is not known if the stained glass survives.

The illustration is from the History of Calne by A.E.W Marsh from 1903

speech50I have recently come across several cases where the junior branch of the family have used the arms of the senior branch, giving some weight to the idea that Thomas, the head of the junior branch, was the son – and not brother – of John of Agincourt.

In the 1623 visitation of Gloucestershire for the Clifford family, the senior arms are identified as belonging to Ambrose [shown as William] Codrington who married Margaret

William Codrington - Margaret Teste

There is a slight difference in this description in that the fesse, although embattled, has no fretting and several generations later it appears that the embattlement has also been removed.

The arms that I have used for the senior branch were shown – in the original document – to have been associated with Thomas Codrington in the 15th century who can only be the son of John Codrington.

Thomas Coderyngton 15th century arms

So perhaps it was several generations later that the arms were changed – or they just evolved – and Thomas was, indeed, the son of John Codrington of Agincourt.

In which case these may not be the original arms at all and are a variation [simplification] of those used by John Codrington and used by both branches of the family.

This brings into question any connection to the de la Hoese family, but there is nothing to say that these were not the original arms re-adopted several generations later.

Red Fesse

sir john codringtonMany images and miniatures of John Codrington show the original family arms with a red fesse, but I have not come across this in any written description – perhaps there is some reference I have not found yet?

It is possible that the version of the arms used by the junior branch may have been a modification of the original arms, with a black fesse replacing an earlier red one?

This may have been done where the original arms were associated too closely with another member of the family – in this case John, hero of Agincourt – even though he later changed the design as well.

IMG_20151025_161401-1 (WIDTH-1000)During the battle of Trafalgar in 1805 Captain Edward Codrington, of the Orion, used arms that had reversed colours to the arms usually used by the senior branch of the family.

Making a small but significant change, particularly with the colours, is common amongst members of the same family and this is often combined with an additional item on the shield “for difference” – in this case a goblet.

The lions are shown in black and the embattled fesse in red without any fretting.

codrington red fesseRHC says that the original arms, with the black fesse, are mentioned in Atkyns’ Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire published in 1712, and also shown in the stained glass at Calne – but it appears they were not actually used before the 16th century.

If we ignore the assumption that they were used before Agincourt  – based largely on Thomas being the brother of John, which is probably incorrect – then why could the fesse not have been red originally?

RHC also comments on alternative designs in his “memoirs” document of 1898, so clearly this is not just a recent idea.

The red fess and black lions, which by some mistake are in some cases given, are evidently wrong.

Possibly he is referring to the arms of Edward Codrington, as shown above, however I do not think these are supposed to represent the original arms or those of the senior branch.

Codrington - SamwellSeveral members of the Codrington family are buried in St. Lawrence’s church at Didmarton, where the family owned the manor, including the still-born sons and three daughters of John Codrington and his third wife Frances Guise.

At the top of the memorial plaque are the arms of the two families.

What is interesting is that underneath the black, embattled and fretted fesse of the Codrington arms is a red embattled fesse. This may simply be because it was easier to show the red fretting on the black fesse by painting the red underneath.

But it also seems that the fretting [basketwork] design is not actually showing as red and the base colour is showing through. Perhaps the red was a mistake that was over-painted, although the description of the fretting is definitely red (gules).

Another possibility is that the shield was simply re-painted [badly] at some point as had the memorial to Robert Codrington in Bristol Cathedral, although this paintwork does seem to be older.

Farmer BullshotI think a red fesse is a real possibility. In particular I believe that the red fretting, in the grant of 1441, could be a hint to the original colour underneath the black, embattled black one used by John Codrington at Agincourt.

The General Armoury

There are a number of records for the Codrington family in The General Armoury. page

One shows a completely different coat of arms altogether.

Gu. a cross lozengy Az. and Or.

coddingtonThese are shown elsewhere as the arms of the Codinton family [of Surrey] as well as Codrington, so probably another simple mistake.

The Coddington family originated in Coddington, Cheshire and are sometimes mistaken for members of the Codrington family.

There are also several versions of the “Coddington” arms – available to buy online – that actually show the Codrington arms instead! The problem is that once these things are on the internet they are difficult to correct or remove.

In some references to the battle of Agincourt John Codrington is shown as Codinton along with Symon Codington, who is probably not related.

Two of the descriptions are of interest:

Codrington (Wroughton Co. Wilts)

Ar. a fess embattled counter-embattled sa. fretty gu. between three lions pass. of the second.

Codrington (Bridgwater, Somerset)

Ar. a fess sa. betw. three lions pass. gu.

The first arms are those of the senior branch, and the second from the junior branch – those that moved out of Dodington when it was bought by Christopher Codrington III with the proceeds from his sugar plantations.

The interesting thing is that, although from separate branches, they both have the same motto:

Immersabillis est Vera Virtus and Vera Virtus Immersabilis.

Both translate [approximately] as True power is unsinkable.

It seems as if the arms used by the junior branch were changed several generations after John Codrington of Agincourt. Both his son Thomas and grandson Ambrose [William in the pedigree] continued to use the same arms that he was granted in 1441.

This puts the assumption, by RHC and others, that these were the earliest arms used by the Codrington family into some doubt, as well as the connection to the de la Hoese family.

It seems that the first recorded use of the simpler arms – without the embattled fesse – was Samuel, the son of Richard Codrington of Dodington, who married Elizabeth Stephens in the 16th century, as shown in the stained-glass window at Calne mentioned above.

This is much later than I was expecting, unless there are other records that put this date earlier.

The arms of the Codringtons of Codrington, Gloucester[shire] are shown as:

Ar, a fesse embattled sa. betw. three lions pass. gu.

Despite being directly descended from John Codrington A1 there is no fretting mentioned.

The arms of the Bethell-Codringtons – those descending from Christopher Codrington of Barbados and Antigua, and who bought Dodington from the junior branch – are the same, but with the fretting intact.


Sir John CodringtonMost illustrations and miniatures of Sir John Codrington show him carrying the Royal Standard of Henry V, but there is also a second standard associated with Henry V and Agincourt as shown in this figurine.

The design adorning the horse is based on the arms confirmed to John Codrington in 1441, and he could have used these at Agincourt, or at least assumed them while still in the service of the king.

Other models usually show the older arms and I think it more likely that these were used by John at Agincourt, but that soon afterwards they were modified to reflect his recent military service and important position as standard bearer.

The standard shown here usually includes the Bohun swan in honour of his mother, Mary de Bohun, but this version appears to show a different design – perhaps a griffin?

I do not know if either version was used during the campaign, but if so it opens the possibility that there were two standard-bearers at Agincourt – John Codrington and Sir William Harrington as discussed elsewhere. page


Sir Geoffrey Codrington

Geoffrey Ronald Codrington ArmsThese are the arms of Sir Geoffrey Ronald Codrington, a descendant of John of Agincourt and Christopher Codrington of Barbados and Antigua, and shows the arms confirmed to John Codrington in 1441.

Note that the helmet on the achievement above the shield is facing forward, indicating a knight rather then an esquire, as shown on the arms of John Codrington of Agincourt.

The motto translates as In the face of the enemy.

Sir Geoffrey Ronald Codrington KVCO DSO

Birth:  May 13, 1888, England
Death:  Jun. 18, 1973, England

Chris Sidney 2015


The Estcourt Connection

Farmer BullshotIt would be strange if there was no family connection between the Estcourt and Codrington families given the number of documents that show the names of both families.

All that can be found, however, is a reference in the will of Thomas Estcourt, dated 1599, to his sister Codrington and it seems there are no other records for this marriage between the two families.

Thomas Estcourt (1547-1599) was party to several legal documents concerning the Codrington family, including the arrangements for the marriage of Robert Codrington and Anne Stubbes dated 1593.

The said Simon Codrington being so seised a fine was levied in Michaelmas term 36 Elizabeth between William Stubbes and Thomas Estcourte, esquires, plaintiffs, and the said Simon and Agnes his wife, […] to the use of the said Simon for his life, and after his death to the use of Robert Codrington, gent., then son and heir of the said Simon and of Anne Stubbes, afterwards his wife […]

Shipton Moyne 1709The Estcourt family lived at Shipton Moyne in Gloucestershire, close to Didmarton where the senior branch of the Codrington family were based at this time.

Simon Codrington (1554-1631) seems to have been associated with this older Thomas and his son, Thomas, a friend of Simon’s son Robert – both having been at Grey’s Inn at about the same time. Thomas Estcourt was one of the overseers of Robert’s will.

But there do not seem to be any male Codrington family members in the pedigree that could be the husband of an Estcourt daughter, and RHC did not know about this otherwise I’m sure it would have been mentioned in his Memoirs of the Codrington family.

I have therefore tried to match an un-named sister of Thomas Estcourt the elder, to an unknown son of Thomas Codrington and Mary Kellaway.

There are only two sons mentioned in the Codrington pedigree – Simon Codrington the eldest son who married Agnes Seacole, and John Codrington, who married Ann Howper of Meriot, Somerset.

Both Simon and John were alive until at least 1630 – outliving Simon’s son and heir, Robert who died in 1618. Agnes Seacole was known to be alive until 1618 but not much is known of Ann Howper.

Dates for this branch of the family are a bit vague but I think it is possible for John to have remarried after his two known sons, Thomas and Edward, were born about 1590/95 – assuming his wife Ann had died.

It is not known if another Codrington brother was alive in 1599, when Thomas Estcourt wrote his will, but he is not mentioned as a brother in law and, if he had died then his wife had not remarried.

The Estcourt Sisters

There are four sisters mentioned in the will of Thomas Estcourt in 1599: Edith Iles, sister Pateshall, sister Codrington and sister Sperte, as well as several brothers-in-law who are husbands of sisters or, in some cases, fathers of daughters-in-law.

Matching these up leaves only sister Codrington and sister Spert unaccounted for – supposedly their husbands may both have been dead by 1599.

This means that John Codrington cannot to be the husband of sister Codrington as he lived until 1633 – and Simon was still married to Agnes.

It is also possible that the husbands were simply not listed as brothers-in-law in the will, but I can see no reason why they should have been excluded unless they were dead.

Additional information is available in the will of Anne Estcourt, (who did not marry), one of the daughters of Edmund and Praxeda, and older sister of Thomas.

However she only mentions one sister, Edith Iles, several brothers and lots of god-children, nieces and nephews and seems to have had a lot of money to distribute between them.

Anne Estcourt died in 1581, some time before her brother Thomas, so it is possible that sister Codrington was not married at the time, and is simply not named for some reason – perhaps she was married but had no children or was just a younger sister?

Anne seems to have been about 10 years older than Thomas and closer in age to sister Edith, so if Thomas was the eldest son there could have been a lot of sisters born earlier.

If Anne was born in 1538 [her father was born 1525 so one of these dates appears wrong] then a sister born about the same time could almost have married a Codrington from an earlier generation, but still be alive in 1599, probably as a widow.

I think this is unlikely though, and I still favour an additional Codrington son, Thomas, as the most likely option.

Henry Grace a DieuThe sister of Agnes Seacole, who married Simon Codrington, had also married into the Spert family.

Griselle Seacole = Richard Spert.

Richard was the son of Sir Thomas Spert, founder of Trinity House and Master of the Mary Rose and the Henri Grace a Dieu. page  Sir Thomas had also married into the Seacole family but had no children from that marriage, possibly his wife, Anne, had died in childbirth?

Robert Spert, who married another unknown Estcourt daughter, is unlikely to be his brother, but is probably a relative of some sort.

William Soper the M.P. for Southampton – who may have been related to the John Soper that married Alice Codrington – was also involved in the navy of Henry V and the building of the Gracedieu that was started in Southampton in 1416.

Soper played a notable part in the greatest naval enterprise of the time, the scheme to build a ship of 1,400 tons’ estimated capacity—the Gracedieu.  page

Thomas Estcourt

THOMAS ESTCOURT, of Shipton Moyne, co. Glouc. Will dated – 1 June 19, 1599, proved Nov. 13, 1599. [88 Kidd.]

To be buried in my Chapel at Shipton Moyne.

My brothers in law William Savage & Walter Hungerford, esq, & Richard Patsall.

My sister Pateshall.

My son Edmund Estcourt.

My son in law John Hungerford.

My sister Edith Iles, wife of Richd Iles.

My daughter Mary [Savage], wife of my son Thomas Estcourt.

My brothers George & Richard Estcourt.

Books in my Study in Gray’s Inn, London, to my son Edmund Estcourt.

To my daughter Anne Estcourt, £1,000 to her marriage.

Lands, &c., to Edmund my son, if Thomas dies without issue.

My cousin Sir Willm. Eyer, of Chalfield, Wilts.

My wife Emma.

My father Edmund Estcourt, decd.

My son Richard Estcourt, 200 marks towards the making of his stock in trade.

My sister Codrington.

My sister Sperte.

Anne Estcourt

ANNE Estcourt of Shipton Moyne. Will dated 7 Nov 1580, Probate 26 Sep 1581

Brother Thomas, sister in law Emma

Brother George, children Edmund, John, Emma, Mary

Brother Gyles

Brother Richard, children Anne, Edmund, Thomas, Cicilie, Mazie

Sister Edith Iles, children Thomas Anne, Praxeda

The South Connection

One possible solution to this is that the death of Thomas Codrington as 1594 is incorrect, and this date applies to a previously unrecorded son, also called Thomas.

Some research into the inheritance of property in Wiltshire and Shaftsbury, Dorset has shown that it was passed to Thomas South, his nephew, about 1565, which also may be when Thomas Codrington died. page

The properties in question appear to have come from Joan, Thomas’ grandmother.

Edward Codrington and Elizabeth his wife were seised in her right, of the manor of Swallowcliffe, with remainder to William South, her son and heir by a previous husband, and that the purport of the fine was, with William’s consent, to postpone his estate, whether in tail or in fee, to a life estate thereby created in favour of Thomas Codrington, his half-brother ex parte materna.

Thomas South was the son of Thomas’s half-brother, William South. Their mother, Elizabeth, was first married to Giles South before marrying Edward Codrington in about 1495. Thomas Codrington was born about 1520 and his death in about 1565 in not inconsistent with the birth dates of his children – and perhaps the reason he did not have more.

south - codrington

This pedigree from Wiltshire notes and queries (volume 7) shows Thomas Codrington born about 1500, which I think too early, but if true gives more weight to him dying about 1565, being of a good age, and the 1594 date would therefore have to apply to a son.

Upon these entries one would conclude that, by purchase or as heir, Thomas South, of 1574 [son of William South], succeeded Thomas Codrington, of 1552, and transmitted the messuage in Shaftesbury to his son, Thomas South, of 1606. And it may be stated that Thomas Codrington was certainly dead in 1565. The succession then may have been upon death; but it is quite certain that Thomas South was not Thomas Codrington’s heir.

The death of the younger Thomas in 1594 fits perfectly with him marrying into the Estcourt family about 1590, but then leaving a widow who is mentioned in her brother’s will of 1599 as Sister Codrington.

Thomas Codrington died intestate in 1594, which would be understandable if this was the will of the younger Thomas, but an older Thomas – aged about 80, [assuming he was born 1515] would surely have written a will?

Thomas  is described as “while he lived of Swallowcliffe ” and RHC says that administration of his estate was granted to his son, Simon, in 1594. But these facts do not fit with other records that say that the estate was in the possession of Thomas South in 1567, perhaps the biggest indication that Thomas had died early.

Land which a member of the South family, possibly Giles South, acquired in Swallowcliffe before 1528 may have been part of the Mandevilles’ Swallowcliffe estate. The land, reputed a manor, was in 1528 settled on Elizabeth Codrington, perhaps Giles’s relict, her husband Edward Codrington, and her son Thomas Codrington for their lives with remainder to William South, possibly Elizabeth’s son by Giles South. Thomas Codrington was apparently in possession in 1545. William’s son Thomas South held the estate in 1567. It passed to Thomas’s son Thomas, who died holding it in 1606. The land presumably passed to that Thomas’s son Edward South, the lord of Swallowcliffe manor. page

RHC may have been mistaken and the estate of Thomas, in 1594, may have been granted to his brother Simon. This leaves the family looking like this:

Thomas I (1515-1565) = Mary Kellaway (1525-1589)

    Mary? (-) = Hugh Hervey

    Alice (1550-1629) = Thomas Hyett

    Simon (1550-1631) = Agnes Seacole

    John (1555-1633) = Anne Howper

    Thomas II (1560-1594) = ?? Estcourt

Birth dates are approximate based on probably marriage dates etc.

Then there is the date mentioned above: Thomas Codrington of 1552. What does this date refer to? I doubt if this is when he died, but could be the date that he married Mary Kellaway – or possibly the birth for a younger Thomas? Most likely this is when the survey of lands was carried out.

And what of the date associated with Thomas South of 1574? It seems he was already in possession of the Swallowcliffe property by then and that this is when he died. The estate was then passed to his son, another Thomas who died in 1606.

The Codrington Connection

The elder Thomas Codrington was not the heir to the Codrington estate. This had been passed by his uncle, Christopher Codrington, and his wife Ankarette Twynyho, to their daughter, Alice, who married John Soper.

The pedigree of John Soper, probably of Somerset, is not clear, however his arms are shown in the chapel of Codrington Court where he died.

arg. on a fess gules between three phials or bottles, three mullets or.

These arms are impaled with those of the elder Codrington family, but they are different to other Soper arms, so perhaps he was the last of his family to use these.

The couple only had one daughter, Alice, who was the heir of the Codrington estate when she married Walter Dennys of Dyrham in Gloucestershire as his second wife .

But the couple did not have any children and when Alice Dennys died the Codrington and Wapley properties were passed to her second cousin Simon Codrington, the eldest son of Thomas Codrington and Mary Kellaway.

Unfortunately we do not know exactly when Alice Dennys died. If she died before 1594 – when she would have been 75 years old – then the lands could have gone to Thomas Codrington and not his son Simon.

However it was in February 1570 that Simon was named as “Consanguineus et haeres apparens” [Cousin and heir apparent] to Alice and Walter Dennys, so it is possible that the elder Thomas had died a few years earlier, otherwise I would have thought he would have been made heir, but this is not certain. Thomas would have been about the same age as Alice.

This also means that another Simon Codrington Esq. – who married Walter’s daughter, Anne, (Alice’s step daughter) from his first marriage in 1543 – must also have died by this time.

This Simon and Anne had no children so it is likely that he also died young. In the lives of the Berkeleys it says:

And the said Anne the last of the sisters of the said Richard Denis was maryed to Simon Codrington Esq. who is dead without issue. 

Elizabeth, the wife of Edward and mother of Simon and Thomas Codrington, first married Giles South and had a son, William who was half-brother to Simon and Thomas.

The documents referenced in Wiltshire Notes and Queries indicate that the properties mentioned in Dorset came from Elizabeth’s mother, Joan, from her first marriage, but the name of her first husband is unknown. She is known to have remarried to James Brown or Broune.

?? = Joan ? = James Broune

Elizabeth ? = Giles South = Edward Codrington

There is a possibility that Joan’s first husband was John Twynyho based simply on the disputed identity of the second husband of his widow, Joanne.

John Twynyho = Joanne Corbet = ??

There are indications that Joanne’s second husband was Thomas Cressett, but the suggested birth dates for his children seem much too early, and it is more likely that Thomas Cressett married a sister of Joanne, possibly named Eleanor, or that he was the son of a marriage between the two families a generation earlier.

It’s quite possible that Thomas Cressett’s wife was Elizabeth’s youngest daughter with Sir Roger Corbet, born in the 1460s, and not married until the latter years of Edward IV’s reign. page

Either way I have discounted a marriage between Thomas Cressett and Joanne, for now.

The Twynyho Connection

John Twynyho died in 1485 leaving Joanne as a widow and they could have had a daughter, Elizabeth [born about 1470] of an age to marry Giles South and to have a son, William, about 1490.

There is no record for an daughter Elizabeth but that does not mean that she didn’t exist, and if so, she could have been named after her grandmother Elizabeth Corbett. This means that Joan may have been Joanne Corbett and her daughter, Elizabeth Twynyho.

The uncle of Thomas Codrington, Christopher, had married Ankarette Twynyho – named after her grandmother Ankarette Hawkstone – and would have been cousin to Elizabeth. So this is what the relationship could have been …

John Twynho = Joan Corbett = James Broune

    Elizabeth Twynyho = Giles South = Edward Codrington

        William South, Thomas Codrington

The British History Online record page says that the Wiltshire land was originally owned by the South family and granted to Elizabeth – and not Joanne – on her marriage to Giles South. It was then passed through second husband, Edward Codrington, then his son Thomas and then back to the South family, as agreed prior to the marriage.

The agreement regarding Swallowcliffe was for the life of Thomas, so in 1567, when Thomas South held the estate, Thomas Codrington, the son of Edward and Elizabeth, must have been dead, leaving a younger son, Thomas, who married an Estcourt daughter but died intestate in 1594.

And there is more to support this.

As well as Swallowcliffe there are also properties in Shaftsbury, Dorset that were passed to Thomas South from Thomas Codrington in the same way, and these records also contain the name of Twynyho.

In the Octave of St. Martin 2 Richard III [1484] James Broune and Joan his wife, levied a fine to William Twyneo of a messuage and garden in Shaftesbury, which William Twyneo thereby granted to the said James and Joan for the term of their lives, with remainder to Giles South and Elizabeth his wife, and the heirs of their bodies, with remainder in default to the, heirs of the body of Elizabeth, with remainder in default to the right heirs of Joan.

This William Twynyho was likely the father-in-law of Christopher Codrington, but at this time there were no family connections between the South and the Codrington families – the daughter of Joan, Elizabeth, married Edward Codrington after the death of Giles, mentioned above.

So the most likely connection is through Joan, who would have been his sister in law, the widow of his brother John. The marriage between Elizabeth, the widow of Giles South, and Edward Codrington was perhaps arranged through the Twynyho family that had connections to both the Codrington and South families.

Farmer BullshotThe ownership of the properties in both Wiltshire and Dorset shows that it is highly likely that there were two Thomas Codringtons – father and son – and that it was the younger who married into the Estcourt family but died in 1594 leaving a widow, sister Codrington, as mentioned in the will of Thomas Estcourt in 1599.

The identification of Elizabeth, who married Edward Codrington, as the likely daughter of John Twynyho and Joanne Corbett is an unexpected bonus.

speech50Thomas South the younger, who took possession of Swallowcliffe from Thomas Codrington, died in 1606 leaving three sons – Edward, Thomas and Richard.

His grand-daughter Mary [probably the daughter of eldest son Edward] was married to Philip Poore at Swallowcliffe in 1639. Their son, also Philip, married Elizabeth Codrington, the youngest daughter of John Codrington and his second wife Ann Still, the grand-daughter of the bishop of Bath and Wells.

Chris Sidney 2015


Tatton v Stubbes

Farmer BullshotThere is an interesting, if slightly damaged, document in the National archives concerning Robert Tatton and William Stubbes and some money supposedly owed by William to Robert.

This document is related to research into my family tree, in particular the pedigree of Anne Stubbes, who married Robert Codrington in 1595. For background information please read An Heiress and of a Norfolk Family otherwise things may seem a bit confusing.

C 2_Jasl_T4_9 (WIDTH-1000)The Tatton v Stubbes document is quite large and faded in places, with a significant chunk missing, but there is enough information in the remaining text to tell an interesting story about the relationships between Robert and William.

This is only the answer of the defendant, William Stubbes of Watchfield, so we don’t get to hear the actual complaint by Robert Tatton, but some of it is repeated in the answer giving us a flavour of what was said.

Thanks to Linda at Transcription Services for her efforts in extracting all of the information out of the document that could be read.

The Tale of Robert Tatton

Once upon a time William Stubbes of Watchfield, Berkshire and his wife, Hester, had three daughters.

Anne, the eldest, married Robert Codrington of Gloucestershire in 1595; Theophilia, the youngest daughter, married Thomas Garrard of Inkpen, Berkshire and Susan Stubbes married Robert Tatton, from the Tatton family of Wythenshawe in Cheshire. page

But this was not what was supposed to have happened.

Robert Tatton had “by various practises, intised & gotten away” with their daughter Susan and married her a few days before she was supposed to marry someone else.

 … [without the] knowledge of this deffendant or of her mother this defendantes wife, even about a day or Two before that shee should have ben maryed, unto A gentleman of great worth & reputacion.

According to William, in his answer to the complaint, Robert’s father had disowned him after he married Susan and it was following this that Robert began borrowing money from William, his family and friends, which resulted in this court case.

This deffendant by the fayer and flatteringe speches of the complainant, and partly in hope that the Complainant would have Delt the better with this deffendantes daughter the Complainant’s Promise […] to bee made […] portions of money to [be sat__] [hole in document] setled uppon such children, as he had or should have by his said wife.

And partly uppon the faithfull promises and earnest protestacions made by the said complainant to this deffendant   f___ […] this Deffendandt […] did undertake the payment of diveres somes of mony so borrowed by the Complainant as is aforesaid.


I had associated the marriage of Susan Stubbes with Robert Tatton, the second son of Robert Tatton of Wythenshawe [1566-1623], according to the pedigree published in the Visitation of Cheshire.

Robert was born about 1586 and it was his elder brother, William, who inheriting the Wythenshawe estate and passed it to his young son, another Robert. [i]

William the elder (1544-1611)  = Mary Fitton

    Robert the elder (1566-1624)  = Eleanor Warren

        William the younger (1585-1616)  = Katherine Leycester

            Robert (1606-1669) = Anne Brereton

        Robert the younger (b.1586)  = Susan Stubbes

According to some sources Robert’s elder brother, William, was born in 1581, the same year his parents married, so Robert could have been born as early as 1582 and would be the same age as Susan.

Other sources, including the family pedigree in the visitation, say that William was born 1585 therefore Robert would have been about 5 years younger than his wife, which is unusual for the period.

[i] This Robert inherited Wythenshawe from his father, William, at the age of 10, his father having drowned crossing the Mersey, and is known for his spirited defence of Wythenshawe during the civil war.

But this may not be entirely correct – there is more useful information in the document!

And this Defendant [William Stubbes] further sha[ll] sayth that the said complainant [Robert Tatton] is so furr from makeing [provision] for his said wife & children, That of late (As this deffendant is credibly informed) the said complainant, & his sone and heir apparant by a former wife, have so handled the matter betwen them, that all the inheritance of the land sometymes in the father of the complainant is setled & stated in his said son, & noe provision made either for the Joynture of this Deffendantes daughter, nor any portions provided for her children, as this Deffendant hath credibly heard & doeth verily beleave yea & that which is more the said complainant doth threaten to turne [return] her his said wife to this Deffendant her father, & will not allowe her such […]ong as is fitting for a woman of her estate & calling.

The key part of this is that William accuses both Robert and his son and heir of contriving together to settle an inheritance from his father only on his eldest [unnamed] son, with no provision for Susan or their children.

His father, also Robert, died in January 1624 and was still alive at this time, so what was this inheritance?

The document is not dated so I have estimated, based on other dates mentioned, that it was between 1615 and 1620 – it was certainly before 1624 as Susan had died by then. William Stubbes mentions a date of 1608 when he and his wife went to visit Robert in Cheshire, so he would have been married to Susan by then.

There is also a reference to an event in 1615, so I would estimate that this document is about 1618 when a son of Robert the younger would have been “of age” at about 16 – assuming that Robert himself was married at the age of 16 in 1602, or was older.

But I can find no marriage records for Robert the younger – either to his first wife or to Susan – and no birth record for a son about the time he would have been married previously.

Farmer BullshotSo perhaps there is another possibility? Perhaps Robert was not the second son of Robert Tatton of Wythenshawe, but Robert of Wythenshawe himself!

Robert Tatton 1566This actually seems possible – even likely – having investigated this in more detail, and there is certainly a better fit with the known facts than to his son Robert, who may not have made it past childhood.

Robert Tatton of Wythenshawe had a son and heir, William, from his previous marriage to Eleanor Warren who would have been old enough to have entered into a contrivance over inheritance – he would have been about 26.

Robert’s father, William Tatton the elder, died in 1611 so there would have been an inheritance during the period covered by this document – the same was not true if this was the younger Robert as his father died later.

Some other sources also mention that Robert the elder [for some reason] transferred the titles and inheritance of his father, William the elder, to his son William the younger.

This summary of a Cheshire record, relating to William, shows that this may have some merit.

They say that William Tatton, the younger, late son & heir apparent of the said Robert, had taken all the profits &c. from the time of the death of the said William Tatton esq. […]

The children of Robert the elder and Eleanor were born between 1585 and 1589, the youngest being George who died a year later in 1590. The pedigree of the Tatton family shows that two sons Robert and Philip were alive in 1611 – the date of the death of William Tatton the elder – so they may have been mentioned in the inquisition following his death [they are not mentioned in his will].

There is a record for another son, also named George, being born in Cheshire in 1612, which seems a little late for Eleanor to be the mother – she would be nearly 50 by this date. It has been suggested that she died giving birth, but this is more likely to be the child of Susan than Eleanor as they were married by then, or he is from another branch of the family.

Eleanor had probably died shortly after the birth of youngest son George in 1590, or perhaps even in childbirth – I have no record for her death so this is not certain. In the portrait of Robert Tatton he is shown with a wedding ring on a chain around his neck, so this is likely from his marriage to Eleanor – Susan was still alive, although she died the same year.

A commentary attached to the portrait of Robert, painted shortly before his death, indicates that the transfer of the Wythenshawe estates to his son William, may be due to the loss of his wife. page

This loss may help to explain why Robert handed over the management and probably even formal ownership of his Wythenshawe estate to his own son William, who subsequently drowned accidentally in 1616.

But it does not appear that this was the case and probably had little to do with it. page


The son and heir of Robert mentioned in the document would be William Tatton and the inheritance mentioned is from Robert’s father, William Tatton the elder, who died in 1611.

According to William Stubbes in the answer to Robert’s complaint, Robert’s father had disowned him and there are indications that the inheritance of his father was passed directly to his grandson, William Tatton the younger.

The said complainant […] cast off by his father

This has also been suggested by other sources but they do not know why this happened – this story may resolve that.

But perhaps there was no actual contrivance between Robert and his son William.

If he had fallen out with his father then Robert would have had little money to pass to Susan and her children. Perhaps it was his father, William, that did not want to convey any family interests to Robert’s new wife and children and instead passed the estate directly to his eldest grandson?

William Stubbes seems to have believed that there had been a reconciliation and Robert had been heir apparent at his father’s death, but the document is badly damaged at this point.

By that meanes & other […] ben A reconciliac[i]on betwen the complainant & his said father.

Robert is still shown, in some documents, as being son and heir when his father, William, died.

The said William Tatton died, seised of the aforesaid manors & lands, 19 May , [1611], at Withenshawe & Robert Tatton is his son & heir & is now aged 40 years & more.

If William Stubbes was correct, and there had been some sort of reconciliation between Robert and his father, then Robert passed the estate to his son soon after his father died. This is probably what William Stubbes saw as a deliberate attempt to avoid passing anything to his daughter, Susan, and her children.

Other records [Cheshire Inquisitions Post Mortem, 1603-1660] seem to tell a slightly different story; that Robert was overlooked by his father.

So being seised, the said William Tatton esq. died 19 May , 9 James 1st [1611] at Withenshawe, after whose death William Tatton gent., the younger, entered into the said manors & lands

Robert did have some property as he passed land in Flintshire to his son Robert, but he ended his days in Southwark, London instead of the family estates in Cheshire.

His eldest son William who had inherited Wythenshawe, died a few years later, drowned trying to cross the river Mersey, with his son, Robert, who inherited at the age of 10, becoming a ward of the crown.

William Tatton

The will of William Tatton of Withenshaw, Robert’s father, was written 7th April 1606.

In the will he leaves just about everything to his grandchild, William and his wife Katherine Leycester. Robert, who was his son and heir in a document of 1592, is not mentioned, although another [probably illegitimate] son, John Tatton alias Manley is left £100.

And for all my temporall landes tenementes and hereditamentes, and my goodes Cattels, Chattles, and Debtes whatsoever and wheresoever they lye and be within the Kings Majesties Realme of England I give and bequeath unto William Tatton my Grandchilde.

No other grandsons or granddaughters are mentioned and it is curious that he uses grandchild in the will. This indicates that either there were no other children of Robert, or that they had also died before the will was written in 1606.

If there was a reconciliation between Robert and his father he did not update his will of 1606, and William died some years later in 1611 so there was time to do so.


For whatever reason, and under whatever circumstances, Robert had stolen Susan Stubbes away from her parents and her arranged marriage, probably about 1603 when Susan would have been 21. [more likely later, but before 1608]

Robert Tatton the elder would have been about 16 years older than Susan, so not as much of an age gap as you might expect, and this was not unusual at the time, for arranged marriages anyway.

Perhaps Susan did not want to marry the man that her parents had chosen for her [whoever that was] and was enticed away by the mature, and smooth-talking Robert?

But it hardly seems to have been a love match considering how poorly William Stubbes thinks that his daughter and her children appear to have been treated.

Or perhaps we are just seeing one side of the story?

Maybe it was the other way around and it was Susan who enticed Robert so that she did not have to marry whoever it was that her parents had chosen for her? After being disinherited he then resorted to borrowing money from his father-in-law William Stubbes, who had no love for Robert – having messed up his arrangements – but was devoted to his daughter, as shown in his will of 1628.

… that my body maye be buryed in a dece[nt] and orderly manner in the Chauncell of the parish Church of Shrevenham, neare to the place wheare my loveing daughter was lately buryed …

Of course as a devoted father, William would never have believed that his daughter could have had anything to do with the affair and blamed Robert entirely – perhaps, though, more to save his reputation?

Poor Robert may just have been vulnerable, middle-aged man who had a mad moment with a younger woman which he may have regretted for the rest of his life? Or maybe they were just in love?

speech50There seems plenty of evidence that Susan married the elder Robert Tatton and that his son, Robert, may have died in childhood – or was alive, but was not the suitor of Susan.

Other than the pedigree showing him as second son, there do not seem to be any other records for his marriage or any children. His date of birth also makes it difficult for him to have been married [at the age of 16] and to have had a child before marrying Susan in 1603.

On the other hand Robert the elder would have been under forty years old when he married Susan, so he was not an old man and there is no reason for him not to remarry – however unwisely.

Robert sat for his portrait shortly before his death in Southwark, 10 Jan 1623/4, and Susan died later the same year.

In our portrait, Johnson has captured in great detail the essence of our care-worn sitter: very much in his crepuscular [twilight] years he appears rather uneasy and tousled with receding hair and a ruddy complexion.

Perhaps by hiding his left hand in the portrait he was trying to show his regret at marrying Susan, for whatever reason, perhaps just because it didn’t work out well for him.

The Children of Susan and Robert

There is a significant period after the marriage before the first known child of Susan and Robert was born, so perhaps there are other children – possibly born in Cheshire, or elsewhere – that were daughters, and not mentioned in the will of Susan’s mother, Hester Stubbes?

Perhaps Susan married later than I have suggested, but she and Robert were certainly married by 1608 as this date is mentioned in the document.

There is a record in the Tatton pedigree for Philip, also known to have been alive in 1611 [along with Robert] so perhaps this was another son of Robert and Eleanor, or an earlier son of Susan and Robert? Philip is not mentioned in the wills of either William or Hester, so if he was an older sibling of George and Thomas then he had died young.

Neither Philip or Robert, or any other grand children are mentioned in the will of grandfather William Tatton so they could both have been born after 1606.

Robert = Eleanor Warren (m. 1581)

William 1585-1616
Robert b.1586
Elizabeth b.1587
George 1589-1590

Robert = Susan Stubbes (m.1603?)

Philip ?
Robert d.1638
George 1612-1642
Thomas 1614-1646

Both George and Thomas Tatton were signatories to the will of William Stubbes in 1628, and it seems that Susan did eventually return to the family home in Watchfield, as she is buried in nearby Shrivenham church.

Robert, shown above as the son of Robert and Susan may actually be Robert Tatton from the previous marriage, and he could have been born later than suggested. If he was the second son of Robert Tatton and Eleanor then his birth would still have been before the birth of George in 1589.

Robert the younger would have been about 50 years old when he died and much older than Thomas and George, which is perhaps indicated by his relationship with the widow Ralph Beeling in his will. This would also explain why he wasn’t the heir of William Stubbes, as eldest grandson.

He died in 1638 and had some land that he had inherited from his father in Flintshire, which it seems he passed to his younger brother Thomas. George died in 1642 and Thomas, when he died a few years later, passed his inheritance – including the properties in Flintshire – to his nephews, the sons of brother George.

speech50There is another document in the National Archives dated during the reign of James I [1603-1625] which mentions both Robert Tatton and his son Robert.

It also mentions Katherine [Leycester] who was the widow of Robert’s eldest son William – the heir of Wythenshawe – who drowned crossing the Mersey in 1616, which dates this document to some time after this event.

Robert Tatton the elder, Robert Tatton the younger and Katherine Tatton, widow

If Robert the younger was the son of Susan Stubbes then he would probably have been too young to have been mentioned in a legal document of 1616 or shortly afterwards, therefore he is much more likely to have been the second son from his first marriage to Eleanor Warren, as suspected.

Neither Thomas or Robert seem to have had any children. I am not sure why it was Thomas and his wife that inherited Watchfield instead of brother George, as Thomas seems to have been the youngest of the siblings.

The birth record for George in Cheshire, 1612 may belong to another George and perhaps he was born after Thomas, which would make more sense. Also if Robert was from the first marriage then it also makes sense for Thomas to have inherited Watchfield and not Robert.

The wills of both Thomas and Robert, and the relationship between all three brothers, are investigated elsewhere. page

But who was the man that Susan was supposed to have married?

A gentleman of great worth & reputacion

I doubt if he was one of those who then lent money to Robert, but he may have lent money to William.

Richard Denham seems to be mentioned several times, usually in association with George Stubbes but also with John Stocker and, in several places, William as well.

… that this Deffendant, & the said Richard Denham subtilly and Craftely practeseing & intending the utter undoing of the complainant & to deceive him of the said 400li [£50,000] did combine themselves together for any such purport as in the said bill is alledged.

Both men would certainly have had reason to want to “undo” the complainant, if Richard was supposed to have married Susan. But this is just William repeating what Robert had said in the complaint and we may never know the identity of Susan’s intended intended!

Richard Denham is also mentioned in another document with Bartholomew Stubbes, so he is certainly a close associate of the Stubbes family.

Hester Harington

This document unintentionally provides additional proof that Hester, the wife of William Stubbes, was the daughter of Awdrey Malte and John Harrington, something I have been trying to prove [beyond doubt] for a while now.

There is a long list of people involved in the financial affairs of William Stubbes and Robert Tatton, but one of them that is mentioned several times is Sir John Harington.

… this Deffendant & [the] said Sir John Harrington, this Deffendantes Brother in lawe, …

Sir John Harington was the eldest son of John Harington of Stepney with his second wife Isabella Markham and was therefore Hester’s half-brother and Williams’ brother-in-law. page

Sir John Harrington defendants brother in law

I think this finally proves that Hester, who married William Stubbes, can only be the daughter of Awdrey Malte – supposed daughter of Henry VIII – and John Harrington, and proves that they did actually have a daughter and that Hester did not die in 1568, or simply disappear after that date.

If Hester was the daughter of John Harington and second wife Isabella then she could not have been born before 1560 [they married in 1559] and would have been too young to have been involved in a recovery as the owner of Watchfield at the age of just eight years.

If only similar proof could be found to confirm the identity of Awdrey’s father as King Henry VIII.

speech50It is also likely that there are two paintings out there – somewhere in a private collection – showing Awdrey and her daughter Hester, that I would really like to have a look at.

Especially if the daughter has tudor-red hair, as suggested by Kate Emerson.


Several other people are mentioned in the document and some of them are related.

John Carrington

He appears to be a tenant of the Tatton family in Cheshire and acting as receiver for him.

The said Robert, the father, demised to John Carrington certain lands & the said William Tatton junior acquiesced therein & also permitted his father to occupy the lands …

It also appears that Robert needed the permission of his son to do this!

John Stocker (1560-1612)

John is related to both the Harington and Codrington families through the marriage of his grand-children and was also married to Margaret, the daughter of Anthony Scutt, the only child of John Scutt [Queen’s tailor] and Bridget Malte, sister to Awdrey.

John Scutt was much older than Bridget when they married and he died not long after – he was about the same age as her father, John Malte [King’s Tailor] who died in 1546. page

Mary, daughter of Anthony Stocker and Margaret Cappell, married Benjamin Harington, nephew of Sir John Harington [although later than the period covered by this document]. Benjamin’s father, Francis was another half-brother of Hester.

Her sister, Katherine was married to John Codrington, the eldest son and heir of Robert Codrington and Anne Stubbes, eldest daughter of William and Hester. She was only 7 years old at the time of the arrangement in 1617 [shortly before the death of Robert Codrington in 1618] and their only child, Anne, was born in 1629 when Katherine probably died in childbirth.

The executors of John Stocker are also mentioned and further investigation indicates that he died about 1612 or 1615. The burial record for a John Stocker in 1647 is probably for his nephew.

Bartholomew Stubbes

Perhaps born 1580 in Congleton he is likely to be a cousin of William Stubbes although this is still being investigated.

George Stubbes

Relationship not known at the moment but possibly a brother or cousin of William.

Richard Denham

Seems to be a friend of George Stubbes, but also accused with William …

… that this Deffendant [William Stubbes], & the said Richard Denham subtilly and Craftely practeseing & intending the utter undoing of the complainant & to deceive him of the said 400li did combine themselves together for any such purport as in the said bill is alledged.

Perhaps this case is not all as one-sided as it seemed with William being the wronged party an there were deceptions on both sides of the bill?

Or perhaps Richard Denham was the one who was supposed to have married William’s daughter Susan?

He is also mentioned in another document with Bartholomew Stubbes of London.

Alice Owen

A bond of £100 between Alice and [possibly] Robert Tatton, William Stubbes and Richard Foxwell.

Richard Foxwell

This may be the father of Richard Foxwell, possibly a tailor, of Wandsworth London who emigrated to America in 1631 and died 1676 in Barnstaple, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Richard and daughter, Margaret [a minor], are mentioned in the will of John Gardener, Cutler of Wandsworthe in 1608.

He also appears in a Jury list from 1615

Richard Foxwell of St. Clement Danes.

William Rowden

Seems to have been involved as a receiver for one of the parties as had John Carrington (above). But he also sued William for £200 at one point.

Ferdinando Baude, William Beecher, George Ognel etc.

Possibly these were judges in a former case between Robert and William.

… since which tyme, that is to say the 25th day of August in the yeare of our lord god, 1615, the said complainant & this Deffendant, by ther mutuall consentes, did [submit] themsealves to the award of Ferdin[a]ndo Baude Will[ia]m Beecher & George Ognell ets[etera].

 George Solme & Gilbert Dethick

William borrowed money from these gentlemen and this is where Sir John Harington got involved as surety for the loan. It also appears that this financial mess had put strains on their relationship:

… and freindship which formerly he had & receaved at the handes of Sir John & his freindes.

Chris Sidney 2015


The King and Me

Farmer BullshotIf you are lucky enough to have a gateway ancestor in your family tree, then you can probably trace a connection back to William the Conqueror and beyond.

A gateway ancestor opens up connections to the noble, rich – and well documented – families of England and calculations have shown that just about everyone alive today can probably claim a connection to King John, over 20 generations ago. page

But how many can claim to be related to King Henry VIII?

Having spend a lot of time investigating this possibility, I think that it is now likely that my family can make that claim, having proved a link back to one of his, supposed, illegitimate children – Awdrey or Etheldreda Malte.


In my family that gateway ancestor is my grandmother, Emily Codrington, who was the daughter of Robert William Codrington a butcher and owner of the  Lamb Inn at Iron Acton in Gloucestershire. Robert was a direct male descendant of John Codrington , standard-bearer to King Henry V at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, and a member of the senior branch of the Codrington family. page

The definitive guide to The Codrington family was written in 1898 by Robert Henry Codrington , an Anglican priest and anthropologist who died in 1922. His work is based on notes made by the historian Sir John Maclean who had intended to follow his Memoirs of the Poyntz and Guise family with one about the Codringtons, but passed his notes to Robert following an illness. page

There are two main branches of the family descended from two of the sons of Sir John Codrington; John and his brother Thomas who married into the Poyntz family. The senior branch lived at Codrington and Didmarton in Gloucestershire and the junior branch of Frampton-on-Severn and later Dodington before selling this property to Christopher Codrington from the senior branch in 1700 – Christopher had made a fortune from the sugar trade in the West Indies.

From marriages made into other families by the senior branch, I can trace my genes back to royal families in England, Scotland, Wales and other European countries – as can most people who have a gateway ancestor. Mathematically everyone who is alive today is probably related to someone in the Plantagenet dynasty – if only they could find the link.

King John seems to be a key figure in my pedigree and I am related to him through at least three of his children as either 21st or 22nd great-grandfather.

Codrington MemorialIn Bristol Cathedral there is a memorial to Robert Codrington, who died in 1618, that shows the arms of some of the most significant marriages within the main branch of the family.

Thomas Codrington & Mary Kellaway (m.1535) page

Robert Codrington & Anne Stubbes (m.1595) page

Robert Codrington & Agnes Samwell (m.1674)

The arms of the Samwell family were added some time after the memorial was erected, as were those of the Bethell-Codrington family – descendants of Christopher Codrington – who restored the memorial in 1840. The pedigree of both the Samwell and Kellaway families are well documented, but the Stubbes family is a bit of a mystery and I have concentrated my research in this area, with some success.


In his 1898 Memoir of the Family of Codrington of Codrington, Didmarton, Frampton-on-Severn and Dodington page Robert Henry Codrington identified Anne Stubbes, wife of Robert, only as an Heiress and of a Norfolk family. page

Stubbes-HarringtonRecords exist of the arrangement for Robert’s marriage to Anne Stubbes and the quartering of the Stubbes family Sa. on a bend between three pheons or, as many buckles gu. are clearly visible on the memorial. From this design it is likely that the Norfolk connection is assumed – the arms are used by other branches of the family – but on the memorial these are quartered with another, unidentified design.

I.M. Roper in his 1903 Effigies of Bristol page identifies the unknown arms only by their armorial description – lozengy arg. and Sable – black diamonds on a silver background, and Robert Henry does not offer any further insight.

After much research it appears that the design on the memorial itself is incorrect – either it was added that way or repainted badly when the memorial was restored – and is that of the Harington family.

The arms shown on the memorial represent a fretty design, which was used by an older branch of the Harington family. But they should have been a fret – a single stylised knot which may have been tricky to incorporate into the quartering, as granted to John Harington of Stepney forty years earlier.

Why such a significant marriage should have been forgotten to Codrington family history is very strange, whatever the pedigree.


Anne Stubbes and Robert Codrington married in Shrivenham, Berkshire in May 1595; arrangements having been made several years earlier between their fathers Simon Codrington and William Stubbes. Nothing in this document identifies who William Stubbes was or where he came from and there has been much speculation about the pedigree of his daughter Anne, many showing her to be from the Gloucestershire branch of the family.

The location of the marriage is significant as William Stubbes and his wife Hester lived in the smaller, nearby manor of Watchfield  which did not have it’s own church. As well as their marriage, two daughters – Francis and Susan – were baptised in Shrivenham, as was customary at the time, but I cannot find a baptism for the eldest daughter Anne.

Records show that William and Hester, were living at West Mill, Watchfield page from about 1593, just before the marriage of Robert and Anne. Inventories of their property are attached to their wills from 1630 and 1639 and these match the layout of that property as it was at the time [the property has been altered but still exists]. The manor of Watchfield did not have a traditional manor house, having been owned by the nearby Abbey of Abingdon until the dissolution, so was probably managed from West Mill farm.


After they married in 1574 William and Hester lived in Westminster, London – which indicates that William may have been lawyer, as was Robert Codrington – and later lived in Stepney, where William Stubbes of Ratcliffe – perhaps a relation – had a business near the river. Possibly William was working with William of Ratcliffe for a while until he moved his business interests to Boston in Lincolnshire where he is recorded in 1594 – at about the same time William and Hester moved to Watchfield. There are also connections to Cheshire.

Eldest daughter Anne was born a year after they married and there were two other surviving daughters – Susan and Theophilia page – who had good marriages into the Tatton and Garrard families. A son “Harrington” born in 1578 seems to have died in infancy and two other daughters, Hester and Francis had also died and are not mentioned in the will of Hester. William only mentions his daughter [Susan] who had died a few years before he wrote his will but doesn’t name her specifically, or any members of his immediate family.

watchfieldWatchfield was a property inherited by William’s wife, Hester Harington page and passed to William on their marriage. In 1568 Hester is recorded with her father, John Harington, in a Common Recovery page against Watchfield manor, so that the property could be used as a dowry – a restriction placed on the property meant that it could only be passed to Hester.

In this recovery Hester is shown as the owner or Vouchee of the property having inherited it from her mother. A recovery was a legal way of removing entailments (restrictions imposed by conditions of inheritance) on a property, and was in use for several hundred years. In this case the entailment was imposed on Watchfield by her grand-father John Malte, when he passed the property to his daughter, Awdrey, in his will.

As both the Harington and Stubbes families had connections to Stepney it is likely that they knew each other and the marriage was arranged several years before Hester and William actually married in 1573. This is similar to the arrangement of their daughter Anne when she married Robert Codrington. Robert was a lawyer and his marriage to Anne Stubbes seems to have been fitted around the end of his legal training.

All accounts of Hester that I have found say that she died in 1568 or some time after – or had never existed. The pedigree of the family shows she was last know to be alive in 1568, which would have been when she was involved in the recovery of Watchfield with her father. I’m not sure anyone really looked too hard for her as she was clearly still alive – although married – and owned, or lived in the manor until her death in 1639.

William Stubbes

The will of William written in 1628, does not mention Watchfield, but he was too ill even two years before he died to sign his name and it is likely he had already transferred the manor to his grandson Thomas Tatton, son of Robert Tatton and daughter Susan. This fits with records showing Thomas and his wife Margaret were the owners about this time. page

The husband of William’s eldest daughter Anne – Robert Codrington – had died in 1618, but it is not clear why his son John did not inherit the manor. There were however some properties mentioned in Shrivenham and Watchfield in the agreement for his first marriage to Katherine Stocker, probably given by William or his parents at the time of his marriage in 1617.

William’s daughter Susan Tatton and his son-in-laws Robert Tatton and Thomas Garrard had already died by 1628 so the Witnesses to his will were his grandsons William Garrard, George and Thomas Tatton and [his servant] Johane Jay .

speech50Recent information regarding Robert Tatton makes it unlikely that William passed Watchfield to Robert and would have passed it directly to grand-son Thomas.

Robert had enticed William’s daughter Susan and married her just a few days before she was to marry another [unnamed] gentleman of great worth and reputation. Robert already had an heir from a previous marriage and William believes that Robert was not treated Susan and the children from their marriage as well as he could. page

Robert then borrowed “and embezzled” money from William, his friends and family eventually ending up in court where some of the story is told by William in his answer to the complaint.

This is essentially a case bought by Robert about money that was due to him, or promised by William that was not received, but it does give William a chance to present his own side of the story.

This deffendant [William Stubbes] by the fayer and flatteringe speches of the complainant, [Robert Tatton] and partly in hope that the Complainant would have Delt the better with this deffendantes daughter the Complainant’s Promise […] to bee made […] portions of money to [be sat__] [hole in document] setled uppon such children, as he had or should have by his said wife [Susan].

By mentioning other family members in the case, this document has also unintentionally proved that Hester Harington, William’s wife really was the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte, by confirming the relationship between Hester and her [half] brother Sir John Harington of Kelson.

… this Deffendant & [the] said Sir John Harrington, this Deffendantes Brother in lawe

This seems to be the final proof that Hester is the daughter of John Harington of Stepney and Awdrey Malte.

John Malte

John Malte page was Royal tailor to King Henry VIII and a member of the Company of Merchant Tailors, so was probably quite a rich man. It seems that he received several grants of property from the king, one of these properties being the manor of Watchfield in 1541, but more significantly some of the grants were given specifically to him and his bastard daughter Awdrey.

This has led to speculation that Awdrey is more likely to be the illegitimate daughter of the king and Joanne Dingley a royal laundress, than John Malte, and that some arrangement was made between them for John to adopt Awdrey. In his will John leaves money to several good causes – including poor prisoners, maidens and road repairs – and to a foundling child left on his doorstep, so it seems unlikely that, due to his good nature, he would have refused such a request.

For the same reason I think he is unlikely to have been the father of a bastard child – despite leaving money to Awdrey’s mother, Joanne Dingley in his will. The King, however, was well known for his activities in this area.

If my estimation of the birth of Awdrey as 23 June 1532 is correct, then John could have been her father. He was appointed as King’s Tailor in October 1531 and this is about the time that Awdrey would have been conceived – but perhaps this was just one of the reasons why he was involved in this deception.

John Malte. Grant of the office of King’s tailor, with fees of 12d. a day, as enjoyed by Stephen Jasper, John Apparys, and William Hylton. Greenwich, 18 Oct. 23 Hen. VIII. [1531]

John Malte wrote his will while the king was still alive so it is thought that the wording and conditions in his will were there more to satisfy the king than anything else.

my bastard daughter begotten upon the body of Johane Dyngley”

Awdrey is specifically left the manors of Watchfield in Berkshire and Nylands in Somerset in the will of John Malte, as well as others defined in an agreement between John Malte and Sir Richard Southwell.

The manors of Kelston and St Catherine’s in Somerset – which were the only grants in which Awdrey is specifically named – were not granted until after the will was written. According to a report written about the property, the Llewellyns – the King’s tenants of St Catherine – had their lease taken away and the land granted instead to Malte.

But it is through the ownership of Watchfield manor that I have been able to confirm that Hester Harrington, who married William Stubbes, was the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte. page

John Malte died in December 1546 just a month before the King and was quickly replaced as royal tailor, but his will was not proved until some time later on 7 June the following year.

John Brydgys, the King’s servant. To be the King’s tailor, vice John Malte, dec, with 12d. a day, payable from Michaelmas last. Westm., 23 Dec. 38 Hen. VIII.

Details of his burial were probably lost during the great fire in 1666 that destroyed St Augustine’s church and his actual death and burial was probably several days before the date in the court records.

It appears that John also held a second position as tailor in the Great Wardrobe. This would have brought him more business that just being the King’s tailor alone – and another 6d a day.

John Malte. To be yeoman tailor in the Great Wardrobe, vice Richard Gybson, deceased; with 6d. a day and livery. Westm., 12 Nov. 26 Hen.VIII. [1534]

The King’s Lands

On 23rd September 1546 the King granted to John Malte, and his bastard daughter, lands in Somerset perhaps as a reward for following the king’s wishes and confirming that he was Awdrey’s father in his will written two weeks earlier.

The description of Awdrey in the grant is very similar to John’s will, so could have been agreed between them so as to leave little doubt. It is very unusual for a daughter to be mentioned in a grant, especially as she also had two other sisters who are not named.

Maybe Henry suspected that he didn’t have long to live and wanted to protect his daughter from the chaos of succession following his death, so chose to disown her? His only son Edward was not a healthy child and his other – slightly more legitimate – daughters had no love for each other.

Perhaps this was prophetic considering the fate of Lady Jane Grey?

Or maybe he suspected Sir Richard Southwell of not having the best intentions for Awdrey once she was married to his illegitimate son, Richard Darcy. No doubt Henry had agreed to the marriage of Richard’s son, Richard Darcy, but perhaps he was now having second thoughts?

For whatever reason the lands were granted to John and his daughter, using the more formal version of her name Etheldreda.

John Malte, tailor, and Etheldreda Malte alias Dyngley, bastard daughter of the said John by Joan Dyngley alias Dobson. Grant, for 1,311l. 2d., of the lordship and manor of Kevelston, Soms., […]; the lordship and manor of Eston and Kateryn, Soms., the chief messuage called Katernscourte […] 400 ewes called “le yowe flocke of Charmerdon, […]. To hold to the said John Malte and Etheldreda and the heirs of the body of the said Etheldreda, with remainder to the right heirs of the said John. Del. Westm., 23 Sept. 38 Hen. VIII. [1546]

This grants the manor of Kelveston [Kelston] and the Manor of Eston and Kateryn with it’s manor house Katenscourte [St. Catherines Court] and flock of sheep for the sum of £1,311 2d [about £318,000]. page

Previously in 1544 several other Manors had been granted to Malte as a gratuity for his failtful service – Doulting, Middleton and Nyland [Andersey] in Somerset. The Malte and Harington family were also associated with the manor of Batcombe. page

John Malte, the King’s servant. Grant, in fee, for 1,824l. 16s. 8d., of the manor of Andresey alias Nylonde, Soms., which belonged to Glastonbury abbey, and all appurtenances in Batcombe beside Andresey, and all possessions of Glastonbury there; the rectory of Andresey alias Nylond, which belonged to Glastonbury mon.; all lands in Westbury, Soms., which belonged to Brewton mon.; the manor of Myddelton alias Mylton Pydymore alias Podymore Mylton, Soms., and the advowson of the rectory there, the manor of Doaltyng, Soms., and lands leased with it to Benedict Kyllygrew, now dec., by pat. 28 July 32 Hen. VIII., the rectory of Doulting, and the hamlet of Stoke, Soms., all which belonged to Glastonbury mon.; with all possessions of that mon. in Andresey alias Nylond, Batcomb juxta Andresey, Myddelton alias Mylton Pydymore alias Podymore Mylton, Doulting, Fermecombe, Boddon, Prestley, Waterlipp, Charleton, Chevelynche, Estbraddon, Heydon, Dychefurlong, and Stoke, Som. Also the advowsons of the vicarages of Andreysey alias Nylond and Doultynge, and a grove of wood within the common of Stoke, which belonged to Glastonbury. Del. Westm., 14 July 36 Hen. VIII. [1544] —S.B. (injured, signed by Westminster, Petre, Bakere, Sir Robt. Southwell, North, Moyle, Wriothesley, St. John, Ryche, Sir Ric. Southwell, Stamford and Bacon). Pat. p. 15, m. 1. page

Middleton [Milton Pudimore] and Doulton were passed to his daughter Muriel [who died shortly after her father] and her husband John Horner. Nyland [Andersey] was passed to Awdrey along with Watchfield and other manors specifically given to her and her father mentioned above.

The last entry for John in royal documents is on 17 Jan 1546/7 Lands sold by the Crown which follows on from the grant by the king the previous year.

John Malte, tailor, and Awdrye his base daughter 1,312l. 12d.

Watchfield [Wachenfelde], Uffington [Offyngton] and other properties in Berkshire were granted earlier than this on 18 May 1541

John Malt. Grant, in fee, of the reversion and rent reserved upon a 21 years’ Crown lease to Alex. Umpton, 12 March 29 Hen. VIII., of tithes of the rectory of Offyngton, Berks, which belonged to A bendon mon. Also the lordships and manors of Offyngton and Wacchenfeld, Berks, with appurtenances in Offyngton, Wacchenfelde, Blakynge alias Balkynge and Wolston, Berks, the rectory and church of Offyngton, Berks, and the rectory of the church or chapel of Wolston and the chapel of Blakynge or Balkynge; and all tithes in Offyngton, Wolston, and Blakinge, and in the manor of Hardewell, Berks, which belonged to the said monastery; the advowsons of the vicarage of Offyngton, the parish church of Wolston and the chapels of Wolston and Blakynge alias Balkinge; all which belonged to Abendon.
Also a messuage in Wacchenfelde, Berks, which belonged to Cirencester mon., and another which belonged to Braddenstok mon. Rent of 10l. 16s. 9d., with liberty to the grantee to convert to his own uses the said rectories, churches, and chapels. Subject to certain reprises. Greenwich, 9 May 33 Hen. VIII. [1541]  page

Uffington was passed to his daughter Bridget [Scutt] and Watchfield to Awdrey and other properties to Muriel and grandson John Horner.

John Malte to John Horner, jun. All his lands in Westbury, Soms., which belonged to Bruton abbey. (20th.) P. 15, m. 18. page

John seems to have done well under the king and probably made a lot of money from his position as Royal Tailor, which he seems to have invested in land and property. One of his bills is for a rather large sum of money!

John Malte for 1,824l. 16s. 4d. [£443,000]… Provided that these bills are first signed by three of the commissioners named in the said commission of 1 March 35 Hen. VIII. [1543/4]

Calculate at a rate of £1 in 1550 = £243 today page


It has been speculated that Joanne, the mother of Awdrey, was a minor noble down on her luck and she could have been the widow of James Dyngley – and therefore the daughter of Sir John Moore – or the daughter of Sir Thomas Dyngley. page But if this was the case I would have expected her to have been married off to another minor noble, and there would be no need for Awdrey to be adopted.

Although there is no specific evidence of her being a laundress [apparently there are laundry lists] she is likely to have been a domestic servant of some sort who did not have the resources to bring up the bastard child of the king. She was married off to someone named Dobson, possibly a minor palace official, but perhaps a better match than she could have otherwise expected.

It is not know how long Awdrey lived with her mother. Possibly she made the birth known to royal officials and she was married off so that she could look after the child? It may have been several years before Awdrey was “adopted” by John Malte – but likely to have been some time before he wrote his will claiming her as his child.

There was no way for the king to have passed any lands to Awdrey through her mother, Joanne, without raising suspicion so having her adopted by Malte was a good plan – he was a rich man and could afford to buy the properties made available by the king and targeted at Awdrey. This also made it possible for Awdrey to have a much better marriage than she could have otherwise had as the daughter of a servant.

Joanne is left £20 [about £5000] in the will of John Malte, maybe as some sort of compensation from the King, but I doubt very much that John had ever met Joanne Dingley.


Awdrey was probably born on St. Etheldreda’s day, 23 June – Etheldreda being the Latin version of her name. In the will of John Malte in September 1546 she was not yet 15 years old so was most likely born in 1532, a period when King Henry had tired of his first wife and was courting Anne Boleyn.

If this is the correct date then she was conceived about September 1531 – where was the king at this time? Wherever he was this is likely to be where Joanne Dingley worked and Awdrey was born. This could have been Greenwich or Windsor or any other of the royal households.

And where was John Malte? He was appointed King’s Tailor in October of 1531, so it is not impossible that he is Awdrey’s father based on her estimated birth, but the timing would be tight.

There is no evidence that Awdrey had distinctive red [Tudor] hair or resembled her younger half-sister Elizabeth, but if she was the daughter of Henry VIII then this is a possibility – why not? There is supposedly a portrait of her [and one of daughter Hester] held by the Harington family for several generations, but now in a private collection, that would have proved this theory. [isn’t there always?]

In 1546 – when John Malte wrote his will – Awdrey was betrothed to Richard Darcy, the illegitimate son of Sir Richard Southwell page, but this arrangement was broken sometime after her father’s death later that year.

Sir Richard SouthwellIn the will his trustye and welbeloved frende sir Richard Sothewell was charged by Malte to look after Awdrey’s financial affairs until she was fifteen. Maybe this is the reason that the will was not proven until June of 1547 – 6 months after John died – as this meant that Sir Richard Southwell never got a chance to be involved in Awdreys financial affairs and perhaps, for this reason he broke off the engagement between Awdrey and his son Richard.

But more likely this was because the was King now dead and had publicly declared – through John Malte’s will and the grant of lands – that Awdrey was not his daughter. Richard Southwell had been privy to the large land grants awarded to John Malte so he may have guessed that things were not quite what they seemed and had other plans for Awdrey.

Both documents are very clearly worded as to the pedigree of Awdrey and this was probably devised by some trusted court official and agreed between John and the King, with a sum of money being paid to Joanne by John Malte in his will – a payment directly from the King may have given the wrong impression.

Etheldreda Malte alias Dyngley, bastard daughter of the said John by Joan Dyngley alias Dobson

Audrey Malte my bastard daughter begotten upon the body of Johane Dyngley and now wife of one Dobson

Some additional properties were granted two weeks after the will was written, and only Awdrey could inherit them. These are probably the best of the manors – Kelston and St Katherine’s Court near Bath in Somerset – where Awdrey and John Harington and their descendants actually lived – and possibly where Awdrey died.

But were these properties intended for the Southwell family? Were they part of an unofficial marriage agreement and the reason why they were specifically aimed at Awdrey after the will had been written?

Some sources say that Henry had declared Awdrey as his daughter – or at least had not denied it – and the agreement between Henry and John Malte was a very public way of correcting that mistake, assuming that he had good reasons for not wanting it to be known that Awdrey was his daughter.

Alison Weir in her book Anne Boleyn:the Great and Infamous Whore talks about Awdrey and the rumours and quotes the following:

In 1656 Jonathon lesley, Deputy Clerk, wrote to a descendant of [John] Harington describing how “the great King Henry the VIIIth matched his darling daughter to John Harington, and though a bastard, dowered her with the rich lands of Bath Priory” he added that his information came from Sir Andrew Markham, a descendant of Harington’s second wife.

This cannot be true as, at the time of his death, King Henry would have been aware that Awdrey was due to marry the son of his friend Sir Richard Southwell. Perhaps the lands he had granted to Awdrey and her father were intended for the Southwell family and not John Harington, who she married instead?

John Malte died in December of 1546 and Henry VIII early the following year leaving Awdrey without a father – one way or another. She probably lived with her mother or elder sister Bridget and husband John Scutt – who were the executors of the will – until she married.

John Harington

John Harington page was born in Stepney, the son of Alexander, in about 1525 [some say 1517] but little is known of his immediate family.

The Tudor Place website has a birth date of either 1525 or 1529 and a christening date of 21st April in either of those years – I think the earlier is more likely. However this website also associates John of Stepney much too closely with his cousin Sir John Harington of Exton, the term cousin not being quite as precise as we use it today.

In 1568 John of Stepney applied for a confirmation of arms which was granted, but this only confirms that he is descended from a younger son of the Harington’s of Brierley – possibly James before he took holy orders. This confirmation led to later attempts to regain property and titles by John’s son, Sir John Harington page, that ultimately failed.

Why – and under what circumstances – social climber John Harington married the daughter of a tailor and a servant is still unclear but he would have certainly seen the benefits of the match as far as her dowry was concerned. His branch of the Harington family had been impoverished after the wars of the roses and John was crawling his way back into royal favour.

John had studied music composition under Thomas Tallis and his work “Black Sanctus” probably brought him to the attention of the king, although none of his work survives. In her novel Royal Inheritance, about the life of Awdrey, author Kate Emerson casts John as her music teacher.

John was a poet and musician and was, for a period, in the Chapel Royal where he was organist. Later he became servant to Sir Thomas Seymour which put him in the heart of royal politics at the time of Lady Jane Grey, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his supposed involvement. He was devoted to princess Elizabeth and when she became Queen he was back in favour – Elizabeth becoming godmother to his son John from his second wife Isabella Markham.

Awdrey and John Harington probably married late in 1547 but it is not known exactly where or when this happened. Awdrey’s local church was St Awstyn’s besides Powles gate where her father was buried, but all records were lost in the great fire of London in 1666. [i]

[i] Leading out of St. Paul’s Churchyard at the south-east corner to Watling Street, St Augustine’s besides St Paul’s gate burnt down in the Fire and was not rebuilt, although for many years after the entrance into the churchyard at this point was still known by this name. page

speech50John Harington of Stepney is known as The Poet or Treasurer. However it appears that this second soubriquet is incorrect and he was never treasurer to the king’s camps and buildings  – that post was filled by his distant cousin Sir John Harington of Exton, with whom he is often confused.

John of Stepney would have been too young to have held such a position under Henry VIII and he had no background in the skills required of a treasurer. On the other hand John Bradford was a skilled auditor and much has been written about him as a reformer and martyr, but in all the accounts I have seen he is employed by Sir John Harington of Exton, treasurer to the king’s camps and buildings – even Wikipedia says this, but then incorrectly links to John Harington of Stepney!

This position is confirmed in official court papers, although the job title varies.

Sir John Haryngton, treasurer of the wars, that Counsell should deliver him 6,000l. towards payments by Hertford’s warrant [11 April 1546]

His grandson and great-grandson were also named John – first and second Barons Exton – and they all share a common ancestor with John Harington of Stepney:

Robert Harington of Badsworth (1458-1497).

Robert was the grandfather of Sir John of Exton and the great-grandfather of John Harington of Stepney. page

John Harington of Stepney, The Poet (1525?-1582)

Sir John Harington of Kelston, The Writer (1561-1612)

Sir John Harington of Exton, (Treasurer) (1503-1589)

Sir John Harington of Kelston was the son of John of Stepney, author of nugae antiquae and inventer of the first flushing toilet.

The Seymours

King Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547 and was succeeded by his sickly nine year old son, Edward VI who was the son of Henry and his third wife Jane Seymour. Two of Edward’s uncles, Thomas and Edward Seymour, were on the council of regency, although it was Edward, duke of Somerset who was made protector of the young king, much to the annoyance of his younger brother.

Thomas, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley married the King’s widow, Catherine Parr, in April or May of 1547 – just a few months after Henry had died. This made him an extremely rich man – even more so after the death of his wife in child-birth a few years later.

Arrangements had been made for Richard Darcy, the illegitimate son of Richard Southwell, to marry Awdrey Malte and this was probably arranged between the King and Richard, who was close to the king [he was left £200 in his will] and an ambitious man. He may even have been privy to who she was – officially or unofficially – having been at several meeting where land was granted to her father, John Malte.

After the death of Henry, the Southwell fortunes changed as the Seymour family took charge of the young King Edward – it seems there was little love lost between the families. If the Seymours were aware that Awdrey was the daughter of Henry then they may have wanted to keep their options open and marry her to someone of their choosing. Or at least remove Awdrey, and her property, from the Southwell’s influence – maybe out of spite if nothing else.

The delay in publishing John Malte’s will may have been to ensure that Richard Southwell had no claims on Awdrey’s finances – as detailed in the will – and to find an alternative suitor. Thomas Seymour may have suggested his young servant John Harington perhaps as a reward for his loyal service [he would gain a lot of property from the arrangement] but also because Thomas trusted him. It is possible that John and Awdrey had never met at this point, but once the Southwells were out of the picture things could be put in motion.

The will was proved in June 1547 when either Awdrey was fifteen or the Southwells had pulled out of the marriage arrangement. John Harington bought two manors in Gloucestershire in exchange for an annuity [possibly these were Thornbury Park and Oldebury, but these have been associated with James Harington, of Rutland] in September so he would not come to the marriage totally empty handed and it is likely they married later the same year.

It was about this time that John Harington first appeared in parliament representing Pembroke, which, it appears, he never visited. The History of Parliament is in little doubt that this appointment was due to his links with the Seymours.

It is possible that as joint chancellor of North Wales the earl had obtained for him his annuity out of the lordship of Denbigh: as the Protector Somerset [Edward Seymour] the earl favoured his purchase of two Gloucestershire manors. This connexion with Seymour and the Protector doubtless explains Harington’s first known appearance in Parliament, at the beginning of Edward VI’s reign. page

The marriage was probably more of a political arrangement than a love match and several years later John began writing poems to Isabella Markham, another of princess Elizabeth’s attendants, who would later become his second wife. John and Awdrey did have one daughter, Hester but Awdrey became ill afterwards and there were no more children. She may have died in early 1559 having first witnessed the coronation of Queen Elizabeth but it may have been earlier – even in childbirth – possibly in St Catherine’s Court in Somerset or the couple’s property in London.


Both John and Awdrey were in the Tower of London in 1554 – John for his part in the Lady Jane Grey affair  [or the Wyatt rebellion] and Awdrey as an attendant to Queen Elizabeth during her confinement there by her sister Mary.

I do not think that Hester was born until after her parents were released from the tower, but she could have been conceived there. I estimate Hester to have been born late 1554 based on her being about 21 when she married and being 14 when she was involved in the recovery of Watchfield, and this fits with the period when either one or both of her parents were in the tower of London.

Her birth could have been as late as 1556 is she married at 18, but then she would only have been 12 during the recovery of Watchfield and could not have been presented as the owner [Vouchee] of the property – fourteen being the age of adulthood at that time.

The date of the recovery is Michaelmas 10-11 Eliz [1568] so would have been some time between September and December of that year. If Hester was conceived early in 1554, then she would have been born by the end of that year and  therefore could legally be the owner of Watchfield during the Michaelmas period of 1568.

It has been speculated that Awdrey was placed as an attendant to princess Elizabeth, by their half-sister Mary, when Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower in  March 1554 but I have not yet found any evidence of this.

As the bastard daughter of a tailor and a servant there is no reason at all for Awdrey to have been included in Elizabeth’s retinue – a position usually given to those of noble birth. This is perhaps a equally compelling reason to believe that Awdrey was the daughter of Henry VIII along with the grants of property that were aimed at her through her father.

There is plenty of evidence to show that Hester is the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte through documents and wills relating to the inheritance of the manor of Watchfield, and whether Awdrey was the daughter of King Henry VIII may one day be proved either way using DNA. There is certainly some evidence to support this theory and several historians believe it to be more likely than not.

If this is true then members of the Codrington, Tatton and Garrard families can claim to be descended from the Tudor dynasty and Henry would be my 12th great grandfather. There also seems little doubt that we are also related to Joanne Dingley – whoever she was.

speech50Having investigated the pedigree of Hester for some time now, I am now fairly convinced that her mother, Awdrey Malte, is the daughter of Henry VIII.

John Malte was appointed King’s Tailor in October of 1531 and, if Awdrey was born in June the following year, he could possibly be her father. Perhaps this is one of the reasons – other than his good nature – that he was involved in this deception – if he could be proved to be somewhere else it would not be believable?

I think it unlikely that the first thing he did after taking up his new post was to go looking for a young laundress! I also think that if he was the father of Awdrey he would simply have called her his daughter and not mentioned her being a bastard, and probably no need to mention her mother or her change of name.

The similarities of the wording in John’s will and the grant of lands are too obvious to ignore. The inclusion of the “disclaimer” in both documents seems to be more indicative of a hidden truth than anything else.

It is also interesting that Awdrey is specifically granted property [jointly with her father] in the first place. But this does seem like a good way of declaring the details of her parentage in official court documents without actually making a specific declaration.

It would be even more difficult – in my option – to explain some of these events if she was proved not to be the daughter of King Henry VIII.


King Henry VIII (1491-1547) = Joanne Dingley = John Malte (d.1546)

    Awdrey “Etheldreda” Malte (1532-1559) = John Harington (1525-1582)

        Hester Harington (1554-1639) = William Stubbes (1550-1630)

           Anne Stubbes (1574-1650) = Robert Codrington (1574-1618)

           Susan Stubbes (1582-1624) = Robert Tatton (1586-1636)

           Theophilia Stubbes (1584-1643) = Thomas Garrard (1575-1617)

Robert Tatton was related to the Tatton family of Wythenshaw in Cheshire and Thomas Garrard was of Inkpen in Berkshire, descended from the Garrard family of Lambourn, Berkshire.

Why John Malte?

Why did the King choose John Malte to adopt his illegitimate daughter?

To start with John was married with several daughters and step-daughters in his household, so another one would not be too out of place.

He was appointed to his position as Royal tailor at just about the right time to potentially be Awdrey’s father.

He was probably quite close to the King, even counted as a friend, and would probably have had ample opportunity to discuss the arrangements in private.

The king would have know of John’s good nature – as shown in his will where he leaves money to several good causes and a foundling child – and may have taken advantage of this.

He was quite a rich man in his own right – certainly after being Royal tailor – and the grant of lands would not be too out of place, although the number of grants may have raised a few eyebrows.

All things considered he was the perfect candidate.

But there are also questions.

Why was there so much effort to deny that Awdrey was Henry’s daughter, or at least for John Malte to claim her as his?

There was no real need to add the statement about Awdrey’s illegitimacy or the name of her mother in either the will or the later grant of land?

The King had claimed at least one other bastard child – although this was a boy, the daughter of Elizabeth Blount – so what was so different about Awdrey?


Considering that both Mary and Elizabeth were, at one time or other, declared illegitimate, why would Awdrey not also be in line to the throne? Well probably because she was genuinely a bastard and not declared so legally for the convenience of others. And perhaps simply because she was the daughter of a servant and not from a noble family like the Boleyns.

The Harington and Stubbes family were both from Stepney so the marriage of Awdrey’s daughter, Hester to William Stubbes was likely to have been a simple arrangement between two local families. But the Stubbes family also had connections to Sir Francis Walsingham page, Queen Elizabeth’s principal secretary and spymaster, and maybe the marriage was arranged between William and Hester in order for Walsingham to maintain control of a potential heir to the throne, the grand-daughter of King Henry – especially as Elizabeth appeared unwilling to marry.

Walsingham became principal secretary in December 1573 and William and Hester married a year later, but of course this is probably just a coincidence. page


This document is a summary of my investigation into a small part of my family tree and is likely to change as more information becomes available. I am still awaiting documents from the National archives but for now the pedigree of William Stubbes of Watchfield continues to be a mystery – if anything I have too much information!

As the arms on the memorial to Robert Codrington were used by the Stubbes families of both London and Norfolk it is likely that there is a connection to the Norfolk family somewhere, but so far I have not found one despite rebuilding the Stubbes of Norfolk page family tree. At the moment it is looking more likely that William’s father [William of Congleton, I think] was from Cheshire although he also lived in Berkshire.

Most of the information in this document can be found in more detail in other posts.

speech50I have used the modern spelling of Harington – with one R – as much as possible, however many of the original documents or transcriptions I have referenced use Harrington.

Chris Sidney 2015