Lewis Codrington makes a dramatic appearance in Stone, Gloucestershire 1618 where he marries, has several children and then disappears again, taking his family with him.
In the words of a popular song: Where did you come from, where did you go?
There is an assumption that all Codringtons are related to either the senior or junior branch of the family, but there doesn’t seem anywhere for Lewis to fit.
It may be that the family have been living quite happily in Gloucestershire for several generations and have only now “appeared” when records have become available – but if that is the case where did all of the children go?
Lewis is not a name that appears in any other documented branch of the family – and neither are the names of some of his sons, Arthur, Brent and Daniel – so they should be easy to trace.
But none of them seem to exist.
Possibly this was a deliberate change of name by Lewis and he was not actually related to the Codrington family, but may have links to the village they were named after?
There are lots of reasons for doing this, and it probably wasn’t that difficult to do, but why change to such a well-known name?
If he then changed his name again then this could be a long search.
Maybe there was a marriage into the Codrington family – not all of the branches are fully documented – and the name was changed to that of the mother for some reason?
This is uncommon but it does happen – usually in relation to an inheritance.
Perhaps the whole family were killed by a disease or plague?
Possibly they all emigrated – but there seem to be no records anywhere else in the world.
Lewis married Elizabeth Hobbs on 29 Jul 1618 in Stone, Gloucestershire so was probably born about 1595-1600.
A transcription error is unlikely as some of the parish records have recently become available on-line and the marriage record is – unusually – pretty clear.
[Did they write this entry themselves?]
And their children are not all baptised in the same location, but are transcribed with the same spelling, where copies are available.
Daniel Codrington, 5th May 1619, Stone Gloucestershire.
William Codrington, 18 Dec 1622, North Nibley, Gloucestershire [died before 1633]
Elizabeth Codrington, 29 Mar 1625, North Nibley, Gloucestershire
Arthur Codrington, 26 Apr 1628 , North Nibley, Gloucestershire
Margarite Codrington, 18 Dec 1630, North Nibley, Gloucestershire
William Codrington, 15 Jun 1633, North Nibley, Glocestershire
Brent Codrington, 10 Jan 1635, Flaxley, Gloucestershire.
Could Lewis be a missing son of Robert Codrington?
Six sons are mentioned in the will but only five are accounted for?
If he signed his name in the wedding record then he was clearly educated but he would have to be the second son of Robert born after John in 1600 and therefore only about 16 when he married in 1618 – the same year Robert died.
There is no evidence for this at all and he would surely have been mentioned in one of the court cases regarding inheritance some years later.
The names of his children (other than William) do not really fit with this branch – or any branch – of the family, unless they all came from his wife, Elizabeth’s family.
Was he an illegitimate son of Robert or his cousin Richard – or believed that he was – who was not brought up in the Codrington family, but kept his father’s name – or used it later in life?
In which case the names of his children probably came from his mother’s family.
Lewis and Elizabeth lived in Stone and North Nibley which are quite close together in west Gloucestershire, but their youngest Brent was born across the river near the Forest of Dean.
In 1608 a group of clothworkers including four coverlet weavers and three broadweavers lived in Flaxley. A carpenter, a tanner, a glover, a tailor, a sailor, and a fishmonger were also among parishioners in 1608, as were evidently three pinmakers, two cordwainers, a butcher, a baker, and a narrow weaver in the 1660s.
Possibly he moved around for work, maybe as an agricultural labourer or as one of those mentioned above, but this doesn’t seem to fit with his educated status – if it was his signature.
Possibly he was an iron worker:
In 1635 two forges were recorded at Flaxley and by 1674 a furnace and two forges belonging to the Flaxley Abbey estate were held by Paul Foley of Stoke Edith (Herefs.).
The main part of Flaxley may have contained a limekiln and a brickyard on separate sites before 1690
I have come across some Codringtons living across the river but this was several hundred years later.
If I had to guess it would be that Lewis suddenly appears simply because records are available for the period, and that he disappears due to an outbreak of some disease or other.
But the real story may be more interesting than that.
There is a record from St Martin’s Church in North Nibley from 1629, showing that a Codrington was curate there and it is more than likely that this was Lewis.
This is then confirmed by another record:
Possibly he was also a curate at All Saints, Stone and St Mary the Virgin in Flaxley?
The dates also fit with the births of his children at North Nibley, assuming he was curate from 1620 until about 1633.
Looking again at the record for the birth of son Daniel, does that say Lewis Codrington, Clerk?
This discovery is significant as it is usually the younger sons in the Codrington families that have a career in the church – the elder sons are mainly lawyers.
This means that Lewis is unlikely to have been a missing son of Robert, or his cousin Richard of Dodington, and must be an undocumented younger son of an earlier generation.
Still a mystery.
Some more information has turned up under the slightly different spelling of Cotherington, but clearly the same person.
Both of these records are dated from the year before Lewis married.
Office promoted by Edmonds v [Lewis] Cotherington. 1 October 1617
Deposition by: Thomas Bowsier, gentleman, of Stone. Lived there 3 years, before in Frampton on Severn. Aged 44. Robert Strete of Piddington in Berkeley. Lived there 16 years. Born Frome Sellwood, Som. Aged 58. John Barnsdall of Woodford in Berkeley. Born & lives there. Aged 40.
Thomas Bowsier stated that since Lewes Cotherington, clerk, was admitted as curate of Stone he had covenanted in a writing dated 3rd June 1616 in the sum of forty shillings to be paid by Bowsier and Edward Hill, then churchwardens of Stone, to resign as curate and give up all his rights so that Samuell Clarke BA, clerk, might succeed him. Bowsier did not know if the agreement was made with the consent of Edward Greene, vicar of Berkeley. Afterwards Bowsier and others went to Greene’s house in Berkeley and Greene’s son James asked his father if he should give the money back and his father answered, “No, let it alone.” He and Hill had given Cotherington twenty shillings as part of the money agreed which he still had although he had promised that if Samuell Clarke did not succeed him he would repay them. He had often seen Cotherington in the common inn in Stone and stay there some time but did not know his intent in going there. Robert Strete was present together with Thomas Bowsier and John Barnsdall when the agreement was made with Bowsier and Hill and when Cotherington received twenty shillings from them. He did not know if Mr Greene knew of the agreement. John Barnsdall gave similar evidence. He thought Mr Greene had notice of the agreement delivered to him after it was made.
This shows that Lewis was the curate in 1616 and probably for some time before this.
There is another accusation later the same year, perhaps relating to the first. It seems someone wanted Lewis out of his job in favour of Samuel Clarke.
Edmonds v [Lewis] Cotherington. 27 November 1617
Deposition by Elizabeth Stooks, wife of Roland Stooks, of Tortworth, Gloucestershire
Lived there ½ year. Aged 40.
Elizabeth Stooks was married at Stone by Lewis Cotherington who was then curate there. Their dinner was provided at the inn in Stone and Cotherington dined with them. After dinner he came to her and said he would dance one dance with the bride, so they, her husband, Thomas Morse’s wife and two others danced together. When they had done he took his leave of the company. He came back afterwards and drank with the company before they departed to Tortworth where she now lives. Cotherington carried himself very civilly without any manner of unreasonable drinking and was never overcome with drink.
This is just one deposition in favour of Lewis, but there must have been other documents. We don’t see exactly what he is accused of, but from the deposition of Elizabeth he is probably accused of being drunk.
Lewis married the following year, had a son in 1619 and had moved to North Nibley by 1620.
Both records are held by Gloucestershire Archives.
Chris Sidney 2015