Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

Signs of Recovery

Farmer BullshotSo just what is a recovery and why are there four people involved? And what has this got to do with Hester Harington and the Manor of Watchfield?

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.


After much searching I have finally found an clear explanation – once I knew what I was looking for.

A Recovery or “Common Recovery” is simply a way of transferring property without having to go through a long and expensive court process – it is a fake legal document which allows restrictions on a property’s ownership to be broken.

Common recoveries were used to break entails (conditions stipulated in wills or settlements which limited the descent of freehold land to certain individuals) and transfer land.

[More information from the University of Nottingham]

How the procedure works

There are four players involved:

  • The owner of the property often called the vouchee.
  • The purchaser.
  • The tenant, a trusted friend of the owner.
  • The common vouchee who’s job is simply not to appear at court.

If I have understood correctly then this is how it works.

1. The owner conveys the property to the tenant.

2. The purchaser then sues the tenant claiming that he owns the property.

3. The tenant calls the owner to court to prove his entitlement.

4. The owner claims that he acquired the land from a third-party – the common vouchee.

5. The common vouchee appears in court but then leaves and the claim of the purchaser is upheld due to the contempt of court by the common vouchee.

Effectively the purchaser has “recovered” the property that he claimed was his originally.

Quite often the property was simply conveyed back to the original owner, but without the previous restrictions applied by entailment, thus making it easier to sell or pass to another person – or, perhaps more importantly if you are short of money, mortgaged.


watchfieldI had been confused about Hester’s involvement with Watchfield, but it now seems clear she is not the recipient of the property in 1568 but the owner, and this means that she is much more likely to be the daughter of Awdrey Malte and John Harrington than I previously thought.

Recov. R. Mich. 10 & 11 Eliz. m. 656. Hester (Hesterus) Harrington is the vouchee in this recovery.

Many of the properties owned by John Malte, were left to his bastard daughter Awdrey and the “heirs of her body” so it seems clear why John Harrington would want to break these terms – he would inherit practically nothing from his marriage to Awdrey, and a recovery action was a simple way of achieving this.

So this is how it worked, after Hester had conveyed the manor to her father …

Thomas Markham and Nicholas Blimston claim against John Harrington the manor of  Watchfield.

Thomas is likely to be related to John’s second wife Isabella and a trusted participant in this action.

John Harrington [the tenant] vouched to warrant Hester [the owner] and she vouched John Howell [the common vouchee] who failed to appear.

The property was transferred this way to avoid any problems with the ownership of the Manor due to the will of John Malte, but there were other consequences.

Therefore Judgment was  given that Markham and Blimston should recover against John H., who should receive of the lands of Hester in recompense, and Hester should receive of the lands of Howell [the man of straw]. [1]

Hester would have originally conveyed Watchfield to her father [as the tenant] against the terms of her grandfather’s will, but this doesn’t seem to matter.


The important thing here is not so much the sale of Watchfield but the compensation given to John Harrington, as this allows the transfer of other properties that were tied to the will of John Malte and for the entailment on them to be removed.

What happens to the Manor after this is unclear, but it would almost certainly have been transferred back to Hester, having been used only as a means to transferring other property and removing the inheritance restrictions.

And it also means that the property could be transferred to her husband, William Stubbes, as part of a dowry.

In 1556, when she was perhaps quite ill, Awdrey had transferred most of her property to her husband “and his heirs” despite some properties being left specifically to Hester, her only child and heir.

Feet of Fines, Michaelmas, 2 and 3 Philip and Mary, [1555/6] Berkshire. Fine between Thomas Harryngton and Thomas Thurgood, Plaintiffs, and John Harryngton, Esq., and Etheldreda, his wife, Deforciants, touching the manor of Watchyngfelde alias Wachenfelde alias Watchfelde, and lands, messuages, etc., there. To hold to Etheldreda for one month, and after that to John Harryngton and his heirs, [Precisely similar to a Fine in Somerset of the same date, affecting the Somersetshire estates derived from Etheldreda.]

Perhaps John had to wait until Hester was old enough to sell her property in order to get his hands on the rest of the property he was expecting from the marriage.

Hester, although giving up the manor in the recovery, must have retained substantial property in Watchfield and may have regained the manor later.

I almost feel sorry for Watchfield having been used and abused this way.

In 1630 a case between Hester and Richard Tomlyns – regarding a missing document following the death of her husband, William Stubbes – identified her property as being worth £200 a year and the missing document related to her ownership of land in Watchfield.

[See More about Hester]

 [1] A straw man is a figure not intended to have a genuine beneficial interest in a property, to whom such property is nevertheless conveyed in order to facilitate a transaction.

speech50This new information – to me anyway – regarding Watchfield has meant me having to (once again) reassess my relationship with the Stubbes and Harrington family.

From the documents in Miscellanea it seems clear that Hester is the owner of Watchfield and must be the daughter of John and Awdrey – but whether Awdrey is also the daughter of Henry VIII is still conjecture.

Hester is said to have been alive in 1568 – because of the recovery document – but is generally thought to have died some time after because there are no further records of her.

But there are several documents regarding Hester Stubbes, including the one relating to the missing document, that says she inherited her property in Watchfield from her ancestors.

I don’t believe in coincidences and I am convinced that the same Hester Harrington who was involved in the recovery was the same Hester who married William Stubbes and lived happily ever after in Watchfield, Berkshire.

Chris Sidney 2015

More about Hester

Farmer BullshotThe will of Hester Stubbes gives valuable information about her children but very little about herself. Was Hester really the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte?

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.

The Story

Awdrey [Etheldreda] was the illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII and Joanne Dingley, a launderess, adopted by the King’s Tailor, John Malte, and the recipient of several grants of land by the king.

Awdrey married John Harington of Stepney and they had a daughter, Hester, who inherited the manor of Watchfield from her mother, married William Stubbes and lived at Watchfield until she died in 1639.

At least that is the story, but how much is actually true is unclear.

Some accounts say that Awdrey died childless and others that she died in labour.

Others that she lived to see Queen Elizabeth on the throne in 1559, but died soon afterwards, allowing her husband, John Harington, to marry Isabella Markham within a few months.

The pedigree of the Harrington family shows a daughter, Hester, alive in 1568 so it makes sense that the same Hester that owned the manor of Watchfield is the one who married William Stubbes a few years later.

But was the pedigree based on actual information from the family or on other records?

St Catherines CourtOnly some of the lands granted to Awdrey and her father John Malte were directed specifically at Awdrey and the heirs of her bodie possibly as a dowry for her marriage.

St Katherines Court “Katerncourte” was one of those that was actually granted by the king to Awdrey and her father, but it is unlikely that she ever lived here as her father died a few weeks after the land was granted.

John Mault Taylor and to Ethelreda Mault also Dyngley bastarde daughter – and to the heirs of the body of Ethelreda.

Many other properties – including Uffington and Watchfield – appear to have been granted to Malte, who was quite a rich man in his own right.

Watchfield, in particular, was passed to Awdrey by her father in his will, just before her arranged marriage to Richard Southwell.

In 1541 it [Watchfield] was granted to John Malt, citizen and merchant of London, who settled it in 1546 upon his illegitimate daughter Awdrey, who by the contract then made between John Malt and Sir Richard Southwell was to marry Richard [Darcy] Southwell, bastard son of the latter.

The marriage never happened so perhaps Richard Southwell called off the marriage, after the death of the king, because she would not longer be as important or useful?

John Harington seems to have inherited most of the land from Awdrey and this has lead to the belief that his daughter Hester had died – or never existed – but perhaps it was simply that little of the land was actually given directly to Awdrey “and the heirs of her bodie” in the first place?

The Will of John Malte from 10 September 1546 shows that Awdrey was not yet 15 so she was probably born about 1532 and not as early as 1528 – or 10 Nov 1518 as shown in some family trees – and probably didn’t marry until 1547.

Also I will that my trustye and welbeloved frende sir Richard Sothewell knight shall from and after my deceas take p[er]ceyve receyve and Levye toward[es] the bringing upp of the said Awdrey Malte the yerely Rent[es] Revercions Issues and profit[es] of and in all the said Manors Londes Ten[emen]t[es] and other the premisses which I have by any meanes or con-veyannce appoynted and gevyn to the said Awdrey in forme aforsaid unto suche tyme as the said Awdrey shall com[m]e to the age of Fyvetene yeres

As John Malte died a few moths later he may not have been in good health and the age of Awdrey is likely to be fairly accurate if he was expecting to die soon.

Who is Hester?

Another suggestion is that Awdrey died childless and that Hester was a niece of John Harrington.

Hester married William Stubbes in 1574 and the record we have of Hester as “vouchee” in 1568 was a recovery action against the manor of Watchfield probably in preparation for her marriage, but more likely to enable other properties to be passed to her father.

This was the record that was used in the Harington pedigree as proof that Hester – as the daughter of John and Awdrey – was alive at this time, and this does appear to be the case.

Other investigations have now shown that Hester was the daughter of John and Awdrey and not a niece.

[See Signs of Recovery]

ratcliffeThe Stubbes and Harington families both owned properties in Stepney, London so would have known each other, and there were also other connections through Sir Francis Walsingham.

William Stubbes of Ratcliffe – who appears to be a merchant – seems to be related to William Stubbes of Watchfield, if not his father then perhaps an uncle.

But I would have thought that John Harington – a social climber – would have gone for a much higher profile match for his daughter than William Stubbes.

[See The Fittleton Manor Mystery]

The will of Hester

West Mill Farm HouseThe probate record and inventory for Hester is held in Reading at the Berkshire records office.

I now have a transcription of her will and although it gives useful information about her children it reveals nothing about her pedigree.

She was still living at West Mill in Watchfield when she died but no longer owned the manor which was transferred to Thomas Tatton, her grandson, after the death of William in 1630, or possibly before.

She confirms her eldest daughter as Anne Marshe widow, which shows that Anne’s second husband Ralph Marshe was deceased by 1639 – her first husband was Robert Codrington, who died in 1618.

I give and bequethe unto my eldest daughter Anne Marshe widowe the som[m]e of twelve pence and to each of her Children twelve pence a peece.

Youngest daughter Theophilia first married Thomas Garrard of Inkpen, Berkshire and her children from that marriage are identified in the will – he died in 1617.

She remarried “Cowper” at some point – as she is named in the will – but I can find no record of the marriage or any further children.

I give & bequeathe unto my daughter Cowper one Fether bed, one payre of sheetes, one Rugg & my laste made gowne, and to her sonne Will[ia]m Garrard twelve pence, to her sonne Roger Garrard tenn powndes to her daughter Marye tenn powndes and to her sonne John five powndes, & I will that my daughter Cowper shall have all those garment[es] & Clothes w[hi]ch are in her owne truncke w[hi]ch standeth att my bed[es] feete.

Susan married Robert Tatton and had at least two sons, Thomas and George.

I give unto everye one of my daughter Tattons Children twelve pence a peece.

[See The Will of Thomas Tatton]


Initially I had Hester’s birth as about 1548 but I do not think this is correct having now seen the will and other evidence.

John Malte died in December 1546 shortly after writing his will, and there is no mention of Awdrey being married at this time. She was betrothed to Richard the illegitimate son of Richard Southwell, but this arrangement was formally broken sometime after December 1546 when John died.

Why John Harington married the daughter of a tailor and a laundress is still a bit a mystery, unless he was aware of who she really was – or how much property she was endowed with.

His branch of the Harington family had been impoverished after the wars of the roses and John was crawling his way back into favour – and had done a pretty good job so far under Henry and in the service of Sir Thomas Seymour. But he was a poet and a romantic – and quite often in trouble – and perhaps he was in love with Awdrey, at least for a while.

And after all she was an attendant to princess Elizabeth – a position for which she had no real credentials – and would be in good standing when Elizabeth became queen.

If Hester’s birth was as early as 1548 then she would then have been 20 years old when she is known to have been alive in 1568. This seems a little old to be sorting out property for a dowry and it is more likely that she was about 15 – as her mother had been when she was engaged – and therefore born after 1553.

This means she would have married at the much more reasonable age of 21 [and not 26].

In March 1554 Awdrey was in the Tower of London with Elizabeth and I think Hester was born sometime after this period. Her husband, John was also in the tower – in relation to the Lady Jane Grey affair – and wrote about his wife saying:

My wife is her servant, and doth but rejoice in this our misery, when we look with whom we are holden in bondage.

Hester is likely to have been born after Elizabeth was released from the tower – possibly as late as 1556 if she was only 18 when she married – but then she would have only been 12 during the recovery of Watchfield in 1568 – it doesn’t seem likely.

Awdrey does not seem to have been an attendant of Elizabeth’s before the Tower (or after) and it is suggested by Kate Emerson that she was placed there by her other half-sister, Mary but I doubt this would have been the case if she was pregnant or just given birth.

On the 19th May 1554, the future Elizabeth I was released from the Tower and escorted to Woodstock, where she was put under house-arrest so it is possible that Awdrey may also have been with Elizabeth as late as October 1554, during her period of house arrest.

John Harington, was held in the tower until January of the following year and if Awdrey was pregnant this would explain why she is not recorded as an attendant of the Queen after this period.

The portrait of Hester as a young child seems to have existed, but is now in a private collection and it is not possible to investigate if this is indeed genuine.

Some excellent detective work was done on a portrait thought to be of princess Elizabeth which was later proved to be Mary Rogers, the wife of John Harington’s son, Sir John (the writer) so we cannot take the identity of the sitter for granted.

speech50Another piece of new evidence regarding Watchfield comes from a document of complaint between Hester Stubbes and Richard Tomelyns dated 1630.

This was shortly after the death of her husband William Stubbes, but refers to other documents dating from 1612 and 1617 – even mentioning Robert Codrington (Hester’s son in law) who died in 1618.

Hester is the complainant in this case and in response Richard replies:

… that he Conceiveth it to be true that the Complainent is Seased of some estate of inheritance to her owne use by discent from her anncestors of and in the said Manor of Watchfeild in the said bill of Complaint mencioned …

This is all about a missing document, but it does indicates that Hester inherited land in Watchfield from her ancestors rather than it being purchased or given to her.

Linda, from Transcription Services has kindly provided the following interpretation:

The bill of complaint seems to concern the conveyance document for property ‘of and in’ the manor of Watchfield, (valued at £200 per year, so a significant property), which was given amongst other papers to the safe keeping of Richard Tomlyns at some time in the past.  Richard delivered back to Hester’s husband all the other paperwork, but later sent the conveyance to her son in law, Richard [Robert] Codringon, to be given to William.  Hester would appear to not have this document, which would be necessary to prove her ownership of the manor property, and the dispute is whether Tomlyns/Codrington or William Stubbes had it in their possession.

Robert Codrington died early in 1618 so the documents may have been misplaced at this time.

The following is an extract from Neil Maw’s excellent Watchfield Chronicles and shows more about the ownership of the manor.

The first document in what I have called the ‘Luker Papers’ is dated 17 April, 1649. It is an indenture made between Sir Humphrey Forster, Baronet of Aldermaston, Berks, and William Weekes, a Yeoman of Watchfield. There are others mentioned within the document such as William Fairthorne, Thomas Joyner, Robert Weekes the elder and Robert Weekes the younger, concerning property and land within Watchfield. The document also includes an indemnity to the new occupiers against whatever Thomas Tatton or Mrs Hester Stubbs may have agreed to previously. So, we now know that Sir Humphrey Forster was holding the Manor in 1649. Two more documents from the Luker Papers show that he was still holding it in 1650.

From this extract it seems certain that both Thomas Tatton and Hester were previously owners of the Manor, despite not being mentioned in either of their wills and of Hester “losing” ownership in a Common Recovery action of 1568.

Hester may have transferred the manor to Thomas – her grandson – sometime after the death of her husband in 1630 – probably about 1635 or earlier. Because it was not mentioned in the will of William, nine years earlier, it is possible that Hester still owned the manor in her own right – or that the manor have been transferred before the death of her husband.

Maybe the missing document [mentioned above] was what she needed in order to convey the property and that was why it took so long after her husbands death for the property to be passed to Thomas.

Thomas Tatton wrote his will in 1653 and had already sold the manor to Humphrey Forster by then, possibly due to the death of his wife, Margaret.

speech50There is little doubt that Joanne Dyngley was the mother of Awdrey Malte – and therefore my 12x great-grandmother – whoever was her father.

She has been identified as a laundress [or other servant] working in the Royal Household or possibly a minor noble down on her luck.

Some family trees assign a birth of 1472, based on a death record for a Joanne Dingley in 1567, but this cannot be correct as she would have died as Joanne Dobson, and would be far too old to have had a daughter in 1532 or to be attractive to the King (or John Malte) at the age of 60.

She could be the widow of James Dyngley (daughter of Sir John Moore) or the daughter of Sir Thomas Dyngley, but if this was the case then 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.

Of course if Awdrey was simply the daughter of John Malte then it may have been more convenient to both parties for John to take charge of their daughter. If Joanne was just a servant – which I suspect she was – then she would probably not have the time and resources to care for a bastard daughter. John, on the other hand, was a very rich man – and a very benevolent one.

In his will he leaves provision for a foundling boy left on his doorstep and many other good causes, such as poor prisoners, and repairing the roads, and perhaps it was this good nature that made the king look to him to care for his daughter?

Joanne was married off to someone named Dobson, possibly a minor palace official, but perhaps a better match than she could have otherwise expected as a laundress.

speech50My personal observation, based on his will, is that John does not seem to have been the sort of person to have considered an affair with a servant, whereas the king’s habits in this area are quite well documented.

If John Malte was actually the father of Awdrey then I am quite proud of him even if he isn’t royalty.

Farmer BullshotI have recently found a document in the National Archives, Tatton v Stubbes page. This document is quite badly damaged and feint but it is important as it confirms the identify of Hester.

The document is between William Stubbes, Hester’s husband and son in law Robert Tatton and a large part of it is legible. Most of it is regarding money loans but it also drags other family members into the document including Bartholomew and George Stubbes and, most importantly, the reference below:

this Deffendant & [the] said Sir John Harrington, this Deffendants Brother in lawe

C 2_Jasl_T4_9 (WIDTH-1000)William is the defendant in this case and this document proves that Hester is therefore the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte, and the half-sister of Sir John Harington, his son by his second wife Isabella Markham.

She could also be the grand-daughter of King Henry VIII

18 June 2015

 Chris Sidney 2015

The Will of Thomas Tatton

Farmer BullshotThomas Tatton was the grandson of William Stubbes of Watchfield and his gifts to family members in his will have been extremely useful in confirming some relationships.

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.

Thomas Tatton

Thomas [1614-1647] was the son of Susan Stubbes and Robert Tatton and the grandson of William Stubbes and Hester [Harington].

He leaves most of his estate to the three sons of his brother George, who was deceased when the will was written, and also mentions Anne, his sister in law, the widow of brother George and several other members of his extended family.

I believe that it was this Thomas, with his wife Margaret [White], who were the owners of Watchfield Manor from about 1635 following the death of his grandfather William Stubbes in 1630.

His grandmother, Hester, continued to live in property in Watchfield until her death in 1639 – likely to be West Mill farmhouse – and had some agreement with Thomas Tatton regarding this, as mentioned in later documents about the manor.

The document also includes an indemnity to the new occupiers against whatever Thomas Tatton or Mrs Hester Stubbs may have agreed to previously.

[See More about Hester]

There is no mention of a wife or children in the will of Thomas Tatton so it appears that Margaret had died by 1643.

As Thomas was from Twyning in Gloucestershire rather than Watchfield it seems he had already sold the manor, possibly after the death of his wife – there is no specific mention of the manor in his will but he did seem to have a lot of money [for which he was grateful].

By 1649 Watchfield was in the hands of  Henry Forster, Baronet.

Thomas seems to be quite a rich man and he distributed his wealth to other family members and friends, leaving most of his estate to his nephews.

There are two copies of the will in the PCC register of wills, the only difference being the year that they were signed and sealed – one has 1643 and the other 1642 – so one has been copied incorrectly.

PCC wills 1644-1654 piece 199, page 514 (dated 1643)
PCC wills 1644-1654 piece 199, page 719/720 (dated 1642)

Both documents are dated second July and probate granted on 11 Feb 1646/7 however one is followed by a Probatum record and the other by a Primo record.

Thomas Tatton probate 1

There is another – much shorter – will for Thomas Tatton dated 18th June 1643 which is quite confusing, but it does appear to be related to the same person.

Thomas Tatton probate 2

If the date of the longer of the [Twyning] will is 1643 then there is only a month between them [the Swindon will being earlier], whereas the earlier date of 1642 would mean that Thomas had removed a significant number of beneficiaries – including two of his nephews – from the shorter [Swindon] will, and I do not think this likely.

I therefore believe that the longer and more comprehensive [Twyning] will is the latest one, but in either case it still helps identify his relationships with other family members and some of his financial affairs.

The will with the earlier date [1642] is recorded in the PCC registry after the copy with the later date and the shorter [Swindon] will much earlier than either of the other two.

[more on this later]

speech50As with other wills of single gentlemen this is much more useful to a genealogist than someone who just passes all their property to their eldest son!

First I give and bequeath unto my Aunt Anne Cotherington twenty pounds.

Anne Stubbes was his aunt and the eldest daughter of William Stubbes and Hester [Harrington] and married first Robert Codrington and later Ralph Marshe.

[see An Heiress and of a Norfolk Family]

So she should have been referred to as Anne Marshe (widow) as she was in the will of her mother, Hester.

[see More about Hester]

To my kinswoman Frances Earnly thirty pounds.

Frances was the daughter of Robert Codrington and Anne [Stubbes].

She married Edward Earnley against the wishes of her father.

[see The Children of Robert Codrington].

This document shows that she was alive in 1643 and not a widow.

To my kinsman Samuel Cotherington gent twenty pounds.

Samuel was the youngest son of Robert Codrington and Anne [Stubbes].

Born about 1617 he would have been contemporary with Thomas (1614).

But I have found little information about Samuel – this reference is the only mention of him that I have found other than the court records regarding his inheritance following the marriage of his mother to Ralph Marshe.

To my kinsman Bartholomew Stubbe twenty pounds.

Bartholemew is most likely a cousin but I have found no record of any Bartholemew from about the same period – the only record being one Bartholomew Stubbes from Cheshire born in 1580.

Perhaps the Stubbes family did have connections with Cheshire and not Norfolk?

There is one reference to Bartholemew and this is in the pedigree of the Garrard family [visitation of Berkshire 1664-6] that shows Bartholomew as the father of Theophilia Stubbes instead of William.

garrard of inkpen 2

I believe that the information for this Garrard pedigree probably came partly from Thomas’ will and identified kinsman Bartholomew with a reference to his grandfather  [William] Stubbes who is not specifically named.

Also a statute of four thousand pounds with assignment from my grandfather stubbes …

speech50Another record is held in the National Archives regarding a property in London. The date of this is a bit vague (1603-1625, being the reign of James I) but this is more likely to be the correct Bartholomew.

Short title: Stubbes v Denham.

Plaintiffs: Bartholomew Stubbes, Isabel Stubbes his wife, John Stubbes and Mary Stubbes.

Defendants: Richard Denham and Thomas Ockould.

Subject: messuage called the Herne [the Heron inn ?] in the parish of St Clement Danes, Middlesex.

To my cousin William Garrett of Inkpen in the county of Berks, gent ten pounds

William was his cousin, the son of Thomas Garrard and Theophilia [Stubbes]

He was probably a lawyer as several important documents are “in his hands”, in particular one relating to a statute of four thousand pounds from his [Thomas’] grandfather.

To Anne Tatton, widow my sister in law fifty pounds

Anne was the widow of his brother George.

I give and bequeath unto Theophilia Cooper widow the sum of twenty pounds.

Theophilia [Stubbes] was his aunt, the daughter of William Stubbes and Hester [Harington] and the mother of William Garrard from her first marriage to Robert Garrard.

Her first husband had died by 1617 and she had remarried and was referred to as my daughter Cowper in the will of Hester Stubbes in 1639.

However in this will she was once again a widow.

The Swindon Will

This older – and much shorter – will was written on 17 June 1643 and showed Thomas Tatton to be of Swindon, Wiltshire.

 PCC wills 1644-1654 piece 197 page 41.

Possibly this will was ignored in favour of the later version and it does appear that this is the will of the same Thomas Tatton – but both wills were granted probate, which is most unusual.

Some of the same people are mentioned – his nephew George “sonne of my brother George Tatton late of Swindon” being the main beneficiary, but no mention of his other two nephews.

William Garrard is also mentioned in relation to a bond and articles of agreement:

…  being in William Garrets hand of Inkpen in the countie of berkshire

Also mentioned are Richard Franklin and John Fisher, his overseers & executors, who are left five pounds each in both wills.

Perhaps this first will was hastily written following the death of his brother George, and he had more time later for a more comprehensive version, after moving to Gloucestershire?

There is no indication that he was particularly ill, as seen in some other wills.

I can find no birth record of his nephew John Tatton, but the youngest nephew Thomas was born in April 1642 and eldest George in 1635.

Fower Thousand poundes

This sum of money is mentioned in both wills although in a slightly different context.

In the longer will it is mentioned in relationship to Thomas’ grandfather William Stubbes.

Also a Statute of Fowre Thousand Pounds with Assignement from my Grandfather Stubbes to my Lord of Dorsett in trust for my benefitt doth remayne in the hands of John Bramsted of Fullers Rents neere Grayes Inn London with other writeings concerninge lands in Flyntshyre.

But in the shorter version the name of Humphrey Forster is associated with this amount.

He was the next owner of Watchfield so it seems this money is related in one way or another to the sale of the manor.

There is a bond of Fower Thousand poundes and Arti[c]les of agreement betweene Sir Humfry Foster and my selfe lyeing in William Garretts hand of Inkpen in the Countie of Berks gent[leman] All other writings lyeth in John Bumsteds handes in Fullers Rent[es] in London …

One of these documents is saved with William Garret [Thomas’ cousin] while the other is with John Bramsted – perhaps one of the wills is in error as to who had which document?

William Garrett of Inkpen, and John Bramsted of Gray’s Inn are mentioned in both wills – with varying spellings – but clearly they are the same two gentlemen.

Today the equivalent amount would be about £480,000 [i] and I think this amount can only be directly related to Watchfield Manor, and that both wills are talking about the same document.

[i] Calculate at a rate of £1 in 1625 = £120 today.

Three Thousand Pounds

Another amount of £3000 is only mentioned in the Twyning will.

The bond and articles whereby the three thousand pounds with that parte of the interest is due unto mee by the said Mr Alexander, and Mr Hugh Popham doth nowe remayne in the hands of the within named William Garrett.

There is a document in the National Archives relating to William Stubbes and Sir Francis Popham that may shed some more light on this – Alexander was the son and heir of Sir Francis.

Plaintiffs: William Stubbes.
Defendants: Sir Francis Popham kt.
Subject: manor of Wanborough, Axford, Chilton, Wiltshire.

The History of Parliament has a biography of Sir Francis Popham who died in 1644.

Administration of his estate was granted to his son, Alexander, on 24 Apr. 1647.

This debt is not mentioned specifically in the shorter Swindon will.

speech50It would be tempting to assign the shorter will to an older Thomas, who also had a brother George [who had died] and a nephew named George.

The Swindon will does not mention William Stubbes in relation to the £4000 but implies a direct connection with the money: betweene Sir Humfry Foster and my selfe.

Sir Humphrey Foster purchased the Manor of Watchfield from Thomas.

If Thomas of Swindon was the father of Thomas of Twyning then why is his son not mentioned in the will and money left to his nephew George?

And if he is unrelated or a cousin why are there so many similarities?

Having an earlier and shorter will is not a problem – what is a problem is that both of them seemed to have been granted Probate.

Administration was granted to Anne Tatton [widow of brother George] for the Swindon will on 1st July 1646 and eight months later for the Twyning will.

On 11 Feb 1646/7 administrator was granted to William Turberville the named executor.

Robert Tatton

Robert was probably the elder brother of Thomas and wrote his will on 1st Sep 1638

… being sick and weake of body but of good and perfect mind and memory …

Probate was granted just a few day later on the 7th September.

PCC wills 1624-1643 piece 177, page 945 (dated 1638)

In this will, available in the National Archives, he leaves property in Flintshire, inherited from his father [also Robert] who probably died 1624 in Southwark, London.

Flintshire is also mentioned in the will of Thomas in 1643 as a document held by John Bramsted, and no sons or grandsons are mentioned, so we can assume, for the moment, that this is the same Thomas mentioned in the will and Robert is therefore also the son of Robert and Susan.

… in the hands of John Bramsted of Fullers Rents neere Grayes Inn London with other writeings concerninge lands in Flyntshyre.

As Thomas is the only brother mentioned in the will it appears that George had died before it was written in 1638 but we also know that the youngest son of George was born in 1642 so this cannot be correct.

Robert was not married, or at least does not mention a wife, and had no children and the only other name mentioned in his will is Ralph Beeling.

One Ralph Beeling died in 15 Oct 1645 in St. Andrew, Holborn, London.

It appears, however, that Ralph was a woman …

Ralph Beling burial record

Ralph Beling alias Hatton [perhaps Tatton] a woman died in Mary Pecke’s house Widow in Cussitory Alley in Chancery Lane on 12th buried 15th.

In his will Robert says he is …. indebted to Ralph Beeling of London, widdow …

So perhaps she was house-keeper or a nurse as Robert was a sick man?

But her burial notice indicates she may have been more than that if she was using the name Tatton at some point.

Wythenshawe Connection

Because of the connection to Flintshire it is possible that Robert, the father of Thomas and wife of Susan Stubbes, was from the Wythenshawe Tatton family.

He would have been born in Northenden [now part of Manchester] the second son of Robert Tatton and Eleanor Warren – elder brother William inheriting the Wythenshawe estate and titles.

[see Tatton v Stubbes for updated information]

Robert is shown to be alive in 9 James I [1611] in the pedigree of the Tatton family, and no other conflicting information provided so he could easily have been the Robert who was married to Susan Stubbes.

He was probably born in 1586 with elder brother William born September 1585 [there is a baptism record for this] – his parents were married 22 October 1581 [see below] so records of William being born in the same year may be incorrect as this is dated 15 September 1581.

So being seised, the said William, by indenture bearing date 22 Oct , 23 Elizabeth, on the marriage of his son & heir apparent, Robert Tatton, with Eleanor daughter of John Warren of Poynton.

It does seem that there is a few years between the marriage and the baptism of William in 1585, so possibly this record is either incorrect or the first William had died. The first daughter Elizabeth was born 1587 so Robert can only have been born in 1586 or after 1587 which seems a little late. But if we assume the earlier date for William then he could have been born as early as 1582 – which is the same year as Susan, otherwise she would have been several years older.

Another pedigree from the History of the County of Cheshire shows a different baptism date in the family tree for William, but no marriage date for his father, Robert and Eleanor Warren.

tatton of Withenshaw

Another investigation is looking at other possibilities.

Chris Sidney 2015

The Children of Robert Codrington

bullshot bulletThe family of Robert and Anne Codrington are depicted as a group of mourners on the base of the memorial to Robert in Bristol Cathedral. There are supposed to be 17 children but is this the correct number?

Codrington MemorialRobert Codrington, 9x great-grandfather, died on 17th February 1618/19 in the precinct of Bristol Cathedral at the age of just 46. [i]

“… being somewhat crased in Bodie, but in moste perfect sence and mynde.”

His will leaves money to his children but does not specifically mention the names of his younger sons, only his daughters and the eldest son John.

Anne, his widow, remarried in 1626 [to a man 20 years her junior], and there are a number of court cases regarding inheritance at about this time.

… Anne married and took to husband one Ralph Marshe, gentleman, whom she brought in marriage very great advancement, howbeit he, thirstinge after his owne profitt, neglected the children of Anne, and sought to abridge them of their portions and Annuities bequeathed to them …

These cases have provided some additional information that has helped to identify the children – in particular the sons – of Robert and Anne Codrington.

With the details of the court cases, the transcription of the will and all the additional detail in the memorial you would think that it would be easy to identify all the family members correctly but it appears that this is not the case and it just makes things even more confusing.

[i] The funeral of Robert and the memorial and tomb in Bristol Cathedral cost £32 in 1619 which would be about £4400 today – pretty good value for money.


Robert was born about 1573, the eldest son of Simon Codrington of Codrington, Wapley and Didmarton.

He attended Winchester College and then Magdalen College at Oxford, matriculating on 9 Feb 1587/88 at the age of 14.

After leaving Oxford in 1591 he was admitted to Grey’s Inn to train as a lawyer.

The Oxford record, from which these dates are taken,  also says that he is “perhaps father of the next named [Robert] and of John 1605″ showing that this record is by no means certain, especially as the date for John is also incorrect.

Provision was made in 1593 [i] for his marriage to Anne Stubbes and they married in Shrivenham, Berkshire [now Oxfordshire] two years later.

The family lived in Bristol, in a house close to the Cathedral – that was probably destroyed in the riots of 1831 – and this is also where Robert died: a house was remembered in the area with stained glass bearing the Codrington arms in the windows. [2]

[i] RHC shows this date as 1583 – 10 years earlier – in order to fit in with the birth of John, Robert’s eldest son that was incorrectly calculated from the Oxford University records as 1590 instead of 1600.

This meant that he also never found the correct marriage record for Robert and Anne in 1595.

He had identified the correct birth of John [confirmed by the will of his grand-father] in his earlier work [3] but then changed his mind in [2] presumably based only on the Oxford record.


IMG_4932-4 (WIDTH-1000)On his elaborate memorial in Bristol Cathedral [at the east end of the north aisle of the choir], below the two main figures of Robert and Anne, there is a frieze of mourners.

There are 7 kneeling male figures on the left and 7 female figures on the right.

One of these female figures is described as “a curious effigy of two figures representing twins” [1] which makes 8 daughters alive when Robert died.

There are also two prone figures representing children who died in infancy – the names of these two are not known.

The Latin inscription below the memorial [i] – mentions 9 daughters and 8 sons, assuming that all the figures in the frieze are children, but this cannot be fully reconciled with evidence from the will of Robert or any of the subsequent court records.

One way to make the number add up is to forget about the frieze being a group of mourners and view it just as a family group – the two central figures being Robert and Anne themselves.

IMG_4933-1 (WIDTH-1000)The two main figures on the frieze are dressed in a similar manner to the larger ones of Robert and Anne above – the male figure in particular – and all the other sons are dressed in cloaks.

The male also appears to have a full beard and John the eldest son would only have been 18 at this time, so if this is Robert then it must also be Anne which makes the number of daughters and sons identified in other sources, as correct.

If the main female figure is Anne then the next two are twin daughters Elizabeth and Anne which also fits in with the will where they are “elder daughters”, otherwise this leaves one daughter unnamed in the will.


A plaque above the memorial shows that the memorial was moved and restored by the Bethel Codrington family in 1840, which included the repainting of the crests.



IMG_4931-3 (WIDTH-1000)

“This memorial bird damages. And restored. [With loving care] Bethel Codrington Baronet.”

I was not able to translate PIE CURAVIT – Google says “sweet cured” which is clearly not correct!

PIA CURAVIT translates as “loving care” which I have assumed is closer to the truth.

The Latin inscription below the tomb may be original and mention the 9 daughters (only 7 are mentioned in the will) and 8 sons of which only 6 are known by name.

As the tomb was erected after the death of Robert it should have reflected all the children who were alive at the time, however this may not be the case.

IMG_4936-8 (WIDTH-1000)

To the most noble Lord Robert Codrington, of Codrington in the county of Gloucester, renowned by the representations of his friends, and highly respected for his fidelity and uprightness of conduct. He was free’d from life’s prison February 14th 1618 aged 46. His excellent wife lady Anna Codrington begat him 8 sons and 9 daughters. In consequence of her tender affection and respect for him, she erected this tomb and monument.

One way to interpret this is that ALL the children of Robert and Anne are shown and not just those that were alive when Robert died.

The two prone figures could be those that died at birth rather than as infants and several of the others may have died before Robert.

If there are 9 girls then at least one of them had died in addition to the prone figure – as there were no mention of twins in the will it would seem reasonable to assume that it was one of the twins that died.

Or possibly it was the eldest (first-born) and the twins are Elizabeth and Anne, as these two are named together at one point.


IMG_4933-5 (WIDTH-1000)

The will of Robert identifies his eldest son as John, born 1600, but he also mentions his six younger sons.

This makes 7 sons, all of who were alive when Robert died in 1618.

[See also I, Robert]

In the will Robert mentions his daughters Elizabeth and Anne before the six younger boys.

 “The two elder daughters are to have £20 a year each until marriage and all are to be brought up by their mother. The six younger sons are to have £10 apiece yearly for meat, drink and apparel, with good education.” [2]

If we accept that the main female figure is Anne then this makes the next figure – the twins – as these two daughters but if the main figure is the oldest daughter, Elizabeth, then that makes Anne one of the twins – and the other must be dead, as no twins are mentioned in the will.

Robert and Anne were married in 1595 and eldest son John born in 1600 which leaves 5 years in which other children could have been born, so some of the daughters are older than John, the eldest son.

The term “younger” could just mean younger than the two oldest girls.  John is later instructed to give £20 to the “said younger sons” within a year of the death of Robert, and it is not clear if this included John himself.

This interpretation gives a total of 14 children – 7 boys and 7 girls – and two who died in infancy, making 16 with one son unaccounted for.

If we assume the central “mourners” as Anne and eldest son John this would allow room for the missing son, Robert, but I think they are more likely to be Robert and Anne – in which case there are only six sons, including John.

To contradict this the main female character is not dressed the same as Anne, above, and is dressed the same as all the other girls – it is only the main male figure that is throwing this into confusion by being practically identical to Robert, including the armour he is wearing, unless this is simply representing John as being the heir [clone] of Robert.


IMG_4935-7 (WIDTH-1000)The right-hand side of the frieze is actually a bit scary – the girls heads slowly turn around as you go from oldest to youngest, but at least they are not spinning around.

I cannot see any other interpretation of the second image other than as twins, and because they are shown together I am assuming that they were both alive in 1619.

But there is no mention of twins in the will, in fact all seven daughters are listed individually in order.

There could be several reasons for this, including that one of the twins had already died, which is probably the most likely explanation.

If this were the case then it would make the main female figure as eldest daughter, Elizabeth, and consequently the main male figure would not be Robert but eldest son John – and six other sons, which provides its own complications.


Weepers are common on elaborate tombs of this period, but the rules about who is a weeper seem to be different for each memorial.

They are most commonly the children of the deceased but there could also be other relatives or even friends, particularly those of high standing.

What may be confusing in this case is that Anne is shown as one of the main figures but was not actually dead so she could also, technically, be shown as a weeper.

Edward Denny and weepers 1600-1 (WIDTH-1000)In this example from the tomb of Richard Stone, 1607 [St Mary’s, Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk] the boys are clearly show dressed in a similar fashion to each other, but the eldest son does not look anything like his father.

However in a description of another monument in Bristol cathedral, Sir Henry Newton of Barrs Court, 1599 …

On the left side are the two sons, the elder dressed in armour of the same type as the father’s, every detail being copied.

The description of the Codrington memorial from “Effigies of Bristol” seems to follow a similar design with the eldest son John dressed identically to his father.

Under the figures is a long, narrow panel containing small kneeling ” weepers,” viz. seventeen children; in the centre is a desk with open books, and on the right [left] are eight male figures, all kneeling except the youngest, which is lying down. The first is dressed in armour similar to the man, and the remaining ones wear long cloaks over doublet and trunk hose.

On the left [right] are Nine female figures, all kneeling except the youngest, which is lying down. Amongst them is a curious effigy of two figures representing twins. All are dressed similarly to the woman, except they have no head-dresses, the hair being elaborately braided and rolled high off the forehead.

There are several references to memorial weepers in “Effigies” and in all cases the figures are interpreted as children so this is probably correct – at least for Bristol.

The Children

We know the birth year of at least four of the sons and several of the girls.

John was born in 1600, and not 1590 as shown elsewhere [i], Christopher in 1612, Thomas in 1614 and Samuel the following year, but the dates of birth for some of the other children is uncertain.

The order of the girls and most of the boys is know, as well as all the names of those who were alive in 1619, except for one son, possibly Robert, if we assume 6 sons and John.

Daughter Joyce married in 1624 and a daughter, Anne, was born a year later – so must have been at least 18 and puts her birth as 1606 or earlier, and she is the 6th daughter which makes a lot of the girls older than most of the boys.

The girls were all left varying amounts  in the will for their marriages in specific order of age – there is no mention of twins unless these are Elizabeth and Anne, but then Elizabeth is identified as the eldest.

speech50Daughters Frances and Susan were both born in Shrivenham, Berkshire before eldest son John, so Elizabeth and Anne were also born before 1600.

1. Elizabeth £200

2. Anne £200 – died before marriage

3. Frances £100 [ii]

4. Susan £200

5. Dorothie £200 – died before marriage

6. Joyce £200

7. Marye £300 [iii]

[i] The matriculation date for John is incorrect in the transcribed Oxford records by 10 years, which makes his birth 5 years before his parents were married – he was actually born in 1600.

[ii] Robert was worried that Frances was going to marry someone “unsuitable” [which she apparently did] so held back some of her inheritance.

[iii] Mary was to be paid from money due on the death of Margaret Capell the mother of Katherine Stocker, wife of John the eldest son.

The precise order of the boys cannot be identified from the will so we have to wait until the court proceedings of 1627.

William was named specifically in a court case regarding his apprenticeship and payments made by his Mother.

Codrington V Marshe 1627

The case of [William] Codrington v Marshe is interesting as it not only gives us an idea of William’s age, but also includes information about the will from Anne herself.

William trained as a clerk for 5 years but Anne paid for his education for a year and three-quarters after the death of Robert. If he started his apprenticeship [at about age 16] then his apprenticeship began in 1620 and he was born about 1604.

The case was heard in December 1627, after William had completed his apprenticeship and was a clerk of the court in London. After this case William himself is not named again, so either his claim was no longer relevant to other cases or he had died.

In the evidence given by Anne it is specified that, at his death, Robert only had 7 daughters and not 8, and he also gave £10 each to his younger sons.

He also gave the lease of certain woods to his eldest son John, on condition he pay £20 each to the six sons of Robert – “… to Robert Codrington his six sonnes £20 apiece … “

Codrington V Marshe 1628

This case was brought by: John Codrington, Nicholas Codrington, Christopher Codrington, Thomas Codrington, Samuel Codrington, Edward Ernley and Frances his wife, Christopher Terry and Elizabeth, his wife, Susan Codrington and Mary Codrington.

Joyce is also mentioned later as a complainant along with husband James Prynne.

Basically this is all the family members, and their partners, other than sons William and Robert.

Why these two are not included can be interpreted in several ways: either they were dead or had no legal claims – they were the two oldest boys, other than John.

However at the time of Robert’s death they would probably have still been in education – being 16 or younger – and any issues with inheritance should have included these two boys.

Anne and another sister Dorothy had both died since the death of Robert, but before they “intermarried”, leaving their inheritance to be divided among the remaining sisters.

The inheritance left to the girls was an amount to be paid on marriage and because neither had married their deaths were relevant to this case, however this seems not to be the case for the unmentioned William and Robert who had been paid an allowance only during their period of education and training.

If we assume that the record for Robert from the Oxford records  is correct, and that he was the second son it is possible he  died before this case in 1628 – I can see no reason why he should not be named in at least one of the cases as had brother William.

If he was the son of this Robert then he would not have been at Oxford when his father died and would still have been receiving financial support, so he should have been included.

These are the approximate birth dates for the children – Robert and Anne married in 1595.

Elizabeth 1596?

Anne 1596?

Francis 1597 Shrivenham

Susan 1598 Shrivenham

John 1600 (from will of Simon Codrington)

Robert 1602?

William 1604 (if 16 when he was apprenticed)

Dorothy 1607?

Joyce 1608

Nicholas 1610?

Christopher 1612 [i]

Thomas 1614 [i]

Samuel 1615 [i]

Mary 1618?

[i] Records are available for St. Augustine’s, Bristol as Cotherington.


John was the eldest son, born in 1600.

In the 1630 chancery case John is shown as “of Wrington” in North Somerset.

He was High Sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1638 and Deputy Lieutenant in 1642.

He was also the heir to his grandfather Simon, who outlived his father Robert by some considerable time.

In 1643 he was appointed to the committee of Sequestrators of the Estates of Delinquents and in 1660 signed an address of welcome for Charles II after the restoration, and seems to have come through the civil war without too many problems.

He was married three times and inherited a lot of land in North Somerset, in particular from his third marriage to Frances Guise.

1. Katherine Stocker (1611-1629) married 1617

Katherine was the daughter of Margaret Capell from her marriage to Anthony Stocker and, according to the dates, was only 6 when she was married.

Katherine and John had one daughter, Ann, born in 1629, when Katherine would have been 18 but she died the same year either in child-birth or from complications.

After the death of  her husband Anthony, Margaret married a cousin, William, thus changing her name back to Capell. [I wish they wouldn’t do that]

2. Anne Still (1613-1635) married 1632

They had a daughter Jane who married Samuel Codrington of Dodington.

3. Frances Guise (1626-1676) married 1647

Son and heir Robert was born 1649

During the civil war John was involved in the raising a militia to protect the cities of Gloucester and Bristol from royalist forces.

He and his cousin Samuel of Dodington were also on several important committees but managed to avoid any implications following the restoration of the monarchy.

John died in 1670 at the age of 70 – confirming his birth as 1600 and not 1590, as suggested elsewhere – and was buried in Wapley church, Gloucestershire.

Here lyeth the Body of John Codrington,
of Codrington, Esq. Who departed this Life
the 25 day of September Anno Dom’ 1670
aged seventy years.


Assuming that the mention of “six younger sonnes”  in the will does not include eldest son John, then one of the sons of Robert and Anne is unidentified, and this could be Robert – why would Robert not have a son called Robert?

Robert is referenced in the records of Oxford university as matriculating in 1621 at the age of 19, putting his birth as 1602 – RHC assigns him to this family as A14.

But this record probably refers to Robert, son of Richard Codrington of Dodington who also went to Oxford – and we have additional evidence of this in a court case.

It is possible that the Oxford records may have merged two Roberts – they would have been there at the same time – but crucially only one finished their degree, and there is only one record for a Robert at this time.

Robert, son of Robert, is not named in the will or in any of the chancery proceedings, so it appears he was dead by 1627 or at least he was old enough not to have been involved in any of the court cases.

In one interpretation of the will, Robert A11, identifies six younger sons and his eldest John, making 7 sons, so one son seems to be missing and it is assumed that this is Robert.

Another interpretation is that there are only six sons including John.

But more importantly in court cases from 1627 to 1630 the other sons of Robert who were alive at the time are named.

“Ye Orator John Codrington and fewer other sonnes, viz., Nicholas, Christopher, Thomas and Samuel and other children …”

This names John, four other sons and with William (who was alive in 1627) this makes six.

It seems that Robert may never have existed, or he died in infancy, so the frieze could actually include Robert and Anne and their 15 children, with Robert possibly as the prone male figure and one unknown female.

But this is not certain and there is no single piece of evidence to say whether Robert existed or not.

See [I,Robert] for more information.


Nicholas appears in the records of Sir Edward Seymore’s Regiment of Foot as Lieut. Colonel Nicholas Codrington during the civil war.

Royalist regiment of foot serving with Prince Maurice’s forces in the West Country, then in garrison at Dartmouth

1643 October: Taking of Dartmouth

1644 April to June: Siege of Lyme Regis

1646 January: Besieged at Dartmouth

During the civil war he was based in Dartmouth in Devon and a daughter was born there, Kateren, which is also the name of his wife.

After being captured following the siege of Dartmouth he was listed in the records of the mayor as Lt. Col. Codrington, and this record has been assigned incorrectly to other members of the family, specifically brothers John and Christopher.

Before the Civil war he served in the army of King Charles I during his Northern Expedition – arrears for his pay were recorded in parliament July 1642, having been missed from a previous submission.

Codrington’s &c. Arrears.

Ordered, That the Names of Captain Nich. Codrington and Captain Bainton be inserted into the Order made for the Pay of divers Officers on Saturday last; and that the Arrears of their personal Entertainment, for their Service in the late Northern Expedition, appearing to be due unto them upon Sir Wm. Uvedale’s Certificate, be paid unto them out of the Monies that come in upon the Bill of Four hundred thousand Pounds, in the like Manner as those Officers were ordered on Saturday to receive their Arrears.

He had died by 1665 as his widow Katherine made a claim for herself and daughter Penelope.

1665: Katherine, widow of Col. Nicholas Codrington, and Penelope, their daughter. For a pension or other relief; the late colonel lost 3,000  by his loyalty, and they are reduced to great want, and have received nothing from the 60,000l. for indigent officers, nor the 9,000l. for their widows.

Certificate by Sir Edw. Seymour, and six others, of Col. Nich. Codrington’s services, both before and after the Restoration.

The identity of his wife, Katherine, is not known.


William trained as a clerk in a 5 year apprenticeship under John Scharburgh of London,  which started in about 1620 – his mother had paid for his schooling after the death of his father – in early 1619 – for one and three-quarter years.

The apprenticeship was secured by his brother-in-law Christopher Terry – husband of Elizabeth – who was apprentice before him.

William had completed his training and was now a clerk of the court in London, but because his mother had paid for him during this period it appears he was denied the £10 quarterly mentioned in the will of his father.

If he started his training in 1620 then he must have been about 16 and born about 1604.

He was alive in 1627 when the court case provided much of this information, but nothing is known after this time and he is not mentioned in other court cases, which may just be because his case had been resolved.

Recently I can across a record in a book regarding William Coddington who subscribed to the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 – he was also Treasurer – and went there with the first voyage in 1630.

He was governor of Newport in 1640 and governor of Rhode Island in 1678, the same year he died.

All the pieces about his life seem to fit with this William – his date of birth, a good education and his involvement with the law.

But the name is spelled differently and there are reports of him coming from Boston in Lincolnshire, son of a Robert Coddington who died 1615.

Dictionary of British America, 1584-1783 By Mary K. Geiter, W.A. Speck

Rather a coincidence though … and the evidence of being born in Lincoln is rather thin.

Certainly William lived in Lincolnshire and had friends there – in particular John Cotton, a clerk (minister) who emigrated to Boston later, but there is no evidence of him corresponding with any members of his family other than a mention of a cousin who may have been a relation of his first wife, Mary.

Robert Codrington 1574-1618

William Codrington 1604-????

Robert Coddington 1575-1615

William Coddington 1601-1678

Perhaps he had abandoned his family in Gloucestershire for Lincolnshire, started a new life and then moved to America – the name change may have been a mistake?

William also had a son, Thomas born 1655 but this seems to be a little too late to have been the Sheriff of New York – as suggested elsewhere [see Thomas below] – but if this is the case then the name had reverted to Codrington, providing further confusion.

William has also been linked to the Coddington family of Dorking, Surrey who emigrated to Boston, but there is no evidence he is related.

speech50There are many different ways of spelling Codrington, and at this time it was far from standardised. Robert, the father of William, signed his will as Coderingtonne and Cotherington is also quite common.

But the key to the name is the R in the middle: all the accepted variations have this and a change to Coddington without an R – which significantly changes the way it sounds – could hardly be a simple mistake.

Boston Connection

William Coddington was first married [Mary Burt?] in Boston, Lincolnshire 1626 where his friend John Cotton lived.

His second marriage to Mary Moseley was in Essex 1631 so he did not return to Lincolnshire when looking for a second wife – John Cotton had already moved to Massachusetts by then.

He also had a third wife Anne Brinley with whom he had seven children between 1651 and 1663


Much has been written about Christopher, although there is some confusion between Christopher, his son and grandson both named Christopher.

Christopher I (1612-1656)

Christopher II (1640-1698)

Christopher III (1668-1710)

It is not known how, or exactly when, Christopher I ended up in Barbados.

There is no evidence for anything he did while in England and it seems he left about 1630, so would have only been 18. His father had died in 1619 and his grandfather, Simon, in 1631, so perhaps this was the trigger for him leaving?

Possibly he was following the example of his great uncle John and was heading for Virginia – his father and grandfather were both members of the Virginia Company [although this had failed by 1624 when Virginia became a Royal colony] – but saw opportunities in the sugar plantations of the Caribbean and stayed in Barbados, marrying the sister of Sir James Drax in about 1638.

The journey to Virginia may have been on one of the ships making the triangular trip from Bristol to the Caribbean, on to Virginia and then back to Bristol following the trade winds.

The Drax family had pioneered the techniques for growing sugar in Barbados and were already influential on the island and Christopher would no doubt have been in contact with them if he stopped over in Barbados.

… James Drax, the first sugar baron, who introduced sugar cultivation to Barbados, as well as extensive slavery; the Codringtons, the most powerful family in the Leeward Islands, who struggled to fashion a workable society in the Caribbean but in the end succumbed to corruption and decadence …

See The Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker


Samuel was baptised in St Augustine’s church in Bristol 19 Sep 1615 which makes him the youngest son, and confirms the naming sequence used in court records.

The only reference to him I can find is a possible link to the Stradling family in Somerset, but this may have been one of the other Samuels from the Dodington branch of the family who moved to Somerset after selling Dodington to Christopher Codrington in about 1700.

A Samuel is shown in the genealogy of Oliver Cromwell as marrying Elizabeth Oyle, but this is probably too late and he also seems to be a member of the Dodington family.

Possibly Samuel was killed in the civil war or outbreak of plague or just had an uneventful life.

He is mentioned in the will of his cousin Thomas Tatton in 1643 so was still alive then.


It was probably this Thomas that worked for the East India Company in Surat, India.

It seems he was based in Isfahan, Armenia and, at one point, married an Armenian woman and was dismissed.

A Court of Committees, January ai, 1648 {Court Book, vol. XX, p. 194).

A letter is read from Thomas Codrington, who served as a factor in India for thirteen years, but having married an Armenian woman was dismissed from the Companys service; he desires to be re entertained and that what is due upon his account may be paid to Nathaniel Teemes ; because of his long service his request is granted, and as he knows Persian he is entertained for the Customhouse at Gombroon at 60/. per annum, subject to the approval of the President and Council at Surat.

Thomas was the second youngest son of Robert and Anne born in 1614, so would have been 34 when this letter was written and 20 when he started working for the company as a factor.

Feb 26 1634

Sureties accepted for several Factors, viz., for Tho. Leyning, Peter Eldred, grocer; for Edward Pearce, his father water bailiff of the city; for Philip Vaughan, Hugh Day, cooper; and for Tho. Codrington, Mr. Prynn, late Under Sheriff for Middlesex.

His sister Joyce, was married to James Prynne, so perhaps his father or another relative stood surety for Thomas.

1633 East India Company Court Minutes

Salaries conferred by the balloting box on other Factors, viz., Guy Bath and James Corbett, 50l. per annum for five years; John Wild and Philip Vaughan, 40l. and 10l. yearly rising for seven years; George Wetherell, Thomas Leynyng, Henry Chapman, and Wm. Smethwyke, 20l. and 10l. yearly rising for seven years; Samuel Boyce, Thomas Adler, Wm. Pitt, and John Vickris, 30l. and 10l. yearly rising for seven years; Ambrose Taylor and Philip Saunders, 40l. per annum for the first three years, and 50l. per annum for the other four years; and Thomas Codrington entertained apprentice for seven years at 20l. per annum, to be allowed 10l. thereof yearly in the country.

Nov 13    Thomas Codrington    Employment as Faetor [factor]

Later he is also referenced as a merchant in relation to some art:

Copy, in the hand of the English merchant Thomas Codrington, 20 September 1637. In an album compiled by the interpreter to the German legation of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein to the court of Shah Sefi I in Isfahan, Persia. 1637.

I do not know what happened to Thomas after he was reinstated in 1648 but in the above reference he is shown as a merchant, unless this is a different Thomas.

Captain Thomas Codrington, merchant, was sheriff of New York in 1691 and bought land in Somerset County.

It is possible that this is our Thomas but I think it unlikely – he would have been about 55 at the time he first purchased land in 1681, and died in 1710 so would have been 95.

See Thomas Codrington, Sheriff of New York.


There is no mention of twins in the will but they are shown as the second female figure on the memorial.

But recently I have found separate birth records for sisters Frances and Susan [Cotherington]  in Shrivenham, Berkshire [where their parents were married] which makes it more than likely that Elizabeth and Anne were the twins and referred to as the two eldest daughters.

There is simply not enough time between the marriage of Robert Codrington and Anne Stubbes in May 1595, and the birth of Frances in October 1597 for there to be two additional births.

This means that Elizabeth and Anne must be the twins and that the main female figure must therefore also be Anne and not any of her daughters – and more than likely this makes the main male figure Robert and not eldest son John.


According to the will, Elizabeth was the eldest daughter and may have been one of twins, with Anne.

She was probably born 1596 – younger sister Frances was born 1597 – and married in 1620 to Christopher Terry, a law clerk at about the age of 24.

The only close record for Christopher Terry is a baptism in Dorking Surrey, 1605, which seems a little late as he would be significantly younger than his wife.

I can find no other records for either Christopher or Elizabeth Terry and only one birth – an unnamed child registered to Christopher Terry in 1636 – the child probably died in infancy.

There is a death record for Elizabeth Terry in 1660 at St. Dunstan’s in London, the same church as the dead child but I can find no other records of children.

As Christopher was a clerk of the courts in London St. Dunstan’s is a reasonable location for the family to have lived.


Anne was born about 1596 and died shortly after her father in about 1620.

She may have been a twin with sister Elizabeth, although she is shown as the second daughter in the will of father Robert.


Frances was the third daughter born in Shrivenham, Berkshire 1597

Sep 16 COTHERINGTON Frauncys d Robte

She married Edward Earnley, against her father’s wishes and he left only £100 in his will to Frances, instead of the £200 left to his other daughters, in anticipation of this.

But it seems he was correct as there were some problems with this marriage as recorded in the chancery court records 2nd Aug 1628

… after the intermarriage of Frances defendant [Anne] p’ceived the unkinde and sep’ate living of the said Edward Earnley …

At one point Frances returned home to her mother and Anne deposited £100 with elder son John in order to maintain Frances with the promise that the couple would get the money if they should “live together as man and wife oughte to doe … “

Edward was not to get his hands on the money unless they were a couple:

… but if Frances should dye during such sep’ation from her husband the £100 to be equally divided among the surviving sisters of Frances …

Frances Earnley is mentioned in the will of her cousin Thomas Tatton in 1643, so she was probably still married to Edward at the time.


She was born in Shrivenham, Berkshire 1598 and died unmarried in 1628 at the age of about 30.

Oct 8 COTHERINGTON Susan d Robte


She died before marriage – probably before 1627


Married James Pryn and they had at least two daughters, but Joyce died before she was 30.

I have not found out what happened to the children, but it is likely that James remarried.

A member of the Pryn family stood surety for  her brother Thomas when he started working for the East India company.


I can find no record of what happened to Mary the youngest daughter.


robert henry codrington 1830-1922[RHC] Robert Henry Codrington.

Robert Henry Codrington wrote two invaluable documents about the Codrington family.

These were published by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society and are include in the references below.

Without these documents the Codrington side of the family would have been a complete mystery.


[1] Bristol Cathedral Heraldry

by F. Were

1902, Vol. 25, 102-132

[2] Memoir of the Family of Codrington of Codrington, Didmarton,Frampton-On-Severn, and Dodington

by R. H. Codrington

1898, Vol. 21, 301-345

[3] A Family Connection of the Codrington Family in the 17th Century

by H. R. Codrington [RH on inside cover]

1893-94, Vol. 18, 134-141

[4] Effigies of Bristol

by I. M. Roper

1903, Vol. 26, 215-287

[5] The history of the island of Antigua

V. Langford Oliver

The author has collected together a number of records which have been extremely useful – wills, court cases and pedigrees – essentially about the Codringtons of Barbados, but also including some of the previous generations.



Anything shown in [square brackets], other than the numbered references above, is a comment or note by me rather than the original author.

Not all the references shown above are used in this document but will be used in others about the Codrington family and have been included so I can keep the reference numbers the same.


Chris Sidney 2014


Lewis Codrington

Farmer BullshotLewis 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.

lewis codrington + elizabeth hobbs

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.

Daniel Codrington

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.

speech50There 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.

north nibley curates

This is then confirmed by another record:

30 CODRINGTON Lewis 1620 Perpetual Curate

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.

Clergy misbehaviour

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




Farmer BullshotHenningham Codrington was born March 1674 in St Philips, Barbados, according to some sources, but there does not seem to be any evidence of exactly when or where.

She became the second wife of Dr Paul Carrington in 1706, although some of their children were born before this date, and she died on Barbados 28 Jan 1744 at the age of 69 so she was probably born about 1674.

Some transcriptions of her memorial say she died 1741 but her will is dated Feb 1744/5 and the later date is more likely.

Here lyeth
the body of
of PAUL CARRIN(sic)TON who died
January the 28th day 1744
aged 69 years

Her father has been suggested as  both Christopher and John Codrington of Barbados, but it seems much more likely that she was the grand-daughter of Henningham Drury who married Robert Codrington of London in about 1628.

The name Henningham (or Heveningham, after the village in Suffolk) also spelled Heuenyngham, is a family name so you would expect that either her mother or grand-mother was a member of this family and she was named after them.

But this does not seem to be the case.

Her parents are commonly identified as Robert Drury and Mary Radcliffe and the Heveningham name does not appear in their pedigree, although the families did live in the same part of the country and must have been known to each other.

The name Barbara is not found in the Codrington family and this was the name of the first child of Robert and Henningham in 1628, so may have come from Henningham’s family.

barbara codrington

So, in theory either her mother or grand-mother should be Barbara Heveningham.

And she does exist – although some time later than fits with our theory.

… in consideration of marriage between Sir Wm. Heveningham and Barbara Villiers … Dame Barbara survived William Heveningham and Sir William Heveningham and died May 1681 leaving one daughter, Abigail

But this doesn’t help to understand where the name came from.

Robert Codrington was a writer, poet and translator, the son of Richard and Joyce Codrington of Dodington, Gloucestershire, born in about 1602.

See also I, Robert for more discussion on this subject.

His son, also Robert, was born in London, 1635 and it is assumed that he is the father of Henningham Codrington, naming his daughter after his mother.

robert codringtom 1635

In this entry the name is actually spelled as Haveningam.

The mother of Henningham Codrington II was Elizabeth but her pedigree is not known and Robert also had another wife named Mary who died in Barbados 1667.

Elizabeth may have been born in London or Barbados – I would guess at Barbados with Robert’s first wife, Mary probably born in London.

It is not known when the family left England – possibly after the death of Robert’s father in 1665, which is the same year that his older sister, Barbara, married Thomas Prewet.

There is a record of Robert with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Frances in 1678 travelling to Barbados [see notes], however this record may actually be a transcription of a baptism and not a travel record at all.

There is another separate record, from the same source, for Robert and Elizabeth and daughter Alice in the same year.

In some pedigrees Henningham Drury as shown as the youngest daughter (of Robert Drury and Mary Radcliffe) born about 1622, but this is far too late for her to be the mother of Barbara in 1628.

If she was 18 when she married then she must have been born before 1610, so perhaps she did not belong to the family of Robert and Mary and was the daughter of a less well documented branch of the family that did include a Heveningham.

But she could also have been named after a family friend or god-parent, or perhaps she was born in Heveningham – or conceived there?

As for the spelling, it appears that the name has been written down as it was pronounced which has changed the spelling of the family name over time, although the village name remains the same.

Heveningham, pronounced Henningum, is, of course, most famous for Heveningham Hall, the biggest, grandest, stately home in Suffolk.

The elder Robert died in London 1665 of the plague, and it is possible that his wife, Henningham died at the same time – but there are no records of either death, which is hardly unexpected during, what was probably, the worst outbreak of the plague in London, promptly followed by the Great Fire.

This may have prompted Robert and his wife Mary to leave London – the West Indies was a dangerous place to go but it was, as recent events had shown, quite dangerous in London as well.

But we still don’t know for sure where or when Henningham was born, or who her parents were.


HOTTEN, JOHN CAMDEN, editor. The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants; Religious Exiles; Political Rebels; Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years; Apprentices; Children Stolen; Maidens Pressed; and Others Who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. With Their Ages, the Localities Where They Formerly Lived in the Mother Country, the Names of the Ships in Which They Embarked, and Other Interesting Particulars.

Ancestry note: Care should be taken when using Hotten

Chris Sidney 2015


Magic Numbers

Farmer BullshotThere are a certain numbers that are important to all of us – the speed of light, the golden ratio, prime numbers, the Fibonacci sequence and – my favourite – the number 34.

Okay, the number 34 is probably personal to me – it is the average number of years between generations in my family tree and is strangely accurate, although of limited use.

I was surprised by this number – I would have guessed that generations were about 25 to 30 years apart but it seems not to be the case, at least in my tree.

I was aware that in recent generations of the Sidney family the men in the family did not marry until their late 20’s but the average seems to fit over other branches of the family as well.

The longest branch I can trace is through the Codrington family and this, too, gives a similar result.

Generation Gap

A different number would be obtained if all of my family were descended from the first child in each generation – or, indeed, the last – but 34 seems to be an average based on several factors.

Historically most women marry between 18 and 25 and then have a period of between 10 to 20 years having children – it is only relatively recently that medical advances have allowed us to control the size of families, and for us not to need to have so many children as very few die in infancy.

The world average birth [fertility] rate has decreased from about 5 children for each woman to about 2.5 just in the last 50 years and in the U.K. is currently 1.9

Anne Stubbes (1575-1630), the wife of Robert Codrington, had 17 children before her husband became ill and died in 1618.

Joan Tregarthen (1498-1583) had 14 children by her first husband and then another 6 by her second.

It is not just the age of the women that needs to be taken into account – men seem to marry later in life, especially those who were well educated or were apprenticed for a number of years – and these are often the best documented.

Many of the Codrington family trained as lawyers and did not marry until they were about 30 when they had completed both University and their training at one of the Inns of London.

Obviously it was easier for men to make this sort of decision, but well connected or educated women sometimes delayed marriage – perhaps waiting for the right political or social match.

Most branches of my family I can trace back to about the 1600’s – the Sidneys, Radfords and Burnells – but my grandmother Emily is a “gateway ancestor” who opens up a link into the Codrington family and from there, through various marriages, to King John, William the Conqueror and Charlemagne.

Charlemagne is therefore my 34 x great-grandfather and is generation 36 – with parents and grandparents included.

And the generation number for him calculates as 1224 years meaning that, according to the 34 year rule, he should have been living in about 734 – in fact he was born just 8 years later in 742.

William the Conqueror is estimated as generation 28 (1006) and was born 1024.

King JohnKing John (either my 21 or 22 x great-grandfather) calculates exactly in between 1176 and 1142, having been born 1167.

More recently [?] Robert Codrington, born 1574, fits nicely as 9 x great-grandfather (1584) and my earliest direct Sidney ancestor, William Sidney, 4 x great-grandfather is estimated as 1754 – he was born 1750.

Taking these into account the number 34 may need a bit of tweaking but is close enough as a general guideline to the generation gap – at least for my family tree.

It certainly helps when either estimating the birth of an ancestor or checking whether or not some generations are missing from the branch of a tree, or are just incorrect.

Of course there are exceptions in between those that fit neatly and these can be up to 20 years from the calculated value.

Sir John Beaufort born 1373 should be generation 17 (1380) and my 15 x great-grandfather.

But he is actually my 17 x great-grandfather, and therefore generation 19.

The Charlemagne Assumption

charlemagneWhich leads us to another numeric problem and this is the belief that everyone alive now is descended from Charlemagne.

Using binary mathematics, it seems possible – even a certainty.

The logic seems to be that for every generation you have a specific number of ancestors, and at some point the number of ancestors is the same as the population – you are therefore related to everyone that ever lived.

Just like the grains of rice on a chess-board eventually reaching the moon, the number of ancestors doubles with each generation.

The population in 1900 was estimated as 1.6 Billion, so how far back would you need to go back so that the number of ancestors is equal to the world population?

Surprisingly you only have to go back about 1000 years.

In the year 1066 I would have had 268,435,456 ancestors, from my parents down to William the Conqueror, 25 x great-grandfather.

The world population at the time was 295,040,195 so it only took another generation for me to have more ancestors than is mathematically possible, yet alone reasonable.

And if you just use the population of England you only have to go back to about 1200 to run out of potential ancestors.

But what happens after this?

It doesn’t take many more generations to show that you have more ancestors than the number of people who have EVER lived on the planet.

This cannot be correct therefore a new calculation seems necessary – something that takes this into account.

It seems that for every generation there are a number of ancestors that are related through more than one family connection so you can never be related to all of the population, just a certain percentage.

This percentage of the population probably represents the social class that you belong to and this percentage will probably change based on circumstances, such as the plague – as an uneducated guesstimate I would expect any one person to be related to no more than 50% of the population at any point in the past.

The pattern would perhaps be more of a diamond shape than just an infinite triangle, with each family tree having a maximum capacity at some point in the past – and then you just end up with all the branches leading back to a limited number of ancestors.

Scientific research into mitochondrial DNA published in “The Seven Daughters of Eve”, identifies just 7 women from which we are all descended – the lines of all other women having failed to make it to the present day.

This is quite surprising  considering how many there are of us – currently seven Billion.

But it cannot be correct just to assume that everyone alive today is related to William the Conqueror just because the numbers say so – there are other factors to be taken into account.

Social divisions have been around for a long time and although these seems to have relaxed in recent generations, they still exist.

Religious and cultural differences also play a part in ensuring that we are separated into social streams – and have been for thousands of years.

Men and women still tend to marry others within the same social and cultural circles and this leads me to think that there has never been much of a cross-over between widely separated social classes – peasants and royalty are never likely to marry, although there is always the possibility of the higher social groups taking sexual advantage of the lower.

There are plenty of bastards in most royal dynasties.

The fortunes of families can go down as well as up and social boundaries can blur around the edges, but in my experience there is probably less social movement than I was expecting.

Close Relations

There is a belief that members of noble families – and those from Norfolk – often marry their cousins, but this does not seem to be the case.

Yes it does happen – and not specifically in noble families – and where there is a close family relationship this is often recorded as unusual, such as Queen Victoria.

In Kazakhstan you have to prove that you are not related by at least seven generations before you can marry, so you would learn your family pedigree from an early age.


But as I wander through the branches of the my tree the same family names – and sometimes the same person – appears many times.

It seems that I am related to the Plantagenet King John (both as 21st and 22nd great-grandfather) multiple times through several of his children.

Perhaps we all are and I am just lucky enough to be able to identify this fact?

But of course this issue is being addressed by recent DNA testing and results tend to confirm the original mathematical research done by Joseph Chang in 1999.

The most recent common ancestor of every European today (except for recent immigrants to the Continent) was someone who lived in Europe in the surprisingly recent past—only about 600 years ago. In other words, all Europeans alive today have among their ancestors the same man or woman who lived around 1400. Before that date, according to Chang’s model, the number of ancestors common to all Europeans today increased, until, about a thousand years ago, a peculiar situation prevailed: 20 percent of the adult Europeans alive in 1000 would turn out to be the ancestors of no one living today (that is, they had no children or all their descendants eventually died childless); each of the remaining 80 percent would turn out to be a direct ancestor of every European living today.

I still think there is some way to go with DNA based genealogy, but eventually we will all be able to give a DNA sample and get an accurate family tree going back thousands of years – but where is the fun in that?

Ultimately we all share the same common ancestors if you go back far enough – the challenge for genealogy is identifying where we all belong in this complex pattern.

Chris Sidney 2015





The Fittleton Manor Mystery

bullshot bullet A document relating to the purchase of Fittleton Manor in 1589 indicates that William Stubbes and Thomas Gyll were in the Tower of London, but what were they doing there?

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.

The Manor of Fittleton

Fittleton is a village and civil parish in the English county of Wiltshire, about 20 km. north of Salisbury, and the same distance south of Marlborough, and south-east of Devizes.

There are four gentlemen named in the document: William Darrell of Littlecote, William Stubbes of Ratcliffe, William Stubbes and Thomas Gyll of the Tower of London.

Covenant to levy a fine of the manor and rectory of Fittleton, 22 May 31 Elizabeth I [1589] (William Darell of Littlecote (Wiltshire), esq; William Stubbs of Ratlyffe (Middlesex), gentleman. To William Stubbs and Thomas Gyll of the Tower of London, gentleman, and to heirs of William Stubbs); with typed transcript by Wiltshire Record Office, 1956

William Stubbes in this document is probably my 10x great-grandfather, but it is difficult to identify exactly what his relationship is with the others.

So let’s have a look at them all and see how they were connected.

Thomas Gyll

Royal MenagerieThere was a menagerie at the Tower of London for hundreds of years until 1832 when the animals were moved to London Zoo.

In 1573 – and again in 1586 with his son Ralph – Queen Elizabeth granted to Thomas Gill the office of Keeping the Lyons Lyonesses & Leopards within the Tower of London.


“their fees for this purpose being twelve pence per day, and for the sustentation of each Lyon etc. sixe pence per day to be paid by the Lord Treasurer at the feasts of Easter and St. Michael”.

Tower of Lyons

Gyll of the TowerRalph, son of Thomas, married into the Heneage family and his brother-in-law, Thomas Heneage, was therefore also one of those who found the will of Sir Francis Walsingham, along with William Stubbes in 1590.

But this is possibly not all that he did.

Gunpowder Plot

Gunpowder 1605In 1573 one Thomas Gyll is recorded as a manufacturer of gunpowder in Faversham, Kent, which is the same year as the appointment of Lion Keeper.

The pedigree of the Gyll family above shows that Thomas bought property in Essex but this did not necessarily mean that he was born there, so he could have been from Kent, the centre of the gunpowder industry at the time.

The appointment as Lion Keeper seems to have improved his prospects considerably and arms were granted in 1586.

It is said that 36 barrels of gunpowder made at Faversham were used by Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators in their plot to blow up the old Houses of Parliament in 1605.

William Stubbes

I suspect that William Stubbes was working for the Office of the Ordnance, based in the Tower of London and it is this William who is mentioned in this document and others relating to Fiddleton Manor as William Stubbes of Watchfield.

In about 1595 the Armoury moved out of the Tower leaving additional space for the storage of gunpowder and if William was working here, then he would have known Thomas Gyll through his activities as a supplier of gunpowder.

Thomas may have obtained the position as Lion Keeper through this connection to the Tower.

Thomas and William were both involved in the purchase of the Manor of Fittleton, sold by William Darell, but it was William who actually bought it.

Fittleton then passed like Coombe in Enford in the Darell family to Sir Edward Darell (d. 1549) and then to his son William (d. 1589) who sold the manor in two parts. He sold the part once known as King’s Fee in 1558 to George Fettiplace.
Darell sold the other part of the manor in 1588 to William Stubbs.
From Stubbs it passed in 1599 to Thomas Jeay (d. 1623) who was rector of Fittleton.

William Darrell

William Stubbes clearly knew Darrell as he wrote to him from the home of Francis Walsingham, in 1587 but it is not clear which William this was.

Advising him to keep peace by patience and silence; the Queen, the earl of Leicester and his master Walsingham are in good health.

William Darrell of Littlecote, Wiltshire [an interesting character] was left 25 manors by his father but sold most of them to pay for litigation against his father’s mistress, Mary Fortescue, and several of these manors were purchased by Sir Francis Walsingham.

William is said to have been “surveying” manors in Wiltshire for Walsingham and was involved in the purchase of Chilton Foliat manor, which Darrell was selling in 1581.

Clearly Darrell and Walsingham were well acquainted.

During the Armada crisis, Darrell offered his services, with 20 horsemen, to Sir Francis Walsingham. The latter was not ill-disposed.

Darrell died October 1589 aged 50 shortly after the sale of Fittleton manor and his home at Littlecote passed to John Popham, speaker of the house, in suspicious circumstances.

There is extant a letter of 1594 from the Earl of Essex, attempting to influence his judgment in a suit which was to be heard before him; and Aubrey maintained that Popham acquired Littlecote as the price for obtaining a nolle prosequi in favour of the murderer William ‘Black’ Darrell.

A brief biography of William Darrell – including his darker side – can be found here.

Letter sent following the death of William Darrell, Littlecot, Wiltshire.

Soe it is that at Mr. Attornies last beinge in Wilteshere, at a place called
Littlecot, somtyme belonginge to Mr. William Darrell, Esqrt’, deceased, but
nowe to Mr. Attorney, my happe was in the absence of Mr. Attornie upon the
deth of Mr. Darell to gether all such evidences as was in the house of Littlecote
into my possession, to Mr. Attornie’s use. And since that tyme it dothe appeare
that Sr Fraunces Walsingham dothe ptende title to some other of the landes of
the said Mr. Darell, whereof no pte dothe apptaine to Mr. Attornie. And that
the evydences as well concerning that wcl‘ Mr. Attornie is to have in righte,
and dothe enjoye, as alsoe these landes that Sr Frances Walsingham dothe
ptend title unto did remaine in the house of Littlecott at the tyme of Mr. Darrell’ decease, w‘h evidences are conveyed to London already in greate chestes.1 But
the keys of these chests were lefte wth me, as well by Mr. Attornie as by one Mr.
Stubbes, Agent, that was appointed in the behalfe of Sr Fraunces Walsingham,
saftlie and indiiferentlie to be kepte tyll the tyme should be appointed by Mr.
Secretarye that the Chests should be opened, and the evidences perused, as well for
Mr. Secretarye as for Mr. Attornie

Chilton Foliat 1813There is also a record in the National Archives which shows that William Stubbes may have challenged Francis Popham regarding the acquisition of some of the properties of William Darrell.

Short title: Stubbes v Popham.

Plaintiffs: William Stubbes.

Defendants: Sir Francis Popham kt.

Subject: manor of Wanborough, Axford, Chilton [Foliot], Wiltshire.

C 3/378/10

There do not seem to be any records of either William or Francis actually owning Wanborough, but it was one of those held by the Darrell family.

After Darrell’s death in 1589 Walsingham entered on the manor [of Axford]. He died in 1590 leaving as heir his daughter Frances [widow of Sir Philip Sidney] who in that year married Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.

William Stubbes was involved in the purchase of Chilton Foliat from Darrell as an agent of Francis Walsingham [see above].

On the death of William Darrell, Chilton Foliat Manor passed at his death in 1589 to Sir Francis Walsingham (d. 1590), to whom he had sold the reversion in that year.

But it seems that in 1590 Sir Francis Walsingham conveyed the estate to his secretary Francis Mylles and this then passed to his daughter .

William Stubbes of Ratcliffe

ratcliffeWilliam is described as a rope maker by trade, but he appears to be much more than this.

Ratcliffe is close to Stepney and the docks on the Thames and to properties owned by the Harrington family.

It is also known as “Sailor Town” and William’s interests seem to be linked to the docks.

Chancery: Master Tinney’s Exhibits. BUNDLE No 35: Lease of Rt Hon Henry, Lord Wentworth, to William Stubbes of Stepney, Middx, of land near Whitehart Street, Ratcliff, Middx, belonging to the manor of Stepney, Middx, 1588

William also owned several properties around the country and had interests in the port of Topsham, Devon.

In D. 1623, Nov. 6, 1583, William Stubbes of Ratclyffe (Middlesex) gives a bond of 400l. to secure a conveyance to the Mayor &c. of “all that crane or key and cranage and sellers of the Porte of Topsham and the fyshinge in the water of Clyste, together with all storehouses, sellers and sollers, voyde ground and land, and also all fees, offyces, tolls, customes, pryvyledges, prehemynences, lyberties, prfytts and emoluments wahtsoever to the said crane, key and cranage, sellers and fyshyng belonginge” granted to him by Letters Patent of May 16, 1583.

In the Fiddleton Manor case, however it appears that he may be involved in the purchase of the manor as a dowry for his two nieces [?], Susan and Theophilia, although further records for the manor were recorded in the name of William of Watchfield.

It appears that William of Ratcliffe did not have any children himself, so it is likely that these were the daughters of his brother [?] Bartholomew of Watchfield who is mentioned elsewhere as the father of Theophilia.

23 Nov. 1598. Bill filed by William Stubbes of Radclifif, Co. Middx., Ropemaker (who about 4 yeares now last past inhabited and dwelt at Boston, Co. Linc., being unmarried and having a great family household by reason of his trade) against Thomas Strangrushe of the same town, Fuller.

I’m not quite sure what is going on, unless the reference to “unmarried” means that he was widowed because it does say he had a great family household which is a bit of a contradiction.

Also it appears that William of Ratcliffe is part of the sale of the property as agent of William Darrell – it seems common at this time for two gentlemen to be involved in legal proceedings – but this does not mean that William of Ratcliffe is not related to William of Watchfield.

[More research required.]

Theophilia and Susan

… and Francis

There is no record of Francis in relation to the manor but it appears that she and Theophilia, at least, may have been sisters.

Theophilia is shown as the daughter of Bartholomew Stubbes of Watchfield, in the pedigree of the Garrard family of Inkpen, Berkshire – she married Thomas Garrard.

Theophilia Stubbes

But there are other records show that these were daughters born to Willim and “wam” Stubbes in Stepney.

So perhaps Bartholemew was the father of William and incorrectly added to the pedigree instead of his son William?

[See The Will of Thomas Tatton for clarification]

Anne Stubbes, wife of Robert Codrington, is described in several cases as co-heiress and her three sisters – Susan, Theophila and Francis – would have been younger and were baptised in a different part of London.

Name: Susan Stubbes
Gender: Female
Christening Date: 03 Jul 1582
Father’s Name: Willim Stubbes


Name: Theophila Stubbes
Gender: Female
Christening Date: 21 Dec 1584
Father’s Name: Wam Stubbes


Name: Frauncis Stubbes
Gender: Female
Christening Date: 26 Nov 1587
Father’s Name: Wam Stubbes

Francis may have died young as she was not mentioned in the purchase of Fittleton.

Note: she is also shown as the daughter of William Stubbes of Ratcliffe in the baptism record.

[See More about Hester]

bullshot bulletThis doesn’t really help to identify the parentage of Susan and Theophilia, but it seems clear that the manor was purchased on their behalf and was purchased by William of Watchfield.

Defeasance upon the manor of Fittleton alias Fidleton, 5 February 42 Elizabeth I [1599/1600] (Thomas Jeaye, parson of Fittleton; William Stubbs of Watchfield (Berkshire), esq); Stubbs owes Jeaye £1200, due next Lady Day; if Clement Jeaye and John Puxton peaceably enjoy the manor of Fittleton for 60 years or the life of William Stubbs, and if Susan and Theophila Stubbs, when aged 21, quitclaim the manor to Jeaye, then the deed acknowledging the debt will be void; at foot: 17 June 1623 William Jeaye, son of Thomas Jeaye, produced this lease to William Stubbs

This also shows that William was alive in 1623 and that he is the William from the Tower of London and the one who had probably worked for Walsingham – although William of Ratcliffe was also known to Walsingham.

The Lands of Snelshall Priory.
The reversion of all the leases from that of 1553 was sold in fee by the Crown in 1587 to Sir Francis Walsingham and Francis Mills, who immediately conveyed their interest to William Gerrard of Harrow on the Hill, William Stubbs of Ratcliff (Mdx.), and John Willard of London.

Could Susan and Theophilia and Francis simply be daughters to William of Watchfield – or is there yet another William Stubbes involved in all this?

But if this is the case then why is Anne – who married Robert Codrington in 1595 – not mentioned?

And why is William of Ratcliffe involved – unless he was providing the funding, having no children of his own?

All very confusing, but hopefully further information will become available that will help in clearing up this mystery.

Thomas Jeaye

Thomas was rector of Fittleton and purchased the manor from William Stubbes.

Jeaye, Thomas of Queen’s Coll., B.A.22 June, 1586, M.A.28 June, 1589, vicar of Enford, Wilts, 1592, rector of Fittleton, Wilts, 1594-1624; father of Stephen, Thomas and William.

Alumni Oxoniensis

Farmer BullshotFittleton Manor has provided some vital information in linking together William of Watchfield, William of Ratcliffe, William Darell and Francis Walsingham.

This certainly helps to identify who William Stubbes was, but not where he comes from.

Could he be the son or nephew of William of Ratcliffe who was known to both Francis Walsingham and John Harrington – the father of Hester who married William and who also lived in Stepney?

Was it William of Ratcliffe or William of Watchfield who worked for Walsingham – or both?

And who is William Stubbes of Congleton who also worked for Walsingham in Chester?

And one of these was MP for Yarmouth, IOW.

I will try and address these issues in another article.

Some references to William and Hester’s daughter, Anne, say that she was from a Norfolk family but this may have been assumed from the family crest – the London Stubbes family use the same arms.

See An Heiress and of a Norfolk family.

Chris Sidney 2014


The Kellaway Connection

Farmer BullshotThomas Codrington married Mary Kellaway, daughter of John Kellaway of Cullompton. However John had two daughters both named Mary by two different wives – which one did Thomas marry?

John Kellaway was born in Cullompton, Devon about 1480 and married first Elizabeth and then Joan, daughter of John Tregarthen.

The pedigree of his first wife, Elizabeth, is not recorded and she probably died during the birth of their only child Mary, who was born 24 Jun 1512.

John married Joan Tregarthen several years later and their first daughter, Ann born about 1515.

It is unclear why they would then name another daughter, born about 1524, Mary, but it is well documented that there were two – Mary the elder and Mary the younger.

Some family trees have Mary the younger married to William Cooke and Mary the elder married to Thomas Codrington, but this is probably incorrect.

Branscombe%20Heraldry_0003[1]After the death of her first husband in 1530, Joan – already the mother to 14 children – married John Wadham, and had another 6 children.

Their eldest son Nicholas, founded Wadham College in Oxford.

This memorial to her from Branscombe church shows both of her husbands and their many children as well as her pedigree.

[More information below]

The Codrington memorial

IMG_4937-9 (WIDTH-1000)On the tomb of Robert Codrington, the grandson of Thomas, in Bristol Cathedral are the crests of both the Kellaway and Tregarthen families quartered with the Codrington arms.

The Kellaway arms are shown bottom-left and described in Bristol Cathedral Heraldry: Argent two glaziers irons in saltire sable between four pears pendant proper.

The Tregarthen arms are shown top-right, but this pedigree would only be valid if Thomas had married the younger Mary [and therefore the daughter of Joan] or John Kellaway’s first wife, Elizabeth, had also been a member of the Tregarthen family – a possibility, but there is no evidence for this.

And there is also the issue of the age differences – Thomas, who died in 1594, would have been nearly 10 years younger than the Elder Mary but about 5 years older than Mary the younger  [based on estimated birth dates].

It would be quite unusual for Thomas to marry a much older woman unless he was a widower – or a substantial inheritance was involved.

William Cooke, however, was much closer to the same age as the older daughter, being born about 1514 – his mother Margaret Daniel died in 1516 so he cannot be much younger.

Married: Mary KELLAWAY (dau. of John Kellaway and Joan Tregarthen) ABT 1535

If this is the case then Mary would have only been about 10 years old when their first child is estimated to have been born about 1535 and it is much more likely that William married the older sister.

Thomas Codrington

Thomas, my 11 x great-grandfather, was the son of Edward Codrington – the grandson of Sir John Codrington, standard bearer to Henry V at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 – and part of the Senior branch of the Codrington family.

The date of birth for Thomas is estimated so he could have been older.

However if he had married the elder Mary then I would also expect his children be older  – his eldest son Simon, however, was born about 1554 when the older Mary would have been about 40 and the younger about 25.

It is not impossible for there to have been a mistake or even a deliberate attempt to enhance the Codrington family pedigree.

But the tomb was not created until two generations later when any irregularities in the pedigree should have been identified and corrected.

Robert Henry Codrington, in his Memoirs of the Codrington family says:

From Thomas, the son of Edward, the direct line to the present time [1898] is proved in the Herald’s College.

He also states that Thomas Codrington married the younger Mary and W.Cooke, of Thame, Devon, married the elder.

The Kellaway marriage is one of the most important in the Codrington family – along with the later Stubbes and Samwell marriages, also shown on the tomb – with links back to King John, William the Conqueror and beyond.

It seems that any claims of a marriage between William Cooke and the younger Mary are mistaken.

The Tregarthen Pedigree

Joan Tregarthin

WadhamImpalingTregarthin_BranscombeChurch_DevonOne of the heraldic escutcheons from the memorial in Branscome church shows the pedigree of Joan Tregarthen.

Her descent from Richard, Earl of Cornwall is referred to in the inscription (above) and the arms of his descendants, the de Cornwall family of Brannel, are shown in the 4th quarter of the sinister half of the escutcheon: A lion rampant in chief a label of three points a bordure engrailed bezantée.,_1st_Earl_of_Cornwall

The Tregarthen arms are in the middle of the three arms in the top-right quartering.

They are described on the Codrington Memorial [1]: Argent a chevron between three escallops sable.

Later versions of the family crest included three mermaids instead of the scallop shells but with the same chevron design.


[1] Bristol Cathedral Heraldry

by F. Were

1902, Vol. 25, 102-132

[2] Memoir of the Family of Codrington of Codrington, Didmarton,Frampton-On-Severn, and Dodington

by R. H. Codrington

1898, Vol. 21, 301-345

Chris Sidney 2014


Robin Hood

Farmer BullshotRobin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen. Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men. Feared by the bad, loved by the good, Robin Hood.

I had always thought that “glen” was included in this song – from the 1960’s ITV series, starring Richard Greene – just to rhyme with “Men”.

Perhaps that is the real reason – you don’t find many glens in England – but it may not be too far from the truth.

Several people have been identified as being the inspiration of the legend, or at least as having made a contribution to the stories.

One of these is David, Earl of Huntingdon, also known as David of Scotland – which would account for the “glen” reference. [okay, it’s a pretty tenuous link].

David is also my 24 x great grandfather.

David of Scotland

David was the youngest son of Henry of Scotland and the grandson of David I, King of Scotland. He was born in about 1144 and was around at the right time to have been on the third Crusade with King Richard I.

He took part at the siege of Nottingham Castle where the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derby County was taken captive.

He was also the heir to the Scottish throne until he denounced his claim in 1188, although the circumstances around this are not known.

640px-Frontispiece_1863_The_Talisman-neat[1]David of Scotland is pictured on the cover of Sir Walter Scott’s 1832 crusader novel The Talisman.

Although emphasising his own story is fiction, Scott’s introduction states that David did go on crusade with Richard the Lionheart and was the hero of some very romantic adventures on his way home.

David features briefly in the 2013 Robin Hood novel The Arrow of Sherwood by Lauren Johnson.

He is depicted at the siege of Nottingham Castle in support of King Richard in 1194.


Since_Robin_Hood_by_Weelkes[1]In 1632, the ballad writer Martin Parker published a ballad about Robin Hood. He also sought to make him a historical person. He titled his account, ‘A True Tale of Robin Hood’ and claimed to present ‘truth purged from falsehood’. Parker wrote of ‘Robert Earle of Huntington vulgarly called Robin Hood who lived and died in AD 1198’. Parker wrote an epitaph that he claimed to have seen on Robin Hood’s gravestone. It read:

Here underneath this little stone
Lies Robert Earl of Huntington
Never archer there as he so good
And people called him Robin Hood
Such outlaws as him and his men
Will England never see again.

The inscription in question appears on a grave in the grounds of Kirklees Priory and is dated December 1247

Robert Earl of Huntingdon

David did have a son Robert but he died in 1221 at the age of 29 – possibly on crusade – and was probably never the Earl of Huntingdon, despite being the eldest son.

But that is not to say he could not have been a great archer and there is a two year gap between the death of his father in 1219 when he could have briefly inherited the title.

This story seems to have its origin in a rare play:  “The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, afterwards called Robin Hood of merrie Sherwoode.”

As I am outlawed from my fame and state,
Be this day outlawed from the name of daies:
Day lucklesse, outlawe lawlesse, both accurst.

[Flings away his napkin, hat, and sitteth downe.]

Robin_shoots_with_sir_Guy_by_Louis_Rhead_1912[1]On balance I think David and his sons are more likely to be contributors to the stories rather  than the origin of the legend.

A more likely candidate was Roger Godberd, a supporter of Simon de Montford (21 x great grandfather) during his failed rebellion.

Roger was an outlaw around 1260, some time later than David who died in 1219 [and later than the Kirklees inscription].

Quite a number of his activities seem to be replicated in the stories found in the earliest Robin Hood ballads. He poached deer in Sherwood Forest, was captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham, was imprisoned in Nottingham Castle and had the assistance of a friendly knight who helped him stay one step ahead of the law.

After evading the authorities for years, Godberd was eventually captured in the early 1270s and jailed. But he was pardoned at his trial at the Tower of London and returned to his farm where he lived until his death

Could the “friendly knight” mentioned here refer to John, Earl of Huntingdon, the son of David of Scotland?

Other stories place Robin further north in Yorkshire.

The earliest known legal records mentioning a person called Robin Hood (Robert Hod) are from 1226, found in the York Assizes, when that person’s goods, worth 32 shillings and 6 pence, were confiscated and he became an outlaw.

Roger Dodsworth identified Robin Hood with ‘Robert Loxley’, and stated that he was born in Bradfield parish in Hallamshire (South Yorkshire). He believed that Robin was first outlawed for killing his stepfather when ploughing.

Dodsworth also believed that it was Little John rather than Robin Hood who was Earl of Huntingdon, which could refer to John, who inherited the title from his father, David of Scotland.

The Wakefield contender is a follower of the rebel [Thomas] Earl of Lancaster who was defeated by Edward II at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322 – again this is much later than some of the other stories.

Farmer BullshotWhoever was the origin of the stories and whoever contributed to the embellishments that became a legend, it seems that some of my distant ancestors played a part.

Chris Sidney 2014