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Tag Archives: Bristol

The Sidney Line

Farmer BullshotThis is my direct Sidney line as far back as I can get at the moment, but am always hopeful of a new piece of information that will get me back a bit further.

I can only trace my direct male line back to a Thomas Sidney, born about 1715.

This is based only on a death record for Thomas Sidney in Bristol in 1756 and the reference to the father’s name of his children in the same area, but does not mean he was actually born in Bristol or is even the correct Thomas.

I have no idea, at the moment, who he married – his eldest son is named Thomas so his eldest daughter, Sarah (who married Thomas Tucker), was probably named after her mother.

Thomas and William

Eldest son Thomas was born 1749 and William [my 4x great-grandfather] born in 1750, and there was also another son Samuel born 1753.

Another Thomas and William were born in St Philips in 1737 and 1739 and I have assigned these to another branch of the family.

The fathers of both of these sets of boys were named Thomas so they are likely to have been cousins, and are only identified through their children’s baptism records.

There are two death records for Thomas Sidney in 1749 and 1756 so I have assigned the 1749 death to the father of the earlier Thomas and William.

St George

Thomas (d.1756)
.. Thomas (1749-1799)
.. William (b.1750)

St Philip

Thomas (d.1749)
.. Thomas (b.1739)
.. William (b.1737)

I have tried to group together all of the Sidney families in Bristol at about this time, using the parishes they were baptized or married but this is not an exact science.

The Sidney family of Temple go back to John in 1650, but there are no records of a Thomas or William in this family – John and Benjamin seem to be the predominant names.

Many of the records just say “Bristol” which could mean that baptisms were in  Bristol Cathedral rather than any specific parish, or just that the record was held centrally and did not identify the parish.


William Sidney married Esther Tippet in Saint George, Bristol on 8 Oct 1769 and several of their children were married in the same parish.

St George ChurchThere are other Tippets baptised later in this parish however there is no birth record for either Hester or Esther Tippet, which is hardly surprising, as the parish did not exist when she was born.

St George was originally part of the parish of St Philip & Jacob, Bristol, which covered an area to the east of the the castle precinct.

The area was divided following an increase in population (probably due to increased mining in the area) and a new church was completed in 1756.

Saint George was the eastern part of this division and was an area originally part of the county of Gloucestershire and covered by the forest of Kingswood.

I have matched ESTHER to HESTER Tippet who was baptised in Bristol in 1748 for several reasons.

1. The birth dates are a close match – Hester was born in 1748 and was about 2 years older than William.

2. The area of Bristol matches – there are other Hesters but mainly in BITTON which is a little way out of the central area – and some further afield.

3. The baptism record of their child Josiah shows his parents as William and HESTER Sidney.

4. The name Josiah is frequently used in the Tippet line (both Hester’s father and grandfather) and is not seen in the Sidney family until this point.

5. The name HESTER is also used twice for grand-daughters but not ESTHER.

6. There are other references in Bristol parish records to “Hester or Esther …” which indicates that the two are often interchangeable or just commonly misused or misheard.

Son Samuel was born and died in 1791.


My 3x Great-grandfather, also Samuel after his brother, was born the following year and baptised 14 Oct 1792.

He married Eleanor Chapman of St Paul’s in Bristol in February 1812 and they had four children before Samuel died aged just 27.

Elizabeth 1812 (born in December)
George 1813
Hester 1818 (possibly named after her grandmother)
Jane 1819

There are records that show the death of Samuel in 1819 and this would fit in with the birth of his  last daughter, Jane.

Jane was married twice, first to Alfred Willitts and secondly to Alfred Edwin Biggs, and the second marriage gives us some useful information, specifically the profession of her father Samuel – who was a Mill Wright.

However, unless the death record is incorrect, she would never had known him.

But her husband was also recorded as a Miller so it maybe that the Sidney family had been involved with the mill trade and the marriage – which was not in Bristol, but in Pendleton, Manchester – was probably arranged through contacts in the milling trade.

It is possible that Samuel’s widow Eleanor remarried but I have found no record of this and there is a death record for Ellenor Sydney in 1838 which I have assumed if her.


Son George, 2x great-grandfather, certainly did not move much from the area and he married Hannah Appleford in St Thomas, Bristol 1839.

Hannah had previously married Elijah Milsom in 1833 but was widowed in 1835 leaving her with 2 young daughters. She came from a family of potters who lived in the same area (The Dings) of Bristol as George.

George was an engine fitter in the 1860 census as was his son, George, who was 16 – he later became a marine engineer.

George died in 1891 at the age of 78.

See The Wreck of the Constance for more information about George and his son George.


Younger son Joseph is a Clerk of the Court at the age of 17 in the 1871 census and younger brother Frederick an Engineer’s apprentice.

Joseph, my great-grandfather, seems to have taken a more academic career path than the rest of the family and was an Accountant by 1881.

Frederick died suddenly in march 1874 at the age of just 17, and I have have yet to find out how he died – his death is announced in the newspapers.

Frederick Sidney 18740314

Joseph and his wife, Caroline Anne Sebry, had two sons – Arthur Ernest and Walter Stanley, my grand-father.

Joseph died in 1911 but his wife Caroline was alive until 1935.


Walter was a clerk at the Bristol Wagon Works and married Emily Codrington in January 1914 at the age of 31.

bristol wagon works

Older brother Arthur was also still living at home in the 1911 census so it seems the boys were late-starters as far as marriage was concerned.

Emily was a barmaid and the daughter of Robert Codrington of the Lamb Inn, Iron Acton – a direct descendent of Sir John Codrington, as mentioned elsewhere. [i]

Their only child Arthur Walter was born in 1915 but sadly Walter died a horrible death the following year from tuberculosis.

emily codrington

Emily remarried some time later to William Davey, but son Arthur Walter was brought up mainly by his aunt, Bessie Codrington, the eldest of the three younger daughters of Robert Codrington and his wife Mary.

The three girls are now buried together in Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol, along with Henry Tozer the husband of youngest daughter Annie.

Bessie had quite a forceful personality and may have taken over where she saw her sister was not coping well as a single parent. As a single mother Emily is described in letters from other family members as “useless, not even able to iron a shirt”.

[i] Robert Codrington was actually a butcher and his Mary wife ran the inn – many of his family and children worked in the trade, often running pubs and hotels. [more of this later]


Arthur Sidney and RustyArthur, like his father and uncle, did not marry until later in life at the age of 41 – he met my mother through his work as a clerk and office manager for “Uncle Bob” and married in 1956 at St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol.

Bessie never married and lived with Arthur – I’m not sure she would have been too happy to see him get married, even though she came to live with the family in Pensford, Somerset.

Sadly my father died in 1962 when I was just 3, having moved the family to the north of the country for a new job, and I have no real memories of him.

Consequently, and because Arthur had never known his father, me and my sister have very little family history, photos or stories passed down.

Until very recently we were not even aware of his uncle Arthur and of cousins living just a few miles away who we have never met.


There are two Thomas Sidneys that suddenly appear in Bristol in the early 1700’s, both with sons having the same names – William and Thomas.

There is about a 10 year difference between the birth of the boys, but the important thing here is that there are no records of any Sidney’s in St George or St Philips before these boys.

There are earlier Sidney records in the Temple Parish going back about another 70 years, but the names used in this branch do not match.

There are also records of other family members – that married into the Sidney family – going back much further, so I can only conclude that both of them came from outside Bristol.

In the early 1700’s Bristol was a boom-town and the largest city outside of London.

Workers were moving here from all over the country – the Applefords from Wiltshire and the Burnells from Exmoor, just within my family.

The sugar, slave and tobacco industries were based around “Brightstow” and the parish of St. George – where my family came from – was a big mining area.

Both Thomas Sidneys probably came from London and there are some records that seem to match.

One record from the Shadwell area (St George in the East) shows the marriage of Thomas Sidney and Martha Chatterton.

This was a clandestine marriage and there are two records one of which shows that it took place in at the Kings Head and another that he was a cordwainer.

The Chatterton name is quite unusual and there are not many in Bristol – and a few in London – so I think that Martha may have come from Bristol originally where there is a birth record.

However there is record of William Chatterton in Shadwell so maybe he moved to Bristol, at least for a while – there are tax records for a William Shadwell in both cities but I cannot find a birth for Martha in London.

There is a daughter Martha in the family, who died in infancy – Sarah may have been the name of Thomas’ mother if this link is correct.

If this is the same Thomas then he was a cordwainer (shoe-maker), a reoccurring trade within my family.

Possibly his father – also Thomas – was a Taylor in Gray’s Inn Lane [abbreviated to G: Inn Lane in some records] in Holborn.

Although there are other Sidneys in Shadwell, where he married, there is no Thomas.

There is another Thomas born in London about 1720 who could be the Thomas from the Bedminster (St. Philips) Sidney’s, and possibly they were cousins – or it was just a coincidence that they moved to Bristol at about the same time.

If they did.

 Chris Sidney 2014

The Wreck of the Constance

Farmer BullshotThe steamship Constance was owned by the Bristol Steam Navigation Company and had a short but eventful working live before being wrecked near Plymouth in 1888

This story concerns my great grand-uncle George Sidney who was the chief engineer on the Constance in 1879.

George was born 1844 in “The Dings”, an area of one up-one down, workers housing in Bristol, essentially for those working on the railways. [1]

His father, also George and my great-grandfather, was recorded as an Engineer in the 1871 census and George the younger was a Marine Engineer so we can be fairly sure that it was the younger George who was on the Constance.

The older George had a little run in with the law in 1862 when he was accused of stealing a quantity of brass worth 10s from his employer.

His employer decided not to press charges as George was “of good character” and of “a respectable family” and had worked for him for only 4 months but with a six years reference.

Despite this George was sentenced to six weeks in prison.

We can be sure from these dates that this event did not involve George the younger as he would have been too young.


In 1878 George Sidney, of Totterdown, won third prize in the Hotwells Industrial Exhibition for a model of “three-inch cylinder high-pressure engine”.

 The Constance 1879

The Constance was built in Glasgow and launched in 1871 and seems to have led a quiet life as a coastal steamer travelling from Bristol along the south coast to the continent and back.

But there were two significant events in 1879 when George was engineer, the first a tragic accident and the second involved tobacco smuggling.

The Leading Light

On 12th May 1879 the Constance was in collision with the Leading light, a pilot cutter anchored near the mouth of the river Avon

The enquiry showed that the crew of the Constance were probably to blame for this accident, in which a member of the [two man] crew on the Leading Light was killed.

We think then that this collision was due either to the want of a good look-out on board the “Constance,” which prevented their seeing the cutter until they were close upon her, or to the master of the steamer having laid his vessel on a course to pass so close to the cutter that a slight alteration of her position would involve the risk of a collision. We do not indeed blame the master for having steered a course from the mouth of the Bristol river which would, as he said, take him down between the current which was still running up midchannel, and the eddy on the south shore. It was, no doubt, the usual course at that time of tide, and there could be no reason why he should not take it, even though it was a short cut, provided that he could do so without risk to himself or others. What we blame him for is, for not keeping a good lookout, or for going too near this cutter. It was not a mere error of judgment, it was navigating his ship without “proper and seamanlike care”; and, notwithstanding the high character which this master bears, and the long time which he has been on board this vessel as master, we think that we should not be doing our duty unless we suspended his certificate.

George gave evidence only in regard to the instructions he received through the telegraph in the engine room.

A full record of the enquiry is available.


In July 1879 customs inspectors boarded the Constance to search for smuggled tobacco.

Earlier the ship’s steward had been detained by a vigilant policeman carrying 5lb of tobacco and brandy.

Three searches discovered nothing as it had been well hidden behind machinery, but eventually 128lb of tobacco was recovered worth £6 8s with the unpaid  duty worth £27 14s 8d

George and other members of the engineering crew were arrested and charged with smuggling.

The Trial

At the trial the crew maintained that they knew nothing of the tobacco and that, as they did not sleep near the engine room when docked, anyone could have stored the tobacco while they were in Rotterdam or Antwerp.

One defence was that a number of the crew had recently been dismissed and it was suggested that one of them tipped-off the customs inspector where to find the tobacco having not been able to recover it for themselves.

But Mr. Frederick Wills (tobacco manufacturer) said that the tobacco was probably only about a week old and other witnesses said that the engine room spelled like the the Wills tobacco warehouse so was unlikely that the crew did not know what was going on.

The hiding place also required some engineering knowledge – the accused fireman maintained that he did not have such knowledge.

However the crew, including George and the fireman were all fined £100

It seems that George left the Constance shortly after the trial and tried something else – being recorded as a civil engineer in 1881 – before eventually returning to sea in 1882.

But he was not actually at home for the 1881 census and it was his wife Mary that is shown as “wife of civil engineer”. Perhaps he was at sea and the civil bit was a mistake?

The Douro

In 1882 George, then serving on the Douro as chief engineer, was a witness in a case bought by a passenger on the “Chepstow” who claimed that his clothes were ruined by a discharge from a waste steam pipe. He was awarded costs of £3 and told to donate his ruined clothes to the sufferers of the flood.

Ship: Douro; Official number: 78459. W H Thomas; rank/rating, Master; age, 39

This 1891 register [available in the national archives] shows:

George Sidney; rank/rating, Engineer; age, 47; place of birth, Bristol; previous ship, same.

It also shows:

Joseph Sidney; rank/rating, Fireman; age, 24; place of birth, Bristol; previous ship, same

This is George’s eldest son, his younger son George being a carpenter.

The Wreck

The wreck of the Constance was in 1888 near Plymouth.

George was now serving on the Duoro [not the RMS Duoro that sank in 1882 or the one sunk by a submarine in 1915] so was not on board.

The findings of the enquiry were that the owners of the Constance has failed to maintain the vessel.

As well as a missing compass the telegraph to the engine room did not work correctly and these issues led to the ship running aground in thick fog on the Shagstone Rock with the loss of three lives.

George was lucky to have abandoned this particular ship.

Chris Sidney 2014

The Devon Lunatic Asylum

bullshot bulletMy mother had never heard of her great-aunt, Elizabeth Ann Burnell – which is odd because these are the same names given to my sister – so when I came across census records relating to her family I had to take a closer look.

Burnell Country

Heading-Burnell Country

My mother’s branch of the Burnell family came originally from Exmoor in West Somerset.

Elizabeth Ann was born in Highbridge, Somerset in 1855, the eldest daughter of  James Burnell and Jane Lethby.

[a copy of their original marriage certificate was found in the possessions of my great aunt Dorothy when she died]

James was a sadler, and was born into a farming family from Wootton Courtney on Exmoor.

However by 1561 he had moved to Highbridge, and a generation later the family was in Bristol.

The Burnell Family

George Burnell 001My great-grandfather, George Burnell (b.1862)  was the younger brother of Elizabeth.

He was a warehouseman and then later a shipping clerk in Bedminster, Bristol.

He married twice and had children from both marriages.

George and Daisy were from his first marriage to Matilda Garland.

Dorothy and my grandfather Walter James were from his second Marriage to Alice Coombes.

But for now we will investigate great, great-aunt Elizabeth.

 Elizabeth Ann

In the census of 1871 Elizabeth is 15 and a servant (general assistant) at the College Street school in Burnham, Somerset.

Elizabeth Burnell 1871

It sounds as if she was working in one of the boarding houses for the pupils.

In 1881 she was an asylum nurse – one of many – at the Devon County Lunatic Asylum in Exminster, Devon.

Elizabeth Burnell 1881

The census says Highbridge, Devon which is incorrect.

But Elizabeth Ann Burnell does not appear in the 1891 census.

So she has either got married, or had died – as it turns out she did both!

The Asylum

Devon Lunatic AsylumTracing Elizabeth, however was quite tricky – but I did eventually find a marriage record for her using Rule#1.

In order to find her husband, I had to go through all of the male staff of about the same age at the Asylum and check for a marriage record – a search for Elizabeth Burnell on her own did not return any results.

In 1881, just after the census, Elizabeth married Charles Edmonds at St. Thomas, Exeter, Devon.

Charles was a baker employed at the asylum, and later a cook in the Royal Navy and then a shopkeeper back in Dawlish. where his father had a shop.

Their first child, George Frederick, was born back in Highbridge in 1882 (or late 1881), so perhaps Elizabeth had returned there specifically or they were just visiting.

If Charles had already joined the navy then he may have been away at the time.


Sadly Elizabeth died in July 1890 so did not appear on the next census in 1891 – but Charles does, and his wife.

Charles married again in 1891 [before the census] but in this census there is also another son shown, William.

William was born in early 1890 just months before Elizabeth died so he is also the child of Charles and Elizabeth.

Possibly she died as a result of the birth – I will get the death record one day and find out.

Charles remarried only 6 months after the death of Elizabeth, but he was a single parent with two young children.

Charles’ second wife, Annie Augusta Moyle, was born 1866 in the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall and was about 10 years younger than Charles.

She had married a widower with 2 young children but did not appear to have any children herself.

So both the sons of Charles Edmonds were from his first marriage to Elizabeth.

Charles = Elizabeth Ann Burnell
  George Edmonds = Rovena Granville Moyles
    Winifred Edmonds = Clifford Taylor
    Rovena Grenfell Edmonds [1] = Henry Curnow
    Georgina Edmonds
  William Edmonds = Ethel Pleace [2]

[1] George Edmonds

George Edmonds married Rovena Granville Moyle at the age of 19 in 1901.

She was the younger sister of his step-mother Annie and was born in 1876 – so she was 6 years older than George.

They had 5 children, three surviving in the 1911 census.

One of their children was Rovena Grenfell, not to be confused with her mother Rovena Grenville.

This appears to be something of a family tradition – for more information visit Moyles Heritage

[2] William Edmonds

The other son William was a gardener and I think he married Edith Elizabeth Pleace in 1920.

bullshot bulletGeorge and William were therefore my first cousins, twice removed.
And my mother knew nothing of this.

 Chris Sidney 2014


An Heiress and of a Norfolk family

bullshot bulletWhat started as an afternoon of family research has turned into something with wider historical interest, involving royal bastards, the queen’s spy-master and the original inventor of the flushing toilet.

Codrington MemorialIn the North Chancel Aisle of Bristol Cathedral there is an elaborate memorial to the memory of Robert Codrington, my 9x great-grandfather, who died  17 Feb 1618 [i]

He is shown praying with his wife, Anna, and below them, in a frieze of mourners, are their seventeen children.

The plaque at the base of the memorial identifies eight sons and nine daughters but I believe this to be possibly incorrect and I will discuss this elsewhere.

The pedigree of Robert is well documented and the memorial shows the arms of the Codrington family along with those of his grandparents and his grandson Robert, who married into the Samwell family, which were added later.

It also shows a shield with the arms of his wife, Anne Stubbs quartered with another unknown pedigree.

The identity of Anne Stubbes has long been a family mystery, but I believe that it is one I have now solved.

[i] His will is dated 11 Feb 1618 and proved 7 May 1619. The legal year changes on Lady day (25th March) so we would today use 1619 for both events. The plaque on the memorial says that he died 14 Feb 1618.


In his 1898 “Memoir of the Codrington family” Robert Henry Codrington [RHC] identified Anne only as an Heiress and of a Norfolk family, hence the title of this blog [2].

The Stubbes family of Norfolk were well known at the time, but how were they linked with the Codrington family of Gloucestershire?

Stubbes-HarringtonThe quartering of the shield should have identified Anne’s pedigree, but the Stubbs arms are used by families in several different parts of the country and the Norfolk connection could have been assumed.

The central shield on the base of the memorial shows the Codrington arms to the left and the Stubbes arms quartered with another on the right.

I.M. Roper in his “Effigies of Bristol” [4]  identifies the unknown arms only by their armorial description – lozengy arg. and Sable – black diamonds on a silver background.

The only usage of this design was by the Croft family of Dalton in Lancashire, however their line had become dormant by about 1450 and the design does not seem to have been used specifically by any other family after this.

Croft of DaltonGeneric Lozengy Argent and SableIt can be seen from these images that the arms on the memorial – although described correctly – are different from the Croft arms [on the right] and are a generic lozengy design.

This may just simply be a mistake in the instructions given to the masons when the memorial was commissioned – it is not the only irregularity on the memorial – or it may have been repainted badly when restored by the Bethell-Codringtons in 1840.


In either case it has made the identification of Anne’s pedigree impossible from just this one source, and another piece of information was required.

One piece that I already had was details of the arrangements made for the marriage of Robert and Anne, by their fathers Simon Codrington and William Stubbes.

The said Simon Codrington being so seised a fine was levied in Michaelmas term 36 Elizabeth between William Stubbes and Thomas Estcourte, esquires, plaintiffs, and the said Simon and Agnes his wife, deforciants, as to one pasture called Inychins, one other pasture called the Worthye, one pasture called the Gaston, 2 meadows called Newe Tyninges, one meadow called Mickle meade and one meadow called little Mickle meade (parcel of the said manor of Codrington and Wapley), to the use of the said Simon for his life, and after his death to the use of Robert Codrington, gent., then son and heir of the said Simon and of Anne Stubbes, afterwards his wife, for their lives; after their decease to the use of the heirs of the body of the said Robert lawfully begotten, with divers remainders, over, the remainder thereof in fee to be to the right heirs of Simon Codrington for ever. And as to the residue of the said manor of Codrington and Wapley and all other the premises, to the use of the said Simon and Agnes for their lives, after their decease to the use of the said Robert Codrington and his heirs, with remainder to the right heirs of the said Simon Codrington for ever.

This is a bit of a one-sided arrangement as Anne did not appear to bring anything to the marriage other than the promise of an inheritance and her pedigree.

The arrangement also indicates that Robert and Anne would only inherit the land on the death of Robert’s father Simon – as it turned out Robert died before both his father and Anne’s father William Stubbes.

Anne remarried Ralph Marsh in July 1627 before her father died and it is not clear what was inherited from her father William, if anything. [see notes below]

But this documents does not hold much in the way of clues, other than identifying the name of Anne’s father, William Stubbes.

In particular it does not tell us where the family comes from.

Stubbes of Gloucestershire

It has been assumed – understandably – that William Stubbes was one of the Stubbes of Gloucestershire, and several attempts have been made to link the two families.

The most common is a marriage between Robert and Anne Fysher, who was the step-daughter of William Stubbes (d.1580).

William was middle-aged when he married Anne Fysher, a widow [possibly of Thomas Fysher], in 1565, and they had two children together, Richard and Margaret, who both died young.

In his will William leaves his estate to “three of my brothers children and one of my wyffes, Anne Fysher being my wyves first husbands daughter”.

This cannot be the wife of Robert for several reasons.

1. Anne Fysher would have been born before 1565 when her mother married William Stubbes, and would be at least 8 years older than Robert – probably more.

2. The arrangements for the marriage of Robert and Anne were documented in 1593 and this William died in 1580.

3. The Stubbes pedigree could not have been used as Anne was not born into the family.

It is also not know if William had the pedigree to use the same arms as are displayed on the Codrington memorial.


The marriage of Robert and Anne took place in 1595 – two years after the marriage arrangements had been made.

Robert had studied at Magdalen College, Oxford from 1588 and was admitted to Grey’s Inn, London, to train as a lawyer in 1591, so it is likely that the marriage was arranged for the completion of his training.

The marriage was not, however in either London or Gloucestershire, but in Shrivenham in Berkshire [now Oxfordshire].

Shrivenham Marriages 1595

May 26 CODRINGTON Robert, gent


So if we want to identify Anne Stubbes we must first work out who her father William is, and what is the connection with Shrivenham.

 Stubbes of Norfolk

Stubbs coaAlthough I have yet to trace the pedigree of William Stubbes, it seems he was entitled to the arms of the Stubbes family.

These arms are used by several different branches of the family – Norfolk, London and Hertford – and are described below.

Sa. on a bend between three pheons or, as many buckles gu.

“The right to a given coat of arms is a species of property and its descent generation by generation must be proved in order to establish a claim.” Wagner, “Heraldry,” 541-42

This design is clearly identifiable on the shield at the base of the memorial.

The Manor of Watchfield

William Stubbes and his wife Hester owned the manor of Watchfield in Berkshire, which was one of the manors of Shrivenham and this is shown by documents related to the ownership of the manor – an extract is shown below.

The manor of Watchfield was owned by Abingdon Abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries when it reverted to the crown.

This would explain why there is no manor house as the land was managed for the Abbey [probably from West Mill] and there was no lord of the manor. [5]

It is also recorded that the previous owners of the manor did not reside there – probably because there was no house – and William and Hester were the first owners to be recorded as living at West Mill in 1593.

So now we need to look at the list of previous owners of the manor before William Stubbes.

 History of the Manor

The manor remained with the abbey [Abingdon] until the Dissolution, passing to the king in 1538.

In 1541 it 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 Southwell, bastard son of the latter.

She seems to have been afterwards married to John Harrington, for he with his wife Awdrey was party to a fine of it in 1556.

John Harrington, together with a certain George Henage and Elizabeth his wife [half-sister to Richard Southwell], were dealing with it in 1567 and John and Hester Harrington in 1568.

In 1593 a William Stubbs was assessed to a subsidy under Shrivenham, and in 1631 Hester Stubbs, widow, was holding the property.

Five years later the estate was held by Thomas Tatton and Margaret his wife, who sold it to Sir Humphrey Forster, bart.

There is a lot of useful information here , and some of this has been the subject of much speculation – and several historical novels – but more of that later.

For now let us just look at the owners of the property in the 16th century after the dissolution.

Owners of the Manor

The King.

Henry VIIHenry VIII granted the Manor of Watchfield, along with several others, including nearby Uffington, to his Tailor, John Malte and his illegitimate daughter Awdrey.

The manor of Watchfield was probably passed to Awdrey Malte, when she was about 18, in preparation for her marriage to Richard Southwell – which never happened – which puts her birth at about 1528-30

Awdrey Malte.

Awdrey married John Harrington [about 1546], who was a poet, publisher and Treasurer to King Henry VIII, and is well documented elsewhere – as is Awdrey herself.

They lived at another manor that was granted by the King, St Catherine’s, near Bath where they had a daughter, Hester born about 1548 [i].

It is recorded [in Wikipedia] that Awdrey was present at the coronation of Elizabeth I on 15 January 1559, but she died later the same month.

John remarried within two months, to Isabella Markham, another of the Queen’s attendants.

The daughter of Awdrey and John, Hester died in 1568.

[i] Many accounts say that the marriage was childless [in which case Hester could have been a niece of John] but she is shown in the Harrington pedigree of 1568 as their daughter, and I have no reason to doubt this at the moment.

As Hester is shown in the Harrington pedigree as simply being “alive in 1568” his was taken by some, incorrectly, to mean that she had died.

The last record of her was in 1568 and this was in relation to the manor of Watchfield – she would have been about 18 at the time.

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

William and Hester Stubbes

William married Hester Heringtonn in St. Clement Danes church, in London on 17th January 1574/5, so there would be no more records using her Harrington name, even though she continued to own the manor.

Their daughter Anne Stubbes was baptised in the same church a year later on 9th January 1575/6.

Another child, a son “Harrington” was born two years later in 1578, confirming that this is the correct Hester – just the wrong spelling in the previous record.

It is not known what happened to Harrington Stubbes and only daughters are mentioned in the will of Hester Stubbes.

Hester Stubbes (widow)

Hester appears to have lived in Watchfield until she died in 1639, several years after her husband, by which time the manor had been sold to Thomas Tatton, her grandson.

Her probate record from 1639 is held by the Berkshire records office in Reading.

[See More about Hester]

Another record dating to 1630, following the death of William (but relating to Hester), shows Robert Codrington as son-in-law, although he had died in 1618.

robert codrington son in law


Family Search

Name: William Stubbs
Spouse’s Name: Hester Heringtonn
Event Date: 17 Jan 1574

Family Search

Name: Ann Stubbs
Gender: Female
Christening Date: 09 Jan 1575
Father’s Name: Willm Stubbs

Family Search

Name: Harrington Stubbs
Gender: Male
Christening Date: 14 Jun 1578
Father’s Name: William Stubbs

Harrington or Knot?

Harrington KnotSo it seems possible that Anne Stubbs, daughter of William and Hester, was related to a well-connected family, the Harringtons.

But they do not have any obvious connection with Norfolk – they are from Lancashire – and the family arms are different from those on the memorial.

However it seems that these arms, which show the Harrington Knot, are not the original ones used by the family and were originally  those of the Irish Harrington family.

Harrington 1When we find an older version of the Harrington arms and compare it to those of the croft family and the generic design, it appears that there are a lot of similarities.

It can easily be seen how the Harrington arms could have been added in the way that they were to the memorial – possibly just from a description.

There are also other errors on the memorial that would justify this – for example, the two squirrels on the arms of Samwell appear to be facing the wrong way when compared to other examples.

Taken along with all the other facts it now seems certain that the arms on the memorial are those of the Harrington family and that Anne Stubbs was the daughter of William Stubbes and Hester Harrington – who apparently did not died in 1568.


The request for a confirmation of the grant of arms to John Harrington in 1568 identifies his arms as “a fret” rather than “fretty”, meaning a single knot.

Sable a fret argent.

Therefore the design on the Codrington memorial, 50 years later, should have reflected the Harrington Knot design, and not something resembling the earlier version.

That is to say, the fielde Sable a frett humette argent; a bordure checque of the second and first. Upon the haulme on a torce argent and sable a lyon’s hedde golde langet guelues with a coller checque argent and sable mantelid guelues doubled argent.

There may be many reasons for this, but the important fact is that the arms have not been identified as belonging to another family altogether.

speech50Sir John Harington, the son of John Harington of Stepney and his second wife Isabella Markham, did much to restore the Harington family fortunes, for a while at least.

Portrait of Mary Rogers, Lady Harington 1592 by Marcus Gheeraerts IIHe was married to Mary Rogers and there is a portrait of her in the Tate by Marcus Gheeraerts from 1592. It is thought that this was painted in preparation for the visit of Queen Elizabeth later the same year – Sir John Harington was her godson.

The design on her dress is thought to represent the Harington arms, but this is the older “fretty” design, the same as on the Codrington memorial. She also holds a string of pearls threaded into the shape of four knots which better resembles the arms granted to John Harington  of Stepney in 1568, but it seems that the older design was still very much in use for some time.

Sir John Harrington of Kelson - the WriterJohn Harrington of Stepney – known as the Poet – was never knighted, unlike his son, John the writer and inventor of the first flushing toilet.

He named the invention “Ajax” and perhaps because of this, or because the Queen referred to him as “Little Jack”, the name Jakes is still associated with certain types of toilets, although – strangely – not the one he designed. Maybe just a coincidence?

John of Stepney also had a distant cousin, John Harrington, of Exton, and this had led to some confusion in his documented history with information from all three Johns being mixed up.

The confirmation of Arms in 1568 shows that John was unsure what arms he was entitled to use and although the resulting pedigree shows a connection to the Harrington family of Yorkshire it is a bit vague in an exact identification of his grandfather.

And Whereas John Harington of Kelston in the Countie of Somersett sonne of Alexander Harington descended of a younger brother of the Haringtons of Brierley in the Countie of Yorke, by right …

It is thought that John’s father, Alexander could be the son of James Harrington, Dean of York, before he took holy orders but both the mother and grandmother of John are unidentified.

Trying to work of the Harrington tree is still a work in progress.

William Stubbes

So that leaves the question of who was William Stubbes?

Investigations are still on-going and will be the subject of a future blog, as will the children of Robert and Anne

But I think I have identified who he was – if not his pedigree.

William was probably born in London about 1550, trained as a law clerk and from 1579 he was employed by Sir Francis Walsingham, principal secretary, and spymaster, to Queen Elizabeth.

In 1587 William was employed to survey the manors of Wiltshire – and no doubt report any interesting news back to Walsingham – and his wife’s property in Watchfield would have been a good base for this work.

He may also have been MP for Yarmouth (Isle of Wight) in 1584 – possibly arranged by Walsingham for his own benefit – and in 1590 he was one of those who found the will of Sir Francis hidden in a secret cabinet at his home in London.

Although much of his life is uncertain, William appears to have been referred to as “of Watchfield” until he died in 1630.

Correspondence was sent to him in 1599 at the Tower of London concerning the purchase of a manor in Wiltshire, but he was possibly working for the Office of the Ordnance, that was based in the tower, and not detained there.

Other records suggest that he returned to Cheshire and was Mayor of Congleton but it is difficult to be sure if this is correct – I suspect this is another William who managed the port of Chester on behalf of Walsingham.

There are certainly some links to Cheshire, another pamphleteer and minor poet, Philip Stubbes, is likely to have been from Gawsworth near Congleton.

I suspect, however, that William Stubbes of Watchfield is not the same William Stubbes who was Mayor of Congleton, but that has yet to be proved either way.

Awdrey Malte

Awdrey Malte – or Etheldreda – was the illegitimate daughter of John Malte, tailor to King Henry VIII

[Awdrey is the English version of the Latin name Etheldreda or Æthelthryth]

She is also rumoured to be the daughter of King Henry VIII by Joane Dingley, a laundress, and named for the day of her birth – St. Ethelreda’s day, June 23rd.

Joane Dingley was married off to a man named only as Dobson, and Awdrey lived with her father John and his first wife [name unknown].

In his will dated 19 Sep 1546, John leaves money to Joanna and to Awdrey:

“Awdrey, my bastard daughter, begotten on the body of Joan Dingley, now wife of one Dobson”.

Her birth was probably in 1532 the year before Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn – a period when he was, perhaps, bored with Catherine of Aragorn who he married in 1509.

I have used Awdrey rather than Etheldreda throughout this document, for consistency, other than in specific references. She would have been  baptised as Etheldreda, the latin form of the name.

speech50I found some more information about Audrey’s mother from the website of King Henry VIII himself. I am not convinced this is entirely accurate but it is probably a better guess at her parentage than mine, which is that Joan is the daughter of Sir Thomas Dingley.

“Her Mother was Joanna or Jane Dingley, daughter of a Sir John Moore and widow of James Dingley of Dunkelyn county Worchester [Worcestershire]. She was a lower noble and was in and around the Palaces when I first saw her in 1534. She was low enough in status to not be a political problem when she became pregnant with Audrey, only if the baby would have been a boy would it matter.” [Q.556]

St Catherine’s Court

St Catherines CourtJohn Malte was not just a simple tailor, but a member of the influential Merchant Taylor’s guild of London and was probably quite a rich man in his own right.

He probably had no need for gifts from the King in order to bring up a bastard daughter – but it appears that the grants were specifically aimed at Awdrey herself and not John, adding to the rumours of her parentage.

The manor of Katerncourte, at least, was granted specifically to Awdrey and her heirs and not her father.

“John Mault Taylor and to Ethelreda Mault also Dyngley bastarde daughter — and to the heirs of the body of Ethelreda.”

Unlike nearby Kelston, this manor – previously owned by Bath Abbey – had a good sized property, St Catherine’s Court, which the family lived in while the new manor at Kelston was built. This was completed in 1567 and St Catherines was later sold, probably to cover the debts of Sir John Harington incurred by the visit of the Queen.

There was also a flock of 400 sheep included: “Yowe Flocke of Chermadon”. This probably refers to Charmy Down where the manor had grazing rights, rather than a breed of sheep.

John Harrington - PoetJohn Harrington the writer appears to have believed the rumours about Awdrey’s pedigree, and it is propagated in the publication Nugae antiquae.

Why else would a member of such an ancient and respected family marry the illegitimate daughter of a tailor and a laundress?

As a publisher his father John Harrington may have known the pamphleteer John Stubbes, who was convicted of treason for writing “The Discoverie of a Gaping Gulf” against the Queen’s proposed marriage to the Duke of Alençon.

His punishment – and that of his publisher – was to have his right hand removed.

John was a member of the Norfolk Stubbes family, which may give a hint of a link between Hester and William through her father John Harrington.

Royal InheritanceThe story of Awdrey Malte is well known and documented in various books and novels.

Whether she was – as rumoured – the natural daughter of King Henry VIII is still disputed, but maybe DNA will one day be able to resolve this.

[If this is true then Henry VIII is my 12 x great grandfather]

What happened to her daughter, Hester was also a mystery that has hopefully now been resolved.

Kathy [aka Kate Emerson] – who wrote Royal Inheritance about Awdrey, and is something of an authority on Tudor women – has been kind enough to review my notes and has updated her record entry for Hester and added one for her daughter, Anne Stubbes [Codrington].

Alison Weir - Mary BoleynThe novelist and historian, Alison Weir in her book Mary Boleyn, argues that Awdrey is credible as the daughter of Henry VIII.

“… it is highly likely that she was the King’s child.”

She also mentions the granted of two estates in Berkshire [Watchfield and Uffington] and names others belonging to the dissolved nunnery at Shaftsbury, Kelston, Batheaton and St. Katherines, in Somerset.

Alison does say that the Somerset lands were actually granted by the King to Awdrey, as her dowry, rather than to her father John, which is rather generous of him.


So to summarize all the information – and I have left out a lot of evidence – Anne Stubbs is no longer a complete mystery.

She was the daughter of William Stubbes and Hester Harrington of Watchfield, Berkshire.

Anne’s mother, Hester, was probably the daughter of Awdrey Malte and the poet John Harrington, and Hester did not die in 1568, but some 60 years later.

malte to codringtonIn 1574 Hester married William Stubbs in London.

William is, somehow, related to William Stubbes of Ratcliffe who was a rope-maker by trade, but also owned waterfront property on the Thames – as did John Harrington [or at least his family did] – so this is probably the link between the two families.

If rumours are true then Anne – born in 1575 – was the great grand-daughter of King Henry VIII.

Farmer BullshotIn a court case of 1628 Anne admitted to being forced to borrow money from “Daniell Chappell, Henry Cliffe, Francis Harrington and others” following the death of her husband Robert.

Francis Harrington was son of John Harrington, and therefore Anne’s uncle – I know nothing about the other names.

Benjamin, the son of Francis, had married into the Stocker family which means he was related to Anne’s eldest son, John Codrington, who married Katherine Stocker, daughter of Margaret Capell [1]

[1] Margaret married either Anthony or Thomas Stocker – or both – and then later married William Capell, probably a cousin, when she was left  a widow with a young daughter.

Farmer BullshotAlthough we do not know exactly what, if anything, Anne inherited from her father, there is some mention of property in the arrangements of the marriage of eldest son John to Katherine Stocker.

Manors of Didmarton and Wapley and Codrington, and property in Tormarton, Shrivenham (Berks.) and Watchfield (Berks.)

Settlement before marriage of John Codrington of Codrington, gent., and Katherine Stocker, daughter of Margaret Capell of Chilcompton (Som.)


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

Robert Henry Codrington wrote two extremely useful 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] Watchfield Chronicle.

The work of Neil Maw has been important in identifying the owners and history of the Watchfield manor and his book about Watchfield is available at the address below.


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.

bullshot bulletThere is much more  information that has not been included in this blog – the identification of William Stubbes has generated a lot of material and there was at least one other William Stubbes who was probably related.

I also had to recreate the Stubbes of Norfolk family tree from the ground up, in order to work out if William fits anywhere, which I will add in another post.

If William is closely related to the Norfolk family, then he would likely be the second generation from one of the younger sons of  John Stubbes of Scottowe (1455-1490), either Edward or Robert, who I have been unable to attach elsewhere.

Some other leads in this area were proven incorrect, although I did manage to link John Stubbes (the pamphleteer) and Richard Stubbes (the lawyer) into the main tree.

There is another John Stubbes – possibly a brother or cousin of William – who married in St Clement Danes the year after William and Hester – he married Elizabeth Claxton,  and there are existing links between the Norfolk Stubbes and the Suffolk Claxton families.

However a lot of the Stubbes family were either lawyers or members of the clergy and the church of St. Clement Danes is close to the London Inns of Court – Robert Codrington was at Lincoln’s Inn.

Christopher Stubbes is another character from about the same period.

He lived in Westminster and was accused of conducting Catholic mass at his home, something that was extremely dangerous to do at the time.

In the Pedigree of the Garrard family of Inkpen, Berkshire, Theophilia is recorded as the daughter of Bartholomew Stubbes of Watchfield, so perhaps he was her actual father and had died and his brother and cousin were securing the girls inheritance?

[This is an error in the pedigree and her father is William]

Chris Sidney 2014