If you are lucky enough to have a gateway ancestor in your family tree, then you can probably trace a connection back to William the Conqueror and beyond.
A gateway ancestor opens up connections to the noble, rich – and well documented – families of England and calculations have shown that just about everyone alive today can probably claim a connection to King John, over 20 generations ago.
But how many can claim to be related to King Henry VIII?
Having spend a lot of time investigating this possibility, I think that it is now likely that my family can make that claim, having proved a link back to one of his, supposed, illegitimate children – Awdrey or Etheldreda Malte.
In my family that gateway ancestor is my grandmother, Emily Codrington, who was the daughter of Robert William Codrington a butcher and owner of the Lamb Inn at Iron Acton in Gloucestershire. Robert was a direct male descendant of John Codrington , standard-bearer to King Henry V at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, and a member of the senior branch of the Codrington family.
The definitive guide to The Codrington family was written in 1898 by Robert Henry Codrington (RHC), an Anglican priest and anthropologist who died in 1922. His work is based on notes made by the historian Sir John Maclean who had intended to follow his Memoirs of the Poyntz and Guise family with one about the Codringtons, but passed his notes to Robert following an illness.
There are two main branches of the family descended from two of the sons of Sir John Codrington; John and his brother Thomas who married into the Poyntz family. The senior branch lived at Codrington and Didmarton in Gloucestershire and the junior branch of Frampton-on-Severn and later Dodington before selling this property to Christopher Codrington from the senior branch in 1700 – Christopher had made a fortune from the sugar trade in the West Indies.
From marriages made into other families by the senior branch, I can trace my genes back to royal families in England, Scotland, Wales and other European countries – as can most people who have a gateway ancestor. Mathematically everyone who is alive today is probably related to someone in the Plantagenet dynasty – if only they could find the link.
King John seems to be a key figure in my pedigree and I am related to him through at least three of his children as either 21st or 22nd great-grandfather.
In Bristol Cathedral there is a memorial to Robert Codrington, who died in 1618, that shows the arms of some of the most significant marriages within the main branch of the family.
Thomas Codrington & Mary Kellaway (m.1535)
Robert Codrington & Anne Stubbes (m.1595)
Robert Codrington & Agnes Samwell (m.1674)
The arms of the Samwell family were added some time after the memorial was erected, as were those of the Bethell-Codrington family – descendants of Christopher Codrington – who restored the memorial in 1840. The pedigree of both the Samwell and Kellaway families are well documented, but the Stubbes family is a bit of a mystery and I have concentrated my research in this area, with some success.
In his 1898 Memoir of the Family of Codrington of Codrington, Didmarton, Frampton-on-Severn and Dodington Robert Henry Codrington identified Anne Stubbes, wife of Robert, only as an Heiress and of a Norfolk family.
Records exist of the arrangement for Robert’s marriage to Anne Stubbes and the quartering of the Stubbes family Sa. on a bend between three pheons or, as many buckles gu. are clearly visible on the memorial. From this design it is likely that the Norfolk connection is assumed – the arms are used by other branches of the family – but on the memorial these are quartered with another, unidentified design.
I.M. Roper in his 1903 Effigies of Bristol identifies the unknown arms only by their armorial description – lozengy arg. and Sable – black diamonds on a silver background, and Robert Henry does not offer any further insight.
After much research it appears that the design on the memorial itself is incorrect – either it was added that way or repainted badly when the memorial was restored – and is that of the Harington family.
The arms shown on the memorial represent a fretty design, which was used by an older branch of the Harington family. But they should have been a fret – a single stylised knot which may have been tricky to incorporate into the quartering, as granted to John Harington of Stepney forty years earlier.
Why such a significant marriage should have been forgotten to Codrington family history is very strange, whatever the pedigree.
Anne Stubbes and Robert Codrington married in Shrivenham, Berkshire in May 1595; arrangements having been made several years earlier between their fathers Simon Codrington and William Stubbes. Nothing in this document identifies who William Stubbes was or where he came from and there has been much speculation about the pedigree of his daughter Anne, many showing her to be from the Gloucestershire branch of the family.
The location of the marriage is significant as William Stubbes and his wife Hester lived in the smaller, nearby manor of Watchfield which did not have it’s own church. As well as Anne and Robert’s marriage, two daughters – Francis and Susan – were baptised in Shrivenham, as was customary at the time, but I cannot find a baptism for the eldest daughter Anne.
Records show that William and Hester, were living at West Mill, Watchfield from about 1593, just before the marriage of Robert and Anne. Inventories of their property are attached to their wills from 1630 and 1639 and these match the layout of that property as it was at the time [the property has been altered but still exists]. The manor of Watchfield did not have a traditional manor house, having been owned by the nearby Abbey of Abingdon until the dissolution, so was probably managed from West Mill farm.
After they married in 1574 William and Hester lived in Westminster, London – which indicates that William may have been lawyer, as was Robert Codrington – and later lived in Stepney, where William Stubbes of Ratcliffe – perhaps a relation – had a business near the river. Possibly William was working with William of Ratcliffe for a while until he moved his business interests to Boston in Lincolnshire where he is recorded in 1594 – at about the same time William and Hester moved to Watchfield. There are also connections to Cheshire.
Eldest daughter Anne was born a year after they married and there were two other surviving daughters – Susan and Theophilia – who had good marriages into the Tatton and Garrard families. A son “Harrington” born in 1578 seems to have died in infancy and two other daughters, Hester and Francis had also died and are not mentioned in the will of Hester. William only mentions his daughter [Susan] who had died a few years before he wrote his will but doesn’t name her specifically, or any members of his immediate family.
Watchfield was a property inherited by William’s wife, Hester Harington and passed to William on their marriage. In 1568 Hester is recorded with her father, John Harington, in a Common Recovery against Watchfield manor, so that the property could be used as a dowry – a restriction placed on the property meant that it could only be passed to Hester.
In this recovery Hester is shown as the owner or Vouchee of the property having inherited it from her mother. A recovery was a legal way of removing entailments (restrictions imposed by conditions of inheritance) on a property, and was in use for several hundred years. In this case the entailment was imposed on Watchfield by her grand-father John Malte, when he passed the property to his daughter, Awdrey, in his will.
As both the Harington and Stubbes families had connections to Stepney it is likely that they knew each other and the marriage was arranged several years before Hester and William actually married in 1573. This is similar to the arrangement of their daughter Anne when she married Robert Codrington. Robert was a lawyer and his marriage to Anne Stubbes seems to have been fitted around the end of his legal training.
All accounts of Hester that I have found say that she died in 1568 or some time after – or had never existed. The pedigree of the family shows she was last know to be alive in 1568, which would have been when she was involved in the recovery of Watchfield with her father. I’m not sure anyone really looked too hard for her as she was clearly still alive – although married – and owned, or lived in the manor until her death in 1639.
The will of William written in 1628, does not mention Watchfield, but he was too ill even two years before he died to sign his name and it is likely he had already transferred the manor to his grandson Thomas Tatton, son of Robert Tatton and daughter Susan. This fits with records showing Thomas and his wife Margaret were the owners about this time.
The husband of William’s eldest daughter Anne – Robert Codrington – had died in 1618, but it is not clear why his son John did not inherit the manor. There were however some properties mentioned in Shrivenham and Watchfield in the agreement for his first marriage to Katherine Stocker, probably given by William or his parents at the time of his marriage in 1617.
William’s daughter Susan Tatton and his son-in-laws Robert Tatton and Thomas Garrard had already died by 1628 so the Witnesses to his will were his grandsons William Garrard, George and Thomas Tatton and [his servant] Johane Jay .
Recent information regarding Robert Tatton makes it unlikely that William passed Watchfield to Robert and would have passed it directly to grand-son Thomas.
Robert had enticed William’s daughter Susan and married her just a few days before she was to marry another [unnamed] gentleman of great worth and reputation. Robert already had an heir from a previous marriage and William believes that Robert was not treated Susan and the children from their marriage as well as he could.
Robert then borrowed “and embezzled” money from William, his friends and family eventually ending up in court where some of the story is told by William in his answer to the complaint.
This is essentially a case bought by Robert about money that was due to him, or promised by William that was not received, but it does give William a chance to present his own side of the story.
This deffendant [William Stubbes] by the fayer and flatteringe speches of the complainant, [Robert Tatton] and partly in hope that the Complainant would have Delt the better with this deffendantes daughter the Complainant’s Promise […] to bee made […] portions of money to [be sat__] [hole in document] setled uppon such children, as he had or should have by his said wife [Susan].
By mentioning other family members in the case, this document has also unintentionally proved that Hester Harington, William’s wife really was the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte, by confirming the relationship between Hester and her [half] brother Sir John Harington of Kelson.
… this Deffendant & [the] said Sir John Harrington, this Deffendantes Brother in lawe
This seems to be the final proof that Hester is the daughter of John Harington of Stepney and Awdrey Malte.
John Malte was Royal tailor to King Henry VIII and a member of the Company of Merchant Tailors, so was probably quite a rich man. It seems that he received several grants of property from the king, one of these properties being the manor of Watchfield in 1541, but more significantly some of the grants were given specifically to him and his bastard daughter Awdrey.
This has led to speculation that Awdrey is more likely to be the illegitimate daughter of the king and Joanne Dingley a royal laundress, than John Malte, and that some arrangement was made between them for John to adopt Awdrey. In his will John leaves money to several good causes – including poor prisoners, maidens and road repairs – and to a foundling child left on his doorstep, so it seems unlikely that, due to his good nature, he would have refused such a request.
For the same reason I think he is unlikely to have been the father of a bastard child – despite leaving money to Awdrey’s mother, Joanne Dingley in his will. The King, however, was well known for his activities in this area.
If my estimation of the birth of Awdrey as 23 June 1532 is correct, then John could have been her father. He was appointed as King’s Tailor in October 1531 and this is about the time that Awdrey would have been conceived – but perhaps this was just one of the reasons why he was involved in this deception.
John Malte. Grant of the office of King’s tailor, with fees of 12d. a day, as enjoyed by Stephen Jasper, John Apparys, and William Hylton. Greenwich, 18 Oct. 23 Hen. VIII. 
John Malte wrote his will while the king was still alive so it is thought that the wording and conditions in his will were there more to satisfy the king than anything else.
“my bastard daughter begotten upon the body of Johane Dyngley”
Awdrey is specifically left the manors of Watchfield in Berkshire and Nylands in Somerset in the will of John Malte, as well as others defined in an agreement between John Malte and Sir Richard Southwell.
The manors of Kelston and St Catherine’s in Somerset – which were the only grants in which Awdrey is specifically named – were not granted until after the will was written. According to a report written about the property, the Llewellyns – the King’s tenants of St Catherine – had their lease taken away and the land granted instead to Malte.
But it is through the ownership of Watchfield manor that I have been able to confirm that Hester Harrington, who married William Stubbes, was the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte.
John Malte died in December 1546 just a month before the King and was quickly replaced as royal tailor, but his will was not proved until some time later on 7 June the following year.
John Brydgys, the King’s servant. To be the King’s tailor, vice John Malte, dec, with 12d. a day, payable from Michaelmas last. Westm., 23 Dec. 38 Hen. VIII.
Details of his burial were probably lost during the great fire in 1666 that destroyed St Augustine’s church and his actual death and burial was probably several days before the date in the court records.
It appears that John also held a second position as tailor in the Great Wardrobe. This would have brought him more business that just being the King’s tailor alone – and another 6d a day.
John Malte. To be yeoman tailor in the Great Wardrobe, vice Richard Gybson, deceased; with 6d. a day and livery. Westm., 12 Nov. 26 Hen.VIII. 
The King’s Lands
On 23rd September 1546 the King granted to John Malte, and his bastard daughter, lands in Somerset perhaps as a reward for following the king’s wishes and confirming that he was Awdrey’s father in his will written two weeks earlier.
The description of Awdrey in the grant is very similar to John’s will, so could have been agreed between them so as to leave little doubt. It is very unusual for a daughter to be mentioned in a grant, especially as she also had two other sisters who are not named.
Maybe Henry suspected that he didn’t have long to live and wanted to protect his daughter from the chaos of succession following his death, so chose to disown her? His only son Edward was not a healthy child and his other – slightly more legitimate – daughters had no love for each other.
Perhaps this was prophetic considering the fate of Lady Jane Grey?
Or maybe he suspected Sir Richard Southwell of not having the best intentions for Awdrey once she was married to his illegitimate son, Richard Darcy. No doubt Henry had agreed to the marriage of Richard’s son, Richard Darcy, but perhaps he was now having second thoughts?
For whatever reason the lands were granted to John and his daughter, using the more formal version of her name Etheldreda.
John Malte, tailor, and Etheldreda Malte alias Dyngley, bastard daughter of the said John by Joan Dyngley alias Dobson. Grant, for 1,311l. 2d., of the lordship and manor of Kevelston, Soms., […]; the lordship and manor of Eston and Kateryn, Soms., the chief messuage called Katernscourte […] 400 ewes called “le yowe flocke of Charmerdon, […]. To hold to the said John Malte and Etheldreda and the heirs of the body of the said Etheldreda, with remainder to the right heirs of the said John. Del. Westm., 23 Sept. 38 Hen. VIII. 
This grants the manor of Kelveston [Kelston] and the Manor of Eston and Kateryn with it’s manor house Katenscourte [St. Catherines Court] and flock of sheep for the sum of £1,311 2d [about £318,000].
Previously in 1544 several other Manors had been granted to Malte as a gratuity for his failtful service – Doulting, Middleton and Nyland [Andersey] in Somerset. The Malte and Harington family were also associated with the manor of Batcombe.
John Malte, the King’s servant. Grant, in fee, for 1,824l. 16s. 8d., of the manor of Andresey alias Nylonde, Soms., which belonged to Glastonbury abbey, and all appurtenances in Batcombe beside Andresey, and all possessions of Glastonbury there; the rectory of Andresey alias Nylond, which belonged to Glastonbury mon.; all lands in Westbury, Soms., which belonged to Brewton mon.; the manor of Myddelton alias Mylton Pydymore alias Podymore Mylton, Soms., and the advowson of the rectory there, the manor of Doaltyng, Soms., and lands leased with it to Benedict Kyllygrew, now dec., by pat. 28 July 32 Hen. VIII., the rectory of Doulting, and the hamlet of Stoke, Soms., all which belonged to Glastonbury mon.; with all possessions of that mon. in Andresey alias Nylond, Batcomb juxta Andresey, Myddelton alias Mylton Pydymore alias Podymore Mylton, Doulting, Fermecombe, Boddon, Prestley, Waterlipp, Charleton, Chevelynche, Estbraddon, Heydon, Dychefurlong, and Stoke, Som. Also the advowsons of the vicarages of Andreysey alias Nylond and Doultynge, and a grove of wood within the common of Stoke, which belonged to Glastonbury. Del. Westm., 14 July 36 Hen. VIII.  —S.B. (injured, signed by Westminster, Petre, Bakere, Sir Robt. Southwell, North, Moyle, Wriothesley, St. John, Ryche, Sir Ric. Southwell, Stamford and Bacon). Pat. p. 15, m. 1.
Middleton [Milton Pudimore] and Doulton were passed to his daughter Muriel [who died shortly after her father] and her husband John Horner. Nyland [Andersey] was passed to Awdrey along with Watchfield and other manors specifically given to her and her father mentioned above.
The last entry for John in royal documents is on 17 Jan 1546/7 Lands sold by the Crown which follows on from the grant by the king the previous year.
John Malte, tailor, and Awdrye his base daughter 1,312l. 12d.
Watchfield [Wachenfelde], Uffington [Offyngton] and other properties in Berkshire were granted earlier than this on 18 May 1541
John Malt. Grant, in fee, of the reversion and rent reserved upon a 21 years’ Crown lease to Alex. Umpton, 12 March 29 Hen. VIII., of tithes of the rectory of Offyngton, Berks, which belonged to A bendon mon. Also the lordships and manors of Offyngton and Wacchenfeld, Berks, with appurtenances in Offyngton, Wacchenfelde, Blakynge alias Balkynge and Wolston, Berks, the rectory and church of Offyngton, Berks, and the rectory of the church or chapel of Wolston and the chapel of Blakynge or Balkynge; and all tithes in Offyngton, Wolston, and Blakinge, and in the manor of Hardewell, Berks, which belonged to the said monastery; the advowsons of the vicarage of Offyngton, the parish church of Wolston and the chapels of Wolston and Blakynge alias Balkinge; all which belonged to Abendon.
Also a messuage in Wacchenfelde, Berks, which belonged to Cirencester mon., and another which belonged to Braddenstok mon. Rent of 10l. 16s. 9d., with liberty to the grantee to convert to his own uses the said rectories, churches, and chapels. Subject to certain reprises. Greenwich, 9 May 33 Hen. VIII. 
Uffington was passed to his daughter Bridget [Scutt] and Watchfield to Awdrey and other properties to Muriel and grandson John Horner.
John Malte to John Horner, jun. All his lands in Westbury, Soms., which belonged to Bruton abbey. (20th.) P. 15, m. 18.
John seems to have done well under the king and probably made a lot of money from his position as Royal Tailor, which he seems to have invested in land and property. One of his bills is for a rather large sum of money!
John Malte for 1,824l. 16s. 4d. [£443,000]… Provided that these bills are first signed by three of the commissioners named in the said commission of 1 March 35 Hen. VIII. [1543/4]
Calculate at a rate of £1 in 1550 = £243 today
It has been speculated that Joanne, the mother of Awdrey, was a minor noble down on her luck and she could have been the widow of James Dyngley – and therefore the daughter of Sir John Moore – or the daughter of Sir Thomas Dyngley. But if this was the case I would have expected her to have been married off to another minor noble, and there would be no need for Awdrey to be adopted.
Although there is no specific evidence of her being a laundress [apparently there are laundry lists] she is likely to have been a domestic servant of some sort who did not have the resources to bring up the bastard child of the king. She was married off to someone named Dobson, possibly a minor palace official, but perhaps a better match than she could have otherwise expected.
It is not know how long Awdrey lived with her mother. Possibly she made the birth known to royal officials and she was married off so that she could look after the child? It may have been several years before Awdrey was “adopted” by John Malte – but likely to have been some time before he wrote his will claiming her as his child.
There was no way for the king to have passed any lands to Awdrey through her mother, Joanne, without raising suspicion so having her adopted by Malte was a good plan – he was a rich man and could afford to buy the properties made available by the king and targeted at Awdrey. This also made it possible for Awdrey to have a much better marriage than she could have otherwise had as the daughter of a servant.
Joanne is left £20 [about £5000] in the will of John Malte, maybe as some sort of compensation from the King, but I doubt very much that John had ever met Joanne Dingley.
Awdrey was probably born on St. Etheldreda’s day, 23 June – Etheldreda being the Latin version of her name. In the will of John Malte in September 1546 she was not yet 15 years old so was most likely born in 1532, a period when King Henry had tired of his first wife and was courting Anne Boleyn.
If this is the correct date then she was conceived about September 1531 – where was the king at this time? Wherever he was this is likely to be where Joanne Dingley worked and Awdrey was born. This could have been Greenwich or Windsor or any other of the royal households.
And where was John Malte? He was appointed King’s Tailor in October of 1531, so it is not impossible that he is Awdrey’s father based on her estimated birth, but the timing would be tight.
There is no evidence that Awdrey had distinctive red [Tudor] hair or resembled her younger half-sister Elizabeth, but if she was the daughter of Henry VIII then this is a possibility – why not? There is supposedly a portrait of her [and one of daughter Hester] held by the Harington family for several generations, but now in a private collection, that would have proved this theory. [isn’t there always?]
In 1546 – when John Malte wrote his will – Awdrey was betrothed to Richard Darcy, the illegitimate son of Sir Richard Southwell , but this arrangement was broken sometime after her father’s death later that year.
In the will his trustye and welbeloved frende sir Richard Sothewell was charged by Malte to look after Awdrey’s financial affairs until she was fifteen. Maybe this is the reason that the will was not proven until June of 1547 – 6 months after John died – as this meant that Sir Richard Southwell never got a chance to be involved in Awdreys financial affairs and perhaps, for this reason he broke off the engagement between Awdrey and his son Richard.
But more likely this was because the was King now dead and had publicly declared – through John Malte’s will and the grant of lands – that Awdrey was not his daughter. Richard Southwell had been privy to the large land grants awarded to John Malte so he may have guessed that things were not quite what they seemed and had other plans for Awdrey.
Both documents are very clearly worded as to the pedigree of Awdrey and this was probably devised by some trusted court official and agreed between John and the King, with a sum of money being paid to Joanne by John Malte in his will – a payment directly from the King may have given the wrong impression.
Etheldreda Malte alias Dyngley, bastard daughter of the said John by Joan Dyngley alias Dobson
Audrey Malte my bastard daughter begotten upon the body of Johane Dyngley and now wife of one Dobson
Some additional properties were granted two weeks after the will was written, and only Awdrey could inherit them. These are probably the best of the manors – Kelston and St Katherine’s Court near Bath in Somerset – where Awdrey and John Harington and their descendants actually lived – and possibly where Awdrey died.
But were these properties intended for the Southwell family? Were they part of an unofficial marriage agreement and the reason why they were specifically aimed at Awdrey after the will had been written?
Some sources say that Henry had declared Awdrey as his daughter – or at least had not denied it – and the agreement between Henry and John Malte was a very public way of correcting that mistake, assuming that he had good reasons for not wanting it to be known that Awdrey was his daughter.
Alison Weir in her book Anne Boleyn:the Great and Infamous Whore talks about Awdrey and the rumours and quotes the following:
In 1656 Jonathon lesley, Deputy Clerk, wrote to a descendant of [John] Harington describing how “the great King Henry the VIIIth matched his darling daughter to John Harington, and though a bastard, dowered her with the rich lands of Bath Priory” he added that his information came from Sir Andrew Markham, a descendant of Harington’s second wife.
This cannot be true as, at the time of his death, King Henry would have been aware that Awdrey was due to marry the son of his friend Sir Richard Southwell. Perhaps the lands he had granted to Awdrey and her father were intended for the Southwell family and not John Harington, who she married instead?
John Malte died in December of 1546 and Henry VIII early the following year leaving Awdrey without a father – one way or another. She probably lived with her mother or elder sister Bridget and husband John Scutt – who were the executors of the will – until she married.
John Harington was born in Stepney, the son of Alexander, in about 1525 [some say 1517] but little is known of his immediate family.
The Tudor Place website has a birth date of either 1525 or 1529 and a christening date of 21st April in either of those years – I think the earlier is more likely. However this website also associates John of Stepney much too closely with his cousin Sir John Harington of Exton, the term cousin not being quite as precise as we use it today.
In 1568 John of Stepney applied for a confirmation of arms which was granted, but this only confirms that he is descended from a younger son of the Harington’s of Brierley – possibly James before he took holy orders. This confirmation led to later attempts to regain property and titles by John’s son, Sir John Harington , that ultimately failed.
Why – and under what circumstances – social climber John Harington married the daughter of a tailor and a servant is still unclear but he would have certainly seen the benefits of the match as far as her dowry was concerned. His branch of the Harington family had been impoverished after the wars of the roses and John was crawling his way back into royal favour.
John had studied music composition under Thomas Tallis and his work “Black Sanctus” probably brought him to the attention of the king, although none of his work survives. In her novel Royal Inheritance, about the life of Awdrey, author Kate Emerson casts John as her music teacher.
John was a poet and musician and was, for a period, in the Chapel Royal where he was organist. Later he became servant to Sir Thomas Seymour which put him in the heart of royal politics at the time of Lady Jane Grey, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his supposed involvement. He was devoted to princess Elizabeth and when she became Queen he was back in favour – Elizabeth becoming godmother to his son John from his second wife Isabella Markham.
Awdrey and John Harington probably married late in 1547 but it is not known exactly where or when this happened. Awdrey’s local church was St Awstyn’s besides Powles gate where her father was buried, but all records were lost in the great fire of London in 1666. [i]
[i] Leading out of St. Paul’s Churchyard at the south-east corner to Watling Street, St Augustine’s besides St Paul’s gate burnt down in the Fire and was not rebuilt, although for many years after the entrance into the churchyard at this point was still known by this name.
John Harington of Stepney is known as The Poet or Treasurer. However it appears that this second soubriquet is incorrect and he was never treasurer to the king’s camps and buildings – that post was filled by his distant cousin Sir John Harington of Exton, with whom he is often confused.
John of Stepney would have been too young to have held such a position under Henry VIII and he had no background in the skills required of a treasurer. On the other hand John Bradford was a skilled auditor and much has been written about him as a reformer and martyr, but in all the accounts I have seen he is employed by Sir John Harington of Exton, treasurer to the king’s camps and buildings – even Wikipedia says this, but then incorrectly links to John Harington of Stepney!
This position is confirmed in official court papers, although the job title varies.
Sir John Haryngton, treasurer of the wars, that Counsell should deliver him 6,000l. towards payments by Hertford’s warrant [11 April 1546]
His grandson and great-grandson were also named John – first and second Barons Exton – and they all share a common ancestor with John Harington of Stepney:
Robert Harington of Badsworth (1458-1497).
Robert was the grandfather of Sir John of Exton and the great-grandfather of John Harington of Stepney.
John Harington of Stepney, The Poet (1525?-1582)
Sir John Harington of Kelston, The Writer (1561-1612)
Sir John Harington of Exton, (Treasurer) (1503-1589)
Sir John Harington of Kelston was the son of John of Stepney, author of nugae antiquae and inventer of the first flushing toilet.
King Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547 and was succeeded by his sickly nine year old son, Edward VI who was the son of Henry and his third wife Jane Seymour. Two of Edward’s uncles, Thomas and Edward Seymour, were on the council of regency, although it was Edward, duke of Somerset who was made protector of the young king, much to the annoyance of his younger brother.
Thomas, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley married the King’s widow, Catherine Parr, in April or May of 1547 – just a few months after Henry had died. This made him an extremely rich man – even more so after the death of his wife in child-birth a few years later.
Arrangements had been made for Richard Darcy, the illegitimate son of Richard Southwell, to marry Awdrey Malte and this was probably arranged between the King and Richard, who was close to the king [he was left £200 in his will] and an ambitious man. He may even have been privy to who she was – officially or unofficially – having been at several meeting where land was granted to her father, John Malte.
After the death of Henry, the Southwell fortunes changed as the Seymour family took charge of the young King Edward – it seems there was little love lost between the families. If the Seymours were aware that Awdrey was the daughter of Henry then they may have wanted to keep their options open and marry her to someone of their choosing. Or at least remove Awdrey, and her property, from the Southwell’s influence – maybe out of spite if nothing else.
The delay in publishing John Malte’s will may have been to ensure that Richard Southwell had no claims on Awdrey’s finances – as detailed in the will – and to find an alternative suitor. Thomas Seymour may have suggested his young servant John Harington perhaps as a reward for his loyal service [he would gain a lot of property from the arrangement] but also because Thomas trusted him. It is possible that John and Awdrey had never met at this point, but once the Southwells were out of the picture things could be put in motion.
The will was proved in June 1547 when either Awdrey was fifteen or the Southwells had pulled out of the marriage arrangement. John Harington bought two manors in Gloucestershire in exchange for an annuity [possibly these were Thornbury Park and Oldebury, but these have been associated with James Harington, of Rutland] in September so he would not come to the marriage totally empty handed and it is likely they married later the same year.
It was about this time that John Harington first appeared in parliament representing Pembroke, which, it appears, he never visited. The History of Parliament is in little doubt that this appointment was due to his links with the Seymours.
It is possible that as joint chancellor of North Wales the earl had obtained for him his annuity out of the lordship of Denbigh: as the Protector Somerset [Edward Seymour] the earl favoured his purchase of two Gloucestershire manors. This connexion with Seymour and the Protector doubtless explains Harington’s first known appearance in Parliament, at the beginning of Edward VI’s reign.
The marriage was probably more of a political arrangement than a love match and several years later John began writing poems to Isabella Markham, another of princess Elizabeth’s attendants, who would later become his second wife. John and Awdrey did have one daughter, Hester but Awdrey became ill afterwards and there were no more children. She may have died in early 1559 having first witnessed the coronation of Queen Elizabeth but it may have been earlier – even in childbirth – possibly in St Catherine’s Court in Somerset or the couple’s property in London.
Both John and Awdrey were in the Tower of London in 1554 – John for his part in the Lady Jane Grey affair [or the Wyatt rebellion] and Awdrey as an attendant to Queen Elizabeth during her confinement there by her sister Mary.
I do not think that Hester was born until after her parents were released from the tower, but she could have been conceived there. I estimate Hester to have been born late 1554 based on her being about 21 when she married and being 14 when she was involved in the recovery of Watchfield, and this fits with the period when either one or both of her parents were in the tower of London.
Her birth could have been as late as 1556 is she married at 18, but then she would only have been 12 during the recovery of Watchfield and could not have been presented as the owner [Vouchee] of the property – fourteen being the age of adulthood at that time.
The date of the recovery is Michaelmas 10-11 Eliz  so would have been some time between September and December of that year. If Hester was conceived early in 1554, then she would have been born by the end of that year and therefore could legally be the owner of Watchfield during the Michaelmas period of 1568.
It has been speculated that Awdrey was placed as an attendant to princess Elizabeth, by their half-sister Mary, when Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower in March 1554 but I have not yet found any evidence of this.
As the bastard daughter of a tailor and a servant there is no reason at all for Awdrey to have been included in Elizabeth’s retinue – a position usually given to those of noble birth. This is perhaps a equally compelling reason to believe that Awdrey was the daughter of Henry VIII along with the grants of property that were aimed at her through her father.
There is plenty of evidence to show that Hester is the daughter of John Harington and Awdrey Malte through documents and wills relating to the inheritance of the manor of Watchfield, and whether Awdrey was the daughter of King Henry VIII may one day be proved either way using DNA. There is certainly some evidence to support this theory and several historians believe it to be more likely than not.
If this is true then members of the Codrington, Tatton and Garrard families can claim to be descended from the Tudor dynasty and Henry would be my 12th great grandfather. There also seems little doubt that we are also related to Joanne Dingley – whoever she was.
Having investigated the pedigree of Hester for some time now, I am now fairly convinced that her mother, Awdrey Malte, is the daughter of Henry VIII.
John Malte was appointed King’s Tailor in October of 1531 and, if Awdrey was born in June the following year, he could possibly be her father. Perhaps this is one of the reasons – other than his good nature – that he was involved in this deception – if he could be proved to be somewhere else it would not be believable?
I think it unlikely that the first thing he did after taking up his new post was to go looking for a young laundress! I also think that if he was the father of Awdrey he would simply have called her his daughter and not mentioned her being a bastard, and probably no need to mention her mother or her change of name.
The similarities of the wording in John’s will and the grant of lands are too obvious to ignore. The inclusion of the “disclaimer” in both documents seems to be more indicative of a hidden truth than anything else.
It is also interesting that Awdrey is specifically granted property [jointly with her father] in the first place. But this does seem like a good way of declaring the details of her parentage in official court documents without actually making a specific declaration.
It would be even more difficult – in my option – to explain some of these events if she was proved not to be the daughter of King Henry VIII.
King Henry VIII (1491-1547) = Joanne Dingley = John Malte (d.1546)
Awdrey “Etheldreda” Malte (1532-1559) = John Harington (1525-1582)
Hester Harington (1554-1639) = William Stubbes (1550-1630)
Anne Stubbes (1574-1650) = Robert Codrington (1574-1618)
Susan Stubbes (1582-1624) = Robert Tatton (1586-1636)
Theophilia Stubbes (1584-1643) = Thomas Garrard (1575-1617)
Robert Tatton was related to the Tatton family of Wythenshaw in Cheshire and Thomas Garrard was of Inkpen in Berkshire, descended from the Garrard family of Lambourn, Berkshire.
Why John Malte?
Why did the King choose John Malte to adopt his illegitimate daughter?
To start with John was married with several daughters and step-daughters in his household, so another one would not be too out of place.
He was appointed to his position as Royal tailor at just about the right time to potentially be Awdrey’s father.
He was probably quite close to the King, even counted as a friend, and would probably have had ample opportunity to discuss the arrangements in private.
The king would have know of John’s good nature – as shown in his will where he leaves money to several good causes and a foundling child – and may have taken advantage of this.
He was quite a rich man in his own right – certainly after being Royal tailor – and the grant of lands would not be too out of place, although the number of grants may have raised a few eyebrows.
All things considered he was the perfect candidate.
But there are also questions.
Why was there so much effort to deny that Awdrey was Henry’s daughter, or at least for John Malte to claim her as his?
There was no real need to add the statement about Awdrey’s illegitimacy or the name of her mother in either the will or the later grant of land?
The King had claimed at least one other bastard child – although this was a boy, the daughter of Elizabeth Blount – so what was so different about Awdrey?
Considering that both Mary and Elizabeth were, at one time or other, declared illegitimate, why would Awdrey not also be in line to the throne? Well probably because she was genuinely a bastard and not declared so legally for the convenience of others. And perhaps simply because she was the daughter of a servant and not from a noble family like the Boleyns.
The Harington and Stubbes family were both from Stepney so the marriage of Awdrey’s daughter, Hester to William Stubbes was likely to have been a simple arrangement between two local families. But the Stubbes family also had connections to Sir Francis Walsingham , Queen Elizabeth’s principal secretary and spymaster, and maybe the marriage was arranged between William and Hester in order for Walsingham to maintain control of a potential heir to the throne, the grand-daughter of King Henry – especially as Elizabeth appeared unwilling to marry.
Walsingham became principal secretary in December 1573 and William and Hester married a year later, but of course this is probably just a coincidence.
This document is a summary of my investigation into a small part of my family tree and is likely to change as more information becomes available. I am still awaiting documents from the National archives but for now the pedigree of William Stubbes of Watchfield continues to be a mystery – if anything I have too much information!
As the arms on the memorial to Robert Codrington were used by the Stubbes families of both London and Norfolk it is likely that there is a connection to the Norfolk family somewhere, but so far I have not found one despite rebuilding the Stubbes of Norfolk family tree. At the moment it is looking more likely that William’s father [William of Congleton, I think] was from Cheshire although he also lived in Berkshire.
Most of the information in this document can be found in more detail in other posts.
I have used the modern spelling of Harington – with one R – as much as possible, however many of the original documents or transcriptions I have referenced use Harrington.
Chris Sidney 2015