The uncle and aunts of John Collins of Epping

Richard Collins (1693 – 1748), the Epping landowner whose will I discussed in the previous post, was the father of John Collins (born 1733), the first husband of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson. Richard Collins was himself the third of the four children of another Richard Collins (1656 – 1742). He had an older brother John (1686 – 1742), an older sister Sarah (born 1688), and a younger sister Elizabeth (1697 – 1761). Fortunately, there are extant wills for three of the four siblings (I’ve yet to track down a will for Sarah, or details of when she died), which make it possible to piece together some of the Collins family history, and to provide some context for John Collins’ own life.

We also have the will of the first Richard Collins, the father of these four siblings, who died in 1742. To his eldest son John he left the property in which he himself lived, together with a number of other properties, all of them in Epping. To his younger son Richard he bequeathed the property know as Turners, which Richard would in turn leave to his own son, a third Richard Collins, as well as his property ‘at the sign of the George’ in Epping, which would be passed on to William Collins (see previous post). To his daughter Elizabeth, Richard Collins left his property in the village of Northweald, also known as Northweald Bassett. His youngest daughter Sarah, who by then was married to Henry Small, was bequeathed a property known as ‘the Harpe’ in Epping Street, which was to pass to her daughter Sarah Small after her death. In addition Elizabeth Collins was to receive a legacy of one hundred pounds together with all of the household furniture and implements to be found in her father’s parlour, and the use of that parlour until the time of her marriage (in fact, she never married). Richard’s grandchildren Richard, Sarah, Henry and Mary Small received legacies of forty pounds each. 

Epping High Street today

Epping High Street today

Sarah Small née Collins

The first of the four children of Richard Collins the elder to marry was his daughter Sarah. On 12th May 1708 Henry Small, a bachelor, and Sarah Collins, a spinster, both of Epping, were married at the church of St James, Dukes Place, in the City of London. According to the marriage allegation, Henry was twenty-six and Sarah twenty-one at the time. We know from her father Richard’s will that Sarah Small née Collins had children named Richard (1711), Sarah (1713), Mary (1715) and Henry (1718), all of them baptised at Epping. We also know from the parish records that another daughter named Mary was born to Henry and Sarah Small but died in 1710. The same records inform us that a son named John was born and died in 1721, and that another son, Joshua, was born in 1722. The latter’s survival is confirmed by the 1759 will of his aunt Elizabeth Collins, who leaves one hundred and thirty pounds to ‘my nephew Joshua Small’.

We know very little about Sarah’s husband Henry Small: his will of 1750 is held in the Essex Archives and from the online entry we know that he was living in Theydon Mount at the time. His name appears in an Epping electoral register for 1715, beneath that of John Collins, presumably his brother-in-law.

According to the parish records, Mary Small may have died in 1741 and Henry Small junior may have died in 1742, the same year as his grandfather Richard Collins. Joshua Small was buried at Epping in 1777, but nothing else is known about him.

More is known about Sarah Small the younger, daughter of Henry and Sarah. In 1734 she married widower John Franklin at St Benet Paul’s Wharf in the City of London. He was said to be of Much Hallingbury near Bishops Stortford while she was said to be from Theydon Mount. In her will of 1759, Sarah’s maiden aunt Elizabeth Collins left money to her niece ‘Sarah the wife of Mr John Franklin’. In his own will of 1769 John Franklin describes himself as an ‘innholder’ and refers to his wife Sarah Franklin and to ‘my only son Richard Franklin’, who is named as executor. Sarah must have remarried after her husband’s death 1760, since her own will, signed and sealed in 1789, in which she describes herself as ‘the relict of John Franklin late of (Epping) victualler and before that Sarah Small’, is written under the name of Sarah Cary. 

John Collins

Coopersale House, once home of the Archer family, in about 1958

Coopersale House, once home of the Archer family, in about 1958

John Collins was the second child of Richard Collins the elder to marry. On 5th November 1722, John Collins, a bachelor from the parish of Epping, married Mary Archer, a spinster from the neighbouring parish Theydon Garnon, at the church of St Andrew Undershaft in the City of London.

As I’ve noted before, it’s possible that Mary was the daughter of the William Archer (1677 – 1739) who had been born William Eyre and inherited the substantial estate of Coopersale in Theydon Garnon from John Archer on the condition that he marry Eleanor Wrottesley, John Archer’s niece, and take the Archer name. When Eleanor died without issue, William married Susanna, daughter of Sir John Newton, baronet, and I assume Mary was their daughter. According to one source William Archer ‘entered Parliament as a Tory at a by-election in 1734 and was returned unopposed later in that year, voting against the Government on the Spanish convention in 1739.’ We also learn that, as a result of his marriages, William and his family ‘were of considerable wealth; his daughter Susanna was said to have a fortune of £50,000 on her marriage in 1751 to Edward Harley, 4th Earl of Oxford.’

John Collins’ will of 1742 names a ‘William Archer the elder’ as one of his executors and the will was witnessed by, among others, one Nicholas Archer, who is probably the person of that name listed, with John Collins and Henry Small, in the electoral roll for Epping in 1715. However, I’ve yet to find confirmation that William and Nicholas Archer were members of the Archer family of Coopersale. John’s will mentions his wife Mary, father-in-law William Archer ‘the elder’, and son Richard. He also makes reference to his brother Richard (making him one of the executors, as well as guardian of his son Richard, together with William Archer), and his nephews Richard, John, William and David.

Elizabeth Collins

As already noted, Elizabeth Collins, the sister of Richard, Sarah and John, and the daughter of Richard Collins the elder, did not marry. She made her will in 1759, leaving the property in Northweald Bassett that she had inherited from her father Richard to her nephew William. She bequeaths a property ‘called Squires otherwise Tylers’ in Epping Street to William’s younger sister Elizabeth, who is to pay an annuity of eight pounds to her brother John. As mentioned above, the elder Elizabeth Collins also makes provision for her nephew Joshua Small, son of her sister Sarah, and for the latter’s daughter Sarah, the wife of John Franklin. Mention is also made of ‘my niece Sarah the wife of Mr Dillworth’.

There are a number of individuals named in Elizabeth Collins’ will whose exact relationship to her is still a puzzle: these include ‘my cousin Susanna the wife of William Clarke of Epping’ and ‘my niece Jane Reynolds spinster the only daughter of my niece the late Mrs Jane Reynolds’.

1786 map of the Epping area, Essex

1786 map of the Epping area, Essex

Conclusion

My purpose in exploring the lives of these members of the Collins family has to been to provide some context for understanding the life of John Collins of Epping who married my ancestor Elizabeth Gibson. His uncle John Collins the elder died when John was only nine years old, but he had a son Richard who would have been the younger John’s cousin. His aunt Sarah Small was probably still alive when John married Elizabeth Gibson, and her children would have been his cousins and contemporaries. Finally, his unmarried aunt Elizabeth was also alive during most of John’s adult life, dying just a few years before him.

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Reflection on the will of Richard Collins of Epping (died 1748)

In the last post I reproduced my transcription of the will of Richard Collins of Epping, Essex (1693 – 1748). He was the father of John Collins (born 1733), the first husband of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). Richard Collins’ will is a key source of information about the Collins family of Epping: specifically, it includes the names of his surviving children and the details of their inheritance.

I’ve written before about the properties bequeathed by Richard Collins to his three eldest sons. His firstborn son and main heir, Richard junior, is to receive a considerable amount of property in the Lindsey Street area of Epping, including a property known as ‘Turners otherwise Colports otherwise Colworthyes’, amounting to about fifteen acres, and another called Hight Holes, comprising another fifteen acres.

John Collins, as the second son, appears to receive an even larger share of his father’s property, judged by mere acreage. Richard senior bequeaths him a property called Deacons at Stivyers Green, which is in the parishes of both Epping and neighbouring Great Parndon. As I noted in an earlier post, the area has also been known at various times as Severs Green and Chivers Green. This property comprises thirty acres, equivalent to the total amount inherited by John’s older brother Richard. However, in addition John is to receive a property by the name of Westmill, consisting of twenty-six acres and three roods.

Old map of Epping (date unknown) showing Sivers (Stivyers) Green

Old map of Epping (date unknown) showing Sivers (Stivyers) Green at top and Lindsey (Linset) Street at bottom

Richard Collins’ third son William is to inherit property associated with the George Inn in Epping. Richard also makes provision for ‘my four youngest children namely David Collins Jane Collins Sarah Collins and Elizabeth Collins’. However, if my information about the birth dates of these children is correct, then strictly speaking only David can be said to be one of Richard’s ‘youngest’ children. He was christened at Epping on 18th September 1740 and his mother Jane is said to have been buried there on 12th February 1741, perhaps having died from complications following David’s birth. But there are baptismal records for Sarah and Elizabeth in 1735 and 1737 respectively – I have yet to find a record for the younger Jane Collins – suggesting that Richard Collins counted his daughters as among his youngest children simply because they were female. They and their brother David would all have been very young when their father died, with ages ranging from eight to perhaps thirteen years.

The will mentions a number of other key figures who are not members of the Collins family. Richard Collins refers at one point to ‘the several farms and lands I now hold of John Conyers Esquire in Epping’. John Conyers lived at Copped Hall, a large mansion and estate adjacent to Woodredon, in Waltham Abbey, the property owned by Elizabeth Gibson’s parents John and Mary (my 6 x great grandparents). A few years ago Copped Hall was saved from demolition by a local campaign and is in the process of restoration: it is clearly visible from as you drive along the M25 between junctions 26 and 27, which cuts through the area, dividing Copped Hall from its historic neighbours in Epping and Waltham Abbey.

John Conyers was the son of Edward Conyers who purchased the estate in 1739, but he only enjoyed the house for three years before dying in 1742. John (1717-1775) inherited the property and considered repairing the original Hall as it had become dilapidated. However, in the end he decided to build a new house on a different site. This was built between 1751-58 after demolishing the old one in about 1748.

Copped Hall, Essex  (via commons.wikimedia.org)

Copped Hall, Essex
(via commons.wikimedia.org)

It would seem that some at least of the lands inherited by John Collins were part of the Copped Hall estate. As I’ve noted before, in the catalogue of Essex Archives Online there is reference to a document relating to the Copped Hall estate, Epping, containing ‘Deeds of Messuage called Deacons and another messuage, both at Chivers (Stivyers) Green, lands called West Mills, Epping and Great Parndon’. I’m still very keen to view this document, since it covers the period 1757 – 1763. John Collins married Elizabeth Gibson in 1753, and was dead by 1763 at the latest, so it’s likely that it will provide some insight into his ownership and possibly his place of residence.

Richard Collins was a widow when he made his will (his wife Jane had died two years earlier, in 1740) and his eldest son Richard junior was only twelve years old. It was probably for these reasons that Richard named two friends or associates – ‘Philip Martin of Theydon Garnon … Gentleman and Joseph Innever of Epping … yeoman’ as executors of the will. Philip Martin’s name occurs in a number of documents connected with the Collins family. For example, he would be one of the parties to the marriage settlement of Richard Collins junior in 1747, and he would be named as an executor, and described as an ‘esteemed friend’ by Elizabeth Collins, the unmarried sister of Richard Collins senior, in her will of 1761. As for Joseph Innever or Ennever, the other executor of Richard’s will, I’ve been unable to discover anything conclusive about him, except that a number of people with the same surname owned property in Epping, Waltham Abbey and other parts of Essex at this period.

Richard Collins was buried at Epping on 18th February 1748 and his will was proved on 1st March. When he died his eldest son Richard would have been about eighteen years old, his second son John fifteen and his third son William only nine. As mentioned above, Richard’s other children Jane, Sarah, Elizabeth and David would also have been quite young. This is presumably why Richard appoints his executors, Philip Martin and Joseph Innever, as guardians of all his children, to ‘have the care custody and tuition of all and every my sons and daughters and of their respective estates during their respective minoritys’.

There is a slight anomaly in the records I’ve found for Richard Collins junior. The parish records note that he was baptised on 16th December 1731. However, we also know that he married Ann Champain on 15th September 1746. Was Richard only fifteen when he married, or was he christened some years after his birth (his parents were married in 1727)? We know that when his father Richard senior made his will in 1742, Richard junior was still under twenty-one, but we don’t know his exact age. At any rate, Richard junior would have been married for just over a year when his father died. However, perhaps he didn’t come into his inheritance until he was twenty-one.

As for his younger brother John, I’m curious to know when he inherited the generous amount of land left to him by his father Richard – if indeed he did so. As I’ve noted before, John married my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson on 21st February 1753. I’ve been assuming that both John and Elizabeth were under age when they married, and that this might explain why they married at St George’s Chapel, Mayfair, a notorious location for clandestine marriages. However, reviewing the dates, I see that John Collins was christened in Epping on 14th January 1733. If the wedding actually took place in February 1754 by today’s reckoning, then he would have been able to marry without the permission of his guardians and presumably would also have recently inherited the properties left to him by his late father. Perhaps it was my ancestor Elizabeth who did not have the blessing of her father, who may in fact have been in the Fleet Prison at the time (see these posts). At the same time, I wonder if a secret marriage might have been frowned on by his guardians and might have jeopardised his inheritance?

St George's Chapel, Mayfair in the 18th century

St George’s Chapel, Mayfair in the 18th century

I’m curious to discover whether John Collins ever inherited the properties of Deacons or Westmill at Stivyers Green, and if so, whether he and Elizabeth lived there, presumably enjoying considerable wealth, until his death in about 1763. We know that their daughter Frances was born at Darby Street in East Smithfield, London, but it’s possible that Elizabeth was simply staying there during her confinement, with her mother or even her widowed grandmother, who is known to have lived there. Or perhaps, like her parents, Elizabeth during her first marriage to John Collins enjoyed the luxury of both a country seat and a house in town?

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The will of Richard Collins of Epping (1693 – 1748)

Old map of Epping, with Lindsey Street at top left

Old map of Epping, with Lindsey Street at top left

Last week I summarised what I’ve been able to discover about the family of John Collins of Epping, the first husband of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). I’m revisiting the Collins family in the hope of gaining a greater understanding of Elizabeth’s life and solving some of the mysteries that still surround her story. John Collins was the second son of Richard Collins, an Epping landowner, and in this post I’m sharing my transcription of Richard’s will, one of our main sources of information concerning the Collins family in the first half of the eighteenth century. I’ll discuss what the will can tell us in another post. Richard Collins made his will in December 1742 but he didn’t die until February 1748; his will was proved in March of that year.

In the Name of God Amen. I Richard Collins of the parish of Epping in the County of Essex Gentleman being infirm in health and considering the great uncertainty of human life do therefore make my last will and testament in manner following that is to say as for and concerning my temporal estate I dispose thereof as followeth First I give and devise unto my eldest son Richard Collins and his heirs all that my customary messuage or tenement called or known by the name of Turners otherwise Colports otherwise Colworthyes situate and being at or near Lindsey Street in Epping aforesaid with the barns stables cowhouses outhouses yards gardens orchards and appurtenances thereto belonging and also all and singular the customary lands meadows pastures and hereditaments to the same messuage belonging and therewith used containing together by estimation fifteen acres more or less lying and being in Epping aforesaid with their and every of their appurtenances and which were purchased by my late father Richard Collins deceased of and from one Stephen Flower and also all that my other customary messauge or tenement called Hight Holes with the outhouses edifices yards gardens orchards and appurtenances situate at or near Lindsey Street aforesaid in Epping aforesaid and also all and singular the customary lands pastures and hereditaments whatever to the same last mentioned messuage belonging or therewith now used call Parklands or otherwise containing together also fifteen acres more or less and lying and being in Epping aforesaid with their and every of their appurtenances and which my said late father had and purchased of Richard Day Gentleman since deceased to hold the said two several messuages or tenements lands hereditaments and premises with their and every of their appurtenances unto and to the use of my said son Richard Collins his heirs and assigns for ever upon this express condition nevertheless that he my said son Richard or his heirs shall and do thereout well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto my son William Collins the sum of two hundred pounds or lawful money of Great Britain within one year after my decease in case he shall then be of the age of one and twenty years or else not to be paid to him until he shall attain such age I give and devise unto my second son John Collins and his heirs all that my freehold messuage or tenement called or known by the name of Deacons situate and being at Stivyers Green in the parish of Epping aforesaid with the barns stables outhouses yards gardens orchards and appurtenances thereto belonging and also all and singular the lands meadows pastures and hereditaments whatsoever as well freehold and copyhold to the same messuage or tenement belonging and therewith now used occupied or enjoyed containing in the whole by estimation thirty acres be the same more or less lying and being in the several parishes of Epping aforesaid and Great Parringdon otherwise Parndon in the said County of Essex late in the occupation of William Greygoose and now of Stephen Holton or his undertenants and which I purchased of and from George Hayes and Elizabeth his wife with their and every of their rights and appurtenances and also all that my other freehold messuage or tenement called or known by the name of Westmill situate and being at or near Stivyers Green aforesaid in Epping aforesaid with barns stables cowhouses outhouses yards and gardens orchards and appurtenances thereto belonging and also all and singular the lands meadows pastures woodgrounds and hereditaments whatsoever to the said last mentioned messuage belonging containing together by estimation twenty six acres and three roods be the same more or less lying or being in the several parishes of Epping and Great Parringdon otherwise Parndon aforesaid and now in the occupations of me and the said Stephen Holton or his assigns with their and every of their rights and appurtenances to hold the said two several messuages or tenements lands hereditaments and premises hereinbefore last mentioned with their and every of their appurtenances unto and to the use of my said Son John Collins his heirs and assigns forever Also I give and devise unto my third son William Collins and his heirs all that my customary messuage or tenement wherein William Rumball now dwelleth called or known by the name or sign of the George situate and being in Epping Street in Epping aforesaid with the barns stables granarys maultshops outhouses yards gardens and appurtenances thereto belonging or therewith used or occupied or taken as part or parcel thereof To hold the same unto and to the use of my said son William Collins his heirs and assigns for ever Also I give unto the poor people of the parish of Epping aforesaid the sum of ten pounds to be paid and distributed by the church wardens and overseers of the poor of the same parish in [?] as they shall see proper on the next Sunday after my interment at the church of Epping aforesaid Also I give unto my said son Richard Collins a large silver cup marked R.C. which Captain Brown his Godfather left him and as for and concerning all the rest and residue of my ready moneys securitys for money mortgages bonds household goods and other goods chattels cattle corn hay and implements of husbandry and all other my personal estate whatsoever (after my debts legacys funeral expenses and charges of proving and the execution of this my will paid and satisfied) I give and bequeath the same and every part thereof unto my well esteemed friends Philip Martin of Theydon Garnon in the said county of Essex Gentleman and Joseph Innever of Epping aforesaid yeoman and the survivor of them his executors and administrators upon trust that they the said Philip Martin and Joseph Innever and the survivor of them his executors or administrators shall so soon as conveniently can be after my decase leave and quit or else assign the several farms and lands I now hold of John Conyers Esquire in Epping aforesaid and the leases thereof if he will consent to the same and also shall and do sell and dispose of all my said household goods and other goods chattels cattle corn hay and implements of husbandry and other my personal estate in such manner as they or the survivor of them shall think fit and proper an the moneys arising by sale thereof or otherwise by or from my said personal estate I give and bequeath the same unto and amongst my four youngest children namely David Collins Jane Collins Sarah Collins and Elizabeth Collins equally to be divided share and share alike and to be paid to my said son David at his age of one and twenty years and to my said three daughters at their respective ages of twenty one years or days of marriage which shall first happen and in case any of them my said four youngest children shall happen to dye before his or their shares or parts of my said personal estate shall become payable by this my will that then and in such case I give and bequeath the share or part or shares or parts of him her or them so dying unto the survivor and survivors or them equally as aforesaid and I do hereby make and appoint the said Joseph Innever and Philip Martin join executors of this my last will and testament and do give unto each of them the sum of twenty pounds for their trouble in the execution of this my will and the trust thereby reposed in them And I do hereby will order and direct that the moneys arising by sale of my said stock goods chattels and personal estate or otherwise by or from my said personal estate shall be put and placed out at interest or laid out by my said executors or the survivor of them in the purchase of government securities or in such other securities as they or the survivor of them his executors or administrators shall from time to time think fit and that the interest or yearly produce thereof or of such part thereof as my said executors or the survivor of them think reasonable shall be yearly paid and applied for the maintenance education and cloathing of my said four children David Jane Sarah and Elizabeth Collins respectively and the survivors of them during their respective minoritys or until such time as their said respective shares of my said personal estate shall become due and payable to them respectively by virtue of this my will aforesaid And I do hereby will and direct that my said executors or either of them their or either or their executors or administrators shall not be charged or chargeable or any ways answerable for any more or other of the said trust moneys ten shall be by them respectively received and not one of them for the other of them or for the acts receipts defaults of miscarriages of the other of them but each for his own acts and receipts only and I do also will and direct that it shall and may be lawfull to and for my said executors respectively and their respective executors and administrators from time to time in the first place to receive and take or defalte [?] and deduct out of my said personal estate to his and their own use and uses all such moneys costs charges and expenses whatsoever as they or either or any of them shall pay expend or be put unto or be damnifyed in or by or my suit or suits in law or equity travelling charges or otherwise howsoever for or in respect or by reason of the execution of this my will or the trusts thereof and further it is my will and I do hereby direct that it any person or persons to whom the moneys arising by or from my said personal estate or any part thereof shall be lent to his her or their heirs executors or administrators shall pay in the same or any part thereof that then and in such case the receipt or receipts discharge or discharges of my said executors or the survivor of them his executors and administrators shall be a good discharge or discharges to the person or persons his her or their executors so from time to time paying in the said trust moneys or any part thereof and lastly I do hereby will and direct that the said Philip Martin and Joseph Innever and the survivor of them shall be guardians to and have the care custody and tuition of all and every my sons and daughters and of their respective estates during their respective minoritys In witness whereof I the said Richard Collins the testator have to this my last will and testament contained in four sheets of paper set my hand to the three first sheets thereof and my hand and seal to the last sheet thereof the one and thirtieth days of December in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand hundred and forty two Richard Collins. Signed sealed published and declared by the said Richard Collins the testator as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who subscribed our names as witnesses to the same in his presence Mary King – Robt. King – Wm. Rush. 

This will was proved at London the first day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty eight before the worshipfull George Hay Doctor of Laws, surrogate of the right worshipfull John Bettesworth also Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the oaths of Joseph Innever and Philip Martin the executors named in the said will to whom administration was granted of all and singular the goods chattels and credits of the deceased being first sworn duly to administer.

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Revisiting the Collins family of Epping

In the previous post I declared my intention to revisit the life of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1759), and particularly her connection with the Collins family of Epping in Essex. Elizabeth’s first husband, whom she married in 1753 in what may have been a clandestine ceremony, was John Collins of Epping. John died some ten years later and I’m intrigued to discover how Elizabeth then came to marry her second husband, Joseph Holdsworth of South Weald. I have an inkling that understanding more about the Collins family might help me in this quest, and in this post I want to summarise what we know about them.

The ancient parish church of All Saints, Epping Upland

The ancient parish church of All Saints, Epping Upland

John Collins was baptised in Epping on 14th January 1733. He was the son of local landowner Richard Collins and his wife Jane. Born in Epping in 1693, Richard was the son of another Richard Collins, also of Epping, and he in turn was the son of another John Collins. This is the first of three generations of the Collins family that we know about.

First generation 

Richard Collins (1), the son of John Collins (1) was baptised on 7th June 1656 in Epping. Richard married Sarah Cowdlie on 31st December 1683 at the church of St Botolph, Aldgate, in London. Interestingly, this was the parish church of the Gibson family, and of Elizabeth Gibson’s Byne and Forrest forebears. In fact, for some reason, and despite their deep roots in Epping, the Collins family seem to have made a habit of marrying in London churches.

Richard and Sarah Collins had four children that we know of: John (2) (1686), Sarah (1688), Richard (2)(1693) and Elizabeth (1697).

Second generation

Sarah Collins married Henry Small in 1708. They had six children: Mary (died 1710), Richard (born 1711), Sarah (1713), Henry (1718), John (born and died 1721) and Joshua (1722).

John Collins (2) married Mary Archer in 1722. They had a son named Richard. John Collins died in 1742.

Richard Collins (2) married Jane Stoker in 1727. They had seven children: Richard (3) (1730), John (3) (1733), Sarah (1735), Elizabeth (1737), William (1739), David (1740) and Jane (date of birth unknown). Richard Collins died in 1748 and his wife Jane in 1740.

Elizabeth Collins did not marry. She died in 1761.

Third generation: the children of Richard Collins (2) 

Richard Collins (3) married Ann Champain in 1747. They had two children: a son named Champain (date unknown) and a daughter named Ann (1757). Richard Collins died in 1770 and his wife Ann in 1775.

John Collins (2) married Elizabeth Gibson in 1753. They had a daughter named Frances (1759). John Collins died before 1763, when his widow Elizabeth married Joseph Holdsworth.

Sarah Collins married a man with the surname Dilworth: he may be the George Thomas Dilworth who married a Sarah Collins in 1758.

Nothing more is known about the lives of the four younger children of Richard and Jane Collins.

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Revisiting the life of Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809)

I continue to be fascinated by the life of my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Holdsworth, formerly Collins, née Gibson. Born at Tower Hill, London, in 1733, Elizabeth was the daughter of coal factor John Gibson and his wife Mary Greene, and the granddaughter on her mother’s side of goldsmith Joseph Greene and his wife Mary Byne. Her great-grandparents included Sussex-born London stationer John Byne and his wife Alice Forrest, and Captain William Greene of Ratcliffe, who served as Warden of Trinity House under Samuel Pepys.

Woodredon House, now an equestrian centre

Woodredon House, now an equestrian centre

When Elizabeth Gibson was five years old her parents acquired the manor of Woodredon at Waltham Abbey in Essex, a gift from Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother Mary Greene, widow of Joseph. I assume that Elizabeth spent much of her childhood at Woodredon, and that was how she came to meet her first husband, John Collins, the son of a landowner from nearby Epping. In 1753, when they were both twenty years old, Elizabeth and John were married at St George’s Chapel, Mayfair, a church notorious for clandestine weddings.

We know very little about this first marriage of Elizabeth’s, and still less about her first husband John Collins, since he appears to have left no will and the date and cause of his early death remain a mystery. The only thing we know for sure is that the couple had a daughter named Frances, born in Darby Street, London, in 1759 and baptised at the church of St Botolph, Aldgate. Frances Collins would later marry John Godfrey Schwartz, who was probably her first cousin and almost certainly the son of Elizabeth’s sister Anne and her husband Charles Gottfried Schwartz.

John Collins must have died by 1763, when Elizabeth married for a second time. Her second husband, and my 5 x great grandfather, was Yorkshire-born farmer Joseph Holdsworth, who lived in the village of South Weald, Essex. I’ve often wondered how Elizabeth and Joseph met, but I’ve begun to think the answer might lie with Elizabeth’s relations from her first marriage to John Collins. For this reason, I want to spend some time, in forthcoming posts, revisiting the story of the Collins family, and the families whose lives intersected with theirs in the middle decades of the eighteenth century.

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A confusion of Collibees

I’ve been trying to understand the connections between the Bushell and Collibee families of Bath, both of whom supplied the city with mayors and aldermen in the first half of the eighteenth century. There are so many references to members of the two families in each other’s wills that working out exactly how they were related to each other can be quite taxing. However, I think I’m beginning to make some progress.

I’m interested in these families because of their connection with Major Peter Boulton, the London gunsmith who died in Bath in 1743. He was the son of William Boulton and Alice Forrest, the latter being (I believe) the sister of my 9 x great grandfather, London haberdasher Thomas Forrest. Peter was married twice: first to Elizabeth Bushell, and secondly to Posthuma Landick, whose mother Elizabeth had been born a Bushell. Peter must also have been instrumental in arranging the marriage of his great niece Elizabeth Jemblin to Edward Bushell Collibee, an apothecary and sometime mayor of Bath. So how were the Bushells and Collibees connected, and how does Edward Bushell Collibee fit into this picture?

An apothecary in his shop (early 18th century)

An apothecary in his shop (early 18th century)

Edward Bushell the elder of Bath mentions five surviving children in his will of 1701. John Bushell married Ann Matravers in 1689. They had a son named Richard. John died in 1703 and his son Richard died in 1715. Edward Bushell the younger married a woman named Mary. They appear not to have had any surviving children at the time of Edward’s death in 1724. Elizabeth Bushell married David Landick. Their daughter Posthuma, who was born in 1676, was the second wife of Peter Boulton. Frances Bushell and Ann Bushell were unmarried at the time of their father’s death.

John Bushell’s will of 1703 refers to his sister-in-law Mary Collibee, his brother-in-law William Collibee and his nephew George Collibee. John also appoints William Collibee joint guardian, with his own brother Edward Bushell the younger, of his son Richard.

The Mary Collibee mentioned in John Bushell’s will is probably the person of that name who made her own will in 1725. She certainly had a son named George, as well as other sons named Richard, Benjamin, William, Anthony and Edward, and daughters named Ann, and Mary Lewis, a widow. Mary Collibee also mentions her sister Anne Bushell, a widow: presumably she was the wife of John Bushell. If she is using the word ‘sister’ literally, to mean a sibling rather than an in-law, then it means that Anne Bushell and Mary Collibee must have had the same maiden name.

We know that Anne Bushell’s surname was Matravers when she married John Bushell in 1689. The 1717 will of William Matravers of Norton St Philip, about seven miles south of Bath, mentions ‘my cousin William Collibee apothecary’ as well as ‘my sister Mary Collibee and…her son Richard Collibee’, and ‘my sister Ann Bushell’. The clear implication here is that William Matravers, Anne Bushell and Mary Collibee were siblings, all born with the surname Matravers. I assume that the William Collibee mentioned here was Mary’s son, rather than her husband, and that therefore he was William Matravers’ nephew rather than his cousin.

To sum up: the Bushell and Collibee families were connected by virtue of the fact that two Matravers sisters, Anne and Mary, married a Bushell (John) and a Collibee (respectively).

However, this was by no means the only link between the two families. In his will of 1724, Edward Bushell the younger (John Bushell’s brother) mentions his two sisters Elizabeth Landick and Ann Collibee, the latter described in the ‘probatum’ appended to the will as the widow of William Collibee. Ann Collibee née Bushell is probably the person of that name who died in 1729, her will mentioning her son Edward Bushell Collibee. We know from other sources that Edward Bushell Collibee, who was himself an apothecary, was the son of William Collibee, also an apothecary, and that he was born in about 1707.

So Anne Bushell, daughter of Edward Bushell the elder, must have married William Collibee the younger some time between her father’s death in 1701 and the birth of her son Edward Bushell Collibee in about 1707. The will of Ann Collibee née Bushell described Peter Boulton as a cousin. By his second marriage to Posthuma Boulton, Anne’s niece (the daughter of her sister Elizabeth Landick), he was strictly speaking a nephew, or rather a nephew-in-law.

Posted in Boulton, Bushell, Collibee, Forrest, Jemblin, Landick, Matravers | Leave a comment

Another Bushell will

I’ve found another early eighteenth-century will by a member of the Bushell family of Bath, containing further valuable revelations about the family’s connection with Major Peter Boulton. In 1715 Richard Bushell made his will. He was the son of John Bushell who died in 1703 and the grandson of Edward Bushell the elder who died in 1701. Richard Bushell’s will is usefully packed with references to members of both the Bushell and Collibee families. He mentions his uncle Edward Bushell the younger (his father’s brother), and his cousins Richard, William, George, Benjamin and Anne Collibee, the children of his aunt Mary Collibee. Richard also refers to his mother Ann Bushell, the main beneficiary of his will, his uncle William Matravers and his cousin Richard Matravers, thus providing confirmation that the John Bushell who married Ann Matravers at Bath Abbey in 1689 was in fact Richard’s father.

Thomas Hearne, 'View of Bath from Spring Gardens', mid-18th century via http://www.jimandellen.org

Thomas Hearne, ‘View of Bath from Spring Gardens’, mid-18th century via http://www.jimandellen.org

However, for our purposes, the most significant sentence in Richard Bushell’s will is the one that refers to his aunt Landick and her son-in-law Peter Boulton, as well as the latter’s wife Posthuma and their children Alice and Peter. I had already discovered from other family wills that Elizabeth, the sister of Richard Bushell’s father John, had married into the Landick family, but I was unclear about the relationship between Elizabeth Landick née Bushell and Posthuma Landick who married Peter Boulton. This reference reveals that Posthuma was Elizabeth Landick’s daughter. I already knew that Posthuma was born in 1676 and that her father David Landick died just before she was born (does this explain her odd Christian name?). Now I know that her mother Elizabeth was born a Bushell: she was the daughter of Edward Bushell the elder and the sister of (among others) John Bushell, father of Richard. This would explain how Peter Boulton came to meet his second wife, since his first wife was another Elizabeth Bushell, though her precise relationship with the family of Edward Bushell the elder remains unclear.

The reference to Peter Boulton’s family in this will is also interesting because it mentions Peter’s two children, Peter and Alice. I already knew from other wills that Alice, the only surviving child of Peter’s first marriage, was still alive in the early decades of the century, but this is the first reference in a family document to Peter Boulton the younger. As I’ve noted before, Peter Boulton, son of Peter Boulton, a gentleman of All Hallow Barking, London, matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1725. He was 15 at the time, meaning he was born in about 1710, five years before Richard Bushell wrote his will. I’ve found no further records of Peter Boulton junior and he isn’t mentioned in his father’s will of 1741, suggesting that he didn’t survive.

Richard Bushell’s will is also a useful resource for understanding the connections between the Bushell and Collibee families of Bath. I’ll explore these in another post.

Posted in Boulton, Bushell, Collibee, Landick | Leave a comment