Magnus Fowle and the Lucke family

My recent explorations of Elizabethan and Jacobean recusancy have re-awakened my interest in the life of my 12 x great grandfather, Magnus Fowle of Mayfield, Sussex. His daughter Agnes married Edward Byne of Burwash and they were my 11 x great grandparents. Magnus was the son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, who was apparently the master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes. As I’ve noted before, Gabriel, who died in 1555 during the reign of Queen Mary, was a staunch Catholic whose will requested ‘x preistes yf they can be gott to celebrate & say masse for my soulle & all crysten soules’. As for Magnus, his own will of 1595 left money to Eleanor Ashburnham, a member of a famous recusant family, and my working theory is that he was a church papist: in other words, a Catholic sympathiser who outwardly conformed to the newly-protestant Church of England.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via http://media.rightmove.co.uk)

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via http://media.rightmove.co.uk)

Returning to Magnus Fowle’s story, I’m keen to discover more about the family of his wife Alice, my 12 x great grandmother. According to Walter Renshaw’s history of the Byne family, Alice’s maiden name was Lucke, and she was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield. We certainly have evidence that Magnus’ wife was called Alice: a case in Chancery dated some time between 1558 and 1579 and concerning property in Mayfield, was said to be between ‘Magnus Fowle and Alice Fowle his wife’, as plaintiffs, and ‘Robert Holden and another’ as defendants. Renshaw cites this case as evidence that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke, and I’ve ordered a copy to verify this. Renshaw states that Richard Lucke died on 5th May 1593. The last will and testament of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst was proved on 25th May 1593. Perhaps this is the same person (Mayfield is only five miles from Wadhurst), but although I have now completed my transcription of the will, I can find no reference in it to either Alice or Magnus. Alice had probably died by this time (she was certainly no longer alive when Magnus Fowle made his own will two years later), but it’s surprising that there is no mention of Richard’s supposed son-in-law Magnus, or of his granddaughter Agnes Fowle, who would have been married (to my 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne) with children of her own by this date. The will mentions Richard Lucke’s brother Edward; his wife Joan; four sons: Richard, Thomas, John and Christopher; three unmarried daughters: Dorothy, Joan and Mary; and four married daughters: Margaret, the wife of John Barham, Elizabeth the wife of John Kingwood, Anne the wife of Thomas Stapley, and Katherine, whose husband’s name I am still trying to decipher. But not a hint of any connection to the Fowle family.

St Dunstan's church, Mayfield (via geograph.co.uk)

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield (via geograph.co.uk)

Because of this lack of direct evidence, it’s too soon to claim Richard and Joan Lucke as my 13 x great grandparents. It’s possible that Renshaw made a mistake, and confused Richard Lucke of Wadhurst with another member of the Lucke family in nearby Mayfield. There was certainly a branch of the Luckes in that village: for example, I’ve found the will of John Lucke of Mayfield, who made his will in 1549. Like the will of Gabriel Fowle, this document shows clear signs of loyalty to the Catholic faith: John bequeaths his soul ‘to Almightie god our Lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’. However, any hope that John Lucke had a son named Richard was dashed when I transcribed the will and discovered that he and his wife, another Joan, seem to have produced only daughters: the unmarried Christian; Isabel the wife of Richard Maynard; and possibly another (unnamed) daughter married to Thomas Newney. However, a certain ‘Richard Lukk’ was one of the witnesses to the will: it’s possible that this is Richard Lucke of Wadhurst who died in 1593, and that he was related to John Lucke of Mayfield in some way, even if he wasn’t his son.

There is another reference to the Lucke family in Renshaw’s history, in relation to the Bynes. Apparently John Byne, son of my 11 x great grandparents Edward Byne and Agnes Fowle, and younger brother of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne, mentions two members of the Lucke family in his will of February 1615/16. John Byne leaves 6s 8d to ‘Ann Lucke my kinswoman’ and the same amount to Rose Lucke. I believe these were the daughters of Edward Lucke and his wife Agnes Howell of Mayfield, who were married there on 8th January 1581/2. According to one source, Anne Lucke and Rose Lucke were christened at Mayfield in 1587/8 and 1589/90 respectively, so would have been in their twenties (and presumably still unmarried) when John Byne mentioned them in his will. It’s possible that their father Edward was the brother of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst who is mentioned in the latter’s will of 1593. At least one source claims that Edward Lucke was born in Rotherfield, the son of Christopher Lucke, who died there on 14th July 1567. It may be significant that Richard Lucke of Wadhurst named one of his children Christopher. The same source quotes this additional information about Christopher:

Christopher Lucke died seised of the manor of Hawle and of a capital messuage and sixty acres of land, meadow, pasture and wood in Retherfeld held of Henry Nevill, Knight. Lord Abergavenny, as of his manor of Retherfeld in socage by fealty and rent of 12s and they are worth 40s yearly. And of a lane leading from the said capital messuage to Maynard’s Gate which is held of the same by fealty and a rent of 1d. He died 14th July 9 Eliz., and his son Edward Lucke is aged 6 years.

A certain ‘John Luke’ witnessed Magnus Fowle’s will in 1595. In the will of Nicholas Fowle, a cousin of Magnus, who died in 1600, John Luke of ‘Dargatte’ or Durgates in Wadhurst, was appointed as one of the guardians of an almshouse in Sparrows Green. He may have been one of the sons of Richard Lucke.

Clearly, more research is needed before I can establish with any certainty which, if any, of these members of the Lucke family were related to my 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle.

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A new website

Elizabethan village scene: Joris Hoefnagel, 'Fete at Bermondsey', c. 1569

Elizabethan village scene: Joris Hoefnagel, ‘Fete at Bermondsey’, c. 1569

Now that my historical research has strayed into investigating the lives of people only tangentially connected to my ancestors, I’ve decided to set up a separate website, to record my work on 16th and 17th century Catholic recusants – and more generally, on the subject of faith, family and identity in early modern England. I’ll continue to explore my own family history here, at Past Lives – but you can follow the story of the Langworths, and the network of recusant families with whom they were connected, over at the new blog, Recusants and renegades.

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Looking for the Langworths

An email from Emily Buffey, a doctoral researcher in English Literature at Birmingham University, has drawn my attention back to my sixteenth-century Sussex ancestors. Emily is researching the early modern dream vision, c. 1540 – 1625, and the focus of one of her thesis chapters is Thomas Andrewe, a minor poet of the period. Andrewe dedicated his 1604 poem ‘The Unmasking of a Feminine Machiavell’ (1604) to Dr John Langworth and Mistress Judith Hawkins. John Langworth, a cleric and something of a poet himself, was the brother of Arthur Langworth of Sussex; John’s daughter Mary married Richard Hawkins, from a notable Kent recusant family.

Ringmer, Sussex, where both Magnus Fowle and Arthur Langworth owned property

Ringmer, Sussex, where both Magnus Fowle and Arthur Langworth owned property (via sussexexpress.co.uk)

Emily contacted me because Arthur Langworth’s name occurs in the will of my 12 x great grandfather, Magnus Fowle of Mayfield, Sussex, who died in 1595. Here is the relevant passage from Magnus’ will:

Item I give to everye of my servants who are in my house Tenne shillings provided always and my verie will and mynde is That and yf my sonne Edward Byne or my daughter his wiefe or Magnus Byne shall att any tyme entrust bargayne sell alienate lease demyse grante or otherwise convey or assine any of my Landes Tenements rents or herydtaments situate or lyinge in Ringmer or Glynde of the saide countie of Sussex to Arthur Langworth to his heires or to anie of his name, or to anie other p[er]sone or p[er]sones whereby or by meanes whereof anie of my saide Landes or the inhertytance thereof maie come to the saide Arthure or to anie other p[er]sone or p[er]sones to his use,  or to the use of anie of his heries or of his name, Then my verie will and mynde is that John Motley gentleman John Fitzherbert, John Corneforde, nowe of Grensted John Shepparde sonne of Robert Shepparde deceased, John Delve and Thomas Sharpe and their heires shall have full power and authorytie to enter into all my purchased Landes and Tenementes and the same to reteyne to them and  their heires to the use of the poore of the parish of Ringmer, the Towne of Lewes and Southover, and the parrishe of Retherfield. 

I’m intrigued by the intensity of Magnus Fowle’s hostility to Arthur Langworth, and I’m keen to discover the root cause of it. At the same time, I remain fascinated by Magnus’ religious affiliation. As I’ve noted before, his father Gabriel seems to have remained loyal to the Catholic faith through the religious turbulence of the mid-sixteenth century, while Magnus’ will bequeaths money to members of another famous recusant family, the Ashburnhams, even though Magnus himself appears to have conformed, at least outwardly, to the newly-protestant Church of England. The recusant associations of the Langworths, as well as their link (albeit a hostile one) to my ancestor, have prompted to me to dig deeper into their background and their connections to a network of families with similar sympathies. In this post, I’ll set out what I’ve managed to discover so far, but I’m sure there will be a great deal more to report in future posts.

Hartlebury Castle, Worcestershire

Hartlebury Castle, Worcestershire

According to a number of sources, Arthur and John Langworth were the sons of Lancelot Langworth of ‘Kertlebury’, Worcestershire, and there was a third brother named Adam. The Langworth pedigree in the record of the 1619 Visitation of Kent claims that their mother’s maiden name was Gore and that she was from the same county. Kertlebury doesn’t exist on any extant map of Worcestershire and it’s possible that it’s a mistake for, or an archaic form of, Hartlebury, a village five miles south of Kidderminster. I’ve found records for the births of Arthur and Adam Langworth in Chaddesley Corbett, four miles east of Hartlebury, in 1548 and 1551 respectively. However, the name of their father is said to be Thomas, not Lancelot. Thomas Langworth also had a daughter named Ann christened in the same parish in 1547. Isabel Langworth, whose father’s name is not given, had been baptised there in 1543. In 1544 a John Langworth, whose father’s name was Richard, was christened in Chaddesley Corbett, and in the following year another John Langworth, father’s name unknown, was also born there.

At this stage, it’s not possible to resolve this confusion about the origins of the Langworth brothers. However, it seems likely that they had at least one sister, since the poet Thomas Andrewe describes John Langworth as his uncle. Of course it’s possible, as Emily suggests, that the word ‘uncle’ is being used loosely, as we know that ‘cousin’ was in other documents of this period, or that Thomas was John Langworth’s ‘nephew’ by marriage, for example to one of his John’s nieces. So far, my research into the Langworths hasn’t been able to determine exactly how Thomas Andrewe fits into the family tree.

Arthur Langworth

Arthur Langworth appears to have been the eldest of the three brothers, and therefore the heir to his father’s estate. This probably explains why, unlike his two younger brothers, he seems not to have been sent to university. It’s unclear at what point the family moved south, since later records find them in Sussex and Kent. We know that Arthur Langworth married in the Midlands – at Halford in Warwickshire (forty-five miles or so from Hartlebury) to be precise – on 10th September 1571, when he was probably in his mid-twenties. His wife was Rose Durant, daughter of William Durant of the manor of Cottesmore, Rutland and his second wife Margaret Sherrard.

Certainly Arthur and Rose Langworth’s children were all born in Sussex. Their son Adam was baptised at Ringmer on 30th June 1577, but all the other children for whom we have records were christened at Buxted, some twelve miles to the north: Richard on 11th January 1578; Rose on 17th March 1580; and Arthur on 19th December 1585. The Sussex visitations document also mentions two other sons, John (his eldest and the heir to his estate) and Nicholas, and another daughter named Jane. In addition, Arthur Langworth’s will mentions a son called Edward and a daughter Agnes.

A number of sources confirm that Arthur Langworth and his family lived at The Broyle, a large estate close to Ringmer, which included a deer park. One source has the Langworths living at Broyle Place, a house within the park. The same source states that Arthur also owned lands at Laughton and Little Horsted, but that he died at Blackfriars, London.

The Langworths appear to have had a continuing association with Blackfriars. Arthur’s daughter Rose was married at the church of St Ann, Blackfriars on 22nd December 1607, to William Lovell or Lowell. One pedigree claims he was the brother of Sir Francis Lovell. A number of sources state that Arthur’s eldest son John, who inherited The Broyle from his father, married Mary Challoner, the daughter of Thomas Challoner of Lindfield, Sussex. However, in his will John states that his wife’s name is Barbara. There is a record of a John Langworth marrying a Barbara Challoner at St Ann, Blackfriars, shortly before his death, on 25th May 1612 (oddly, John made his will in the previous year). Perhaps Mary died and John married one of her relatives, possibly a sister?

There are a number of references to Arthur Langworth in the diary of the theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe, who was originally from Sussex, and whose father had been master of the game at the Broyle (Henslowe appears as a character in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, played by Geoffrey Rush.). Langworth seems to have been involved in a number of property deals with Henslowe, and with his son-in-law, the actor and theatrical manager Edward Alleyn. Langworth’s will mentions a debt owed to him by Alleyn.

On page 157 of Henslowe’s diary we find the following:

mrdm [memorandum] that mr. arture Langworth hath promised the 16. daye of maye 1595 to paye vnto me phillippe Henslowe the some of j undreth pownde ffor a howsee & land [wch] & goode wth he bargained wth me wth owt any condicion but absolutely to paye me so mvche mony & to tacke such a surence as J haue at this time witneses to this promes of payement

And on page 194:

Sowld vnto mr Arthur langworth the howsee wch my brother dwelte in after the deseace of my syster Margery his wife wth the trash ether in for the some of… iiij score pownde wittnes E Alleyn J saye…

The detailed index of persons attached to a modern edition of the diary provides a full list of Arthur Langworth’s business dealings with Philip Henslowe. Many of them involve Henslowe borrowing money from Langworth, but others relate to the sale of parsonages. For example, there is mention of deal between Langworth and Alleyn involving the parsonage of Firle near Ringmer. Relations between Langworth and Alleyn were obviously cordial, since we read that on 4th June 1598 Edward Alleyn was staying with Arthur and Rose Langworth at the Broyle.

Edward Alleyn

Edward Alleyn

There is no suggestion in any of these records that Arthur Langworth’s business dealings were at all improper. However, I wonder if Magnus Fowle’s hostility to Langworth might be the legacy of a property deal between the two men that went sour?

Arthur Langworth’s will of 1606 appoints his wife Rose and son Richard as co-executors and his brother John Langworth as overseer. Arthur’s son-in-law William Lovell was one of the witnesses. Arthur’s eldest son John only outlived his father by only six years, dying at Ringmer in 1612, and apparently leaving nine children, of whom his son John (presumably the eldest) is the only one to be named in his will. Also mentioned in the will, and one of its witnesses, is Sir Henry Compton, who sat in Parliament for East Grinstead.

Adam Langworth

Arthur Langworth’s younger brother Adam matriculated at St John’s College, Cambridge, in the Michaelmas term of 1566, which means he was probably born in about 1550. He was said to be ‘of Worcestershire’. He graduated B.A. from Queens’ College in 1569-70 and M.A. from Corpus Christi in 1573, where he had been a Fellow for two years. Afterwards he was a Fellow of St Catharine’s. I don’t know enough about the universities in the 16th century to understand the meaning of these appointments, or the significance of Adam’s choice of colleges, or his movement between them. (Some seventy years later, Edward Byne, a minister of distinctly Puritan sympathies and brother of my 9 x great grandfather Magnus Byne, would move between Peterhouse, Trinity and Gonville and Caius Colleges at Cambridge.)

St John's College, Cambridge, from an engraving c.1685

St John’s College, Cambridge, from an engraving c.1685

One pedigree states that Adam was married to a woman with the surname Syms, but I’ve yet to find a record of their marriage. Judging by the birth dates of their children, I would hazard a guess that it took place in the early 1580s, after Adam left Cambridge. For some reason, this Cambridge Fellow decided to follow his older brother Arthur to Buxted in Sussex, where his daughter Elizabeth was born and christened on 29th June 1586. Another daughter, Sybill, followed on 30th December 1588 and a son Thomas on 3rd May 1590.

At some point in the next three years, Adam moved his family to Canterbury, perhaps because his brother John had been given a clerical appointment at the cathedral? On 28th October 1593 a daughter named Dorothy was baptised there at the church of St George the Martyr, and on 27th January 1604 another daughter named Pelludia was christened in the cathedral. Adam’s first daughter Elizabeth must have died young, as another daughter with the same name was christened at Canterbury Cathedral on 22nd November 1607.

Adam Langworth died in Canterbury in 1622. His will of 1620 mentions his son Thomas and three other sons, Anthony, John and Francis for whom I’ve yet to find baptismal records. Adam also mentions Elizabeth, whom he describes as his youngest daughter. The will also refers to three married daughters: Sybill and Dorothy, mentioned above, and also Ann.

Dorothy appears to have been married to the John Colman mentioned in the will, since her sons are referred to as Henry, Adam and John Colman. John Colman and Dorothy Langworth had been married on 16th April 1612 at the church of St Mary Bredin in Canterbury. The Colman family were from the village of Petham, about four miles south of Canterbury. In addition to Henry, Adam and John, John and Dorothy Colman had three other sons: Thomas, Benjamin and Nathaniel. I’ve only found a christening record for the last-named, on 20th October 1633 at St Mary Abchurch in London: Adam Longworth’s will suggests that the Colmans owned a house in Cannon Street.

Dorothy’s sister Sybill married Henry Colman, who I believe was John’s brother. I have a note that the ceremony took place in Petham on 17th April 1609, but I can’t locate the source for this. A third son-in-law, Robert Fleming, is named in Adam Langworth’s will, and he appears to have been married to Ann, but I’ve yet to find any firm evidence of this.

Part of Kent from 1816 Ordnance Survey map

Part of Kent from 1816 Ordnance Survey map

In his will Adam Langworth bequeaths to his sons Anthony and John his lease of the manor of Elverland in the village of Ospringe about twelve miles to the west of Canterbury (see map above), which he held from the Master, Fellows and scholars of St John’s, Cambridge, his old college. His son Francis is bequeathed property that Adam leases from the dean and chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury. His eldest son Thomas is appointed as Adam’s sole executor.

Dr. John Langworth

John Langworth was born in about 1547. He matriculated at St John’s College, Cambridge in 1566, the same year as his brother Adam, but in the previous (Easter) term. He graduated B.A. in 1567-8, M.A. 1572 and B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) in 1577-8. John was a Fellow of St John’s in 1568. At some point he moved to Oxford University where he was incorporated in 1572 and graduated D.D. (Doctor of Divinity) in 1579. At Oxford John attended Hart Hall, the forerunner of present-day Hertford College, about which Wikipedia has the following to say:

In the latter half of the 16th century, Hart Hall became known as a refuge for Catholic recusants, particularly under Philip Randell as Principal (1548–1599). Because of its connection with Exeter College and that college’s increasing puritanism, a number of Exeter’s tutors and scholars migrated to Hart Hall. The hall attracted an increasing number of Catholics from further afield, including the Jesuit tutor Richard Holtby in 1574, who was instrumental in the conversion of his student, and later Jesuit martyr and saint, Alexander Briant to Catholicism. Coming from a Catholic family, the English poet John Donne came up to Hart Hall in 1584.

John Langworth conformed, at least outwardly, to the protestant Church of England, rising to relatively high office in the Church, but one source describes him as a church papist and, as we shall see, at least two of his children married into Catholic families. John’s first clerical appointment was as Prebendary of Worcester in 1568, before he moved, like his brothers, to Sussex, where he was Rector of Folkington in 1573 and of Buxted in 1574 (these appointments would have run concurrently with his time at Oxford University). It’s possible, of course, that John baptised a number of his nephews and nieces, the sons and daughters of his brothers Arthur and Adam, during his time at Buxted (in fact, it may explain why those children were baptised there, rather than in their parents’ home parishes). John Langworth was appointed as a University preacher at Oxford in 1577. He was Archdeacon of Chichester between 1581 and 1586 and then Archdeacon of Wells in Somerset between 1589 and 1609, before returning to Sussex as rector of Rotherfield in 1592. At some point John moved to Canterbury, where he was Prebendary until his death in 1614.

According to the records of the Visitation of Kent, 1619, John Langworth married Frances or Francesca Finch, daughter of John Finch of the manor of Faversham, ten miles to the west of Canterbury and close to Adam Langworth’s property at Ospringe. In 1602 John Langworth, who was then of Buxted, purchased the manor of Sompting Peverell in Sussex from Thomas Pelham and 1611 settled it on his fourth son, Anthony. One source describes John Langworth as being ‘of Wilmington’, a parish some distance from Canterbury, near Dartford, and this is certainly where his son Francis would later live. The Kent Visitation of 1619 records that John and Francesca Langworth had five children: Thomas, Mary, Anna, Helena and Martha. However, another source adds Arthur, John and Anthony to this list.

16th century street plan of Canterbury (via www.spab.org.uk)

16th century street plan of Canterbury (via http://www.spab.org.uk)

John Langworth was the author of a number of religious sonnets, which were published in a contemporary miscellany by John Lilliat, a cathedral musician at Wells, together with poems by better-known figures such as John Davies, George Gascoigne and Christopher Marlowe. I’m grateful to Emily Buffey for sending me a copy of Langworth’s poems, which I’ll perhaps discuss in more detail on another occasion.

John Langworth died in 1613 and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, on 13th January,  1613-4. His daughter Mary married Richard Hawkins, who had been born in 1581. He was the son of Sir Thomas Hawkins (1548 – 1617) of Nash Courton Boughton under Blean, a few miles to the west of Canterbury, and Ann (1552 – 1616), daughter of Cyriac Pettyt and his wife Florence, also of Boughton. Both the Hawkins and the Petits were recusant families. Richard Hawkins’ brother Henry (1577 – 1646) was a Jesuit priest and author, and another brother, Sir Thomas Hawkins (1575 – c.1640) was a translator of recusant books. Other surviving brothers were Daniel (b. 1578), John, a physician and author, and Cyriac. Richard’s sister Susanna (b. 1580) married the recusant John Finch of Grovehurst, Milton near Sittingbourne (was he any relation of John Langworth’s father-in-law, John Finch of Faversham?); another sister Anna married William Hildesley of Oxfordshire; and two other sisters, Bennet (b. 1586) and Benedicta (1588–1661), both became Benedictine nuns in Brussels (though one source implies these might be alternate names for the same sister).

Another of John’s daughters, Helena (also known as Helen or Eleanor), also appears to have married into a Catholic family – or rather, a family with definite Catholic sympathies. On 21st October 1611 she married Nathaniel Spurrett at the church of St Botolph, Aldgate, in London. Nathaniel seems to have been a haberdasher. He was the son of Anthony Spurrett, the rector of Wolford and vicar of Icomb in Gloucestershire and formerly sizar at St John’s College, Cambridge. Sadly, Nathaniel died only a year after his marriage to Helena, at the age of 33, and shortly after the birth of their daughter Frances. Helena died at Eltham, Kent, in 1626. After her parents’ death, their orphaned daughter Frances was taken in by an order of English Franciscan nuns: she was clothed at the age of 15, and professed at 16. The order was based in Belgium, where Sister Frances Evangelist died in 1635 at the age of 23.

17th century nuns (via wikimedia)

17th century nuns (via wikimedia)

John Langworth’s son Francis was born in about 1598 and followed him to Hart Hall, Oxford, matriculating on 31st October 1617. The list of Oxford alumni states that he was of Wilmington, Kent and that his father John lived at Ospringe, which was where we know John’s brother Adam owned property (see above). Francis was a student at Gray’s Inn in 1620. In 1628 he married Mary Tucker, the daughter of George Tucker of Milton near Gravesend, Kent, and his wife Mary, daughter of John Darrell of Calehill. The wedding took place at Little Chart near Ashford, close to the ancestral home of the Darells at Calehill. It seems that the Darells were yet another recusant family, and were probably related to the Darells of Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, about whom I wrote here. Francis and Mary Langworth had four children: Daniel, Francis, George and Elizabeth.

Posted in Byne, Fowle, Langworth | Leave a comment

What’s in a name? Tracing the origins of Isabella Schneider Gibson

Thomas Wheatley Gibson continued the Gibson family tradition of giving his children multiple forenames. A few of these names derive from the Gibson family – for example, the name of their son Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson is obviously in part a tribute to Henry Temple Hillyard who married Thomas’ sister Henrietta. However, it turns out that most of the Gibson children owe their names’ origins to their mother’s family, and they have provided me with useful clues in tracing Isabella’s hitherto obscure background.

Until recently, all I knew about Isabella Gibson was that she was born Isabella Schneider in Milan, Italy, in the early 1820s (the census records disagree about the precise year of her birth). After considerable searching, I’ve discovered that she was the daughter of John William Schneider and his wife Caroline Wilkins. John was the son of John Henry Powell Schneider (1773 – 1851) and his wife Anne Catherine Penelope Congreve (1773 – 1814), the daughter of Colonel Sir William Congreve (1742 – 1814) of the Royal Artillery. Apparently the Schneiders were merchants who came to England from Switzerland in the early 18th century.

Sir William Congreve (via Wikipedia)

Sir William Congreve (via Wikipedia)

John William Schneider was the eldest of about ten Schneider children; he was born in 1798, a year after his parents’ marriage. On 1st April 1820 he married Caroline Wilkins, daughter of John Wilkins of Chigwell, Essex. John’s work took him to Italy, where a number of his and Caroline’s children were born. Catherine Mary Harriet Schneider was born in Cremona in 1821 and Frederick Schneider in Lombardy in 1826. There was also a John William Schneider junior, born in about 1824.

None of the accounts of the Schneider family that I’ve come across mentions Isabella. However, we know that Catherine Schneider married Edward Montague Suart at Chigwell in 1845. Edward worked for the East India Company in Bombay, and he and Catherine spent much of their married life in India, their two children Edward and Constance being born there. When Edward made his will in 1855, he described Isabella Gibson as his sister-in-law, thus confirming that she was another of the daughters of John William and Caroline Schneider.

Chigwell and Woodford on Cary's map of 1786

Chigwell and Woodford on Cary’s map of 1786

As we know, Isabella’s husband Thomas Wheatley Gibson was an officer in the British army in India. So Isabella would have been living in that country at the same time as her sister and brother-in-law, who presumably was the source for another of the names of Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson, as well as the third forename of Alice Matilda Suart Gibson. Another of Thomas and Isabella’s sons was named Frederick, presumably after Isabella’s brother, who was a colonel in the army in Bombay. Finally, John William Schneider junior also lived in Bombay.

Perhaps the most intriguing names given to their children by Thomas and Isabella Gibson were those of Claude Aislabie Vigne Gibson. I’ve managed to trace their source, but unfortunately I’ve yet to establish a connection with Isabella. When Claude was born in 1858, the only other living person bearing the same two middle names was a certain Thomas Aislabie Vigne. Two years later he would marry Julia Maria Vigne, presumably a cousin, who was the daughter of Rev. George Vigne of Tillingham, Essex. Their son Percy Aislabie Vigne would be born in 1870.

Benjamin Aislabie (via www.lords.org)

Thomas Aislabie Vigne was born in 1837 in Woodford, Essex – only a few miles from Chigwell, with which Isabella’s family was associated – the son of Augustus Vigne and Caroline Aislabie. Both of Thomas’ parents had strong associations with the world of cricket. Born in 1811, Caroline was the daughter of Benjamin Aislabie (1774 – 1842), a wine merchant, amateur cricketer, and president of the M.C.C. Augustus Vigne was the son of Thomas Vigne (1771 – 1845), who was both a merchant (he was director of the South Sea Company) and a famous cricketer; another of his sons, Godfrey Vigne (1801 – 1863) was another well-known gentleman cricketer, as well as being a traveller and explorer.

I suspect that Isabella’s family – either the Schneiders, or her mother’s family the Wilkinses – were linked to the Aislabie Vignes by marriage. However, I’ve yet to discover the precise connection.

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Thomas Wheatley Gibson (1823 – 1884)

In the last post I wrote about Rev. Charles Dockley Gibson, one of the two surviving sons of Major-General John Thomas Gibson. The other son was Thomas Wheatley Gibson who followed in his father’s footsteps and served in the British army in India. In 1847 Thomas married Isabella Schneider, who was born in Milan in about 1822, at Chigwell in Essex.

Thomas and Isabella Gibson had nine children: Frederick Thomas Downdsell Gibson (born 1849); Caroline Isabel Geraldine Gibson (1850); Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson (1852); Henry Adolphus Gibson (1856); Alice Matilda Stuart Gibson (1858); Claude Aislabie Vigne Gibson (1858); Constance Laura Harriette Gibson (1861); Mabel Bertha Evelyn Gibson (1862); and Gabrielle H C Gibson (1866).

British Law Courts, Madras, 1850 (via https://www.mtholyoke.edu)

British Law Courts, Madras, 1850 (via https://www.mtholyoke.edu)

Frederick, Caroline and Frank were all born in Madras, but some time in the early 1850s the family moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands, where the remaining children were born, except for Mabel, who was born in Somerset. Thomas Wheatley Gibson seems to have retired from the army in his thirties, and it’s possible that this decision coincided with the death of his father and inheriting sufficient funds to set himself up as a farmer. The 1861 census finds the Gibsons living at Le Coin Road (or Rue du Coin) in St Ouen, Jersey. Thomas, 37, is described as ‘Military retired Madras Army’ and the family is able to afford two house servants, a wet nurse and two outdoor servants.

I can’t find the family in the 1871 census, but in 1881 we find Isabel Gibson, described as a ‘wife’, but without her husband present, living at East End Villas, St Helier, Jersey. She is described as a retired farmer, while her son son Claude, 23, is said to be an ostrich farmer. Her daughter Mabel, 18, and a visitor named Annie Huapath (or possibly Herepath), 25, are also present.

According to some reports, Thomas Wheatley Gibson died in 1884 in South Africa. In 1891, his widow Isabel, now 66, was still in St Helier with Mabel, now 27, and a housemaid and a cook. Isabella Gibson died in Jersey in 1900, leaving effects of £220 5s 3d, probate being granted to Raymond Murray Richardson, an East India agent.

St Helier harbour, mid 19th century (via http://www.theislandwiki.org/)

St Helier harbour, mid 19th century (via http://www.theislandwiki.org/)

What became of the children of Thomas and Isabella Gibson? I can find no further records for Frederick and Gabrielle Gibson, the first and last-born of their children. Caroline Gibson died in 1873 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, apparently never having married. For some reason, there was a delay in processing her estate, and it wasn’t until 1901 that her effects passed to her sister Constance. I can find no records for Mabel Gibson after her mother’s death.

Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson married Louisa Letitia Crole in Cape Town in 1873, South Africa, and later migrated to Australia, where he worked as a journalist. He died in 1929 in Grenfell, New South Wales.

According to one source, Henry Adolphus Gibson emigrated to Canada in 1883 with his wife Fannie Augusta Croll (was she a relation of the Lousia Crole who married his brother Frank?)  and lived in Winnipeg, where Henry worked as a farmer and land agent, for more than forty years, Henry and Fannie had seven children: Millicent Caroline Gibson (b. 1882; she became Mrs. Daniel J. Ferguson), Evelyn Bertie Gibson (b. 1887; Mrs. Matthew C. Ryan), Gladys Una Gibson (b. 1889), Cuthbert Montague Gibson (1890-1934), Aubrey Ritherdon Gibson (b. 1894), and Cyril Leslie Gibson (b 1896). Henry Gibson retired to Los Angeles, California in about 1929 and died there on 13 September 1934.

Claude Aislabie Vigne Gibson married Edith Marian Clayton in London in 1881. Apparently he was still alive in 1935 when administration of the will of his sister Constance was granted to Maria Horatia Hoxhead, wife of John Codsrington Charles Coxhead, ‘attorney of Claude Vigne Gibson’.

Constance Laura Harriette Gibson married Walter West Pierce, an officer in the merchant marine, who had also been born in India. They had a daughter Edith and a son named Ernest. In 1891 they were living in St Saviour, Jersey. Walter Pierce died in 1900 and in the following year his widow Constance could be found living in Oxford Row, Bath, where she was the matron of some kind of establishment, employing an attendant, a cook, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. Constance Pierce died in West Kensington, London, in 1934.

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The children of John Thomas Gibson: Rev. Charles Dockley Gibson (1818 – 1869)

The previous post explored the lives of George Milsom Gibson (1782 -1814) and John Thomas Gibson (1785 – 1852), two of the sons of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817), both of whom served in the British army in India in the first half of the nineteenth century. I noted that George died in his early 30s, leaving a wife and young son, for whom I have been unable to find any further records. John died in India in 1852 at the age of 67, having fathered nine children by his wife Henrietta. Of these children, four seem to have died at a young age, while one son, John James, followed his father into the military but predeceased him, leaving an unknown number of children.

That leaves two sons – Charles Dockley and Thomas Wheatley – and two daughters – Louisa Grace and Henrietta Elizabeth – for whom we have more information. In the next few posts, I’ll set out what we know about their lives, thus taking the story of the Gibson family to the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.

St John's College, Cambridge, in 1842 (via victorianweb.org)

St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1842 (via victorianweb.org)

In the remainder of this post, I’ll summarise what we know about Charles Dockley Gibson, who was born in 1818. In the previous post I noted that Charles graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1841 and worked for a while as a teacher in London. However, he took holy orders some time before his marriage, in 1843, to Louisa Laing, the daughter of one of his father’s schoolfriends, and seems to have served for a short time in Suffolk, perhaps as a curate.

Charles Dockley Gibson proceeded to the degree of M.A. in 1847 and in 1848 took up an appointment as an army chaplain, returning to India, the country of his birth and still the home of his parents and a number of his siblings. Apparently Charles held a number of posts, serving at St George’s Cathedral in Madras from 1849-57, and at Fort St George from 1862-65 and 1866-68. At one stage he was the chaplain of St John’s church in Vellore. According to one source his father built a small church near his home at Kotagherry, perhaps intending that his son would serve as its incumbent.

Church at Kotagherry, India: was this the church built by John Thomas Gibson? (via http://digitallibrary.usc.edu)

Church at Kotagherry, India: was this the church built by John Thomas Gibson? (via http://digitallibrary.usc.edu)

According to another account, Charles Dockley Gibson was ‘very popular in society on account of his pleasant manners and various accomplishments, and probably on account of his relationship to many Madras officers, civil and military.’ The document continues:

His brother was in the Madras Army, and two of his sisters were married to officers in the same. He had sufficient influence to serve most of his time in Madras. He was on the committee of the Additional Clergy Society during nearly the whole time he was in the Presidency town.

However, his influence was not enough to prevent Charles being removed from Fort St George in 1868, ‘for a neglect of duty’, following a complaint from the General Office Commanding. He died in the following year at Calicut. He was 51 years old. I’m not sure what became of his wife Louisa, or whether they had any surviving children.

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Brothers in arms: George Milsom Gibson and John Thomas Gibson

I’ve been exploring the lives of the children of Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817), the East India Company broker who was the younger brother of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). In recent posts I’ve written about the surviving children from Bowes John’s second marriage to Mary Catherine Bretman. In this post, I’m returning to the children who survived from his first marriage to Elizabeth Hendly.

In an earlier post, I noted that only three children appear to have survived from Bowes John’s first marriage. These were his daughter Esther, who married mariner and shipbuilder Thomas Lay, with whom she had two sons, but who disappears from the records after 1797 – and his two sons, George Milsom Gibson and John Thomas Gibson. I’ve written about the latter two before, but I now want to provide a fuller account of their lives, which seem to have followed similar paths. 

Birth and childhood 

George Milsom Gibson was born at Long Walk, Bermondsey, on 18th December 1781 and baptised on 7th January in the following year at the parish church of St Mary Magdalene. As I’ve noted before, he appears to have been named after Captain George Milsom, who died in 1834, and who is described in some sources as serving in the 9th Regiment of the Madras Native Infantry, and in others as being in the service of the East India Company: the two were seemingly not incompatible. Since Bowes John Gibson was in the habit of naming sons after people he knew personally, it seems likely that the two men were friends and associates. Certainly, it seems no coincidence that George Milsom Gibson would end up serving in the Madras Native Infantry like his namesake – who may well have been his godfather. By the time his younger brother John Thomas was born three years later, the Gibson family had moved across the Thames to a house in Mile End Old Town. John was christened on 18th August 1785 at St Dunstan’s, Stepney.

George and John were the seventh and eighth children born to their mother Elizabeth, though it’s unclear how many of their older siblings had survived infancy. Esther, the eldest Gibson child, was already fourteen when George was born. The only other older sibling whose survival we can be sure of was another brother, Grey Dockley Gibson, who was eight years older than George. A younger sister, Matilda Ann, and a younger brother, Carleton, would follow George and John, but neither would survive early childhood.

In 1793, when George was ten and John was eight, their mother Elizabeth died. In the following year their older brother Grey Dockley died at the age of twenty. It was another few years before their father Bowes John married for a second time, though it’s possible that his relationship with Mary Catherine Bretman preceded their formal marriage in 1799. This second marriage would produce eight more (half) siblings for George and John.

An 18th century gentleman's house on Mile End Road: remains of Malplaquet House, built in 1741

An 18th century gentleman’s house on Mile End Road: remains of Malplaquet House, built in 1741

The two boys would have spent most of their childhood in then-fashionable Mile End Old Town, though we know that they were sent to school in Lambeth in south London, possibly as weekly boarders and perhaps (given their motherless state) from an early age. Our main source for this information is the memoir written by John Thomas Gibson’s schoolfriend and future brother-in-law, the composer, singer and actor Charles Edward Horn. Horn writes that ‘the Gibsons and the Laings were our constant visitors as boys from school on Sundays, and this was continued till their departure from school for good and to become cadets for the Indian Service’. Elsewhere he notes that one of the Laing brothers, Henry Laing ‘became the instructor and master of my sister’s children upon her first visit to England after being with her husband in India 10 years, and her second son, Dockley Gibson, being educated for a clergyman, married the daughter of John Laing. Thus we all schoolfellows became afterward related by the marriages of my sister’s and the Laings’ children’.

Marriage

We know that John Thomas Gibson became an officer cadet in the Indian Army in 1800, when he was fifteen years old and, given his superior age, I imagine that George might have joined the service before this (British Library, Oriental and India Office, Cadet Papers, L/MIL/9/111 f 625).

On 20th February 1811, when he was twenty-three years old, John Thomas Gibson married Henrietta Eliza Horn, his old school friend’s sister, at the church of St George the Martyr, Queen Square. John’s father Bowes John Gibson was one of the witnesses, and the other was Henrietta’s father, Charles Frederick Horn – the German-born musician and composer who became a music teacher in the Royal Household.

Memoir of Charles Edward Horn

Memoir of Charles Edward Horn

Charles Edward Horn writes in his memoir of how he ‘left my apartments in Rathbone Place and again joined my father at 25 Queen Square, in consequence of my sister’s marriage with my old schoolfellow J[ohn Thomas] Gibson, then a lieutenant only in the Indian Army, and then leaving with Major Gibson for Madras for they had residence at my father’s house.’

As for George Milsom Gibson, he was married two years after his younger brother. On 22nd September 1813 he married Eliza Harriet Wilson at Fort St George, Madras. I’m grateful to Barbara Haines in Kentucky, who is researching the life of the original George Milsom, for this information. I recently discovered that Eliza Wilson was almost certainly the (illegitimate?) daughter of Welsh-born merchant Thomas Parry.

According to one source:

Parry came to Madras in 1788 and by 1794 he was married to Mary Pearce, widow of a civil servant of the city. Parry’s marriage was not a success, for Mrs. Parry disliked Madras. In 1806 she took her two children and left for England where she lived for the remainder of a rather long life. Parry consoled himself with the local delights. He almost certainly fathered a Miss Eliza Harriett Wilson at whose marriage to Major George Gibson he and his business partner Dare officiated as witnesses. Her son was named George Parry Gibson.

Another source relates that in 1823 ‘Parry and 10 year old George Parry Gibson (his son?) went to South Arcot to visit his indigo factory in Porto Novo and was smitten by Cholera and died soon after.’ George Parry Gibson was, of course, Thomas Parry’s grandson, not his son. By this time, the boy’s father was dead, since George Milsom Gibson passed away less than a year after his marriage to Eliza Wilson. The inscription on his tomb in the Old Cemetery at Visakhapatnam, India, reads as follows:

Sacred to the memory of Major George Milsom Gibson Commandant 1st batt[alion]. 2nd Reg. N[ative] I[nfantry] who departed this life 5 May 1814 Aged 33 years.

It’s unclear whether George died of natural causes or on active service. Nor do we know what became of his widow or his son.

Tombs in the Old Cemetery at Visakhapatnam (via schickrobert.blogspot.com)

Tombs in the Old Cemetery at Visakhapatnam (via schickrobert.blogspot.com)

The children of John Thomas Gibson 

Information about the military career of John Thomas Gibson is harder to come by, though we know that most of it was spent in Madras, in the service of the East India Company, and that he rose to the rank of Major General. Certainly, all of John and Henrietta Gibson’s nine children appear to have been born in India. They were: Louise Grace (born 1811); Mary Emma (1815); John James (1816); Charles Dockley (1818); Edmund (1819); Thomas Wheatley (1823); Henrietta Elizabeth (1824); Matilda (1827); and Edward Samuel (1829). Of these, we know that Mary Emma and Emma both died at the age of two and Matilda at the age of one. I can find no further records for Edmund or Edward Samuel, nor are they mentioned in his father’s will, so I assume that they did not survive either.

John Thomas and Henrietta Gibson’s eldest daughter Louise Grace married George Briggs, a captain in the Madras Artillery, probably sometime in the 1830s.

John and Henrietta’s eldest son John James Gibson served as a captain in the 20th Regiment of the Native Infantry. He was married with children, though I can find no record of his wife or offspring. He predeceased his father, date unknown.

Charles Dockley Gibson graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1841. The census taken that year finds him living in Fulham High Street and working as a teacher. However, by the time of his marriage, on 3rd June 1843, at the church of St John, Hampstead, Charles had taken holy orders and was described in the parish register as a clergyman, living at Corton in Suffolk. His father John Thomas was described as a general in the army. Charles’ bride was Louisa Laing, daughter of John Laing, a gentleman of Hampstead. As we have already noted, John was also an old school friend of Charles’ father.

On 7th December 1847 Thomas Wheatley Gibson married Italian-born Isabella Schneider at Chigwell, Essex. From later census records, we can gather that Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps and served as a captain in the Indian army.

Henrietta Elizabeth Gibson married another Indian army officer, Henry Temple Hillyard, probably some time in the 1840s, possibly in India. Henry would rise to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 14th Madras Native Infantry.

Nilgiri Hills, India (via onthegotours.com)

Nilgiri Hills, India (via onthegotours.com)

John Thomas Gibson died in 1852 at Kolergherry in the Neilgherry or Nilgiri Hills, India, leaving his house there to his daughter Louise and her husband Captain George Briggs, who was also appointed as one of the executors of his will. From John’s failure to mention his wife Henrietta in his will, we can assume that he predeceased her. Interestingly, we discover that John Thomas Gibson’s life insurance was with ‘Messrs. Parry and Company’.

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