Abraham Manser: an apothecary in East Smithfield, London

The main beneficiary of the 1681 will of London apothecary John Manser would appear to be his son Abraham, from which we can assume that he was probably John’s eldest son (there was another son, named John, and daughters named Rebecca and Jane). As I reported in the previous post, ‘Abraham Manser of London’ was also the heir of his uncle, Nicholas Manser of  Mottensden or Mottynsden in Burwash, Sussex. However, as I also noted in that post, the frequency with which certain names – including Abraham – occur in the Manser family tree can make it difficult to trace what happened to particular individuals.

300px-Interior_of_Apothecary's_Shop

I’ve been trying to find out what became of Abraham Manser, son of John Manser of East Smithfield, after his father’s death. I’ve now found a christening record for him so we know that he was born in 1659, the last year of the Cromwellian Commonwealth, the son of John and his first wife Sarah. This means that Abraham was about twenty-two years old when his father died, and the will suggests that he was still childless and probably unmarried at the time. The other information that might help us trace Abraham is the fact that his father John bequeathed him his medical books and equipment, as well as the house in which he was living in East Smithfield, in the parish of St Botolph, Aldgate.

Church of St Mary, Newington, Surrey

If we look for an Abraham Manser who got married in London some time after 1680, then the most obvious candidate is the person of that name who married Aveline (or Avelin or Aveling) Granger at the church of St Mary, Newington, Surrey, on 15th March 1682 or 1683, depending on which calendar you’re using. The location is puzzling, since both bride and groom appear to have been born and raised in East Smithfield. Aveline, born in 1666, was only sixteen when she married. She was the youngest child of a large family: her parents were Samuel Granger, a patten maker (just like my Bristol-born ancestor James Blanch) and indeed for a time Master of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers, and his wife, another Aveline. Samuel seems to have been something of a Calvinist by conviction: in his will he commends ‘my soule into the hands of Almightie god my Creator assuredly Trusting that through the Merritts and mediation of my onely saviour Jesus Christ I shall be made partaker of Eternall Life and be numbered Amongst his Chosen and Elect people’. Samuel Granger died in 1681, a year before his daughter Aveline’s marriage, leaving her one hundred pounds in his will. His wife Aveline died four years later.

Abraham and Aveline Manser appear to have spent their married lives in East Smithfield, just like their parents – perhaps in the house that Abraham inherited from his father John. On 7th December 1683, Nicholas, son of Abraham and Aveline Manser of East Smithfield, was christened at St Botolph’s, Aldgate. The date, the address, and the child’s Christian name, all point to this being ‘our’ Abraham.  Sadly, this first child didn’t live long, being buried at the same church only four days later.

East Smithfield, from Rocque's 1746 map of London

East Smithfield, from Rocque’s 1746 map of London

I’ve come across baptismal records for at least seven other children born to Abraham and Aveline Manser. On 26th July 1685 a daughter named Elizabeth was christened at St Botolph’s.  On 30th January 1690 their son Isaac was baptised there. In March 1696 a daughter named Sarah was christened: this record is particularly interesting, since it confirms that Abraham worked as an apothecary, like his father John. Mary was baptised in October 1702: this record gives the family’s address as Churchyard Alley, which ran southwards from Rosemary Lane alongside St Botolph’s churchyard towards East Smithfield. (See map above. The next turning off Rosemary Lane was Darby Street, where my Gibson ancestors would be living half a century later.)  This child was buried in the following April, and a second Mary was christened, together with another daughter named Anne, in May 1704, at which time the address given was the same. Finally, on 13th March 1707, a daughter named Susana was baptised.

We know from this last record that Abraham and Aveline must still have been alive in 1707. But when did they die, and did they leave wills that might enlighten us about their family connections? I’ve found a burial record for Aveline, from June 1725 – she would have been about 59 years old – but not for Abraham.

I’ve found another Manser family living in East Smithfield at about the same time as Abraham and Aveline, though I haven’t managed to work out the connection (if any) between them. According to the London Lives website, Andrew Manser of ‘Morlies Rents’ had a child baptised on 30th January 1680 (could this be the same place as the ‘Maudlins Rents’, also in East Smithfield, where members of the Bonner family would be living half a century later?). The IGI has a record for a Joseph Manser, son of Andrew and Jane, christened around this time. On 12th February 1682/3, William Manser, son of Andrew Manser and his wife Jane from East Smithfield, was christened at St Botolph’s, Aldgate. On 2nd June 1689 the same couple had a son John baptised: on this occasion their address was said to be ‘East End’. This child died and was buried six months later, at which time the family was said to be living in Nightingale Lane (see map above). Unfortunately, I’ve found no other records for Andrew and Jane Manser, but I think there’s a good chance they were related in some way to Abraham and Aveline.

Someone by the name of Abraham Maunser, a citizen and apothecary of London, made his last will and testament in 1690. Confusingly, he seems to be a completely different person from ‘our’ Abraham. I’ll write about him in another post.

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