William Byne of Burwash (died 1559)

In the previous post I began to explore the early generations of the Byne family of Sussex. In this post I want to summarise what we know about my earliest confirmed Byne ancestor – my 12 x great grandfather William Byne of Burwash.

I’ve requested a copy of William’s will from the East Sussex Archives, but for now all of the information I have about him comes from Renshaw’s history of the Bynes. According to Renshaw, by a lease dated 19 November 1538, Thomas (Taylor), then Abbot of Robertsbridge, demised Witteres (Witherhurst?) tenement in Burwash to William Byne for twenty-one years from Lady Day 1539, for the yearly rent of 23s 4d.  Robertsbridge was a Cistercian Abbey, some five miles from Burwash. It was dissolved in 1538, but it’s not clear whether William Byne’s lease immediately predated or followed this event.

We learn from Renshaw that William was assessed on £10 in goods on 10 shillings to the Lay Subsidy levied in 1549 and 1551/2 in the Hundred of Hawksborough, which includes Burwash, and also in the Borough of Possingworth.  He bought land in Burwash from a certain J. Segar in 1550.

We know from his will of 16th April 1557 that William wife’s was named Joan and that they had five children: Edward, Symon, Anthony, Margery and Jane.

William Byne was buried at Burwash on 28th August 1559 and his will was proved on 14th April 1560. His wife Joan made her will on 20th May 1567 and was buried on 31st July 1575.

Witherhurst Farm, Burwash

Witherhurst Farm, Burwash

In his will William Byne left properties called ‘Upper Croft’, ‘Colth’ (?) and ‘Moyses’ variously to his three sons. (‘Moyses’ would be inherited by Edward Byne’s son Stephen, my 10 x great grandfather, who in turn left it to his daughter Mary). William appointed his wife Joan and Richard Barham to be executors of the will, and John Byne as overseer. The latter was probably the John Byne of Burwash who died just three months after William and who, Renshaw speculates, might have been his brother (a possibility I’ll explore in another post).

Renshaw informs us that Margery married Godard, or Godredus Russell of Salehurst in 1551, which means she must have been born by about 1535 at the latest. His daughter Jane married Henry Foster. His son Anthony married a woman named Joan and lived in Battle; he died in 1590. Symon Byne married Elinor Pudland and died in Burwash in 1608. Edward Byne, my 11 x great grandfather, married Agnes Fowle of Mayfield.

If we assume that William Byne was at least twenty-one years old, and probably somewhat older, when he leased land from the Abbot of Robertsbridge in 1538, then he must have been born by the middle of the first decade of the 16th century. And if his daughter Margery got married in 1551, then she must have been born by about 1535 at the latest, meaning that her parents were probably married by the early 1530s.

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