John Byne of Wadhurst (died 1614)

In my recent posts about the early generations of the Byne family of Sussex, I’ve referred several times to a certain John Byne of Wadhurst and to the fact that his exact relationship to my ancestors remains a puzzle. The story of this John Byne’s family intersects with the lives of my ancestors at a number of points. His daughter Elizabeth married Abraham Manser or Maunser of Wenbourne, who was the younger brother of my 11 x great grandfather John Manser of Wadhurst and the aunt of my 10 x great grandmother Mary Manser who married Stephen Byne of Burwash. When Elizabeth’s father John made his will in 1614 he appointed his son-in-law Abraham Manser as his executor. When Abraham himself died in 1627, his widow Elizabeth married Magnus Byne of Framfield, the elder brother of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne. Another of John Byne’s daughters, Anne, married Christopher Manser, who seems to have been the son of John Manser of Wadhurst and the brother of my 10 x great grandmother Mary Byne née Manser.

Despite these connections to individuals of whom we have substantial knowledge, John Byne’s precise identity remains uncertain. Walter Renshaw, on whose painstaking researches into the history of the Byne family all later researchers rely, felt unable to connect him with confidence to any of the known branches of the family. A number of family history websites claim that it was this John Byne who married Dionysia Pudland. However, Renshaw states that it was a different John Byne, the son of Richard Byne of Ticehurst, who married Dionysia. He concludes this from the fact that, in his will of 1580, this John Byne, who mentions his wife ‘Dyonice’, refers to his residence at Witherden in Ticehurst, a property that had belonged to Richard. John’s will, proved by his widow Dionysia Byne, mentions only one daughter, Mary. This seems to prove conclusively that the John Byne who was married to Dionysia Pudland could not be the father of Elizabeth, Anne, and the other children who we know to have been the offspring of John Byne of Wadhurst.

Countryside near Wadhurst, Sussex (via

Countryside near Wadhurst, Sussex (via

The most reliable piece of evidence that we have concerning John Byne of Wadhurst, and the starting-point for any investigation into his life, is his last will and testament, signed and sealed on 3rd February 1613/4 and proved on 23rd May of that year. John Byne was buried at Burwash on 10th February. I’m reproducing my transcription of the will below, and in another post I’ll discuss what we can learn from it about him and his family.

In the name of God Amen The Third day of February Anno Domini 1613 in the yeare of our soveraigne Lord Kinge James of England Scotland France and Ireland kinge that is of England France and Ireland the Tenth and of Scotland the Seven and Fortieth, I John Byne of Wadhurst in the countie of Sussex yeoman being weake in bodie but of good understanding and memory do make my last will and Testament in manner and forme following, First I bequeath my soule into the handes of Allmyghtie God trustinge to be saved by the death and meritts of Jesus Christ my Saviour and my body to be buried in the churchyard of the parish of Burwashe, Item I bequeath my lands and goods in manner and forme following, Item I bequeath to the poore of the parish of Burwash Twentie shillings to be divided amonge them by my Executor at the day of my buriall, Item I further bequeath unto the poore Inhabitants of the parrishe of Wadhurst Ten shillings to be divided amonge them within one quarter of a yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath unto myne onlie sonne Thomas and his heires all my landes tenements and hereditaments lyinge situate and beinge within the parishes of Burwashe Catesffeild and Penhurst, Item I bequeath further unto my sonne Thomas all my houshold stuffe and implements of husbandry lyeinge and beinge at my house at Burwash towne and remayninge nowe in the house of Abraham Maunser my sonne in lawe dwelling in Wadhurst as also all such houshold stuffe as is nowe in the custodie of Henry Goldsmyth my sonne in lawe at Tunbridge, Item my will is that my sonne Thomas above named shall not come to the enioynge of the landes and goodes above named untill the full terme of his age of two and Twentie yeares, but that the whole disposing of the said goods and landes during the terme above named to be in the handes of my Executor from whome my will is that my said sonne shall have such yearely maintenance out of my landes duringe the tyme above named as my said Executor in his disposition shall thinke fit, Item I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Maunser my eldest daughter five poundes to be paide within one whole yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath to Ellen Coney of the parrish of Burwashe my second daughter five poundes to be paid within one whole yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath unto Fayntnot Goldsmith of Tunbridge my third daughter five poundes to be paid within one whole yeare after my decease. Item I bequeath to Mary my fourth daughter one hundred poundes to be paid to her within one whole yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath unto my daughter Judith one hundred poundes to be paid at the age of one and twentie yeares or day of marriage whichever come first. Item I bequeath to my sixth daughter Anne one hundred pounds to be paid at the age of one and Twentie yeares or day of marriage whichever come firste, Item my will is that my sonne in lawe Abraham Maunser have the tuition and government of my above named three youngest daughters unto the tymes lymitted for the payment of every one of their severall portions, Item I give unto my daughter Mary fortie shillings towards her mainteynance untill the tyme of the payment of hers the said portion above named, Item I further give unto Abraham Manser my sonne in lawe Twentie markes yearely towardes the mayntenance of my two youngest daughters untill the tyme of their said portions, Item my meaning is that the portion of my daughter Mary above named shall be raysed out of the Rents of my landes which shall accrue from them whilest my sonne be under the age of two and twentie yeares, And for the portions of my two youngest daughters my will is that they shall be paid by my sonne Thomas together with their yearely mayntenance allotted to my said sonne in law Abraham Maunser for their education and [?] and for default of the payment of the portion of my daughter Judith at the tyme mentioned it shall be lawfull for her and her assignes to enter into possesse and hold one peice of land called Sonant meadow Lyinge nigh to the towne of Burwash and another peice of land called Hoppers Croft adioyning to myne orchard in the said towne to her and her heires for ever, And for the default of the payment of my daughter of [?] portions specified at the tyme limited it shall be lawfull for my said daughter or her assignes to enter into possesse inioye to her and her heires for ever one peice of land called Hamlane feild with two other peices of land called the deans situate and lyeing neare the town of Burwash, Item I constitute appoynt and ordayne my sonne in lawe Abraham Maunser sole Executor of this my last will and Testament And I doe give unto him full power and authorities to take gather and receive into his handes all and all manner of goods belonging to me wheresoever lyinge as allso to let all myne above named landes as occasion shall require and as he shall thinke fit and to take up and receive all rents due to be due from the said lands toward the payment of the above named portions and the education and mayntenance of myne above named Children and the discharging of all funeral expenses and all manner of legacies already mentioned duringe the terme above mentioned. Moreover my will is that whereas I have given and bequeathed to my three yongest daughters Mary Judith and Anne to every one of them an hundred poundes if it please God that any them should happen to die before theire severall tymes wherein by my will the above named portions are due that all such portion or portions be devided or remayne to the survivor or survivors of those the above named my three yongest daughters and the said survivors to have the same authoritie and meanes for recoveringe the portions of the deceased from my said sonne as my said daughters should have had if they had lived, Item I appoynt and ordeine my sonnes in lawe Marke Coney and Henry Goldsmyth overseers of this my last will and Testament to whome for their paynes I will that Twentie shillings a peice be given them by myne above named Executor within one whole yeare after my decease, And to this my last Testament I have sett my my hand and seale in the presence of John Hatley and Syndenye Elit. John Byne.

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Three generations of Bynes: a summary

My recent posts have traced my Sussex Byne ancestors from the early sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century. Before moving on, it might be useful to provide a summary of these three generations in this branch of my maternal family tree (italics indicate my direct ancestors):

First generation

William Byne (died 1559) and Joan had the following children:

Margery or Margaret Byne (alive in 1590) married Goddard Russell 

Edward Byne (died 1614) married Agnes Fowle 

Anthony Byne of Battle (died 1591) married Joan 

Symon Byne (died 1516) married Elinor Pudland

Jane Byne (alive in 1590) married Henry Foster 

Second generation

Edward Byne (died 1614) and Agnes Fowle (died 1626) had the following children:

Magnus Byne of Framfield (1576 – 1647) married (i) Elizabeth Polhill (ii) Bathshua Newington (iii) Elizabeth Manser née Byne 

William Byne (1579 – 1628)

Edward Byne (1581 – 1647) married Dorothy Alchorne (died 1656) 

Stephen Byne (1586 – 1664) married Mary Manser 

John Byne (1589 – 1616)

Third generation 

Stephen Byne (1586 – 1664) and Mary Manser had the following children:

Elizabeth Byne (1614 – 1639) married Gregory Markwick 

Magnus Byne (1615 – 1671) married (i) Anne Chowne (ii) Sarah Bartlet

John Byne (1617 – 1662) married Elizabeth Coney

Mary (born 1620, living 1662)

Edward (1623 – 1683) married Martha Radford

Stephen (1632 – 1691) married (i) Ann Peckham (ii) Alice Heathfield

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Two sons of Stephen Byne of Burwash

My 10 x great grandparents Stephen and Mary Byne of Burwash, Sussex, had six children: two daughters and four sons. Their daughter Elizabeth (1613 – 1639) married Gregory Markwick but died at a young age, while their other daughter Mary (born in 1620) seems to have remained unmarried. As I noted in my last post, two of their sons, my 9 x great grandfather Magnus (1615 – 1671) and his brother Edward (1623 – 1682), both studied at Cambridge and entered the Church. I’ve written about Magnus and Edward elsewhere, and will probably re-visit them at a future date.

In this post I want to set down what we know about Stephen and Mary Byne’s other two sons, John and Stephen junior, both of whom followed in their father’s (and indeed their grandfather’s and great grandfather’s) footsteps and became yeoman fathers. Once again, my principal source is Walter Renshaw’s history of the Byne family.

Countryside near Burwash (via

Countryside near Burwash (via

John Byne, who was baptised at Burwash on 2nd May 1617, was the third son of Stephen and Mary Byne. He married Elizabeth, widow of Simon Conye or Coney of Burwash. Renshaw deduces this (page 154, footnote) from a Chancery suit in which John and his wife Elizabeth were plaintiffs and John Polhill of Tunbridge and John Coney were defendants.

Simon Coney died in 1648 and his widow Elizabeth’s marriage to John Byne seems to have taken place shortly after this date, when John would already have been in his thirties. The Coneys were another longstanding Sussex family whose lives intertwine with those of my ancestors in a number of ways. For example, Simon was probably a close relative of Mark Coney, who married Ellen or Helen Byne, daughter of the John Byne of Burwash whose identity is still a mystery, and sister of Anne Byne who married Christopher Manser, and of Elizabeth, the third wife of Magnus Byne of Framfield. I’ll have more to say about the Coney family and their connection with the Bynes and Polhills on another occasion.

John and Elizabeth Byne had five children: Stephen, baptised at Burwash on 14th April 1650; Mary, baptised there on 28th December 1651; John Byne, baptised there on 24th April 1657 and buried there on 15th September 1659; Edward Byne, baptised there on 12th September 1661; and Anne, buried there on 15th May 1680.

John Byne made his will on 20th April 1662, leaving a property in Burwash called Woodlands to his son Stephen and another called Herrings Mead, which he had inherited from his uncle William, to his son Edward. He directed that his executors should sell his houses in Burwash Town ‘and use the money arising thereby for the educating and bringing up of my two daughters Mary and Anne.’ John appointed his brother Stephen as his executor and the will was proved at Lewes on 5th May 1662, meaning that John predeceased his father, Stephen Byne senior, by two years. His widow Elizabeth was buried at Burwash on 15th February 1688/9.

Graves in Burwash churchyard

Graves in Burwash churchyard

Stephen Byne junior, the fifth son of Stephen and Mary Byne, was also a yeoman of Burwash and was married twice (Renshaw, page 159). His first marriage was to Ann Peckham, daughter of John Peckham of Framfield. She was buried at Burwash on 17th January 1677/8. Stephen’s second wife, whom he married on 19th October 1678 at Maresfield, was Alice Heathfield of Burwash. Like his father before him, Stephen was a churchwarden at Burwash, in the years 1670, 1671 and 1672.

By his first wife Ann, Stephen Byne had three children: Magnus, baptised at Burwash on 11th April 1672; Anne, baptised there in 1674; and Mary. By his second wife Alice, Stephen had four children: Alice, baptised at Burwash in 1681 and buried there on 10th February 1733/4; Stephen, baptised there on 14th February 1683/4; William; and John, baptised there on 9th February 1689/90.

Stephen Byne made his will on 14th October 1691, directing that all his lands, both copyhold and freehold, should be sold and requesting his loving friends John Polhill and Stephen Coney (see above), both of Burwash, to aid and assist in the sale. Stephen left sums of money to his children and to his wife Alice, whom he appointed as executrix of his will. Stephen Byne was buried at Burwash on 17th November 1691.

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Stephen Byne of Burwash (1586 – 1664)

In the last two posts I’ve been discussing the sons of my 11 x great grandfather, Edward Byne of Burwash, Sussex, who died in 1614. The only one of his sons that I’ve yet to write about is my 10 x great grandfather, Stephen, who is the focus of this post.

Stephen Byne was baptised on 3rd July 1586, in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, at the parish church in Burwash, though he is said to have been born in nearby Mayfield. Since this was his mother Agnes Fowle’s home village, it’s possible that she returned there to give birth. We know that Stephen later lived in Burwash, though the will of his uncle Symon Byne, made in 1616, in which Stephen is appointed as one of the overseers, describes him as ‘of Mayfield’.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Stephen was the fourth of the five sons of Edward and Agnes Byne, born eleven years after their marriage. He had three older brothers – Magnus, William and Edward were ten, seven and five years older than Stephen respectively – and they would eventually be joined by another brother, John, born three years after Stephen.

On 22nd January 1611/2, in the ninth year of the reign of King James I, Stephen married Mary Maunser in the parish church at Wadhurst. He was twenty-six years old, but Mary’s exact age is unknown. She was the daughter of John Maunser or Manser, a younger son of Robert Maunser of Hightown, Wadhurst.

Stephen and Mary Byne had six children, all of them baptised in the parish church at Burwash. Elizabeth was baptised on 22nd January 1613/4; my 9 x great grandfather Magnus was born in 1615; John was baptised on 2nd May 1617; Mary on 30th July 1620; Edward on 2nd December 1623; and Stephen on 14th October 1632.

In January 1614, two years after Stephen’s marriage, his father Edward Byne died and was buried at Burwash. Although Edward’s will contains little information about the disposal of his property, we know that Stephen must have inherited Moyses farm in Burwash (which Edward had inherited in turn from his father William),  since he would later bequeath it to his daughter Mary. Two years later, in 1616, Stephen’s unmarried brother John died, leaving some of his property to Stephen.

Walter Renshaw’s history of the Byne family (pages 122-3) includes detailed information about Stephen Byne’s various land holdings and transactions. In a 1617 survey of the manor of Framfield, Stephen was said to hold the reversion expectant upon the death of his mother Agnes in some copyholds in the parish of Buxted. According to the rental book of the manor of Sharnden in Mayfield, in 1635 he held as freehold a messuage called Bardens, a barn and several parcels of land in Mayfield, containing approximately eighty acres, including Downescroft and Longfield, which had originally belonged to his maternal grandfather Magnus Fowle.

In April 1625, in the first year of the reign of King Charles I, Stephen’s mother Agnes Byne née Fowle made her will, in which she appointed Stephen and his older brother Magnus as join executors. Agnes died just over a year later. One of the witnesses to Agnes Byne’s will was Christopher Manser, who I believe was the brother of Stephen’s wife Mary, and thus the son of John Maunser or Manser of Wadhurst. My current theory is that this is the same Christopher Manser who, four years previously, had married Anne Byne, daughter of the John Byne whose precise connection to my ancestors’ family I’m still puzzling over. Anne’s sister Elizabeth had married Abraham Manser of Wenbourne, the younger brother of John Manser of Wadhurst and thus the uncle of both Christopher and Mary. Abraham Manser died in 1627 and a year later Stephen Byne’s older brother Magnus would marry his widow Elizabeth; it was his third marriage.

Burwash parish church

Burwash parish church

There is a record in the National Archives of a transaction that took place on 24th June 1630, by which Christopher Manser of Burwash, yeoman, and his wife Anne sold to Stephen Byne of Burwash, yeoman, for £200, the following properties:

8 pieces of land ‘Woodlandes and Highlandes’ ; 6 pieces S: lands of John French gent and lands of Thomas Glyd gent ‘Wiverherst'; N, W: a whapple way from Halton house to ‘William Cruttendens of the greene'; E: land of Herbert Lunsford gent. Other 2 pieces W: land of HL; N: whapple way as before; S: land of TG ‘Wiverherst’, E: lands of John Dawe of Burwash ‘Hickmans’

These properties, which had lately been occupied by the John Byne of Burwash mentioned above, had came to Anne Manser by partition of the property of her brother Thomas Byne in 1620. The witnesses to the transaction included Stephen’s brother Magnus Byne, and the latter’s son, Magnus junior.

In 1628 Stephen Byne’s unmarried brother William died and once again Stephen acted as co-executor with his brother Magnus. In 1635 the records show that Stephen was a churchwarden at Burwash.

On 14th August 1632 Stephen’s daughter Elizabeth married Gregory Markwick, ‘gent.’ of Wadhurst at Burwash. I understand that they had three children – Isaac, Judith and Elizabeth – before Elizabeth’s early death at the age of twenty-seven, perhaps in childbirth, in 1639. She was buried at Burwash and later the same year Gregory Markwick was married again, to Mary Hosmer, at Rotherfield. I assume that Stephen’s other daughter Mary did not marry, since he refers to her as ‘Mary Byne’ in his will of 1660, when she would have been forty years old.

Two of Stephen and Mary Byne’s sons, John and Stephen junior, followed in their father’s footsteps and became yeoman farmers. The other two sons, my 9 x great grandfather Magnus and his younger brother Edward, both studied at Cambridge and became clerics. I’m not sure how unusual it was for a yeoman farmer to have two sons who went into the Church – and whether this was a sign either of substantial wealth, enabling their father to pay for their education, or unusual devotion to the Church on their father’s part.

Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Emmanuel College, Cambridge

In 1631 Stephen’s second son Magnus entered Emmanuel College Cambridge, while in 1639 his fourth son Edward went up to Peterhouse. Renshaw suggests that Edward had previously been a pupil at Merchant Taylors School in London and it’s possible that Magnus also studied there. The year 1639 saw Magnus taking up a curacy at Wadhurst, while in the following year later he was appointed rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer, where he married Anne Chowne, the widow of two previous incumbents and the daughter of a third. As for Edward, I’ve written before of his controversial career at Cambridge, which coincided with the religious and political turbulence leading to the Civil War, in which Edward’s own partisanship for the Parliamentary cause and for Puritan doctrine seems clear. In 1652, in the second year of the Cromwellian Commonwealth, Edward married Martha Radford of Surrey.

In May 1647 Stephen Byne’s older brother Magnus died at Framfield; he appointed Stephen and the latter’s son Magnus as the overseers of his will. In December of the same year Stephen’s brother Edward made his will, appointing Stephen as one of the overseers.

Stephen Byne made his own will on 24th July 1660. It’s quite a brief document and the only land bequeathed is the farm at Moyses, said to consist of fourteen acres. Since Stephen’s wife Mary is mentioned in the will, we know that she survived her husband. The main beneficiary of the will seems to be Stephen Byne junior, who is appointed executor. The will was witnessed by Edward Polhill and John Polhill. In a recent post I speculated about the identities of these two men and their connection with other Polhills who are linked to my family history.

Stephen Byne was buried at Burwash on 22nd April 1664. He would have been about 78 years old.

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Three sons of Edward Byne of Burwash

In the last post I wrote about Magnus Byne of Framfield, Sussex (1576 – 1647), the eldest son of my 11 x great grandparents Edward and Agnes Byne of Burwash. Magnus had four younger brothers, including my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne, about whom I will write in a separate post. The remaining three Byne brothers were William, Edward and John.

Old map of Burwash

Old map of Burwash

William Byne was baptised at Burwash on 15th October 1579, He died a bachelor and was buried at Burwash on 28th August 1628. In his will of April that year, William made bequests to John and Magnus, the sons of his older brother Magnus; to Dorothy, Mary and Elizabeth, the daughters of his brother Edward; and to Magnus (my 9 x great grandfather), son of his brother Stephen, to whom he left ‘my peece of silver of 5s. called George on Horseback’. William also left his Bible to John, another son of Stephen, and some household items to Stephen’s daughter Elizabeth and to Agnes, daughter of his brother Magnus.

The residue of his estate William left to his brothers Magnus and Stephen, whom he appointed executors. He divided his lands in Waldron, Burwash and Ticehurst between his brother Edward and his nephews Magnus (son of Magnus) and John (son of Stephen), and bequeathed other property in Ticehurst to his brother Magnus and his heirs.

Parish church, Catsfield

Parish church, Catsfield

Edward Byne junior was baptised at Burwash on 21st May 1581. In his history of the Byne family, Renshaw states that a number of records place Edward in Framfield (like his older brother Magnus) in the years 1609 and 1612. Intriguingly, one of these records relates to a bill which Edward filed in Chancery against Elizabeth, daughter of John Markwick of Heathfield, yeoman, to recover ‘one goulde ring of the value of 40s. or thereabouts’, which he had entrusted to her as an engagement ring (Renshaw, page 117).

On 4th May 1615 Edward married Dorothy Alchorne at Rotherfield. Afterwards he lived in Catsfield, where on a couple of occasions he got into trouble with the rector for not paying his tithes. Renshaw (page 118) mentions a number of legal cases which provide us with detailed information about Edward’s land holdings in Catfield.

Edward and Dorothy Byne had one son, Edward, who was born in 1616 and died when he was only a few months old, and three daughters: Dorothy, Mary and Elizabeth (all mentioned in the will of their uncle William: see above). Dorothy Byne the younger did not marry and was buried at Catsfield in 1629. Mary, baptised at Catsfield in 1617, married first in 1635 to Edmund Colvill, who died in 1637, leaving a son Thomas and daughter Mary, and secondly in 1637 to John Carpenter; she died in about March 1644. Elizabeth Byne married John Wimshurst, by whom she had a son named Richard and a daughter Dorothy.

Edward Byne made his will on 10th December 1647, appointing his wife Dorothy as sole executrix and his brother Stephen as one of the overseers. The will includes bequests to his daughter Elizabeth of properties in Catsfield known as Heardsbeake, Somerleas and Twiserlye. Since these has once been owned by his father Edward, I was mistaken in assuming that the latter bequeathed all of his property to his eldest son Magnus.

Dorothy, the widow of Edward Byne, made her will in March 1656, appointing her grandson Thomas Colvill as sole executor, and making bequests to her daughter Elizabeth Wimshurst and grandchildren Richard and Dorothy Wimshurst.

Richard Wimshurst and Thomas Colvill sold Heardsbeake, Somerleas and Twyserlye to James Markwick, citizen and clockmaker of London (Renshaw, page 122). The latter may have been a relation of Gregory Markwick of Wadhurst who had married Elizabeth, daughter of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne, in 1632, and perhaps of the John Markwick of Heathfield mentioned above.

Fields south of Ticehurst, Sussex (via

Fields south of Ticehurst, Sussex (via

John Byne was baptised at Burwash on 6th April 1589. Like his older brother William he never married. He was buried at Burwash on 7th February 1616. In his will John bequeathed land to his brother Stephen and money to his brothers William and Edward. He left his mother Agnes the residue of his goods and appointed her as his executor, making his brother Magnus and ‘cozen’ David Foster overseers. One of the witnesses was John Byne the elder, whom Renshaw identifies with John, the son of Thomas Byne and grandson of Richard Byne of Ticehurst, who was born in 1576 and died in 1630, and was thus (I think) the second cousin of the testator. This John Byne’s brother Joseph is also mentioned in the will. The will also includes bequests to Ann Lucke ‘my kinswoman’ and to Rose Lucke, who may have been related in some way to Alice Lucke, John’s maternal grandmother.

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Magnus Byne of Framfield (1576 – 1647)

My 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne of Burwash, Sussex, who died in 1614, and whose will I discussed in the previous post, had five sons who survived him. In this post I want to write about his eldest son, Magnus. Named after Edward’s father-in-law, Magnus Fowle of Mayfield, this Magnus Byne shouldn’t be confused with later bearers of the same name – especially his nephew, my 9 x great grandfather Magnus Byne (1615 – 1671), the rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer.

Burwash parish church

Burwash parish church

Magnus Byne, the son of Edward Byne and his wife Agnes Fowle, was baptised at Burwash on 4th November 1576, a little over a year after his parents’ marriage, and in the seventeenth year of the reign of Elizabeth I. In 1595, when Magnus was nineteen, his maternal grandfather Magnus Fowle appointed him co-executor, with his mother Agnes, of his last will and testament. Although Magnus Fowle decreed that, on his death, his son-in-law Edward Byne should have the profits of his various properties, he also stated that after five years these should pass to his grandson Magnus Byne, and also that following the death of his mother Agnes, all of the property left to her should pass to him.

Renshaw’s history of the Byne family (pages 107-8) notes that in 1602, when Magnus would have been twenty-six years old, ‘Cortelands in Ticehurst were mortgaged by John Humfrey to Magnus Byne to secure £54 10s. made payable at the house of “Edward Byne the father in Burwash”.’ Two years later, in 1604, Magnus married Elizabeth Polhill of Burwash: on the licence he is described as a gentleman of Burwash. One of the sureties named on the licence was Hamond Hardiman of Cliff, near Lewes. Hardiman, a glover by trade, was married to Mary Harman, daughter of John Harman, the Lewes merchant who married Agnes, sister of Magnus Fowle: in other words, he was Magnus Byne’s second cousin. His name on Magnus’ marriage licence, and his involvement with Magnus in a bond mentioned elsewhere by Renshaw (page 109) suggests a continuing close relationship between Magnus and his mother’s family. As I’ve noted before, the exact identity of Elizabeth Polhill remains unclear, but she almost certainly had some connection with the family of John Polhill who married Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas Fowle of Wadhurst.

Magnus and Elizabeth Byne had a daughter named Elizabeth who died in infancy and was buried at Burwash on 22nd June 1606. Magnus’ wife Elizabeth would die, perhaps in childbirth, just over a year later and be buried on 28th July 1607.

Framfield parish church

Framfield parish church

Renshaw states that in July 1606 Magnus Byne was admitted to Croxted and other ‘extensive copyholds’ of the manor of Framfield, which was about twelve miles to the west of Burwash. In the following year he was plaintiff and his father Edward was deforciant in a fine levied as to lands in Ringmer. Perhaps these were lands bequeathed by Magnus Fowle, but it’s unclear whether this case is evidence of a disagreement between father and son.

On 23rd August 1608 Magnus Byne married for a second time, at Kingston Bowsey (now Kingston by Sea) to Bathshua Newington, daughter of Morgan Newington of that parish and his wife Elizabeth Stephens. Bathshua’s first name hints at her parents’ religious sympathies. Two of Bathshua’s brothers married daughters of Goddard Hepden of Burwash (the uncle of Elizabeth Hepden who married Nicholas Manser of Hightown, Wadhurst) with even more obviously Puritan names: Samuel Newington married Hopestill Hepden, and Thomas Newington married her sister Fearnot; another relative, Zabulon Newington, married a third sister, Goodgift. Morgan Newington’s will of 1610 mentions his daughter ‘Bathshua Byne’ while his widow Elizabeth’s will of 1622 bequeaths ‘to the four children of Magnus Byne my sonne in law 10s. each’ (Renshaw, page 108).

Magnus’ father Edward Byne died in 1614. His will divides his household effects between his five sons and also bequeaths them sums of money, but makes no mention of his land holdings. This may mean that he had made provision for these properties elsewhere, or that they were all inherited by Magnus, as the eldest son.

In 1611 Magnus Byne, ‘gent.’ was a churchwarden at Framfield. His second wife Bathshua was buried there on 22nd July 1620. Eight years later, on 17th June 1628, Magnus married for a third time, to Elizabeth Manser, widow of Abraham Manser of Wenbourne. Abraham was the younger brother of my 11 x great grandfather John Manser of Wadhurst, whose daughter Mary had married Magnus’ brother, my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne, in 1611. Elizabeth Manser had been born a Byne: her father was the John Byne of Burwash (Renshaw, pages 194 & ff) whose precise connection with my Byne ancestors I’m still trying to establish.

Renshaw mentions a purchase of land in Burwash made by Magnus Byne in 1629, and in 1642 a court case relating to properties in Battle and Ticehurst. Magnus Byne made his will on 7th May 1647. He died shortly afterwards and was buried on 13th May at Framfield.

Magnus Byne had four children. John, his firstborn, was mentioned in his grandfather Edward’s will of 1611, so must have been the child of Magnus’ first or second marriage, but I have no further information about him. His daughter Agnes was also mentioned in her grandfather’s will. She married John Bennett of Lewes in about December 1639.

Another son, Magnus Byne junior, married Mary Durrant in 1637. He seems to have inherited a considerable amount of property in Framfield from his father, so perhaps his older brother John died young leaving Magnus as the heir. Magnus and Mary Byne had a number of children, including yet another Magnus Byne, also a gentleman of Framfield, who married Constance, widow of John Osbaldiston, a recusant.

Little is known about Magnus Byne’s third son, Thomas, except that he seems to have inherited property in Ringmer and also to have owned land in East Hoathly. Renshaw suggests that he is probably the Thomas Byne who was buried at Burwash in August 1667 and who had children named Elizabeth, Thomas and William.

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Some notes on the will of Edward Byne of Burwash

The last will and testament of my 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne of Burwash, signed and sealed in December 1611, includes some interesting information about him and his family.

Parish church of St Bartholomew, Burwash

Parish church of St Bartholomew, Burwash

Although will preambles should not be taken as an entirely reliable guide to the testator’s religious affiliation, it’s worth noting that Edward’s is fairly neutral and certainly doesn’t reflect the Calvinism of some of his descendants. He simply commends his soul ‘into the hands of Allmighty God my maker and redeemer and my Body to the earth when yt shall please him’. I plan to return to the shifting religious loyalties of my Sussex ancestors in another post.

Edward bequeaths ‘tenn shillings of lawfull English money’ to his brother Symon Byne. Symon, whose wife Elinor had died in 1608, would outlive Edward by just two years, dying in 1616. One of Edward’s sons, Stephen, my 10 x great grandfather, acted as an overseer of his uncle’s will and another son, Magnus, would be a witness. Edward Byne’s other brother Anthony had died in 1591.

Edward Byne makes bequests to his five sons – Magnus, John, William, Edward and Stephen. They are to inherit certain items of furniture which I assume are from Edward’s house in Burwash, though his son Edward junior is given items from his father’s house in ‘Chatfield’ – i.e. Catsfield. The sons also receive gifts of money, as do two grandchildren, John and Agnes, the children of Edward’s eldest son Magnus. As I noted in an earlier post, Magnus had already been married twice at the time of his father’s death: first to Elizabeth Polhill, and then to Bathshua Newington. At this stage, I’m not sure which of these wives was the mother of John and Agnes: I’ll explore Magnus Byne’s life and family in a separate post.

Edward also bequeaths money to a number of godchildren. Of these, Edward Byne was probably the son of his late brother Anthony Byne of Battle, of whose will Edward Byne of Burwash had been co-executor twenty years earlier. Thomas Byne may have been another nephew, the son of Edward’s other brother Symon, born in 1590.

Countryside near Wadhurst (via

Countryside near Wadhurst (via

I’m grateful to my fellow researcher Ed Rydahl Taylor for the information that another godson, Edward Cruttoll, was probably the son of William Cruttoll of Wadhurst, who died in 1616. Edward Cruttoll would make his own will in 1653. At this stage, it’s not possible to determine the precise relationship between the Cruttolls and the Byne family, though we know that another William Cruttoll would marry Ellen or Helen Manser, daughter of Abraham Manser of Wenbourne and his wife Elizabeth Byne, in 1636, while a Christopher Cruttoll witnessed Abraham’s will of 1627. (To complicate the picture further: after Abraham’s death, Elizabeth would marry Magnus Byne, son of Edward, thus becoming his third wife.)

As for ‘Edward Morphen my godsonne’, the International Genealogical Index suggests that he may have been the son of William Morfin of Mayfield and that he may have been baptised there on 8th October 1598. His father is probably the person referred to in the 1595 will of Edward Byne’s father-in-law Magnus Fowle as ‘my Brother William Morffyn’ and appointed as one of the overseers of that will. Presumably he was the husband of ‘my sister Morfyn’ also mentioned by Magnus: ‘I give to my sister Morfyn Tenne shillings and to her children Twentie shillings’. I’ve been able to find no further information about the Morfyns or Morphens of Mayfield, my only clue being the reference to a John Murfin in the Recusant Rolls for 1592-3.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

There are two witnesses to Edward Byne’s will. One is David Foster, who I assume was a relative (perhaps a son?) of Edward’s sister Jane who married Henry Foster. The other is John Byne, who is probably the person referred to elsewhere as ‘my Couzen John Byne of Burwash Towne’ and appointed as joint overseer together with Edward’s brother Symon. Renshaw, in his history of the Byne family, suggests that John may be the person of that name who was the father of the Elizabeth Byne who married Abraham Manser, and later Magnus Byne, and whose identity and connection to the other Bynes of Burwash is unclear. I plan to explore this mystery at a later date, but for now, I suggest that there might be at least two other candidates for the John Byne mentioned in Edward Byne’s will.

Renshaw himself notes that Edward’s brother Simon had two sons named John, one who died in infancy in 1590, and a second whose date of birth is not given, but who would obviously have been after 1590, meaning that he might have been twenty years old or so when Edward made his will. Perhaps a stronger candidate is the John Byne who was born in 1576, the son of Edward’s cousin Thomas Byne, himself the son of Richard Byne of Ticehurst. This person was apparently a churchwarden in Burwash in 1609 and 1611, where Edward himself had served in the same capacity some years earlier. The first of these John Bynes would have been Edward’s nephew, the other his second cousin, but we know that the word ‘cousin’ was often used very loosely in wills of the time, to cover any number of family relationships.

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