The will of my recently-discovered 8 x great grandfather John Byne, citizen and stationer of Tower Hill, a transcription of which I reproduced in the last post, provides a useful starting-point for exploring the history of the Byne family. In his will, written in 1689, John lists the names of his five children – or rather, those who were still alive at that date: John, Alice, Mary, Magnus and Thomas. Of these, we know that the two daughters – Alice and Mary – were still living in 1733, when John’s widow Alice composed her own will. The younger Alice had been married to Thomas Bouts and was herself a widow, while Mary (my 7 x great grandmother) was married to goldsmith Joseph Greene.

I’ve drawn a blank when it comes to records of John and Alice’s three sons, and it’s possible that their absence from their mother’s will means they had died by the time she wrote it. John Byne junior might be the ‘man drown’d in the Thames’ who was buried at St Botolph’s, Aldgate, on 17th August 1726, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.

Section from Rocque's 1746 map of London, showing St George the Martyr and Marshalsea prison

Section from Rocque’s 1746 map of London, showing St George the Martyr and Marshalsea prison

I thought I had found Magnus, the youngest son, living in Southwark, but on further investigation it turns out the dates don’t match. That person is more likely to be John Byne senior’s brother Magnus, also mentioned in the will. On 24th November 1690, a young apothecary named Magnus Byne declared his intention to marry Jane, daughter of Joseph Dakin, a cheesemonger. Both were living in the parish of St George the Martyr, Southwark. Jane was only fifteen, so she needed her father’s consent, while Magnus was twenty-five, which means he was born in about 1665. Three days later the couple were married at St George’s church. Some of their children’s christening records give Magnus Byne’s address as ‘ by the Marshalsea’, the notorious debtors’ prison off Borough High Street, north of the church of St George the Martyr (see map above).

Over the next twenty years or so, Magnus and Jane Byne would have at least fifteen children, very few of whom survived infancy. They had two sons named Magnus (in 1691 and 1693), both of whom died within a couple of years. They had three sons named John (in 1700, 1701 and 1708), all of whom died in the first year of life. There were two daughters named Sarah (born in 1697 and 1705): the first died when still a baby while the second lived for three years. Anne was born in 1703 and died in 1704, Mary lived from 1706 to 1709, Jane from 1708 to 1709, and Henry from 1710 to 1712. There was another Jane, born in 1713, who may have survived: she was probably the last child to be born and I haven’t come across a record of her burial. Elizabeth, born in 1695, and George, born in 1704, may also have survived to adulthood.

Marshalsea prison in 1773

Marshalsea prison in 1773

Magnus and Jane must also have had a son named Joseph, since a property transaction preserved at the Essex Record Office describes him as their ‘son and heir’. Perhaps he is the nameless ‘sonne of Magnus Byne’ who was christened at St George’s in 1698? The archive document, written in 1734, describes Jane Byne as the widow ‘of Magnus Byne of St George the Martyr, apothecary deceased’, so obviously Magnus must have died before that date. This mean that the Magnus Byne ‘from the Borough’ who was buried at St George’s in 1743 must be someone else of that name: perhaps yet another son whose christening record I haven’t found?

Is it possible to determine whether Magnus Byne, the Southwark apothecary, was the brother of John Byne, stationer of Tower Hill? If we search for a Magnus Byne born in about 1665, then we find a child of that name christened on 8th January 1664 at Clayton in Sussex, the son of Magnus and Sara Byne. Clayton is a small village at the foot of the South Downs, six miles north of Brighton and not far from Lewes.

Parish church of St John the Baptist, Clayton, Sussex

Parish church of St John the Baptist, Clayton, Sussex (via Wikipedia)

Magnus Byne of Clayton also had a son named John baptised on 11th March 1651, a date that would certainly fit with what we know of my 8 x great grandfather, making him about twenty-five years old when his first child was born. My only slight hesitation is that the mother of the Magnus Byne born in 1664 was named Sara, whereas John Byne’s will gives his mother’s name as Anne. However, it’s possible that Magnus Byne senior of Clayton was married more than once.

I’ve found evidence of a number of other children born to Magnus Byne of Clayton, besides John and Magnus junior. Ann and Edward were both christened in 1643, Stephen in 1647, a second Edward in 1649, Anna in 1663, and Sarah in 1666.

I believe I’ve also found the will of Stephen Byne, who appears to have been an ‘upholder’ or upholsterer in the same part of London – the parish of St Botolph without Aldgate – as my 8 x great grandfather John. This document seems to confirm the family’s Sussex connection and I’ll share my transcription of it in another post.