Reflections on the will of Stephen Byne (died 1675)

I’m now fairly certain that Stephen Byne, citizen and ‘upholder’ of London, who died in 1675, was the older brother of my 8 x great grandfather, citizen and stationer John Byne, who died in 1689. Stephen’s will of 1674, a transcription of which I shared in the previous post, sheds some useful light on his own life, and on his family connections.

Ogilby and Morgan's map of the City of London, 1677

Ogilby and Morgan’s map of the City of London, 1677

If, as seems likely, Stephen Byne is the son of that name born to Magnus Byne of Clayton, Sussex in 1647, then he would have been only 28 at the time of his death. We learn from his will that he was married to a woman named Rebecca Whiting. Although he doesn’t mention any children, I’ve since found a record of the burial of ‘Thomas Bine son to Stephen Bine’, at St Botolph’s, Aldgate, on 7th May 1674, just three months after Stephen made his will. This entry in the parish register confirms Stephen’s address as Tower Hill, which is also where John Byne and his wife Alice lived, and where their daughter Mary would live after her marriage to my 7 x great grandfather, goldsmith Joseph Greene.

The information about Stephen’s brother Magnus and his sister Sarah, contained in the will ,also fits with the information we have for the children with those names born to Magnus Byne of Clayton. Magnus and Sarah were christened in 1664 and 1666 respectively, which means they would have been ten and eight years old when Stephen made his will. This helps us to understand why Stephen is at pains to ensure that a guardian is appointed for his brother and sister, and that measures are in place to ensure their upbringing and education after his death. I would imagine that Stephen himself was his younger siblings’ guardian until his death, and this in turn tells us that his parents had probably died by this time.

Church of St Botolph without Aldgate

I’ve yet to find a record of Stephen’s marriage to Rebecca, but I would guess that it occurred some time in the late 1660s or early 1670s, when Stephen was in his early twenties. Thanks to the will, we know that Rebecca was the son of Thomas and Frances Whiting. On 15th April 1648 ‘Rebecka Whytinge’, daughter of Thomas and Frances, was christened at St Botolph, Aldgate. Unfortunately, the family’s address is not quite legible in the register. On 1st March 1651 the same couple had a son named Thomas baptised.

In his will, Stephen Byne mentions three sisters-in-law: Mary Kimber, Isabel Davis and Dorcas Mercer. These must all be sisters of Stephen’s wife Rebecca. We can assume that Mary was the wife of Robert Kimber and Isabel the wife of Edward Davis, both of whom are signatories to the will, while Dorcas was the wife of John Mercer.

I’ve yet to find baptismal records for any of these other Whiting sisters. However, I’ve discovered that on 2nd March 1669/70, Edward Davis, of St Catherine Coleman, London, a grocer and a bachelor aged about 26, married Isabell Whiting of St Botolph, Aldgate, a spinster of about 22, ‘with consent of her father’, at St George’s, Southwark, Surrey.

After Stephen’s death, his widow Rebecca married again. On 8th November 1676, at Christ Church, Surrey, Rebecca Byne, a widow of St Botolph’s, Aldgate, aged about 28, married Joseph Edwards, of St Saviour’s, Southwark, a grocer and a bachelor, also aged about 28.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the will, but the manner in which Stephen refers to his brothers John and Edward seems to reflects a certain coolness in their relationship. These two brothers are mentioned only once and receive much less attention, not only than their siblings Magnus and Sarah (which may be understandable, given the latter two siblings’ youth), but also Stephen’s wife’s family, to whom he is obviously close. John and Edward are to receive ‘the sume of Ten shillings a peece and no more’ (my emphasis). This compares with the forty shillings each left to his father- and mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law John Mercer.

Since transcribing Stephen Byne’s will, I’ve discovered the last will and testament of his father-in-law, Thomas Whiting, which I hope will supply more details of the family into which Stephen married.

(updated in the light of new information: 17th April 2013)

About these ads
This entry was posted in Byne, Greene. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s