Following on from my last post, I’ve been exploring what Walter Charles Renshaw’s 1913 book about the Byne family of Sussex can tell us about my own direct ancestors.

View of Clayton, Sussex

View of Clayton, Sussex

Renshaw informs us that Stephen Byne, as the eldest son of Magnus Byne of Clayton-cum -Keymer, was his father’s heir, and as such he inherited the advowson of the parish in a deed dated 13th June 1671. An adowson is the right in law of a patron to present a nominee for appointment to a vacant benefice or church living. Apparently this document explicitly describes Stephen as a citizen and upholder of London, thus confirming the link between the Clayton and the London Bynes. Stephen would later sell the advowson to Edward Blaker Esquire of Buckingham in Old Shoreham.

Renshaw’s book also includes a transcription of parts of Stephen Byne’s will of 1674. In my own transcription, I mistook  the name of the Sussex village where Stephen owned property: it was Wadhurst and the name of the farm was Flotting Deane. I can also see now that the name of the cousin who acted as an overseer of the will was John Manser, who was obviously not (as I had suggested) the husband of Stephen’s sister in law Dorcas Mercer.  Apparently the Mansers were another old Sussex family, related to the Bynes by marriage. In a footnote, Renshaw informs us that John Manser of East Smithfield in the parish of St Botolph’s, Aldgate, was an apothecary who made his will in December 1680 (proved on 9th April 1681) appointing his ‘kinsman John Byne of Tower Hill’ as one of the overseers: another sign, if one were needed, of the link between John and Stephen Byne, and between ‘my’ Byne family and the Bynes of Sussex.

Seventeenth-century apothecary's shop

Seventeenth-century apothecary’s shop

Stephen Byne married Rebecca Whiting, daughter of Thomas and Frances Whiting. Renshaw adds to our knowledge of the latter family by informing us that Frances was a widow when she married Thomas, that her previous surname was Bygrave, and that she had a daughter Mary from her earlier marriage.

Renshaw found a burial record for Stephen Byne – wrongly entered in the St Botolph’s parish register as Stephen Boynes, an upholsterer of Tower Hill, on 11th March 1675. Curiously, Renshaw claims that Stephen and Rebecca Byne had two children, Rebecca and Stephen, but I remain sceptical, since no children are mentioned in Stephen’s will. Apparently Rebecca was buried at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex in 1687, and Stephen married Jane Lintott at the same place in 1704. The location makes me wonder if, despite the similarity of names, these two children actually belonged to another branch of the Byne family.

Until I came across Renshaw’s book, I had no information about Edward, brother of John and Stephen Byne, apart from a passing reference to him in Stephen’s will. Apparently he remained in Sussex, marrying firstly Bridget, widow of Reuben Jeffery of W(h)atlington in 1679, and secondly Mary. By his first wife Edward had three children – Magnus in 1680, Stephen in 1683 and Edward in 1684 – and by his second wife he had four more children – Elizabeth in 1692, Henry in 1695, John in 1697 and Anne in 1700.

It seems Edward was churchwarden at Whatlington and had ‘serious difficulties’ with the rector, John Dodderidge, to the extent of creating a disturbance in a time of divine service including ‘rude speech and actions’, as well taking away two of the church bells, as a result of which he was excommunicated. There was also the issue of non-payment of tithes, and it seems that litigation between Edward Byne and Rev Dodderidge lingered on until 1704.

As for my 8 x great grandfather John Byne, Renshaw informs us that he was the youngest son and therefore ‘customary heir’ of his mother Ann, first wife of Magnus Byne of Clayton. In this capacity he was admitted to the copyholds of the manor of Clayton on 25th October 1665. According to Wikipedia, ‘copyhold tenure was tenure of land according to the custom of the manor’. On 14th October John surrendered the copyholds to William Crase who was from Pycombe near Clayton. By a deed dated 19th October 1676 between George Scrase of Aldgate, apothecary, and John Byne of the Minories, Aldgate, Scrase sold and conveyed to John two closes of land in Tunbridge containing nine acres. Interestingly, George Crase, who was the son of William Crase’s brother James, was an apothecary in the parish of St Olave’s, Southwark – the same part of London where John’s younger brother Magnus followed the same profession.

Curiously, Renshaw claims that this deed describes John Byne as a merchant taylor, and he comments that on the fact that John does not appear in the freemen’s list of the Merchant Taylor’s Company. However, my 8 x great grandfather’s will describes him very clearly as a ‘citizen and stationer’. Since all the other details tally, I’m quite sure that these documents describe the same John Byne – so perhaps the property deed made a mistake, or he changed his occupation between 1676 and 1689?

Renshaw confirms the names and dates of some of John and Alice Byne’s children, though he didn’t manage to come across my 7 x great grandmother Mary. This means that he misses the import of references to Joseph and Mary Greene, and to John and Mary Gibson, in Alice’s will.

I’d failed to find any trace of John and Alice’s sons John, Magnus and Thomas after their christenings, but Renshaw had managed to track them down. He discovered a bill in Chancery filed on 22nd January 1716 by John Byne of London, mariner, against his mother Alice. John claimed that, in his will of 1698, William Forest of Badsey in Worcestershire, an uncle of Alice Byne’s, had given all his lands in Badsey to Alice for life and to her son John Byne in fee, and also bequeathed his personal estate equally between them. The complaint was that Alice had felled and converted to her own use a large quantity of timber on these lands.

The document is interesting, not only because it tells us what became of John Byne junior, but because it lends support to my theory that the Anne Forest referred to in John Byne senior’s will (see last post) was not his mother, as he describes her, but his mother-in-law. If William Forest was Alice’s uncle, then Anne Forest was probably her mother.

Renshaw comments that John Byne junior’s remainder in this property must have been sold, since in his will of 1728, John Boddington of Stepney, citizen and apothecary, ‘made a devise of his reversion in freehold lands at Badsey expectant on the death of Alice Byne’.  Interestingly, Boddington appointed Joseph Greene, goldsmith, as one of his executors ‘and gave a legacy of £10 for mourning to Mary Greene his wife’.  Renshaw comments that ‘probably these are the persons of those names mentioned in Alice Byne’s will’.  Being unaware of the existence of Mary Byne, daughter of John and Alice, Renshaw is unable to make the connection that we can: Mary Greene was John and Alice Byne’s daughter and Joseph Greene their son-in-law, and they were my 7 x great grandparents.

Merchant Taylors School, London

Merchant Taylors School, London

Apparently John and Alice Byne sent their sons to Merchant Taylors School. John junior appears in the school register on 11th September 1693. Renshaw claims that he would later marry a woman named Jane and have a son, also named John, born in the Minories and christened at St Botolph’s, Aldgate on 6th March 1708. Magnus, son of John and Alice, appears in the register on 11th September 1695. Renshaw claims that he died a bachelor on 30th May 1716 ‘apud vel prope Guineam’ (at or near Guinea), so perhaps he was a mariner too? Letters of administration for his effects were granted to his mother and principal creditor, Alice Byne, widow. As for Thomas Byne, he also appears in the school register in September 1695. His will, dated 12th November 1728, apparently reveals that he was a mariner of St Botolph’s, Aldgate, about to set sail on His Majesty’s ship, the Deal Castle.

The other member of the Byne family who attended Merchant Taylors was another Magnus – the younger brother of Stephen, Edward and John. His name appears in the school register for 1674, when he would have been ten or eleven years old. Renshaw confirms that this is the same Magnus Byne who would marry Jane Dakin and practice as an apothecary in Southwark.