Last week I wrote about the Maunser family of Hightown in Wadhurst, Sussex. My 10 x great grandmother Mary Maunser, who married Stephen Byne of Burwash in 1611, was the daughter of John Maunser of Wadhurst (died 1597), who was one of the two sons of Robert Maunser of Hightown. The other son was William Maunser, who inherited the property at Hightown. William had three children: Nicholas, John and Mary, of whom the first-named became owner of Hightown.

Wadhurst Park, site of Hightown (via

Wadhurst Park, site of Hightown (via

In my earlier post, I referred to the will of Nicholas Maunser of Hightown who died in 1674, and whom I believed to be William’s eldest son. I mentioned my difficulties in working out Nicholas’ relationship to the various people named in the will and in understanding a particular word that seemed to hold the key to these connections. A number of people have been kind enough to take a look at the will for me, and the consensus seems to be that the word is ‘uncle’. A discovery I made yesterday may provide confirmation of this.

Searching for more Maunser documents at the National Archives site, I came across the will of ‘Richard or Nicholas Mannser’ of Wadhurst, Sussex, written in 1653. Curious, I purchased a copy and came to the conclusion that the surname was actually ‘Maunser’ and the name ‘Richard’ was a red herring, caused by an obvious error in the first main sentence of the will. Not only that, it became clear that this Nicholas Maunser was also one of the owners of Hightown (spelt ‘Aightowne’ in the will).  In fact, he was probably the son and heir of William Maunser – which means that the Nicholas Maunser of Hightown who died in 1674, and whose will had been the cause of so much confusion, was probably his heir, and the grandson rather than the son of William Maunser.

Early eighteenth-century map showing places mentioned in Nicholas Maunser's will of 1653

Early eighteenth-century map showing places mentioned in Nicholas Maunser’s will of 1653

I’ve now transcribed the will of the first Nicholas Maunser and am reproducing my transcription below. I’ll discuss what it reveals about the Maunser family in another post. Besides the mistaken inclusion of the name ‘Richard’, the will also contains a number of repetitions, and some confusing abbreviations and contractions – not just the fairly common ‘pish’ for parish, ‘wth’ for with and ‘wch’ for which, but also the more idiosyncratic ‘pfect’ for perfect and ‘ptaker’ for partaker. There are also more words than usual that I was unable to read, so you’ll see a large number of omissions marked ‘xxxx’ and others followed by (?) registering my uncertainty. However, I believe I’ve transcribed the key information about Nicholas and his family more or less accurately:

In the name of God Amen. The twentieth day of December Anno Dni one thousand six hundred fiftie and three I Richard (?) Maunser of Aightowne in the parish of Wadhurst in the County of Sussex gent beinge crasy (?) in body but of good and pfect mind and memory praised be Almightie God therefore Doe make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and forme following That is to say first and principally as Christian dutie bindeth me I comend and comitt my soule into the hands of Almightie God my most merciful Creator trusting and Assuredly believinge through the meritts death and passion of my lord and Saviour Jesus Christ my most mercifull redeemer that all my sinnes shall be fully and freely remitted and pardoned and that I shall be made ptaker after this life ended of life everlasting amongst the elect and blessed Saints and Angells in heaven, and my body I comitt to the earth to be decently buried amongst my ancestors and neare to my wife in the pish Church of Wadhurst at the discresion of my executor hereafter named And I give unto the poore people of the said parish of Wadhurst three poundes of currant English mony to be distributed amongst them by myne executor and overseers hereafter named within three monthes next after my decease Item I give unto my reverent friend the Minister of Wadhurst then beinge twenty shillings to preach my funeral sermon Item I devise and bequeath unto Thomas Maunser my oldest sonne all that my capitall messuage or tenement called Aightowne situate in the pish of Wadhurst aforesaid and in the parish of Mayfield in the County aforesaid together with a water mill there belonging allsoe withal woods under woods lands tenements and hereditaments used enjoyed as part and member thereof xxxx only excepted with house tenement and land the said Thomas my sonn hath late purchased to himselfe and to his heires for ever wth his purchase xxxx soe continues (?) unto him and to his  (?) for my xx accordingly Item for my second sonn Nicholas as I did bequeath unto him in my former will all my houses lands tenements and hereditaments lyeinge and beinge in Battell in Sussex wth all and singular there appurtenents And after that did by possession and state delivery and by the delivery of all the writeinge and evidences thereto belongeinge and apperteneinge att or a whole after his marriag confirm and establishe the same Soe I nowe allsoe by this my last will and testament doe confirme and ratifie the same to him and his heires parcel thereof hath xxxx is or ever shall remaine in use or bee Item to my third sonn Herbert Maunser I give and bequeath all those lands tenements and hereditaments lyeinge and beinge in Burrish in the said County of Sussex which I late purchased of one Robert Thatcher to me and to my said Herbert and to the longest liver of us two commonly called Godshale and by the said deed of purchase  from him the said Robert Thatcher to me the said Nicholas and to the said Herbert my sonn made sealed and delivered more plainely appeareth all which said tenemt with all the buildings barnes edifices and outhouses together with all the lands tenements and hereditaments thereunto belonging I have latey enfeoffed (?) in writeinge unto my trusty and wellbeloved friend William Barham of Maplesden in Tycehirst gent and to David Holland of Wadhurst mercer and to theire heires to the use of me the said Nicholas dureinge my natural life and after my death to my sonn Herbert and to Sarah my nowe wife dureinge my theire lives and after theire death to theire children and heires forever as the said deed of feoffment (?) nowe at large declareth which lands and tenements (as aforesaid) my mind and will is that they payeinge to me halfe yearly all those payments wthin the said deed of feoffmt dureinge my natural life are rejoined (?) shall fully and wholy xxx forever Item I give and bequeath unto Abraham Maunser my fourth and youngest sonne all those my lands situate lyeinge and beinge in the pish of Burrish in the County of Sussex aforesaid called or knowne by the name of Withers wch I lately purchased to me the said Nicholas and to my forenamed sonn Abraham of one John Shepheard of the parish of Nowirke (?) in Sussex aforesaid yeoman vizt to nem dureinge my natural life and after my decease to my said John and his heires forever all wch lands and tenements wth the appurtences thereto belongeinge my mind and will is that he the said Abraham my sonne small imediatly after my death to him and his heires forever have hold and xxx And this is my full mind and will concerneinge the bequest of my land and tenement as aforesaid Now concerneinge my other goods mony chattel and moveable estate my mind and will is as followeth vizt First I give and bequeath unto Thomas Maunser my eldest sonne whom I make ordaine and constitute my sole and only executor of this my last will and testament chargeinge him to see the same as formed in xxxx xx thereof as my xxxx hee will doe and to Nicholas his sonne all my tables benches and forms with twelve wyne glasses my booke cupboard in the hall and my cupboard in the little parlor at hightowne wch last I made wth my hands And allsoe I give to  them all my bedstedles (?) there beinge except such only as I shall otherwise dispose of by this my last will Item I give unto them my great iron clock and bell belongeinge there to it with all other my fixed household or such as is fastened to the house Item I give to them all my iron potts kettles and possuetts with all my pothooks and pothangers barres to hange them on and all my iron plates and brandirons as well wrought as cast (?) and allsoe all my iron plates brandirons and all my other household standing standing [sic] or beinge att the Millhouse in  the occupation of Abraham Maunser or his Assignes and in the house in Short Streate in the occupation of Robert Cony (?) or his assignes whatsoever And allsoe I give to my said executor all my xxx of hay corne and cattell horses and sheepe within dores and without wthall my wholes plowes cartes and Waggons withal the chaines xxx shapes and all other thinges members and appurtenances thereunto or to any of them belongeinge or appertaininge and all of other my moveable goods not by me hereafter given Item I give unto unto [sic] my sonn Nicholas my silver (?) Bookes and a good part of my bigger bookes Item I give unto my sonn Herbert Maunser all my moveable goods nowe standinge and beinge att my house called Gutts hole Item I give unto all his children nowe liveinge to each and every of them tenn shillinges apiece Item I doe further give unto all my other grandchildren as well sonnes and daughters to each and every of them ten shillinges a piece to be paied unto them by my executor within two yeares next after my decease Item I give unto my brother John Maunser twenty shillinges a yeare for the xxxx of two yeares next after my decease to be paied unto him quarterly by my executor Item I give unto our reverend Minister Mr Willcocks twenty shillinges to preach a sermon att my funeral Item I do make my sonn in lawe David Leader of London and David Holland of Wadhurst mercer my trustee overseers and I doe give unto each of them forty shillinges apiece for theire counsell and assistance to my said executor in pforming and fulfilling this my last will and testament to be paied unto either of them by my executor within six monthes next after my decease Item I give unto Abraham Maunser my youngest sonne two standinge joined (?) bedestedles with two feather bedds xxxxxx pillowes blanketts and coverlets fittinge unto them the cuppboard standinge in the kitchin the joyned (?) table standinge in the hall  chamber the xxxx plate standing in the kitchinge and a paire of cast brandirons a dosen severall peeces of pewter two pairs of xxxx to each bedd one fine payre and the other a coarser (?) payer two tableclothes six napkins fower pillowxxxx a xxxx of xxxx Item I give unto my daughter Leader six paire of sheetes three paire of tyne sheetes and three paire of coarser sheetes Item I give unto Giles Watts my sonn in lawe one dozen pieces of pewter to be divided amongst them Item give unto George Haselden my servant and to John Haselden my servant to each of them tenn shillinges apiece Item I give unto John Perkham my servant and to Ellin Baker and to Joane White to each of them five shillinges apiece to be paied unto them by my executor within three monthes next after my decease In witnesses whereof I the said Nicholas Maunser have to this my last will and testament set my hand and seale the day and yeare first  above written. Nicholas Maunser. xxxx signed sealed published and declared by the said Nicholas Maunser for his last will and testament the day and yeare above written in the presence of the marke of Richard Lows and Richard Read David Holland.

This will was proved at Westminster the seventeenth day of February in the yeare of our Lord 1653 before the judges for probat of wills and granting of Adminstrations lawfully Authorized by the oath of Thomas Maunser the sonne and executor named in the said will to whom Adminisration was Comitted of all and singular the goods chattels and debs of the said deceased he beinge first sworne by oathe of a xxxxx Comission well and truly to Administer the same.