Discovering the family of John Manser – and a link to the Bynes

I’m still trying to discover the exact connection between John Manser, the East Smithfield apothecary who died in 1681, and my 8 x great grandfather John Byne, a stationer at Tower Hill, who died nine years later. John Manser appointed ‘my kinsman John Byne’ as one of the overseers of his will. John Byne’s brother Stephen, an upholsterer also living at Tower Hill, had named ‘my cosen John Manser’ as one of the overseers of his own will in 1674.

London in the 17th century

London in the 17th century

Recently I found out that John Manser’s family owned an ancient manor house and estate in Burwash, Sussex, called Mottynsden, and that it was the home of John’s brother Nicholas and his wife. John’s will informs us that, besides Nicholas, he also had another brother called Abraham, as well as two sisters: Ann and Deborah, whose married names were Frith and Barber respectively.

John Manser was married twice. His first child by his first wife, Sarah, was born in 1653, so I presume they were married by 1652 at the latest. This means that John was probably born some time around 1630. If we use FamilySearch to look for children named Manser (or Maunser, an alternative spelling of the family name) born in Burwash at around this time, we find a John Maunser christened there on 21st August 1631. He was the son of Christopher Maunser. The latter also had a son named Nicholas baptised in Burwash on 19th October 1628. Christopher Manser or Maunser and his wife Anne also had a son named Abraham christened on 25th October 1635 and a daughter named Anne on 31st March 1639. I haven’t found an independent record of Deborah’s baptism, but the same couple also had a daughter named Mary christened on 4th December 1625 and another named Jane on 29th June 1645.

Burwash parish church

Burwash parish church

It seems likely, then, that Christopher and Anne Manser or Maunser of Burwash were the parents of John Manser, London apothecary. Having established John’s likely parentage, my next breakthrough was coming across a posting at curiousfox which claimed that the maiden name of John’s mother Anne was Byne. Apparently she was the daughter of a John Byne of Burwash and Wadhurst, who was born in 1555 and died in 1614.

This John Byne’s only son, Thomas, died at Wadhurst in 1618, leaving his lands to be divided between his sisters. Besides Anne who married Christopher Manser of Burwash, these were: Elizabeth who married Abraham Manser, yeoman of Wadhurst; Helen or Ellen, who married Mark Coney, yeoman of Burwash; Faintnot, who married Henry Goldsmith, gentleman of Burwash; Mary, who married Francis Lucas, yeoman of Barcombe; and Judith, who married John Baker, yeoman of Wadhurst. I’ve mentioned Henry and Faintnot Goldsmith in a previous post: I believe it was their son Henry junior who witnessed the will of Nicholas Manser of Hightown, Wadhurst, in 1674.

So it would seem that the mother of John Manser of East Smithfield was a Byne from Burwash. Since John Byne of Tower Hill was the son of Magnus Byne, also originally from Burwash, this would appear to explain why the two men regarded each other as kinsmen. But are we any nearer understanding the exact relationship between them?

Burwash village today, via geography

Burwash village today, via geograph

I’ve found a record in the National Archives describing a transaction that took place in 1630, in which Christopher Manser of Burwash, yeoman, and his wife Anne conveyed ‘eight pieces of land’ to Stephen Byne of Burwash, yeoman. ‘This land, lately occupied by John Byne of Burwash deceased, came to Anne Manser by partition of the property of Thomas Byne her brother’. There are so many Bynes and Mansers in this part of the world at this time, many sharing the same Christian names, that it’s difficult to be sure: but could this Stephen Byne be my 10 x great grandfather, the father of Magnus and grandfather of John? He was born in 1586 so would have been 44 at this time. What’s more, he was married to Mary Ma(u)nser, who (according to Walter Charles Renshaw’s history of the Byne family) was the sister of a Christopher Maunser. Leaving aside the connection through Anne Byne: could it be that Christopher and Stephen were brothers-in-law because of the latter’s marriage to Christopher’s sister Mary?

What do we know about the John Byne whose daughter Anne married Christopher Manser? He is mentioned in an appendix to Renshaw’s history, though the author seems unsure about exactly where he fits into the Byne family tree. Renshaw identifies John as the John Byne of Burwash, a yeoman aged forty-nine, who was a witness to the boundaries of the parish on 29th May 1604: this means he would have been born in about 1555. This same John Byne was apparently a churchwarden at Burwash in 1592 and 1594.

A number of other family historians claim that this John Byne is the person who married Dionysia Pudland at Burwash on 10th July 1569. However, according to Renshaw, that John Byne made his will on 25th January 1579/80, in which he mentions ‘Dyonice’ or ‘Dyanyce my wyfe’ , but only one surviving child: Mary, who married Thomas Freeman. The will was proved at Lewes on 10th May 1581 by Dionysia Byne, the widow.

As for the John Byne of Burwash whose daughter Anne married Christopher Manser: Renshaw tells us that he died in 1613/4, his will being proven by his son-in-law Abraham Manser on 23rd May 1614. Abraham’s own will was proven on 31st May 1627. I’ve obtained a copies of both wills and hope that analysing them will help to clarify both John Byne’s place in the Byne family tree, and Abraham’s connection to the other Mansers.

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