Looking for Christopher Manser

My search for information about my Manser (or Maunser) ancestors has had two separate starting-points. Firstly, John Manser of East Smithfield, London, who in his will of 1681 described my 8 x great grandfather John Byne of Tower Hill as a ‘kinsman’. Secondly, John Byne’s grandmother (and my 10 x great grandmother) Mary Manser of Wadhurst, Sussex, who was married to Stephen Byne of nearby Burwash.

Countryside near Burwash (via bandbchurchhouse.co.uk)

Countryside near Burwash (via bandbchurchhouse.co.uk)

I recently confirmed that, like John Byne, John Manser was born in Sussex, and that his parents were almost certainly Christopher and Anne Manser of Burwash. Anne’s maiden name was Byne, and she was the daughter of another John Byne, whose connection with my own Byne ancestors remains unclear. That link might turn out to be enough for the John Manser of East Smithfield to claim my 8 x great grandfather as a relative. However, there is also the connection via Mary Manser.

According to Renshaw’s history of the Bynes, my 10 x great grandmother Mary Manser was the daughter of John Manser of Wadhurst. Renshaw makes reference to John’s will of 26 December 1597, in which he ‘devised his lands in Burwash in default of issue of his son Christopher to the daughter Mary and her heirs’. Might this Christopher Manser be the person who married Anne Byne, and whose son was John Manser of East Smithfield? If so, then he certainly had ‘issue’ who inherited property in Burwash.

Mary Manser married Stephen Byne on 22nd January 1611/12 in Burwash. We know that Stephen was born in 1586, so he would have been 24 years old when he married. It’s possible that Mary was younger, so she could have been born any time before about 1590. Christopher Manser married Anne Byne on 16th April 1621, so it’s likely that, if Mary was indeed his sister, he was born after her, but certainly before their father wrote his will in 1597. Given the customs of the time, John would still have made Christopher his heir, as his (only?) son. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have access to John Manser’s full will: it was proven locally and needs to be ordered from the East Sussex Record Office.

Countryside near Wadhurst (via morgenguard.com)

Countryside near Wadhurst (via morgenguard.com)

If the Christopher Manser who married Anne Byne was indeed the brother of the Mary Manser who married Stephen Byne, then what are the implications? Stephen and Mary Byne were the parents of Magnus Byne, my 9 x great grandfather, who was the father of John Byne of Tower Hill. So John Byne’s grandmother Mary Manser would have been the aunt of John Manser of East Smithfield.

There are a number of references to Christopher Manser in the contemporary records. In 1630 Christopher Manser of Burwash, yeoman, and his wife Anne were mentioned in a land transaction involving Stephen Byne of Burwash, yeoman. Was this an arrangement between two brothers-in-law? In 1653 Nicholas Manser of Hightown, Wadhurst, left twenty pounds in his will to ‘my Cosen Nicholas Manser son of Christopher Manser gent’, though in a memorandum to the will he amended this to a legacy of five pounds. As I’ve noted before, ‘cousin’ was a flexible term in seventeenth-century wills. However, elsewhere in the will Nicholas uses the term in its modern sense, when he mentions another ‘cosen’ named Nicholas, ‘sonne of my uncle Herbert Manser gent’. Certainly, we know that Christopher and Anne Manser had a son named Nicholas, who lived at Mottynsden in Burwash. He was still alive in 1680 when his brother, John Manser of East Smithfield, wrote his will, but died some time before 1694.

I’ve come across the will of another Christopher Manser, who lived in Wadhurst and died in 1656. However, his sons were called Christopher, Robert and Peter, so unless he had a son named Nicholas who died between 1653 and 1656, it seems unlikely that he is the person referred to in the will of Nicholas of Hightown. There is, of course, a chance that it was this Christopher who was the sister of my ancestor Mary, and the son of John Manser of Wadhurst who died in 1598. But given the connection between the Christopher Manser of Burwash and Stephen Byne, this seems unlikely.

As always, more research will be needed – to clarify the exact relationship between the various Mansers and Bynes living in Wadhurst and Burwash in the mid-seventeenth century.

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