Some notes on the will of Abraham Manser of Wenbourne

Yesterday I wrote about Abraham Manser of Wenbourne, near Wadhurst in Sussex, who was the brother of my 11 x great grandfather John Manser of Wadhurst, and the uncle of my 10 x great grandmother Mary Manser, who married Stephen Byne of Burwash. My post included a transcription of Abraham’s will of 1627, and in this post I want to share a few thoughts about some of the people mentioned in it.

Abraham names three of his ‘kinsmen’ as overseers of the will. Nicholas Manser of Wadhurst, who is also a witness to the will, describes himself as ‘scriptor’: does this mean that he, rather than a lawyer or scrivener, physically wrote the document? He is almost certainly Abraham Manser’s first cousin, the son of his uncle William. He inherited the family seat at Hightown, Wadhurst, and died in 1653.

The second-named overseer is Stephen Byne, my 10 x great grandfather. Stephen was related to Abraham through his marriage to Mary Manser, but there was probably another connection due to Abraham’s marriage to Elizabeth Byne. Elizabeth’s father John Byne was almost certainly a close relative of Stephen’s, but I’m still unsure of their exact relationship.

I’m not sure about the identity of the third overseer of Abraham Manser’s will, Henry Gregory of Linton, just across the county border in Kent.

I suspect that the John Manser who witnessed the codicil to Abraham’s will was his brother – my 11 x great grandfather.

I’m not absolutely certain of the identity of the other Abraham Manser mentioned in the will. My guess is that he was the son of Nicholas Manser of Hightown, and perhaps the Abraham Manser, a miller of Wadhurst, who wrote his own last will and testament in 1656. I’ll examine that will in another post.

Christopher Cruttall was another of the witnesses of the will. A William Cruttall would marry Abraham Manser’s daughter Ellen or Helen in 1636: presumably he was a relative of Christopher.

There was also a link to the Cruttalls via Robert Wenborne, a further witness to the will. As the name suggests, his family were closely linked to the Wenbourne or Wenbans estate where Abraham Manser lived. Someone with the same name married Mildred, daughter of my ancestor Christopher Manser, some time in the mid-sixteenth century. According to one source, a later Robert Wenborne or Wemborne – almost certainly the person who witnessed Abraham Manser’s will – married Elizabeth Cruttall in Southwark in 1614, though all of their children would be baptised in Wadhurst. The story of the Wenbourne family closely mirrors that of the Bynes and Mansers: family roots in Sussex, an association with Southwark, and children sent to London to serve as apprentices in various trades. Robert Wenborne died in 1637.

Sir Thomas Pelham, who is mentioned in the will as the owner of lands at Bevilham on which Abraham holds the lease, was a Sussex landowner and member of parliament. He sat in the House of Commons variously between 1621 and 1654. He succeeded to the baronetcy of Laughton on the death of his father in 1624 and was a prominent supporter of the Parliamentary cause during the Civil War.

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