The Burrows or Burroughs family in 17th century London

A few months ago I discovered a new ancestor: my 9 x great grandfather, Thomas Forrest, citizen and haberdasher of London, who died in 1678. Thomas was the father of my 8 x great grandmother Alice Forrest, who married Sussex-born London citizen and stationer John Byne; their daughter Mary and her husband, goldsmith Joseph Greene, were my 7 x great grandparents. We know that Thomas had a brother named William, a yeoman farmer in Badsey, Worcestershire, who died in 1700, and a sister Alice who married a member of the Boulton family: see my recent posts in which I’ve attempted to clarify the link between the Forrests and the Boultons.

We also know that Thomas’ wife, the mother of his two children Alice and Thomas (who seems to have died young), was named Anne, and we know that she outlived him by a number of years. Not only does Thomas mention Anne Forrest in his will, but the will of his son-in-law John Byne, written in 1689, also refers to her.

In my earlier post about Thomas Forrest, I speculated that he and Anne might be the couple who were married at the church of St Bartholomew the Great on 18th June 1650 – the year after the execution of King Charles I and the first year of the Cromwellian Commonwealth. The date would certainly fit with what we know of the couple: if their daughter Alice married John Byne in about 1675 (their first child was born in 1676), then she was probably born some time in the mid-1650s. According to the parish register at St Bartholomew’s, Thomas Forrest was of the parish of St Botolph, Aldersgate (a mistake for Aldgate?) and his bride Anne Borrowes of the parish of St Andrew, Holborn.

St Andrew's church, Holborn

St Andrew’s church, Holborn

My belief that this might be the right marriage was strengthened recently, when I was taking another look at the will of Alice Byne née Forrest, my 8 x great grandmother and the daughter of Thomas and Anne, which was written in 1733. Alice’s will includes the following bequest:

I give and bequeath unto my said Cousin Alice Elliot otherwise Burroughs the Sum of Ten pounds of like money (over and besides what I have hereinbefore given and bequeathed unto her) to cloath her in a decent manner which I desire my said Executrices to pay unto the said Alice Elliot otherwise Burroughs within one month next after my decease

For some reason it had never occurred to me to connect the names Burroughs and Borrowes, but I now realise they are probably alternate spellings of the same surname, and that ‘Alice Elliott otherwise Burroughs’ was almost certainly a relative of Alice Byne’s from her mother’s side of the family. There are a number of possible records for an Alice Burroughs, but so far I haven’t been able to establish her identity with any certainty.

If Anne Borrowes or Burroughs married Thomas Forrest in 1650, she was probably born some time around 1630, or by 1635 at the latest. I’ve only found one person matching Anne’s details in the parish records so far. On 2nd May 1624, Ann, the daughter of John Burrowes and his wife Ann, was christened at the church of St Andrew, Holborn. John Burrowes was a miller – a reminder of the still semi-rural character of Holborn in the early decades of the seventeenth century. The wonderfully clear and detailed parish register at St Andrew’s informs us that Anne was christened ‘out of’ George Hands’ house in Field Lane. This road ran down to Holborn Hill, and St Andrew’s itself, from Clerkenwell – and further north became Saffron Hill, which would be home to my Blanch ancestors a century and a half later.

Field Lane, Holborn, is on the extreme left of this section of Rocque's map of 1746

Field Lane, Holborn, is on the extreme left of this section of Rocque’s map of 1746

Curiously, a couple with the same names – and the man having the same occupation – had another daughter, named Maudlin (presumably a contraction or version of Magdalen) christened at St Botolph, Aldgate three years earlier, on 27th January 1621. This is presumably the same person, then living in the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, who made her last will and testament on 7th September 1665. If so, then she would have been 44 years old, and presumably unmarried. Unfortunately, there is no mention in the will of a sister Anne, or of any connection with my ancestors, which leads me to doubt whether this is the right family.

I’ve also failed to find any record of the death of Anne Forrest née Burrowes, or to trace her will. When her husband Thomas died, she was probably in her fifties. We know that her surname was still Forrest when her son-in-law John Byne made his will in 1689, by which time Anne was probably about sixty years old. Even so, I wondered if she had remarried and was interested to see that, on 27th November 1690, Anne Forrest, a widow of St Botolph, Aldgate married a bachelor of the same parish by the name of Thomas Grant, at the church of Holy Trinity, Minories.

However, I was recently reviewing the records for the Four Shillings in the Pound Aid, a tax which was collected in 1693/4, which finds ‘Forrest (widow)’ and ‘Bynes (widow)’ living next to each other in Tower Hill Precinct. This must be my 9 x great grandmother Anne Forrest and her daughter, my 8 x great grandmother Alice Byne.

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