Yesterday I wrote about Josiah Keeling, one of the witnesses to the will of John Manser, the London apothecary who died in 1681 and who described my 8 x great grandfather John Byne as his ‘kinsman’. Today I’m taking another look at John Manser and his origins, and attempting once again to untangle his exact connection with my Byne ancestors.

From his will of December 1680, we know that John Manser had a brother Nicholas who occupied the manor of Mottynsden in Burwash, Sussex, in which John had an interest. From the same source we discover that he also had a brother named Abraham, a sister Anne who was married to John Frith, and another sister Deborah who married William Barber.

Mottynseden manor house, Burwash, Sussex

Mottynsden manor house, Burwash, Sussex

We know from a tenancy agreement held at the National Archives that John Manser’s brother Nicholas died some time between 1680, when John wrote his will, and 1694, when his widow Elizabeth was still living at Mottynsden, with the agreement of John Hickes, a local butcher, who had purchased the ‘reversion and moiety’ on the property that had been inherited by Abraham Manser from his father John.

Some months ago I found evidence via FamilySearch that John, Nicholas, Abraham and Anne Manser (or Maunser: the spellings seem interchangeable) were the children of Christopher and Anne Byne of Burwash. According to these records, Nicholas Manser was christened there in 1628, John in 1631, Abraham in 1635 and Anne in 1639. I didn’t manage to find confirmation of Deborah’s birth, but the same source suggested there were two other daughters, Mary and Jane.

Burwash churchyard (via

Burwash churchyard (via

These names and dates, and certainly the location, match what we know of John Manser’s origins, so it seems likely that Christopher and Anne Manser of Burwash were indeed his parents. As I reported earlier this year, I also came across evidence that Anne’s maiden name might have been Byne, and that she was probably the daughter of a certain John Byne of Burwash and Wadhurst, who died in 1614.

Another contemporary record seemed to connect these people with my own branch of the Byne family, describing as it did a property transaction in 1630 between Christopher and Anne Manser of Burwash, and Stephen Byne of Burwash. Could this be my 10 x great grandfather, who married Mary Manser of Maunser, who (according to Renshaw’s history of the Byne family) had a brother named Christopher? If so, were Christopher Manser and Stephen Byne brothers-in-law?

Renshaw’s theory about Mary Manser’s origins is based partly on the will of her father John Manser of Wadhurst, who wrote it in 1598, ‘in the fortieth yeare of the raigne of our soveraigne Lady Elizabeth’, leaving ‘all my lands lying in Burwashe to my sonn Christofer’, and to his daughter Mary if Christopher failed to produce an heir.

Returning to John Manser, the London apothecary: if my speculation about his origins is correct, then his father Christopher was the brother of the Mary Manser who married Stephen Byne. Mary was the mother of Rev Magnus Byne, and the grandmother of my 8 x great grandfather John Byne, stationer of Tower Hill. So John Byne’s grandmother was John Manser’s aunt. I think I’m right in saying that this would make the two men second cousins. And that’s without even considering the additional link afforded by the knowledge that John Manser’s mother Anne was born a Byne. I’m still unsure of the exact connection between Anne Byne and my own Byne ancestors, but plan to return to this at some point.

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

John Manser worked as an apothecary in London, so I assume he must have come to the city as an apprentice some time in the 1640s, either during or immediately after the Civil War. He must have married his first wife Sarah (maiden name unknown) by 1652 at the latest, since their first two children, twins named John and Thomas, were christened at the church of St Botolph, Aldgate, on 21st January 1653/4. John junior must have died in infancy, since another child with the same name was baptised almost a year later, on 11th January 1654/5. At the time of these births the Mansers’ address was Tower Hill. They were the first of my (known) ancestors to use this address: my 8 x great grandfather John Byne and his brother Stephen would live there twenty or so later, perhaps attracted there by the presence of their kinsman.

When their son Joseph was christened in May 1657, and when another son, Abraham, was baptised in two years later, John and Sarah Manser were still living in ‘ye Tower libertie’, perhaps at the same address. However, by the time their first daughter Elizabeth was baptised in December 1663, they were said to be resident in East Smithfield. I believe that John and Sarah had another son, Nicholas, born before Sarah’s death (perhaps in childbirth) in October 1672.

East Smithfield, from Rocque's 1746 map of London

East Smithfield, from Rocque’s 1746 map of London

Although I haven’t found a record of John Manser’s second marriage, to Jane Sawen, it must have taken place by early 1675, since their first child, Rebecca, was christened in December of that year. Jane Sawen was born in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, daughter of Thomas and Anne Sawen. Jane was the second youngest of nine children: her younger sister Rebecca, born three years after her, never married and seems to have lived with the Mansers in East Smithfield.

John and Jane Manser had two children together: Rebecca (in 1675) and Jane. In 1675 and 1677 respectively, John’s children Elizabeth and Nicholas, from his first marriage to Sarah, died, aged twelve and five respectively. In 1679, Jane Manser’s sister Rebecca Sawen died of small pox without leaving a written will, but her final wishes were written down by her brother in law John and verified by Jane and another witness (see this post).

John Manser died in 1681. I’ve been unable to find a record of his burial, which presumably took place at St Botolph’s, Aldgate, but he signed and sealed his will on 8th December 1680 and it was proved in the following April. John’s widow Jane was appointed executrix and his older brother Nicholas and ‘kinsman’ John Byne as overseers.

We know from John Manser’s will that his sons John and Abraham from his first marriage, and his daughters Rebecca and Jane from his second, survived him. Abraham Manser followed in his father’s footsteps, working as an apothecary in East Smithfield, and marrying Aveline, daughter of patten maker Samuel Granger, in 1682. I’ve found no further records for his brother John Manser junior. Jane Manser the younger may have been the person of that name who married John Merryman at the church of St Katharine by the Tower in 1691. And her sister Rebecca could be the person who married Thomas Creswell of the parish of St Botolph, Bishopsgate, at Holy Trinity church in the Minories on 20th December 1693, though this Rebecca Manser was said to be ‘of Stepney’.