Reflections on the 1592 will of Robert Maunser of Hightown

The 1592 will of Robert Maunser of Hightown, in Wadhurst, Sussex, a transcription of which I reproduced in my last post, challenges much of the received information about him and his family. So what do we learn from the will?

Countryside near Wadhurst, Sussex (via

Countryside near Wadhurst, Sussex (via

In the will Robert identifies himself clearly as ‘of Hightown’, so he is certainly a descendant, and in all probability the son and heir of Christopher Maunser who died in 1546. (In his will of 1545, Christopher bequeathed ‘all my landes and tenements’ to his son Robert.) At the time he made his will, Robert had five surviving sons: Robert, Thomas, George, John and Abraham. We also learn that Robert Maunser junior had a son of his own, also named Robert, who was not yet of age.

Besides his sons, the only other witness to Robert’s will is Jane Snatt. We know that this was the maiden name of John Ma(u)nser’s wife, so it suggests they were not yet married, though perhaps engaged to be. If this is the case, then it revises my notion of when John and Jane were married and when their children were born. For example, if they married soon after the death of Robert, then their children, Mary and Christopher, must have been born between 1592 and John’s death in 1598, and their married life would have been even shorter than I’d previously imagined. This would certainly fit with Mary’s marriage to Stephen Byne in 1611 and Christopher’s to Anne Byne in about 1621. It would also make sense in terms of Jane Snatt’s birth date in 1569.

If Robert Maunser was, as seem likely, the son of Christopher Maunser, then the information in his will contradicts the accepted pedigree of the Maunser family. According to William Berry, Robert Maunser of Hightown, son of Christopher Maunser who died in 1546, married Joan Rootes and had two sons: William, who married Mary, daughter of Nicholas Fowle of Rotherfield, and John. The same pedigree claims that William Maunser had three sons: Nicholas, who inherited Hightown and was married to Elizabeth (this could be the marriage between Nicholas Maunser and Elizabeth Hepden that took place in 1609 in Rye); John, who was of Southwark and married to Mary, daughter of Benjamin Cole of Aston (their wedding was in Lewes in 1614/5); and Mary who married Thomas Scotson (they were married in 1604).

This suggests that Nicholas, John and Mary Maunser were probably born in the 1590s. However, none of them is mentioned in Robert Maunser’s will, and nor is their supposed father William. At present, I don’t have an explanation for this discrepancy, but solving the mystery is going to mean revisiting the later generations of the Ma(u)nser family, and perhaps overturning some more of my earlier assumptions.

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One Response to Reflections on the 1592 will of Robert Maunser of Hightown

  1. Richard says:

    It makes you wonder why those conducting the visitations seemed to make so many mistakes, particularly when in some cases they were collecting their information within living memory of the generations they mangled.

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