Nicholas Maunser or Manser of Hightown, in Wadhurst, Sussex, who died in 1653, had six children – four sons and two daughters – who survived him. I’m not sure how many of these were with his first wife Elizabeth Hepden and how many (if any at all) with his second wife Sarah. Although we don’t have definite dates for the births or baptisms of these children, we do know the order at least of his sons’ births from Nicholas’ will and we can make estimates based on later marriage dates.

Nicholas Maunser’s eldest son and heir was named Thomas. I estimate that he was born early in the second decade of the seventeenth century – the 1610s. In his will of 1653, Nicholas bequeaths Thomas ‘all that my capitall messuage or tenement called Aightowne…together with a water mill there belonging allsoe withal woods under woods lands tenements and hereditaments used enjoyed as part and member thereof’. Nicholas Maunser’s ‘eldest son and heir Thomas Maunser and his wife Susan’ are mentioned in a document of 1646 held in the National Archives. Thomas and Susan Maunser had one son that we know of – Nicholas – who inherited Hightown after his father’s death and died young and unmarried, making his own will in 1674. His mother Susan appears to have survived him.

The second son of the first Nicholas Maunser of Hightown was another Nicholas. He was probably born by about 1615. His father’s will mentions and confirms a ‘former will’ in which this son was bequeathed ‘all my houses lands tenements and hereditaments lyeinge and beinge in Battell in Sussex wth all and singular there appurtenents’. It’s possible that Nicholas is the person of that name who married Martha Fuller at Mayfield in December 1637. We know that he lived in Battle and had a son named Francis, who became a cleric. Francis Maunser, the son of Nicholas Maunser of Battle, Sussex, matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 17th December 1663 when he was 18 years old, suggesting that he was born in about 1645. He proceeded to the degree of BA in 1667, and was ordained deacon in September 1668 and priest in March 1672. Francis was mentioned in the 1674 will of his first cousin, Nicholas, son of Thomas (see above).

High Street, Battle, today, via

High Street, Battle, today, via

Nicholas Maunser bequeathed his third son Herbert ‘all those lands tenements and hereditaments lyeinge and beinge in Burrish [i.e.Burwash]…called Godshale’. This property, rendered in other records as Goodsoal or Gutsole, had been bought by Nicholas from one Robert Thatcher, but at one time had belonged to various members of the Hepden family.

Herbert was probably born some time around 1620. He married Sarah Haffenden at the church of All Saints, Lewes on 19th December 1643. Sarah was the daughter of John Haffenden, a clothier originally from Tenterden, Kent, but later living in Heathfield and Brightling, Sussex. Herbert and Sarah Maunser had three children that I know of: Nicholas, christened in Chiddingley in 1644; Elizabeth, born in 1646; and Constance (it’s possible the latter was named after Herbert’s aunt, his mother Elizabeth’s sister Constance Hepden). Herbert’s son Nicholas was bequeathed the ownership of Hightown together with all its associated lands in Wadhurst in the 1674 will of his cousin Nicholas, son of his uncle Thomas, thus becoming the third Nicholas Manser or Maunser to be master of Hightown.

It seems that this Nicholas also died young and certainly before 1688, when ownership of Hightown passed to his sister Constance, who had married William Crouch in 1673. As I wrote in an earlier post:

They had a daughter, also named Constance, who married a clerk named Mr Wall. By the time William Crouch wrote his will in 1702 (he died in 1706), the Walls already had a daughter, yet another Constance, since she is named as a beneficiary of the will. Constance Wall married Joseph Weller of The Castle in Dallington in 1717. Constance Weller retained ownership of Hightown until her death in 1761, when it passed to her brother-in-law John Newington of Wadhurst.

The fourth son of Nicholas Maunser of Hightown was named Abraham. He may have been born as late as the early 1630s. In his father’s will of 1653 he is left ‘all those my lands situate lyeinge and beinge in the p[ar]ish of Burrish [Burwash] in the County of Sussex….called or knowne by the name of Withers’. Could this be the ‘Witteres’ leased by my 12 x great grandfather William Byne of Burwash from the Abbot of Robertsbridge in 1538?

Oast House at Goodsoal Farm, Burwash (via

Oast House at Goodsoal Farm, Burwash (via

Apparently this property, lying to the north of Goodsoal, is identical with today’s Ponts Farm in Burwash. In the early 18th century it was owned by Giles Watts, clearly a descendant of his namesake who married Abraham Manser’s sister (see below).

It’s possible that Abraham is the person of that name who married Eleanor Burgess at Wadhurst in 1654. We know that by 1674 he had two young sons, Abraham and Thomas, who were left money in the will of their cousin, the second Nicholas Manser of Hightown.

The first Nicholas Maunser of Hightown had two daughters. His daughter Elizabeth, who was perhaps born in the early 1620s, married David Leader of London, whom Nicholas would appoint as one of the overseers of his will of 1653. In that same will Nicholas bequeaths ‘my daughter Leader six paire of sheetes three paire of fyne sheetes and three paire of coarser sheetes’. David and Elizabeth Leader must have been married by about 1640, since on 21st September 1641 their son David was christened at St Olave Jewry in the City of London – a church that would be destroyed in the Great Fire twenty-five years later and then rebuilt. Another son named Nicholas was baptised there in July 1643, a daughter Deborah in August 1647 and another daughter Elizabeth in February 1650. The latter was buried at the same church ten years later, in December 1660. On 18th April 1662 ‘Mr David Leader’ was buried there. A Richard Leader was married at St Olave in 1657, suggesting a family connection to the parish. He may be the merchant of that name who made his will in 1692 before departing on a voyage, and the same man seems to have had links with the American colonies. There’s also a suggestion that Richard Leader came originally from Sussex or Kent, so it may be that David Leader was of the same family, thus explaining how he came to meet Elizabeth Manser. The Leaders would have been living in the City of London at around the same time as my 8 x great grandfather John Byne, his brother Stephen, and their second cousin John Manser, all of whom were related to Elizabeth Manser.

St Olave Old Jewry (between Ironmonger Lane and 'Old Jury') on Rocque's London map of 1746

St Olave Old Jewry (between Ironmonger Lane and ‘Old Jury’) on Rocque’s London map of 1746

In his will of 1653 Nicholas Maunser gives to ‘Giles Watts my sonn in lawe one dozen pieces of pewter’. According to Berry’s pedigree, Nicholas’ youngest daughter was called Mary, though I haven’t found any independent confirmation of her marriage to Giles Watts. In his will of 1674, Nicholas’ grandson – the second Nicholas Manser of Hightown – left money to his cousins Robert and Mary Watts. Frustratingly, Robert is described as ‘son of my Aunt ——- Wats’, with a gap where the Christian name should be. He may be the Giles Watts, mercer, of Battle who made his will in 1658: however, the name of that person’s wife was Ann. His eldest son was also named Giles, he had another son named Robert, and daughters Elizabeth, Mary, Alice and Ann. Interestingly his daughter Elizabeth married a certain John Manser, about whose relationship to the Mansers of Hightown I’m unsure. The 1686 will of Giles Watts the younger makes his brother Robert Watts and John Manser (who now has three sons – Giles, John and Thomas) joint executors. The same will describes Mary as his half-sister, so it’s possible that his father, Giles Watts the elder, was married twice. A Giles Watts married Ann Pilcher at Brightling in 1654, just four years before the first Giles made his will. Perhaps he had previously been married to Mary Watts?