In the previous post I wrote about the family of my 12 x great grandfather William Byne of Burwash, Sussex, who died in 1559. In this post I want to focus on what we know about his son Edward, my 11 x great grandfather, and his immediate family.

Burwash parish church

Burwash parish church

As I’ve noted before, Edward Byne was probably born in the early 1550s, perhaps during the brief reign of Edward VI. His father William was a yeoman farmer in Burwash, with properties at Witteres (probably modern Witherhurst), Upper Croft, Colth and Moyses. Edward is the first son mentioned in William’s will, so he may have been the eldest of the three: his brothers were Anthony and Symon. There were also two sisters, Margaret and Jane, of whom the former at least must have been older than Edward, since she married her husband Goddard Russell in 1551.

In other posts I’ve suggested that John Byne of Burwash, who died in 1559 (a few months after William) and Richard Byne of Ticehurst, who died in 1574, were probably William Byne’s brothers, and therefore Edward’s uncles. John Byne and his wife Joan had four children – Richard, Symon, Henry and Joan – all of whom lived in Burwash and would have been Edward’s first cousins, though they were perhaps somewhat older than him. Edward’s uncle Richard and his wife Gillian, living in nearby Ticehurst, had five children – John, Thomas, Anne, Odiane and Margaret – who were also Edward’s cousins. The families seem to have been close, since John Byne, son of Richard, who married Dionysia Pudland and lived at Witherden in Burwash, mentioned Edward in his will of 1581 and at the same time appointed Edward’s father-in-law Magnus Fowle of Mayfield as an overseer. Thomas, another of Richard’s sons, made Edward the overseer of his own will in 1588.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Edward Byne would still have been a child when his father William died in 1559. In his will of 1557 William divided his lands between his three sons, but he left all his copyhold lands, as well as Moyses Farm, to Edward.

As already mentioned, Edward’s sister Margaret married Goddard Russell of Salehurst in 1551. There is some evidence that they may have lived at Brightling. We don’t know when Edward’s sister Jane married Henry Foster, or when his brother Anthony married his wife Joan and went to live in Battle. His brother Symon married Elinor Pudland (sister of Dionysia, who was married to his cousin John Byne) on the day after Edward married Agnes Fowle, and at the same church in Burwash.

Edward’s mother Joan died in 1575, perhaps a few months before his marriage. She appointed him executor of her will, which was proved in September of that year, and required him ‘to gyve to the Poore ate my burryal 10s. for my sowles helthe’.

Edward married Agnes on 24th October 1575, in the sixteenth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. As I’ve noted in other posts, Agnes Fowle was the only daughter of Magnus Fowle of Mayfield, about eight miles north-west of Burwash, and his wife Alice Lucke. Magnus was the son of Gabriel Fowle, master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes, and a member of the Fowle family who were originally from the Lamberhurst area, just across the county border in Kent, and who included the Fowles of Riverhall in Wadhurst.

Walter Charles Renshaw’s history of the Byne family includes some useful information on Edward Byne’s property transactions, and on other contemporary records that refer to him (see Renshaw pages 98 – 101). Apparently Edward was a churchwarden at Burwash in 1592. He was a copyhold tenant of the manor of Bivelham, in Mayfield. His freeholds were called Bronserdshill. He was also a freehold tenant of the manor of Hammerden, this property being at or near Stonegate Cross in Ticehurst. He owned a property in Catsfield called Heardsbeake and another called Somerleas. In addition, Edward owned land in Burwash, Waldron, Heathfield and in Ringmer (the latter, like his property in Mayfield, might have been inherited from his father-in-law Magnus Fowle, a noted landowner in that area, who in turn had inherited property there from his father Gabriel).

Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle

Renshaw also refers to a transaction concerning a property called Twiserlye, consisting of ten acres abutting on to Somerleas. This was conveyed to Edward and his third son, Edward junior, and also involved another son, Magnus, and a certain Walter Saxpes, a gentleman of Battle. The property was conveyed by deed poll, in consideration of £50, ‘under the hand and seals of Dame Helen Pelham, widow of Sir Edmund Pelham, Henry Darrell and Thomas Tyndall’. Renshaw gives no date for this transaction but it must have been after Edmund Pelham’s death in 1611.

Sir Edmund Pelham was a member of the distinguished Pelham family of Laughton. He was an Irish judge who held the office of Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer. His marriage to Helen or Ellen Darrell of Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst was a surprising one for an ambitious lawyer, since the Darrells were Catholic recusants who allowed the Jesuits to use Scotney as a refuge. The Henry Darrell mentioned here was probably Helen’s brother (they were both the children of Thomas Darrell of Scotney), who married Margaret, daughter of Sir Edward Gage of Firle in Ringmer, a courtier in the time of Henry VIII and a member of another prominent recusant family.

Edward and Agnes Byne had the following children who survived, all of them born and baptised in Burwash: Magnus Byne was baptised on 4th November 1576, William on 28th October 1579, Edward junior on 21st May 1581, Stephen (my 10 x great grandfather) on 3rd July 1586 and John on 6th April 1589. They also had an unbaptised daughter, who was buried on 14th August 1590, and a son named James, baptised on 9th December 1593 and buried on 20th December 1594.

In 1595, when Edward and Agnes Byne had been married twenty years and were probably in their forties, Agnes’ father Magnus Fowle died. In his will Magnus Fowle appointed his daughter Agnes and grandson (whom he describes as his godson) Magnus Byne as his joint executors (the latter would have been about 19 years old at this time). The will includes the following request:

I will that ymeadyatlie after my decease my sonne in lawe Edward Byne shall have and take duringe the term of five yeares nexte after my decease the proffitts of all suche Landes and Tenements as I have purchased Lyenge in Ringmer and Maughfield upon condicion and to this ende purpose and effecte and not otherwise viz that he performe and accomplishe this my will, paye my Legacies and debts 

The said legacies are then enumerated, after which Magnus declares that if his son-in-law should fail to pay them, his overseers should make sure that his intentions are fulfilled. He continues:

Item I will that after the saide five yeares be ended Magnus Byne shall have the use and possession and the proffitts of my said purchased landes duringe the coverture between my daughter his mother and the saide Edwarde Byne his father.

Does this suggest a degree of frostiness, not to say distrust, in relations between Edward Byne and his father-in-law? Is it significant that Renshaw’s history also refers to the fact that, in 1588, Edward was deforciant in a fine levied of land in Waldron in which Magnus Fowle was plaintiff (Renshaw, page 100)?

In 1604 Edward and Agnes Byne’s eldest son Magnus married Elizabeth Polhill, who was also of Burwash. Elizbeth died three years later and in 1608 Magnus , now living in Framfield, married Bathshua Newington of Kingston Bowsey. In January 1611/12 Edward and Agnes Byne’s son Stephen married Mary Maunser, daughter of John Maunser of Wadhurst.

Edward Byne made his will on 11th December 1611, in the ninth year of the reign of James I. He was buried at Burwash on 4th January 1613/14.