In my recent posts about the early generations of the Byne family of Sussex, I’ve referred several times to a certain John Byne of Wadhurst and to the fact that his exact relationship to my ancestors remains a puzzle. The story of this John Byne’s family intersects with the lives of my ancestors at a number of points. His daughter Elizabeth married Abraham Manser or Maunser of Wenbourne, who was the younger brother of my 11 x great grandfather John Manser of Wadhurst and the aunt of my 10 x great grandmother Mary Manser who married Stephen Byne of Burwash. When Elizabeth’s father John made his will in 1614 he appointed his son-in-law Abraham Manser as his executor. When Abraham himself died in 1627, his widow Elizabeth married Magnus Byne of Framfield, the elder brother of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne. Another of John Byne’s daughters, Anne, married Christopher Manser, who seems to have been the son of John Manser of Wadhurst and the brother of my 10 x great grandmother Mary Byne née Manser.
Despite these connections to individuals of whom we have substantial knowledge, John Byne’s precise identity remains uncertain. Walter Renshaw, on whose painstaking researches into the history of the Byne family all later researchers rely, felt unable to connect him with confidence to any of the known branches of the family. A number of family history websites claim that it was this John Byne who married Dionysia Pudland. However, Renshaw states that it was a different John Byne, the son of Richard Byne of Ticehurst, who married Dionysia. He concludes this from the fact that, in his will of 1580, this John Byne, who mentions his wife ‘Dyonice’, refers to his residence at Witherden in Ticehurst, a property that had belonged to Richard. John’s will, proved by his widow Dionysia Byne, mentions only one daughter, Mary. This seems to prove conclusively that the John Byne who was married to Dionysia Pudland could not be the father of Elizabeth, Anne, and the other children who we know to have been the offspring of John Byne of Wadhurst.
The most reliable piece of evidence that we have concerning John Byne of Wadhurst, and the starting-point for any investigation into his life, is his last will and testament, signed and sealed on 3rd February 1613/4 and proved on 23rd May of that year. John Byne was buried at Burwash on 10th February. I’m reproducing my transcription of the will below, and in another post I’ll discuss what we can learn from it about him and his family.
In the name of God Amen The Third day of February Anno Domini 1613 in the yeare of our soveraigne Lord Kinge James of England Scotland France and Ireland kinge that is of England France and Ireland the Tenth and of Scotland the Seven and Fortieth, I John Byne of Wadhurst in the countie of Sussex yeoman being weake in bodie but of good understanding and memory do make my last will and Testament in manner and forme following, First I bequeath my soule into the handes of Allmyghtie God trustinge to be saved by the death and meritts of Jesus Christ my Saviour and my body to be buried in the churchyard of the parish of Burwashe, Item I bequeath my lands and goods in manner and forme following, Item I bequeath to the poore of the parish of Burwash Twentie shillings to be divided amonge them by my Executor at the day of my buriall, Item I further bequeath unto the poore Inhabitants of the parrishe of Wadhurst Ten shillings to be divided amonge them within one quarter of a yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath unto myne onlie sonne Thomas and his heires all my landes tenements and hereditaments lyinge situate and beinge within the parishes of Burwashe Catesffeild and Penhurst, Item I bequeath further unto my sonne Thomas all my houshold stuffe and implements of husbandry lyeinge and beinge at my house at Burwash towne and remayninge nowe in the house of Abraham Maunser my sonne in lawe dwelling in Wadhurst as also all such houshold stuffe as is nowe in the custodie of Henry Goldsmyth my sonne in lawe at Tunbridge, Item my will is that my sonne Thomas above named shall not come to the enioynge of the landes and goodes above named untill the full terme of his age of two and Twentie yeares, but that the whole disposing of the said goods and landes during the terme above named to be in the handes of my Executor from whome my will is that my said sonne shall have such yearely maintenance out of my landes duringe the tyme above named as my said Executor in his disposition shall thinke fit, Item I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Maunser my eldest daughter five poundes to be paide within one whole yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath to Ellen Coney of the parrish of Burwashe my second daughter five poundes to be paid within one whole yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath unto Fayntnot Goldsmith of Tunbridge my third daughter five poundes to be paid within one whole yeare after my decease. Item I bequeath to Mary my fourth daughter one hundred poundes to be paid to her within one whole yeare after my decease, Item I bequeath unto my daughter Judith one hundred poundes to be paid at the age of one and twentie yeares or day of marriage whichever come first. Item I bequeath to my sixth daughter Anne one hundred pounds to be paid at the age of one and Twentie yeares or day of marriage whichever come firste, Item my will is that my sonne in lawe Abraham Maunser have the tuition and government of my above named three youngest daughters unto the tymes lymitted for the payment of every one of their severall portions, Item I give unto my daughter Mary fortie shillings towards her mainteynance untill the tyme of the payment of hers the said portion above named, Item I further give unto Abraham Manser my sonne in lawe Twentie markes yearely towardes the mayntenance of my two youngest daughters untill the tyme of their said portions, Item my meaning is that the portion of my daughter Mary above named shall be raysed out of the Rents of my landes which shall accrue from them whilest my sonne be under the age of two and twentie yeares, And for the portions of my two youngest daughters my will is that they shall be paid by my sonne Thomas together with their yearely mayntenance allotted to my said sonne in law Abraham Maunser for their education and [?] and for default of the payment of the portion of my daughter Judith at the tyme mentioned it shall be lawfull for her and her assignes to enter into possesse and hold one peice of land called Sonant meadow Lyinge nigh to the towne of Burwash and another peice of land called Hoppers Croft adioyning to myne orchard in the said towne to her and her heires for ever, And for the default of the payment of my daughter of [?] portions specified at the tyme limited it shall be lawfull for my said daughter or her assignes to enter into possesse inioye to her and her heires for ever one peice of land called Hamlane feild with two other peices of land called the deans situate and lyeing neare the town of Burwash, Item I constitute appoynt and ordayne my sonne in lawe Abraham Maunser sole Executor of this my last will and Testament And I doe give unto him full power and authorities to take gather and receive into his handes all and all manner of goods belonging to me wheresoever lyinge as allso to let all myne above named landes as occasion shall require and as he shall thinke fit and to take up and receive all rents due to be due from the said lands toward the payment of the above named portions and the education and mayntenance of myne above named Children and the discharging of all funeral expenses and all manner of legacies already mentioned duringe the terme above mentioned. Moreover my will is that whereas I have given and bequeathed to my three yongest daughters Mary Judith and Anne to every one of them an hundred poundes if it please God that any them should happen to die before theire severall tymes wherein by my will the above named portions are due that all such portion or portions be devided or remayne to the survivor or survivors of those the above named my three yongest daughters and the said survivors to have the same authoritie and meanes for recoveringe the portions of the deceased from my said sonne as my said daughters should have had if they had lived, Item I appoynt and ordeine my sonnes in lawe Marke Coney and Henry Goldsmyth overseers of this my last will and Testament to whome for their paynes I will that Twentie shillings a peice be given them by myne above named Executor within one whole yeare after my decease, And to this my last Testament I have sett my my hand and seale in the presence of John Hatley and Syndenye Elit. John Byne.