In an attempt to solve the mystery of the possible missing generations in the pedigree of the Manser/Maunser family of Hightown, Wadhurst, Sussex, I’ve drawn up a revised pedigree, based on what we now know (see below).
At first, I thought of dividing the chart into two sections – the early generations up to Robert Maunser who died in 1592, and then the later generations beginning with Nicholas Maunser (I) who died in 1653. However, when I began to put estimated dates on these different generations, another potential chronological gap opened up – between Christopher Maunser and Robert Maunser.
18th century map of area around Wadhurst, Sussex
I’ve been assuming that the Robert who made his will in 1592 was the son of Christopher, mentioned in his will of 1545. However, since Christopher’s son Robert must have already been ‘of age’ – i.e. over twenty-one – when his father died, in order to be appointed as executor of his will (I assume this is the case, but am happy to be contradicted by others with greater historical and legal knowledge), then he would need to have been born in the early 1520s.
However, the Robert Maunser who made his will in 1592 seems not to have fathered his youngest child, Abraham, until about 1580, and his older sons in the decade or so before this. I’m basing this on the fact that, of those other sons, John seems still to have been unmarried in 1592, while of the others only one, the eldest, another Robert, seems to have had any children, so I assume they were also still quite young. Now, it’s possible that I’m wrong about this (it would be wonderful to find christening records for the sons of Robert Maunser) and these sons were all born much earlier – but if not, then we have a long gap, perhaps as much as twenty-five years, between the coming of age of Robert, son of Christopher Maunser, and the birth of the first of the next generation. In other words, plenty of time for another generation to be inserted in the pedigree.
For me, this is enough to put a question mark over whether the Robert Maunser who died in 1592 was in fact the son of Christopher Maunser. Could he have been his grandson? And if so, was it his father, Robert son of Christopher, who had another son named William (supposedly the father of Nicholas Maunser I)? Of course, this raises the question of why the Robert Maunser who died in 1592 described himself as ‘of Hightown’, if it was his brother who actually inherited the property. But perhaps there is a clue in the fact that Robert describes himself in his will as a ‘yeoman’, rather than a gentleman, and that the will does not actually bequeath Hightown, or much other property come to that, to any of his sons?
With all of this mind, I have divided my revised pedigree into three sections, since the connections between them are not at all certain. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m assuming that the first section is fairly reliable – though given the errors we’ve already found in the records of the heralds’ visitations, this might turn out to be a rash assumption.
Part A of the chart consists of the three earliest generations that we know about, Part B of Robert Maunser and his sons, and Part C of the later generations. Most of the dates are estimates, though we have evidence for a few of them.
Sir Robert Maunser of Hightown
Born about 1450
Walter Maunser of Hightown
Born about 1470
Christopher Maunser of Hightown
Born about 1490. Died 1546.
Married (i) Mildred Barham (ii) Joan
Robert – born early 1520s
Mildred – born 1520 – 30 – married Robert Wenborne
Elizabeth – born 1510-20 – married John Thorpe
Maryann – born after 1525
Robert Maunser of Hightown
Thomas – born 1570 – 80
George – born 1570 – 80
John – born about 1570 – married Jane Snatt in about 1593– died 1597
Abraham – born about 1580 – married Elizabeth Byne in 1600 – died 1627
Robert Maunser – born by 1570 – had son Robert before 1592
Nicholas Maunser (I) of Hightown
Born by 1590 Died 1653
Married (i) Elizabeth – 1609? (ii) Sarah
Thomas – born 1610 – 20
Nicholas – born 1610 – 20
Herbert – born by early 1620s – married Sarah Haffenden in 1643
Elizabeth – born by early 1620s – married David Leader before 1640
Mary – married Giles Watts
Thomas Maunser of Hightown
Born 1610 – 20
Married Susan – about 1640
Nicholas Manser (II) of Hightown
Born about 1655?
On the death of Nicholas Manser (II), ownership of Hightown passed to Nicholas Manser (III), son of Herbert (see above 1b).