The Fowles and the Pattendens

Yesterday I reviewed what we know about the immediate family of my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle of Southover near Lewes in Sussex, who died in 1555. It’s almost certain that Gabriel’s father was the Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst who died in 1523, that his mother’s name was Elizabeth, and that he had older brothers named Thomas and John.

Lamberhurst parish church and treetops (via

Lamberhurst parish church and treetops (via

It also seems quite likely that Gabriel’s paternal grandfather was William Fowle of Lamberhurst who made his will in 1487, since the latter mentions a son named Nicholas, and there are other points of connection between the two men. (I’m grateful to my fellow researcher Bill Green for pointing me in the direction of William Fowle, and for other information about William and Nicholas reported in this post.) One of those points of connection concerns the Patynden, Patenden or Pattenden family. For example, one of the witnesses to Nicholas Fowle’s will was a certain Walter Pattenden. Walter seems to have been the son of William Patynden of Benenden, with whom Nicholas Fowle had dealings in 1493, as reported in this record held at East Sussex Record Office:

William Haler of Brenchley, Kent, to Alisaunder Culpeper, esq, Harry Darrell, gent, Nicholas Fowle, John Foule of Lamberhurst, Kent, and William Patynden, the younger, of Benenden, Kent 

Half of 2 messuages, 3 gardens, 15 pieces of land called Kyngewodys and Dungates in Lamberhurst

Refers to indenture of even date. Recites that William Hogekyn of Lamberhurst, now deceased, bought from David Gyffray of the same, deceased, land called Mydremedys in Lamberhurst for £20. WH paid £12 but died intestate leaving £8 unpaid. WH left issue William, Agnes and Elizabeth under age. Jane, widow of WH married John Chowry, who with Alisaunder Culpeper and Harry Darrell arranged that the lands should be saved for the children of WH. William Haler, as feoffee of William Hogekyn paid £8 by mortgaging the above premises to Nicholas Fowle. William Hogekyn, the younger, is to repay £8 at age 21.

One of the witnesses to the will of William Fowle in 1487 was Jacobus or James ‘Pattyenden’, who would make his own will a year later. William Patynden, the father of the Walter Pattenden who witnessed Nicholas Fowle’s will, made his will in 1507. Interestingly, he ordained five marks to the marriage of Joan Fowle, daughter of Nicholas Fowle. As Bill Green comments, this seems to indicate a familial tie between the two families, and it’s possible (though not yet proven) that Nicholas Fowle’s wife was born a Pattenden. The fact that Nicholas fails to mention a daughter in his will of 1523 need not concern us: she may have died in the intervening sixteen years.

Parish church of St George, Benenden

Parish church of St George, Benenden

Further work needs to be done to establish the precise relationships between Walter, William, James and the other Patyndens for whom there are records. In the meantime, I came across an intriguing reference in the will of James Patynden, which might hint at another kind of connection between the Patyndens and the Fowles. James Patynden makes bequests to Thomas Pattenden, prior of Combwell, and the same man, ‘Sir Thomas Patenden Prior of Combewell’ is a witness to the will, together with ‘Sir William Dalton Vicar of Lamberherst’, and a certain John Shendefeld. This Thomas Patenden seems not to be identical with James’ son Thomas who is mentioned elsewhere in the will, and it’s more likely he was James’ contemporary, perhaps his brother?

Combwell Priory in 1809 (see footnote)

Combwell Priory in 1809 via (see footnote)

The priory of St Mary Magdalen, Combwell, was just five miles from Lamberhurst and about ten miles from Benenden. Like St Mary Overy in Southwark, and Leeds Priory, eighteen miles away in northern Kent, Combwell was a foundation of Augustinian or Austin canons. Thomas Patenden was prior there from about 1480 to his death in 1513. In the year before his death, the priory was subject to a visitation by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. The account in the Victoria County History does not reflect very well on Thomas Patenden:

Archbishop Warham made a visitation of the priory in 1512. Thomas Patenden had been prior for thirty-two years, and there were six other canons, who stated in their evidence that the infirmary was in great need of repairs and nobody attended to the sick, who had to lie in the dormitory. They had not enough food and drink or clothing, the prior never rendered any accounts, and there was no teacher of grammar. The manors of Benenden and Thornham needed great repairs. John Lanny said that the prior and convent laid him under a debt of £40 in an obligation without any condition to two outsiders, now remaining in the hands of the minister of Mottenden, and arranged that the house should not be indebted by this. The prior said that the obligation was cancelled, and was ordered to show it to the archbishop; and he was also ordered to make a proper account and inventory, to make sufficient repairs to the infirmary before All Saints and to correct the other points mentioned. 

Interestingly, Thomas Patenden’s successor as prior was a certain Thomas Vyncent. Gabriel Fowle would be involved in a Chancery case involving Hugh Vyncent in the late 1530s or early 1540s (see my last post): were the two men related? Even more speculatively, some sources claim that Nicholas Fowle’s (first?) wife was Joan Vince: might this have been a misreading of Vincent or Vyncent? Thomas Vyncent had the misfortune to be prior when Combwell was suppressed in 1536, though he was able to retire with an annual pension of £10. The site and possessions were granted in 1537 to Thomas Culpeper – perhaps a relative of the Alexander Culpeper with whom Nicholas Fowle had dealings in 1493? After Thomas Culpeper’s attainder (on what grounds is not made clear), Combwell passed in 1542 to Sir John Gage ‘in tail male’. Gage, who lived at West Firle near Lewes, held a number of important offices at court during the reigns of Henry VII and VIII and bore the train for Queen Mary at her marriage to Philip of Spain. Ironically, perhaps, given that he benefited from the dissolution of at least one monastery, he was a loyal Catholic and his descendants were noted recusants during Elizabeth’s reign.

Augustinian canon (via

Augustinian canon (via

So the Pattendens’ experience parallels in some ways that of their Fowle neighbours and possible relations. They too had a family member who was prior of a community of Austin canons: Bartholomew Fowle, the last prior of St Mary Overy, who had previously been at Leeds priory, with which Combwell seems to have had reciprocal ties, at least historically, as in this further extract from the above account:

The prior of Combwell was visitor with the prior of Leeds of the Augustinian houses in the dioceses of Canterbury and Rochester in 1311 and 1317 (fn. 21); and in 1353 the priory of Combwell was visited by the priors of Leeds and Tonbridge.

However, I think it’s fair to say that the visitations at Southwark did not produce the same kind of critical report as at Combwell. On the contrary, Bartholomew Fowle seems to have been an advocate of stricter observance of the monastic rule, as reflected in this account:

An important chapter of the canons regular of St. Austin was held in their chapter-house, Leicester, on Monday, 16 June, 1518, when one hundred and seventy joined in the procession, of whom thirty-six were prelati or heads of houses. As night came on they adjourned till Tuesday morning at seven, and when they again assembled, the prior of Southwark, with every outward demonstration of trouble and sorrow, appealed for a stricter and verbal observance of their rule. His manner and address excited much stir, but he was replied to by many, particularly by the prior of Merton. On the first day of this chapter a letter had been read from Cardinal Wolsey observing with regret that so few men of that religion applied themselves to study. On Wednesday, the concluding day of the chapter, Henry VIII and his then queen were received into the order. 

The ‘then queen’ was Katharine of Aragon, whose ‘divorce’ from Henry fifteen years later would precipitate England’s schism from Rome, and indirectly lead to the suppression of the monasteries and the surrender in 1539, by Bartholomew Fowle, of St Mary Overy to the agents of Thomas Cromwell. Bartholomew was granted a pension of £100 and a house within the close at Southwark where Robert Michell, the previous prior, was living.

It remains to be seen whether there is any significance in the fact that both the Fowles and the Patyndens had such close ties to the same religious order.

(Footnote: The picture of Combwell Abbey featured in this post was the work of the artist Paul Amsinck who was, I believe, a relative – perhaps the son – of the London-based German merchant of that name, to whom was apprenticed John Godfrey Schwartz, who in 1780 would marry Frances Collins, the daughter of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Collins née Gibson and later Holdsworth. The picture was engraved by Letitia Byrne.)


In writing this post, I had of course forgotten yet another possible Augustinian link in my family history. Only a couple of weeks ago, I speculated that Thomas Lucke, curate at Litlington in Sussex, and the uncle of my 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle née Lucke, may have been the person of that name who was a canon at the Augustinian priory at Michelham until its dissolution in 1537.


Posted in Fowle, Pattenden | Leave a comment

The family of Gabriel Fowle revisited

My recent research into the family of my maternal 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle née Lucke of Mayfield, Sussex, has re-awakened my interest in the Fowle family. I’m connected to them through my 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne of Burwash (died 1614), who married Agnes Fowle (died 1626), daughter of Magnus and Alice. Magnus Fowle, who died in 1595, was the only son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, near Lewes, who may have been the master of the Free Grammar School there, and who died in 1555. Gabriel was my 13 x great grandfather.

Parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Lamberhurst

Parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Lamberhurst

Gabriel Fowle was born in about 1507, in the penultimate year of the reign of Henry VII. He was the son of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst (then in Sussex, now in Kent) and his wife Elizabeth. They were my 14 x great grandparents. Nicholas made his will in 1522/3, in the sixth year of the reign of Henry VIII, appointing Elizabeth and Gabriel as his executors. From the will, we know that Nicholas had two others sons, Thomas and John, who both seem to have been older than Gabriel.

Some time ago I transcribed and discussed the will of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst, who died in 1525, believing at the time that he was Nicholas’ father and thus my 15 x great grandfather. A number of online sources had led me to this conclusion, but those sources also turned out to be mistaken about other aspects of Fowle family history: for example, they repeated the common error that Nicholas’ wife was a certain Joan Vince, when his will clearly states that his wife’s name was Elizabeth.

I now think it more likely that the Thomas Fowle who made his will in 1525 was actually Nicholas’ son and the brother of my ancestor Gabriel. What is the evidence for this? Firstly, on the negative side, there is some evidence that Nicholas’ father was a certain William Fowle, rather than Thomas (I’m indebted to my fellow Fowle family researcher Bill Green for this information). Secondly, from his will it would appear that Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst was quite a young man when he died: he mentions an unmarried daughter and a son who is not yet twenty-one. Thirdly, Thomas’ daughter is named Elizabeth, so may have been named after his mother, Nicholas’ wife.

Unfortunately, Thomas’ will is quite brief and shows evidence of having been written in a hurry – the consequence of a sudden illness, perhaps? As a result, there is no mention of any relatives beyond his immediate family, nor of any specific properties that might enable us to connect him with Nicholas. However, the fact that Nicholas had a son named Thomas, who was probably born in about 1490 and would therefore have been a young married man with a young family in the 1520s, makes it likely that this is the same person.

St Mary Overy in the 17th century by Wenceslas Hollar

St Mary Overy, Southwark by Wenceslas Hollar

Even if Thomas turns out to be my 14 x great uncle rather than my 15 x great grandfather, I remain fascinated by his tantalisingly brief will, and particularly by his connection with the priory of St Mary Overy in Southwark. Although he describes himself as ‘Thomas Fowle dwelling in the p[ar]ishe of Lamberest [Lamberhurst] in the countie of Kent’, he wishes to be buried ‘within the church yarde of Saint Margaret in Southwerk’, all of his religious bequests are to the same church, and two priests there are among the witnesses to the will. Thomas also makes a bequest to ‘my gosteley fader’. Since writing about Thomas’ will a year ago, I’ve seen this term mentioned in other contexts and can confirm that it refers to the writer’s spiritual father or mentor. For example, in Act 2 Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo addresses Friar Lawrence as ‘my ghostly Father’. My knowledge of early-sixteenth-century lay religiosity is sketchy, but from the evidence of his will I would conclude that Thomas Lamberhurst was quite a pious individual.

It seems likely that Thomas Fowle’s association with Southwark had something to do with Bartholomew Fowle being the prior of St Mary Overy, of which the church of St Margaret was a part. Some sources claim that Bartholomew was the son of Nicholas, and therefore Thomas’ brother, but in an earlier post I cast doubt on this theory. For one thing, Bartholomew Fowle was also known as Bartholomew Linsted, because he was apparently born in the Kent village of that name, which was about thirty miles from Lamberhurst. We also know that Bartholomew was elected sub-prior at Southwark in 1513, having transferred there from Leeds priory in 1509. Now, it’s not altogether impossible that Nicholas Fowle had a son who was old enough to hold monastic office in 1513. And the fact that Bartholomew is not mentioned in Nicholas’ will is not necessarily conclusive: my excursions into recusant history have shown that relatives who had taken religious vows were not always named in wills (though in the case of recusants, these omissions may have been for reasons of legality or security). However, given his dates, it seems more likely that Bartholomew was a more distant relative of Thomas Fowle’s – perhaps an uncle or cousin? For now, Bartholomew’s precise connection to my Fowle ancestors remains unproven. Nevertheless, when Thomas Fowle made his will, Bartholomew Fowle had been prior of St Mary Overy for twelve years, and it’s possible that he is the ‘high master’ of St Margaret’s to whom Thomas made one of his bequests. Could he also be Thomas’ ‘gosteley fader’?

We know that Thomas’ brother Gabriel, my 13 x great grandfather, was not yet eighteen years old when his father Nicholas died in 1523. His life thereafter is something of a mystery, but we know that he was certainly living in Lewes by 1529 at the latest. He was named in a case in Chancery that was heard some time between 1518 and 1529. Gabriel and a certain John Fortey were defendants in a case concerning tenements with gardens in East Porte, late in the ownership of one John Salisbery of Lewes. (I assume East Porte is identical with the modern Eastport Lane in Southover, the part of Lewes where Gabriel is said to have lived.) The plaintiffs were Henry Hylles of Lewes, a yeoman, and his wife Agnes, who was the great granddaughter of the said John Salisbery. Some time between 1538 and 1544 Gabriel Fowle or Voule was again the defendant in a Chancery case concerning ‘detention of deeds relating to messuages and gardens in Lewes Cliff’. (Cliffe is a district to the east of Lewes) The plaintiffs were Hugh Vyncent and his wife Anne, daughter and executrix of John May. Gabriel was described as the supervisor of May’s will.

Priory of St Pancras, Lewes (via

Priory of St Pancras, Lewes (via

Walter Renshaw, in his history of the Byne family, suggests that Gabriel Fowle was master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes. If so, then it seems likely that he himself received some form of higher education, though I’ve yet to find his name in any university records. The school had been founded in 1513 by the will of Agnes Morley and was attached to the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras, which was also in Southover. The priory was surrendered to the Crown in 1537, at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries, and became the property of Thomas Cromwell, the agent of its destruction. However, the Free Grammar School seems to have survived these events.

Curiously, Renshaw also found records from 1551 that describe Gabriel Fowle as ‘of Burwash’ and which suggest that he often acted as proctor in the court there. Burwash is twenty miles or so east of Lewes, but only about ten miles south of Lamberhurst. It’s possible that Gabriel inherited property there from his father, and that his connection to the area helps to explain how his son Magnus came to marry a woman from nearby Mayfield. Burwash was, of course, the home of my 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne, who would marry Magnus’ daughter Agnes.

Posted in Byne, Fowle, Lucke | Leave a comment

The Lucke family in the Mayfield Manor Court Rolls

In recent posts I’ve been attempting to trace my links to the Lucke family of Mayfield, Sussex. I’m now fairly sure that my 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle, the wife of Magnus Fowle, was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield, who probably died some time in the 1550s. It also seems apparent that there was some link between Richard and the John Lucke of Mayfield who died in 1549, though the latter makes no mention of Richard, or indeed of any other relatives beyond his immediate family, in his will. And there were almost certainly connections between the Mayfield Luckes and those with the same surname in nearby Wadhurst.

Ruins of Mayfield Palace in the 18th century (via

Ruins of Mayfield Palace in the 18th century (via

Thanks to some generous assistance from a fellow researcher, I’ve come across a number of references to members of the Lucke family in the Manor Court Rolls of Mayfield from the late 1540s and early 1550s. For example, in the court held at Mayfield on 1st December 1546, in the thirty-eighth year of Henry VIII’s reign, John Barham ‘surrendered into the lord’s hands one croft of land called Fair field containing by estimation 10 acres of land of old assart lying with its appurtenances in Mayfield in Bakehese ward, to the use of John Luck of Durgates, Edward Luck and Robert Wembourne who were admitted.’

There are a number of connections between my ancestors and the Barham family, and the Barhams would later be linked by marriage with both the Fowle and Byne families. Closer to the date of this court case, the first wife of my 13 x great grandfather Christopher Maunser of Hightown, Wadhurst, was Mildred Barham, and she was in all probability a relative (perhaps a daughter or a sister?) of the John Barham mentioned here. As for Robert Wembourne or Wenborne, he was Christopher Maunser’s son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Mildred. In my last post, I noted that Robert’s father John and Christopher Maunser had something in common: their wills were both witnessed by Thomas Hoth, a priest who may have been an itinerant protestant preacher and possible martyr under Queen Mary.

16th century manorial court rolls

16th century manorial court rolls

We’ve come across the two members of the Lucke family mentioned in this record before: or rather, two men with the same names. ‘John Lucke of Dargatte’ was one of the beneficiaries of the will of Nicholas Fowle of Wadhurst, who died in 1600 (as well as being related to my ancestor Magnus Fowle, Nicholas was married to a member of the Maunser or Manser family). The ‘John Lucke of Durgates’ who appears in the manor court rolls half a century before must belong to an earlier generation of the same family. (Nicholas Fowle also bequeaths property to a John Barham, presumably a descendant of the person of that name in the same court rolls.) Durgates was a property in Wadhurst, and still appears on modern maps as an area to the west of the town. I believe that this John Lucke is not identical with the John Lucke of Mayfield who died in 1549, and that the reference to his property is made in order to distinguish him from his Mayfield namesake, whose name appears in other records of the manorial court. For example, on 12th January 1546/7, just over a month after the case cited above, ‘John Luck’ came to the Mayfield court and ‘submitted himself to the lord’s pardon because he has cut down two willow trees upon the lord’s common at Ryden and Byshetwood.’ Perhaps this is the ‘other’ John Lucke – the one who died in 1549?

As for Edward Lucke, the only person of this name that I’ve come across before is the brother of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst, who died in 1593, but once again this was more than fifty years after the manorial court case.

In the court held at Mayfield on 10th April 1547, in the first year of the reign of Edward VI (his father Henry VIII had died at the end of January), there is a reference to a Richard Luck, mentioned as owning land close to some property that is the subject of the case. A number of other landowners came to court at this time to surrender six and a half acres of land ‘into the lord’s hands…to the use of Richard and John Luck who were admitted.’ This seems to suggest a close relationship between Richard and John: were they brothers, cousins, or father and son?

At the same session of the Mayfield court, Richard Lucke was involved, together with William Penkhurst, in a separate case concerning another plot of land. Penkhurst would be named some years later as a defendant in the Chancery case brought by Magnus and Alice Fowle concerning Richard Lucke’s will.

Farms at Mayfield (via geograph)

Farms at Mayfield (via geograph)

On 10th December 1547 the Mayfield Hundred was held and twelve men appointed to a jury ‘for the lord king’. The list includes Richard Luck and ‘John Luk of Dorgatts’, as well as other familiar names such as John Barham, William Penkherst and John Maynard.

‘John Luck of Durgates’ is mentioned again in the record of the manorial court held on 10th April 1548. The record of the court session held just over a month later, on 16th May 1548, is intriguing. Three ‘amercements’ (fines imposed by a court or by peers) are listed, all of them involving the sum of three pence, and two of them involving Richard and John Luck. In one, ‘John starts proceedings with Richard Luck in a plea of taking away and the illegal detention of draught animals. In another ‘Richard Luck starts proceedings himself with John Luck, in a plea of taking away and the illegal detention of draught animals’. In other words, both men seem to be accusing the other of the same offence. Was this a dispute and a falling out between brothers, perhaps? And if so, does it explain the absence of Richard’s name from the will of the John Lucke who died in 1549?

In the record of the court held on 12th January 1550/1, ‘John Luck of Dorgats’ is listed among the tenants of ‘Hadley virgate’. At the same court session it was noted that in the previous December a widow named Alice Boniface ‘surrendered into the lord’s hands one messuage with a garden adjoining with the appurtenances in Mayfield, to the use of Richard Luck and his wife Agnes who were admitted’. The record goes on:

To hold by them, the heirs and assigns of the same Agnes at the lord’s will according to the customs of the manor through the rents and services there owing and customary and they paid 4d as relief and they give the lord 6d as a fine and they made fidelity and have seisin through the rod. Then nothing comes to the lord as a heriot because they have no animals.

(A ‘heriot’ was a death duty, usually in the form of a horse, owed by a tenant to a nobleman.) So these manorial court rolls have provided me with at least one significant new piece of information: the name of my 13 x great grandmother, Agnes Lucke. This might explain why Magnus and Alice Fowle gave their only daughter, my 11 x great grandmother, the name Agnes (though Magnus also had a sister of that name).

John Luck of Dorgates and Edward Luck are mentioned together in the record of the manorial court held on the following day, 13th January 1550/1, suggesting that these two men may have been related, and perhaps connecting Edward to the Wadhurst rather than the Mayfield Luckes.

At the Mayfield Hundred held on 30th April 1551, Richard Luck’s name appears in a list of eight men ‘amerced’ the princely sum of twenty shillings ‘which has been exacted from each at the taking the oath before the jury of 12 and they absolutely refused’. Was it the fine they refused – or the oath? The record is tantalisingly brief, and I would be interested to know more about this act of defiance on the part of my ancestor.

Significantly, none of the eight men thus fined appears in the list of twelve men ‘for the lord king’ (presumably the jury) that follows. However, a certain ‘John Luke of Fair chorche’ is among the twelve. Who exactly is this John Lucke? And where was ‘Fair chorche’ – or perhaps Fairchurch? Could he be the son of the John Lucke who died in 1549? Although the latter failed to mention a son in his will, he does describe himself as John Lucke ‘thelder’ (i.e. the elder).

Richard Lucke and William Penkhurst are again mentioned together in the record of the manor court held on the same day, 30th April 1551. Richard obviously overcame his resistance to serving on the manorial jury, as his name is included in the list of twelve men ‘appointed for the lord king’ at the hundred held on 4th October that year. Among his fellow jurors are both ‘John Luck of Dorgates’ and ‘John Luck of Fayrechorche’, thus confirming that these were two different men. The jury also included Richard Maynard, the son-in-law of the John Lucke who died in 1549, as well as Robert Wenbourne and John Thorpe, both sons-in-law of my 13 x great grandfather Christopher Maunser of Hightown (a rider to this record notes that John Thorpe and two others were ‘sellers of ale in Wadhurst’ who were to be ‘amerced’ for two pence each.)

This seems to be the last reference to Richard Lucke in the Mayfield manorial court rolls. It tallies with my own theory that Richard died some time in the early 1550s and that the Chancery case in which his will is mentioned dates from some time in the middle years of that decade.

What else can we conclude from these valuable records? Besides the important information about his wife’s name, these court rolls also tell us something about Richard Lucke’s property and status in the Mayfield community in the 1540s and early 1550s. He was obviously one of a small group of local yeoman farmers and a closer analysis of his properties might, in time, help us to understand more about him and his family. John Lucke (of Mayfield, not Durgates) was clearly a close relative, but the precise nature of their relationship remains unclear, and while it seems likely that he is the person whose will was proved in 1549, this can’t yet be confirmed.

Posted in Barham, Byne, Fowle, Lucke, Manser, Wenborne | Leave a comment

Was the witness to my ancestor’s will a renegade priest and radical preacher?

In the process of exploring the last will and testament of John Lucke of Mayfield, Sussex, who died in 1549, I had cause to look again at the will of Christopher Maunser of Hightown, Wadhurst, who died four years earlier: this was because the Wenborne family was mentioned in both wills. Christopher Maunser or Manser was my 13 x great grandfather; his son Robert had a son named John, who was the father of Mary Manser who married Stephen Byne of Burwash: they were my 10 x great grandparents.

Christopher Maunser’s will shares a number of common features with that of his contemporary and near neighbour John Lucke. Both men begin their wills by bequeathing their souls ‘to almighty God, our lady Saint Mary and all the (glorious) company of heaven’. In my discussion of John Lucke’s will I cited this preamble as evidence of continuing attachment to Catholicism, despite the religious changes wrought during the latter years of the reign of Henry VIII, who died in 1547. However, a discovery that I made yesterday has undermined this conclusion, certainly in the case of Christopher Maunser.

Protestant preaching in the early 16th century (via

Protestant preaching in the early 16th century (via

In my original discussion of Christopher’s will, almost a year ago, I remarked on the fact that a certain ‘Sir Thomas Hothe, preste’ was among the witnesses to the document. I noted that the same man would also witness the will of John Wenbourne, who was probably the father-in-law of Christopher Maunser’s daughter Mildred, just over a year later. I also mentioned that I’d been unable to find Hothe in any clergy records, despite Hothe or Hoth being a fairly common name in that part of Sussex at the time. But yesterday I came across a source that appears to solve the mystery of Thomas Hoth’s identity.

In a chapter on ‘Richard Woodman, Sussex Protestantism and the Construction of Marytrdom’ in Art, Literature and Religion in Early Modern Sussex: Culture and Conflict (Ashgate, 2014), Paul Quinn of the University of Chichester mentions a Thomas Hoth who was formerly the precentor of the Augustinian New Priory in Hastings, but in 1533 was charged ‘with rejecting purgatory, tithes and payment on the four offering days, and of supporting clerical marriage, a vernacular translation of the New Testament, and justification by faith’. It’s possible that the same Thomas Hoth went on to become an itinerant protestant preacher and that he may have radicalised a number of the Sussex martyrs who died during Queen Mary’s reign. Quinn also suggests that Hoth may himself have suffered for his beliefs, perhaps being identical with the Thomas Ahoth who is listed in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (Hoth’s story is a reminder that a number of the early protestant preachers – including Martin Luther himself – were former monks, and that I should perhaps be cautious in assuming that my probable ancestor Thomas Lucke, rector of Litlington, who died in 1551 and may have been a member of another former Augustinian priory, at Michelham, necessarily retained Catholic sympathies.)

The burning of Richard Woodman and other protestant martyrs in Lewes in 1557

The burning of Richard Woodman and other protestant martyrs at Lewes in 1557

Paul Quinn connects Thomas Hoth with the burgeoning protestant community in East Grinstead, just twenty miles from Wadhurst. It’s possible that, as an intinerant preacher proselytising for the new faith, Hoth visited a number of East Sussex parishes and the fact of his witnessing Christopher Maunser’s and John Wenborne’s wills could be evidence that they were among his converts. If so, then the use of a traditional Catholic preamble in Christopher Maunser’s will may provide an interesting example of a transitional phase between old and new forms of piety. Of course, as I’ve noted before, it’s important to remember the formulaic and conventional character of will preambles. At the same time, it’s probably significant that Maunser’s will includes none of the traditional bequests for altar lights to be found in John Lucke’s will, or the requests for masses to be said for his soul that occur in the will of another of my 13 x great grandfathers, Gabriel Fowle of Southover, who died ten years after him.

In previous posts I’ve expressed my curiosity about those of my ancestors who appeared to hold on to their Catholic faith – whether openly, like Gabriel Fowle, or apparently covertly, like his son Magnus (my 12 x great grandfather) – through the successive religious revolutions of the sixteenth century. But I’m also fascinated by the process by which most of my Sussex forbears gradually moved away from the beliefs of their forefathers, so that by the mid-seventeenth century many of them were out-and-out Calvinists and Puritans. This flickering glimpse of the life of the Thomas Hoth, renegade priest and itinerant preacher, may provide some insight into the first steps in that journey.

Posted in Byne, Fowle, Lucke, Manser, Wenborne | Leave a comment

‘To Almightie god our lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’: reflections on the will of John Lucke of Mayfield

In the previous post I shared my transcription of the last will and testament of John Lucke of Mayfield, Sussex, who died in 1549. I believe that John was a relative, perhaps an uncle, of my 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle née Lucke, who was the daughter of Richard Fowle of Mayfield.

St Dunstan's church, Mayfield, Sussex

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield, Sussex (via geograph)

John Lucke’s will contains some useful information about his immediate family, though perhaps not enough to determine his precise relationship to Alice, or to her father Richard. We discover that John was married to a woman named Joan, and that they had a daughter of the same name, who was married to Thomas Newnem. Another daughter, Isabel, was married to Richard Maynard, while a third, Christian, appears to have been unmarried at the time that the will was made. John Lucke makes his two sons-in-law, Thomas and Richard, the executors of his will.

‘Newnem’ is probably an alternative spelling for Newnham or Newnam, a common name in the Mayfield area at this period. There are a number of Newnhams in Mandy Willard’s family tree, for example, including at least two Thomas Newnhams living in Linfield, twenty or so miles to the west of Mayfield, though their dates are too late for either of them to be John Lucke’s son-in-law.

The Maynards were another long-established local family, apparently supplying one of the Mayfield protestant martyrs, William Maynard, and John Maynard, who was the Puritan vicar of the parish during the Civil War. I’ve yet to find any further evidence of Thomas and Joan Newnham, or Richard and Isabel Maynard, or their children, or of Christian Lucke, in the local records.

As I noted in my last post, one of the witnesses to John Lucke’s will was William Penkhurst, presumably the same man who, with Robert Holden, was the subject of the legal case brought by Alice Fowle and her husband Magnus some years later. Another is ‘Richard Lukk’ who, as I suggested in that post, may well turn out to be Alice Fowle’s father and perhaps the brother of John Lucke. I wonder if John Wenborne, another of the witnesses, is the man of that name from Wadhurst whose son Robert married Mildred, daughter of my 13 x great grandfather Christopher Maunser of Hightown, Wadhurst?

I haven’t yet managed to decipher the surname of another of the witnesses, whose first name was Gregory. However, as I’ve noted before, the name before that is of significant interest. John Mone was a member of another longstanding Mayfield family, the Mones or Moones, who seem to have been related to the Fowles and Luckes in some way. I think I may have found John Mone’s will and plan to discuss it in another post.

John Lucke’s will refers to lands in the manor of ‘Sharniden’, by which I assume he means Sharenden, a manor in the parishes of Mayfield, Wadhurst and Rotherfield.

The opening lines of John Lucke's will

The opening lines of John Lucke’s will

John Lucke died in 1549, two years into the reign of Edward VI, though his will may have been written some years earlier: I can’t quite decipher the Roman numerals of the date given at the beginning of the will (see above) – is it ‘a Thousand five hundred thirty-sixth’? The preamble shows clear signs of a continuing attachment to the Catholic faith: Lucke bequeaths his soul ‘to Almightie god our lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’ and gives money to the ‘high aultir’ of his parish church ‘for my tithes & oblacions…forgotten or withholden’ , and ‘to the light of the… withsaid church’. Apparently a significant number, perhaps a majority of wills from this period, include similar bequests and are testimony to the continuing popularity of the old religion, despite the unsettling religious changes in the final decade of Henry VIII’s reign.

Posted in Fowle, Lucke, Manser, Wenborne | Leave a comment

The will of John Lucke of Mayfield (died 1549)

My analysis of the Chancery case involving my 12 x great grandparents, Magnus and Alice Fowle confirmed that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield, and that he had an uncle Thomas Lucke who was curate at Lythington or Litlington at the time of his death in 1551. I’m in the process of ordering a copy of Thomas’ will from the East Sussex Record Office, and I’m hopeful that it will reveal more details about Alice’s family of origin.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

In the meantime, I’ve turned my attention to another Lucke family will from the same period, for which probate was granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and thus is available via Ancestry. John Lucke of Mayfield died in 1549 and certain details of the will lead me to believe that he was related in some way to Alice Fowle née Lucke. For example, one of the witnesses is a certain John Mone. In his own will of 1595, Magnus Fowle left two shillings and two pence to ‘my godsone Magnus Mone’. It seems likely that the Mones were related to the Fowle/Lucke family in some way, and that Magnus Mone was named after his godfather. Another witness to John Lucke’s 1549 will was ‘Richard Lukk’: was this Alice’s father? A third witness turns out to be William Penkhurst, presumably the same man who, with Robert Holden, was the subject of the complaint by Magnus and Alice Fowle in their Chancery case.

I’m posting my transcription of John Lucke’s will below and I’ll discuss its contents in more detail in another post. 

In the name of god Amen The xyvth [?] daye of October in the yere of our Lord god a Thousand five hundredth xxxvith [?] I John Lucke of Maughfield in the county of Sussex thelder hole of mynde and of memorie make my testament and Last will in manner and forme following ffirst I give and bequeath my soule to Almightie god our lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven, my body to be buryed in the churchyard of sainte dunstone at Maughfield. Item I give to the high aultir ther for my tithes & oblacions [??] forgotten or withholden lyd [?]. Item I bequeath to the light of the [??] withsaid church lcyd. Item to our mother church of seynt ayngell of Southemallinge vyd. Item I bequeathe towarde the […] of the saide church of Maughfield three pounds xcys xyd. Item I bequeathe to every of my god children vyd. Item I bequeathe to Johanne my wyfe all my brasse pinster [?] and bedding and all my lyning and molin clothe and my cubbard and and all my chests and coffers. Item I bequeathe to the said Johanne my wife foure tynn [?] of the best at her choice. Item I bequeathe to Cristian my daughter a haffer bullock of thage of two yeres and the [???] The residue of all my godes not bequeathed my debts Legacies and bequests p[er]formyd contentyd satisfied and paid I give and bequeath to Thomas Newnem and Richard Maynard whome I constitute and make my Executores.

This ys the laste wyll of me the above namyd John Lucke made the day & yere above written ffirst my mind is that Thomas Newnem and his heyres shalhave the tenements and all the landes therto belonging both freehold and copyholde holding of my lorde of Canterbery. To have and to holde all the [???] [???] and landes [?] to the saide Thomas and Johann my daughter his wyfe to thiyres and assignes of the said Thomas Item I will that Richard Maynard shall have therefrom of all my lands holding of the Manor of Sharniden To have and to hold all the saide landes holdings of the said Manor of Sharniden to the said Richard and Isabell my daughter his wyf and to totheyres and assignes of the said Richard Morcord [?] I will that the said Thomas Newnem & Richard Maynard theire heyres and assignes shall paye or cause to be paid to Johanne my wyfe during all the time of her lyfe Twenty shillings by the yere at foure [?] principall Feasts of the yere by equall porcions to be paide in manner and forme folowing, that ys to saye the saide Thomas to paye yerely xys vyd of the said xxs, and the said Richard maynard lys lyd during all the said terme […] I will that my said wyfe shall have in the new house that I nowe dwell in fyre and flett [?] sufficient at all tymes and two chambers in the upper ende of the same house that ys to saye one [???] chamber and another [???] with free egress and regresse therto at all tymes during all the term of her lyf Item I will that the saide Johanne my wyfe shall have breade and drynke sufficient for her fynding in the said howse during all the time of her lyfe and also the keeping of one cowe at proper costes and charges of the said Richard and Isabell his wyfe their heyres and assignes will and sufficiently upon the said land holding of Sharneden belonging to the said howse during all the said terme. Item I will that my [???] make unto my saide wyfe a sufficient clase of distresse for lacke of payment of the said xxs or any parte thereof Item I bequeath oute of my landes to Cristian my daughter fyve pounds of lawfull money of England yn manner and forme folowing to be paide that is to saie at the daye of her marriage xxxvys vyd and in the yere the next folowing xxxys vyd And in the third yere after her said marriage other xxxvys vyd in full sum of the said five pounds. Item if the saide Cristian happen to dye before she be married then the said fyve poundes to be bestowed in this manner five nobles to apriest to praye for my soule her soule and all xpen soules and other five nobles to the church of maughfield aforesaid and thother five nobles to be equally devyded between the said Thomas and Richard witnesses Richard lukk John Mone Gregory mtty: John Wenborn wm penkherst with others

Posted in Fowle, Lucke, Wenborne | Tagged | Leave a comment

Alice Fowle and the Lucke family: evidence from a case in Chancery

How can the Chancery bill that I transcribed in my last post help us to understand the family background of my 12 x great grandmother, Alice Fowle of Mayfield, Sussex?

One of the drawbacks of the document, or at least of the copy that I’ve been sent, is that it doesn’t seem to be dated. The reference to the case in the National Archives catalogue is imprecise, placing it some time in the period 1558 – 1579: in other words, in the first half of the reign of Elizabeth I. I’ve discovered that this corresponds with the period of office of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to whom Magnus and Alice Fowle addressed their plea. I’d already managed to decipher the reference near the beginning of the document to the ‘Lorde Keeper of the Seale of England’ and then the word ‘knyght’ immediately before it. The actual name above it was more difficult to identify, but I looked up a list of Lord Keepers and discovered that it was Sir Nicholas Bacon, the father of the philosopher Francis Bacon, who was Lord Keeper of the Seal between 1551 and his death in 1579.

Sir Nicholas Bacon (via Wikipedia)

Sir Nicholas Bacon (via Wikipedia)

The only date given in the document, as far as I can see, is 24th October 1551, the date of the disputed will that is its subject. So we know that the Chancery case must date from some time after 1551. Unfortunately, we don’t have precise dates for the births or marriage of Magnus and Alice Fowle. The only firm dates we have for them are the will of Magnus’ father Gabriel Fowle in 1554, which makes no mention of Alice or any grandchildren, and the marriage of Magnus and Alice’s daughter Agnes to Edward Byne (they were my 11 x great grandparents), which took place in 1575. It seems likely that Magnus and Alice were married some time in the mid- to late-1550s, and that Agnes, their only surviving child, was born shortly afterwards. Without further evidence, it’s difficult to date the Chancery bill more exactly, but I suspect it might date from the late 1550s or early 1560s: in other words, during the reign of Mary, or the early years of Elizabeth’s reign. The reference to ‘the Queenes maieste’ means that the document can’t have been written before 1553, when Edward VI died.

As to what the document can tell us about Alice Fowle’s family of origin, it’s almost certain, despite the breaks caused by folds and creases in the parchment, that she was one of the daughters of Richard Lucke, ‘late of Mayfield deceased’. If this is true, then Richard can’t, despite Renshaw’s claim, be the Richard Lucke of Wadhurst whose will I transcribed in a recent post, since he made that will in 1590 and died in 1593. However, he may yet turn out to be a relative of some kind.

The will at issue in this legal dispute seems not to be that of Alice’s father Richard but of the latter’s brother, who is said to have been a ‘clarke’, in other words, a priest or minister. At first, I thought this might be one of the two John Luckes who we know to have been Church of England ministers, but their dates are too late. The first John Lucke was born at Wadhurst in about 1567 and studied at Clare College, Cambridge in the late 1580s. He was vicar of Mayfield from 1620 to 1624. His son, another John Lucke, was born at Mayfield and studied at Sidney Sussex College in the early 1620s. We know that he was ordained, but I haven’t found a record of his appointments.

Litlington parish church, Sussex (via

Litlington parish church, Sussex (via

In fact, the brother of Richard Lucke who was a ‘clarke’ turns out to have been the Thomas Lucke whose name is mentioned elsewhere in the Chancery document. The place where he wrote his will – ‘Lythyngton’ – provides the vital clue. A Thomas Lucke was curate at Lythington, or Litlington, in Sussex, in 1551. It’s unclear how long he served there, but his stay may have been brief and curtailed by his death: the only date given in the clergy records in 14th December 1551. I’ve been unable to find a record of Thomas’ graduation from either of the universities, and the church records don’t give details of his ordination. Intriguingly, a Thomas Lucke had been one of the priests at Michelham Priory, an Augustinian foundation until its suppression in 1537, when it had the dubious distinction of being the first monastic site to be awarded to Thomas Cromwell. Is it possible that this Thomas Lucke became a secular priest on his ejection from Michelham and turned up at Litlington, which after all was only about six miles away? On the other hand, would a former monk have been comfortable serving the ‘reformed’ church of Edward VI? Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems likely that Thomas Lucke of Michelham was connected in some way to the Luckes of Mayfield and Wadhurst.

Thomas Lucke’s last will and testament appears in a catalogue of Sussex wills, and I’m in the process of ordering a copy from the local record office, in the hope that it includes some more clues about the wider Lucke family.

If Thomas Lucke, priest, was an uncle of Alice Fowle’s, then the Elizabeth Lucke ‘lately deceased an other of the daughters of the sayde Richard Lucke’, also mentioned in the Chancery document, must have been her sister – and given her name, must have been unmarried. Again, if a copy of Elizabeth’s will is available, then it might help us to fill in some of the missing information about her relatives.

The dispute at the heart of the Chancery case need not detain us, and is anyway difficult to reconstruct from the partly-legible document. It would seem that Thomas Lucke made Robert Holden of Mayfield the executor of his will but that, according to Magnus and Alice Fowle, he had abused his trust and acted in a way that ‘vexyd and troublyd’ the complainants. I haven’t yet found any other records for Holden, but he is said to be acting in league with one William Penkhurst, whose family had lived in the Mayfield area for a number of generations, intermarrying with other families that crop up in my family tree including (ironically) the Fowles.

Posted in Byne, Fowle, Lucke | Leave a comment