On This Day: March 20

1589 (OS): William Tuckyt was buried at Harwich St Nicholas. An unremarkable record for a not particularly notable person… but there’s a catch. Tuckyt’s will, written in the first person, is dated March 25 1589, five days after his burial. A little awkward. It is possible that the burial date was transcribed in error, and his burial was actually on the 30th, but it is one of a few examples where there is a notable discrepancy between what is written in the register, and the content of a will.

1972: The start date of an archaeological dig in Harwich, the report of which may be read in full here: http://esah160.blogspot.com/2013/11/harwich-essex-archaeological-news.html, or via their Newsletters page, from P11 of newsletter #44.


Query: Which ship/voyage did Roger Jones die on?

Roger Jones was the younger brother of Christopher Jones of the Mayflower. Like Christopher, Roger’s baptism is not recorded – he was either born at the latter end of the major gap in records in about 1571, or during an unusual gap in baptisms between July 1575 and July 1576. He is mentioned in his father’s will, written October 13 1578; he and his unborn sister were left an eighth of a ship called the “Centurion“. On June 22 1596 Roger married Elizabeth Wright in Harwich; a year later he would sail on this mystery fateful voyage.

The will of Roger Jones (or “Johnes”), written August 17 1597, offers all the details we have. Beforehand, he mentions his sister Grace Johnes, who was the unborn sister in their father’s will, and later he mentions his brothers William Russell (mother Sybil‘s son with Robert Russell) and Christofer Johnes, as well as his wife Elizabeth Johnes. But it is the ship that he wrote the will on board we are looking at here.

Roger asked for Mr Richard Parsons to give money out of his wages to Grace, provided God sent his ship “well home“. The ship itself is not named, but this information tells us that Roger was operating on behalf of a company – perhaps one such as the Levant Company or the Muscovy Company (the voyage predates the East India Company) – and that Parsons was likely the purser of the ship. Parsons is also named as a witness to the will, as were Richard Porter and John Whatmough, two more men who were on board. Roger also mentions an Arthur Chausie, who may have been a fellow crewmate – there were Chaucers in Harwich, but none appear to have been called Arthur. Regardless, it is through these names that the question may eventually be answered.

One other clue is that the will was proved April 11 1598, suggesting the ship returned from the voyage around a month or two prior. One trick is to look at wills proved from around this period, to try to find other seamen like Roger.

So we have Edward Hobes, also of an unknown ship, whose will was written July 15 1597 and proved March 18 1598; there is no mention of any names from Roger’s will, but this ship may have been part of the same voyage, so may provide a slight clue (for reference, a Lawrence Simon was named as the purser of Hobes’ ship, while John Ritch was the carpenter, and John Read the boatswain).

For the sake of reference, it is unclear what happened to Roger’s wife Elizabeth after his death. She is not mentioned in the Harwich St Nicholas parish register and, with such a common name, it is very difficult to trace her after 1598. There are a lot of gaps in marriages between 1598 and 1600, during which she may have remarried, but it cannot be said for certain.

The First Parish Register: The Bigger Picture

In a previous post, I attempted to interpret the various gaps and quirks of the first register, mainly by using data within the register itself. This post will look to the state of England during the period in an attempt to clarify things.

Firstly, on October 25 1597, an Act was passed by Queen Elizabeth I, as an extension of that set by Henry VIII in 1538, stating that as parish registers proved such a useful utility (“permagnus usus“, as it was put in Latin), they should be properly preserved, written on proper parchment and kept up to date by the respective parish vicar/clerks. This act will have been what prompted the creation of what we know as the first register, compiled in 1599, and dating back to the start of the Queen’s reign.

In July 1571, records were once again taken for the register, after a gap of six years. The resumption may have been prompted by the third Parliament of Queen Elizabeth, which convened in April of that year. During the term of that Parliament, the “Ordination of Ministers Act“, or “Subscription Act“, was passed, requiring all members of the clergy of the Church of England to subscribe to and follow what were known as the 39 Articles of Religion (which can be seen here). While there is nothing in there that refers to Lady Day (then being the beginning of the new year, March 25), nor of the mandatory recording of baptisms, marriages, and burials, it seems as though the passing of this act resolved whatever dispute was ongoing in Harwich, so records were taken again.

It must be said that there appears to have not been any convening of Parliament, nor the creation of any specific Act, which would have prompted the ceasing of record taking in the first place – the final record of the period was a burial dated May 22 1565, but no major Act was passed between 1563-1566. It could be suggested that the dispute may have been longer in the making than 1565.

As for the gap in 1583, nothing further has been brought to light as of yet, but a peculiarity remains – it is certain that the register was transcribed in 1599, yet in the burials section there is a noticeable fading of ink between the last record taken before the gap (March 16, 1582 OS/1583 NS), and the first record taken after the gap (January 1, 1583 OS/1584 NS), so why would this be the case? Hugh Branham transcribed the baptisms over the period, which are seamless, and the same can be said for the marriages, which are in the same handwriting as the burials, but such a fade in the burials suggests a pause, with the transcriber coming back to it later.

Everyone’s a Critic

From an 1892 yachtsman’s guide:

The town of Harwich itself is devoid of interest, and the one building of note, the church of St. Nicholas, only dates from 1821.

Our Silver Streak

Notes on Christopher Newport

Christopher Newport has been immortalised in history thanks to his part in helping found the settlement of Jamestown in Virginia, one of America’s early colonial settlements. As such, there are many sources out there detailing his life and the major moments thereof, so this blog post will look at various things that are more relevant to Harwich, and perhaps less discussed in general.

Newport was baptised at Harwich St Nicholas in 1561, the record for this stating “Christopher the sonne of Christofer Neweporte and of Jane his w. was bapt. the 29 of December“. Looking at various records that discuss him, it seems as though the connection between this baptism record and Newport was not established until as late as the 1950s, most historians estimating the year of his birth as 1565 until then.

The family of Newports originated from the parish of Stepney, specifically the hamlet of Limehouse, explaining why they eventually moved back there, and our Christopher lived there for the best part of 20 years. They appeared to move back there due to Jane’s failing health; her burial record at St Dunstan, dated July 3 1584, states “Jone [sic] wife of Christofer Newport of Harw’ch buried from Mr Bigates of Limehous“. Mr Bigate was William, husband of an Agnes Newport, assumed to be the sister of Christopher Newport senior (there are plenty of little connections relating to Newport women and their marriages that link various people together, but are too numerous and bitty to go into here).

As an aside, there was another Newport family living in Harwich at the time of Christopher’s baptism, which was highly unusual due to the dearth of Newports otherwise, yet despite this, these two Newport families did not appear to be directly related. The second family, of which John Newport was the head, originated from Walton in Suffolk, a small parish just north of Felixstowe – during the mid-16th century, a number of Harwich residents either originated from there, or held property there. John’s will, written in 1570, is available.

Back to Christopher, on October 19 1584, a Christopher Newport married Katherine Procter. While this could feasibly be Christopher sr remarrying, a 1586 burial record of an unbaptised child suggests this was our Christopher. Confusingly, the next reference to the wife of a Christopher Newport, dated January 4 1591, is the burial of “Em wife of Christofer Newport of Lymehowse”; the implication is that Katherine died and Newport married an Em (Eme/Emma), but neither the burial nor the marriage are recorded in the St Dunstan registers. By the end of the month, Newport had married Ellen Ade, and five months later his father Christopher sr was buried.

From here, Newport’s life is well-documented, so let us skip to the end of it. In about November 1616, the East India Company set forth a voyage, one of many that they had organised, and Newport had been a part of. Within the fleet set forth was the Hope of London, which Newport captained. On board was his son Christopher Newport, later described as master’s mate, and one Henry Ravens, the master, whose relevance will be explained shortly.

The Court Minutes of the East India Company explain that Newport and the Hope arrived at Bantam (in Indonesia) on August 15 1617, and that he died “shortly after“, but to this day the exact date and cause of death remain unknown. By browsing through the wills proved by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, as provided by the National Archives, we can determine that this fleet returned to England in about September 1618, as in the month or so following, many wills of mariners who died during the voyage were proved, including those of Newport, his son, and the aforementioned Henry Ravens.

Newport’s son Christopher wrote his will on board the Hope in April 1618, so we know he survived his father by at least eight months. Newport jr made note of many of the Ravens family, including Henry and his brother Christopher, but most intriguingly he says of “my Aunte Johane Ravens“, implying the Newports were connected to the Ravens via marriage.

It is not yet known how exactly, but the registers of Harwich St Nicholas provide a clue. On April 22 1588 we learn that “Harye Ravens was maried unto Jone Daye” (Harry being an alternative of Henry), this Joan almost certainly being the aunt mentioned. For further proof, in the baptism register, dated May 22 1589, we find the baptism of one “Henrie Ravens“; while his parents are not given, they will have been Henry & Joan, and this young Henry was surely the future master of the Hope (in fact Henry names his mother as “Johane” or Joan in his will). It seems as though this Ravens family moved to Limehouse by 1591, as they disappear from Harwich St Nicholas and appear in Stepney St Dunstan. Of note is that the Ravens eventually made it back to Harwich, records existing of them onwards from the 1630s.

For a bonus bit of historical content, Henry Ravens senior was part of the infamous 1609 wreckage of the Sea Venture, along with Newport. We learn through Hakluyt that Ravens set off for Virginia by himself, but was unsuccessful. Ravens had sailed with Newport on a number of voyages before this, as well.

On This Day: February 12

An occasional series, On This Day will look at events in Harwich history on certain days.

On this day in 1582 (OS), Richard Gardener, the son of John Gardener (aka Gardiner/Gardinar), was baptised. A common theory is that this Richard was the Richard Gardinar who was a passenger on board the Mayflower in 1620, given that a) her Master Christopher Jones was from Harwich, b) the Mayflower Gardinar’s origins remain unknown, and c) no burial of the Harwich Gardener is recorded.

However, the will of his father John, written in October 1588, makes no mention of a son called Richard, suggesting he may have died. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the parish registers were never particularly well maintained; Richard may have died and been buried during the nine-month period in 1583 when no records were taken, for example.

On the subject of Harwich and the Mayflower, it may be of interest to note that John’s wife Lucy Gardener (née Russell, later Poole) was the sister of Robert Russell, who married the mother of Christopher Jones in 1579.

The Miscellanea of Sir Anthony Deane

With Part I, Part II, and Part III covering much of the unknown details of the life of Sir Anthony Deane, this part offers a round up of a few more facts, touching on Deane’s other two wives, and ending on the main focus of this blog, Harwich.

Anthony Deane married Anne Sparrow, the daughter of William Sparrow of Ipswich, at Great Bealings, Suffolk, on September 26 1667. The marriage is referenced in an edition of the East Anglian, and can be found in Boyd’s Marriage Indexes via FindMyPast (although it gives Anthony’s surname as “Doan” by mistake). The marriage can be confirmed through the will of Anne’s sister Elizabeth Sparrow, written January 16 1671; the line of most relevance begins “I alsoe give unto my brother Anthony Deane the summe of Ten pounds And I alsoe give to my Sister Anne Deane […]”, but later on she also leaves “Twenty shillings to the poore of Portsmouth”, which is significant as this is where Anthony & Anne were living at the time. Not only this, but as FindMyPast shows, four days later Elizabeth was buried at the church of St Thomas in Portsmouth, where many of Anthony & Anne’s children were/would be baptised.

Anthony’s third and final wife, Christian, was the daughter of Robert Hawkins of Bocking, Essex (whose will can be found here). As pointed out in an earlier part, she first married Sir John Dawes in 1663. A reference within the Calendar of State Papers gives some information about Dawes and the marriage (though the estimated year of 1662 is of course incorrect). Many references give Christian’s father as “William Lyons”, which is completely wrong – Lyons was in fact a hall or mansion house located within Bocking, as mentioned here, while the name William appears to simply be erroneous, or maybe taken from an irrelevant relative.

As for Anthony’s connections to Harwich, after his stint as master shipwright between 1664-1668, he would be involved further with the town in the 1670s and 80s. The History and Antiquities of Harwich & Dovercourt explains how he was a major benefactor in the purchase of the Town Hall, now known as the Guildhall, which remains in use on Church Street to this day. In 1675, a few months after being knighted, Sir Anthony became mayor of Harwich; Silas Taylor, the man instrumental in the creation of the aforementioned History of Harwich book, confirms this, as noted in the State Papers. He became mayor again in 1681, for which there are a few references on the Essex Record Office website, including this one where he issued a mandate for summons.

Sir Anthony was also named as an MP for Harwich on two occasions, both times alongside Samuel Pepys. The first appointment, in 1679, was not a lengthy one, as they were both sent to the Tower shortly after, though the second, in 1685, went slightly better. Of note is that a few days earlier, King James II issued an updated Charter for Harwich, naming one of the Aldermen as the “dilectos nobis Antonium Deane militem”, aka “dearly beloved Anthony Deane, knight”.

And so, with this reference-heavy part out of the way, this mini-series on Sir Anthony Deane draws to a close, for now at least. There is of course so much more to his life that could be discussed, but much of it is well-documented online and elsewhere, thanks largely in part to his connection to Samuel Pepys, so there is no need to repeat it all here.