Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Henry Munnings and Alice Pye of Nedging, Suffolk, England

In my previous post I wrote about the Munnings pedigree found in various books about the Winthrop Family and Families of the county of Suffolk.  I find a large chunk of the pedigree to be unproven.  It is a great story, but possibly just that, a story. Henry Munnings, who died in 1521 was a real person and evidence of him is found in contemporary records. Here is what I have found about his life. 

the pedigree
The Munnings pedigree tells us much of what is supposedly known about the early Munnings Family. Henry, it says, was the son of John. John  held a lease on the Manor of Nedging from John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk.  When the treasonous duke was killed, the lands of the de la Pole family were attainted and returned to the crown. 
copyright Robert Edwards see below Road to Nedgings 

The pedigree describes Henry as a farmer in Nedging.  In his youth he was of "comely stature and com'endable partes". He was also skillful in song and music.  The new Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon, taking a liking to him employed him as his superintendent of music in his chapel and employed him on business in France. In 1515 Henry traveled with the Duke to France to bring home King Henry's sister Princess Mary, widow of the King of France who Charles marries shortly after her return. Because of his years of faithful service Charles Brandon gave Thomas Munnings, son of Henry, a lease on Nedging Manor for a term of 80 years.  

owners of nedging manor
In 1415 the manor of Nedging returned to the crown when it's holder, Henry, Lord Scrope was attainted and beheaded.  It was then given by the crown to Sir John Phillip and his wife Alice.  After Phillip's death, Alice married William de la Pole.  Alice held the manor in her own right until her death in 1475, at which time it passed to her son, John, the Duke of Suffolk. Upon his death the manor passed to Edmund de la Pole, who had been reduced in rank to the Earl of Suffolk.  

The de la Pole family were the legitimate heirs of King Richard III.  Edmund was forgiven, sort of, by Henry VII for his father's part in a rebellion against him.  Edmund later fled to the continent where he was involved in various schemes to overthrow the Tudors. Meanwhile in 1509 Henry awarded the Manor of Nedging to Edward Nevill. Edmund returned to England and was beheaded as a traitor in 1513.  In the inquisition post mortem of Edmund's estate it was found that he was still in possession of the estate of Nedging. His widow, Margaret Countess of Suffolk was awarded the manor until her death. 
Princess Mary and Charles Brandon

In 1514 Charles Brandon was created the Duke of Suffolk and was given much of the de la Pole lands. He would eventually be awarded the Manor of Nedging, but not until after the 1516 death of Margaret de la Pole.

Charles Brandon was a lifelong friend of King Henry VIII.  He spent at great deal of his life at court with the King.  After his marriage to Princess Mary their country home was Westhorpe, north of Bury St. Edmunds. The Duke also had a large home in London, known as Suffolk Place.

interesting story interlude
So, while I was researching this story on Henry Munnings, I came across a story about a man called Henry Manning of Kent.  Seems he was a descendant of an ancient  and noble family from  Manning in Saxony, they took the name de Manning. In their Visitation Pedigree, Henry's grandfather, Hugh, was said to have been married to the Aunt of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Does this sort of resonate with you. 

okay back to the munning story
Am I the only one who thinks this whole story of Henry working for Charles Brandon is hard to believe.  Is Henry just the victim of ancestry inflation? I think so. But, Henry was a real man, we know this because he left a will, not much of a legacy, but at least it's something.  So what does his will tell us? 

the will
photo by Adrian S. Pye see below
Henry wrote his will in 1521.  He stated that he was of Nedging, Suffolk.  He was deeply religious, leaving money to various churches, asking for masses for his soul and leaves money for the repair of the Semer bridge near the church of St. Mary's. This was a common practice, the buying of "indulgences" to get the newly dead a shorter stay in purgatory. 

Henry's will tells us that he was married to Margaret and that he has two living children, a daughter Agnes and a son Thomas. To his wife he left all his "houses and lands" in Leyham for the duration of her life, on her death they revert to his son Thomas. He also gives his wife his house in Semer called "wodsalis" fee simple, meaning she owns it outright and can do with it what she wants.  To his daughter Agnes Rice and her husband Robert Rice he leaves money and his house and lands in Byston.  He also leaves money for his grand daughter Elizabeth Rice.   All the rest goes to Thomas his son. 

It would seem from his will that he had a fair amount of land and multiple houses in various parishes and that he was fairly comfortable in his lifestyle.  Interestingly, he does not name any grandchildren other than Elizabeth Rice, is it because his son Thomas is not yet married or does not yet have any children? 

two wives
According to the Munning pedigree, Henry married Alice Pye of Lavenham, Suffolk.  By the time he wrote his will he was married to Margaret Unknown.  Agnes is presumed to be the mother of Henry's two surviving children.  No date of birth or death is known for either women.  Alice Pye's ancestry is unknown as is Margaret's.

what do we really know about henry
Not much.  The list of what we don't know is long. We do not know when or where he was born. We don't know when or where he was married. We don't know how many children he had, only that two are named in his will. We don't know how old he was when he died.  We know he wrote his will on 16 October of 1521 and that it was probated on 21 November 1521. He states in his will that he is of Nedging, so presumably we can say that his made his home there. 

Henry did not identify his social rank, but if he were a gentleman or higher rank he probably would have.  I have seen in multiple ancestry.com tree Henry styled as Sir Henry. He would hold this title only if he were knighted.  This does not seem to be the case. It is interesting to see the birth years that are assigned to Henry, 1455 and 1456 seem to be the most popular. 

Related Posts:

Gilbert de Munnines


Muskett, Joseph James, Evidences of the Winthrop Family of Groton, County Suffolk, England and of families in or near that county with whom they married, Boston, 1894

Copinger, Walter Arthur, The Manors of Suffolk, notes on the history and devolution, London, 1905

Proceedings from the Suffolk Institute of Archealogy, vol 32, 1970

Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII vol 1 1509-1514


Photos copied from the geograph web site are done so under the Creative Commons Licence


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gilbert de Munnines of Poitiers, France; Is he a Mythical Ancestor?

I have recently been writing about my Winthrop ancestors from County Suffolk, England the last of whom, Elizabeth Winthrop, married Humphrey Munnings in about 1588.  My research into the Munnings family quickly led to an amazing pedigree stretching back to a 15th century Frenchman named Gilbert de Moonines, who was from Poitier.[1] Almost every family tree on ancestry.com has this lineage as well as most internet family sites, oh boy you should know what comes next.  Giant red flags are waving everywhere on this one, is it true, is it provable, is there any documentation? Let's see what I can find. 

the family tree
Let's start with the family tree as suppposed laid out in 1615 in something called the MSS 5523. This is a manuscript said to contain information related to the pedigree and arms of the gentry of Suffolk. It is at the Bodlien Library of Cambridge University in England. Maybe someone can pop by and give it a peek. This Munnings Family pedigree has been printed in various books written about the Winthrop family and also families in Suffolk, England, including Muskett's Evidences of the Wintrops. It is fleshed out with details about the men and their lives. All information about the ancient Munnings family comes strictly from this pedigree.  

As far as I can find there is no contemporary documentation, as in the time in which they lived, on the family from any other source, there are no records of them in France, in England, in the service of the Dukes of Suffolk, etc.  There are no records of births, marriages or deaths until it gets to the fifth generation. If you know of any documents that exist, I would love to hear from you.

[1]Gilbert de Munnines of Poictiers, Fraunce


Olyver de Munnines         [2]Anthony de Mooninges 
                               I                                               I

                            two girls                           [3]Henry de Moounines m. Elizabeth

                                                                  [4] Jean de Mounines m. Margaret 

[1] gilbert 
St. Mary's Nedging photo by bikeboy
Not much is written about Gilbert in this family pedigree.  He is said to be from an ancient family of Poictiers, Fraunce, which I am guessing is supposed to Poitiers, France. His wife's name was Charlotta. Nothing more. (Can I quickly point out that the name Charlotta/Charlotte was not in use until the 17th century, some three hundred years after this Charlotte's birth.) Back to my story. A search of ancestry.com and the web tells a different story. Gilbert is given a birth year of 1360, marriage to Charlotta in 1384 and a year of death of 1459 at the grand old age of 99.  Some even say he died in Nedgings, Suffolk.  Charlotta is given a date of death of 1463, in France. Some tree owners have deduced that Gilbert was named for his father. This older Gilbert is said to have been born in 1320 and died on 26 August 1346 at the Battle of Crecy. Hummm. I wonder how they figured that out. Not to mention the fact that that a man who died in 1346 cannot possibly be the father of a son born in 1360.

two sons; [2] anthony and oliver
Gilbert and Charlotta had at least two sons, according to the pedigree, the oldest was Anthony and the second was Olyver. Both men fought at and were taken prisoner at the Battle of Agincourt on 15 October 1415.  Anthony was ransomed, both men swore fealty to King Henry 5th of England and were given their liberty after promising to help him fight in all his French Wars. Olyver married an Englishwomen named Isabella, they had two daughters who died young. He himself, died in 1424 at the Battle of Verneuil in France. Anthony served under the Earl of Suffolk, William de la Pole, later Duke of Suffolk, at the siege of Orleans. Growing tired of war he retired and died in 1443 leaving only one son, Henry. This would mean that Anthony died sixteen years before his father and twenty years before his mother, at least if you believe ancestry.com and wikitree and geni. 

Okay, so what can you find about these two brothers on ancestry.com? Anthony has been assigned a birth year of 1386 and Oliver 1390. Oliver is really of no consequence as he had no descendants.  So let's just concentrate on Anthony.  

the Battle of Agincourt, one of the great battles of the Hundred Year's War between England and France, took place on St. Crispin's day, 15 October 1415. France was, at that time, fractured by infighting.  The King of France, Charles VI, was mad, and by mad I mean crazy. The King's nephew, Charles Duc de Orleans and the Armagnacs and John, the Duke of Burgundy were fighting for control of the mad king and France. Although France was torn by these factions, news of the landing of King Henry of England with his army on French territory united the nobles.  The Oriflamme, the legendary battle standard of the Kings of France, was taken from the cathedral of St. Denis and used to rouse the 'call to arms'. The Burgundians and Armagnacs may have hated each other, but they all hated the English. 

The battle was an overwhelming victory for the English. Thousands of french knights and noblemen were slaughtered, estimates range from 7,000 to 10,000 french dead.  A late arrival to the fight, the Duc de Brabrant, younger brother of the Duc de Burgundy, started a rally of the failing french army and actually came close reaching  King Henry.  Fearing that the thousands of french prisoners might overpower their guards and rejoin the fight, Henry ordered that they be killed immediately. Some were in a church which was set on fire and other just had their throats cut.  Only the most valuable prisoners were kept alive for their ransom, their number is estimated to be around 1,500. 

So, if the story is to be believed, Olyver and Anthony fight against the hated English who are trying to take over their country.  They survive the battle and are deemed of sufficient rank and wealth to take as prisoners. They were brought to England, their family paid their ransom and then they did something very interesting. Despite, their father being killed by the English, and witnessing the wholesale slaughter of their peers, their country ravaged by maurading English Knights and the crown taken by and English King, they turned traitor to their country and family. They turned their back on their friends who died a brutal death at the hands of their enemy and swore not only allegiance to an English King but that they would join him in fighting their own people. 

I do not believe that for a second. 

List of French prisoners taken at Agincourt - College of Arms 
According to Dr. Reme Ambul, in his article on the French prisoners, only the peers of the realm of France and the most wealthy knights were taken to England. The majority of French prisioners were kept in the English held town of Calais, while they awaited the payment of their ransom. [2] Stephan Cooper, author of a 2014 book on Agincourt, concurs, saying that most of the french prisoners were sold and release in Calais prior to the army of Agincourt returning to England. Only the highest ranking prisoners were taken back to England, mostly for political reasons. [3] 

after agincourt
Anthony, if this story is to believed, took employment with William de la Pole. William lost his father to dysentery at the siege of Harfleur, and his oldest brother was one of the few English knights killed at Agincourt. There was likely no love lost between William and the French. 

William became the 4th Earl of Suffolk upon his brother's death. He was a life long soldier, spending more than 20 years fighting in France. William was co-commander of the English forces holding the French city of Orleans in 1429.  The city was liberated by the French, led by Joan d' Arc, and William was forced to retreat to the city of Jargeau, where he surrendered in June of 1429.  He was held prisoner for three years and was finally ransomed and released in 1431. Anthony, it is said, was taken prisoner with him, I wonder who paid his ransom this time. A French Knight fighting against his own people, I  don't think that would have gone down well.
Joan d' Arc

After Orleans and Jargeau, Anthony growing old and tired, he was 44, left the service of William de la Pole and retired. He had at some point in time married and had only one child, a son named Henry. This Henry was trained for service and was also in the employment of William de la Pole. Although there is no record of this marriage and his wife's name is unknown, the good folks at ancestry.com have assigned him a marriage to Lady Munning in 1405 in Poitier, France.  She has also be given a year of birth of 1390 and a year of death of 1464. How this information was obtained is a mystery. Anthony, the pedigree tells us, died in 1443, where he died is not mentioned, but most ancestry.com members assume it was in Suffolk, and at least one tree says he died in Woolpit of all places. 

[3] henry
Anthony's only son, Henry, was also in the employ of William de la Pole, he did work for him in France. The pedigree does not mention when or where Henry was born, but once again turning to the internet we learn that he was born in 1408 in France. Henry married in England, according to the pedigree, to Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Charles of Kettleborough. Now here at last is a name which we can find in records.
photo by Adrian Cable 

Sir Thomas Charles of Kettleburgh was the son of Richard and Anne Charles. He married Alice Ramsey, daughter of Ralph Ramsey, Esq. of Kenton.  They had at least one son, also named Thomas. Sir Thomas had multiple land holdings in both Suffolk and Norfolk County including the manor of Kettleburgh. Thomas Sr. died on 11 December 1418, his son and heir was more than 15 at that time.[4] Thomas Jr. and his wife Elizabeth conveyed most of their estate to John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk in 1448.[5] Alice his mother remained in control of much of the estate while she lived and she conveyed Kettleburgh Hall on Simon Brook of Easton and his heirs. No mention is made of any other children and no marriage settlement was made to a daughter Elizabeth. Hum, disappointing. 

William de la Pole was made the 1st Duke of Suffolk in the year 1448 but in 1450 he was banished, suspected of traitorous dealings with the french.  He was  killed as he tried to make his way to France. His son John, became the 2nd Duke of Suffolk. The pedigree tells us that after William's death, Henry returned to Suffolk, content to live in a "mean condition", mean meaning poor.  He worshiped regularly at the shrine of St. Edmund. He died in 1478 (for some reason known only to themselves my friends at ancestry say he died on 19 Dec 1468, but this is the probate date of the will of Henry Monnyng of Norton near Woolpit part of an extended Mannyng/Monnyg family).[ He left 3 children, Jean, Jaques and the unusually named Gundreda. Gundreda is an old Norman name and was the name of William the Conquerors daughter. It is rarely found in records and would he a highly unusual name for a girl born in England in the 15th century. Jaques, her brother, died rather predictably without issue, this seems to happen to a lot with this family for some reason. Gundreda's husband is known only as Knighton and no children were mentioned. 

jean aka john 
John, who now goes by the surname of Moounines, followed in his father and grandfather's footsteps and worked for the de la Pole family in Suffolk.  The pedigree states that John was granted the lease of the manor of Nedging by the Duke of Suffolk for his services. Unfortunately John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln, son of the Duke, choose the wrong side in the battle of the Roses and was killed at the battle of Stoke in 1487. All the de la Pole's lands were returned to the crown. 

The pedigree says that John married Margaret, the daughter of Henry Woodwarde. Henry Woodwarde's arms are "barry of six, or and sable and a canton of gules."  This is not true. Those arms belonged to a member of the Woodward family that orginated in Staffordshire and became London Grocers in the late 1500's and their son eventually were called Gentlemen.[6]

John and Margaret, we are told, had several children, including son Henry, daughter Katherine who married John Woorliche and a daughter Anne who married Sir Clement Higham. The pedigree gives no date of birth or death for this John but according to ancestry and the web he was born circa 1430 and died on 24 April 1486, once again this is the date of probate for a different man, John Munnying of Norton, this is a different Munning family. And, even more importantly, there is a gross error in the naming of his children. 

anne and katherine munning
Anne and Katherine Munning were not the daughters of John Munning.  Their father was Thomas Munning of Bury St. Edmunds.  In an article in The American Genealogist entitled Munnings Ancestry of Thomas Bradbury, author John Threlfall proves that Anne was the daugher of Thomas Munnings and his first wife, Margaret Unknown, and that Katherine was the daughter of his second wife Margaret Reeve (not Waldreeve). [7]

Thomas was a wealthy land owner in Bury St. Edmunds, he had property in Whepstead, Fornham all Saints and Hengrave. His parents, whom he named in his will were John and Maryon Munnings.  He and his two wives produced five daughters, and no sons. He wrote his will in August of 1540 and died shortly afterwards.

Anne was born around the year 1500, she married Sir Clement Heigham and died before her father. Her husband was Speaker of the House of Commons during the reign of Queen Mary. He and Anne's father "Thomas Mounning" were appointed "keepers of the park at Chevington" by the Abbey of St. Edmunds. He held the lease on various manors in Suffolk including Semer Hall.  Queen Mary granted him Nedging Hall in honor of his support of her and her right to the throne. Mary was on the throne from 1553 to 1558. 

what to make of all this
There multiple Munning families in Suffolk and it is impossible for all of them to be descendants of the de Moonines brothers. And there were Munnings already living in Suffolk prior to the supposed arrival of the Moonines. Robert Munnings is recorded in 1321 and a Stephen Munning in 1336.  I personally do not believe the story about them being French prisoners of the battle of Agincourt. Nothing in this pedigree is provable until you get to Henry and Alice Pye. It is a charming story but there is not documentation to back up any of it. In fact it contains some glaring errors. And it's not just me who doubts it. Respected genealogist John Brooks Threlfall believes it to be a family fable. See his article in The American Genealogist

One last thought on the information that is found on ancestry.com.  I see that in quite a few trees the Munnings men are given the title of Sir. In order to be addressed as Sir a man has to be at least a Knight.  A mere gentleman is addressed as Mr. There is nothing to indicate that any of the Munnings had been knighted. 

What are your thoughts?

Related Posts:
Thomas Munnings of Nedging
Henry Munning and Alice Pye


[1]James Joseph Muskett, James and Robert C. Winthrop, Evidences of The Wintrops at Groton, County Suffolk and the of the families in or near that county with whom they intermarried,( Boston, 1894), Hathi Trust (www.hathitrust.org : accessed 24 December 2016)

[2] Dr. Reme Ambuhl, "How Many French Prisoners Survived the Masssacre Which Took Place at the Battle of Agincourt," Agincourt 600 (http://www.agincourt600.com : accessed 24 December 2016).

[3] Stephen Cooper, Agincourt Myth and Reality 1915-2015, (Barnsley, Yorkshire: Praetoriam Press, 2014).

[4] "Inquistion Post Mortem, Thomas Charles, Knight, Writ 203, 24 January 1419," Mapping the Medieval Countryside (http://www.inquisitionspostmortem.ac.uk/view/inquisition/21-203/205 : accessed 26 December 2016). Heir is son Thomas 15+ years old.  

[5] Vincent Borough Redstone, Calendar of Prereformation Will, Testaments, Probates Administrations; Registered at the Probate Office Bury St. Edmunds, (Ipswich: W. E. Harrison, 1907).

[6] Sir Henry St. George, The Visitation of London Anno Domini 1633,1634 and 1635, Vol. 17, (London: , 1883) 367 and 368. and William Ryley and Henry DeThick, The Visitation of Middlesex begun in 1663, (London: J. Nichols).

[7] John Brooks Threlfall, "The Munning Ancestry of Thomas Bradbury," The American    Genealogist, Vol. 55, p. 151.

Hervey, William, The Visitation of Suffolke made....Hervey 1561, with additions of family documents and MSS, edited by J.J. Howard

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, The Register of 'Baldwyne' part II 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

William Winthrop (1529-1582) of London, England

William Winthrop should have had a great life.  Oldest son of a very successful businessman he stood to share in his father's business and join him as a leading man in the city of London. A little thing called the Protestant Reformation got in his way. 

William was born in the St. Peter's Cornhill parish of London, right in the heart of the old city.  His father was a highly successful cloth merchant who exported his product to the continent. William was born on 12 November 1529, second child of Adam and Alice Winthrop.  He was the only one of Alice's children that survived childhood and in 1533 at the age of four his mother too was dead.  His father remarried in 1534 but he and his new wife Agnes did not have a child until 1539, making him very much the older brother. In fact, he did not have a brother until 1547, but he would have great influence on his young brother Adam and his nephew John Winthrop, future Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

William was probably educated at the local parish grammar school. Grammar schools were originally run by the Catholic Church, during King Edward's reign, he established 35 secular grammar schools. William would have been taught to read and write in Latin and some maths.  After grammar school he was probably apprenticed to another Cloth Worker until 1544 when he joined his father in the business. He lived in the same parish as his father, St.Peter's Cornhill.

return of the catholic church
With the death of the protestant King Edward VI  in 1553, his sister Queen Mary forcibly returned the country to the catholic church.  William's father, who had actively promoted the changes brought by the reformation, retreated to his rural manor in Groton, Suffolk. Adam Winthrop left his son William to run the family business.

The return of the church also meant the removal of protestant ministers from the pulpit and in St. Peter's Cornhill the influential minister John Pulleyne.  In order to avoid attendance at a catholic mass or to be reported for non attendance William moved to the next parish of St. Michael's Cornhill but failed to notify his new parish priest of his presence.  He began attending underground protestant services. It is said that William aided the underground movement by allowing worship on his ships while they were in  port and for using them to import books and other printed materials used by the reformers. William also supplied financial support for imprisoned protestants.

1558 brought a sudden end to the restoration of the catholic church with the death of Queen Mary.  Her sister Elizabeth was on the throne and protestants were once again in control of the state religion.

the return of the protestant church
One would think that with the return of the protestant church,  William would pick up where he and his father left off with the family business. But William was not satisfied with the extent of the reforms and continued to labor for complete eradication of all things "catholic" from the church. He served as churchwarden at St. Michael's and supported the "stranger" churches of foreign nationals living in London. William spent his own money putting reform minister in churches, not only in London, but in his father's church in Groton.

a penniless end
William spent perhaps too much time and money in his support for reform or too little time tending to the family business.  By 1577 William was broke.  In order to pay for the apprenticeship for his sons Joshua and Adam, William had to sell the family home.  He sent his wife to live with her family in Kent.  William applied for and was granted one of the parish poor houses, where he died in 1582.

William's death recorded in the parish record

his family
William married Elizabeth Norwood by 1558, their son Joshua was born and baptized in July of 1559 in the now protestant church of St. Michael's Cornhill.  They would have six children but only 4 are known to have survived to adulthood. Elizabeth is known to have been from the county of Kent but her family has not been identified. Her parents are not Raffe Norwood and Jane Knight of Gloucestershire. Elizabeth died in 1578, shortly after leaving London for Kent.  No mention is made in any record of what became of William's daughters Sarah and Elizabeth until they married.  I would guess that maybe after the death of their mother they may have lived with their Uncle Adam or at least kept in close contact as they both married men from Suffolk.

children of william and elizabeth norwood all baptized at St. Michael's Cornhill
Joshua July 1559 m.  Anne Norrington   d. 1626 Ireland
Adam 7 Dec 1561 d.1631
William 18 April 1563
Jonathas 18 Feb 1565
Elizabeth 24 April 1569 m. Rev. Humphrey Munning d. 1631
Sarah 19 Aug 1571 m. John Frost of  Bury St. Edmunds, d. 1603

My ancestor was William's daughter Elizabeth who married Humphrey Munning, a reformed protestant minister. Their daughter and her husband would follow the Winthrop family to the Massachusetts.  Speaking as a person of the Catholic faith, I have to say it is a bit awkward and uncomfortable to write about the Church as if it was something evil but that was the sentiment of many of my ancestors.  Conversely I find their brand of faith to be offensive, so William I guess we are equal.

Related Posts:
Adam Winthrop Sr. of Lavenham
Adam Winthrop Jr.
Richard Hunne of London

My main source for this bio is the wonderful biography of John Winthrop by Francis J. Bremer, which I highly recommend.  He also has written articles about William Winthrop and his efforts towards the reformation of the English Church.

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