I am descended from Anthony Colby thru two of his children, so that must make him my double 9 times grandfather. Two of his children married two of William Sargent's children. Anthony moved several times prior to settling down in Salisbury. I am also related to over 14 men who settled in that same town. If someone asked me where I can from I could almost say "I'm from Salisbury".
Anthony Colby was baptized in St. Andrew's Church in Horbling, Lincolnshire on 8 September 1605. Infants were usually baptized quickly after birth so it's pretty safe to say that he might have been born in late August or early September. Horbling is and was a small village in the parish of Sempringham which also includes the village of Pointon. The Colby name can be found in records going back to the 1400s. The Sempringham that those early Colbys knew was very different that what it is today. If fact there is almost nothing left of Sempringham, and what there is left of it is hidden underground.
Although the Colby name is found in very early records, the first identifiable ancestor of Anthony Colby is his grandfather Matthew Colby. He was born about 1530 in the village of Pointon. His parents names are unknown, but we know that when his mother died, his father remarried. He and his new wife Agnes, who was a widow with children, did not seem to have any children together. His father died leaving Agnes widowed yet again. She wrote a will and died in 1575/6. Unfortunately, she left no clue as to her husband's name.
|Pointon Fen farmland|
Much of what we know about Matthew and Mary comes from their wills. They owned steers, cows, sheep, pigs and horses. They grew pease, barley and "corn". Corn in England was not the same as corn in America. The word corn was used to describe wheat, rye or barley, basically any grain could be called corn. Europeans called american corn "maize". Matthew Colby and his brother William were co-owners of a horse-mill, probably used for grinding grain. His brother deeded his share to his son in his will. Matthew also had something called a kill-house, which I assume was a slaughterhouse. Matthew probably relied on his sons and daughters to help farm and run the mill.
While her husband and sons were out working the fields and tending to their animals, Mary and her daughters had their work cut out for them with the running of the house. Just putting food on the table consumed hours of their time. All meals were made from scratch. They most likely made their own butter and brewed their own beer. They may have made bread and cheese as well.We have no idea how big their house was but in her will Mary bequeathed tables, chairs, bedsteads, feather beds, pewter, kettles, chafing dish, candle sticks, a great brass pan, brass pots, and iron brew pot, lots of linen including sheets, pillow cases, and table linen. She did not seem to have a spinning wheel or loom so it would seem that she bought any material needed for making clothes and all those sheets listed in her will.
|Horse powered mill wikipedia|
Mary and Matthew had at least eighht children,one of whom died young. They named two living sons Thomas, known as Thomas the Elder/Senior and Thomas Junior. the children were:
1. William b. abt. 1556, named in his father's will
2. Agnes b. abt. 1558-9, named in parent's will
3. Thomas "Senior", b. abt. 1561, m. 18 May 1590 Joan Booth
4. Elizabeth bapt. 30 May 1563, not named in parent's will
5. John bapt. 26 July 1565, m. 23 Oct 1593, d. before 1612/13 when his widow was buried
6. Thomas "Junior" bapt. 20 Dec 1567, m. 4 May 1595 at Horbling, Anne Jackson, aka Agnes, d/of Richard Jackson, parent of Anthony Colby the immigrant
7. Edward bapt. 5 Oct 1570. bur. 31 Dec 1591
8. Elizabeth bapt. 14 March 1572/3, bur. 10 Jan 1591/2
1591 was a very bad year
|St. Andrew's Semperingham|
On 1 December, less than two months later, Mary Colby was writing her deathbed will. She survived another few weeks and was buried on the 18th. Her youngest son died and was buried on the 31st of December and her youngest daughter died and was buried on the 10 of January. Half the family was gone in a matter of months. What did they die of?
It is very likely that their deaths were the result of some communicable disease. The 1590's were especially cold and the crops failed in 1591. With hunger and famine come disease. Now the Colby's may have had plenty to eat, but this might not be true for all the folks living around them. With little to no knowledge about the spread of infectious disease the Colbys were as susceptible as anyone else.
Thomas Junior was lucky to survive the epidemic which took his parents and two of his siblings. He was 24 when his parents died. He married five years later in 1596. His wife was Anne Jackson of Horbling. Horbling is only a few miles from Pointon. Thomas had branched out from farming and was a tailor by trade. He must have been fairly successful as he had bought a second house in the town of Donnington about six miles to the east of Horbling. Not much else is know about Thomas. He wrote his will on 10 December 1625 and was buried the next day.
Anne Jackson was the daughter of Richard Jackson of Horbling. His family can be traced only to his father William. The Jackson family seems to have been better off than the Colbys. In their will the Jackson men styled themselves as yeoman. The men also held positions in both the town and church and either owned or held by copyhold land and houses.
Anne's grandfather was William Jackson of Horbling. Although he described himself as a husbandman he seems to have been fairly well off. He was born by the year 1500 and married Agnes Pickworth by 1530 or so. They had two sons and six daughters. William wrote a deathbed will in early May of 1549, Agnes died in 1571 also leaving a will.
Although William lived in Horbling, he also owned land and a house in nearby Threckingham some 2 1/2 miles to the east. He left the Threckingham land to his son John on the condition that he listen to the counsel of his mother, brother and uncle. If not, the land would go to his brother. William is recorded as being a Village Alderman in 1538 and 1540. The aldermen were like a medieval city council. They attended to village matters and settled local disputes. Aldermen were usually the wealthier villagers.
William's daughter Joan married a man from Threckingham. The were well off having land in at least six different locations. In his will Joan's husband was able to leave a significant amount of money to his children and grandchildren and listed several silver spoons in his bequests. William's daughter Margaret was married to the Vicar of Horbling.
When Agnes Pickworth Jackson died in 1571 she made bequeaths to all her living children, grandchildren, god children. She left money for the church in Horbling, for the repair of the Lincoln Minster and she left money to every Cotter (small farmer) in the village. These bequests probably had more to do with the state of her eternal soul and a social conscience, but I'm sure the money was welcome.
|St. Andrew's graves|
Richard, like his father, held various village positions. He was churchwarden at the Horbling church for many years. His brother in law, Anthony Langton, was the Vicar at Horbling from at least 1577 until his death in 1583, which may have influenced his appointment to the job. The churchwarden was responsible for the public parts of the church, including any books, linens or silver. He was also responsible for the churchyard.
In 1578 Richard was recorded as being the village constable. This was an important position. The duties of which included administration of the local militia, serving court orders,apprehending criminals, collecting taxes, as well as other duties.
Anthony Colby never left any direct evidence to tie him to this Colby family in Horbling. But the fact that he was of the right age, that he disappeared from English records at the right time and the clincher, he was from the same small village as Simon Bradstreet seem to make his identification correct. My next blog post will be about Anthony and his life in New England.
Destinations UK/Ireland a website with description of Sempringham
Great website about 17th century farm life in England Cropredy
Threlfall, John Brooks. Fifty Great Migration Colonists to New England & Their Origins. Bowie, MD.: Heritage, 1992. Print.