Saturday, April 30, 2016

Medieval to Early Colonial Terms and Definitions

Here is a list of terms which you may not know.

Advowson - see Patron of the living

Alias - at another time. My name is Jeanie Smith alias Jones. At another time I called myself Jeanie Jones.

Calendar Rolls (patent rolls) - The patent rolls comprise a register of the letters patent issued by the Crown, and sealed "open" with the Great Seal pendent, expressing the sovereign's will on a wide range of matters of public interest, including – but not restricted to – grants of official positions, lands, commissions, privileges and pardons, issued both to individuals and to corporations. The rolls were started in the reign of King John, under the Chancellorship of Hubert Walter. The texts of letters patent were copied onto sheets of parchment, which were stitched together (head-to-tail) into long rolls to form a roll for each year.[1] As the volume of business grew, it became necessary to compile more than one roll for each year.

Carucate (of land) - a medieval unit of land area approximating the land a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season. It was known by different regional names and fell under different forms of tax assessment. see below

Copyhold - Copyhold was a form of land holding that evolved from the Feudal system. The land was held from a manor. The tenant was given a 'copy' of the agreement. The rights and duties of the Copyholder differed from Manor to Manor. The copyhold lands could be inherited by the copyholder's children. See the wikipeida page on Copyhold for more details. Or see this definition of copyhold.

Deforciants - One who wrongfully keeps the owner of lands and tenements out of them. Usually named in a Feet of Fine (see feet of fine).

Diem Clausit Extremum - The phrase diem clausit extremum means he closed his last day, that is, he died. writ of Diem Clausit Extremum is a writ by which the heir of a deceased tenant in capite compelled the escheator to ascertain what land should escheat to the king.

In feudal England, upon learning the death of a tenant, the escheator would hold an inquisition post mortem to learn if the king had any rights to the land. These were often preceded by a writ of diem clausit extremum issued by the king to seize the lands.

Escheat - s a common law doctrine which transfers the property of a person who dies without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" without recognized ownership. It originally applied to a number of situations where a legal interest in land was destroyed by operation of law, so that the ownership of the land reverted to the immediately superior feudal lord.

Fee-Tail - also known as In Tail or entail, opposed to Fee Simple,  is a form of trust established by deed or settlement which restricts the sale or inheritance of an estate in real property and prevents the property from being sold, devised by will, or otherwise alienated by the tenant-in-possession, and instead causes it to pass automatically by operation of law to an heir pre-determined by the settlement deed. The term fee tail is from Medieval Latin feodum talliatum, which means "cut(-short) fee", and is in contrast to "fee simple" where no such restriction exists and where the possessor has an absolute title (although subject to the allodial title of the monarch) in the property which he can bequeath or otherwise dispose of as he wishes.

Feet of Fines - sometimes Foot of Fines. At first glance this seems to be a record of a land dispute between the deforciants and the querent. In actuality it was a method of property conveyance that took the form of a fictitious lawsuit. The deforciants had already decided to sell his land to the plaintiff or querent. The court would issue a fine and give each party a written copy which in turn became a land deed. This was a preferred method of proving land ownership.

Feodary - A feudal tenant.

Frank Alomain - Frank almoin is a term of French law that means “free alms.” It is a type of tenure that existed under the Anglo–Norman law. It refers to the spiritual tenure by which a religious institution held land with a general duty to pray for the donor. This type of tenure implied an indefinite promise to pray for the soul of the donor. This tenure differed from the tenure by divine service, which required specific church services, such as a certain number of masses or alms distributions. The land held in frank almoin is called Alms land. Gifts to religious institutions in free alms were defined first as gifts to God, then to the patron saint of the religious house, and finally to those serving God in the specific house.

Frankalmoin is also reffered to as almoign, almoin, free alms or libera eleemosyna.

Free hold - ownership of the land and all immovable structures on it.

Hide - An Anglo Saxon term meaning the amount of land needed to support a free peasant family. The acreage was not yet fixed but was usually somewhere between 60-120 acres.

Inquistion Postmortem (IPM) - is a local inquiry into the lands held by people of some status, in order to discover whatever income and rights were due to the crown. Such inquisitions were only held when people were thought or known to have held lands of the crown.

Knight's Fee - a unit of land that could support a Knight and his service to the King

Messuage - a dwelling house and outbuildings, with land assigned to it's use.

Moiety - a fraction or share of land, i.e. one half, two thirds, etc. usually seen when land was divided between heirs.

Patron of the Living - Advowson (or "patronage") is the right in English law of a patron (avowee) to present to the diocesan bishop (or in some cases the ordinary if not the same person) a nominee for appointment to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation (jus praesentandi, Latin: "the right of presenting"). In effect, an advowson is the right to nominate a person to be parish priest (subject to episcopal approval), and such right was often originally held by the lord of the manor of the principal manor within the parish.

Patent Rolls - see calendar rolls

Querent - Party who initiated the legal action, often in a Feet of Fine (see feet of fine)

Quit claim - A quitclaim deed is a legal instrument which is used to transfer interest in real property. The entity transferring its interest is called the grantor, and when the quitclaim deed is properly completed and executed it transfers any interest the grantor has in the property to a recipient, called the grantee. (from wikipedia)

Reversion -A reversion in property law is a future interest that is retained by the grantor after the conveyance of an estate of a lesser quantum that he has (such as the owner of a fee simple granting a life estate or a leasehold estate). Once the lesser estate comes to an end (the lease expires or the life estate tenant dies), the property automatically reverts (hence reversion) back to the grantor.

Seisin - possession of land by freehold (see free hold)

Socage - a feudal tenure of land involving payment of rent or other nonmilitary service to a superior.

Virgate (of land) The virgate, yardland, or yard of land (Latin: virgāta [terrae]) was an English unit of land. Primarily a measure of tax assessment rather than area, the virgate was usually (but not always) reckoned as ¼ hide and notionally (but seldom exactly) equal to 30 acres. It was equivalent to two of the Danelaw's oxgangs. This was the amount of land that 2 oxen could plow in a single season. (see drawing below)

Thomas Thorne of Yardley-Hastings, Grandfather of Thomas Dudley, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony

Thomas Dudley is one of those perfect ancestors. He is well researched and most of his family are traceable at least a few generations back, especially on his mother's side. In this post I want to tackle the Thorne ancestry of Thomas' mother Susanna Thorne. Susanna was most likely born in Yardley-Hastings; she was baptized on 5 March 1559/60. Her surname was recorded as 'Dorne.' This family, as did many families of that era, had an alias. Today, we think of an alias as a bad thing, something criminals do. But the word alias actually means, "at another time." So, the family name is Thorne, but at another time they went by Dorne.

The Thorne/Dorne family can be traced back to Edmund Dorne, Esq. of Northamptonshire. He was born about 1420. [1] We don't really know much about his ancestors. Edmund was never knighted but he was quite successful in life. His name is found in the records of the time, on land deeds and in court cases. Edmund made a very advantageous marriage to the Widow Margaret Billings Lovatt. [2] The marriage was most likely arranged by parents or family members, love had little to do with medieval marriage. If you've never read The Paston Letters, I highly recommend it. The letters, written by members of the Paston family in the 15th century, open a window into their world and daily life. This would be the same time period as Edmund and Margaret. Margaret Billings' father was actually mentioned in one of their letters.[3]

Margaret was the daughter of Sir. Thomas Billing of Northamptonshire. The ancestry of Sir Thomas is unknown, it is believed that his beginnings were modest. [4] He trained as a lawyer and was a member of Gray's Inn. His career was centered mostly in London and where he fulfilled many important civic duties.  including that of Common Sergeant and Under Sheriff. He served as a member of Parliament for both Northamptonshire in 1445 and for London in 1449.

As the century progressed the country was convulsed by the tumultuous events now known as the "War of the Roses." The 'war' was the protracted fight for the English throne between the House of York and the House of Lancaster and it   forced many to choose sides. In the early 1450's Thomas Billing was retained as a lawyer for the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou. In the parliament of 1459 he was one of the crowns legal adviser who drew up the bill of attainder against the rebellious Duke of York. In 1460 a decisive battle was fought at Northampton. The victorious Yorkist had taken up a defensive position at the Delapre Abbey. It is possible that Thomas Billing switched allegiance as he was reappointed King's Sergeant by the new King.

Thomas was, at the height of his career in 1469, the Chief Justice of The King's Bench.   It is thought that he participated in the trial of the Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward. He, Clarence, was found guilty and supposedly executed by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. Thomas was finally knighted in 1475. He remained Chief Justice until his death in 1481. Of course, by 1485, Henry Tudor had captured the throne and set the stage for the glorious Tudor period in England. [5]

Thomas was married twice; his first wife was Katherine Gifford. Their daughter Margaret was born about 1430. Margaret was also married twice. She was first married to Nicholas Lovatt, the son and heir of Thomas Lovatt I. They had one child, a son, who was his grandfather's heir. Thomas Lovatt I was quite wealthy and his grandson became a substantial landowner in Northamptonshire.

edmund and margaret
Edmund and Margaret were married some time before 1455 when they were both named in a land deed from her father in Law, Thomas Lovatt. The land was given to Edmund and Margaret, but would revert to Margaret's son Thomas Lovatt on her death. Margaret and Edmund had at least four children, sons Roger, Thomas, John and William. Thomas and John were mentioned in their half brother's will in 1491.

land deals
In 1471 Margaret Lovatt, named for her grandmother Margaret Dorne, was contracted to marry John Brooks of Great Oakley. Prior to the marriage a complicated land deal was worked out with John's father William and his wife Dowce Billing Lovatt, a cousin of Margaret Dorne. William Brooks exchanged manors and land at Astwell, Falcote, and land in Wappenham, amounting to about 2170 acres and the Dornes and Lovatts gave him land in Ruston, Great Oakley and other land once belonging to Thomas Lovatt I. Margaret Dorne and her heir were given the Manor of Astwell which became the family seat of the Lovatt Family whose descendants eventually became the Earls of Ferrers. [6]

Edmund Dorne of Syresham wrote his will on 30 March 1473, no probate record has been found but his land was transferred to his eldest son Roger on 4 October 1477. He made the usual requests to be buried before the alter of St. Thomas in the church of St. James in Syresham. He left land, tenements, rents, meadows, etc. in three counties. [7] It is not known when Margaret his wife died, she was named in his will so she was still alive in 1473 and she and Edmund executed a deed in 1474, this is the last record they are found in.

thomas and alice
Edmund's second son Thomas, b. abt. 1455 married Alice Arden of Cottesford and Kirtlington, Oxfordshire. Thomas died before 7 October 1502. He was called Thomas of Syresham in 1501 and Thomas of Myxbury in 1502 when a writ called a "diem clausit extremum" was written. The term means 'he closed his last day' and is written after a inventory of his estate was done. [8]

Alice was the daughter of William Arden of Cottesford and Agnes Stotesby of Evenley. Williams father was identified as Robert Arden of Cottesford. His widow Alice remarried by 1512 to William Woodward. [9][10] After Thomas' death, Alice remarried to a William Woodward.

william and alice
William was born about 1485, probably at Syresham. He married Alice, possibly Alice Stotesbury before 1515. He wrote his will in 1529 but it was not proved before 1537. The first mention of him in the records is when he was noted to owned suit at the manorial court of Syresham, previously held by his father in 1508. On 22 May 1537 he again owed suit at the manorial court of Syresham whose overload was Magdalen College at Oxford University. But, by then he also owned land in Yardley-Hastings. He seems to be the first of the Thornes with land in that area. In 1531 it was recorded that he was patron of the living at Yardley-Hastings, meaning it was his right to appoint the vicar at the church.

In his will, William named his wife Alys, leaving her 'certain lands'. All his Copyhold lands in Yardley and in Syresham he left to his son Thomas.

thomas and mary purefoy
Thomas was born about 1521 based on the birth of his children. When he wrote his will in 1588 he made his home in Yardley-Hastings. He married Mary Purefoy by about 1550. He and Mary were the parents of Susanna Thorne, wife to Roger Dudley and mother to Thomas Dudley.

[1] Brandon, Fradd, "Ancestry of Thomas Thorne, Granfather of Thomas Dudley," The Genealogist vol 19 no 1 (Spring 2005).

[2] Robert Edmund Chester Waters, Genealogical Memoirs of the Extinct Family of Chester of Chicheley: Their Ancestors and Descendants, Volume 1, (London: Robson and Sons, 1878)

[3] Nigel Ramsey, "Sir Thomas Billing," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ( : accessed 28 April 2016).

[4] Ramsey, "Sir Thomas Billing."

[5] Ramsey, "Sir Thomas Billing."

[6] Waters, Genealogical Memoirs.

[7] Fradd, "Ancestry of Thomas Thorne".

[8] Fradd, "Ancestry of Thomas Thorne".

[9] Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, "The Warwickshire Ardens," The Genealogical Magazine Vol. 2 (1899) 154, digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 1 May 2016).

[10] William Harvey, John Philipot, William Ryley, The Visitations of the County of Oxford Taken in the Years 1566, (London: publisher not noted, 1871) 207, digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 1 May 2016).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Governor Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts: The English Ancestry of His Father; Roger Dudley

photo by Mr. Biz, St. Margarets Lidlington
I have finally decided to undertake writing about my most famous ancestor, Thomas Dudley. He held many roles in the fledgling colony of Massachusetts including that of Governor. According to Robert Charles Anderson his paternal ancestry cannot be proven past that of his father Roger Dudley. It is known that Roger married Susanna Thorne on 8 June 1575 at Lidlington, Bedford [1] and that he was a soldier who held the rank of Captain; that seems to be the extent of documented information on Thomas' father. [2]

The well known Puritan Minister Cotton Mather, wrote that Roger was killed "in the wars" when his two children were small. [3] I know that may writers have tried to pin down exactly what battle he was killed in, but as far as I know that has not be determined. He may have died at the Battle of Zutphen, in the Netherlands. This battle was led by the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley, and in which Sir Philip Sidney was killed. Philip Sidney was related to the Dudleys by birth, his mother the sister of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favorite of Queen Elizabeth.

Sir Philip Sidney
In 1650 a book of poems written by Thomas Dudley's daughter Ann Bradstreet was published in London. One of the poems was an Elegy to Sir Philip Sidney. In this poem she writes that she has the "self-same blood" as Philip. It appears that she was implying that she was related by blood to Philip Sidney and through him his Dudley ancestors. In 1678 the poem was republished in Boston and the wording was changed to "English blood."  Why the change? Was she saying they shared the same blood as in family or had she really meant the same English blood as in we are both of strong English stock?

When Thomas Dudley died in 1653 he used his seal on his will.  The seal on his will, "shows the coat of arms which formed the basis for the arms of Dudley House (or, a lion rampant vert, clawed and langued gules and with teeth and eye argent, surrounded by a bordure gules)". [4] The use of this seal is seen as a confirmation that Thomas somehow descended from this family. The question remains, who was Roger's father?

what does RCA say?
If you read my blog you know that Robert Charles Anderson is my genealogy hero. He writes in his 2012 Winthrop Fleet, "many attempts have been made to place Roger Dudley, father of the immigrant, into the large and prominent Dudley family of Northern England, but without success. [5]
Boy, if RCA says there's no proof, i'm going to have a hard time trusting other researchers who say they know otherwise.

what do others say?
All sorts of ancestry has been drawn up for Roger Dudley over the years, including Drapers, Sergeants of Pastry and illegitimate children.  The latest version of his ancestry was complied by H. Allen Curtis. He contends, through a process of elimination, that the parents of Roger Dudley were Henry Dudley and his wife ____Ashton. This is based solely on Thomas Dudley's use of heraldry of the Sutton Dudleys. [6] I am guessing that this is why RCA doesn't see it as proof as there is no actual documentation involved. Here is a link to the H. Allen Curtis Article on the ancestry of Roger Dudley. I know next to nothing about Heraldry, so I cannot pass judgment on his case. The website The Peerage traces the family through Henry Dudley and his wife, the daughter of Sir Christopher Ashton. Unfortunately, there are no documented children.


[1] "England Select Marriages, 1538-1973," database, Ancestry (https// : accessed 24 April 2016) entry for the marriage of Roger Dudley and Susan Thorn on 8 June 1575 at Lidlington, Bedford.

[2] Cotton Mather, The Life of Mr. Thomas Dudley, several times governor of the colony of Massachusetts, (Cambridge: Press of J. Wilson and Son, 1870), 5.

[3] Mather, The Life of Thomas Dudley, 5

[4] Author Unknown "Thomas Dudley and Dudley Family," The Harvard Computer Society ( : accessed 24 April 2016).

[5] Robert Charles Anderson, The Winthrop Fleet, (Sabine, Michigan : McNaughton and Gunn, 2012) 285.

[6] H. Allen Curtis, "Roger Dudley's Father Proved to be Captain Henry Dudley," Roger Covalt's Web Site ( : accessed 24 April 2016).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ancestry of Dorothy Yorke, wife of Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts

I was intending for my next blog post to be about the ancestry of Thomas Dudley, one time Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is still in the works but I got sidetracked by the ancestry of his wife Dorothy Yorke. Her ancestry on wikitree caught my attention and I had to stop and reroute my research her way. I was looking at her ancestors profiles on wikitree and found them to be unsourced past that of her father Edmund Yorke. A quick look at ancestry and other web based sites show a variety of ancestral choices. Whose right, whose wrong? Let's look at our options.

what do we know about edmund?
What can be said to be certain about Dorothy's parentage is that her father's name was Edmund Yorke of Cotton End, Northampton. He wrote his will on 18 November 1614 in which he was identified as a Yeoman. He asked to be buried in the churchyard at Hardingstone. He identified his wife as Katherine and named five children; sons Nathaniel, Bartholomew and Joseph and daughters Dudley and Green. He also identifies three grandchildren; Samuel and Anne Dudley and Abigail Green. [1]

what do other people think they know?
Most of the trees on and at least one commentator on Edmund's wikitree profile believes that Edmund's parents were Sir John Yorke and his wife Ann Smith. There are other trees with slight variations; John Gilbert Yorke and his wife and Gilbert York and wife. One other couple listed as his parents are Richard Yorke and his wife Joan Darcy. The Wikitree profile shows a Gilbert Yorke as father and Amy Bond as mother. Are any of these right?

Sir John Yorke and Ann Smith
I can see why this couple would be a popular choice for parents of Edmund. Sir John was Master of the Mint in London, member of Parliament and close friend of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.[2] He was the great grandson of Sir Richard Yorke, Mayor of Yorke. John married Anne, the daughter of Robert Smythe of London. [3] John's sister Margaret married Bernard Frosbisher and their son was the explorer Martin Frobisher.

John and Anne did indeed have a son named Edmund. Unfortunately, he was not our Edmund. Edmund Yorke was the third surviving son of John and Ann. He married Margery Worley by 1572. She was the daughter of Richard Warley of Middlesex. The couple had four children; Edmund, Edward, Marie and Aubrey. He wrote his will in 1585 calling himself Edmund Yorke, Esq. of Middlesex in London. His will was probated by his son Edward on 22 March 1597. [4] Clearly, this is not Edmund of Cotton End.

Richard and Joan Darcy
Right off the bat this has a major error. Richard Yorke married Elizabeth Darcy, not Joan. Elizabeth Darcy was either the sister or daughter of Thomas, Lord Darcy, but this remains unconfirmed. She died in 1551; Richard died in 1528. They were not the parents of Edmund of Cotton End. [5]

gilbert yorke and amy bond
Martin Frobisher
On 16 May 1557 Gilbert York married Amy Bond at St. Michael Cornhill in London. [6] That is all we know about this couple. How did we make the jump from this marriage to connecting them with Edmund of Cotton End. I have no idea. Well, actually I have an idea. A web based family tree called claims that Gilbert York was from Hardingstone and married Amy Bond. Proof of this seems to come from a mention in a book called The three voyages of Martin Frobisher in search of a passage to Cathay and India by the north-west, A.D. 1576-8. Martin Frobisher was an English explorer who was looking for the North-West passage. One of his fellow Captains was Gilbert York.

Martin was a darling of the Elizabethan Court and his voyages were funded by wealthy English "Venturers" who put up the capital in hopes of making a profit. One of the "Venturers" listed in the book was William Bond. [7] Martin Frobisher was also nephew of Sir John Yorke and Ann Smith, making him a cousin of the above mention Yorks. [8] Although this is all very interesting and I enjoyed reading about Martin Frobisher, it has nothing to do with Edmund York of Cotton End. Now in adupree's defense, the author does state that any name that is in all caps is dubious and without proof. This warning seems to have been ignored by many researchers.

If your interested in Gilbert York, the adupree site list his father as Edward/Edmund York of Bugmore and his wife Grace. All names in caps, so we know there is no proof. This is the same ancestry given on wikitree. I think it's wrong. I found a probate for a Gilbert Yorke whose estate was probated in June 1596, he died at sea! [9]His entire estate went to the children of his deceased brother George York of Crondall, Hampshire. Gilbert and George were the sons of Sir Thomas Yorke of Ashby de la Launde, great grandsons of Sir Richard York. [10] George and his wife Mary lived at Crondall in Hampshire. Whether I'm right or not doesn't really matter, it doesn't get us any closer to who was the father of Edmund York.

So, who was the father of Edmund York, I don't know.

enough about dad, who was mom?
Edmund's wife, at the time of his death, was a woman named Katherine. Was she the mother of his children? We don't know. Her surname is frequently said to be Fairfield. I cannot find anything that would lead me to believe that this is correct. What I did find was a marriage of Edmund York of Hardingstone to a Katherine Robbins on 7 September 1568.[11] Dorothy Yorke was born in 1582, this could well be her mother. But I don't have any proof.

katherine's will
A woman named Katherine York made a nuncupative will (a verbal will) and died in 1633 in Northampton. The witnesses of her will were the Vicar of All Saints, the Parson of Abingdon and another man. All of her goods went to a Baker and two other men whom she owed money. If she was our Katherine, I say if because there is no proof of this, then she was an elderly woman by then. She was probably being taken care of by these men in exchange for her estate.


[1] Henry F. Waters, "Genealogical Gleanings," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 47 (January 1893) 120, digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 19 April 2016). will of Edmund Yorke and Katherine Yorke

[2] Nina Green, "THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES PROB 11/51/58," The Oxford Authorship Site   ( : accessed 19 April 2016) [summary of the the will of John Yorke with research notes]

[3] Irene Cassidy, "YORK, Sir John (d.1569), of York and St. Stephen Walbrook, London," The History of Parliament, database, ( : accessed 19 April 2016), entry for Sir John Yorke member of Parliament in 1559.

[4] Nina Green, "THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES PROB 11/89/243 ," The Oxford Authorship Site 
( : accessed 19 April 2016) [summary of the will of Edmund Yorke with research notes]

[5] Visitation of Northhamptonshire, p. 206, Rootweb message board

[6] "England Select Marriages, 1538-1973," database, Ancestry ( : accessed 19 April 2016) marriage entry for Guylberte Yorke and Amyee Bonde, 16 May 1557, St. Michael, Cornhill, London, England.

[7] Richard Collinson, The Three Voyages of Martin Frobisher, (London : The Hakluyt Society, 1867).

[8] Collinson, The Three Voyages of Martin Frobisher.

[9]  "UK, Extracted Probate Records, 1269-1975," database, Ancestry ( : accessed 19 April 2016) entry for probate of Gilbert York, June 1596.

[10] The Publications of the Harleian Society, Vol 52, (London: Publisher not specified, 1904) 1124-1125.

[11] "Northamptonshire, England, Church of England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1532-1812," digital images, Ancestry (hppts:// : accessed 20 April 2016) citing the parish registers of Hardingstone, marriage of Edmonde Yorke and Katherin Robins, 7 September 1568.

Roles of Men, Women and Children in 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts

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