A basic premise of genealogical research of early English settlers of Virginia is that they were part of a kinship system that aided such settlement. In one sense, Virginia was not predominantly colonised by individuals, but by English kinship groups. Such groups protected and enhanced their members interests by promoting marriages within them, with marriages between very close degrees of cousins being frequent. It was a very intricate and many layered web, with closely related families often intermarrying within the families of each other’s in-laws; blood-ties being strengthened by non-consanguineous ones. It was such kinship groups that dominated the colonisation of large areas of seventeenth-century Virginia. Peter Laslett wrote: ‘the Kentish gentry had begun to recreate their relationships in the area of the James River’ (1), a comment applicable to kinship groups from Buckinghamshire (Bucks.) and Shropshire. They recreated English parishes in Virginia, the difference being that they wished to be seated in the front pew, which, in England, was the jealously guarded domain of hereditary.

Many settlers were of freehold and tenant farmer stock, rich enough to afford their sons an education, in law or religion, and to finance their introduction to ‘London’ trades, such as haberdashery. They were of the minor deed-making class, which, though barred from the highest echelons of society, were able to finance emigration of family members, who would intermarry in Virginia with those of their English kinship group. Essentially, they maintained English ways of arranging marriages. The upper sphere of many kinship groups were peopled by the minor gentry – the rung of the English class system which the yeoman and professional classes might realistically have aspired to join.

That many hoping to escape the shackles of the lord- dominated parish were of middling rank is shown by a study of Berkely Hundred in 1619. Emigrants terms of employment were formalised in England before emigration, and clearly set out indididual and family resposibilities. Four of Mr. Woodliffe’s five ‘assistants’ were to be bound by their contract for 3 years, and receive 50 acres; the fifth, a skilled artisan was to receive a percentage of the business.

Such employees were not chattels, and the right to a land grant was written into their contract. They were not wage-workers. They were ‘tenants at halves’, a system that mirrored the English master-tenant relationship, with the reward to the Virginian tenant being a degree of independence after three years, or so. When emigrants to Virginia are termed as indentured servants, a false sense of servitude is implied, and individual or family contracts have not been consulted. As in England, tenants were not equal, yet, when attempts were made to degrade their status, they resisted as people imbued with a strong sense of chartered liberties.

 In Darwinian terms, the English kinship groups that settled Virginia and were competing species that had to adapt to the harsh reality of frontier life in order to survive, with survival being dependent on mutual co-operation and alliances within their ranks – the concept of individual advancement through social enterprise.

The English ‘middling order’ were subject to a State religion that proclaimed social rank as a design of God – a system of strict boundary delineation. Pythian-Adams commented: ‘There were wide boundaries between socio-economic groups. These boundaries were rarely crossed. Marriages almost invariably took place between members of the same common interest group. These networks crossed geographical boundaries but not social borders. & society was firmly stuck behind rigid lines behind fixed social boundaries which were rarely crossed. A further social boundary was formed by kinship. Often kinship overlapped with the dynastic networks of farmers and church wardens to form exclusive and deeply rooted clans which formed social barriers to interaction by channelling the attention of members of the clan or group onto inter-personal relationships within the structure of the group. Kinship and family loyalty formed barriers to social interaction’ (2). This suggests that the common interest group was less penetrable than was often the fact. As will be shown, as in the case of Captain Thomas Harris, when the most immediate family did not provide a route to economic and social advancement, alliances with more extended kin might be sought. Recorded within the household of Captain Thomas Harris, in the 1624 Muster, was Margaret Bourdman – the niece of someone who had married the widow of a kinsman. He would have been paid to provide such protection. Similarly, in the case of marriages, when the immediate kinship group did not provide advancement, those more tenuously associated would be courted.

The vital importance of kinship support in England and colonial America is well documented. Neel stated: ‘Marriage is not simply the union of two persons; rather, it binds together two kin groups. It reunites human society, which time and the divergence of family lines relentlessly pull asunder’ (3), a point elucidated by Pounds: ‘Even the state in medieval England required people to be linked in small groups or tithings, so that each could vouch for the others’ good behaviour. Almost everyone is, by the accident of birth, a member of a family, of a more extended kinship group (4). Such social-dependency arrangements were repeated by American settler families, as exampled by Doyle: ‘The listing of people, their names and birthplaces in the census rolls, shows clusters of fellow North or South Carolinians, Virginians, and Tennesseans living next to one another … The family names listed in the census suggest that kinship groups were being transplanted, either at once or in stages … letters and diaries reveal brief glimpses of the vast undergrowth of siblings, cousins and in-laws that existed beneath the moving population … These kinship networks among the elite were only the more visible of a much larger complex of relations that pulled kin and family across vast American distances to be with one another’ (5). Hofstra commented on the depth of marriages within kinship groups: ‘All of 22 Scots-Irish settlers from eleven nuclear families that had aquired land around Hite’s holdings were related. In nearly four out of every five marriages, children of these pioneering families found mates among these or other Scots-Irish families living nearby’ (6), and Majewski pointed ou their evolvement into ever larger entities: ‘Constant intermingling of the same families in the same neighborhoods produced increasingly large kinship groups’ (7). Hendricks studied the importance of kinship groups in a specific area of settlement: ‘Family connections and kinship groups were very important to the settlement of … land south of the James River’ (8).

Such kinship groups have generally been studied at a point in time, with only the top layer of the genealogical ‘onion’ beng peeled back . If study was widened to include a family’s intermarriages over the the previous five generation, then a much more complete notion of the wider composition of kinship groups is gained.

In essence, to be unaware of the influence of kinship on settlement patterns in seventeenth-century Virginia is akin to studying astronomy without a telescope.

This account commences with one of the most influential English families involved with American colonisation, that of Boys. The sheer depth of their connections to other settler families of the minor gentry class serves to reveal the complexity of kinship groups that first colonised America.


William Boys of Fredville, in Nonington, Kent, was buried on December 22, 1549. He had married Maria Ringly, sister and heir of Edward Ringley, of Knowlton, Kent. They had issue: Thomas Boys, of Elmton, in Eyethorne, Kent, who was born in 1527, and died on February 28, 1599. His first wife was Maria Denne, widow of John Coppin, and sister of Catherine Denne, wife of John Gookin, of Ripple Court, co. Kent. Maria and Catherine were daughters of William Denne, Esq., of Kingston, Kent, by his wife, Agnes, daughter of Nicholas Tufton, Esq., of Nothian Place, Sussex.

Thomas Boys married, secondly, Christiana Searles, who died on July 28, 1587, daughter of Thomas Searles, of Wye, co. Kent. By his first wife, he was the father of three sons: Firstly, William Boys, whose widow, Lady Jane Boys, was assessed for her lands in Great Missenden, Bucks., for the 1628 Subsidy (9) William Boyse and Lady Jane had issue: Cheney Boys, whose mother was probably a decendant Sir Robert Cheney of Chesham Boys, Bucks., whose son was John Cheney of Chesham Boys, who was succeeded there by his son, John Cheyney, whose son, John Cheney, resided at Drayton Beauchamp, Bucks. His heir was Francis Cheney, Sheriff of Bucks., who married, as his second wife, Anne Fleetwood, daughter of Sir William Fleetwood, of Great Missenden, Bucks.

Cheney Boys arrived in Virginia in May, 1617, with Christopher Boys, who was probably his cousin, son of John Boyse, brother of Thomas Boyse, of Elmton. In May 1636, a grant of 1,550 acres was issued to Cheney Boys, in Charles City County, at the head of Powell’s Creek, in Merchant’s Hope. Christopher Boyse was in London in 1635, representing passengers bound for Virginia, whose ship had been delayed. Before 1635, he owned a farm in Warwick County, near Potash Quarter Creek, also known as Harwoods Neck.

John Boys, D.D., born in 1571, second son of Thomas Boys and Maria Denne, married, as his first wife, Mary Bargrave. Alice Boyse, wife of Luke Boyse, half-brother of John Boyse, testified in Virginia court cases involving the Bargraves. Thomas Bargrave, who was in Virginia in 1621, was the vicar of Eythorne, in 1614, under the patronage of the Boys family. The Bargraves were also intermarried with the Martins: Richard Martin’s, daughter, Dorcas, married Captain George Bargrave, brother of Thomas, who also emigrated to Virginia, as did another brother, Captain John Bargrave. Martin’s Brandon was inherited by George’s son, Robert Bargrave.

Holmes provides more information on John Boys: ‘He was educated at Cambridge, became a scholar of Benet College, and in 1593 was elected to an appropriate Fellowship in Clare Hall. He was preferred to the Rectory of Betshanger, by his uncle Sir John Boys, and collated to the Mastership of Eastbridge Hospital, in Canterbury, in the same year. In 1599 he had the Vicarage of Tilmanstone, and proceeded soon afterwards to the degree of S. T. P. In 1618, Dr. Boys was collated to the Rectory of Great Mongeham, and in 1619 was admitted Dean of Canterbury. He died suddenly (in his study) in 1625, and was buried in the Virgin Mary’s (commonly called the Dean’s) Chapel, in that Cathedral, where a handsome monument was erected to his memory, by his (2nd) wife Angela, who survived him many years’ (9).

Edward Boys, the third son of Thomas Boys and Maria Denne, married Anne Crayford, sister of Alice Crayford, wife of John Merriwether, of Sheperdswell, Kent. He married, secondly, in 1621, Catherine Gookin, granddaughter of Catherine Denne and John Gookin, aforementioned, and the widow (married June 1, 1619) of William Warren of Ripple Court, Kent.

Luke Boys, the fourth son of Thoas Boyse, by his seond wife, Christians Searles, was baptised at Eythorne on May 29, 1579. He was recorded as aged 44 in the 1624 Muster. He was associated with Captain Thomas Harris in an official capacity, as Kingsbury noted: ‘In 1624 the Neck of Land was represented in the General Assembly by Luke Boyse and Thomas Harris. Boys was a recent (1619) arrival in Virginia; Harris is not known to have been at Charles City before 1623′ (10). Hannah Boys, daughter and heir of Luke Boys, patented, on November, 1635, 300 acres in Henrico adjoining land of her mother, Alice Edlowe; due 50 acres for her personal adventure, and 50 acres for the personal adventure of her father, and 200 acres for transportation of servants.

Sir John Boys, brother of Thomas Boyse of Elmton, in Eyethorne, of St. Gregory’s Priory in Canterbury, and of Hoad Court, in Kent, died in 1612. In the north aisle of St. Peter and St. Paul, Great Missenden, is a monument to Dame Jane Walker, dated 1635, relict of Daniel Bonde of London, and later of Sir John Boyse of Canterbury. Sir John Boys had firstly married, in 1558, Dorothy Pawley, daughter of Thomas Pawley.

The 1624 Muster lists at Neck of Land, Thomas Harris, his wife, Anne Woodlast, a kinswoman, and Margaret Berman (Bourdman). In the I625 Muster, Thomas Harris was stated to be 38 years old. His wife’s name was given as ‘Adria’, aged 23, who came to Virginia in November, 1621, on the Marmaduke. Adria Harris was probably Audry Hoare, recorded as being born in Aylesbury, Bucks., the daughter of a shoemaker: ‘Audry Hoare Mayd aged 19: borne att Alesburie in Buckenham sheir, her ffather and Mother are alive, her father a shoemaker, She hath two Sisters one wherof whose name is Joane Childe, dwellinge in the Blackfryers downe in the Lane neer Catherne wheel Shee had a Brother Called Richard, apprentice to a fustian dresser, Shee can doe plaine work and black works and can make all manner of buttons; One Mr Thomas Beling a merchant is her first Cosen and one Mr George Blunded an upholsterer in Cornwall’ (11).

CaptainThomas Harris, in a re-patent of July 12, 1637, claimed to have inherited Longfield by a Will made on February 11, 1620, by Anne Gurganey, wife of Edward Gurganey. A land grant by Governor Harvey, of February 12, 1633, to Thomas Harris, assigns him a 100 acres in the right of his wife, who, as him, is described as an ancient planter. In the case of Adria, this can not be, but she may have married an ancient planter before 1624, who subsequently died.

Margaret Berman was Margaret Bourdman, one of the fifty-seven young women who came to Virginia in 1621, in the Warwick, aged 20, born in Bilton, Yorkshire. Sir John Gibson was an uncle on her mother’s side, and she was recommended to the company by Captain Wood, Mr Erasmus Finch, and Mr Kilband. In 1625, she was at College land (adjacent Neck of Land), in Henrico, as wife of Ezekiel Raughton, who was from Lincolnshire, and had come to Virginia in the Bona Nova, in 1621′ (12) These connections are readily explained, and involve the Finch family of Kent., and their familial association with the Gibsons and Pigotts.

To elucidate, Sir John Gibson married Anne, buried August 26, 1621, daughter of Sir John Allott, Fishmonger of Wood Street, London, and mayor in 1590, widow of Thomas Pigott of Doddershall, Buckinghamshire, MP. for Aylesbury (13). Gibson provided surety for Sir Thomas Wentworth on his appointment as Sheriff of Yorkshire. Wentworth was the brother of Cecily Wentworth, who married Thomas Finch, son of Sir Moyle Finch, in 1609, in St. Mary Magdalene, London.

Mr. Erasmus Finch, Margaret Bourdman’s co-sponsor, was of the family of Sir Moyle Finch: Sir William Finch married twice: firstly, to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Cromer, of Tunstal, Kent. Lawrence Finch, his eldest son, married Mary, only daughter and heir of Christopher Kempe, Esq., 5th son of George Kempe. Sir Thomas Finch, second son, married Catherine, eldest dau. of Sir Thomas Moyle, of Eastwell, Kent; among their issue being: Sir Moyle Finch, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Heneage, and Ann Poyntz, daughter of Nicholas Poyntz, of Iron Acton, Glos. They had issue: the eldest son, Sir Thomas Finch, who succeeded as Earl of Winthelsea, married, in 1609, Cecilie, daughter of John Wentworth; a younger son, Heneage Finch, who married Mary, daughter of William Seymour, Earl of Hertford; and a daughter, Jane Finch, who married George Wyat, Esquire, of Boxley, Kent, son of Sir Thomas Wyat, of Allington Castle, Kent. Their son was Francis Wyatt, Governor of Virginia. Eleonor Finch, sister of Lawrence Finch, aforementioned, married Thomas Wotten, of Marden, Herefordshire, who was recorded in a Chantry valuation of 1547: ‘Fyndyng of Lampes & Lyghtes in Marden In primis Thomas Wotton clarke holdyth one acre of errable land called Lampe Acre’ (14). Their son was Sir Edward Wotton, of Boughton Malherbe. Sir William Finch, married, secondly, Catherine, daughter of Sir John Gaynsford, of Crowhurst, Surry. They had issue, a son, Erasmus Finch, who married, circa 1555, Marian, daughter of John Sommers, relict of Thomas Rolfe, and died without issue; a daughter, Elizabeth Finch, who married Thomas Thwaites.

Catherine Finch, a young woman who came to Virginia on the Marmaduke, in 1621, was born in Marden, Herefordshire. Her guardian was her brother, Erasmus Finch, the co-sponsor of Margaret Berman, of the Thomas Harris household, the other sponsor being Sir John Gibson, who had married the relict of Thomas Pigott, of Doddershall, Bucks., MP. for Aylesbury, Margaret’s uncle on her mother’s side, and intimate of the Wentworth family, who had intermarried with that of Finch. Catherine and Erasmus were probably the children of one of the ‘younger sons’ of Thomas Finch, who are alluded to in genealogical record, whose half-sister married into the family of Wotton, of Marden, Herefordshire, with Erasmus Finch, of Virginia, being named after his namesake, a half-brother of the said Thomas Finch.

The Finch family also held land in Buckinghamshire: ‘Lease for twenty-one years was made to Henry Berkeley in 1586. Two years later the queen granted Ravenstone in fee to Sir Moyle Finch and John Audley in trust for Sir Thomas Heneage, afterwards her vice chamberlain. Elizabeth daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Heneage, whom she succeeded in 1595, was the wife of Sir Moyle Finch, with whom she made settlements of Ravenstone in 1596 and 1606 … settlement in tail-male on her eldest son, with contingent remainder to John son of her son John, Heneage, Francis, and John, sons of her son Heneage’ (14).

It only remains to suggest the ancestor of Thomas Harris, and to elucidate his familial connection to the Pigott family and their Kentish kinfolk.

When Hugh de Aylesbury died, in 1423, his land at Broughton passed to his aunt, Eleanor, who became the wife of Sir Humphrey Stafford, of Grafton, Northamptonshire. Thus, both Milton Keynes and Broughton came to be held by the Stafford family. Meanwhile, the lands retained by the de Broughtons passed by marriage to the Howard family. Agnes Howard married William Paulet, and, in 1572, they sold their holding to Thomas Duncombe, who settled the manor of Broughton, near Aylesbury, on his second son, Francis, in 1590. Drewe Woodliffe married Katherine Duncombe, a member of the Moreton branch of the Duncombes, at Aylesbury, Bucks., on November 30, 1581. She was the granddaughter of Robert Duncombe and Margaret Cheney, of more anon.

In 1431, John Harryes is recorded as of Walton, near Aylesbury, and in 1455 and 1461, a John Harryes is recorded as of Broughton: ‘Grant from John Harryes of Walton, near Aylesbury, to John Baldewyn, William Puxstede, Thomas Halle, John Caldecote of Aylesbury, and Richard Blewet of Stone (co. Buckingham], of a messuage, curtilage, selion of pasture and appurtenances in Walton. Dated Tuesday next before the Feast of All Saints, 10 Hen. VI., 30 October 30, 1431′ (15). ‘Grant from William Cotes and Thomas Tannere of Walton, near Aylusbury, to Robert Playtour of Debgrove (Bedgrove, co. Buckingham) and John Harryes of Bro(u)ghton (near Aylesbury), of four acres of arable land in the fields of Debgrove. Dated the day of the Apostles Simon and Jude, 34 Hen. VI. October 28, 1455′ (16). ‘Grant from John Balky of Aylesbury, co. Buckingham, Richard Ward of the same place, and William Parkyn of the same place, to John Harreys of Brougthton (Broughton, near Aylesbury and Robert Playtour, of five acres and a rood of land in the field of Caldecote’, May 4, 1461 (17).

The first notice I can find of the Hoare family of Aylesbury finds them dwelling in the parish of Walton in 1489, receiving, as John Harryes, a grant from the Balkey family: ‘Consideration £60. October 21, 1489: Grant from John Balkey of Aylesbury, co. Buckingham, late the younger, to John Baldwyn, John Baldwyn, knt., Richard Fryr, clerk, Ralph Verney, esq., Richard Heynys, citizen and mercer of London, Richard Crypte, citizen and mercer of London, John Spycer of Aylesbury, and Thomas Hoore of Walton in the parish of Aylesbury, of the Lordships called Castell (Castle) Fee and Bawdys (Bawd’s) Fee in Aylesbury and Walton (18).

Two hundred years later, William Hoare, a shoemaker, represents this family: ‘Feoffment. January 11, 1683: (1) Henry Dunmall of Aylesbury, saddler, executor of the Will of Henry Jordan, shoemaker, of Aylesbury, dec’d., (2) William Hoare of Aylesbury, shoemaker. Messuage in Aylesbury in a certain place there called Castle Fee in a street called Cobbler’s Row, the messuage of William Talboys the elder, west, and the messuage of Elizabeth Freer, widow, now in the occupation of Richard Talboys, east, late in the occupation of the said Henry Jordan’ (19). Similarly, Hugh Harris, by process of association, seems to have descended from John Harryes of Walton: ‘The whole of the consideration-money paid was 823L. 6s. 9d. for a messuage or tenement called the Brother-House in Alesbury, next the church yard, with its appurtenances, parcel of the possessions of the late guild or fraternity of Alesbury; also a cottage there adjoining; a meadow called Castle Mead with its appurtenances, in the occupation of Robert Woodleff. 1538′ (20).

Central to the kinship group of Captain Thomas Harris, and a main link to such families as Cheney, Duncombe, and Woodliffe, was the Pigott family of Bechampton, Bucks., an account of which may commence with Richard Pigott, of Little Horwood, Bucks., who was of a family of well-established yeomen farmers that came to possess, by 1453, the Manor of Bechampton. He was appointed Escheator for Bucks. and Beds. on November 4, 1455. He married, firstly, Alice Finnell, daughter of Richard Finnell, of Winslow, Bucks., and had issue, Robert Pigott; of Whaddon, Bucks. Richard Pigott married, secondly, Joan Dayrell, daughter of Paul Dayrell, Esq., of Lillingston Dayrell, Bucks. She married, secondly, Richard Forster, Gent., and was recorded in the Close Rolls of 1492, with her son, John, in which she is shown to have held Wolfe’s Manor, and tenements in Bechampton. The said John Pigott married Isabel Edy, daughter and coheir of John Edy, of Stony Stratford, Bucks. Their son, Robert Pigott , was established in Bechampton. He married Lucy Saunders, daughter of Thomas Saunders, Gent, of Stow, Bucks.

Their son was Thomas Pigott, of Bechampton, recorded in a grant from George Tresham, his brother-in-law, dated July 13, 1545. He married Isabel Tresham, daughter of Richard Tresham, Esq., of Newton, Northants. His Will was proved in 1593 (P.C.C.). He had issue: 1.Valentine Pigott, Esq., Serjeant-at-Law, of Loughton, Beds. His Will was proved in 1590 (P.C.C.). He married, firstly, Anne Andrewes, daughter of Sir Thomas Andrewes, of Northants. Ursula Pigott, eldest daughter and coheir, married her kinsman, Christopher Pigott, of Doddershall, near Aylesbury, Bucks. Christopher Pigott’s brother, Thomas, represented Aylesbury in the 1589 Parliament before serving as county sheriff in 1593-4. As heretofore mentioned, Sir John Gibson married Anne, daughter of Sir John Allott, Fishmonger of Wood Street, London, and Mayor in 1590, widow of the aforesaid Thomas Pigott. Margaret Berman (Bourdman), recorded as being in the household of Captain Thomas Harris in the 1624 Muster, was a niece of Sir John Gibson on her mother’s side. 2. George Pigott; married, after 1566, Eleanor Claver, daughter of Marmaduke Claver, of Bucks. He succeeded his father as squire of Bechampton. 3. Edmund Pigott, Citizen & Grocer of London, who died in 1613, married Susan Kindlemarsh; his issue being baptised at St Michael, Cornhill, London. 4. Matthew Pigott; Rector of Bechampton, 1568-98, born in 1538. 5. Isabel Pigott, who married George Salisbury, of Haversham, Bucks. William Pigott, who married a daughter of Robert Harris, Rector of Bechampton, 1526-1551. 7. Lucia Pigott, who married Robert Lee, of Hulcott, Bucks.

Robert Lee was the son of Benedict Lee, of Hulcot, Bucks., and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Cheney, Esq., of Chesham Boyse, Bucks. The said Robert Cheney died in 1542, aged 47. His daughter, Margaret Cheney, married Richard Duncombe, of Moreton, Bucks. They had issue: John Duncombe, of Moreton, who married Mary Russell, daughter of William Russell. Their daughter, Katherine, married, in 1581, Drewe Woodliffe (22), whose son was John Woodliffe, who settled in Virginia, and whose daughter, Anne Woodliffe, was named as ‘kin’ of Thomas Harris in the 1624 Muster. John Duncombe held a capital messuage in Moreton in the 16th century. It passed into the hands of John Saunders of Long Marston, Hertfordshire, who sold it to Richard Saunders. The latter died in 1601, leaving a son, John, as his heir, from whom Robert Waller bought two messuages, a garden, an orchard, and 90 acres of land in Moreton and Dinton. In 1606, Sir Thomas Lee died seised of a farm called Moreton Farm in Dinton, which had previously been held by Edmund Waller. Thomas Lee, the son of the lessee, held the remainder of this lease at the time of his death in 1572. He left in his will the house in which he lived at Moreton to his wife, together with all lands belonging to it and other tenements there. The Lees had probably settled there in the fifteenth- century, a brass to William Lee, of Dinton, who died in 1485, still existing in the church. It can be noted that Richard Duncombe was a son of Thomas Duncombe, of Wingrave, Bucks., and, as such, was a nephew of Bennet Duncombe, of Maids Moreton, Bucks., a place of residencs of the family of Captain Thomas Harris, as will be described hereinafter. The marriage of Margaret Cheney to Richard Duncombe may provide a connection to the family of Cheney Boys, as heretofore suggested, which may have been an alliance between these families of long standing.

‘In a Will I have seen of Robert Pigott, son to John Pigott, made Anno 1557, he appointed his body to be buried in the Church here (Bechampton). To him succeeded Thomas Pigott his Son and heir (b. 1510), who died seized of this manor and alternate advowson, Anno 1595, 39 Eliz., and was succeeded by his second son, George Pigot; Valentine his eldest Son, Counsellor at Law, dying in his father’s life time without issue male; and Matthew his third son being Rector of this Church. This George Pigott died Anno 1602, 44 Eliz., and willed to be buried here. His Successor was Thomas Pigott, his only Son, as seems to me, who occurs possessed hereof Anno 1605, about 4 Years after which, he sold this manor and his alternate turn in the advowson to Sir Thomas Bennet, Citizen and Lord Mayor of London … On the tablet this Inscription, ‘I Matthew Pigot the sonne of Thomas Pigot Esq. of the house of Beaucampton, do lie here buried July 8, 1598. I was for some twenty years Pastoure of this church and of Calverton, where I preached the sincere doctrine of Christ Jesus, and accordingly beleving livinge and dieing do now most comfortably feele the inestimable benefite thereof, leavinge unto you my most lovinge and beloved People, as a perpetual monument of my love and last farewell, these fewe Lines toe put you always in mind to do the like, that so in our bodies and soules we may shortly meet together again in heavenly felicity and Immortality, Amen … Near it is enclosed by iron rails a curious white marble monument supported by two round Pillars; at the top the arms and crest of Benet, viz. Gules, three demi lions rampant or; in fess point a besant. Underneath the bust of a Man and below it this Inscription on a tablet M. S. Symonis Benet Armigeri, Filii et hæredis Ricardi Benet Armigeri, Nepotis avi sui Thoma Benet, Eq. … Urbis London, dignislimi quondam Prætoris. … But I come lastly to the series of the rectors of this Church; and shall begin with those presented by the Lords of the town. The first of these that occur in the Registers of Lincoln is William Hartshawe, instituted Feb. 21, Anno 1490, 5 Hen. VII., on the resignation of Edy on the presentation of John, son to William Foster, and John Pigot. In his Will, which I have seen, dated Anno 1525, 16 Hen. VIII, he appointed to be buried in the Church here, and bequeathed to it a Vestment with a Cross on it.

Robert Harris succeeded June 11, Anno 1526, being presented by William Tylor (Taylor) on the Convent of Luffields title and right. He died Anno 1551, 5 Edw. VI, and was succeeded by John Bierly instituted June 1, 1551, on the presentation of Robert Pigot, Esq. He resigned Anno 1553, and was succeeded by Robert Corbet presented June 23, Anno 1553, by William Lord Grey and others, by the Grant of this turn from Robert Pigot Esq. and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton the alternate patrons; which Sir Nicholas had obtained Luffield dissolved Priory and its endowments of the King.Thomas Allen was instituted July 2, Anno 1557, 4 & 5 Philip and Mary, on the death of the last Incumbent, on the presentation of Robert Pigot Esq. Richard Lovel was collated by the Bishop on a Lapse, and instituted March 9, 1558, 4 and 5 Philip and Mary. Matthew Pigot was instituted Anno 1568′ (21)



Robert Harris, Rector of Bechampton, son of John Harris of Maids Moreton, which is situate 6 miles west of Bechampton, had issue: 1. John Harris, defendant in a case concerning land in Aylesbury: ‘Slegge v Harrys. Plaintiffs: Edward Slegge of Cambridge, gentleman. Defendants: John Harrys and Joan his wife. Subject: Messuage in Aylesbury bought of William Sakevyle and John Dudley. Buckinghamshire. 1556-1558 (22); 2. a daughter, married to William Pigott, brother of Matthew Pigott, who succeeded as Rector of Bechampton, and Valentyne Pigott (23). John Harris held 230 acres of land of the manor of Greenhams in Maids Moreton in 1587, lands previously held by his grandfather in 1518 (24), where his nephew, Leonard Pigott, son of William Pigott and his sister, also held land (24). The Woodliffe family also held tenements in Maids Moreton: ‘Gift by Robert Woodlef to John Lombard of Buckingham of his tenement in Maids Moreton. March, 2, 1560′ (25). John Harris is recorded in a Pleadings case of circa 1560, in which he is a defendant against the executor of John Finch, son of Sir Moyle Finch, and cousin of Erasmus Finch, who sponsored Margaret Bourdman in Virginia, habitee of the Captain Thomas Harris household, as described herein: ‘Stevensons v. Forde. Plaintiffs: John Stevensons, executor of John Finch. Defendants: John Forde and John Harrys. To complete purchase, and for discovery as to a contract. Land, parcel of and belonging to the manor of Aylesbury. Buckinghamshire’ (26).

John Harris is also the plaintiff in a case involving Walton: ‘Fountayne v Harrison. Plaintiffs: Thomas Fountayne. Defendants: John Harris. Subject: Claim by lease. The manor house and scite of the manor of Walton, Buckinghamshire, and three hundred acres of land thereto belonging. Sir Thomas Packington kt, sometime lord of said manor’ (27), suggesting him to be a descendant of John Harryes of that place, heretofore mentioned. John Harris had issue: 1. Valentyne Harris, who held lands in Long Crendon, Bucks.: ‘Harrys v. Towsey. Plaintiffs: Valentyn Harrys. Defendants: Roland Towsey. Subject: Deeds. Lands in the parish of Crendon (Long Crendon), Buckinghamshire, holden by plaintiff of the manor of Crenden, of which manor … Yonge was lord’ (28). Long Crendon was an habitation of the Gurganey family. Edward Gurganey, of Virginia, whose wife bequeathed ‘Longfield’ to Captain Thomas Harris, was born in Long Crendon in 1582. This strongly suggests that Edward Gurganey’s wife was the sister of Captain Thomas Harris. 2. Thomas Harris, recorded as a plaintiff concerning land in Maids Moreton in 1577: ‘Final concord between William Richardson and Thomas Harrys pfs. and John Lambert senior def. of 2 messuages, 2 cottages, 2 tofts, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, 200 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture, 4 acres of wood and 20 acres of furze and heath in Buckingham and Maids Moreton: consideration £80.Day after St. Trinity’ (29).

It is almost certain that Captain Thomas Harris was the son of Valentyne or Thomas Harris, and husband of Adria Hoare. As heretofore stated, her sister was Joane Child, who sponsored Adria’s voyage to Virginia. The Child family of Aylesbury were tennants of the Cheneys. It can be emphasised, for the point bears it, that John Harris, almost certainly the grandfather of Captain Thomas Harris, was the brother-in-law of Lucia Pigott, who married Robert Lee, the son of Benedict Lee, of Hulcot, Bucks., and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Cheney, Esq., of Chesham Boyse, Bucks. , and sister of Margaret Cheney, who married Richard Duncombe, of Moreton, in Dinton, Bucks. They had issue: John Duncombe, who married Mary Russell, daughter of William Russell. Their daughter, Katherine, married, in 1581, Drewe Woodliffe, whose son was John Woodliffe, who settled in Virginia, and, to repeat, whose daughter, Anne Woodliffe, was named as ‘kin’ of Thomas Harris in the 1624 Muster.

The Child family were also tenurially associated with the Cheneys: In 1577, John Cheyney, Esq., left a rent-charge of £5 per annum to the poor of Amersham, Chesham Boyse, and Drayton Beauchamp; chargeable upon a farm called the Moze, in Chesham parish. In 1622, William Child left a rent-charge of 20s. per anum to the poor of this parish (30). John Cheney, Esq. was the uncle of John Duncombe, whose daughter, as stated, married Drewe Woodliffe. It would be reasonable to assume that Adria Hoare’s sister married a grandson of William Childe, a son of one of his sons, John or William.

Contemporary to Valentyne and Thomas Harris was Richard Harris, whose first son was Thomas Harris, recorded as living in Great Missendon on December 3, 1624: ‘Thomas Harris of Great Missenden and Christopher Egleton of Little Missenden co. Bucks. James I.: Surrender of Letters Patent of November 26, 7 Charles I., granting the fee farm of premises in Wooton co. Oxford, to Basil Nicoll, gent., and John Sampson, haberdasher of London’ (31). His brother, and executor of his Will, in 1654, was Henry Harris, of Little Missenden, Gent, who held a lease of land in Long Crendon in 1609: ‘From: the dean and canons of St George’s Chapel, Windsor to: Henry Canon of Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, yeoman … The manor and farm of Crendon, Buckinghamshire, reserving rights and dues as specified. The lease is made in consideration of the surrender of the previous lease, dated October 1605, to …, then of Crendon. Witnesses: Henry Harris; Thomas Deanes’ (32). Thomas and Henry Harris were probably cousins of Captain Thomas Harris. Henry Harris was the main recipient of his brother’s estate (33). Henry’s grandson, Henry Harris, married Margaret Child, of Chesham Boyse, in 1683: ‘Henry Harris, of Great Missenden, Bucks, Bach., 34, & Margaret Child, of Chesham, sd co., Spr, 24, dau. of William Child, gent, who consents, at Halton, Great or Little Missenden, or Chesham’ (34). She was the granddaughter of William Child and Joan Hoare (sister of Adria Hoare, wife of Captain Thomas Harris), a daughter of their son, William. Henry Harris Sr. was Thomas Styles br.-in-law, who was a tenant, in 1627, of the Duncombe family at Chesham: ‘Ellesborough (Aylesbury). 1 John Gardner of Chesham Waterside, Gt. Chesham, Bucks, yeoman. 2. Thomas Birche of Charteridge, Chesham, yeoman, Thomas Hillerton of Lt Missenden, Bucks, gent, Thomas Style of Lt Missenden, gent, and Henry Harris of Lt. Missenden, gent. Messuage with appurtenances called White end farm in Gt Chesham als Chesham, Bucks, etc. (35). Henry Harris Sr. may have been the father of John Harris, recorded as a defendant, between 1621-1625, regarding property in Chesham Boyse: ‘Ashfeild v Harris. Plaintiffs: Thomas Ashfeild. Defendants: John Harris, Joyce Harris his wife and others. Subject: property in Chesham, Buckinghamshire’ (36).

The invisible thread of all such kinship groups is the large number of unrecorded siblings that would have also intermarried within its confines. We are only afforded a partial view of the complexity of family intermarriages that bound the kinship group together. Given this, it is entirely probable that Captain Thomas Harris was a closer kin of Margaret Bourdman and Anne Woodliffe than is evident, through (most typically) an unrecorded sister’s marriage.

What of Thomas? Instead of him being the mere full stop in a genealogical account, some sense of his life can be gained by considering his circumstance. He was of the yeoman stock of a pastoral county that produced best-quality wool, with towns such as Quarrendon, and the Lee family of that place, exporting their fleeces to the continent. The Harris family were yeoman farmers of medium scale, who would have had sub-tenants. They probably lived in a timber-framed house, replete with massive, oak furniture – the next generation’s heritage – but may have been wealthy enough to have afforded one of brick, and to have it lit by beeswax candles, rather than unpleasantly smelling tallow ones. They may have eaten turkey – introduced from the Americas in 1525 – served on pewter dishes. Some Harris wives may have cured bacon or salted meat, and tended to other dawn to dusk chores, or she may have had others to help her – Audrie Hoare was probably of the former type; a necessary prerequisite, for the American colonial enterprise was built on the strained back of both men and women, a fact not featured in most Hollywood histories. The early generations of this Harris family could certainly afford to have their sons educated, and so become more elligible to marry into the families of parish squires, such as the Pigotts, and to become the rector of that parish, as in the case of Robert Harris. That is, his parish church was supported by a form of local tax called a tithe, which was levied on the personal as well as agricultural output of the parish. As a rector, Robert Harris received both the greater and lesser tithes of his parish, as distinct from a vicar, who would have received only the lesser tithes.

The Harris family lived through turbulent times: The sixteenth-century was a see-saw of Catholics and Protestants stealing the property of the other – robbery under the guise of religion. Though this process is commonly believed to have commenced in the reign of Henry VIII, Buckinghamshire is a good example of earlier intolerance, a striking example being given in Amersham, in 1506, when the daughter of a suspected Lollard was forced to set fire to the kindling which burned her father alive. Her husband and her father’s neighbour’s were made to watch and do penance. Lollardy, a belief that Scripture rather than the Church was the basis of religious authority, had taken a hold in Buckinghamshire, where John Cheney of Drayton Beauchamp, aforementioned, was a noted supporter (37). It was those with such dissenting spirit that fashioned colonial Virginia, and which Captain Thomas Harris was heir to.

He and Adria were not alone in Virginia, cast into some wilderness without the support of familiar faces and willing hands of help. They were surrounded by Buckinghamshire kin and acquaintants, and would have eagerly awaited news from England, of the marriages made by their siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews, for, the overall resource of their kinship group was increased by means of advantageous marriage, and this was as important in the colonisation of Virginia as the musket, axe, and plough. The colonisation of the ‘New World’ by English people can not be divorced from the culture of the English people.

To be continued.

copyright m stanhope 2015


(1) Peter Laslett, ‘The Gentry of Kent in 1640′, Cambridge Historical Journal, ix. (1948), 150. 66. (2) Charles Pythian-Adams, ed., Societies, Cultures and Kinship 1580-1850: Cultural Provinces and English, p. 162, 2010. (3) Carol Neel, Medieval Families, Perspectives on Marriage, Household, and Children, p. 200, 2004. (4) J. G. Pounds, The Culture of the English People, p. 255, 1994. (5) Don Harrison Doyle, ‘Faulkner’s County’, p. 255, 1994. (6) Warren R. Hofstra, The Planting of New Virginia: Settlement and Landscape in the Shenandoah Valley, p. 39, 2003. (7) John Majewski, ‘A House Dividing: Economic Development in Pennsylvania and Virginia, p. 17, 2000. (8) (Christopher E. Hendricks, The Backcountry Towns of Colonial Virginia, p. 52, 2006. (9) A descriptive catalogue of books, in the library of John Holmes, F.S.A. p. 35, 1828. (10) Kingsbury, ed., Records, III, pp. 405, 426, 427. (11) Records of the Virginia Company. (12) David R. Ransome Village Tensions in Early Virginia: Sex, Land, and Status at the Neck of Land in the 1620s, in The Historical Journal, vol. 43, no. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 365-381 (13) Visitation of Buckinghamshire, 1566, 1634. (14) M. A. Faraday, The Herefordshire Chantry Valuations of 1547, p. 101, 2012. (15) Worcestershire Archives Service. Reference: 705:349/12946/495015. (16) ibid. Reference: 705:349/12946/494833. (17) ibid. Reference: 705:349/12946/495189. (18) ibid. Reference: 705:349/12946/495742. (19) Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. Reference: D-PC/42/2 (20) Robert Gibbs, Buckinghamshire: A History of Aylesbury with its Borough and Hundreds, the Hamlet of Walton, p. 104, 1885. (21) Browne Willis, The History and Antiquities of the Town, Hundred, and Deanry of Buckingham, pp. 139-148, 1755. (22) National Archives. Reference: C 1/1473/28. (23) Thomas Langley MS. (24) Alfred Leslie Rowse The England of Elizabeth p. 111, 2003. (25) Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archives. Reference: D4038/A/12/18. (26) National Archives. Reference: C 2/Eliz/S27/34. (27) ibid. Reference: C 2/Eliz/F3/43. (28) ibid. Reference: C 2/Eliz/H17/2. (29) Staffordshire and Stoke-onTrent Archives. Reference: D4038/A/12/20. (30) James Joseph Sheahan, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, p. 807, 1862. (31) National Archives. Reference: E 214/202. (32) Canterbury Cathedral Archives. Reference: CCA-DCc-ChAnt/W/180. (33) P.C.C. Probate 11/241/470. (34) Allegations for Marriage Licenses Issued From the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury at London, 1542 to 1869. (35) Title deeds and papers of the Duncombe family, Chesham, Bucks; and Lincolns Inn. Deed to lead Uses for a Recovery. May 21 1627. (36) National Archives. Reference: C 3/331/11. (37) Ernest Fraser Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485, p. 132, 1969. (38) Shehan, ibid.


‘The parish of Beachampton, Bechampton, or Becentone, as it is called in Domesday, contains 1,492 acres, of the ratcable value of £1,998 ; and 272 inhabitants. The river Ouse separates this parish from the county of Northampton. The land is in general clayey and stoney … The Village is scattered; and divided into two parts, and stands about 3 miles S.W. of Stony Stratford, and 5 miles NE. from Buckingham A small stream passes through the village. Browne Willis observes, that the name of the place is exactly descriptive of it, signifying a rapid stream running between the houses. Lace making is the chief employment of the females … This parish was surveyed among the lands of Walter Giffard, Lewin de Newenham, and Roger de Iverai, by the Conqneror’s Commissioners; but before the end of the reign of Henry II., the families of FitzRichard and FitzNiel possessed the chief estates The family of Bolebec were ancient landowners here, and in the 13th century the family of Beachampton held a part of the manor. In 1470 the manor belonged to John Pigott, whose wife, Isabel, daughter and heir of of Stony Stratford, brought Loughton to the Pigotts … The advowson was anciently in medieties. The patronage of one of these was given by Robert FitzNiel, according to Dugdale’s Monasticon, in 1329; the other was in the Lord of the Manor. In 1470, a union of the medieties took place on condition of alternate presentation. After the Reformation, and until the year 1827, the patronage was in the Lords of the Manor … The Church (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin) is a small but interesting structure, having a nave with aisles clerestory and porch, a chancel, and a small tower at the west end, in which are three bells. The. windows of the clerestory are of two lights, and are very good. All the other windows (except one, of two lights, inv the tower) are Perpendicular. There is a small Decorated pierced circle within a square, on the south side of the tower. The porch has two stone sediles or benches; the nave and aisles are divided by three arches on each side, supported by quatrefoil columns; the wooden roofs of the nave and aisles are visible, but that of the chancel is concealed by a ceiling of plaster, which interterferes with the top of the east window. This window is of three lights, and contains some fragments of stained glass. The font is plain and circular’ (38).