Yesterday, I presented my transcription of Gefferie Denchfield’s will, proved on 8 September 1603, in North Marston, Bucks. This next article in the Denchfield Series discusses my interpretation of the will, and the conclusions I’ve drawn from it.
Gefferie’s will suggests his family was prominent and relatively affluent given the times as he first makes a gift of ‘too dozen of white bread‘ to be divided equally among the poor of North Marston on the day of his burial. This is noteworthy because at that point in British history white bread was considered the preferred bread of the rich while the poor had to make do with dark bread.
It is from the next part of the will, dealing with specific monetary bequests to his sons, that we learn much about Gefferie’s immediate family. Son John was to receive 40 shillings within six month of his father’s death. Interestingly, the next two bequests, both involving a son Ralphe, are scratched out and difficult to read although he is mentioned again toward the end of the will. Son Richard was to receive 20 shillings immediately following Gefferie’s death.
Two male grandchildren were each to receive 20 shillings upon reaching the full age of 21: Gefferie, son of Ralphe, and Matthewe, son of Richard. I am descended from Matthewe, and the importance of this will cannot be understated as there is no other evidentiary documentation linking the elder Gefferie with either Richard or Matthewe. Although Richard’s wife is not named in Gefferie’s will, I surmise her to be the Margaret Ingram who married Richarde Deanchefeld in North Marston on 10 July 1600, and who baptized son Mathie at St Mary’s Church on 7 Mar 1601.
There are several bequests made to people whose relationship to Gefferie is not clear: Anne Tatam, daughter of William Tatam, and Katherine Hely as well as Katherine’s children William Abbott and Ellen Abbott, were all to receive money either immediately, upon reaching full age or, in Ellen’s case, at the time of her marriage. Perhaps William Tatam was Gefferie’s son-in-law — widower of a deceased daughter? I suspect also that Katherine Hely may have been Gefferie’s married daughter and that William and Ellen were her children from a previous marriage to a Mr Abbott, however this is all supposition as no relevant marriages or baptisms appear in the existing parish records.
Other than these few monetary bequests and an instruction that William Tatam and Richard Deanchfield were to equally divide and receive
‘all my little implements about the house,’
no other assets are mentioned. As a husbandman, Gefferie would presumably have farmed either his own land or tenancy land to which he would have had contractual rights, and that property would have passed automatically to his eldest living son. Gefferie named William Tatam and his son Richard as co-executors, suggesting Richard might have been the oldest, however this is only conjecture on my part.
So, given the familial relationships mentioned in Gefferie’s will and entries taken from St Mary’s registers in North Marston, we can surmise that Gefferie’s family might have looked something like this:
Gefferie Denchfield (b. unknown – d. 22 Feb 1602) est. birth ca 1550-1560
marr: wife – unknown
Children of Gefferie Denchfield:
possibly two daughters, (2)one who married William Tattam and (3)Katharine
(4)Ralphe Denchfield m. (wife unknown)
son – Gefferie
(5)Richard Denchfield (b. unknown – d. after 1601) est. birth 1570-1580
marr: Margaret Ingram (m. 10 Jul 1600)
Children of Richard & Margaret:
*Matthew/Mathie (b. 7 Mar 1601 d. ca1660)
*Gefferie’s grandson Mathew’s marriage to Joan Stream, solemnized in Oving Bucks on 30 Jun 1631, was cut short by her death 16 months later, but his second marriage to Mary Spencer produced four children. Their wedding was held in North Marston on 25 January 1633 and they baptized their firstborn daughter Prudence on the 10th of November that same year. Three sons followed, all baptized at St Mary’s: Richard – 13 February 1637, John – 30 November 1639, and Matthew – 3 November 1641.
I haven’t found any references in The National Archives online indexes to land transactions involving Matthew, however we know from his will that he did own property or at least the rights of tenancy to some property. His will was made on 4 March 1658/9. Stay tuned for the transcription of Matthew’s will…
Buckinghamshire Family History Society members, transcribers. Buckinghamshire Parish Registers North Marston St Mary. 4 parts. Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England: Buckinghamshire Family History Society, 2005.
England. Buckinghamshire County. Wills. Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. “Gefferie Deanchfield Will, 1603″: DAWe: 23 60 DAWf: 15 249.