At a minimum, there were four Denchfield men living in North Marston in the mid 17th century – Mathew Denchfield (1601-ca1660) and his three sons: Richard, John, and Matthew. (see NOTE 1) Other than his baptism in 1637, there is no mention of Richard in the North Marston parish registers. Matthew, born in 1641, married a woman from Stone in 1673 and settled in Wing. John, the middle son, remained in North Marston, married at least twice, and was affluent enough to leave an estate with property in three villages when he died at the fairly young age of 50. Yesterday I posted a transcription of John’s will, HERE. It’s wordy and a bit confusing to follow, but by taking it piece by piece, a picture of John’s family and life in North Marston begins to form:
In the Name of God Amen, I John Denchfield of North Marston in the County of Bucks, Iremonger, being sickly and indisposed in body but of good and sound memory, apprehension, and understanding, do make and ordain this my last will and testament. First and principally I commend my soul to Almighty God and my body to the earth to be decently interred by my Executor.
—I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Audrey (she being otherwise well provided for) one pair of Flaxen sheets and one iron pot and three months food, clothing, and lodging in the house where I now dwell in North Marston.
It’s interesting to ponder how Audrey might have been otherwise well provided for. He only provides food and lodging for 3 months?? Perhaps she had been a widow when she married John and there were children from her first marriage who were expected to take her in.
—I give and bequeath to my daughter Parnell, the wife of John Stevens (she having had a good portion in marriage from me already) the sum of twenty shillings to be paid within six months after my death.
Previous to reading his will, I had no idea John had a daughter Parnell, although given that was his first wife’s name, it is not surprising. There is no mention of her birth or marriage in the North Marston church records, however a Parnell Stevens was buried there on 20 February 1702.
—I give and bequeath to my grandchild and god son Ralph Stevens, son of John Stevens and my daughter Parnell, the sum of twenty shillings to be paid to his mother Parnell for his use within six months within six months after my death.
—I give, will, and bequeath to my oldest son John Denchfield, and his heirs, the rents and profits from my house, malt house, and pastures in Quainton, including all adjoining commons, backyards, orchards, and buildings, with full power to rent, sell, or dispose of until my son Richard Denchfield reaches the age of 21 and no longer.
Son John, baptized on 4 November 1674, was three years older than Richard, who was baptized on 19 February 1677. There was an earlier son born to this couple, also named John. He lived only two days and was buried 3 September 1670.
The earliest ecclestiastical records of Denchfields in Quainton involve the family of Henry Denchfield. (See NOTE 2). Henry died in November 1662 and, as it appears he had no sons, it’s possible that he was a relation to our John, perhaps a cousin, and that his property in Quainton passed to John upon his death.
—I hereby order John to pay Richard an annual sum of forty shillings to be paid at Michaelmas and Lady Day, beginning the first of those days following my death until he reaches the age of 21. If John fails to pay, then Richard may immediately take possession of the property in Quainton.
—I give, will, devise, and bequeath to my son Richard Denchfield and to his heirs forever the cottage in Quainton, along with all the property described above, when he reaches the age of 21. Until that time, my son John may enjoy the property, as long as he pays Richard the annual forty shillings.
Richard was not quite 15 when his father wrote the will, and presumably he would have moved into the house in Quainton in 1695.
—Within one month of reaching full age, Richard shall pay my daughter Mary Denchfield, or her heirs, the sum of thirty five pounds. If Richard refuses to pay Mary, she may live in and enjoy the Quainton property until he does. If Richard dies before the age of 21, the property falls to my son John, who must pay Mary the 35 pounds within three months following Richard’s death, or Mary may enjoy the property until he does.
Mary was born in late 1670 (A previous daughter named Mary, who was baptized in 1668, lived less than two years.). She was 18 when John made his will, and was living in the house in Quainton at that time. What became of her is a bit of a puzzle as there is no record of her marrying or dying in Buckinghamshire in the years spanning 1689-1780.
—I give and bequeath to my daughter Martha Denchfield one bedstead and all the blankets, coverlets, bedding, rugs, and utensils belonging to it in the bedroom above the hall in the house in which I now dwell in North Marston.
Martha was John’s oldest daughter. She was baptized on 30 March 1668, the same day the first Mary was. Perhaps they were twins?
—I give and bequeath to my daughter Martha Denchfield a little deal [pine] table, some sheets and linens.
—I give and bequeath to my daughter Martha Denchfield the sum of forty three pounds to be paid her or her heirs when my son John reaches the age of twenty one, or upon the death of my son Richard, which ever happens first.
Martha receives a few specific items from the North Marston house, where she may have been living at the time, but it seems significantly less than his bequest her younger sister Mary.
—I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Denchfield all the remaining goods and chattels in my house in Quainton where she now lives, except my stock of malt, ready money in the house, and wares in the shop, which are to go to my executor. This also excludes the mill and other utensils related to the malting trade, and the furniture in the upstairs bedroom which are to go to my son Richard, but will remain in the house until he reaches the age of 21. If Richard dies before the age of 21, the above mentioned house, malt house, malting supplies and shop wares, etc are to go to my son John and his.
This bequest suggests that son Richard was expected to go into the malting trade. The reference to the shop seems to indicate that John’s retail business, possibly a hardware store, was based in Quainton, although John was living in North Marston. Mary receives the contents of the household, which presumably she would have brought to a future marriage.
—I give will and bequeath to my son John Denchfield and to his heirs my house where I now live in North Marston, including the malt house, barns, stables, and land, and also the house, orchards, yards and buildings in Oving that I purchased from Arthur Claver on the condition that he pay all my debts and honor the terms of my will.
John, as the oldest son, is given the house and property in North Marston as well as property in Oving. John’s father Mathew married his first wife Joan in Oving.
—I do hereby appoint my said eldest son John Denchfield to be my soul executor and I appoint my loving brothers Richard and Matthew Denchfield to act as overseers to assist John in the execution of my will. For their pains and in testimony of my love and confidence in them, I give them each ten shillings.
Here we find confirmation of father Mathew’s family. It also suggests the Denchfields were a close knit bunch!
—All my other unbequeathed goods and chattels I give to my son and executor John Denchfield.
In witness of this my last will and testament, I sign and seal this document on the eighteenth day of June, 1689.
Signed in the presence of Richard Denchfield, Mary Ingram, and Arthur Claver (notary public).
NOTE 1: Evidence suggests the four men were direct descendants of Gefferie Denchfield. There was another Denchfield family living in North Marston in 1603, a contemporary of Mathew’s father Richard – Nicholas Denchfield, son of Radulphe, was baptized on Shrove Tuesday in February of that year. However there is no other mention of that family in North Marston or surrounding villages, and it is unclear what their kinship to Mathew and his sons was.
NOTE 2: Based on Quainton records in the Bucks Family History Society’s database, the structure of Henry Denchfield family might have been as follows:
Henry Denchfield (? – 30 April 1627)
m. Anne (? – 11 April 1625)
Children of Henry and Anne:
1. Margery Denchfield (? – 16 July 1609)
2. Henry Denchfield (? – 7 November 1662)
m. Mary Newman on 12 February 1621 (Mary was buried 7 April 1624)
Children of Henry and Mary:
1. Anne (30 March 1624 – 5 May 1651) [married name Cotes]
2. Dennis [daughter] (30 March 1624 – 9 June 1624)
m. Lidia Hayly on 13 June 1625
I don’t think it would be going out on a limb to speculate that Henry’s first wife Mary died following the birth of twin daughters, only one of whom survived.