Latest on the Hewets of Killamarsh in Derbyshire

The Hewets of Killamarsh and those of Walles included titans of Elizabethan merchanting. Both families were always clear that they were related, but I have never seen anything saying how they connected. Many people have had a go at this, and I have done so many times. See below for my latest effort.

Killamarsh is in Derbyshire, adjoining the county border and Walles in Yorkshire. Walles is modernly spelt Wales, which readily causes confusion with the principality, so I’ll keep using an old spelling.

As in all families, once you get to the 1500s, spelling goes wild, there are no middle names, and everyone has the same first names. Most people give up at this point. For this family, there are a surprising number of surviving and detailed wills, and there are lots of land transactions which show fathers and brothers. So we can get a fair way with exhaustive (and exhausting) cross-checking.

Updated chart


The main change with this latest version is that I decided that William Hewet of Killamarsh Netherthorpe alive in 1505 is not the same person as William Hewet of Blyth who died in 1509. What I think happened is that family arrangements were made such that, when John of Walles inherited the main family estate at Killamarsh, he passed on the recently-acquired estate at Walles to his nephew; the plan would have been to pass it to his brother William (of Blyth) but he died before that could be done.

I’ve split a Richard in two as well, as the one who got some lands in 1513 is unlikely to have died in 1554. I would love the first Richard to be the one who turned up as a merchant in Exeter at that time, if only I could find some evidence beyond naming a son John.

The new placement makes good sense with names, and explains why Thomas Hewet d1576 left 20 shillings to Nicholas Hewett scryvenor who would be his first cousin. He also left 30 shillings to a Thomas Hewett wyerdrawer, I’ve shown him tentatively as a cousin as the son of another Nicholas, for whom I have good clues but nothing solid.

Thomas and Robert, sons of William Hewet of Blyth, look like a great match for the brothers of that name whose descendants were the Hewets of Ampthill and Millbrook in Bedfordshire. As children of a younger son, probably educated, they would have had every reason and capacity to seek work elsewhere.

Earlier ancestors

In the chart, I’ve stuck to the 1500s and 1600s, to provide some bounding. I have earlier records but much not much linking them:

  • 1366 William Hewetson brought a suit concerning land at Eckington (the Killamarsh parish).
  • 1376 John Howet “sunyour” of Walles a party to a trespass case.
  • 1379 John Howet and wife Alice pay tax in Walles
  • 1422-1461 somewhere, John Howett and wife Isabella install window in Walles church
  • 1424 William and John Howett of Killamarsh witnessed a deed.
  • c1460 John Hewett had his tomb before the high altar in the church of Killamarsh
  • 1481 William Huet yeoman of Killamarsh, defendant in a debt case.
  • 1482 John Hewett of Walles buys lands in Wodhousse and Hansworth.
  • 1487 William Hughet sells land in Hansworth-Wodhows, and buys land in Kirkby and South Elmsall; hence I infer that William had just inherited the Hansworth lands from his father.


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DNA reservations

Hi all.

Some of my recent posts have included explorations based on DNA matching.  This has been based on longstanding “STR” y-chromosome markers, and I think it’s led to some interesting insights, including those I’ve written up in this blog.

There’s another major type of y-chromosome analysis, “SNPs” — look up the difference online as it’s too complex for me to attempt.  Basically, the STRs are easy to find, and the SNPs are more about the structure of the DNA and potentially a more precise way to distinguish between lines.  They are however a less mature technology.

To be a real match, you need to be close on both STRs and SNPs.  The premise of this analysis is that STR markers tend to mutate in particular patterns, and even people with quite different SNPs can end up with similar STRs (“convergence”).  I struggle with that, because even with 37 markers the patterns for different families look really different, so I have assumed that when they do all match with particular patterns the people must be closely related, but apparently it’s not that simple. (Never is…)

Recently, the DNA testing community has been developing focus groups based on ever more divisions of the old haplogroups.  As each subgroup gets better understood and recruits more members, it becomes unwieldy and spawns new subgroups.

Even last year, SNP analysis was mostly about the prehistoric movements of peoples.  We are just starting to get DNA results from archaeological finds, and my subgroup has its earliest links around Sweden/Denmark/Fresia.  This research is still moving quickly and it’s very interesting to watch.

The subgroup has about 300 people in it, and it’s very active right now.  We are starting to get to the fidelity where we can answer questions in genealogical times, ie the last 500 or so years.  Some of the names I’ve mentioned in this blog are apparently closely related to each other as I’ve suggested: Burton, England, Shelton — I don’t think they have a Harwood tester in this group alas.

However, the current tree as drawn up has me a little further away.  Oversimplifying greatly, the present state of analysis says I’m 1500 years away from a common ancestor, and I think I should be just 500 years away.  It’s not just one marker, it’s several, so the local expert thinks it’s very unlikely to be random mutations or automated transcription errors.  SNP testing is very complex, and I don’t know what the rates of false positives and negatives are.

This is a rapidly-moving field and new wrinkles come up all the time.  I’m now upgrading to the very latest DNA test, for 700 SNP markers, and so are many of the testers in my subgroup.  This will assist with calibration between results.  We should have some new insights in the next 6 months or so.


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Fragments #1 – some random family

I’ve been researching family history since 1975, and I’ve been pretty good about keeping track of every scrap of information I find. Very little of it gets to this website, so in coming months I’m going to put up a few “fragments” of families that have interested me. Hopefully others are researching these families and can give more details, or put in the hard yards.

I’m going to start with a group I have been calling “some random family”.

This is a group with detailed, chatty wills. They clearly care about each other and look after each other. So far, I haven’t connected them into the bigger Hewet/Howet picture.

They are also interesting because they hang together around two musicians, James Hewet who makes and plays portable organs (“regals”) and Thomas Nicholls, who married James’ sister. I know them mainly as “waits of Coventry”, town musicians who played for town events and mystery plays.

A lot of these are connected with the Weavers’ Guild, which raises an eyebrow because there was a noisy dispute between the weavers and the tailors of Coventry in 1464, with a William Hewet being one of the two key protagonists. However the random family are active in the mid-1500s, so this might be a complete coincidence.

By the 1570s, the family had mostly moved to Lancashire, which seems not to have worked well and they drifted back to the Huntingdon area on the other side of England. I don’t know why they moved to Lancashire, but there were longstanding family connections with the Lathoms of Parbold, and somehow the Hewets ended up with the same heraldic crest (ie the thing on top of the shield) as the Lathoms, which in the early days could happen when you married a Lathom heiress.

Margery Huet, died in Farley near Alton/Alveton Staffordshire in 1590. Farley is very small and the only thing there is the seat of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who in 1590 was George Talbot who was married to Bess of Hardwick. My inference is that James Hewet ended his career as a musician to the Shrewsburys, and was allowed to stay there when he retired.

George Talbot was an associate of Sir William Hewet, onetime Lord Mayor of London, so perhaps there was a family connection which helped get James the job. This random family has names like William/Thomas/Henry which are common throughout the Hewets, and particularly those of Walles and Killamarsh like the lord mayor. I have previously seen a few clues hinting at a lord mayor relative moving to Lancashire, and there was an armorial scroll auctioned last year which I got to see some pictures from. Just a “hmmm” at the moment, I’m not game to advance a name just yet.


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Hewets of Bedfordshire

There’s a group of Hewetts in Bedfordshire in the 1500s. They thought they were related to the Hewetts of Killamarsh, and they share much the same family names. Nobody has ever worked out how they are connected.

Robert Hewet of Ampthill

The solid basis of these Hewetts is Robert Hewet or Huett of Ampthill in Bedfordshire. Robert left a detailed will, and he was recorded in the Heralds’ Visitations to Bedfordshire. Robert was a carter, and made some money supporting the royal hunting lodge at Ampthill, much favoured by King Henry VIII. Robert leased the grange farm and the royal warren.

According to the heralds, Robert was the son of Thomas Hewet of Shenley Hertfordshire. There is a 1507 will for a Thomas Hewet of South Mimms, which mentions Shenley, so some people have assumed him to be the Thomas of Shenley. I’m pretty confident this will is for Shenley’s son, the brother of Robert Hewet.

(In passing, there is a 1514 trespass (and sabotage!) case brought by Robert Hewet junior of London Colney against (his uncle?) Robert Hewet senior, formerly of Shenley. London Colney (real village name) is where Thomas Huet had leased land from some nuns, and there was a legal case in 1501. My reading is that Thomas of Shenley had died before 1514, and there was some bad blood between his son and his brother, perhaps because Rob junior leased that property to someone else and forced Uncle Rob to move away. Rob junior must subsequently have moved to Ampthill.)

Robert of Ampthill left five sons and four daughters. The eldest, Francis, seems to have died before the return visit of the heralds, leaving William Hewet of Millbrook as his heir. William got the heralds to grant him a new coat of arms, a variation on the one supposedly used by the Huwets of Staffordshire a couple of centuries earlier, and just possibly harking back to Sir Walter Huwet, one of the Black Prince’s military captains. Whether these families were actually connected is an open question.

William Hewet of Millbrook

William built a grand tomb in Millbrook church for himself and his wife. She died in 1602, and he somehow lasted until 1621 when he was 93. The alabaster effigies were apparently magnificent, but they were moved when the church was modernised in 1857. The ghosts of the Hewetts were supposedly unenthusiastic about the renovations and made terrible groans throughout the church, which continued even after the effigies were moved to a cellar, then buried outside in consecrated ground, in fact until the badly rotting roof timbers were replaced.

Arthur Hewet of Allhallows Bread Street

William had a brother called Arthur, a draper in Bread Street, Allhallows, in London. Arthur may not have been a terribly good businessman as he ran up enormous debts. He moved properties into his sons’ names, but eventually the creditors got fed up and had him put into debtors’ prison. The family fortune would clearly be best preserved if Dad would just die, but Arthur lived, still in prison, into his seventies. He eventually got fed up and petitioned the Crown to make his ungrateful sons pay his way out. It’s not clear that they did.

Arthur’s drapery business in Bread Street continued on in some form for many years. One of the owners was a Philip Hewet (presumably a descendant of Arthur). That name turns up in Devon, where Arthur Hewet had owned a property. The Devon family became Yewets then Youatts. They don’t however share my yDNA; in fact they match some Wyatts. I suspect Sir Thomas Wyatt, best mate of Henry VIII and a notorious womaniser, who might have taken a fancy to the wife of a leading local while visiting the hunting lodge. There is also the possibility of coercion.  And I have a couple of potentially less dramatic links, though not as strong at this stage.

Other brothers

There were two other brothers: Edmund, who became the minister for several churches in the area, and I think had only one son (another Edmund) who died young. The other brother, Robert, may have done a clothworking apprenticeship, but seems to have ended up in Millbrook. I will note in passing that this is a Robert Howet son of Robert Howet like the one who made a claim on lands in Long Eaton in Derbyshire; fits well but no linking evidence.

Sons of William Hewet

William of the grand tomb had two sons: another Robert, who continued to live at “Ewe Green” at Millbrook (possibly that’s where his father lived too). There was also another son called William in the heraldic visitation. Venn, who documented all the Cambridge alumni, listed a William son of William of Millbrook born about 1604: realistically too old for the tomb-builder’s son. There is an available slot for the Cambridge graduate as a grandson of Arthur above, which is quite likely. This person, wherever he fit in, went on to become the curate of Kneesall and rector of Annesley, both in Nottinghamshire. Possibly the rector of Cotgrave too, but that’s not as compelling.

That leaves William the son of William the tomb-maker, born around 1585, unaccounted for. That would actually fit my millwright ancestor of Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, but I’m not seeing supporting circumstantial evidence. For instance, although his son my ancestor Robert fits well, the millwright may have had a John rather earlier which doesn’t fit so elegantly, though that record in Eastwood is pretty well illegible and well out of sequence, so not super reliable.

The Hewetts of Bedfordshire had lots of male children. I know where some of them ended up, but not all. I have delayed this post for several years, so better I get it out now. I might produce an updated version later, particularly if this post turns up others researching the family who will swap notes.

Relevance to Harwoods

In my Harwood post, I said that I was looking for John Howett born circa 1613, as the ancestor of some Harwoods. My only match on (and other sites) was one born (well, baptised) in 1612 in Stanbridge, Bedfordshire, to a Robert Hewett. He could easily have Robert b1574 (son of Arthur) as his father.

If that were proven, I’d have a really good look at William son of William tomb-builder as my millwright ancestor. I do have a record of a Willam Huwet buying land (1 messuage and 8 acres) in Stanbridge in 1410, so maybe this land had been kicking around in the family for a long time!

Link to Killamarsh

I have some ideas on this, but can’t connect them in just yet.

Possible link to Hawte

I have previously mentioned the possibility that Thomas Hewet of Shenley was actually the son of Sir William Haut d1497, and had an older brother called William and a string of younger brothers including a Robert. That fits my data very well. I mentioned earlier that Shenley was a witness to a Goodere family document, which family was definitely married into these Hauts/Hawtes.

If this hypothesis is correct, Thomas Haut was (until 1497) a younger son who had married into the Frowyck family which had some standing but no money, and he did not stand to inherit from either family: perhaps as Thomas Hewet (spelling particularly variable at this time) he was a bit of a chancer. Then his brother died, he became the senior member of an important family, was knighted in 1501 before dying in 1502. This Sir Thomas Haut/Hawte left an eldest son William, and one more son still alive in the 1520s (referenced in mother’s will), whose name is unknown: this theory suggests it is Robert Hewet of Ampthill.  Will keep looking into this.


Update end Jul 2019. Some writers have suggested that the missing son must have been called Harry, because the will of Sir William Hawte d1538 includes an excerpt from his mother Isabelle’s will, which refers to a payment over some years for the performance of Harry Hawte’s indenture (ie an apprenticeship). It’s not clear when his mother died, or whether that particular item had already been paid out – there’s a gap for how many years are to be paid. My guess is that she died some time earlier and at least some of the provisions (eg ongoing payments to widows, 30 pounds a year) were still coming out of the remaining total of 67 pounds. If Harry Hawte were Sir William’s brother, and their father died in 1502, Harry would by 1538 have been 36 years old and presumably beyond need of an apprenticeship. Instead, I suggest that Harry referred to is “my litle son Henry” mentioned in the will of this Sir William’s uncle Richard Hawte “the younger” d1492, and this provision would in turn have been carried over from her husband (d1502) who would have had the supervision of litle Henry as the senior Hawte. If so, that obligation would have been used up by about 1515 at the latest, which might give us a clue that Isabel (Frowick) Hawte died shortly after 1512 (when she participated in a court case) and had written her last will not too long before that.

The will of Sir William d1538 contains one more interesting clue, a bequest of 10 pounds to “my cousyn Elizabeth Hawte” on her marriage. If Sir William’s father had one surviving brother in 1512, then any Hawte (first) cousin would have to be the brother’s. Robert Hewet of Ampthill did have a daughter Elizabeth, who married Stephen Daniell in 1573. If Elizabeth were born in say 1537 she could easily be Sir William’s god-daughter. That would require her to be aged about 36 at her wedding, which does raise an eyebrow. But I think it does count as a match.

The same will appoints as executor a John Boys, of an old Kentish family. A John Boys (probably his grandson) moved to Martin’s Hundred where the Harwood/Howet link arises.  So there’s a possibility of an existing family connection there, though really it would be with Harwood rather than Howet/Hewet.

I quote from my recent blog entry on the Harwood connection: “So we are looking for a John Howett born about 1613” – as it turns out, there was a John Hewet of Millbrook born 1615, and a Thomas b1620, and the family was suffering religious persecution at the time (their estates sequestered as Catholics) which might have encouraged John to move to Virginia. Might be worth a further look, though he should be about 26 yo rather than “about 28 years” in 1641.  Need to check old vs new calendar, actual dates of birth etc.


Update Aug 2019:  I obtained and transcribed the will of William Hewet of Millbrook d1621.  I was interested in his son William, who is a candidate to be my millwright ancestor of Eastwood near Nottingham.  The will wants son William to give up his lease in Ampthill, gave him 40 pounds a year, but doesn’t give any clues as to where young William went.  Perhaps he moved to Eastwood.  My fellow should have two sisters who aren’t mentioned in this will, possibly because they’re adults and have already been given their portions; I would have expected them to be given particular candlesticks and pots etc, but the will just gives everything to son Robert without any particulars.  So the will doesn’t really support or preclude this theory.

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Harwoods and H*wetts

This story is based on some detective work I did some years ago. I’ve alluded to it before in this blog, but I recently found some new data, so it’s high time I wrote it up properly.

Updated Nov 2019: to improve the flow and logic, and remove some extraneous material.

The Harwoods of Virginia

We have a close genetic connection to some of the Harwood family of Virginia. They claim ancestry through Governor William Harwood of the small colony of Martin’s Hundred, Virginia, and thence to Thurlby Lincolnshire in the early 1500s.

Several groups of Harwoods claim the same ancestry, so clearly there’s been some non-paternity events somewhere. Because of the yDNA link to me, it’s probably our line.

The early genealogy of the Harwoods of Virginia is all over the place on the internet, and often it is so internally inconsistent that it’s laughable.

I found a site that looks well-researched, though I can’t vouch for it. I’m particularly interested in Joseph Harwood (1659-1737). Joseph is shown as the adopted child of CAPT William Harwood (1599-1644+), Governor of the small colony of Martin’s Hundred in Virginia.

Straightaway we run into trouble. The most convincing evidence I have seen suggests that William Harwood was born about 1604, and it’s a stretch to call him a governor. It’s not even absolutely clear that the William Harwood who went to England is the same person as William Heywood who came back with a wife Elinor/Eleanor, though some decent circumstantial evidence supports it. Finally, Harwood disappears after 1634 not 1644. Apparently he was in England, but I can’t find his burial unless it’s “William Harwood the mariner” in Hull in Sep 1638.  The adopted child was born well after the Captain was supposed to have died.

John Howett

I found a marriage bond on Ancestry dated 29 Sep 1641, where John Howett cordwainer and bachelor aged about 28 years intended to marry Elizabeth Harwood of the parish of St Olave in the old Jury London widow aged about 32 years the late wife of [blank] Harwood deceased.

The licence is hard to read, but appears to say that they will be married in the parish church of St Mary the Virgin on Sunday. That’s probably St Mary’s Putney. Those records don’t seem to be on

The marriage shows up in Boyd’s Marriage Index, as John Hewett (sic) and Elz Harwood, in London Diocese, but I can’t find any more details.

So it appears that John Howett and Elizabeth Harwood widow (possibly the same person as Elinor, widow of William Heywood) went to Virginia in late 1641. As a widow, Elizabeth would have been entitled to operate his estates.

A possible separate John Howitt, a carpenter (not cordwainer!) , settled in Elizabeth City in Virginia by 1648. He was granted 650 acres in Northumberland County. He sponsored 13 indentured servants from England.

The first John Howett seems to have gone back to England in say 1653, I’m guessing because his father died.  He wrote a will in England in 1654, which said:

In the name of God Amen the sixth day of September in the yeare of our Lord God one thousande six hundred fifty and foure I John Howett of Elizabeth Cittie in Virginia in the parts beyond the seas, planter, being at this present type in good estate of health and in my sound and perfect mind and remembrance for which I praise Almighty God, and considering with myselfe the frailty of all people in the present life the certaintie of death and the uncertainetie of the time and hower thereof. And to the end to settle my estate soe as noe difference may arise after my decease doe therefore make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and forme following (that is to say) first and principally I doe commit and comend my soule which is immortall and dyeth not into the handes of Almighty God that gave it mee hopeing and steadfastly believeing to obtaine the full and free pardon and remission of all my sinns by and through the most precious death and bloodshedding of Jesus Christ mine alone saviour and redeemer and my body I comitt to the Earth or seas as it shall please God being now bound forth in a voyage for Virginia. And as touching and concerning such goods chattells household stuffe plantacion goods merchandizes Tabacoes debts and all other estate whatsoever as god hath and shall blesse mee with all at the end of my decease thereof as followeth. First I give and bequeath to my wife Elizabeth Howett if she be living at the time of my decease and be unmarried contrary to the now reporte from Virginia one third part of my whole estate of what nature or kind soever. Item, I give and bequeath unto my brothers and all my kindred the summe of one shilling a peace onely for their legacies and in full of all demandes to be had out of my estate. All the rest and residue of my estates of what nature or kind soever after my debts legacies and funerall charges shal bee paid borne and discharged I doe fully and wholly give and bequeath unto my loveing freind Mr Thomas Howett Citizen and Cooper of London whome I doe nominate constitute and appointe as to bee the sole and alone Executor of this my last will and Testament. And I doe herebe revoake disannull and call backe all former wills legacies and Executors and doe ordaine and appointed these presents to stand in full force for and as my last Will and Testament. In wittnes whereof I have hereunto put my hand and seale this day and yeare first above written. The marke of John Howett. Sealed delivered declared and published by the said John Howett for and as his last Will and Testament the day of the date hereof in the presence of Robert Earle, Sir J Prior [or similar], Henry Fancon [possibly abbreviated].

This will was proved att London the eight and twentieth day of July in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred fifty nine before the Judges for Probate of Wills and granting Administracions by the oath of Thomas Howett the sole Executor named in the said will to whom was committed Administracion, he being first sworn truly to Administer this.

There are some conclusions we can draw from this will. The first is that he didn’t say “loving” wife, and he’s given her the minimum he had to; it’s not completely clear whether the “now reporte from Virginia” relates to his wife’s death (mostly likely) or remarriage (bigamy). Secondly, he probably didn’t have any children at that point. Thirdly, he’s not overly fond of his siblings. Fourthly, he probably would have mentioned his parents if they were still living, though maybe they could be lumped under “kindred”. Fifthly, his “freind” Thomas Howett is probably not a sibling but a cousin, and friend in the 1600s can mean your next-of-kin that you trust with these matters. A loving friend probably means his best mate.

Thomas the friend may be the son of William Howett of Screveton Notts, yeoman to Anthony Richardson. That Thomas was apprenticed as a vitner in 1642, and it’s easy to see how he might have ended up as a cooper.

So under this first scenario, Elizabeth would have had to have a son in say 1653, and then died in childbirth or soon after.  With the father out of the country, the child must have been raised by (eg) her former brother-in-law Thomas Harwood along with the baby’s siblings.  John Howett probably never made it back, and the baby was adopted by the Harwoods.  That 1653 birth doesn’t quite match the 1659 date above, but I reckon that’s well within genealogical licence.

However things in genealogy are never simple, and it turns out there is another will for a John Howett in Northumberland county Virginia, here.  It’s dated 1656, proved 1658, and leaves the estate to be divided between his well beloved wife Elizabeth Hewett and a minor child called John Cawsey.  Cawsey looks like he’s adopted, a friend’s orphaned son.  The will was proved in 1659, and if they are two wills for the same person then this one would appear to supersede the English will which was also proved, ie mistakenly.  At present (Nov 2019) I’m inclined to think this is a different John Howett.  If they are the same person, then Elizabeth would have had to have had a son in say 1657 and died in childbirth or soon after.  This scenario could (at a stretch) deliver the 1659 birth date shown for the adopted son at the top of this blog article.

Finding John Howett

John the cordwainer was born around 1613.  The best fit around Nottinghamshire is a John Howett born at Widmerpool in 1612, apparently with a brother Thomas which could match the ‘freind’ mentioned in the first will.  There are very likely others, but transcription of records in the early 1600s is quite patchy.

We can also look in the Derbyshire vicinity. It was common at that time, and in the Hewett family, to name a first son after the father’s father. Joseph is a very unusual name for the wider family, and I only know it from a younger son of John Hewett d1606, in fact the younger brother of George Hewett of Cawthorne I discussed in my last post. In turn, Joseph of Killamarsh would have named his son John after his own father. So definitely worth a look: and it turns out that when John Hewett of Killamarsh died in 1606, his will mentioned a John son of Joseph. The problem is that if this young John is alive in 1606, he won’t be our fellow born about 1613 (according to the marriage licence). A Thomas Howett, sonne of Joseph Howett, is apprenticed in 1631 for 10 years, and if it’s the same Joseph then he probably died before 1631 and young Thomas is in some danger of poverty. That option only works as a solution to the Harwoods if John son of Joseph (the one mentioned in 1606) has died by 1613, and a second child was born and also called John.

Alternatively, the surviving brothers of Joseph of Killamarsh (ie George and Humphrey) might easily have named one of their children after their father, and another child Joseph after their brother. In that case, our John Hewett might have named his child Joseph after a brother or uncle rather than his father, still highly possible. And in fact brother Humphrey died in 1649 and his administration went to his sons Joseph and Robert; another son in America (called John) wouldn’t necessarily be listed in such a brief document. Unfortunately the Killamarsh registers are very late, so I can’t easily work out if there was another son John matching the one in Virginia. Will keep looking into that. Again, the significance here is that proving a connection to the Hewetts of Killamarsh would confirm that my own genetics do too.

A John Howett was born in 1612 in Stanbridge, Bedfordshire. This could be one of the (many) younger sons of the Hewetts/Howetts of Bedfordshire, which I would dismiss as a connection except that I have a close DNA connection to a Kitchen of Ampthill in Bedfordshire, Ampthill being the original Bedfordshire home of a prominent family of Hewetts. Will just keep an eye out on that one, and try to write them up soon.

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Links to Burton

I am a very close genetic match (for STR markers on the y-chromosome) to some Burtons and Bortons. Those two branches have traced their ancestry back to a William Borton of Aynho Northamptonshire, born 1590. That’s much the same date as for my earliest proven ancestor, William Howet millwright of Eastwood Nottinghamshire.

The parish register for Aynho is in exceptionally good condition. It appears that it was consistently written over many years by the churchwarden Henry Borton – the Minister’s hand is quite different. The elegant calligraphy ceases at the end of 1604 when Henry’s wife died. Possibly he retired at that point, and/or moved villages to stay with a relative.

All entries are very neatly written, showing the father only in this period, except for this William Borton where it is added in at the end of the year as “Will~ Borton bapt: fuit” (William Borton was baptised).

Other researchers have assumed that baby William must have been the son of another William Borton (I will call him William senior), who the Aynho register shows as having children in 1579, 1580, 1582, 1584, 1588 and 1595. Other researchers show the wife as being Joan or Jane Turney, but all I can find is the death of Joana Borton wife of William Borton in 1576, too early for any of the children, so if it is the same William he must have married again, and the register is missing the appropriate years.


The late entry could be due to any of several scenarios:

1. Churchwarden Henry Borton didn’t write up the ceremony because he was related (uncle? grandfather?) to the baby, but the other churchwarden forgot to do it and someone added in the note later, and the Howet genetic link is an earlier generation, OR

2. This was a deliberate device to avoid showing the paternity of the baby, because something happened. Possibly a young Borton female had an illegitimate child and the family was keen to cover this up. There is an Isabelle Borton of a very suitable age to have a baby out of wedlock, and there might be more candidates if the early years of the register were more complete.

3. Possibly the wife of William senior had a child in 1590 and its paternity was known (for whatever reason) to not be the husband’s.

4. The wife had an illegitimate baby to a Howet father, this was not known, and the entry was overlooked as previously discussed.

5. The wife of William senior got them to adopt a child (eg a plague orphan) from her brother or similar. (There was a William Hewet son of Richard Hewet d1592 with exactly those circumstances; perhaps the amendment to the Aynho registers is because the baby was actually born in Killamarsh Derbyshire and presumably baptised there.)


Aynho is a village just south of the town of Banbury (Oxfordshire). The Drayton mill at Banbury was built in 1589, which implies the services of a millwright. Under the Statute of Artificers 1562, millwrights were a formal trade with a seven year apprenticeship. Millwrights in the 1500s were fancy carpenters.

If the millwright was a genetic Howet, this could be the first step in explaining why a baby baptised in Aynho in 1590 might have Howet genes.

As my millwright ancestor was also born about 1590, he couldn’t be the father. Which leaves open the possibility of an earlier Howet millwright, to which my ancestor might have been apprenticed.


The only mill-connected people that I am aware of in that timeframe are George Hewett and Nicholas Hewett, who in 1591 leased a property called Rawroode in Cawthorne Yorkshire from their “kinsman” William Hewett clothworker of London (later Sir William, and a known kinsman of the earlier Lord Mayor of the same name). Ideal timing if they were investing the proceeds of building the Banbury mill! William Hewett had an interest in the Cawthorne estate from 1587; looks like it might have been a mortgage that forfeited.

I think that Nicholas and George were the sons of John Hewet of Killamarsh, listed in their grandmother’s will of 1573, and hence nephews of the landowner. Cross-referencing family wills, John was born probably in the 1540s (he died in 1606) and the sons a few years before 1573. That fits with one of them fathering baby Borton in 1590. This is very much a “junior branch of the Hewets of Killamarsh”, my ancestors according to family tradition.

A Nicholas Hewett died in Killamarsh in early 1592, and there are no further mentions of Nicholas in Cawthorne. There were several other deaths of youngish people in that year, so it might have been plague or another epidemic. Could Nicholas have been a millwright? His will does not survive, but the inventory does. It includes three long boards, three forms and two ladders, and two wimbles (basically drills). Forms, as I understand, are trestles. I think these are domestic things rather than carpenter’s tools.

George is shown in one place as a tanner. He often acted as the local agent for the Hewett landowners. At times he leased a couple of mills there, amongst other properties. There were “tanning mills” in England at that time, and at least one of these mills seems to have been just a corn mill to grind flour.

George might at a stretch have been an unofficial millwright as well as a tanner, or perhaps he was just a labourer on the Drayton mill, and the millwright was someone else. George’s father John Hewet describes himself as a yeoman in his will, so it is probably not him. George has no unaccounted paternal uncles. Maternal uncles might be called Patte or Sytwell, and I have not noticed any millwrights mentioned in those families.

George appears to have had sons George and William, and an illegitimate son called Nicholas who might have been older than the others, and is last heard of in 1606. Perhaps that reveals a predisposition to indiscretion! George senior is my best suspect for a parent for baby Burton.

The William could be my ancestor, and being a millwright was a great trade for a second son. My William needs sisters Anne and Elizabeth, and as George senior had three legitimate children by 1606, he would have to have had at least one more after then.

A George Hewett junior of Cawthorne died in 1636 or 1637. It’s just an administration rather than a will, signed over to his wife Ann, and that is consistent with being a younger man who is working the farm but has not inherited it yet. George senior is presumably still alive aged in his late 60s.

George junior’s death seems to have triggered the sale of a property in Cawthorne called Wilkinroide, owned by George senior and his son William. If my hypothesis is correct, this William is my millwright ancestor and the sale just consolidated the Cawthorne estate to a farm manageable by an old man and grandsons (potential grandson William Hewett married Margaret Sotwell in 1657, and it looks like there was another grandson George).

Overall: the scenario described does fit the evidence well, though my family name was then Howet and the family of Cawthorne were nearly always written as Hewet/t, maybe because they were agents for their kinsmen landowners who were Hewetts. It would mean that my millwright ancestor must have been born around say 1580, which makes him a good age at this death in 1664. That’s plausible, but it is a bit odd that no grandchildren are mentioned in his will. (I have long held suspicions that his deathbed will was recopied at haste from an earlier one, and signed with a cross which is odd when William had been a churchwarden which implies literacy…)

Update 8 Jul 2019: I have tracked down the Bishop’s Transcripts (ie Jacobean offsite backups) for Cawthorne. They are generally in poor condition (many missing years, and much fading) but I have transcribed a fair bit of Hewett family detail.  It’s an adequate fit, except that William Hewet son of George Hewet is pretty clearly born in July 1609. That’s too late to be our millwright and have a daughter Meriall married in 1641. I can’t think any way around that, unless she’s a stepdaughter, and that’s a long bow to draw.  Some bits fit reasonably well, but nothing compelling.  So I don’t think this is the solution.


A Nicholas Hewet clothworker of London married an Emma Burton in 1564; he appears to be an uncle of Nicholas and George of Cawthorne/Killamarsh. I have no information that Emma Burton was related to the Bortons of Aynho, so this is probably a red herring. But you could entertain a scenario where Nicholas the clothworker found a Burton home for an orphan in 1592. This could be a child of Nicholas d1592, or of his nephew Richard d1592 who we know had a small child called William. In that case, baby “Borton” would have been baptised in Cawthorne or Killamarsh rather than Aynho, and the brief Aynho entry would be to cover up the adoption.

Alternatively, there is a 1731 Certificate for the Freedom of London, really an apprenticeship record, where George Howitt, son of George Howitt of Lambeth, Surrey, millwright, is apprenticed to William Burton, joyner of London. This fellow (I’m 90% sure) is the grandson of my William Howet millwright of Eastwood Nottinghamshire. William’s son George was initially apprenticed as a clothworker to an older brother called William, who seems to have died. George then seems to have become a millwright in Lambeth; his will (Canterbury Court) mentions land in Derby(shire).  This event is probably too late to link to both Burtons and Bortons, but it could be indicative of a continuing link between the families.  (Though there are many Burton villages across England, and hence many unrelated Burtons, so this might be coincidence.)

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John England’s story

In 1640 there was a slander case involving my earliest rock-solid ancestor, William Howet, millwright of Eastwood Nottinghamshire. Anne Fletcher had been spreading rumours that William’s new son Robert (my direct ancestor) had been conceived before William had married Elizabeth England, and that he had fathered her previous child too.

Anne may have been correct in these things. William had married Elizabeth by special licence, probably in nearby Nottingham, on 1 Dec 1638. Robert was baptised in October 1639, but we don’t know exactly when he was born. Anyway, Anne was bound to keep the peace, and to declare that William and Elizabeth were legitimately married – which I don’t think was in doubt.

Elizabeth’s previous child, John England, was supposedly the son of William England, a blacksmith from the adjoining village of Greasley. John was born in 1636, and William England died in 1637. Genetic evidence does suggest he was William Howet’s son.

William Howet presumably adopted the little boy after he married Elizabeth. William’s somewhat loosely worded will in 1664 does not mention John England, but does leave some money to a John Howet. I think this was probably our fellow, called Howet though his legal name remained England.

William did have a son from an earlier marriage called John, but I think he died in Virginia in 1659, leaving young children to be adopted out (including Harwood). That John’s will leaves his brothers and sisters as little as possible, instead leaving his estate to his next friend (uncle? cousin?) Thomas Howett, cooper of London, who seems to have come from Screveton in Nottinghamshire.


What happened to John England? On the basis of some circumstantial evidence, and a close DNA link, I offer the following.

I think John England learned the millwright trade from William Howet. (Another son William was apprenticed to the clothworkers, the family trade of the supposedly-ancestral Hewets. My ancestor Robert got the farm. Another son George started as a clothworker apprentice to his brother, who died, and George seems to have ended up as a millwright in Lambeth.)

In 1665, a John England was born to John and Sarah England of Burton-on-Trent. That town was industrialising rapidly, and I expect they were happy to pay good money for a millwright. The Trent runs there from Nottingham, so while it’s in a different county it would have been easy for John to get there.

I haven’t found a marriage for John and Sarah, and in doesn’t seem to be in the registers of St Modwen’s in Tamworth. It might be in Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire, and not all the early registers have been transcribed. Interestingly, there’s a marriage at Burton-on-Trent of a John Howitt to a Sara Handbury in 1677, so maybe John England later took a nephew as an apprentice?

Sara England died in 1675, and John senior married somebody named Love and had additional children Joseph, Lewis and William. (One record gives a wife’s name as “Amicitia”, which I suspect is just Latin for Love.) Ultimately, they all moved to America except for William. Some of their children stayed behind.

John England of Burton-on-Trent died in 1681. I haven’t found a will.

In 1714, John England junior and a son Allen started attending the quaker meeting at Stafford.

In 1723, John England junior moved to America to run the Principio Furnace, in Cecil County, Maryland. That John died in 1734, and the mill was passed to his son Joseph. My DNA links to Englands in the US come from that family.


I have a stack of genetic matches called Bennett. I have found (actually my distant cousin Brian found) a Sam Allen Bennett (born ~1856), the son of William England and Mary Bennett who later married the father. Sam’s legal name continued to be Bennett.

I can trace Sam’s line back to William Ingland born 1793 in Kirkburton Yorkshire, son of John England. That William had a sister called Sarah also born in Kirkburton. I haven’t connected them back to Burton-on-Trent, but it does look promising.


POSTSCRIPT: I have come across a reference to William Howet in 1636 moving and reinstalling a mill near Melbourne Derbyshire, near the western end of the Trent.  It is looking more like William serviced mills right along the Trent, and at some point handed the patch over to his son John England.  I’d like to get our wandering millwright to Northamptonshire, which I can’t do yet, to link him to some Burtons and Bortons.  Still looking.

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