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.
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 Ancestry.com (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.