An Ancestry tree

About 20 years ago, I put my family tree on It was hard work, and they blew it away when a new format came along. So I’ve been a bit sceptical.

Last week, I bit the bullet and started another tree. I have to say, I found the experience very positive and really quick. Their algorithms are very good at generating “hints” where other researchers have the same family, and you can choose the facts that have the best backing in terms of attached scans of registers and the like. That’s fantastic.

Not quite so fantastic is that it will also find Old Aunt Edna’s Best Guesses from the 1930s, without documentation, cheerfully entered into Ancestry by her descendants. Indeed, there was a bit of that with my own Howets of Eastwood in the 1600s. I’m still thinking through whether I should contact the people with bad data, asking them to change it, to stop it promulgating further.

Ultimately, tends to give you the best data it has to work with, which in turn puts some onus on us researchers to provide the relevant documentation. So I am doing that, at least for the early generations in the Howitt tree. One in particular I want to check is Robert Howett of Eastwood, that he really was the one who married the heiress of Wansley Hall in 1668, when he had a cousin of the same name and age living near her in Selston.

Just checked that one: the marriage licence does specify that she married Robert of Eastwood, who we can reasonably presume is the one left the living there in his father’s will of 1664.

I’m still working on it, but if you have a reason to look at my Ancestry tree please contact me (Rhys Howitt) via and I’ll give you access.

Hawte to Hewet — musings

I have a page examining the possibility that Nicholas Haute/Hawte/Hawet was the ancestor of the Hawets/Hewets of Killamarsh and Walles.

The central concept is that Nicholas was at Agincourt in 1415 aged about 20, and at the siege of Rouen in 1418.  His father (Sir Nicholas Haute) died in France, his elder brother William inherited extensive estates in Kent, and young Nicholas got only the manor of Swarling in Kent.

My thesis was that Nicholas, who must have met many English greats on campaign, married the daughter or widow of somebody with lands in Killamarsh in Derbyshire.  He would have had sons from about 1420, probably named after some of his brothers William, John (actually a cousin, but apparently raised as a brother), Thomas and Edmund.  All those personal names feature strongly in the Derbyshire family of Hawet/Hewet — yes they were all common names of the time, but there are patterns of names in families and they really are a close match.

The Derbyshire Hewets used similar heraldry to that recorded for Nicholas at Rouen — and the differences can be explained by the heralds modifying the arms to avoid a conflict with the family of Bourne. (Nicholas had fought under a maternal grandparent’s arms, perhaps in honour of the manor where he was living, or perhaps because there was decorated armour there that fit him!)

Nicholas continued to own the manor at Swarling, but apparently didn’t live there (my thesis: because he was far away in Killamarsh), and it was operated by his brother or his stepmother.  Eventually, a descendant called Richard Hawte the younger lived there.  This Richard seems to have been named after Richard Hawte the elder, his father’s cousin, who was prominent in the court of King Edward IV and related to the Queen.  Richard the younger himself died fairly young and his heir did not long survive him, so the manor was sold by his further heirs who (I argued) were close to the family of the Lord Mayor.

That all stacks up pretty well, within the tolerances for patchy early records.  It does come a bit unstuck because there are records of John and William Hewet witnessing documents in Killamarsh in 1420, and I have an old loose unsubstantiated record that implies that John lived until 1460 and was buried before the high altar in Killamarsh.  On the face of it, that runs counter to the narrative I have sketched above, and I can’t come up with a rationale, unless they were more distant relatives without heirs and the family agreed that Nicholas would take over the estate.  For which I have zero evidence, though with the Haute family it’s the sort of thing they would do, given my extensive reading.

I was originally going to update the Hawte tree with some of the insights I got from updating the Killamarsh tree, then I was going to delete it, then I decided to leave it there with annotation as an interesting if insufficient hypothesis.


New update for Walles and Killamarsh

While exploring the possible Hawte/Hewet link, I worked through all the relationships and worked out that my Killamarsh/Walles page needed some work too.  That’s not surprising: there are lots of balls in the air.

I have done another update to that page, and I’m pretty happy with it for now.  I might do a follow-up with some more detailed information on the earliest records.  And I could always go back and improve the documentation supporting the chart; there’s always lots of data behind my scenes but it takes time to write up.

This works both ways: having upgraded the Killamarsh/Walles page, I will need to make some more corrections to the Hawte/Hewet hypothesis.  I am hitting a problem though: I can imagine Nicholas Hawet of Agincourt marrying a Killamarsh heiress, and there’s even some circumstantial evidence to support that — but I have a William and John H*wet in Killamarsh in about 1430, which I can’t rationalise at present.  Oh well, at least it got me thinking…