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.