John Blechynden 1612-1701

I have found it hard to find the time to write recently as we have been very busy preparing for and then getting used to living with a lovely family from Ukraine. But its about time I set out a little more about another of the Blechynden clan, namely John Blechynden, son of Thomas Blechynden and Elizabeth Boys. I’ll also set out some of John’s own family from his marriage to Anne Glover.

John Blechynden was born in 1612, probably in Nonnington in Kent. Although I haven’t found a birth record for John but we know his age from the Oxford University Alumni records which show that John matriculated in 1627, when he was just 15, at the same time as his older brother Edward.

Blechinden, Edward, s. Thomas, of Bishopsborne, Kent, gent. ST ALBAN HALL, matric. 4 May, 1627, aged 17.

Blechinden, John, s. Thomas, of Bishopsborne, Kent, gent. ST ALBAN HALL, matric. 4 May, 1627, aged 15. B.A. from MAGDALEN HALL, 1 Feb., 1630-1, brother of the last named.

Oxford University Alumni 1500-1714, Vol 1

John’s brother Edward Blechenden above remains a mystery. There is no suggestion in the Alumni records that he finished his studies at Oxford; there are no marriage records that can be positively attributed to him and when his father dies in 1661 his last will and testament makes no mention of Edward or any children. For now it appears as if Edward died before he finished his studies at Oxford which would have made John the eldest son and heir to his fathers properties.

As well as Edward, John has an elder sister Marie/Mary, a sister Elizabeth, a sister Francis and a younger brother Thomas. Marie and Elizabeth marry into the Cason family of Furneux Pelham in Hertfordshire. Marie marries Edward Cason and they have a number of children together before her death in 1650 at the age of just 42. Elizabeth marries John Cason and it appears that they lived in Woodnesborough in Kent but moved to Burwash in Sussex at some point in the 1660s which is where she dies in 1679. Memorials to both John and Elizabeth Cason are to be found in St Bartholomew’s at Burwash.

John’s sister Francis dies in London when she is just a baby in September 1618 and although brother Thomas is born just over a month later in November 1618 sadly his mother Elizabeth dies in childbirth, or shortly afterwards, and is buried two days after the baptism of Thomas. Both his sister Francis, and his mother Elizabeth, were buried at St Olave’s in Silver Street in the City of London. St Olave’s was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and wasn’t rebuilt and the Churchyard which remained was also damaged during the blitz. There is now a garden on the site with a small plaque that informs of the existence and destruction of the Church there.

John’s younger brother Thomas is mentioned is his father’s will dated 1661 so we know he survived into adulthood. There is also a mention of a Mortage document in 1666 between Margaret Sherman and Thomas Blechenden, son of Thomas Blechenden Clk. but so far I haven’t established what this mortgage relates to.

The brothers and sisters of John Blechenden can be summarised as:

  • Marie, baptised in Nonington, Kent on 21 August 1608, married Edward Cason had several children, died in 1650;
  • Edward, baptised in Nonington, Kent on 16 April 1610, probably died as a young man;
  • Elizabeth, baptised in Nonington on 26 June 1614, married John Cason, two surviving children, died in Burwash, Sussex in 1679;
  • Francis, baptised in Aldington on 29 September 1617 and died September 1618 in London; and
  • Thomas, baptised in St Olave’s London on 5 November 1618 (mentioned in his fathers will dated 1661 but no obvious wife or children).

Marriage to Anne Glover

John Blechenden married Anne Glover at St George the Martyr’s, Canterbury on 10th May 1631 when he was just 19 years old and shortly after he graduated from Oxford. The Visitation of Kent 1663-1668 states that John Blechynden of Woodnesborough married Anne, daughter of ….Glover of Canterbury. Her father is unfortunately not named, other than Glover, and I haven’t been able to identify him.

We don’t have too much information about John and Anne Glover but the little snipet below shows that Anne was called to account for withholding some monies left in the will of John Smith for the poor of the parish. I haven’t found many references to women being the executors of wills, unless they were the wife or other close family member of the deceased, so it seems likely that John Smith is a relative of Anne Glover but I haven’t been able to confirm this. The Blechynden’s do have a family connection to the Smith’s of Boughton Monchelsea and Chart next Sutton via the marriage of Reignold Blechynden’s step daughter Mary Hales to Symon Smith and they do have a son called John Smith. However, the dates don’t look quite right, there is no evidence so far that that John Smith lived in Woodnesborough and the family connection – unless a closer one with the Glovers can be found – seems tenuous. Unfortunately, from a genealogical perspective, John Smith is not the easiest of names to research!

1637.   Mrs. Anne Blessenden, wife of Mr. John Blessenden of Wodensbergh, whom we present for withholding the sum of £6, being the remainder of a legacy given to the poor of our parish in and by the last will of Mr. John Smith, deceased, late of our parish, of which will she is one executrix; the other is dead.

extracts from the Visitations of the Archdeacon of Canterbury by Peter de Sandwich

When John’s father Thomas Blechenden dies in 1661 his will refers to his two sons John and Thomas and his grandchildren but only those grandchildren that are the children of John and Anne. There is no mention of any children of John’s brother Thomas and, perhaps he had none, or none surviving, but he also does not mention any Cason grandchildren even though we know that both Marie and Elizabeth had children. I have commented on Thomas’s will in an earlier post: My Boys Family Connection.

There is, in the Furneux Pelham baptism records, an unusual record of the godparents of one of Marie and Edward Cason’s children, a Thomas Cason baptised in February 1635/6 and who was, no doubt, named in honour of his two sponsors: his step-grandfather Sir Thomas Cecil of Keldon (fourth son of the Earl of Salisbury) now married to Edward’s mother Susan (née Oxenbridge), and our own Thomas Blachyndon (Blechynden) his maternal grandfather. Marie and Edward Cason tragically lost at least five sons and one daughter when they were just infants before Marie died at the age of 42.

I don’t think the lack of a reference to Cason children in Thomas Blechenden’s will indicates a snub at all as there does seem to be a close family connection to the Blechyndens. The family home of Simnells in Aldington becomes the property of John Cason of Woodnesborough and I suspect is transferred on a temporary basis perhaps as part of the marriage settlement with Elizabeth Blechynden. John Cason then alienates Simnells in 1663 to Thomas Blechynden, the eldest surviving son of John Blechynden and Anne Glover before the Casons move to Burwash in Sussex. John Cason is a witness to Thomas Blechynden’s will in 1661 and, in return his will is witnessed by his “cozen” (actually his niece) Elizabeth Blechynden in 1670. John Cason (junior) also stood as Bondsman in the marriage of the son of his cousin Thomas in 1690 (i.e. that of a future John Blechynden to Ann Lane).

John and Anne’s Children

As mentioned above John Blechenden married Anne Glover when he was just 19 in 1631 and presumably she would have been of a similar age. Given their youth we could assume that they would have had a large number of children together and some five children can be positively identified, all of whom are born in Woodnesborough, in Kent, between 1633 and 1641. These are:

  • Thomas (1633 – 1690);
  • John (1635 – 1672);
  • Edward (born 1637);
  • Elizabeth (born 1640) and
  • Anne (born 1641).

St Mary’s Church, Woodnesborough. Image from Edward Hasted, ‘Parishes: Woodnesborough’, in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10 (Canterbury 1800), pp. 121-144. British History Online: www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol10/pp121-144

However, these are the only children I have been able to identify as the children of John and Anne and I suspect, but cannot prove, that Anne died shortly after the birth of her namesake. We do know that the English Civil War broke out in 1642 just one year after the baptism of Anne, and perhaps this took John away from home. We know his father supported the Parliamentarians and was on the local committee responsible for the seizing and sequestering the Estates of Papists and Delinquents, and for the Weekly Assessments, in the County of Kent. So it is possible that John took up the Parliamentarian cause. But I think it is also likely that Anne died as, in John’s father’s will, he refers to his son John and also to “Jane now wife to the said John Blechynden”. It is clear from Thomas Blechenden’s will that the majority of his estate has already been settled upon John but in his will he makes provision for John’s wife, Jane. The wording in the will is unusual – “now wife” rather than “wife to John” and makes me think that the marriage of John and Jane is a recent one and perhaps happened after the settlement of the estate upon John.

And so by me bequeathed is to be as an […] to him the said John Blechynden over and beside what is already settled upon him.   Item my will and meaning is that in case Jane now wife to the said John Blechynden shall survive him the said John that she shall have and receive the sum of twenty pounds yearly during the term of her natural life to be paid her quarterly as aforesaid.

Thomas Blechynden’s will 1661.

This extract from my family tree shows Johns relationship to his immediate family:

John’s eldest son Thomas married Margaret Lynch and had nine children; son John died during the Anglo Dutch Wars; Edward married Mary Blyth and had four children. It is unclear whether Elizabeth or Anne were ever married and Elizabeth was certainly still unmarried in 1670 when she witnessed her uncle John Cason’s will.

Blissenden/Blechynden

When I started this blog I said that I wanted to find a link to my Blissenden family who, frustratingly, I have not been able to trace beyond the early 1700s but who came from Kent where many of the Blechynden’s had land and property. So I wondered if perhaps there was a family link? The Blissenden surname isn’t a common one although there are many variations – Blessenden; Brissenden and many more beside so it was interesting to note in the online records of London’s Livery Companies that John Blechynden, in 1651, is recorded as the father of John Blechynden, apprentice to Christopher Bradbury of the Company of Drapers. But, rather than being recorded as Blechynden both are recorded in the Livery Company records as “Blissenden”! Eureka!

Whilst this does not of course prove any direct family line it does indicate that my Blissenden ancestors could be from the Blechynden family. Of course, it is possible that this John Blissenden is a different John but, given that the records state that he is John Blissenden of Wynsborough, gentleman, it is highly likely that this is John Blechynden, the subject of this post, as Woodnesborough, where he lived at this time was also known as Winsborough (or Wynsborough) and there are no other John Blechyndens or Blissendens living in Woodnesborough at this time who are “gentlemen” that fill the bill. In John’s father’s will of 1661 Thomas Blechynden refers to himself as Thomas Blechynden of Winsborough in the county of Kent, Esq. so it is very likely that John would also have used Winsborough not Wooodnesborough.

John’s second son John was born in 1635 and would have been 16 years old at the time of the apprenticeship which also adds weight to this being John Blechynden not a different John Blissenden or Brissenden. John Blechynden the younger, after his apprenticeship, appears to change profession to a naval one and dies when serving on board HMS Bonaventure in 1672 – in his will he refers to himself as John Blechynden, late of Woodnesborough in ye county of Kent the younger gent. Stying himself as “the younger gent” indicates that his father John was still alive in 1672.

John’s Death in 1701?

In 1668 John’s niece Frances Cason married John Polhill. They lived in Burwash in Sussex and, as already mentioned, Frances’ mother and father, Elizabeth and John Cason, also moved to Burwash. I think that John Blechynden may also have moved to Burwash in his later years, perhaps after settling his Kent properties on his children and grandchildren, to be close to his sister Elizabeth. I have found no burial record or last will and testament for John Blechynden in Woodnesborough or other likely locations in Kent, but I have found a burial record in Burwash for a John Blissenden, gentleman, in 1701. There is a Brissenden family in Burwash at the time and it is possible that the burial records relates to the John Brissenden who marries Mary Giles in Burwash in 1681. There is no suggestion, however, in the records I have found that John Brissenden was a “gentleman“. I have also found a burial record for a Jane Blechinden in 1699 at Southwark, St Saviour, Denmark Park. Jane was the “wife of John Blechinden, gentleman“. Could this be the Jane mentioned in Thomas Blechynden’s will of 1661?

By 1701 John Blechynden would be very elderly and to live to the great age of 89 was very unusual – his eldest son Thomas died at the age of just 57 which was not atypical. If John did die in Burwash in 1701 at the age of 89 he would have outlived his sons, lived through the English Civil War, seen the execution of Charles I and later the Restoration of the Monarchy, lost a son in the Anglo Dutch Wars and also witnessed in the Glorious Revolution the overthrow of James II and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. He did live in interesting times.

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