Magnus Byne was the younger half-brother of John Byne, my 8 x great grandfather. Born in early 1664/5, four years after the Restoration of the monarchy, he was the second of three children born to Magnus Byne senior, rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer in Sussex, and his second wife Sarah Bartlett. He had an older sister, Anna, born in 1663/4, who seems to have died in infancy, and a younger sister Sarah, born in 1666.


Clayton parish church, Sussex

When Magnus was born, his older half-brothers Stephen and John were already eighteen and thirteen years old respectively, and either serving apprenticeships in London, or about to do so. Magnus was only five years old when his mother died in February 1669/70 and seven when his father died in 1671. As I noted in an earlier post, Magnus and his younger sister Sarah seem to have been taken into the care of their older half-brother Stephen at his home in Tower Hill, London.

Magnus Byne’s name appears in the register at Merchant Taylors School, London, on 11th March 1674/5, when he would have been ten years old. Intriguingly, this is the exact date on which his half-brother and guardian Stephen was buried at St Botolph’s church, Aldgate. By a provision in Stephen’s will, Magnus and his sister Sarah passed into the guardianship of Stephen’s father-in-law Thomas Whiting, a wealthy master joiner, who was to receive one hundred pounds for ‘the keeping apparelling educating and bringing up of my brother Magnus Byne and my sister Sarah Byne’.

The Whiting family lived at Houndsditch, just a short distance from Tower Hill where Magnus’ other half-brother John Byne was still living. At some point in the 1680s, when he was in his teens, Magnus Byne left school and began his apprenticeship as an apothecary. Since his kinsman John Manser was an apothecary at East Smithfield, it’s tempting to think that Magnus was apprenticed to him, or perhaps to his son Abraham, who took over the family business after his father’s death in 1681; but this is pure speculation. It’s actually more likely that Magnus served his apprenticeship in Southwark, where he would end up working, and where he would meet and marry his wife Jane.

17Th Century English Apothecary Shop

17th century apothecary’s shop

In his own will of 1689, John Byne left twenty-five pounds ‘unto my Loveing Brother Magnus Byne’, who would then have been about twenty four years old. No mention is made in the will of Magnus’ younger sister Sarah, so the assumption must be that she had died. By this time, Magnus was probably already working as an apothecary and may already have been living in Southwark. On 24th November 1690, a little more than a year after John’s death, Magnus declared his intention to marry Jane, daughter of Joseph Dakin or Deakins, a Southwark cheesemonger. Both were said to be living in the parish of St George the Martyr, Southwark. Jane was only fifteen, so she needed her father’s consent, while Magnus was twenty-five. Three days later the couple were married at St George’s church.


Marriage allegation of Magnus Byne, 1690


St George the Martyr, Southwark

Born in December 1675, Jane Dakin had been christened at St George’s. The parish register records her father’s but not her mother’s name. Jane seems to have been at least the third of six or more children. In 1668 Mary Dakin had been christened at the same church, while in 1674, another daughter named Sarah had been baptised there. Jane also had younger siblings named Katharine (1677/6), Joseph (1680) and Anne, who died in infancy.

Joseph Dakin’s will of 1709 mentions only three children, so we must assume that the others did not survive. Joseph’s first bequest is to his daughter Mary, whose married name was Holmes. The wedding of Thomas Holmes and Mary Dakin had taken place at the church of St George the Martyr, Southwark, in 1692/3 when Mary was twenty-three. Joseph Dakin also left money to his daughter Sarah and her husband, Martin Creamer or Cremer. The couple had been married seven years earlier, in 1702, at the church of St Martin in the Fields, Westminster. I’ve found evidence of only one child born to the Creamers: Joseph, christened at St George’s, Southwark, in 1707, who would work as a coach harness maker in Westminster. Finally, Joseph Dakin made a bequest to his daughter Jane Byne or Bynes, and also made her husband Magnus joint executor of the will, together with Joseph’s other son-in-law Martin Creamer.


The Borough, from Rocque’s 1746 map of London, showing St George’s church and the Marshalsea

Magnus and Jane Byne would have at least fifteen children of their own, very few of whom survived infancy. Some of their children’s christening records give the Bynes’ address as ‘by the Marshalsea’, the notorious debtors’ prison off Borough High Street, north of the church of St George the Martyr. The couple had two sons named Magnus (in 1691 and 1693), both of whom died within a couple of years. There were three sons named John (in 1700, 1701 and 1708), all of whom died in the first year of life. They had two daughters named Sarah (born in 1697 and 1705): the first died when still a baby while the second lived for three years. Anne was born in 1703 and died in 1704, Mary lived from 1706 to 1709, Jane from 1708 to 1709, and Henry from 1710 to 1712. There was another Jane, born in 1713, who may have survived: she was probably the last child to be born and I haven’t come across a record of her burial. Elizabeth, born in 1695, and George, born in 1704, also survived to adulthood.

Magnus and Jane must also have had a son named Joseph, since a property transaction preserved at the Essex Record Office describes him as their ‘son and heir’. Perhaps he is the nameless ‘sonne of Magnus Byne’ who was christened at St George’s in 1698? The archive document, written in 1734, describes Jane Byne as the ‘late widow of Magnus Byne of St George the Martyr, apothecary deceased’, so both Magnus and Jane must have died before that date. This means that the Magnus Byne ‘from the Borough’ who was buried at St George’s in 1743 must be someone else of that name: perhaps yet another son whose christening record I haven’t yet found? 

I haven’t found a will for either Magnus or Jane Byne, so we can’t be absolutely sure which of their children were still living when their parents died, though the document referred to above suggests that their son Joseph, at least, outlives them. We also have evidence from a court case of 1736-7 that their son George and daughter Elizabeth survived their parents.

At this date, Elizabeth Byne, described as a spinster of St George the Martyr, Surrey, was in dispute with one John Heather. The case probably concerned property left by Mary Holmes, since Elizabeth is also said to be ‘sole executrix of Mary Holmes widow deceased late of Chertsey, Surrey’. George Byne was one of the witnesses in the case. When Mary Holmes drew up her will in 1735 she made her niece Elizabeth the executrix and main beneficiary, leaving her the sum of £150 and ‘also my Small India Cabinet and all my wearing Cloaths and Apparells’. The ‘rest and residue’ of her estate Mary left to ‘my loving Cousen’ George Byne: however, I’m fairly sure that George was actually her nephew, and Elizabeth’s brother. Given that George would later live and work in Chertsey, I wonder if he and his sister Elizabeth had originally gone to live with their aunt Mary there, after their parents’ death.


View of Chertsey, Surrey, in the eighteenth century

Mary also provides us with George’s profession – he was an apothecary, like his father Magnus – while another document describes him as a chirurgeon or surgeon. Walter Renshaw, in his history of the Byne family, speculates that George Byne may be the person of that name who was registered at Merchant Taylors’ School in September 1716, which would mean that he followed in his father’s footsteps in other ways  too. George married Elizabeth Sly at the church of St Peter in Chertsey, Surrey on 8th December 1732. One of the witnesses to the marriage allegation was Elizabeth Byne. George and Elizabeth Byne had at least one child, a son also named George, christened in Chertsey on 29th October 1733.

As for Elizabeth, she is almost certainly the person described in the 1733 will of my 8 x great grandmother Alice Byne, widow of John Byne, as ‘my Cousin Elizabeth Byne Spinster’. Alice, who would have been Elizabeth’s aunt, left her ten pounds. Given these various bequests and property transactions, it seems unlikely (though not impossible) that Elizabeth is the ‘Elizabeth Bynes from the Workhouse’ who was buried at St George’s, Southwark, on 16th November 1765.