John Manser, citizen and apothecary, and the first member of the extended Byne family of Sussex to move to London, died in 1681 at his home in the parish of St Botolph, Aldgate. The main beneficiary of John’s will was his son Abraham, who inherited his father’s medical books and equipment, as well as the house in which he lived in East Smithfield. ‘Abraham Manser of London’ was also the heir of his uncle, Nicholas Manser of Mottynsden in Burwash, Sussex.

Abraham Manser was born in March 1659/60, the last year of the Cromwellian Commonwealth, in ‘the tower libertie’ according to the parish register, and baptised on 10th March at St Botolph’s church. He was, I believe, the only surviving child of John Manser and his first wife Sarah, though he had two younger half-sisters, Rebecca and Jane, from his father’s second marriage to Jane Sawen.

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East Smithfield, from Rocque’s 1746 map of London

Abraham would have been about twenty-two years old when his father died, and may already have been a freeman and practising apothecary. It’s even possible that he had been apprenticed to his own father, whose shop in East Smithfield he appears to have taken over.

On 15th March 1682/3, when he was twenty-three years old, Abraham Manser married Aveline Granger. Given that bride and groom seem both to have grown up in East Smithfield, their choice of the parish church of St Mary, Newington, is puzzling. Aveline, born in 1666, was only sixteen when she married. She was the youngest child of a large family: her parents were Samuel Granger, a maker of pattens (wooden or metal outer shoes worn to protect feet from mud and water) and for a time Master of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers, and his wife, also named Aveline; they had at least eight other children before young Aveline. Samuel seems to have been something of a Calvinist: in his will he commends ‘my soule into the hands of Almightie god my Creator assuredly Trusting that through the Merritts and mediation of my onely saviour Jesus Christ I shall be made partaker of Eternall Life and be numbered Amongst his Chosen and Elect people’. Samuel Granger died in 1681, a year before his daughter Aveline’s marriage, leaving her one hundred pounds in his will. His wife died four years later.

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Pattens

Abraham and Aveline Manser appear to have spent their married lives in East Smithfield, just like their parents, almost certainly in the house that Abraham inherited from his father John. On 7th December 1683, Nicholas, son of Abraham and Aveline Manser of East Smithfield, was christened at St Botolph’s, Aldgate. Sadly, this first child didn’t live long, being buried at the same church only four days later.

I’ve come across baptismal records for at least seven other children born to Abraham and Aveline Manser. On 26th July 1685 a daughter named Elizabeth was christened at St Botolph’s.  On 30th January 1690 their son Isaac was baptised there. The account books of the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the parish of St Botolph include the following entry for 7th July 1689: ‘To Abraham Manser and family, his wife lying in, necessity 1.0.11’. Presumably this was around the time when Aveline was expecting Isaac, and suggests that the Mansers had fallen on hard times.

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Reference to the Manser family in the St Botolph churchwardens’ account book (via londonlives.org)

In March 1696 Abraham and Aveline Manser had a daughter named Sarah christened. Another daughter, Mary, was baptised in October 1702: the entry in the parish register gives the family’s address as Churchyard Alley, which ran southwards from Rosemary Lane alongside St Botolph’s churchyard towards East Smithfield. This child was buried in the following April, and a second Mary was christened, together with another daughter named Anne, in May 1704, at which time the address was the same. Finally, on 13th March 1707, a daughter named Susana was baptised.

We can conclude from this last record that both Abraham and Aveline were still alive in 1707. I’ve found a burial record for Aveline, from June 1725, suggesting that she died when she was 59 years old, but I’ve been unable to discover the date of Abraham’s death.

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