I’ve now traced one branch of my family through the seventeenth and into the early eighteenth century, from the birth of my 8 x great grandfather John Byne in Sussex in 1651 through to the death of his son-in-law Joseph Greene in London in 1737. Before going any further and exploring what happened in the ensuing generations, as the eighteenth century unfolded, I want to take a step back and follow an intriguing detour: one that will help us to understand what happened in later years.

I’ve said very little so far about the family into which my ancestor John Byne, a stationer at Tower Hill, married. John’s wife, my 8 x great grandmother, was born Alice Forrest. To date, a record of their marriage hasn’t turned up, but it must have been in 1675 at the latest, since their first child was born in the following year. John would have been in his early twenties at the time, and presumably recently ‘made free’ from his apprenticeship as a stationer.

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A haberdasher and his family (by Henry Chorley of Preston), c.1680

What do we know about Alice Forrest? Although we don’t have a record of her birth or baptism, we can be fairly sure that she was born and spent her childhood at Tower Hill, which may explain how she came to meet her husband. Alice’s father was Thomas Forrest, a citizen and haberdasher with premises at Little Tower Hill. He is almost certainly the Thomas Forrest who married Anne Borrowes or Burroughs, from the parish of St Andrew, Holborn, at the church of St Bartholomew the Great on 18th June 1650, shortly after the end of the Civil War. The groom was said to be of the parish of ‘St Buttolphs Aldersgate’, but I believe this to have been an error and that he was actually from Aldgate.

On 27th April 1652, a child named Thomas, son of Thomas and Anne Forrest of the Minories, was buried at St Botolph, Aldgate. Another son with the same name must have been born later and survived to adulthood, since a Thomas Forrest was made co-executor of his father’s in 1678. It’s likely that both he, and his sister Alice, were born some time in the 1650s, during the Cromwellian protectorate.

I’ve been able to discover very little about Anne Borrowes who married Thomas Forrest, though other members of the Borrowes or Burroughs family are mentioned in the will of Thomas’ daughter Alice. As for Thomas himself, for reasons that will become clear over the course of the next few posts, I believe that he was born in the village of Fladbury near Evesham in Worcestershire.

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Mill on the River Avon at Fladbury

There are countless Forrests to be found in the records for the area, and particularly in the hamlet of Hill and Moor. My ancestor could be the Thomas Forrest, son of William Forrest, who was baptised at Fladbury parish church on 9th March 1633/4. Alternatively, his father might be the George Forrest who had a son named William christened at Fladbury on 27th February 1626/7 and a daughter Alice baptised there on 25th October 1629. We know from other evidence that my ancestor Thomas Forrest had a brother William and a sister Alice, whose stories I will relate in future posts.

If George Forrest was indeed the father of William, Alice and Thomas, then he may also be the man of that name who married Anne Horniblow at Fladbury on 10th August 1625, and who also had a daughter Anne baptised there in 1632. The Horniblows, like the Forrests, were numerous in the Fladbury area. A certain Thomas Horniblow was mentioned, together with various members of the Forrest family, ‘all of Hill in Fladbury, husbandmen’, in a legal document of 1608 pertaining to lands belonging to Thomas Throckmoron of Coughton, Warwickshire. The Throckmortons were a prominent family of landowners in the area and staunch Catholics: their name will recur in future posts.

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Parish church of St John the Baptist, Fladbury (via geograph)

So it seems that Thomas Forrest, like members of the Byne family into which his daughter would marry, probably moved to London from his home village as a young man, perhaps in the 1640s and almost certainly to take up an apprenticeship as a haberdasher.

By the time Thomas made his will in December 1678, his daughter Alice was already married to John Byne and the couple had a child, Anne, presumably named after her maternal grandmother. Thomas’ will bequeaths to his ‘deare and well beloved wife Anne Forrest Thomas all my Estate right title interest and terme of yeares that I have of in and to the Messuage or Tenement Shopp and appurtenances thereunto belonging which I now have in situat and being upon or neere little Tower hill in the Parish of Saint Buttolphs Algate London together with the Lease thereupon granted And also all and every my Plate Linnen Bedding Pewter Glasse and other my household Goods’. Apart from ten pounds given to Thomas and Alice Byne and their daughter ‘towards buying of them mourning to weare in rememberance of mee’, Thomas left the remainder of his estate to his wife Anne and his son Thomas, his co-executors, to ‘share and share alike’.

In addition to Thomas Forrest’s will, I also have a copy of an ‘engrossed inventory’ of his goods, the original of which is kept in the National Archives. The document is difficult to decipher, but its sheer length gives an indication of Thomas’ wealth and status, and some insight into the work of a seventeenth-century haberdasher.

Thomas Forrest, described in the parish register simply as a ‘salesman’, was buried at the parish church of St Botolph, Aldgate, on 12th January 1678/9.

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