Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When We Were English, Part XXXIII


On a tip from Buckinghamshire family historian Peter Smith, I ventured in June 2011 to the local history section of the Milton Keynes library, about 15 miles north of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.  Hopefully there I would find the missing parish records of Sherington, Buckinghamshire, looking as I was for more information on Christopher Holyman (d 1589).

The modern library and local history room in Milton Keynes is located a 1960s planned development section featuring plenty of parking, retangle office, brick store blocks and urban boredom.  

Milton Keynes is a medieval market town that received a planning make over in the 1960s.  Now a ‘planned community’ of round-abouts and rectangular business plazas, several blocks in length, it does feature plenty of parking even if there be a dreary sameness to its governmental and commercial centre.  Charm, there is none.

Alas, the parish records I sought were still ‘missing’ and after several hours of squinting at microfilm of 17th Century wills, baptisms and burials from 1603 to 1720, I came up with precious few clues on the Holyman family.  However, sometimes it is not what one finds, but what one does not find.  Evidently, the Holyman family, citizens of Sherington in the late 1500s, did not live there in the 1600s after this 1589 Christopher’s death.

So where did the children go?  To Bedford twelve or so miles away and a thriving community in the early 1600s especially if one be a second son, such as Thomas Holyman?

Well, as I was about to leave (my parking was expiring), I glanced at the shelf of local parish publications.  My eye caught a title – “Fiefs and Fields of a Buckinghamshire Village” by A.C. Chibnall.  The work was published in 1965 by Cambridge University Press of Cambridge. I flipped to the index, not expecting to find anything, when, lo and behold, up popped the names Christopher Holyman and Thomas Holyman!

On page 178 of the work, I find this: “Two leading inhabitants (of Sherington) Edward Ardes and Christopher Hollyman, visited the bishop in 1575 in Buckden to lodge a complaint on rector Henry Barlow, a dissolute fellow.”

Ye ole village pump stands even today on the small village green in Sherington.  The now disappearing British Telephone red box is in the background, and across the street, a closed facility labeled, I think ironically given our family history, the Virginia Store!

Another page over on 179, the author reports Christopher Hollyman serving in Queen Elizabeth’s guard and leasing the rectory for 50 pounds annum.  This Christopher Hollyman (p. 188) died in 1589 after securing more land from his ‘good friend Richard Ardes’ (probable son of Edward Ardes).

Remember in his 1589 will, Christopher Hollyman records a second son, a minor, named Thomas Hollyman.  Well, on pages 193 and 194 of Chibnall’s tome, we are told of a grammar school, 6 or 7 miles from Sherington in Lathbury.  One of the 14 boys listed as attending in 1596 was a Thomas Hollyman!   This would make him the right age to be married  in 1609 twelve miles away in Bedford!

The circumstantial evidence is building that we have found the father and grandfather of Christopher Holyman, Sr. (1618 - 1691)....

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