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Re: Vexing confusion of Hill and Radcliffe in Spencer ancestry

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Don Stone

Nov 27, 2011, 6:16:59 PM11/27/11
On 11/25/2011 11:34 AM, W David Samuelsen wrote:
> shows:
> (Will of Thomas Hill)
> Item I give to my sister Whitbread xls to my nephew Willm her sonne xli
> out of the debt he oweth and to his brother Henry xli out of the debt he
> oweth mee and to his brother John xli out of the debt he oweth mee Item
> I give to my neece Spencer xls& all those implemts of household w[hi]ch
> I bought of her, and to her sonne Garrett xxs and to her daughter xls
> And to my neece Poulter xls And to my godson Willm Whitbread xls and to
> my goddaughter Chapman xls Item I give to my neece Sara Millward all my
> plate that is to saie vj silver spoones a silver poringes a faire
> standing salt with a Dover silver tankerd and a goblet of silver
> condiconally that she payes to my neice Hanscombes children iiijli and
> to my neece Raworthes v daughters xxs a peice when they come to the age
> of xviij yeares
> The above item shows Eleanor, wife of John Spencer to be Eleanor
> Whitbred since it refers to her sons William, Henry, John and Gerard
> Spencer and one knwon daughter - Elizabeth Spencer who was wife of Mr
> Tomlins.

The above excerpt from Thomas Hill's 1627 will _could_ show Eleanor,
wife of John Whitbread, to be Eleanor Hill, since it refers to "my
sister Whitbread" and her sons William, Henry, and John and her daughter
[Alice], wife of [Gerard] Spencer, as well as the latter couple's son
Garrett [Gerard Spencer] and one known daughter - Elizabeth Spencer who
was wife of Mr Tomlins.

What does Thomas Hill mean by "my sister Whitbread"? It could be full
sister. It could be half sister, if (as pointed out by Will Johnson)
John Hill's widow Alice remarried after his 1546 death and was mother of
Eleanor by this second marriage. (Paul Reed estimates that Eleanor was
born in the range 1540-1550.) It seems unlikely that "sister" meant
sister-in-law; Thomas Hill, apparently having no children of his own,
appears in his will to be distributing funds and items to a large number
of blood relatives. (See further comments on this below.)

The other major factor is brought up here:

> However, other sources says Eleanor is Eleanor Radcliffe, daughter of
> Edward Radcliffe. In Spencer article in TAG referred to Sir Edmund
> Radcliffe's (Vol 32 [not 30], page 134-135, TAG) mention a connection:
> 1 Aug 1611, Sir Edward Radcliffe of Elstow, Knt for 32 pounds, conveyed
> to John Radwell of Kempston, ploughwright, a messuage or tenement in
> Elstowe, giving a covenant of assurance against Dame Isabel
> Radcliffe,late of Elstowe, deceased, his mother. And on the same date,
> John Whitbread of Elstow, husbandman, for 20 pounds, gave to John
> Radwell assurance of quiet enjoyment of the same premises against "Elner
> Whitbread of Eluestowe," his mother (Publications of the Bedfordshire
> Historical Record Society, 4:22-23)
> Could it be Thomas Hill's mother is a Radcliffe, rather than Eleanor
> Radlcliffe, since Thomas Hill will specified Eleanor's maiden name being
> Hill, not Radcliffe?

Some background on the Radcliffe connection:

Paul Reed said on GEN-MEDIEVAL/soc.genealogy.medieval on 19 Jun 1998:
> For what it's worth, I have not seen proof of a valid connection from the
> Spencer brothers (Gerard et al.) with the older Spencer family. I have
> found a
> possible connection through the Whitebread family to the notable
> Bedforshire
> Harvey family, however, and will eventually publish the evidence which
> leads to
> that possible connection.
Paul then supplied the details in September 2001:

Mainly on the Whitreads:

And an important final summary and analysis of the 1 Aug 1611 documents
involving Sir Edward Radcliffe and John Whitbread:

In this latter summary (7 Sep 2001), Paul gives the details of the 1 Aug
1611 sale to John Radwell (as above) and then says:
> "Edw: Radcliffe" then signed a "Covenant of assurance against Dame Isabel
> Radcliffe late of Eluestowe deceased his mother." As Isabel (Hervey)
> Radcliffe
> was already deceased, the covenant was to guard against claims from
> her heirs.
> THEN, that same day, Sir Edward Radcliffe entered a bond for 60 pounds to
> secure the deed poll just made to John Radwill.
> THEN, that same day, John Whitbread of Eluestowe, husbandman, also
> entered a
> bond for the sum of 20 pounds to John Radwell, "assuring him quiet
> enjoyment of
> above premises as agains[t] Elner Whitbread of Eluestowe, widow, his
> mother."
> The main point being that the two individuals who had interest in the sold
> property apparently in their own right were Dame Isabel and Ellenor.
> As Dame
> Isabel was daughter and heir of Edmund Hervey, the connection to
> Ellenor would
> appear to be through the Hervey family.
> The only other possible speculation might be that since John
> Whitbread's bond
> was only one-third of the amound entered by Sir Edward Radcliffe, he
> was only
> assuring against dower claims his widowed mother might make.

A day earlier Paul had written:
> Court of Augmentations Accounts, late in the reign of Henry VIII
> [after 1542]
> list Edmund Hervey as having the farm of the site of the late Priory
> of Elstow.
> Among those listed among "Rents of Assize" in Elstow, which had
> belonged to the
> Monastery of Elstow, are ***THOMAS WHYTEBRED***, who had 4 messuages
> and 20
> acres of land and meadow, and ***THOMAS HERVEY***, who held 1 messuage
> and 15
> acres of land in Elstow. Gerard Harvey also held one messuage and lands in
> Elstow (Gerard would seem to be the Gerard who was illegitimate son (but
> eventually adopted) of Sir George Hervey; Gerard succeeded his father
> to large
> holdings in several counties and was MP for Bedford).
> It is tempting to wish that Ellenor was daughter of this Thomas
> Hervey, and
> that he was a son of [John Hervey and nephew of] Edmund Hervey. The
> chronology
> would seem to allow it. But definite proof is yet to be found.
> Thomas Hervey, son of John Hervey of Ickworth, was not mentioned in his
> father's will in 1556, but he may have predeceased him, having already
> received
> a share or been provided for so that he could set himself up at Elstow
> where
> his uncle Edmund held the manor. We know a Thomas Hervey held land in
> Elstow,
> and the closest candidate would be this son of John. If he died
> unexpectedly,
> leaving a daughter Ellenor, it would explain what rights Ellenor
> brought in her
> own right to land in Elstow.

Paul wrote this before the 1627 will of Thomas Hill was widely known.
Let's now look again at the phrase "sister Whitbread" in this will.

If Eleanor Whitbread was a half-sister of Thomas Hill (because Thomas's
mother Alice, widow of John Hill, married Thomas Hervey in 1547 or later
and then became the mother of Eleanor Hervey, who married John
Whitbread), then we would have a scenario that can accommodate both the
1611 sale and bonds (discussed above by Paul) and the 1627 Thomas Hill

The alternative that Eleanor Whitbread was a full sister of Thomas Hill
seems less likely. In this case, the best way to make sense of the 1611
sale and bonds is to have Alice, wife of John Hill, as a Hervey
daughter, but this doesn't seem to work as well for the 1611 data.

Further on the question of whether Thomas Hill's 1627 reference to
"sister Whitbread" could mean sister-in-law, both possibilities for
sister-in-law seem impossible or unlikely:
1. Eleanor Whitbread was Thomas's Hill's brother's wife, but then her
last name would be Hill, not Whitbread.
2. Eleanor Whitbread was the sister of Thomas Hill's wife (possibly
Judith Childe, daughter of Thomas Childe of Roxton, Bedfordshire), but
then it is hard to see why Eleanor's son needed to have a bond assuring
against her in the 1611 Elstow land transaction.

Note that Alice, daughter of John and Eleanor Whitbread, would have been
named after her maternal grandmother Alice in any of the plausible

More data would be great, but my quick search of the National Archives
and A2A didn't turn up anything especially useful.

-- Don Stone

Don Stone

Nov 27, 2011, 10:32:50 PM11/27/11
Here's an interesting page that claims that John Hill (d. 1546) married
Alys Hatley, citing Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service
Archives On-line:

Citing the same online archives and other sources (including
"Descendants of Thomas Whitbred of Upper Gravenhurst, Beds" by Steven
Whitebread, 25 Nov 2009), a related page says that Eleanor Hill, wife of
John Whitbred, was the daughter of Thomas Hill (Jr.), brother of John
Hill (d. 1546). Similarly, the Thomas Hill who died in 1628 is given as
a child of Thomas (Jr.). The assignment of Thomas Hill (Jr.) as the
father of these two and others was probably made without knowledge of
the 1546 will of John Hill. (Thanks to John Brandon for calling our
attention to this will on Nov. 2:

-- Don Stone
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