Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 22 No. 4 November 2007

Blencowe Brides 2 - Mary Waleston or Walleston

Combined coat of arms of John Blencowe & Mary Waleston

Mary's husband John Blencowe (born 1575) inherited the manor of Marston St Lawrence when his father, also named John, died on 14th February 1604-5. John junior matriculated aged 16 yrs from Magdalen Hall, Oxford, on 2nd July 1591. He became a student of the Inner Temple in 1594, which many young men of good family did, and not necessarily intending to practice law: he was his fatherís heir and would not need to earn his living in this way. John was about 30 years old when he inherited the estate and already married to Mary Waleston.

John outlived Mary to marry again to Joyce Cooper, but before her death, Mary bore him twelve children: Thomas, George, John, Samuel, Robert, Nathaniel, Timothy, William, Jonathan, Margaret, Mary and Grace. This couple are thus among the progenitors of many of our members, and her lineage will, I hope, be of interest to many of you. To those of you who have already explored Mary's family and antecedents — please DO share any additional information that you have and point out any errors.

Mary's father was John Waleston of Ruislip. Frustratingly, however, for an armigerous family, we can find out only a limited amount about them. The Waleston family of Ruislip tailed off in a flurry of females: Mary was one of at least 4 girls, and her only brother seems to have had female children too, so that there were no surviving males by the time of the Herald's Visitations, which would otherwise have provided more information. The Wallaston or Walliston family of Alton and Southampton seem to descend from Mary's great-uncle William, who was a trader and clerk in Southampton and also at times Mayor and Alderman of that City.

Two websites that are very useful for finding information to back up family relationships in the period prior to accurate parish records are British History Online (which includes a fully searchable Victorian County Histories among other resources) and A2A (The National Archive Online). Critically, they can also provide useful verification for genealogical information on Rootsweb and the IGI (both of which are only as reliable as the individuals providing the information) to sort the factual from the frankly fabulous.

A workable lineage can be pieced together, from about 1500, beginning with “Johannes Walleston Cofurrer to Prince Artur et Agnes his wyf de yslep” who are recorded as subscribing to the influential Guild of St Anne of Knowle in Warwickshire. (In the history of the royal household of England, a cofferer was a principal officer in the court.) The Rectory of Ruislip and its farmlands were leased out to the Waleston family from at least 1476 by the Dean and Canons of St George's, Winchester. In 1547 the parsonage was worth £18.00. When the tithes were commuted in 1814 the award was 300 acres, so this was a sizeable holding although not perhaps a country estate.

In 1507 John Waleston acquired a cottage “Hopkyttes” at Well Green, Eastcote, which adjoins Ruislip, having acquired the lease from the family of John Amery (d.1494). He transferred the property to Ralph Hawtrey (fourth son of Thomas Hawtrey of Chequers, Bucks) on 26 June 1527. Ralph was married to Winifred Waleston, John's daughter. The property became his main residence, known as “Eastcote House”. He took over the Ruislip Rectory farmlands from 1532.

On 31 August, 1542 William Waleston, clerk, “quitclaimed” (i.e. renounced his claims) to John Waleston, gentleman, his brother, of lands, tenements, rents and appurtenances in Bedgrove and Weston Turville, Buckinghamshire. In December 1550 a widowed Agnes Nicholas (possibly a sister) quitclaimed the same properties to John Waleston. John Walleston, described in the conveyance as being of Ruislip and as the son of the late John Waleston of Ruislip, sold these estates in 1565. I believe, from other information available, that he was Maryís Grandfather, married to Jane Knightley.

The Walestons had some standing at the time: in September 1532 a young lad, Christopher Waleston, probably William's son as he later achieved some standing in Southampton, was paid a reward of 4/- for bringing partridges to the King. On 25 December 1540 the King wrote, under the Seal of the Privy Council, from Hampton Court to a local judge, but also to William Gyffard Kt (an ancestor of mine on another line) John Kingsmyll and John Waleston (probably Mary's grandfather rather than her father) regarding their role in bringing a treasonous individual to book.

The will of Agnes Walleston, widow of Ruislip was made will verbally on 30th May 1545 in front of a number of witnesses, naming her son John (to whom she left all of her estate) and Ralph Hawtry (husband of her daughter Winifred) as her executors. I surmise that Agnes was Mary Waleston Blencowe's great grandmother, widow of the cofferer to Prince Arthur.

Mary's father John married Ann Shelley daughter of John Shelley. As well as the obligatory son John, there were five daughters: Elizabeth married Maximilian Emyly or Emely of Helmdon (there is an entry for one of their sons in the Dictionary of National Biography), Ann married George Molle and Sara married Thomas Betham of Rowington in Warwickshire ñ they baptised their eldest son Walleston! Another daughter married John Poulton of Desborough.

These family relationships are confirmed in George Molle's will, which helpfully refers to his brothers Emely and Blencow, and in their mother Ann Wallystone's (sic) will dated 8 March 1622, which is a short but fascinating document. Ann left Mary “a payre of silke curtaynes and valence which are in her possession”, “my guilt bell salt which is in her possession” to her daughter Poulton, 5 silver spoons to her daughter Elizabeth, & one of three (unidentifiable from the manuscript) items to her daughter Molle. John Poulton her son-in-law was in possession of certain chattels which he was to distribute as she had discussed with him, and her son-in-law Thomas Betham received all the remainder of the estate & was her sole executor.


As Anne's will was witnessed by a member of the Betham family and two others who simply made their mark, it is likely that she was in the Betham household when she died — was Thomas taking advantage of her, or taking on the unthankful task of disentangling the old lady's affairs? The will throws light on what Ann considered to be her most precious possessions, making sure that they and her less precious items were properly disposed of.

Mary's paternal lineage is of interest, as her grandmother was Jane Knightley, daughter of Sir Richard Knightley of Fawsley, whose family is extremely well documented by virtue of the fact that one her brothers, Richard, married into the Spencers of Althorp, and we all, I think, know where that eventually leads. Also Sir William Spencer of Althorp married a Susan Knightley who was either Janeís niece or her sister — the references vary The Walleston family also has connections to the Penn family: the tomb of John Penn (died 1597) and his wife Ursula at Penn, Bucks has the arms of the Penn family impaling those of Waleston, as does that of their son William.

To summarise, Mary's paternal line can be traced back, for three generations based on wills and contemporary deeds thus:

Johannes Waleston of Ruislip, “cofurrer to Prince Artur“ = Agnes

Ruth Jenkins © 2007

updated: 26 June 2008