Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 23 No. 4 November 2008

Blencowe Brides 3: Research notes on Joan Light

Unfortunately, there is very little light that can be shed on Joan Light's ancestry. We know no more of this than the names of her parents — even then her mother's maiden name is unrecorded, although one internet-posted tree suggests she was a Washington herself, it is neither sourced, nor is the propounder contactable

Joan was married to Thomas Blencowe of Marston St Lawrence. The Herald's visitations 1618/1619 record that he was the grandson of the John Blencowe who arrived from Cumberland, and was living in 1446, when it seems he arrived in Northants. He purchased the manor of Marston St Lawrence 23/6/1540 from Henry VIII, on the dissolution of the monasteries, although it seems the Blencowes were already in occupation - possibly as tenants?

Joan or Joane was the daughter of Thomas and Agnes Light (also spelt Lyghte, Lyght and Lyte) of nearby Horley. It is unlikely that her father originated from that village, as there is no record there of a prominent family of this time. Given the many important marriages made by his children, it is inconceivable that the Light family was not of some prominence, and wealth. The only other Light family of significance at this time is based in Somerset and Wiltshire — possibly he was a younger son of that family. We are unlikely to ever know as one of Thomas and Agnes' descendants, through their son Christopher, was no less a person than the first president of the USA (i.e. George Washington) we can be certain that many professional genealogists have unsuccessfully trained their sights on Thomas' antecedents.

Thomas Light was probably born during the 1470s. His will dated 6/1/1520, made shortly before his death was proved by 30/1/1520 and in it he names his wife and three children: Joane married to Thomas Blencowe, Anne married to John Warner and his son Christopher who was jointly with his wife Agnes the main beneficiary of the will. The daughter Agnes mentioned in his wife's will is not mentioned by name: Ann and Agnes were often used interchangeably at this time and so they may be one and the same daughter. However Ann was probably already married to John Warner by the time of her mother's will in which she refers to her daughter Agnes Light.

Thomas Light bequeathed “unto Thomas BLENCOWE and Joane my daughter £6 13s. Item: to every one of their children - ten sheep”.

In the absence of parish records, it is wills deeds and conveyances that we must rely on to provide family details. It is clear from the detail in his will that Thomas was well to do — he is able to make a number of monetary bequests to various charities and to appoint a chantry at St Audrey's Horley for 2 years after his death, as well as bequests to his curate (a Pargiter) and several servants, there is reference to lands in Halse in addition to those in Horley where he had his house. Thomas was clearly also involved in the sheep and wool industry for he leaves 10 sheep to his grandchildren by his two daughters and each of his godchildren. The bequest of sheep is not the eccentricity that it sounds: effectively he was leaving each child the nucleus of a flock and the profit that would come from that. Similar bequests of livestock are made by his widow and his son Christopher in their wills.

The number of religious and charitable bequests, and the fact that the godchildren are remembered as meticulously as his grandchildren would suggest that Thomas was a pious and god-fearing man, as well as being well-to-do (he remembers a number of servants): it is not likely therefore that he came from a humble background. There is no record or evidence of Thomas Light's tomb or plaque (see will below) surviving in Horley Church — either his wishes were ignored or his tomb was thoroughly desecrated during the Civil War. Agnes survived her husband by only a couple of years making her will on 20 November 1523, proved by 15 December 1523 and requesting burial in the church of St. Lawrence Marston. Why did she contradict her husband's wishes that she should be buried with him in Horley?

This next paragraph will delight those of you who enjoy connections with important people and know the “who's who” of the period. Anne

What is evident is that the Light family was of good stock, and inter-connected with the local notable families. Joan Light and Thomas Blencowe's son John married Agnes Pargiter as his first wife: her parents were Robert Pargiter of Greatworth and Anne Knight of Charwelton: Joan's niece Agnes Light married Agnes Pargiter's brother William; another brother George Pargiter (died 1565) married Mary Pinkard, whose brother was John Pinkard: surely some family connection to Emmett Pinkard, who married Thomas Blencowe as her second husband after Joan Light's death? Yet another of the Pargiter children, Ann or Amy, married as her second husband Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave, their son Robert married Elizabeth Light, Joan's great-niece through her nephew Sir Walter Light of Radway Lodge. Another Pargiter sister married William Molle, this family also connected to the Blencowes towards the end of the century by marriage to Mary Walleston's sister Anne. Joan's granddaughter through her son John married a Robert Warner: possibly a grandson of Joan's sister Ann Light's marriage to John Warner?

The wills of the period are invaluable in establishing the many interrelationships of these families, their wealth and social standing, in the absence of parish records. There is evidence that the families were also partners in the wool stapling business of raising sheep and selling the fleeces, much in demand by Flemish weavers, and a significant driver of the programme of enclosure of common land and the eradication of strip farming - even the church in Stutchbury and most of the properties there were pulled down to make way for enclosure by Pargiters, and Blencowes surely took part in this process which disinherited and pauperised the common villagers.

Will of THOMAS LIGHT OF HORLEY, OXFORD dated 6/1/1520

In the name of God amen, the 6th day of January in the year of our Lord God 1520, I Thomas LIGHT of Horley in the County of Oxfordshire, being in good mind and whole memory in this manner of form, I make my testament and my last will

I bequeath my soul unto Almighty God and to our Lady Saint Mary and to all the hallows in heaven, my body to be buried within the Church of Saint Awdrey in Horley, And I bequeath to the high altar of the same church for my tithes negligently forgotten 6s 8d. Item I bequeath unto the same church a cope and a pair [of] vestments of black velvet Item I will have a priest singing in the same church for two years next ensuing for the wealth of my soul and Christian souls.

Item I will that there be bought at London a great marble stone to lie upon me and my wife Agnes after her decease and therein to be gravert, I and my wife in brass with all our children.

Item I bequeath to the mother church of Lincoln 3s 4d.

Item to the church of Hornton 3s 4d.

Item to the church of Botley 3s 4d

Item to the church of Radway 3s M_.

Item to the church of Byrton 3s 4d.

Item to the church of Warmington 3s 4d,Item I bequeath unto Thomas BLENCOWE and Joane my daughter £6 13s. Item to every one of their children ten sheep.

Item I bequeath unto John WARNER and Anne my daughter £3s 4d and to every one of their children ten sheep.

Item I bequeath unto Master William PARGITOUR my curate to pray for me 6s 8d.

Item I will that John PARSON an old servant of mine, that he remain still servant with my wife and my son Christopher~ and after that he is no longer able to do service, I will that he remain still in my house and to have meat and drink or else twice a week as long as he liveth and be at his pleasure.

Item I will that Agnes WARDEN an old woman in my house be ordered after the same manner as John Parsons.

Item I bequeath unto Joan HOOKS a maid servant of mine 6s 8d..

Item I bequeath to Thomas HORSMAN and his wife of Hornton 10s.

Item I bequeath to every one of my godchildren ten sheep.

Item I bequeath to Richard MALL my godchild ten sheep.

Item I make mine executors my wife, Agnes Light and my son Christopher Light.

Item I make overseers of this my will Thomas BLENCOWE and William MALLE of Adderby.

Item I bequeath to THOMAS BLENCOWE for his labour in this cause 20s. Item to William Mall [an] other 20s and my best gown

All the rest of my goods not bequeathed, my debts paid and also the lease and occupying of all my farm for the years that be to come, and also the lease and occupying of all the pastures and other profits that I have within the Lordship of Halse within the County of Northampton, I will that my wife and my son Christopher have them and occupy them jointly together to the use of them both as long as my said wife liveth And after the decease of my wife I will that my son Christopher Light shall have them, and he for to dispose for both our souls after his discretion.

Witness that this is of a truth, Master Williarn Pargitour, curate and Vicar there of Horley and Henry WARTON [?] and Thomas GRENE with many other.

Will of Agnes Light, widow, of the parish of Marston St Lawrence dated 20/11/1523 and proved 15/12/1523 (summary)

Her will is very brief, which is perhaps an indication of how unwell she was at the time. She provided for burial at Marston St Lawrence, gifts to that church, to the mother church at Lincoln and to Horneton church.. A gift is made to the vicar of Horley to provide for prayers for her soul and that of her husband's “in his bedroll”, which sounds somewhat eccentric.

She left to every godchild “that be not wed” one sheep and to all of her “childers children” four sheep.

She mentions the Malle family in her will extensively — does this hint at her lineage? Each of the children of William Malle receives a sheep and his daughter Julian a cow in addition, and household effects. William Malle's daughter-in-law receives four sheep. Margaret Blencowe receives household effects and a cow and Ellynor Warner, household effects — these are almost certainly grand-daughters. To her daughter Agnes “my red saye cloth” and her great chest to Thomas Lyght (her grandson).

She appointed as overseer of her will Thomas Brynknell DD who was to receive the profit of St John's of Banbury 6/=8d and four sheep.

Thomas Blenkowe and William Malle were her executors and were instructed to dispose of the residue of the estate as they saw fit “for the wealth of my soul”

Edmund Pargytor, priest, was one of the witnesses

Will of Christopher Light of Horley dated 28/3/1546 and proved 9/11/1546 (summary) (this is Joan's brother)

He asks to be buried as near as convenient to his father Thomas's grave at Horley, he makes various bequests to the church for tithes negligently forgotten and for its repair. He provides that every person attending his funeral would receive 8d and his dinner; the provided for a chantry pries for his and his parents' souls and every Christian soul for a year. He left the most of his property to his son Christopher, and substantial land also to his sons Walter and Thomas. He made provision for Christopher to run “three score wether sheep in the fields of Horley and Horneton and 20 ewe sheep and 20 hog sheep in Westcotte and six kyne “other” at Westcotte or Horley field and a nag, to be kept as he keeps his own” for the use of his mother.

He bequeathed some household goods to his sons and to his daughters Agnes Pargeutour and Johan Savage. To his daughters (who would already have received a dowry on marriage) he leaves a cow and twenty couples each “so that I depart this world between carrying tyme and lammas”. He made gifts to servants and godchildren. He left his brother-in-law Nicholas Woodwarde 5 gilt spoons, appointing “my brother” Robert Pargetor [his daughter's father-in-law] and his cousin Parson Box to oversee the will and dividing the residue between his sons Christopher and Walter.

Will of CHRISTOPHER LIGHT OF HORLEY, OXON 1583 (summary) (this is Joan's nephew)

Will of Christopher Light made July 1583 and proved October 1584, gentleman. to be buried in the parish church of Horley under the gravestone where my mother and father were buried

My manor of Horley, my manor of Horneton, in Oxfordshire, my messuage and land in Mollington, Warwickshire etc etc to my Executors during the minority of Richard Light my son

To brother Walter to sister Johan Halford and her children viz., Elizabeth Tyson, and Ursula Halford my cousin Robert Pargiter and Christopher Pargiter and Ursula Knight, their sister

Owes Cousin Robert Washington one hundred pounds to wife Margaret to five of the children of my sister Halford, viz., Thomas Savage, Elizabeth Tyson, Blanch Halford, Margaret Nicholls and Ursula Halford. Executors “my good brother in law Mr William Pargyter of Grytworth, Northampton, and my well beloved brother Mr. Walter Lyght of Radwaye Warwicke Overseers my father in law Mr. Thomas Sheldon and my friend Mr. Ancar Brent.

A codicil refers to executor Mr. William Pargiter having “departed this world” since the making of the will he appoints “his kinsman” Robert Pargiter as executor instead.

© 2008 Ruth Jenkins

updated: 26 February 2009