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FITCH of Little Canfield ~ Part II

(Continued from + 6 iii William)

6. WILLIAM FYTCHE (Thomas, John, William) of Little Canfield, Essex, b. abt. 1496; will 13 Oct. 1577;[1] d. Little Canfield, 20 Dec. 1578 aged 82;[2] bur. 22 Dec. 1578;[21] will proved Prerogative Consistory Court, London 12 Jan. 1578/9;[1] m. (1) Elizabeth ______,[2] m. (2) Anne ,[6] d. 3 Dec. 1593,[2] dau. of John and Joan (Lucas) Wiseman of Felsted, Essex,[6] and mentioned in her father's will, 1559.[3] After William d. Anne m. (2) City of London, 28 May 1579,[19] Ralph Pudsaye of Grays Inn, Gent.[19] William and both wives bur. chancel, All Saints Church, Little Canfield.[2]

Arms of Fitch or Fytch
With the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1538, William began to acquire properties in Essex. These often consisted of a manor house, several other buildings, and hundreds of acres of land. In 1538,[14] he acquired the manor of Little Canfield, his principal residence, possibly from Walter Writtell and John Bassett, Esqs.[9] At the time he was listed as a yeoman, but in 1540 he was accorded the rank of gentleman.[14] On 3 Jan. 1544, Thomas, Lord Audley, received license from Henry VIII to alienate the rectory and advowson of Lindsell to William.[33] In 1556, he bought the manor of Lindsell Hall, and in 1557 Camoys Hall, the largest manor in Toppesfield, both from Thomas, Lord Wentworth.[14]

His next purchase was Great Canfield Park, which he obtained, 3 May 1561,
[20] from Thomas and Anne and Robert and Mary Wiseman.[14] When John Wiseman originally purchased the land from the 18th Earl of Oxford in 1548, it was described as "all that messuage [a house and its outbuildings, from the French menage] and 260 acres of land called Moche Canfield Parke." To be called a Park, it must have been enclosed to hold deer. By the time William bequeathed the estate to his son William, he was possessed of "a messuage called Candfield Lodge and of 150 acres . . . of arable land enclosed by a pale [a fence made of stakes] commonly called Much Canfeild Parke, or the great Parke of Canfeild." There follow the name of six tenants, indicating the land was under cultivation and the deer were gone.

On 6 Feb. 1563, William bought the manor of Garnetts and Mercks in High Easter, near Bishop's Green, from Kenelm Throckmorton and John Paviott.
[4][9] And in 1572 he bought the manor of Albyns, its land partly in Stappleford Abbots and partly in Navestock, from his wife Anne's brother, George Wiseman and George's wife, Martha*.[14] Albyns was a large estate, comprising 5 messuages, 240 acres of arable land, 40 acres of meadow, 140 acres of pasture, 50 acres of woods, and rents of 40 shillings a year.[15]

On 1 Oct. 1575, William bought the rectory, called Prior's (or Friar's) Hall, Parsonage Farm, Stebbing, and the advowson of Stebbing church, from William Tiffyn, Gent., and Mary, his wife.

According to The Victoria History of the Counties of England,[15] George Wiseman and his wife Mary settled Albyns on his daughter Anne and her husband, William Fytche. This is probably an error, because several other sources say that William's wife was the daughter of John Wiseman and that George's dau. Anne had three other husbands.

Will of William Fytche of Little Canfield

My body to be enclosed in a coffin and decently buried in the chancel of Little Canfield church next to the place where Elizabeth my wife was buried, and there be prepared by my executors a convenient and fair marble stone with my arms and the pictures of myself, my wife and children and with such superscriptions as shall seem best to my executors. and the stone to be laid over my corpse for a perpetual remembrance as well of the day of my death as of the names of my wife and children
[the children are pictured but not named on the brass]. To everyone that shall bear me to church to be buried 2s. To everyone of my godchildren 2s. To the poor people coming to my burial £4 in meat, drink and money. To a good and learned preacher provided to make a sermon at the time of my funeral 10s. To the poor inhabitants of Thaxted 13s. 4d., Great Dunmow 13s. 4d., King's Hatfield [Broad Oak] 13s. 4d. and Lindsell 6s. 8d.

To Thomas Walker my old servant the reversion of the lease of the tenement
[a dwelling place, which might include land] called Tanners in the occupation of one Glascock belonging to the manor of Garnettes and Markes, which lease I have signed and delivered to him, paying the rent in the lease. To every of my servants besides their wages one quarter's wages. To Anne my well-beloved wife and to each of my children a featherbed, my wife to have the first choice and next to her Thomas my eldest son, next William my second son, and then [no name] my third son. To the parson of Little Canfield for the tithes negligently forgotten 3s. 4d.

Whereas I now hold the manor of Little Canfield Hall wherein I dwell for term of my life and 6 years after my decease, and whereas I hold for life and 1 year after a messuage and lands called Hodinges in Little Canfield, I bequeath the terms of 6 and 1 years to my executors to receive the commodities and rent of the manor towards performing my will, with remainder after the expiration to the heirs of Eleanor my daughter, late the wife of Rooke Grene esquire, according to the conveyance. To the heirs of Francis Mannocke esquire and of my daughter Mary his late wife my manor and lands in Toppesfield called Camoyes which I hold for life. To my wife my manor of Lindsell for life, with remainder to Thomas according to covenants made before marriage between me and my wife. To Thomas the reversions
[the right of succeeding to an estate upon the death of the original grantee] of my manors and lands called Garnettes and Markes. To my executors the yearly rents and profits of my two parsonages, viz. Lindsell Parsonage and Stebbing Parsonage alias Friers Hall in Stebbing, to go for the paying of my debts and the performance of my will, and then to Thomas. To William Great Canfield Park on condition that he pay yearly to Francis my younger son during my wife's life an annuity of £20 and such money as shall come of the park over £40 until my debts and legacies be paid, then the whole profits less the annuity, and after her decease to hold the park, and for default of issue to Francis. To my wife for life my manor of Abins [Albyns] and the lands, tenements, woods and free warrens [free warren is the right to keep or hunt on a warren, a piece of land enclosed for breeding game] belonging in Stapleford Abbots and Navestock, according to the assurance made by George Wiseman gentleman and Martha his wife to my wife and me, and after her decease to remain to Francis, and for default of issue to William.

My wife shall have the education, nurturing and bringing up of William and Francis and shall take the yearly rents and profits of their lands and annuities until they are 21, and during their nonage
[the period of legal infancy or minority] she make a true account to them before my overseers, and to be allowed for her charges towards their apparel, meat, drink and schooling.

My muniments and evidences
[documents, such as deeds], after such time as my office shall be found before the Queen's Majesty's Escheator of the county of Essex shall be delivered to the custody of my overseers*. I appoint my uncle Thomas Wiseman and my brother George Wiseman overseers, and for their pains 40s. The residue to my wife, whom I make my sole executrix, most earnestly charging her to be careful and diligent with an honest motherly care for the bringing up and well educating of our children, and to the intent that she should be so the better able to assist them I have dealt the more liberally towards herself in this my will. I ordain Thomas to be sole executor, and, if he refuse, William and Francis.

Witnesses: Thomas Walker the writer and John Howland.

Proved 12 January 1579.

* An escheat was the lapsing of land to the Crown, or to the lord of the manor, on the death of the owner intestate without heirs. The Escheator was an officer appointed yearly by the Lord Treasurer to take notice of the escheats in the county to which he was appointed, and to certify them into the Exchequer, the court in which the financial business of the country was transacted. With William's "muniments and evidences," his overseers would be able to prove his right to pass his lands on to his wife and children.

On the south side of the chancel in the church at Little Canfield is a brass (Figure 6), which reads ~

Here lyeth buried under this stone the body of William Fytche, Esq., late Lord of Little Canfield, which had two wyffes, Elizabeth and Anne and the said William Fytche he had yssue by Elizabeth his first wife, two sonnes and three daughters, and by Anne his second wyffe, four sonnes, and the said William Fytche being of the age of 82 years changed this life on the 20th Dec. 1578.[2]

When Anne died, she was buried in the middle of the chancel in the same church. Underneath her image are her three sons, in short cloaks, with swords at their sides, their hands folded in prayer. The inscription reads ~

Here lyeth the Bodie of Anne daughter of John Wiseman of Felsted in the Countie of Essex Esquire, whoe was first married to William Fytche Esquire sometyme Lorde of this Parishe by whom she hath three sonnes Thomas William and Francis after whose death she was married to Ralph Pudsey of Greyís Inn Esquire. She dyed the third day of December Anno 1593.[2]

Fitch ~ Early Generations, Part I
Fitch ~ Early Generations, Part III
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The Baronage Content Page January-February 2000
© 1998 John Townsend Fitch