Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Family Chapel

Back in 2000, in spite of petrol shortages due to refinery strikes, I did a road trip through southern England and visited villages where some of my ancestors lived.  I found several churches that had monuments to branches of my family tree who were landed gentry.  This is the story of one of those ancestors; a man whose monumental inscription I particularly liked.

Taken by me, 2000
My ancestor John Ernley* was born soon after 1507, which is when his parents, John Ernley and Lucy Cooke** were married.  He was probably born in or near Bishops Cannings in Wiltshire, where his family had property.  This photo shows the outside of the parish church at Bishops Cannings.

John had at least three siblings, younger brother, William, and two sisters, Margaret and Jane.  His great uncle (or less likely, grandfather***), also John Ernley, was Solicitor General, Attorney General and Justice of the Common Pleas in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, so the Ernley family was prominent at the time. 

John Ernley married Mary Hyde, daughter of William Hyde of Denchworth.  The Denchworth Hydes were apparently a Catholic family so fell out of favour in the reign of Protestant Elizabeth I. John and Mary were probably married around 1540; this is a rough assumption extrapolated from the dates I am sure of.  Parish registers for Bishop’s Cannings start in 1591, so there are no parish records from the time John and his family were alive and I am reliant on other sources of information.  John and Mary had four children that I know of: Anne (my ancestor), Michael (born c. 1542), Thomas and Francis.

Mary must have died young, as John married a second time to Joan Reade, a widow, who was named in his will.

Photo taken by me, 2000
A part of the landed gentry, John held property in several parishes near Bishop’s Cannings, as well as in other parts of England.  In particular, he inherited the manor of Bourton, in Bishop’s Cannings from his father and this seems to have been his home.   John also held roles that fitted with his position in society.  He seems to have been sheriff of Wiltshire in the 1550s as he is apparently mentioned in Privy Council records from the period.  In 1559, he was Member of Parliament for Wiltshire.

John Ernley died on 1 February 1571, 1572 according to the Gregorian calendar, or as per his monumental inscription: fifteen hundred three score and eleven.  It is this way of expressing the date that particularly appeals to me because it is different and quaint.  John was buried in the Ernley chapel in Bishop’s Cannings parish church, as requested in his will.  Right is a photo of the chapel and below is the inscription.

Photo take by me, 2000
I think there might be much more to discover about John and his family but records from the 1500s are more or a challenge to research than those relating to more recent periods of history.

This blog post is inspired by the 52 Ancestors prompt for this week “Going to the Chapel”.

*Earnley is the parish in Sussex where the family come from.  Other spellings include Ernle and Earnlie. 
**Or Cook
***There were several related John Ernley’s whose lives and career’s overlapped, likely including two brothers, so it makes trying to work out who was who somewhat complicated.

Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Harriet Partridge > Thomas Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge > Thomas Partridge > John Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge > Henry Partridge > Henry Partridge > Anthony Partridge > Anne Ernley > John Ernley