Whites of Essex, England

This research on the origins of Thomas White started with 2 pieces of information. The first is that he deposed in Lower Norfolk County in 1657 that he was 58 years old. The second is the record of Ralph White of London who appeared in Lower Norfolk records in 1656. I have paid for research in London and Essex and have 4 pages I wrote while doing the research, and having finished for the time I decided to summarize the main results and most important findings that point to the possible origins of Thomas White in Essex, England.

The Case for Thomas White of Essex
The Llewelen Connection
Essex Connections
Culpepper Connection

Luckily Ralph White is not as common name as say John White, so I found only 4-5 of this name who could be the one in the record in Virginia. I decided that the most likely was Ralph White, grocer of Stepney, who left a will dated 1661. There are 2 clues in his will that suggest this. First is that he named Alexander Harwood citizen and mercer of London as his executor. This same Alexander Harwood was also named the executor of the will of “Arthur Harwod of the Island of Virginia, now resident in the parish of St. Peter ad Vincula” in 1642.

The other name on the will that appears to be a Virginia connection is Thomas Lambert Sr who was a witness. A Thomas Lambert was a justice in Lower Norfolk County and in 1662 purchased part ownership of a ship from Thomas Alexander so some connection with Stepney and mariners seems possible. In the will of Elizabeth Lloyd of Lower Norfolk County, dated 1656/7, she gave Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lambert 2000 pounds tobacco, and to Rachell Lambert, daughter of Thomas Lambert, 5 pounds to pay her voyage to Virginia. The parish records of Saint Dunstan, Stepney, show a Rachel Lambert born to Thomas Lambert, mariner, and Sara in 1633. There is also a christening of Thomas to Thomas Lambert and Sarah at Saint Dunstan in 1638, and an apprenticeship of Thomas Lambert , son of Thomas of Stepney, mariner, in 1661. This is somewhat older than the usual apprenticeship, but it is probably the same person. Thomas Lambert of Lower Norfolk was present in Lower Norfolk court on 15 Oct. 1661, four days after Ralph White’s will was written, so it would not have been him, but it seems possible that it was his son who was still living in England. Another Thomas Lambert, son of John, was baptised as Saint Dunstan in 1642, so perhaps the senior designation was to differentiate these 2 persons. Thomas Lambert in his will in Lower Norfolk County, dated 1677, made the following bequest – “unto my loving wife Jane Lambert my land that I bought of Wm Dyer to he[r] and her heyrs”. The fact that he specified his wifes heirs seems to imply he had surviving children by another marriage, probably those born in England.

Ralph White in his will named his brother William White citizen and haberdasher of London. The apprentice record for William White in Haberdasher Company records of 1615 show he was the son of Robert White of Southweld in Essex. The will of Robert White of Southweald mentions his son Ralph and daughter Dorothy Wright. One of the witnesses to the will of Ralph White was Nathaniell Wright. Appenticeship records for the Grocers Company show that Nathaniel Wright, son of Edward Wright, citizen, was apprenticed to Ralph White in 1656. The Stepney parish register has records of Nathaniell Wright, son of Edward, christened 12 Jan 1642, and Edward Wright, son of Edward and Dorothy Wright, christened in 1638. Finally, the parish register of Barking, Essex (between South Weald and Stepney), has record of marriage in 1628 of Edward Wright and Dorothy White. It appears that Nathaniel Wright who witnessed the will of Ralph White was his nephew. Since there are two independant pieces of evidence that show Ralph White was the son of Robert White of South Weald then this is considered a fact genealogically.

Ralph White had a brother Thomas who was born in 1602, which is close the the correct age for Thomas White of Virginia, but other evidence ruled him out. Thomas White, baptized 18 Feb. 1598/9 at Willingale Doe, however, is the right age and so far no contradictory evidence has been found to suggest he could not have been Thomas of Virginia.

essex map
This area of a parish map of Essex is southwest of Chelmsford and about 11 miles from top to bottom.

In the 1524 Lay Subsidy lists there were 6 Whites living in the parishes of South Weald, Brentwood, and Shenfield, two of whom were named Robert, and the 1327 Lay Subsidy had a Henry White living in South Weald. He might not have been the ancestor of later Whites living near South Weald but there is evidence for a family of Whites living in the area for some time. The 1612 will of John White of Shenfield shows he was the father of Robert White, father of Ralph. There was also a suit in chancery concerning his estate.

The Greene family was living in Stanford Rivers and Navestock parishes between South Weald and Willingale Doe at the time of the 1524/5 lay subsidy. In 1582 John Greene purchased the manor of Shelley, and his son Thomas Greene, cutler of London, in his will dated 1616 [PCC] left to his children the Manor of Boyes Hall in Navestock and land in Stanford Rivers. Thomas Greene married in 1570 at St. Magnus the Martyr in London Margaret Greene, daughter of Lawrence Greene, cutler of London. Thomas’ brother-in-law was Lawrence Greene, grocer, who was a stockholder in the Virginia Company, and his son Lawrence Greene, merchant, imported servants into Virginia, 24 in 1641 and 20 some time previous to that. The register of South Weald records the baptisms of Lawrence and Benet White to Robert Whyte in the early 1540s. Robert Whyghte of South Weald left a will dated 1563 which was witnessed by John Grene, Nicholas Carvell vicar of South Weald, Larence Grene, Giles Greene, and John Payne. The name Bennett continued to be used in the White family for several generations, one being a sister of Ralph White. The use of these 2 names suggests a connection with the family of Lawrence Greene, cutler of London who had a daughter Bennet. This and the appearance as witnesses on the will of Robert White suggests that the Whites of South Weald were related to the Greenes.  A William, Thomas and John Greene lived in Lower Norfolk in the 1600s, but as yet no identification of their origins has been made. Lancaster County, Virg., records dated 1656 record a sale of land by Bartholomew Hoskins of Lower Norfolk to John Greene of London, merchant.

The register of Willingale Doe shows that Humffray Whighte & Elizabeth Bruce were married the sixteenth day of October in 1586. Baptisms of children of Humfray White at Willingale Doe were Richard(1589), Stephan(1592), Humffray(1593), Lawrence(1596), Thomas(1598/9), Robert(1600), Elizabeth(1603), and Christopher(1608). Also recorded were baptisms to the families of Thomas White (1570s) and Richard White (1580s). Umphry White was buried at the nearby parish of Roxwell on 10 July 1632.

The first record related to the Whites and Willingale Doe is a 1498 deed where John Smyth of Hutton deeded land to Robert White and his daughter Joan in Willingale Doe called Newmans. I found a 1635 map of the manor of Skreens “being in the several parishes of Roxwell, Shellow, & Wyllingalle”  that shows Newman fee located just east of the park. By 1532 this land and a parcel named Gowers were in possession of Thomas Barnarde & Margaret his wife, possibly heirs of Joan White, although there is no proof. Edward Barnard of Willingale Doe in his will dated 1600 mentioned the land Gowers in his will so it is possible that descendants of the heirs of Joan White continued to live in Willingale Doe until that time.

The 1571 will of John Smyth of Hutton witnessed by Thomas White and the 1584 will of Thomas White of Hutton witnessed by Samuel Smyth seem to show that relatives of those in this early deed still lived in Hutton. As the name Robert was commonly used by the Whites of South Weald and surrounding parishes, and Hutton is close to South Weald it is reasonable to assume the Robert White mentioned in the deed was related to the Whites of South Weald. However, it does not appear he had any male heirs, at least by his wife Joan. The fact that there were no Whites listed on the 1524 lay subsidy living at Willingale Doe seems to support this, although there was a John Whyte living in the adjacent parish of Willingale Spain, and a Humfrey White living nearby at Shelley.

A search of 16th century manor records of Shelley has one entry for Humphrey Whyte in 1524 and a Tocherus White in 1511. Given the closeness and similarity of names it seems that Humfrey White of Shelley is the most likely ancestor of Thomas White. A possible ancestry then would be:

  1. Tocher White, baker, living at Shelley in 1511
  2. Humphrey White, living at Shelley in 1524
  3. Unknown White
  4. Humfrey White, married Elizabeth Bruce 1586 at Willingale Dow, died 1632 at Roxwell
  5. Thomas White, born Willingale Doe 1599, died Virginia 1665
  6. John White, born Virginia, married Eady Llewellin ca 1665, died 1695 Maryland

Humfrey White appeared in both the lay subsidy of 1524 and the manor court record in 1524 in Shelley. The manor records of Shelley also record two entries of Tocherus or Totherus White in 1511. They reveal that he was a baker as was John Luke who appeared with him in both records. A Google search for the name Totherus or Tocherus found only one hit for this unusual name. In Parliamentary records of 1511 in Welsh records is mentioned Tocher or Tocherus Beeston who owned a manor in Cheshire. Tocherus being the Latin form of Tocher, then Tocher White  was probably the name of the person living in Shelley and he may have had a Welsh connection.

Some time before 1664 John White of Lower Norfolk County married Eady Llewellin, daughter of Thomas Llewellin of Isle of Wight County. Thomas Llewellin’s widow Sarah  was married to Paul Luke. Possibly the connection of the Whites of Lower Norfolk to the Llewellins or Lukes is that they were related or neighbors in England.

Headrights for Tho. Flewellin and Ann Flewellin were used by Henry Neale in 1643. This was probably the Thomas who was the father of Eady. Possibly Thomas was a member of the Lewellin family that lived in Bocking Essex where a Thomas Lewellin and Margaret Neale were married in 1613, and a Henry Neale was married to Jana Thorowgood in 1631. A Humphrey Flewellen of South Weald, husbandman, was living in 1579. Since Llewellin/Flewellin is a Welsh name and he used the given name of Humphrey he could have been related by marriage to Tocher White of Shelley. Since it has been assumed that the White family of South Weald was of English origin the name Tocher could suggest a marriage in Tocher White’s family with a family with Welsh connections in the 15th century.

Another headright on Henry Neale’s 1643 patent named  Samuel Bowen appears to also have an Essex connection. A Samuel Bowen, son of Edward Bowen was baptized 1610 in Roxwell. An Essex court record dated 22 Oct 1641 records that Edward Bowen Sr and Jr of Roxwell to keep the peace to Christopher White of Writtle, probably the brother of Thomas born 1608 at Willingale Doe.

This early connection with the Luke family could be another connection of John White of Lower Norfolk to the Llewellin family in Isle of Wight. Paul Luke in his will in Isle of Wight in 1666 mentioned only one son who was named Richard. Possibly then Paul was the son of a Richard if he named his son for his father. The register of Saint Stephen’s Walbrook, the same parish where Lawrence Greene, grocer, and Renold Greene, a son of John Greene of Navestock, lived has record of the marriage of Richard Luke of St. Johns in Walbrooke and Mary Greene, widow, in 1616. The exact identity of Mary Greene is not known, but it is likely that she was related to the other Greenes living in that parish. However, no record of children of Richard and Mary Luke were found, possibly because they lived in St. Johns in Walbrooke whose parish records are missing for this time period. The parish register of Stanford Rivers records the burial of John Luke, son of William, in 1551, possibly relatives of John Luke the baker. There is a will of John Luke, brewer of London, dated 1524. Although he owned land between Shelley and South Weald and lived at the same time he was probably not the same as John Luke, baker, but they were most likely related, especially since Luke is not a common last name.

Aside from the possible origins in Shelley, it is also possible that Robert White of the 1498 deed had some sons, perhaps by another wife. Could John White listed in the 1524 lay subsidy living in Willingale Spain have been his son? The 2 Willingales are partly contiguous – the 2 parish churchs sharing the same churchyard. The parish of Shellow Bowells is contiguous with both of these and largely is contained by Willingale Doe on the north and Willingale Spain on the south, so these 3 parishes although different can be considered so close and compact to be almost the same place. The parish register for Willingale Spain starts in 1576 and for Shellow Bowells in 1555.

Shellow Bowells:
Jone Whitte the daughter of John Whitte was christened the xith day of June 1559
Ralphe Whitte the sone of John Whitte was christened the xxxviiith day of December 1562

Willingale Spain:
marriage – Tristram Marin(?) & Joane Whighte – November xiiiith 1585
burial – John Whighte – February xxi 1597
burial – Elizabeth Whighte widd[ow] – September x 1601

These records probably refer to the same family, possibly that of a son of John White of the 1524 list. The fact that he names his daughter Joan could show a relationship to Joan White of the 1498 deed. Of course the name Ralph could also show a relationship to the family of Ralph White.

The 1625 will of Thomas White of Leaden Roding gave “unto Richard White my youngest sonne all that my copyhold or customary messuage or tenement in Willingale Spain.” The Leaden Roding parish register records the 1598 marriage of Thomas White of Aythorpe and Audrey Smith, and the 1603 baptism of Richard White, the sonne of Thomas White. The will of “Richard White of Willingale Spayne in the county of Essex carpenter” mentions 2 parcels of land in Willingale Spain, one of which is the land mentioned in the will of Thomas of Leaden Roding. Possibly Thomas White’s family was originally from Willingale Spain and at some time moved to Aythorpe Roding. Aythorpe Roding and Leaden Roding are Essex parishes just a few miles north of Willingale.

If Humfrey White of Willingale Doe was a descendant of Robert White of the 1498 deed, then possibly the use of the name Humfrey just shows that Humfrey White of Shelley and John White of Willingale Spain were related. Perhaps Robert White had 2 sons, John who lived in Willingale Spain and Humfrey who lived in Shelley.