Francis and Roger Gayer of Minster





William Gayer of Okehampton, Devon

John Gayer, Week St. Mary;

Samuell Gayer of Stratton;

Benjamin Gayer of Stratton


Rev John Gayer

Philip Gayer

Edward George Gayer

John Gayer of Dublin and children


Francis Gayer was the Rector of Minster from 1572-1585. He was probably born about 1550 or earlier and was father of Roger Gayer.(1)

I have estimated that Francis Gayer, Rector of Minster was born about 1550 and is assumed to be the son of Robert Gayer and grandson of Reginald and Alice Gayer  (see previous page " Gayer Family - Ireland and Cornwall").  "Reginald Gayer is believed also to have been the father of Robert Gayer, who was burgess in Parliament for Trevena 1553, and was probably the father of Francis Gayer, who was instituted to the Rectory of Minster in 1572” (2)

Francis may also have been the father of George Gearrye who's daughter Dorothie Gearrye was baptised in Aug.1600 as listed in the Whitstone Parish records.

Francis Gayer was the Rector of Minster:

1572    “Francis Gayer, Clerk, was admitted to the Parish Church of Minster, alias Talkarne, vacant by the death of the last Incumbent, upon the presentation of Thomas Taylour of Egloskery, co. Cornwall, Yeoman, …….”

1585    “John Trevillian, Clerk,was admitted to the Rectory of the Parish Church of Mynster, alias Talcarne, vacant by the resignation of Francis Gayer, last Incumbent, upon the presentation of John Hender, Gent., the true patron”.


“In the year 1589 an attempt was made by the Lord of the Manor of Worthevale, as patron of the benefice, and the Rector of Minster, to extend the privileges of the Rector as Lord of the Manor of Polyfant, as appears from a MS. still extant. The Rector, Francis Gayer, having resigned the benefice in favour of John Trevillian it appears that John Hender, who had a few years before acquired the patronage of the Church, William Hender, his father, Francis Gayer, the then late Rector, and John Trevillian his successor combined in an endeavour to exact from the tenants the fine upon inductions to a vacancy arising from a resignation, as would have been due on institution on account of a death vacancy.

Upon a hearing in chancery it was decided by Lord Chancellor Hatton that the fine was due only upon induction to a vacancy caused by death, and the plaintiffs were non-suited”.

Source: The Parochial and Family History of the Parishes of Forrabury and Minster. BySir John MacLean


There is a record of a burial of a Frauncis Gere buried in the church of St Pol de Leon, Paul, Cornwall in 1613. This community was the home of many members of the Gayer family. The names in the parish register are often variants of the Gayer name including Gayer, Gayre, Garie, Gear, Gere, Geare and Gearie.

It is not proven that this burial record is of Francis Gayer of Minster but the burial date is feasible.

Forrabury and Minster is a civil parish on the north coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The parish was originally divided between the coastal parish of Forrabury and inland parish of Minster until they were united in 1779. 
Source: Wikipedia


The are no records of a baptism or of a marriage for Roger Gayer. The only record of the baptism of a child for Roger Gayer is John Gayer in Whitstone in 1611.  However Roger's children are named in his will (probably in birth order with John being the 4th child) Therefore it can be assumed  that Roger’s eldest children were probably born between 1600-1610 which means that Roger Gayer would have married about 1590/1600 so he was probably born about 1570-1580.  His will was dated 1646, and he died 25 Dec 1647 in Forrabury.

On a slab, with an inscription around the margin, in these words:

"Here lieth buried, the body of Roger Gayer, Gent. Who died the 25th day of December 1647.

    All things beneath must fade both earth and skie
    Shrink to an atome – death itself must die-
    The weep you noe more, for feares no merit have
    To work redemption from th’ all conqu’ring grave." (2)

In Roger Gayer’s will of 1646, (obtained from the Cornwall Records Office)  he mentions his children Martin, William, Penelope, John, Samuel, Mary and Benjamin (presumably listed in birth order). Martin and William are obviously the eldest as they inherit far more than their other siblings.

Roger Gayer’s children, as mentioned in his will

  • Martin Gayer (of Whitstone). Born circa 1603/5, married circa 1635/6). Died 10/08/1672 in Whitstone. Although there is no record of a marriage for Martin, in the “Pedigree of Cottell and Gayer” (2), Martin is shown to have three children:
    • Roger, Martin’s son. Parish Records for Week St Mary list a Roger Gaire [Gayer] baptised Nov. 1631 (He died in 1637, and is not mentioned in Roger’s will),
    • daughter Honour; and
    • daughter Margaret, born before 1646 (is mentioned in her grandfather Roger’s will)
  • William Gayer, (born circa 1607, in Whitstone). He married Hester Bremelcombe of Okehampton, Devon, and died  there in 1648
  • Penelope Gayer, (born circa 1609, in Whitstone) married James Pearse, before 1646, probably about 1630.
  • Samuell Gayer of Stratton, (born circa 1620, possibly in Stratton), married Grace Downe in 1642 and was buried in 1676. Grace died in 1689.

  • Mary Gayer, (born circa 1627/29) married in Trevalga, 5th March 1649 to John Cottell of Botreaux Castle. She died Mar 1690. They had, two daughters: Grace and  Mary 
"On a reference to the recorded pedigree at Heralds College of the descendants of William Cottell, second son of Thomas Cottell of North Tawton, it will be seen that he had a grandson, John, who resided at Bottreaux Castle, in the parish of Forrabury Church in the summer of 1867: this gravestone of a lady was discovered within the porch of that church thus inscribed: Here lyeth the body of Mary, wife of Samuel Robins, Rector of Trevalge (she was the daughter of John Cottell Gent [and Mary Gayer]) who was buried the 16th day of May 1688."

  •  Benjamin Gayer of Stratton, (born circa 1622, possibly in Stratton). He was identified as the executor of his father’s will.  According to MacLean (2) Benjamin was married and had a daughter Elizabeth. But no other child was mentioned so his year of marriage is estimated to be 1644 and his birth year as 1622.
Although almost all records for Stratton were destroyed I have been able to establish that Benjamin Gayer's grandson, also Benjamin, was the father of Rev. John Gayer, my ancestor who moved to Ireland in the late 1600s

Of all the children of Roger Gayer only the birth year of John Gayer is known (1611). Other children’s ages have been estimated. However, the Cornwall OPC lists Roger Gayer (of Forrabury) and four of his sons signing the Oath of Protestation in 1641 (Signatories to the Oath had to be 18 years or older i.e. born before 1623).

 “Signatories to the Oath of Protestation (in Cornwall):

Forrabury                    Roger GAYER

Week St Mary             John GAYER

Whitstone                    Martaine GAYER

Stratton                       Beniamen GAYER

Stratton                       Samuel GAYER

 William GAYER is not listed as having signed the oath as he was living in Okehampton, Devon by1641.


Note 1  : The Protestation Oath of 1641

During the spring of 1641 there was great unrest in Parliament with discord between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and plots and sub-plots against both the King and Parliament itself. In May 1641 Parliament agreed upon the following Protestation Oath

“ I, ?--- ?--- do in the presence of Almighty God, promise, vow and protest to maintain and defend, as far as lawfully I may, with my Life, Power and Estate, the true reformed Protestant Religion, Expressed in the Doctrines of the Church of England, against all Popery and Popish Innovations, within this Realm, contrary to the same Doctrines, and according to the Duty of my Allegiance, His Majesties Royal Person, Honour and Estate, as also the Power and Privileges of Parliaments, the Lawful Rights and Liberties of the Subjects, and every person that maketh this Protestation. In whatsoever he shall do in the lawful Pursuance of the same; and to my power. And as far as lawfully I may, I will oppose and by all good ways and means endeavour to bring to condign punishment all such as shall, either by Force, Practice, Counsels, Plots,, Conspiracies, or otherwise, do any Thing to the contrary of any Thing in this present Protestation contained; and further, that I shall in all just and honourable ways, endeavour to preserve the Union and Peace betwixt the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland; and neither for Hope, Fear nor any other Respect shall relinquish this Promise, Vow and Protestation.”

On the 6th May 1641 a Bill was introduced in the House of Commons imposing the signing of the Protestation on all Englishmen of 18 years and above. All who refused to sign were deemed unfit to hold office in Church or Commonwealth.

At the end of February or the beginning of March 1641 incumbents read out the Protestation in the parish churches. The parishioners then signed or made their mark before him and the other officials present, who testified that the oath had been taken, or refused. Many women took the Protestation Oath. Many Roman Catholics refused.

The only safe assumption as to whether a man could or could not write is where it says he made his mark. Many incumbents wrote the whole list of names. In many family groups every name was written by one person. Do not assume that a man could write even if it does not say he marked.

This work is a transcription of a transcription and is therefore open to human error. As always the original documents should be consulted. The original Protestation Returns are held in the Parliamentary Archive in the House of Lords Library.

By 1641 each of the sons appears to have settled in a different community (probably their wives home parish).  By 1646 when Roger Gayer died, the sons have children of their own some of whom are listed in Roger’s will. It is probable that Roger Gayer’s children were born between 1600 and 1629.

It is known that both William and John were born in Whitstone (William mentions that he was born in Whitstone in his will); There is a record of John's baptism in the Whitstone Parish Records.  There are no records of baptisms for the three younger childern: Samuel, Benjamin and Mary.  There is a large gap between the baptism of John Gayer in 1611 and Samuel (estimated year of birth as 1620).  It is possible that Roger's wife died after 1611 leaving him with four young children.  I speculate that he may have re-married and then lived in Stratton where his three younger children were born.  There are no Parish records or Bishops' Transcripts available for Stratton to prove this conjecture.


The chart below, shows the descendants of Roger Gayer. It is a composite of information from various sources i.e. The wills of Roger Gayer, William Gayer and William Watts; Records from the Cornwall OPC; Records from Family; Legal documents (such as deeds and leases) from the Cornwall Records Office and the National Archives. 

Dates in regular type are known from records                     Dates in italics are estimated


The communities of Whitstone and Week St Mary are less than 4 miles apart by today's roads but would have been closer, through the Swannacott Wood, on foot. Stratton (now a part of Bude) is about 16 miles further north and west.
There are many other Gayers born, married and buried in both Whitstone and Week St. Marys in the mid to late1600s, many having the same names as earlier Gayers.  It is impossible to determine relationships among these Gayers.

(1)   “Colby of Gt. Torrington, Devon. Some account of that family and its alliances for five generations”. By Frederick Thomas Colby
(2)   The Parochial and Family History of the Parishes of Forrabury and Minster. BySir John MacLean 
(3)    "The Cornwall Muster Roll 1569" edited by H L Douch published by T L Stoate 1984