THE GAYERS OF CORNWALL
FRANCIS AND ROGER GAYER OF MINSTER
SONS AND GRANDCHILDREN OF ROGER GAYER:
William Gayer of Okehampton, Devon
John Gayer, Week St. Mary;
Samuell Gayer of Stratton;
Benjamin Gayer of Stratton
Rev John Gayer
John Gayer of Dublin and children
1641 The first reference that I have for a Benjamin Gayer is the Oath of Protestation in 1641. Signators had to be 18 years of age to sign the oath. I believe that Benjamin could not have been much older than that as I have estimated he was born in 1622 and, at the time of signing the Oath, he was living in Stratton, where I believe he was born.
1646 The next reference is from the time his father Roger wrote his will in 1646 and named him Executor, but it gives no clue of the place he was living or if he was married. He would have been about 24 year's old.
The next mention of Benjamin Gayer is in The Parochial and Family History of the Parishes of Forrabury and Minister, By Sir John Maclean. In the “Pedigree of Cottell and Gayer” Benjamin Gayer is shown to have a daughter Elizabeth who Maclean states was mentioned in Roger's Gayer's will although I found no such reference when I transcribed it. If Benjamin was married at the time of his father's death and had a daughter Elizabeth she would have been born prior to 1646. Again there is no clue as to where Benjamin might be living.
1663, 1st March in Whitstone at Our Lady and St Anne Church. Christening of Johana Gayer. Parent: Benjamin
1664 The next reference to a Benjamin Gayer is in Lanteglos by Camelford which is on the western side on north Cornwall not far from Trevalga and Tintagel and about 17 miles south of Stratton. A Benjamin GAYRE is listed as having paid a Hearth Tax of of 2 shillings to be paid for each hearth in two instalments – Lady Day (25th March) and Michaelmas Day (29th September) by the occupier of a dwelling. This gives some indication that this Benjamin Gayer was a wealthy man. The question now arises as to whether this Benjamin Gayer is the same person as the son of Roger Gayer who is believed to have been born in Stratton as was his brother Samuell Gayer.
1669 in Week St. Mary. Marriage of Benjamin GAYER to Margery WILLIAMS. This Benjamin is believed to be the son of William Gayer of Okehampton, Devon
1673 there is a document found in the National Archives which shows a relationship between Benjamin Gayer of Camelford and Samuel Gayer of Stratton: If Benjamin Gayer, son of Roger, was living in Lanteglos by Camelford in 1673 is he the same Benjamin Gayer born in Stratton and brother of Samuell Gayer of Stratton? It is likely that he was there because his bride was from there. However, I can find no record of that marriage.
(i) Benjamin Gayer of Camelford, gent and William his son
Samuel Gayer of Stratton, gent
Poundparke etc in Camelford [in
Lanteglos by Camelford].
1673 February in Whitstone. Baptism of Martin Gayer and Elizabeth Gayer (Both died in 1673) Parent: Benjamin Gayer.
1676 1st Nov. in Whitstone. Baptism of Samuell Gayer. Parent: Benjamin Gayer.
1682 There are references to Benjamin Gayer in Stratton
This last reference indicates that, by 1682, Benjamin had three children: Benjamin, Samuel and Johan (female). This is unlikely to be the Benjamin Gayer (Sr.) of Stratton (son of Roger) but more likely to be Benjamin (Jr.), grandson of Roger Gayer. The only other Gayer, known to have lived in Stratton, was Samuell and he had three daughters. Benjamin Junior's children (listed in the 1682 document) were:
- Benjamin Gayer 3rd. (born before 1682)
- Samuel Gayer (born before 1682)
- Johan (Joan) Gayer was married in 1704 so her birth year was probably between 1680 and 1684.
The conclusion drawn from listing these events associated with Benjamin Gayer is that there were obviously two, if not three, people of the same name in Lanteglos by Camelford, Whitstone and Stratton. It is obvious that the Benjamin Gayers in Whitstone and Lanteglos by Camelford were two different people because events are recorded in those places in thesame year. It is possible that Benjamin Gayer, son of Roger, married and lived in Lanteglos by Camelford. However, if he did, and if he had a son named Benjamin then that son appears to have married and have lived in Stratton.
Johan (Joan) Gayer,
was the daughter of Benjamin Gayer (Jr.) who married William Watts in Week St Mary in 1704. Her
name later appears in the records when she and her husband William Watts,
assign a post-nuptial settlement on Benjamin Gayer in 1713 (the Benjamin
mentioned in the deed is probably her brother rather than her father).
23 July 1713 Post nuptial settlement, William Watts of St. Gennis, yeoman, and Johan his wife (formerly called Johan Gayer), to Benjamin Gayer of Stratton, Cornwall, yeoman, property called Flaunders in St Gennis.
Marriage settlements: It was common for a husband/future husband to settle property (or rents i.e. secure income) on the father or brother of a wife/future wife. This was to ensure that, should the husband predecease the wife, there would be adequate income to sustain her and any children and she would not be dependent on family for support.
In the will of William Watts he
writes "I give to Johan Gayer my niece who lives with me twenty pounds
to be paid by my executrix within three years after my death". A
niece with the last name Gayer can only be the daughter of either
Samuel or Benjamin Gayer of Stratton. She cannot be the daughter of
Rev. John Gayer, who was also named Johan, because she died in 1708 in N.
Ireland. Why was William and Johan's niece living with them?
Presumably her parents were dead. It is my belief that her
father was Benjamin Gayer of Stratton (brother of Johan Gayer Watts)
who was buried in St. Genny's in 1716
Also in the will of William Watts he leaves his property "Flaunders in St Genny's" to his wife Johan. After her death the property is bequeathed to Philip Gayer, his nephew. He also left a bequest to Philip's sister Sarah Gayer, his niece. Philip was the son of John Gayer this therefore confirms that Johan must have had a brother John.
It is known from Oxford University records that John Gayer was born in
1668, therefore he must have been the older brother of Samuel, Benjamin
and Johan who were all children of Benjamin Gayer (Jun) and his wife
William Watts was a yeoman (i.e. a farmer who owned rather than leased his land). His
lists livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs, as well as grain). Many
of his listed assets were in the form of binds or loans owed to
him. He was obviously a wealthy farmer.
Gayer Watts died in St. Genny's in 1747. It would have been after this
date that Flaunders Farm was transferred to Philip Gayer of Derriaghy.
The Stratton Parish Records show the burial of Jone Gayer, a widow, in June 1705. This Jone is probably the widow of Benjamin Gayer (Jr.), father of John, Samuel, Benjamin and Johan. If she was a widow then Benjamin Gayer, her husband must have died before 1705,which means he cannot have been the Benjamin Gayer buried in St Genny's Churchyard. Records for Stratton are in the Cornwall Records Office but are reported to be severely damaged therefore it has not been possible to confirm this belief.
For many years there has been speculation as to which of the many Benjamin Gayers was
the one buried in the churchyard at St. Genny's in 1716. Based on the
information accumulated I believe he is Benjamin, brother of Johan
(Gayer) Watts. Clues can be found in the Parish Records of Stratton and the will of William Watts, who died in 1724, husband of Johan Gayer.
There are several records of land
transactions concerning Flanders Farm in St Genny’s.
See record of all Gayers in N. Cornwall,
extracted from Cornwall OPC and LDS FamilySearch.org