Two Taylor family legends
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Two Taylor family legends

Robert Hackshaw, the ‘Orange skipper’


Jane Hackshaw's elopement with Josiah Jefferys

By Fiona Martin


1. We can trace the Taylors of Ongar via their Hackshaw ancestors through 16th century Somerset back to Cumberland. Family tradition is that a member of the family called Robert Hackshaw was a spy for William of Orange before William came to London to become King in 1688. According to Josiah Gilbert (born in 1814) “The Hackshaws (or Hawkshaws) were either of Dutch extraction, or belonged to the Puritan emigration in Holland … Robert Hackshaw was purveyor to King William III and came over with him to England. He was called the "Orange skipper," from having been employed, before the Revolution, to carry despatches backwards and forwards, concealed in his walking-cane.”[i] Surviving official records show that there is some evidence to support this bold claim. Whether or not he was actually a spy, there is plentiful evidence that the Taylors of Ongar came from a long line of committed protestants: it was from the Hackshaws that they seem to have inherited their beliefs as dissenting Christians outside the established Church of England. Robert Hackshaw (1653–1722) was a London merchant and Dissenter who played a prominent role in North American colonial affairs. He may also have been involved in the secret negotiations prior to the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. The links between the Taylors of Ongar and the Hackshaws are underlined by the fact that Jane Jefferys, Sarah Hackshaw Taylor (wife of the first Isaac), Charles Taylor and several other members of the family were buried in the Hackshaw family tomb in Bunhill Fields (nonconformist) Burial Ground. [ii]

2. There are, confusingly, at least five Hackshaws called Robert who we know about. Their stories are told in detail below, but it is worth mentioning at this point that the first moved from Somerset to London in Tudor times. Several generations later, a grocer called Robert Hackshaw died in London in 1674; the third was born in 1653 and died in 1722. His sons included Robert (c1675-1738) whose son Robert (1704-13) died before his father. A grandson of the Robert who died in 1674 (son of his elder son John) was also called Robert. The most likely to have been a pre-1688 spy or go-between was the Robert who died in 1722.

3. There is no evidence that the Hackshaws were themselves Dutch. A Robert Hackshaw originally from Somerset was in London from about 1580.[iii] However, the family later had close links with Holland through trade, marriage and travel. Robert Hackshaw (1653-1722) certainly visited Holland: on May 18, 1696, he was issued with a pass to go to Holland[iv] with “Mr. Moses de Casarez, Stephen Mason, Quintus Spencer, and one servant”. That Robert’s daughter, Sarah, married Gerard Van Heythuysen who was the godson, executor and probably nephew of a merchant of the same name, “borne in Waert in Brabant”, declared naturalised on April 25, 1663,[v] who died in London in 1692. That Robert’s cousin, Elizabeth Smart, was the wife of John Lethieullier,[vi] while another cousin, Elizabeth Hackshaw, married into the Silvester family.[vii] The only (rather weak) evidence that that Robert was part of the “Puritan emigration in Holland” (as Josiah Gilbert put it) is that there appear to be no English records of baptisms for Robert’s children, nor of his marriage to their mother, suggesting that he might have been living abroad in exile. However, that Robert's daughter in law's parents, Robert Buckle and Deborah Prince, are known to have married in Amsterdam in 1671.[viii] The Princes were members of the English "Brownite" independent church which served the English Protestant community in exile at the time.[ix] This may well explain the family tradition, mentioned by Josiah Gilbert, that the Hackshaws "belonged to the Puritan emigration in Holland".

Early Hackshaws in Cumberland and Somerset

4. In the 1623 Heralds' survey known as the Visitation of Somerset[x], an earlier Robert Hackshaw of Hinton St George is said to be from an old Cumberland family, descendants of William of Cumberland. The General Armorial[xi] refers to the Hackshaws coming from Hutton. There are two possible Huttons: one in Somerset and one in Cumberland near a former royal hunting ground in Inglewood Forest. The family name may come from a remote place just across the Scottish border called Hackshaw, a refuge for Covenanters on the run later in the 17th century but now better known for the first Scottish wind farm on “Hagshaw” Hill.

5. The Visitation of Somerset was a survey by the Heralds of Arms to check who was entitled to use heraldic crests. It lists William Hackshaw of Cumberland, father of William Hackshaw of Hayne in Somerset who married a Miss Heron. Their son William married Joan Somers and lived in Corfe, Somerset. William and Joan had two sons: Humphrey Hackshaw of London who had a son called Thomas; and Robert Hackshaw of Hinton St George who married Mary nee Gibbs of "Parratt" (Perrott) in Dorset. At the time of the survey Robert and Mary had a two year-old daughter called Elizabeth. The Hackshaws were certainly in Somerset in the 16th century. Although the church records for Hayne and Corfe (at the foot of the Blackdown Hills) do not survive, court records include John Napper v Joan Heckshawe, temp. Eliz.[xii] This looks like a reference to Joan Hackshaw nee Somers, wife of William Hackshaw of Corfe.

6. By 1585 Joan’s son Robert was working for Sir Amias Poulett (the main landowner in Hinton St George) who was in charge of Mary Queen of Scots in prison at the time of her death. Sir Amias wrote on 25 February 1587 to Sir Francis Walsingham “praying you to signify forthwith to my servant Robert Hackshaw remaining in London, in what place there (Her Majesty’s) plate and other stuff shall be discharged”[xiii]. Later, Robert’s work for the Poulett family seems to have included political fixing. In 1614 Robert was active in the contested election of MPs for the Somerset county constituency, apparently in support of Amias Poulett’s grandson who won a seat against Robert Phelipps, son of the Master of the Rolls. One of his letters[xiv] from that time includes gossip about electoral scheming. This work must have been well regarded and rewarded. The Hackshaws had not featured in the Heralds' lists in 1531 or 1573 but were “upwardly mobile” enough for listing in 1623.

7. Robert married Mary, the daughter of William Gibbs and Mary Newcourte of South Perrott and widow of Henry Martin, another local landowner who like Robert was a Middle Temple lawyer. Henry Martin's will[xv] left his house at Hinton Saint George to his sons John and William. Mary and Robert went on to have two daughters. Her will[xvi] refers to the Hackshaws owning land in Combe Florey near Taunton. She asks to be buried with her first husband at Hinton St George. It is clear from her will that Robert had already died but we do not know where or when.

Humphrey and Margery Hackshaw of Staines

8. The Taylors' branch of the family is descended from Robert’s brother, Humphrey. In 1577 in London he married a wealthy woman, Margery, daughter of Robert and Margery Porter who owned former monastery land at Stallington Grange[xvii] in Staffordshire. Humphrey and Margery had a large family, even by the standards of their day, mostly baptised at St Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street in London. Humphrey was a member of the Merchant Taylors' Company and sent two of his sons to Merchant Taylors School. He settled in Staines on the Thames about 20 miles from London. From Margery's will[xviii] we know that he died before his wife. Margery was buried at Staines on February 8, 1623. As her will shows, she made a big contribution to the Hackshaw family finances, with considerable silver and damask to leave to her many descendants.

9. Their eldest son Thomas “yeoman of Staines” had business links to London and was a Virginia Company Adventurer who contributed 12 10s to the project in return for 100 acres in colonial America in 1620.[xix] He and his first wife Sarah were Taylor ancestors. She was buried on August 5, 1638, at Staines. His second wife “Ann wife of Thomas” was buried on March 24, 1646, at St Benet, Paul’s Wharf. His third (much younger?) wife Maudlin/Magdalen Hackshaw was buried on July 23, 1684, at St Leonard Shoreditch, where the Hackshaw family was based at the time.

The first Robert Hackshaw (1622-1674): a grocer married to Sarah Smart

10. Thomas and Sarah’s son Robert was christened on November 10, 1622, in St Mary’s, Staines. He is the Taylors' first direct ancestor called Robert Hackshaw. He was admitted to the Grocers’ Company in 1646[xx] and was a Common Councillor for Broad Street ward in the City of London. Robert’s children with his wife, Sarah Smart were christened at St Botolph without Aldgate. In later life he had independent protestant sympathies: he contributed 100 to the Dissenting Loan to the King in 1670.[xxi] Robert's death in 1674 was 14 years before the Glorious Revolution, which rules him out as the “Dutch skipper” spy of family legend. Robert's will[xxii] mentions considerable property interests. His widow died soon after he did.[xxiii]

11. Sarah Hackshaw’s father John Smart was a prominent merchant in the City of London with landowning interests in Norfolk. John's father was Henry Smart; his mother Alice Hunt came from Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. John married Dorothy, daughter of Samuel Rawlinson.[xxiv] John was buried in St Benet Fink churchyard on April 11, 1679. This was one of the churches in the ward which he represented on the Common Council of the City of London. His will[xxv] mentions many of the family by name. Sarah came from a large family of about 10 children. Her brothers Benjamin and Joseph were also active in City life. Benjamin was a barrister and bencher of the Middle Temple. He and their sister Elizabeth are both buried at Little Ilford in the Smart-Lethieullier vault. The Lethieulliers had become one of the richest merchant families of the City after Huguenot John Lethieullier (1591-1679) emigrated from Brabant to London in 1605.

12. Robert and Sarah had three surviving sons: John, Robert and Joseph; and a daughter, Sarah. The Skinners Company apprenticeship records for 20 March 1677-78[xxvi] say: “John Hackshaw and Robert Hackshaw Merchants being the sons of Robert Hackshaw late Citizen and Grocer, London … were admitted into the freedome of the Company of Skinners at their Request & Order of a Committee …” The same year, A collection of the names of the merchants living in and around London said Robert “Hagshaw” was in business in White Hart Court”. Strype's Survey describes White Hart Court as “a pretty good open Place, well inhabited by Wholesale Dealers [with] a Passage into another Court, which leadeth into Lombard street”. London Inhabitants within the Walls 1695 lists this Robert Hackshaw outside the City in the parish of St Leonard, Hoxton, Shoreditch. (His stock value at 400 was the second highest in the area). He had other properties, in Coleman Street and in Chiswell Street, Cripplegate; he bought at least two properties in Hockley and Rayleigh in Essex. In Hockley he "gained from the seas by enclosure 147 acres, 3 roods, 39 poles," using techniques brought to the area by "a substantial influx of Dutch settlers" at the time.”[xxvii] "In the 1690s, Robert Hackshaw was a major exporter to Germany, the Low Countries, southern Europe, New England and Barbados, with total assets of 24,000 at his death. By the early 1720s, he was specialising almost wholly in commission trade for New York and New England merchants." [xxviii]

13. This Robert Hackshaw was active in political as well as commercial life in London at a time when merchants had great influence. He was a member of the Commission on the Greenland trade, active in the beaver fur trade in New York, and a supporter of a pro-trade petition to Parliament. In 1691-92 Robert became a founder member and Treasurer of the West Jersey Society, a stock company composed of 48 members, mostly resident in London not America. His business with colonial North America features in Coldham's The complete book of emigrantsL and his shipments to Holland feature in London Port Books. However, unlike his older brother John (husband of Annabella Harvey) and the Smarts he is not listed in the Rulers of London 1660-1689. This may be a sign that he was often away on business in Holland. He must have known Robert Buckle, like him a Protestant merchant trading with Holland. Buckle's daughter would later marry Hackshaw's son.

14. Robert Hackshaw does, as Josiah Gilbert claims, seem to have been a Royal supplier during William’s reign. Warrant books record that he was a major supplier to the armed forces for campaigns in Canada and the Low Countries in 1710-11.[xxix] Josiah Gilbert’s claim that Robert Hackshaw was a “skipper” points to his shipping activity. He was, however, a ship owner and merchant, not a captain. London shipping records in Port Books list many consignments, mostly of cloth, to both the Netherlands and North America. After 1697 London records are missing but other port records show that he was still active: on April 15, 1705, his galley, The Greyhound was bound from Cowes to New York;[xxx] in November 1711 he had a consignment in the Dove of London bound from Plymouth for New York;[[xxxi] and in February 1715 the same ship was bound from Southampton to New York.[xxxii]

15. The Hackshaws were at the heart of the non-conformist Protestant community in London with its links both to the English Reformed Churches in the former Begijnhof in Amsterdam and in Rotterdam, and to the Dutch Church in London at Austin Friars. Robert lived in Hoxton, a centre of non-conformity at the time. Ralph Thoresby's 1709 Diary[xxxiii] says he dined at Robert Hackshaw's there, afterwards calling on Dr Williams (now famous for his Library) nearby. Robert (or possibly his son) also owned a house in Bell Alley, Coleman Street, next to the Meeting House where ministers like Lamb and Oates preached. He left money in his will to Thomas Hall, a dissenting Minister there. The Congregational Historical Society records list Robert present at a Meeting of "15 Ministers and 23 lay brethren" on 17 December 1695. The Hackshaws were also cousins of the puritan theologian Rev Thomas Prince of Boston, and Robert was also involved in early plans to publish Cotton Mather’s history of puritan New England, Magnalia Christi Americana. “There is one Mr Robert Hackshaw, a very serious and Godly man, who proposes to print the Ecclesiastical History of New England at his own charges … He declared he did it not with any Expectation of Gain to himself, but for the Glory of God.”[xxxiv] Although this did not happen, Cotton Mather continued to correspond with Robert until at least 1706.

16. Robert's links to and support for settlers in the colonies of North America seem to have been motivated by a mixture of religious commitment and commercial gain. One of his trading partners in the fur trade in colonial New York was Robert Livingston the Elder (1654-1725), a dissenting Scot who had grown up in exile in Holland.[xxxv] In 1692 Robert signed the petition of proprietors of the Provinces in East and West Jersey in America, “praying to enjoy the liberty of their own ports against the pretences of the collector of New York who enforces ships bound to the East and West Jerseys to unload or pay Customs there [in New York] which is illegal and discourages their trade”.[xxxvi] In both 1699 and 1700 he signed pro-trade petitions to Parliament complaining about the behaviour of the Governor of New York, the Earl of Bellomont. “By his illegal proceedings, he has put such further hardships on the merchants and other the King's subjects there that, without redress, the petitioners must be forced to withhold their trade thither, especially being informed by … inhabitants of that place [of] … his several arbitrary and unjust proceedings."[xxxvii]

17. Later Robert was active in South Carolina, signing a petition to revoke the Proprietary Charter, in favour of a Royal Charter. [xxxviii] But his business was often precarious. The risk of loss of shipping to foreign vessels, pirates or shipwreck was compounded by what merchants saw as unfairly heavy taxation in the colonies and the uncertainty of being paid by the Treasury paymasters. There was also a major court case[xxxix] in 1711 over business interests.

Arrest for "treasonable libels"

18. Commitment to the Protestant cause could be a very risky business. In 1685, during the reign of Charles II, Robert was arrested for treasonous libel, punishable by execution. Political pamphlets were being printed in Holland and brought in by ship. The pamphlets suggested royal involvement in the death (in the Tower) of the Earl of Essex, a member of the protestant “Rye House Plot” against the King. State Papers dated January 5, 1685, say: “Whitehall. Warrant to Thomas Atterbury, messenger, to search for Robert Hackshaw, a merchant, and to seize him with his papers and bring him before the Earl of Sunderland or Roger L'Estrange to be examined concerning what shall be objected against him concerning the dispersing of treasonable and dangerous libels.” But he was soon released. “… Last Saturday Mr Norden, master of a ship, was taken off the Exchange for bringing from Amsterdam a great number of libels relating to the death of the Earl of Essex and on Sunday Mr Cornish, Mr Hacshaw and some others were taken up by a messenger concerning the said libel. They two were discharged but the others are still in custody”.[xl] Why he was released is not explained. This episode points clearly to his political links with William of Orange, who became kng three years later. It looks as if the ships he owned may have been used for contacts between London and Amsterdam in the preparation and careful planning of the “Glorious Revolution” and he went on to supply the royal armies in later campaigns abroad. Whether or not Robert himself carried “despatches backwards and forwards, concealed in his walking-cane” is still not clear, but the family tradition about him certainly has some truth to it.

The family of Robert II

19. We do not know much about this Robert’s first wife, Ann, or his marriage to her in the early 1670s. It is possible that she came from Hockley or Rayleigh in Essex, where he had property, but no marriage records survive from either of those parishes. Nor are there any surviving records of a marriage in Holland. She died in 1703: the Registers of St Leonard's, Shoreditch say Anne Hackshaw of Hoxton Square was buried at “Bunhill” [Fields — the burial ground for protestant dissenters] on July 31. His second marriage, to Sarah Moore, was on January 14, 1704, at All Hallows, London Wall. They had a prenuptial agreement (referred to in his will[xlxi]) covering ownership of the Anchor and Crown Inn in Little Moorfields.

20. Robert foresaw problems between his children after his death. Relations were particularly bad between Robert and his son Richard. In fact Richard was almost cut out of his father's will: “I have not only given to my son Richard Hackshaw a portion but have also paid for him or lost by him about one thousand pounds which I hereby forgive him, my will is that he shall have not further part or share of my estate save only that I give to him … twenty pounds for himself and to his son Richard and his three daughters, his children’s money to remain in the hands of my executors till they come to age or are married …”

21. The other children mentioned in his will are his sons Robert and Edward (both executors), and his daughters Ann Pitt, Elizabeth Hackshaw and Sarah Van Heythuyson. Ann's husband Thomas Pitt was probably a fellow dissenter because he lived next to the Meeting House in Coleman Street. Sarah's husband Gerard Van Heythuyson was a merchant descended from a Dutch family from Brabant. Edward was a sugar baker in Hoxton. We are descended from Robert's eldest son, Robert Hackshaw III. Like his brothers and sisters Robert III married within the London nonconformist community. On September 9, 1701, at St Mary's, Rotherhithe he married Jane, the daughter of Robert Buckle and Deborah Prince. Jane Buckle’s father Robert had died by the time she married, so her mother Deborah gave permission.

The Buckle family

22. Jane Buckle had strong Dutch connections. Parish records in Rotherhithe for 1683 say she was baptised "in the Dutch church”. Jane’s parents Robert Buckle and Deborah Prince had married in 1671 at an English protestant church in Amsterdam where English protestant exiles worshipped. A poem published to mark the occasion[xlii] makes it clear they were both English, but that Deborah had been living in Amsterday for some time before Robert arrived. href="#xxii" name="xxiib">[xxii]. After their return to England their daughter Katharine (born in 1674) was christened at St Dunstan in the East (Stepney). Apprenticeship records suggest their son John was born in about 1695.

23. Robert Buckle was the son of Lionel Buckle, linen draper of Hull. The Chamberlain of Hull in 1640 and sheriff of Hull in 1687 were both called Lionel Buckle: they could either be one person or father and son, Robert's grandfather and father. Apprenticeship records show that Robert Buckle, son of Lionel of Hull was apprenticed to John Moore, grocer in London in 1661. Robert went on to have many apprentices himself, including Martin Buckle who was the son of Sir Christopher Buckle of Banstead and great grandson of Sir Cuthbert Buckle, Lord Mayor of London in 1593. These Buckle families may be related, but we do not yet know how.

24. After Robert's death in 1698 his son John was apprenticed blacksmith in 1707. Martha Buckle was apprenticed blacksmith "to her father John of Bow" in 1740. This apprenticeship record ties in with Robert Hackshaw’s 1738 will, which appointed John Buckle, “blacksmith of Bow”, executor. There are Yorkshire land records in the East Riding Archives linking Robert Hackshaw to Lionel Buckle in Hull. Robert Buckle was a corn factor at Wiggins Quay in Stepney but also supplied coal and candles to the army. Robert may have been in business with a Thomas Merrett who helped Deborah recover money owed when he died [xliii]. Deborah was still alive at the time this Robert Hackshaw made his will in 1738.[xliv]

The Prince family

25. Deborah came from another strongly protestant family, the Princes. They were cousins of Rev Thomas Prince the puritan theologian and historian after whom Princeton is named. He was the great-grandson of John Prince, Rector of Little Shefford, a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford and grandson of “Elder John” Prince who emigrated in about 1635. Writing in 1728, Rev Thomas Prince described his English forbears as follows: “Mr John Prince, ruling elder of the church of Hull, NE was the eldest son of Rev Mr John Prince, rector of East Shefford in Berkshire, Eng, in the reign of King James 1, and Charles 1, of which there was this remarkable — that tho he was one of the conforming Puritans of that day who greatly longed for a further reformation, and had married Elizabeth, granddaughter of Dr Tolderbury or Toldervery DD, of Oxford, … yet all of the children proved conscientious nonconformists.”[xlv] Thomas Prince was a meticulous historian who referred to the Buckles and Hackshaws as his cousins and met them when he visited London in 1711. The most likely family link between them is through Deborah Prince.

26. Deborah was almost certainly the daughter of Elder John Prince's younger brother Francis who had been baptised near Shefford in 1618. Francis was apprenticed to a linen draper in Southampton in 1636 but was later a successful merchant. It is not clear whether he moved to Amsterdam for business or religious reasons, or both. Early evidence is connected with trade. State Papers for 1656 include his letter from Amsterdam to William Kissen a merchant in London about supplying tar to the army. In 1658 he signed a petition from a group of Amsterdam merchants to London aiming to recover their ship, which had been mistakenly seized by the English who thought it was foreign-owned.[xlvii] But by 1662 he was listed as one of "The most disaffected Englishmen now in Amsterdam".[xlviii] In 1668 he is reported to have made a Loan of 8000 guilders to the "Brownist" (Independent, Congregationalist) Church in Amsterdam,[xlix] of which he sought repayment in 1670. (He may have needed the money for Deborah's wedding the following year.) This was the Amsterdam church whose members were most feared by the London authorities. In 1681 he was listed as Elder of the Brownist Church in a list of "his majesties phanatical subjects in Amsterdam".[l] This church was apparently the centre of the English protestant exile community. So when the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury fled London in 1682 in fear of a second treason trial before a biased jury, it was to this church that he turned. He fell mortally ill shortly after his arrival in Amsterdam and made a new will. The Earl's will names Francis Prince as his "worthy friend". Francis was entrusted with the Earl's possessions including the Countess's jewellery. His letter of condolence to the Countess is preserved in the National Archives. Francis Prince may have returned to England in the late 1680s: there are two court cases in which he and Abraham Keck were defendants in litigation about properties in his native Berkshire. We do not yet know when or where he died.

27. The Tolderveys, on Deborah Prince's maternal side, were prominent in both “town and gown” in 16th century Oxford. Contemporary London sources list variant surnames: Tolderbe, Tolarby, Touldure, Toulderve, Tolarby and Tolderbye (National Archives E 115/388/22). Others used in Oxford then include Tolderbury and Tolderburye, Tolderberry or Toulderberry. This makes them hard to track down, especially after nearly 500 years. Dr John was a senior theology don at Merton College, who was a University bedell (beadle) in the early 1540s; the Calendar of Patent Rolls for 1550-3 lists his licence to run a real tennis court in his lodgings for the “disporte of gentlemen and honest persons”. (Merton still has a real tennis court). His 1567 will[liv] mentions his wife Alice, daughters Alice, Anne and Katherine and sons James, Christopher, Henry, Philip and Walter. Two were later Mayors: Henry in Oxford, and Philip in Southampton. James farmed in Herefordshire. Christopher was a London milliner. The Taylor ancestor was Walter who was still a boy when his father died. He was apprenticed to apothecary John Williams, a member of their extended family who was mayor of Oxford in 1598.[lv] Walter went on to be a Collector in Oxford in 1588-89.[lvi] Walter's daughter Elizabeth is said to have married Rev John Prince in 1606.

Robert Hackshaw III, Jane Buckle and Sarah Busby: inheritance problems

28. Robert Hackshaw and Jane Buckle had three surviving children: Robert, who died young, John and Jane (the Taylors' ancestor). Two other unnamed boys were buried in Bunhill Fields, in 1721 and 1723. Jane was also buried there, in 1724. Robert then married Sarah Busby on September 4, 1729, at Holy Trinity, Minories. He had expectations that she would inherit large sums from her unmarried brother John Busby, who had died the previous year. A codicil to John Busby's will shows he realised shortly before he died that he could bequeath much less than he had thought.[lvii]

29. As Robert II had feared, there were problems when he died in 1722. Court cases to recover debts owed by Samuel Lillie of Boston[lviii] had cost time and money. His son John seems to have died in 1735: Gentleman's Magazine of April that year carries a death notice for “Mr John Hackshaw, a Dutch merchant, by a fall from his horse”. Then Robert III died in 1738 and that will was also disputed. It was not until August 18, 1786, that his daughter Elizabeth was authorised to administer the 1722 will of Robert II. The same year administration of Robert III's 1738 will was given to his residuary legatee Sarah Taylor, wife of Isaac Taylor. That will had also been contested. In 1738 John Buckle, his executor and brother in law had won a case brought by Josiah Jefferys on behalf of his wife, Jane (Robert’s daughter). Mrs Buckle (widow of John, the former executor) drew up a list of relevant documents in 1768 so that the tangled inheritance could be sorted out.[lix]

Jane Hackshaw and Josiah Jefferys: "The course of true love …"

30. The Buckle v Jefferys court case was no surprise given the friction between Jane and her husband Josiah Jefferys on the one hand and the rest of her family on the other from the start of the relationship of Jane and Josiah. Writing more than a century later, Josiah Gilbert told the story in his introduction to his mother’s autobiography: “Josiah Jefferys had, at the age of eighteen, married a Miss Hackshaw, aged sixteen, as she was on her way to market. Her father, then a man of substance, with a rent roll from an estate near Raleigh of 1000 per annum, was extremely angry, and told her that, being his child, he would not turn her out of doors, but that if she ever went beyond them she should never return. Upon these strange terms she remained two years under his roof, when her brother interceded, and persuaded her father to set up the young husband in business as a cutler, in which, as appears above, he prospered. Her father, on the contrary — Robert Hackshaw — after mortgaging his estate, fell further into misfortune, and died of grief.” As with the story about the “Dutch skipper”, the gist of the family tradition tallies with surviving records, but details differ.

The two marriages of Josiah and Jane

31. One sign that this was an unusual marriage is that Josiah and Jane had two wedding ceremonies. The first was a so-called Fleet marriage, a clandestine ceremony conducted in those days by an ordained clergyman, which was a cheap and convenient alternative to a church wedding because it gave a couple some privacy without the trouble and expense of an ecclesiastical licence. The records show that they married on April 4, 1727, at “The Vine”: the records list Josiah as a cutler of St James, Clerkenwell; she was from “Coleman Street”. Luckily, they were not asked their ages.

32. The second marriage record is for a church wedding more than a year later, on July 8, 1728, at Holy Trinity, Minories, by a licence issued there the same day. Until 1730 that church was a “royal peculiar”, claiming freedom from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London.[lx] Whether that is why they chose the church is unclear. The main interest in their licence is that Josiah had to “alledge” that there were no legal obstacles to their marriage and to give their ages. Before 1753 no one younger than 21 could marry without parental consent. He said that he was 22 and she was older than 21. Josiah was baptised in 1709, so unlikely to be 22 in 1728. The inscription on the Taylor tomb in Bunhill Fields said Jane died aged 70 in 1780, so she could not have been 21 in 1728. Josiah must have misled the authorities about both their ages so they could marry without their parents’ permission. This would have been one good reason why Jane's father was so angry.

The Jefferys family

33. The Jefferys family was from the Midlands. Josiah’s father Henry Jefferys was a cutler; his mother was Elizabeth Twamley. They married at Sutton Coldfield on April 4, 1706. Josiah was their oldest son, baptised on May 29, 1709, at St Martin's, Birmingham. His brothers were Thomas and Nathaniel (and possibly John). We think that they all were born in Birmingham: Thomas was baptised at St Martin's, Birmingham, in July 1719. Soon afterwards Henry moved the family to Clerkenwell, where they were based in Red Lion Street, now Britton Street. While Josiah and Thomas stayed in or close to London all their lives, Nathaniel seems to have retired to Worcester after making his fortune in London.

34. Henry died in April 1731 and was buried at St James, Clerkenwell (not at Bunhill Fields like the Hackshaws and the Buckles). Josiah probably took over the family business when his father died, rather than being set up in business by his father in law, although he may have needed financial support later on. Like his brothers and many skilled craftsmen at the time, Josiah’s business was often precarious, and it seems that the family disputes after his father in law's death may have been the final straw. The London Gazette has two entries (in 1739 and 1741) about the bankruptcy of a Josiah Jefferys of Shoreditch. One entry refers to a Hafter, which is a trade in the cutlery business. Name, profession, address and date all point to Josiah having gone bankrupt. Bankruptcy would explain their move to Shenfield in Essex at about that time. Family sources are not clear about this. Josiah Gilbert described “the cutlery works of Josiah Jefferys … employing sixty or seventy men in his business” as late as 1752, but Isaac Taylor’s version, that Josiah retired from business as Master Cutler and became a Land Agent at Shenfield, seems more likely.[lxi] Josiah died at Shenfield in 1770 and was buried on May 6, 1770. Jane died ten years later, aged 70. She was buried in the family tomb in Bunhill Fields. It was also at Shenfield that Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys, daughter of Jane and Josiah, married Isaac Taylor I in 1754.

35. Sarah and Isaac must have met through Josiah's brother Thomas: Sarah was his housekeeper in London and Isaac was in his team of engravers. Thomas had been apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen in 1735. Although Bowen was a member of the Merchant Taylors Company, his expertise was in engraving and mapmaking: he was Royal Geographer to both the English and the French Kings. Like Bowen, Thomas went on to become a leading cartographer and map supplier of the day, based in St Martin's Lane, and “Geographer to the Prince of Wales” who later became King. Thomas engraved and printed maps for government and other official bodies and produced a wide range of commercial maps and atlases, both of Britain and North America. Despite his success he went bankrupt in 1767[lxii] perhaps because the Royal family was notoriously slow at paying its debts.

36. Nathaniel Jefferys, brother of Josiah and Thomas, married Elizabeth Jefferies in Birmingham on June 2, 1754. Elizabeth was the daughter of Josiah Jeffries and Eleanor Gisbond or Gisburn, who had married at Walsall in 1727 and whose children were also baptised at St Martin's. (The two families may have been related even though the surnames are spelt differently). One of the children of Josiah and Eleanor was Captain Josiah Jefferys of the Royal Artillery. Nathaniel was a fashionable London jeweller and silversmith based in Pall Mall. His son Nathaniel was Jeweller to the Prince of Wales (later George IV). He was owed nearly 100,000 for Jewels, about 1806. Nathaniel tried to expose George’s secret marriage to Mrs Fitzherbert, and unwisely also falsely accused her of other ill-doing in a pamphlet. This made him powerful enemies. He was also MP for Coventry.

Differences between the two families

37. Like the Hackshaws, the Jefferys family were thus prominent Court suppliers, of maps, jewellery and probably cutlery including swords. The difference is that their motivation seems to have been commercial. The Hackshaws' links to Court at an earlier stage of the Protestant monarchy were political and religious too. Could this be another reason why Josiah was not Jane's father’s preferred choice as a son in law?

38. There is also evidence that some of the Jefferys family were of a different religious persuasion from the Hackshaws. Although there is good evidence that some members of the extended family such as the John Jefferys known as John Jefferys of Kidderminster (a brother of Josiah, Thomas and Nathaniel) were nonconformists , there are no signs that Josiah's father Henry Jefferys and his family worshipped in any London chapels or meeting houses. In fact, Henry was buried in the churchyard of the parish church in Clerkenwell, not in the dissenters' burial ground. Then there is the choice of Emanuel Bowen as Thomas's apprentice master. The family would have known that he had published in 1722 "A Display of the Royal Banner and Standards, bore by the Loyalists in the Grand-Rebellion begun Anno Dom. 1641". It is covered with Royalist mottos in Latin in support of the Stuart Kings. None of the Hackshaws, Buckles or Princes would have taken the initiative to publish such a work, nor even accepted a commission to undertake it. Nor would they have chosen someone who did so as apprentice master for their son. But the clearest sign of Catholic sympathies comes from the will of Nathaniel Jefferys' brother in law Captain Josiah Jefferys. His will and that of his widow (nee Janet Scott of Greenwich) both start: "I commend my soul to God hoping through the merits of our blessed saviour who will revive it in Mary". The reference to Mary would certainly not have been made by a dissenter. All these Jefferys family events postdate Josiah and Jane's marriage in 1727, but they all point clearly to an extended family with a very different belief system from the Hackshaws and Buckles, their Prince cousins in puritan America, and their Van Heythuyson in-laws and may well have contributed to hostility between them.

September 2012


[i] Introduction to The Autobiography and Other Memorials of Mrs Gilbert, Formerly Ann Taylor, ed. Josiah Gilbert,1874
[ii] Suffolk Record Office HD 588/1/40, HD 588/1/49
[iii] DE/Bw/28223 dated November 10, 1583, Hertfordshire Archives
[iv] Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William III, 1696 (1913), pp. 157-209
[v] PRO C 204/58 Prob11/414; Will of Gerard Vanheythuysen or van Heythuyson, Merchant of Saint Peter le Poer, City of London, March 27, 1693, PROB 11/414
[vi] Prob 11/567
[vii] See Alan Hackshaw’s will Prob/11/449; for the Silvesters’ Dutch origins, House of Commons Journal Volume 7, February, 7, 1656
[viii] A Congratulatory Encomium upon the happy conjunction of the high deserts of Mr. ROBERT BUCKLE, With the unparallell'd Vertues of Mrs. DEBORAH PRINCE. The 26th day of May. 1671 published by Svart, Amsterdam (EEBO database)
[ix] Sprunger, Dutch Puritanism: A History of English and Scottish Churches of the Netherlands in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
[xi] Google Books
[xii] Chan. Proc. Ser. II. vol. i. 293 (National Archives)
[xiii] The letter-books of Sir Amias Poulet, Keeper of Mary Queen of Scots, ed Morris SJ, London 1874
[xiv] Jan 21, 1623, Somerset archives DD/PH/219/32
[xv] Proved on January 24, 1611-12, extracts in The House of Martin, Willis Watson, 1906
[xvi] Proved on July 26, 1634, Somerset Wills, ii. 96, 97
[xvii] National Archives E 134/35&36Eliz/Mich28
[xviii] Will of Margery Hackshaw of Staines, Proved on 10 February 1624
[xix] The records of the Virginia Company of London
[xx]Admitted to the Grocers’ Company in 1646 after apprenticeship to Joseph Alfred
[xxi]London and the Restoration, 1659-1683, De Krey (Appendix 1)
[xxii] Proved July 28, 1674, PROB 11/345
[xxiii] Proved August 24, 1675, PROB 11/348
[xxiv] The Rulers of London 1660-1689
[xxv] Proved April 17, 1679, PROB 11/359
[xvi] Guildhall Library Ms 30719/2, 1601-1694 f. 267
[xxvii] History of Rochford Hundred, Benton
[xviii] The Rise of Commercial Empires, Ormrod
[xxix]Bills drawn by Col. Arnott on 24th July 1711 “upon account of the late Expedition to Canada” include payments to “... Mr. Hackshaw, due Oct. 22 for 714.5.8 … and 1,000.0.0.” Treasury Warrant Book: April 1712, 11-19. See also Calendar of Treasury Papers, Volume 3: 1702-1707 (1874), pp. 1-20.(British History Online)
[xxx] PRO E 190/847/3
[xxxi] PRO E 190/1070/12
[xxxii] PRO E 190/857/4
[xxxiv] The library of American biography, Volume 6, Sparks (Google Books)
[xxxv] Lawrence H. Leder, Robert Livingston, 1654-1728: And the Politics of Colonial New York
[xxxvi] Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William and Mary, 1691-2 (1900), pp. 344-393; see also Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 11: 1696-1697 (1933), pp. 414-425.
[xxxii] Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 18: 1700 (1910), pp. 64-73] For the Governor's reply, see PRO, CO. 5:860, no. 62; Commons Journal, XIII, 18-19 See also Singleton Dutch New York 339
[xxxiii]John Wesley Brinsfield Religion and Politics in Colonial South Carolina
[xxxix]Samuel Lillie v David Waterhouse, Robert Hackshaw and Robert Hackshaw C 10/528/37 1711
[xl] State papers 13 January 1685 (British History online)
[xli] Probate 13 November 1722, PROB 11/588
[xlii] A congratulatory encomium upon the happy conjunction of the high deserts of Mr Robert Buckle, with the unparallell’d vertues of Mrs. Deborah Prince. The 26th day of May 1671, Amsterdam, Swart
[xliii] Treasury warrant books (British history online)
[xliv] Will of Robert Hackshaw, merchant and Sentence of Robert Hackshaw, Widower of Saint Stephen, Coleman Street, City of London, proved on 2 December 1738 PROB 11/693
[xlv] Mass. Hist. Gen. Reg. vol 5 p378, cited in Thayer's Prince Genealogy available at
[xlvi] A collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, volume 5: May 1656 to January 1657. British History Online
[xlvii] Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, June 1658-59 British History Online
[xlviii] Greaves, Deliver Us from Evil: The Radical Underground in Britain, 1660-1663
[xlix] Sprunger, Dutch Puritanism: A History of English and Scottish Churches of the Netherlands in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
[l] Sprunger op cit
[li] Christie A life of Anthony Cooper, first earl of Shaftesbury (Vol 2), Collins, Peerage of England Vol 2 1756
[lii] PRO 30/24/6A/38
[liii] Turvill v Prince, National Archives C 5/190/34, 1686; Merry v Cole, National Archives C 6/310/64, 1698
[liv] Appendix 2 of The Prince family of Hull and Boston, Mass. available as an Ancestry database
[lvi] Oxford city documents, financial and judicial, 1258-1665.
[lvii] Proved February 10, 1729, PROB 11/627
[lviii] National Archives C 12/1249/4
[lix] Suffolk Record Office: Taylor archives
[lx] British History Online
[lxi] SRO HD 588/4/14
[lxii] London Gazette January 20, 1767
[lxiii] Nigel Gilbert The Rise and Fall of Franche Hall, 1999) p.10
[lxiv] Proved July 28, 1777 PROB 11/1033
[lxv] Proved June 16, 1788, PROB 11/1167
Comments welcome