Ann Hawkins was another of the daughters of the recusant Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder of Nash Court, Boughton under Blean, Kent. I haven’t been able to discover the date of Ann’s birth, but we know that she was probably married some time in the early 1620s.

Ann’s husband, William Hildesley, was descended from the Hildesleys of Crowmarsh Gifford, not far from Dorchester-on-Thames, on the borders of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. (It’s an area that I know well, having lived in nearby Abingdon in the 1980s, when I had responsibility as an adult education organiser for the group of villages just to the north of Crowmarsh.) There are records of the Hildesleys owning property in the villages of Beenham and Ilsley (which I imagine derives its name from the family, or vice versa) in the reign of Henry VII. An earlier William Hildesley, grandfather of the William who married Ann Hawkins, married Margaret Stonor, daughter of John Stonor of North Stoke (the Stonors were a prominent local recusant family who suffered much under the penal laws), and died in 1576.

East Ilsley (via sudokudragon.com)

East Ilsley (via sudokudragon.com)

The Hildesleys adhered to the Catholic faith, and Walter Hildesley, who succeeded his father William, suffered the loss of much of his property under the penal laws. He also came under suspicion at the time of the Gunpowder Plot. In the Recusant Roll of 1592 Walter’s estate, which included ‘two-thirds of Illesley or Hildesley Farm’ as well as some other property, was said to be leased to Charles Pagett, a groom of the queen’s chamber.

Walter Hildesley was succeeded by his younger brother William, who died in 1623. The preamble to William’s last will and testament is the most explicitly Catholic of any Jacobean will that I’ve seen so far: he bequeaths his soul ‘unto almightie god my onelye saviour and redeemer by whose death, merritts and passion I verily hope to be saved, as allsoe by the intercession of the blessed virgin Mary the mother of god & all the whollye Companye of Saints in heaven.’

William was succeeded by his son, another William, who, as a recusant, was forced to mortgage his lands. It was this William who married Ann Hawkins. I understand that William and Ann Hildesley, who lived at Little Stoke, had five children: one son and four daughters. Their son Francis (obviously a popular name in the extended Hawkins family) married Mary Winchcombe and inherited property in Ilsley and Little Stoke. As mentioned in the previous post, all four of William and Anne’s daughters entered the Sepulchrine order in Liège, Belgium, as follows:

Mary Hildesley, who was born in 1624, entered the convent on 5th July 1647 and professed on 15th February 1650 at the age of 29, taking the name Sister Mary Catherine of the Visitation. Mary served as Sub-Prioress between 1657 and 1661, and from 1664 to 1669. She died on 7th January 1693. 

Catherine Hildesley, who was born in 1625, entered the convent on 11th April 1651 and professed on 26th June 1653 at the age of 28, taking the name Sister Catherine of Teresa. She died in 1698. 

Anne Hildesley, who was born in 1626, entered the convent on 16th June 1648 and professed on 16th February 1650 at the age of 28, taking the name Anne Margaret of the Blessed Trinity. She died on 30th December 1691. 

Susanna Hildesley, who was born in 1631, entered the convent on 16th September 1649, taking the name Magdalene of the Transfiguration, and professed on 5th September 1652 at the age of 21. She died on 9th April 1670.

I’m not sure when William Hildesley died, but we know that his property was inherited by his son Francis. Francis Hawkins and his wife Mary had three sons and one daughter. Their son William was born in 1653 and at least one source claims that he had a brother named Martin. Another brother, Francis the younger, joined the Society of Jesus. His sister Frances followed the example of her four aunts and joined the Sepulchrines in Liège. Born in 1662, Frances Hildesley entered the convent on 28th June 1680 and made her profession on 28th October 1681, taking the name Francis Mary Magdalene. She died in 1693 at the age of 29.

Chapel of St Amand and St John the Baptist, Hendred House

Chapel of St Amand and St John the Baptist, Hendred House

William and Martin Hildesley, sons of Francis Hildesley, were both said to be present at the re-dedication of St Amand’s Chapel at East Hendred, about five miles from East Ilsley, on Christmas Day 1687. One of the celebrants at that first Mass was their brother, Fr. Francis Hildesley, S.J.

The Chapel of St. Amand and St. John the Baptist in Hendred House had been built in 1256, with the permission of Pope Alexander IV. After the Dissolution of the Chantries in 1547, the chapel was no longer used for Mass, though the Eyston family of Hendred House were Catholic and certainly heard Mass in secret. The chapel is one of only three built in England before the Reformation that has never been used for protestant worship. It was restored by George Eyston during the reign of James II, a time of renewed hope for English Catholics after many years of persecution. However, James’ reign was cut short by the coup that put William of Orange on the throne, and in December 1688, less than a year after its re-opening, the chapel was ransacked by soldiers from William’s Dutch army, on their way from Hungerford to Oxford. So much for the ‘Glorious’ Revolution.

Hendred House (via picturesofengland.com)

Hendred House (via picturesofengland.com)

Francis Hildesley S.J. died in 1719. His brother William married a woman named Mary and they had two daughters: Mary, who married Robert Eyston of East Hendred (presumably a relative of the George Eyston who restored the chapel); and Agnes, who married Peter Webbe. The Webbes had two daughters, Anne and Mary, both of whom joined the English Franciscan convent in Brussels – the same community that Frances Spurrett, daughter of Nathaniel Spurrett and Helen Langworth, had joined a century before them. The Eyston family also had close ties with the English Franciscans in Belgium, supplying them with numerous recruits during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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