Mary Langworth and Richard Hawkins

My exploration of a network of recusant families in Elizabethan and Jacobean Kent and Sussex began with the Langworth family, and specifically with the children of Dr John Langworth, the cleric and poet who was reputed to be a church papist. Having examined the life of John Langworth’s daughter Helen, who married Nathaniel Spurrett and whose daughter Frances joined an exiled Franciscan convent, I turned my attention to Helen’s sister Mary, who married into the Catholic Hawkins family of Boughton-under-Blean near Canterbury. I’ve taken a roundabout route to finally arrive at Mary herself, having followed a number of detours to explore the Hawkins family and their connections with other noted Catholic families, such as the Hildesleys, Finches and Knatchbulls. In recent posts I’ve written about Mary’s three brothers-in-law: the poet and translator Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger, the physician, translator and grammarian John Hawkins, and the Jesuit priest and author Henry Hawkins; and about her three sisters-in-law: Susan Finch of Grovehurst, Anne Hildesley of Little Stoke, and Benedict Hawkins who joined the exiled Benedictine community in Brussels.

Parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Boughton-under-Blean

Parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Boughton-under-Blean

Now it’s time to turn to Mary Langworth, who married Richard Hawkins, yet another Hawkins sibling. The parish register of Boughton-under-Blean includes the following entry for 1581:

The 28th of Decebr was bapt. Rychard Haukyns the sonne of Thomas Haukyns, Ju., gent. 

(Note: the person referred to here as Thomas Hawkins junior was the man I have been calling Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder, who was in fact the son of yet another Thomas Hawkins.) Like his brothers and sisters, Richard was born at Nash Court, Boughton, while Mary, his future wife, would have grown up either in nearby Canterbury, where her father Dr John Langworth served as Prebendary until his death in 1614, or at one of the country properties that he is said to have owned, possibly even closer to Boughton. I don’t have a record of their marriage, but I would imagine it took place some time in the first decade of the seventeenth century, either in the closing years of Elizabeth’s reign or in the early years of the reign of King James I.

Oast house at Selling, Kent

Oast house at Selling, Kent (via wikipedia)

We can ascertain a certain amount about Richard and Mary Hawkins from the Who were the Nuns? website. From this we learn that their daughter Anne, who was born in about 1610, joined the Franciscans in Brussels, being clothed on 15th September 1629 at the age of 17, and taking the additional name Bonaventure. Her cousin Frances Spurrett had joined the same convent a few years earlier and was actually professed two days after Anne’s clothing. The website provides us with some clues about Anne’s family. For example, we learn that they lived at Selling, about three miles south of Boughton. But we also learn that Anne was born in Clerkenwell, leading us to assume that the Hawkinses also kept a house in London – although, intriguingly, her uncle Henry Hawkins, S.J., was said to live at the Jesuits’ secret residence in Clerkenwell. Anne Bonaventure Hawkins left the Franciscan convent in Brussels in 1658/9 to help found a Conceptionist community in Paris. She served there as novice mistress, portress and later as vicaress, a post which she resigned in 1680. Apparently she accompanied Abbess Elizabeth Timperley on business to England in 1662. Anne died in Paris on 4th May 1689 at the age of 79. The Hawkins family tree at the Who were the Nuns? website suggests that Richard and Mary had at least two other children. Apparently their son John  married Mary Wolllascot and they had four children: Thomas Hawkins, who married Catherine Gifford; Mary Hawkins, who married James Bryan; and Susanna Joseph Hawkins and Anne Domitilla Hawkins who joined their aunt Anne’s Conceptionist convent in Paris.  Another niece of Anne Hawkins who became a Conceptionist was Mary Teresa Harris, one of the two daughters of Richard and Mary Hawkins’ daughter Martha, who married Richard Harris. Richard and Martha Harris’ other daughter was named Winifred Mary.

St Beatriz da Silva, founder of the Conceptionists

St Beatriz da Silva, founder of the Conceptionists

Unsurprisingly, Richard Hawkins, like other members of his family, was frequently in trouble because of his recusancy. For example, in 1640 Richard’s name appeared in a list of local recusants, together with his nephew Clement Finch of Milton and his cousin William Pettit of Boughton. However, in an account of the diocese of Canterbury during the reign of Charles I we read the following:

Eventually, a few harried recusants, such as Richard Hawkins of Selling, Henry Roper of Hartlip, and Susan Finch of Preston-next-Faversham, were permitted liberty of conscience.

Richard Hawkins’ will, made in November 1640 (he died in 1642), is a useful source of information about his family and associates. For example, we learn from this document that he and Mary had another son, Charles, and two other daughters, Bennet and Katherine. I’ll share my transcription of Richard’s will in the next post.

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