Francis Langworth (1597 – 1688)

In the last few posts, I’ve been exploring the lives of Mary Langworth and her husband Richard Hawkins, an early seventeenth-century Kent landowner and prominent Catholic recusant. Before that, I wrote extensively about other members of the illustrious Hawkins family, all of whom were staunch Catholics, and before that about Mary Langworth’s sister Helen, who married Nathaniel Spurrett, another recusant. Mary and Helen Langworth were the daughters of Dr John Langworth, the poet and cleric who served as Prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral but was reputed to be sympathetic to Catholicism. According to the Langworth pedigree in the record of the 1619 Visitation of Kent, John Langworth and his wife Frances had seven children. Besides Helen and Mary, these were Thomas, Arthur, John, Anthony, Francis and Ann.

Parish church of St Michael, Wilmington, Kent (via kentarchaeology.org.uk)

Parish church of St Michael, Wilmington, Kent (via kentarchaeology.org.uk)

Of these, we probably know most about John’s youngest son Francis. In the pedigree included in the records of a later Visitation, which took place in 1663-8, Francis is said to be of Wilmington, which is in the north-west of Kent, near Dartford, and some forty-five miles from Canterbury. The pedigree places Francis’ father John in the same village, despite his official position in Canterbury and the fact that some records identify him with other properties in Kent. The pedigree states that Francis was 66 years old in 1663; we know from his tombstone that he was born in 1597. Francis Langworth followed in his father’s footsteps, going up to the Catholic-inclined Hart Hall, Oxford, and matriculating there on 31st October 1617. The list of Oxford alumni confirms that he was from Wilmington, but contradicts the Visitation record in claiming that his father John lived at Ospringe, near Faversham, where we know that John’s brother Adam owned property. In 1620 Francis Langworth was apparently a student at Grays Inn, London. On 7th July 1628 he married Mary Tucker, who was born in 1602, the daughter of George Tucker of Milton near Gravesend and his wife Mary, who was the second daughter of John Darell of Calehill. The wedding took place at Little Chart near Ashford, close to the ancestral home of the Darells at Calehill.

Parish church, Little Chart (via wikipedia)

Parish church, Little Chart (via wikipedia)

This connection to the Darell family is one reason for my interest in Francis Langworth. The Darells of Calehill were another notable recusant family and were related to the Darells of Lamberhurst, whose history overlaps with that of my own ancestors. I’m interested to discover whether Mary Tucker inherited the religion of her mother’s family, and whether her husband Francis was, like his sister Mary and Helen, a Catholic. What do we know of George Tucker and his family? Apparently he was born at Milton, the son of another George Tucker and his wife Maria Hunter. He married Mary Darell on 20th February 1598, also at Little Chart, where she had been born in September 1577, the daughter of John Darell. According to at least one source, Mary Darell was George Tucker’s second wife, his first being Elizabeth Staughton. The same source claims that George’s will, made in 1622, reveals that he and his brother Captain Daniel Tucker owned shares in the Bermudas and were members of the Virginia Company. Apparently some members of the family would migrate to Virginia and become leading figures in the colony. Mary Darell, the mother-in-law of Francis Langworth, was the daughter of John Darell of Calehill, who died in 1618. Among his other offspring were Nathaniel Darell, a governor of Guernsey, and John Darell, a gentleman harbinger to both James I and Charles I.

Calehill House - demolished in the 1950s (via lost heritage.org.uk)

Calehill House – demolished in the 1950s (via lost heritage.org.uk)

According to the 1663 pedigree, Francis and Mary Langworth had three sons and a daughter, though other sources claim they had a greater number of children. At the time of the Visitation their son George Langworth was said to be of Froome in Somerset. Francis, their son and heir, was said to be 33 years old in 1663, which means he was born in about 1630. Daniel was apparently their second son. Their daughter Elizabeth was said to be the wife of George Sidley or Sedley of the parish of St Dunstan’s in Fleet Street, London. (The name Sidley or Sedley recurs in the Darell family tree: John Darell’s sister Elizabeth married a Robert Sidley, and his daughter Elizabeth married a Richard Sedley). Inscriptions on the family tombs in Wilmington parish church confirm that there were a number of other Langworth children who died young. For example:

Here lies the remainder of Mary Langworth, daughter of Francis Langworth who departed this life April 30 1663 at the age of [?18] years 3 months and – days. Here lyeth interred the bodyes of Sarah and Bartholomew Langworth. She dyed ye 5th of September 1650 aged 19 yeares 9 moneths. He dyed April 24th 1653 at ye age of eight yeares 1 moneth 22 dayes. She was the eldest daughter and he the 6th sonne of Francis Langworth.

It seems that Daniel Langworth also died before reaching adulthood:

Here lyeth interred the body of Daniell Langworth, youngest son of Francis Langworth who ended this life October 13 1665 aged 17 yeares 5 moneths 7 dayes.

Francis Langworth died in 1688 at the age of 91, while Mary lived for another 13 years, dying in 1701 at the age of 98. Born in the last years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, they had lived through the reigns of James I and Charles I, the Civil War and execution of the King, the Restoration under Charles II, and the short reign of James II. Francis died a few months before the coup that ousted James and brought William of Orange to the throne, while Mary survived almost until the reign of Queen Anne. The inscription of their tomb reads as follows:

Here rest the bodyes of Francis Langworth, gent., and Mary his wife who lived in wedlock sixty years and were married ye 7th of July 1628. The parents of seven sons and three daughters. He died the 1st day of June 1688 aged 91 years and 3 months being the 5th son of John Langworth, D.D. decd. Born February 25th 1597. She dyed the 29th day of January 1701 aged 98 years and 10 months being the second daughter of George Tucker, Esq., of Milton iuxta Gravesend, decd. Born March 1st 1602.

Their married daughter Elizabeth is also buried in Wilmington church, as we read in the following inscription:

Here rest the body of Elizabeth Sedley daughter of Francis Langworth, gent., of this parish and relict of George Sedley citizen of London by whom she had issue 2 sons and 5 daughters. She died ye 8 of October 1693 aged 61 years 15 days.

I’ve been unable to find any records that associate Francis or Mary Langworth with recusancy, or any indication of their religious sympathies. Francis made his last will and testament in August 1666, two years before his death. I’ll discuss the will in my next post, and among other things I’ll be scrutinising it for evidence of his religious affiliation.

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