‘A perfect member of his misticall bodie the auntient holly Catholique and appostollicall Church’: the last will and testament of Richard Hawkins

In the last post I wrote about the recusant Richard Hawkins of Selling, Kent, who married Mary Langworth, daughter of the clergyman and poet Dr John Langworth. Richard Hawkins died in 1642, the first year of the English Civil War, but he had made his last will and testament two years previously. My transcription of the will follows, and in the next post I’ll discuss what we can learn from it about Richard’s family and associates.

In the name of God Amen the twentie fourth daie of November Anno Domini One thousand six hundredth fortie and one I Richard Hawkins of the parish of Boughton under the Bleane in the Countie of Kent Esquire beinge in perfect health and in a disposing memory I give God heartie thankes And yet knowinge nothinge to be more uncertaine than the houre of Death, Therefore while good opportunitie serveth, And also to prevent worldlie cogitacons against the time or houre of my death, And that I maie bee wholly intentive to the good of my Soule in prepareinge for the greater Accompt of all Accompts I have to make, to sett a perfect order and stay for my wife and children, that after my death noe variance strife or debate neither in present or future maie arrise about the same soe neere as in mee lyeth to prevent, ffor which respecte I doe make and ordaine this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme following ffirst I bequeath my Soule into the handes of Almightie God my Creator Redeemer and Sanctifier most humblie and from the bottome of my hearte craving and asking mercy pardon and forgivenesse of all my sinnes that through frailtie I have comitted in the whole course of my life, appealing in this behalf from his Justice, unto his incomprehensible Mercie without the which noe flesh can bee saved, Trustinge and confiding through the merritte of the precious passion of Christ Jesus his sonne whome I acknowledge to bee my Mediator and Saviour, will graunt mee full remission of all my former sinnes and misdeeds whatsoever comitted, beseeching him whensoever I shall departe this life, I maie dye a perfect member of his misticall bodie the auntient holly Catholique and appostollicall Church, And my bodie I will to be decentlie buryed in Boughton Church next unto my Brother Sir Thomas, and neere my ffather Sir Thomas Hawkins knight, and Dame Anne his wife my deere and most honoured Parents which I leave to the discrecon of my Executor hereafter named. Imprimis I give to the poore of the parish of Boughton abovesaid twelve pence a piece to fortie of the poorest people the next daie after my buryall. And also I doe give to thirtie two of the poorest of the said parish every St Thomas daie before Christmasse one seame of wheate and halfe a seame of Maulte for five yeares together The wheate to bee delivered out in Pecks and the Maulte in gallons by my Executor or his assignes. Item I give unto thirtie of the poorest in Hernhill twelve pence a piece the next daie after my buryall Item I give unto twentie of the poorest of the Parishe of Sellinge twelve pence a piece the next daie after my buryall. Item I give and bequeath to my Daughters Katherine and Bennett to each of them One thousand poundes apiece of lawful money of England to bee paid unto them by my Executor hereafter named at their respectives age of twentie one yeares or daies of marriages which shall first happen. Item I give and bequeathe to my Daughter Martha the remainder of her porcon I promised her three hundreth and fiftie poundes to bee paid unto her by my said Executor within one yeare after my decease If it bee not before that tyme paid. Item I give and bequeath to my youngest sonne Charles the some of fower hundreth poundes of lawfull money of England to bee likewise paid unto him by my said Executor within one yeare after my decease If I make not a provision for him to that value over and above the lands and tenements I give him here in this present expressed. And untill the said respective porcons shall become due and payable unto my said Daughters Katherine and Bennett, my will and meaning is my Executor shall paie and satisfie unto them fortie poundes per Annum a piece at the two usuall feasts and daies of payment vizt. At the feast of Saint Michaell Tharkaungell and Thannunciacon of our blessed Lady St Mary the virgin by even and equall porcons toward their maynteynance and livelihood. And to my Daughter Martha in like manner until her said porcon shall become due and payable twentie poundes per Annum to be paid her. And in case my said Executor shall not paie and satisfie unto my said Daughters respectively their said respective porcons as alsoe unto my said sonne Charles the said some of fower hundreth poundes at the tymes before lymitted, Then my will and meaning is That my said sonne and Daughters shall and maie as their said porcons shall become due and payable, And I do hereby give them full power and authoritie to enter into and upon Eleaven Closes of arable land meadowe and pasture lying in the severall Parishes of Boughton under the Bleane ffeversham and Hernhill in the Countie of Kent, three of which Eleaven Closes are called Knockinges the residue are called Beckleton, Washfield, Beadlesfield, the fower acres olde Boldry meade, longe meade, water meade and Lylly dolone [?] meade And alsoe into and upon one other parcel of land called Johnsens Crofte and Bournefield conteyninge fowerteene acres lyinge in Boughton and ffeversham aforesaid, And alsoe unto and upon all those six parcells of land called Black Marsh heelers Marsh foord uplands and Denby Lees lyinge in the Parishes of Hernhill, Graveny, and Seasalter with their and every of their appurtenaunces in the said countie of Kent, And to take and receive the yssues and profitts thereof to their [???] uses to bee devided amongst them according to the proporcons of money each and one [???] to receive and not satisfied And if my said Executor shall not within the space of one yeare next after such Entry as aforesaid paie and satisfie unto my said Daughters and sonnes their said respective porcons, Then my will and meaning is, That my said Daughters or such of them as shall be living and unsatisfied of their said porcons shall and lawfully maie And I doe by this my will give them full power and authoritie to sell all or anie parte of the said premisses to anie person or persons whatsoever, And out of the moneys that shall bee made thereof, to paie themselves what shall be justlie due unto them together with all such damages as they shall anie waies have sustained by reason of their non payment of their said porcons accordinge to this my will, And after their said respective porcons and damages shall bee satisfied, what shall remaine over and above my will and desire is that shall be paid and delivered to my said Executor. And alsoe I give and bequeath unto my sonne Charles my Messuage or Tenemt called Solestreete in the Parishe of Sellinge in the countie of Kent aforesaid purchased of Anthony and Thomas Langworth gentlemen And all the orchards profitts and appurtenances thereunto belonginge or apperteyninge to him my said sonne Charles and the heires male of his bodie lawfully begotten. And for fault of such yssue, to the heires males of my sonne John lawfully begotten, if he my said sonne John have anie heirs male of his bodie at the tyme of my sonne Charles his decease Otherwise to my said sonne Charles and his heires for ever. And alsoe my will and meaning is, And I doe give him all the furniture in the howse and stocked without doors, as it shall bee found at the tyme of my decease, or as usually it hath beene furnished within and without doors when I dwelled there. And alsoe I doe give and bequeath unto my said sonne Charles my Tenement called Barne Wyland, And all the newe found lands, newe fresh marshes Together with the salte in the said Tenement belonginge or apperteyninge late purchased of John Abrooke belonginge I give unto my said sonne Charles to him and his heires for ever. And whereas differences and questions maie arrise after my decease betweeene my wife and my sonne John concerning the third of my Estate for her Dowrie if shee be not satisfied with her former Joynture My desire is That in regard the severall somes of moneye given to my Daughters for their porcons, as alsoe the land given to my sonne Charles, together with my debts and legacies rises to a considerable value I wish and heartily desire that for good respecte my said wife incline for the consideracons aforesaid to moderacon and Motherly love least hee bee pinched with the maine [???] and debt, And I will and desire, and my true meaning herein is, That if good accord happen betweene them in the aforesaid premisses without too much stricktnesse on my wifes parte, Then I will and bequeath unto my said wife one hundred Markes and a Chamber well furnished for her degree and calling Otherwise I must leave it to God and their best natures and [???] [???], And hope they will soe compose thinges, That their friends and neighbours maie be edified by their example. And whereas I have purchased longe since of Sir Richard Fleetewood of Kullwidge, in the countie of Stafford Knight for the consideracon of five hundred poundes an Annuitie of twentie poundes per Annum for ever, with a proviso therein to bee redeemed upon the payment of the aforesaid some, and all the arrears thereon due which on the five and twentieth daie of this present November there is due unto mee Eleaven yeares and a halfe behind and unpaid. And whereas alsoe I have purchased longe since of Sir Walter Heveningham of Pype in the aforesaid countie of Stafford knight for the consideracon of two hundred poundes An Annuitie of twentie poundes per Annum for ever with a Provisoe therein to be redeemed upon the repayment of the aforesaid some, And also rents and arrears that shall happen then to bee due and unpaid. Both which said Annuities and all the arreares thereon due or hereafter shall bee due unto my Executor, I give it unto him for and towarde the raising of my childrens porcons above menconed And alsoe I give him all my goods and chattles of what name or nature soever Except that I have before herein bequeathed for the raising of my said childrens porcons, And for and towards the payment of my debts and legacies and pforming this my last Will and Testament. And I doe make constitute and ordaine my lovinge sonne John Hawkins gent my sole Executor, And whatsoever is or maie bee defective in this my Will and Testament for want of right understandinge in the laws, I doe ratifie the same by my will intention and playne meaning herein, And doe further charge my said sonne John by all the power and prereogative due to a ffather that he not onlie performe this my last will and Testament according to my intention and playne meaning, But alsoe that he be dutifull to his Mother, loving to his Brothers and Sisters, and helpful in all occasione to doe them good whereby true love maie be conserved amongest them, In all which I am right confident hee will. And whereas since I began the writinge of this my last Will and Testament, I have sealed a Deed unto my sonne Charles of those lands in Wade [???] [???] And alsoe Solestreet and the land thereunto belonginge purchased of Thomas and Anthony Langworth gentlemen in the parishe of Sellinge before in this presente menconed which in consideracon of his marriage and advancement, I have settled it upon him parte in present for his lyvelyhood and his wifes Joynture, the rest after my decease, And also I have sealed unto him a bond of Eight hundred poundes fo the payment of ffower hundred poundes one yeare after my decease. This therefore is a confirmacon both of my bequest aforesaid and my late Deed and bond to his use, Accordinge to the Deed therein expressed and not otherwise. Item I give unto my eldest and youngest daughter to each of them tenn poundes a peece to buy a piece of plate if they thinke good. Item I give unto all my servaints that dwelleth with mee at the tyme of my decease twentie shillinges a piece, Except William Blake thirtie shillinges, and to [???] ffin a Noble. The residue of all and singuler my goods chattels and cattles of what name or nature soever they bee called not before herein given or bequeathed I give unto my Executor abovesaid nominated and appointed for and towards the raising of my childrens porcons and payment of my debts and legacies, and for and towards the pformance of this my last Will and Testament. And so leaving Gods blessing and myne amongest my children beseeching Almightie God to indue them all with his holy grace, I comitt myself to the infinite mercy and goodnes of the Almightie, and them to his holy protection. In witnes whereof I have hereunto put my hand to every one of the three sheetes of paper wherein my last will and Testament is expressed and declared, and my hand and seale to the last sheete the daie and yeare first above written One thousand six hundred fortie one. Richard Hawkins. Subscribed Sealed and Declared this to bee my last Will and Testament in the presence of those who names are hereunder written. William Petit, Katherine Kirton, Elizabeth Smith, Walter Watson.


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.

Susan Hawkins and John Finch of Grovehurst

In recent posts I’ve been exploring the lives of the children of the recusant Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder of Boughton under Blean, Kent, who died in 1617. In this post, I’m turning my attention to Thomas’ daughter Susan or Susanna. The Boughton parish register for 1580 includes the following entry:

The vith of Septebr was bapt. Susan Haukins the Daughter of Thomas Haukyns the youngr. 

We know, from an account of the life of Susan’s brother, Henry Hawkins S.J., that she married John Finch of Grovehurst, at Milton next Sittingbourne, who was also said to be a recusant. Sittingbourne is about ten miles north-west of Boughton under Blean. Milton, in some documents called Middleton, is today a suburb of Sittingbourne and known as Milton Regis. A document reproduced at British History Online has this to say about Grovehurst:

Grovehurst, now usually called Grovers, is a manor situated somewhat less than a mile northward from the town of Milton. It was once the inheritance of a family of that name. Sir William de Grovehurst possessed it in the reigns of king Edward I and II as did his descendant Sir Richard Grovehurst in that of king Henry VII. At length Thomas Grovehurst, esq. in the reign of Edward VI alienated it to Clement Fynche, a branch of those of Netherfield, in Sussex, who were descended from Vincent Herbert, alias Finch, and ancestors of the several branches of this family from time to time created peers of this realm, whose arms they likewise bore.

It appears by the escheat-rolls of the 3rd year of queen Elizabeth, that he then held this manor in capite. He died in the 38th year of that reign and lies buried in the great chancel of this church, where is a monument erected to his memory, with the effigies of him, his two wives, and his son John Fynche, on it.

The thirty-eighth year of Elizabeth I’s reign was either 1595 or 1596 (my 11 x great grandfather John Manser of Wadhurst, Sussex, made his will on 26th December 1597 ‘in the fortieth yeare of the raigne of our soveraigne Lady Elizabeth’).

Finch family memorial in Holy Trinity Church, Milton Regis

Finch family memorial in Holy Trinity Church, Milton Regis

John Finch’s father Clement Finch was the son of another John Finch who died in 1549. He made his will in the previous year, the third year of the reign of Edward VI, describing himself as ‘John ffynche of Myddleton nexte Syttyngborn in the Countye of Kent, gent.’ One of the executors of the will was Christopher Roper, who was almost certainly the Member of Parliament from Lynsted, the brother of William Roper who married Sir Thomas More’s daughter Margaret, and the father of John Roper, first Baron Teynham.

We learn from John Finch’s will that he was married three times. His third wife, Margaret, who was still living, had previously been married to (Robert?) Piper and by him had two sons, Richard and Robert, and two daughters, Joan and Margaret. John Finch’s two previous wives were called Ursula and Alice. Alice was previously the wife of John Knatchbull (confusingly rendered as Snachbull in the transcription that I found online) and her maiden name was Fowle. She was said to be from Tenterden. There is also mention in the will of a Thomas Fowle of Mersham Hatch, near Ashford (about fifteen miles from Tenterden), who presumably was a relative. I haven’t been able to find any link between this branch of the Fowle family and my own Fowle ancestors, who can be traced to Lamberhurst (though my supposed ancestor Bartholomew Fowle, the prior of St Mary Overie, Southwark, at the time of its dissolution, was said to be from Lynsted). The Knatchbulls also lived at Mersham.

John and Alice Knatchbull appear to have had a number of children before John’s death in 1540. I’ve been unable to find out anything about their son John, but another son, William, married Catharine Greene, daughter of John Greene. A third son, Richard, was married twice and had four daughters by each wife. He also had a number of sons, including Thomas Knatchbull, whose son Norton (1602 – 1685) was a member of Parliament and was made a baronet. A fourth Knatchbull son, Reginald, married Anne Elizabeth Crispe, daughter of William Crispe, lieutenant of Dover Castle. One of Reginald and Anne’s sons, John Norton Knatchbull, became a Jesuit, while their daughter, Elizabeth Lucy Knatchbull, joined the English Benedictines in Belgium and was the first abbess of their convent in Ghent (see this source on the relationship between brother and sister, and between the Jesuits and the Benedictines in exile). Reginald’s and Anne’s two other sons each had two daughters who also joined the Benedictines.

Mary Knatchbull, daughter of John and Alice, married Thomas Finch, son of the John Finch who died in 1549. Thomas Finch seems to have been married twice. His second marriage was to Bennet Norton, the widow of William Norton of Hernehill, and the daughter of William Maycott of Preston next Faversham, whose property Thomas would inherit. I believe that Bennet’s first husband William Norton was related to the Thomas Norton of Fordwich whose daughter Aphra was briefly married to Henry Hawkins, who after her death joined the Jesuits. Bennet Finch died in in 1612. In his will of 1615 Thomas Finch mentions ‘my brother Reginald Knatchbull’ and ‘my nephew Thomas Knatchbull’, confirming that his marriage to Mary Knatchbull had preceded his marriage to Bennet. Thomas appointed his nephew John Finch of Grovehurst as his executor and left him Preston House, also mentioning his wife ‘Suzan’.

Memorial to Thomas and Bennet Finch in Preston parish church, Kent

Memorial to Thomas and Bennet Finch in Preston parish church, Kent

Thomas Finch had two brothers, Clement and Henry or Harry, both of whom are mentioned in their father’s will. Clement was the father of John Finch who married Susan Hawkins. I haven’t managed to find out much about him, but I suspect he was born in the 1540s and probably married (though we don’t have the name of his wife) in the late 1570s. However, we do know that he had another son besides John: I’ve found a baptismal record for Thomas Finch, son of Clement, in October 1580. There was also a daughter named Bennett who was christened at Milton in January 1582. She married Edward Hales of Chilham in about 1603 and they had five sons and seven daughters before Edward’s death on 10th January 1634. The will of Thomas Finch, brother of John, refers to ‘Bennet Hales, wife of Edward Hales, gent., my niece’. There is a plaque commemorating Edward and Bennet Hales in the north chancel of the parish church in Faversham (see below).

via flickr.com

via flickr.com

I imagine that John Finch and Susanna Hawkins were married some time in the first decade of the seventeenth century, and certainly by 1608. I’ve found evidence of a Susan Finch being born to John Finch of ‘Milton at Sittingbourne’ in 1609. We also know that John and Susan Finch’s daughter Elizabeth, who would join the English Benedictine convent in Ghent, was born in 1614. Since the will of Susan’s brother Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger, written in 1639, appoints his nephew Clement Finch as an overseer, I conclude that John and Susan Finch had a son of that name.

Elizabeth Finch took the additional name Aldegonde when she joined the Benedictines. She was clothed in Ghent on 13th December 1643 at the age of 29 and professed on 5th February 1647 at the age of 31. In 1665 Elizabeth left Ghent to help found another convent in Ypres, though she only stayed a year or so, returning to her former convent before the end of 1666. She died in Ghent on 1st February 1692 at the age of 78.

There’s firm evidence that Susan Hawkins remained true to her family’s Catholic faith after her marriage to John Finch. I’ve only found second-hand evidence of John’s recusancy, but the National Archives contains at least three documents attesting to Susan’s refusal to conform to the established protestant Church. In April 1607 an indictment in the records of the West Kent Quarter Sessions stated that ‘Susan, wife of John Finche of Milton, esquire, being over sixteen years of age “did not repaire” to the parish church of Milton or any other church for the space of two months.’ A similar indictment was issued in the following year. And on 15th January 1610 an Ecclesiastical Cause paper recorded the excommunication of a number of defendants, including ‘Lady Ann HAWKINS wife of Sir Thos H Boughton Blean, Sus FINCHE wife of John F Milton by Sittingbourne gent’: in other words, Susan Finch née Hawkins and her mother.

I’m not sure when John Finch died, but I’ve found a record of Susan’s death in 1641, which states that she was a widow. I assume that the Clement Finch of Grovehurst who made his will in 1645 was John and Susan’s son. If so, then during his relatively short life (he was probably only in his forties when he died), Clement and his wife Mary, who seems to have survived him, managed to produce four sons – John, Clement, Harbert and Charles – and three daughters – Mary Ann, Elizabeth and Philip (sic). There is evidence that John, Clement Finch’s eldest son and heir, maintained the family tradition of recusancy and as a result the family continued to be penalised after Clement’s death.

Judging by his will, there is no doubt that this Clement Finch held resolutely to the faith of his fathers, the preamble being the most explicitly Catholic that I’ve yet to come across, especially when we consider that it was written  at the height of the Civil War and proved during the fourth year of Cromwell’s Commonwealth:

First I bequeath my soule into the blessed hands of my deare Saviour Jesus Christ who redeemed it with his precious blood firmly beleiveing all whatsoever his Spouse the holy Catholic Church holds and teaches out of which there is noe salvation.

Ann Hawkins and the Hildesley family

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.

Benedict Hawkins (Sister Barbara Benedict): 1586 – 1661

The parish register of Boughton under Blean, Kent, for the year 1586 includes the following entry:

The 31th of Julye was bapt. Bennett the Daughter of Thomas Haukins, gent.

Bennett or Benedict Hawkins was the youngest daughter of the recusant Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder and his wife Anne Pettit who lived at Nash Court, Boughton. She was the sister of the Jesuit priest and author, Henry Hawkins, the poet and translator Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger, and the physician, grammarian and translator John Hawkins.

16th century map of Brussels (via www.leejacksonsmaps.com)

16th century map of Brussels (via http://www.leejacksonsmaps.com)

Benedict was the first of a number of female members of the extended Hawkins family to join one of the English monastic communities in exile. On 22nd July 1610 she was received into the English Benedictine convent in Brussels. Exactly a year later, at the age of twenty-four, she was ‘invested with the holie Habitt of St Benedict’, and a year after that she made her profession, taking the name Barbara Benedict. Her dowry was 3800 florins. Sister Barbara Benedict served as sacristan in 1623 and again in 1652. She died in 1661, at the age of 75.

Six of Benedict Hawkins’ nieces would follow her example, choosing the life of a nun in an exiled English convent, as would five of her great nieces. This was in addition to Frances Spurrett, the niece of Benedict’s brother Richard Hawkins (Frances was the daughter of Helen Langworth, sister of Richard’s wife Mary; she entered the English Franciscan convent in Brussels in 1626). Richard and Mary Hawkins had one daughter who, like Frances Spurrett, joined the Franciscans in Brussels. Benedict’s sister Susan, who married John Finch of Grovehurst, had a daughter who joined the Benedictines in Ghent. Another sister, Anne, who married William Hildesley, had four daughters, all of whom joined the Sepulchrine order in Liège.

Benedictine nuns

Benedictine nuns

To a modern sensibility, the idea of sending one’s daughters to a foreign country, to live in an enclosed, celibate community for the remainder of their lives, is difficult to understand. However, the historian Caroline Bowden has argued that, in the case of the English religious communities in exile, ‘care was taken to ensure that women entered convents of their own free will and evidence has survived from many of the convents showing that candidates could, and in fact did, leave if they changed their mind about joining.’ Bowden claims that, far from resenting the experience of religious enclosure, the exiled nuns seem positively to have welcomed separation from a secular world in which they and their families had experienced persecution and had been prevented from practising their religion freely.

I’ll write about the families of Ann, Susan and Richard Hawkins in separate posts.

John Hawkins: physician, grammarian, translator – and recusant

John Hawkins was the fourth son of Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder of Boughton under Blean, though his actual date of birth is unknown. As I noted in the previous post, John is said to have studied for his medical degree at Padua in Italy, almost certainly to avoid taking the oath of allegiance and supremacy. A database of London physicians of the period states that he had studied abroad for a period of seven or eight years, and on his return was told that he must be incorporated in a domestic university.

Mary Cavendish, Countess of Shrewsbury (via bbc.co.uk)

Mary Cavendish, Countess of Shrewsbury (via bbc.co.uk)

In 1915 the last number of the Eagle, the magazine of St John’s College, Cambridge, reproduced this letter of 1616 from the college’s benefactor, Mary, Countess of Shrewsbury:

To my very loving friend, Mr. Doctor Gwyn, Master of St. John’s College in Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of that University

Good Mr. Doctor, —I have been earnestly moved in the behalf of this gentleman, Mr. Doctor Hawkins, to become a means unto you that where(as) he hath taken the degree of Doctor of Physic at Padua he may be received into the same degree in your university. For the which I earnestly pray you to do him what lawful favour you may, it being a thing (as I am informed) usually granted to men of his merit that sue for the same. And I shall acknowledge your kindness herein as opportunity may serve. And so with my hearty commendations will commit you to the protection of God.

At Broad Street this 18th of January, 1615 [1616 by today’s reckoning].—Your assured friend,


Mary Cavendish, Countess of Shrewsbury (1556 – 1632), had converted to Catholicism as an adult. She was imprisoned for a time in the Tower of London, as a consequence of helping her niece Lady Arbella Stuart elope to the Continent.

John Hawkins married Frances Power, daughter of Francis Power or Poure of Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, some time before 1628. Frances Power’s sister Margaret, who married Edward Ewer, was known to be Catholic. John’s father-in-law is almost certainly the Francis Poure who made his will in 1619, from which we discover that his wife Anne was the sister of Sir John Ferrers of Bayford, Hertfordshire, a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Francis Poure’s will bequeaths money to ‘my two younger daughters Mary and Anne’, but there is no mention of Frances, perhaps because she had already received a marriage settlement, which would mean that Frances married John Hawkins before 1619.

Francis Poure or Power died a few years before the birth of his grandson Francis Hawkins, which occurred in 1628. According to one source, John and Frances Hawkins may also have had another son, ‘from whom descend the family of Hawkins of Tredunnock, Monmouthshire.’

John Hawkins was known to be a staunch Catholic, and he appears in John Gee’s* list of ‘Popish Physicians in and about the City of London’ in 1624, as residing in Charterhouse Court, Smithfield. Contemporary records inform us that in 1626 Hawkins was required to pay an annual fine of £4, presumably on account of his recusancy.

As well as practicing as a physician, John Hawkins was also well-known as a grammarian and translator. His published works include the following:

‘A brief Introduction to Syntax, collected out of Nebrissa. … With the Concordance supplyed by J. H.,’ London, 1631

‘Discursus de Melancholia Hypochondriaca,’ Heidelberg, 1633

‘The Ransome of Time being captive. Wherein is declared how precious a thing is Time,’ London, 1634, written in Spanish by Andreas de Soto, and translated by J. H.

‘Particulæ Latinæ Orationis, collectæ, dispositæ, et confabulationibus digestæ,’ London, 1635

‘Paraphrase upon the seaven Penitential Psalms,’ London, 1635, translated from the Italian by J. H.

The date of John Hawkins’ death is unknown and I’ve been unable to locate his will. However, one source suggests that he practised medicine between 1616 and 1638, and as stated above, he published nothing after 1635. This would fit with the fact of his absence from the 1640 will of his brother Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger. (However, see the next paragraph, which suggests that John might still have been alive in 1641.)

An engraving of Francis Hawkins as a child, by John Payne

An engraving of Francis Hawkins as a child, by John Payne

John Hawkins’ son Francis was a child prodigy who translated the French advice book ‘Youth’s Behaviour’ before he was eight years old. The translation was first printed in 1641, at his father’s request, by the publisher William Lee. The second edition of 1646 bears the following inscription:

‘Youth’s Behaviour, or Decency in Conversation amongst Men’ Composed in French by grave persons, for the use and benefit of their youth. Now newly turned into English by Francis Hawkins.’

The edition of 1654 contains an engraved portrait of the boy (see above), inscribed ‘François Hawkins tirant a l’aage d’huict ans,’ with four lines of English verse on his precocity. In his address to the reader the publisher apologises for ‘the Style … wrought by an uncouth and rough File of one in greene yeares.’ A fourth edition appeared in 1650, others in 1652, 1653, 1654, and 1663, and a ninth edition in 1668. A second part, entitled ‘Youth’s Behaviour; or Decency in Conversation amongst Women,’ was produced in London in 1664, with a portrait of Lady Ferrers, presumably Francis’ maternal grandmother, by the Puritan bookseller Robert Codrington. Francis is also known for a second work, ‘An Alarum for Ladyes’, translated from de La Serre, which he published at the age of ten.

The title page of 'Youth's Behaviour'

The title page of ‘Youth’s Behaviour’

In 1649, at the age of 21, Francis Hawkins left England to join the Society of Jesus and was professed of the four vows on 14th May 1662. In 1665 he was socius (a kind of secretary or chief of staff) to the master of novices at Watten; in 1672 he was confessor at Ghent; and in 1675 he became Professor of Holy Scripture at Liège College. Unlike his uncle and fellow Jesuit Henry Hawkins, Francis did not join the English mission but served in mainly administrative roles in various Jesuit colleges on the Continent. Francis Hawkins died at Liege on 19th February 1681.

*A personal footnote

The anti-Catholic writer John Gee, compiler of the list of ‘popish physicians’ in which John Hawkins’ name appears, had a brother Orlando who was Registrar to the Court of Admiralty, in which capacity he was one of the signatories to the certificate admitting my 7 x great grandfather, the goldsmith Joseph Greene, to the freedom of the City of London, in 1693.

Reflections on the will of Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger (died 1640)

The last will and testament of the Catholic poet and translator, Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger, which I transcribed in the previous post, includes references to a number of members of his family. Notable by their absence from the will (probably for the same pragmatic reasons as their omission from their father’s will of 1617) are Thomas’ brother Henry, the Jesuit priest, and his sister Bennet or Benedict, a nun in Belgium, both of whom were still living. Another significant absence is Sir Thomas’ brother John, the physician and author, and it seems likely that he predeceased him.

Thomas Hawkins appoints another sibling, his ‘wellbeloved brother’ Richard Hawkins, as sole executor of his will. It was Richard who married Mary Langworth, daughter of Dr John Langworth, with whom we began this exploration of connected recusant families. I believe that Thomas’ nephew Charles and his niece Katharine, both mentioned in the will, were the children of Richard and Mary. We’ll return to them in another post.

Panel of the Hawkins monument in Boughton church, showing Sir Thomas the younger and his brothers

Panel of the Hawkins monument in Boughton church, showing Sir Thomas the younger and his brothers

Thomas makes bequests to his cousins Ann and William Pettit. These were members of his late mother’s family; as mentioned in previous posts, the Pettits were another known recusant family, also resident in Boughton under Blean. The will also includes a reference to ‘Ann Breadstreet my Aunts daughter’. The will of Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder had mentioned his cousin Ann Breadstreet or Bradstreet, and also Christopher Bradstreet, who may have been her husband.

Thomas leaves money to ‘my sister Finch’: this is Susan or Susanna Hawkins who married John Finch of Grovehurst, at Milton near Sittingbourne. They were the parents of Thomas’ nephew Clement Finch of Grovehurst, appointed as one of the overseers of the will. ‘My sister Hildesley’ is Ann Hawkins, the husband of ‘my loving brother William Hildesley’ of Little Stoke, Oxfordshire, also named as an overseer. I’ll discuss the Finches and Hildesleys, both of them well-known recusant families, in future posts.

I haven’t been able to find out anything further about the person Thomas Hawkins describes as ‘John Rookes my kinseman’. As for ‘my god sonne Thomas Crompton’, it’s possible he was a relative (son?) of Sir Thomas Crompton, the Member of Parliament and government officer, a number of whose family were said to be Catholic.

Pra del Valle in Padua by Canaletto (via wikimedia)

Pra del Valle in Padua by Canaletto (via wikimedia)

Thomas Hawkins makes a substantial bequest in his will to ‘my lovinge nephew John Kirton doctor of phisicke’. I’ve been unable to discover John Kirton’s precise connection to the Hawkins family. Given his surname, he might have been the son of one of Thomas’ sisters, but I haven’t found any trace of another surviving sister who might have married a man with the surname Kirton. Alternatively, John might have been related to Thomas Hawkins via his wife Elizabeth Smith: perhaps another Smith sister married a Kirton?

Interestingly, John Kirton seems to have studied medicine in Padua, Italy, and then to have been ‘incorporated’ at Oxford in 1633. There is a suggestion that Thomas Hawkins’ younger brother John, who was also a physician, followed a similar path, perhaps because completing his degree at Oxford would have meant taking the Oath of Allegiance. It appears that Padua was popular among Catholic students as an alternative to Oxford and Cambridge, partly for this reason. However, as Jonathan Woolfson explain in his book on English students at Padua in the Tudor period, there were other reasons for the city’s appeal: both Catholics and Protestants were drawn there because of its long tradition of welcoming foreign students, its reputation as a centre for humanist learning, and the fact that it existed outside the control of any civic or religious authority.

Probable likeness of Sir Robert Dudley, c. 1591 (via wikipedia)

Probable likeness of Sir Robert Dudley, c. 1591 (via wikipedia)

John Kirton appears to have a had long association with Italy. He was physician to the explorer and cartographer Sir Robert Dudley, whom he assisted in his chemical experiments in Tuscany. After a colourful maritime career, Dudley had abandoned his family and left England in 1605 with his cousin and lover Elizabeth Southwell, who was disguised as a page. The couple declared that they had converted to Catholicism and Dudley married Elizabeth in Lyon in 1606, after receiving a papal dispensation, and then settled in Florence. Apparently John Kirton was still living in Florence in 1673, at the age of 70.

I’m not sure of the exact identity of the man whom Thomas Hawkins describes as my deare friend Mr Thomas Chester’. He might be the Thomas Chester of Almondsbury, Gloucestershire, the Royalist, described in one source as ‘an old Cavalier’, who was fined and had his property sequestered during the Civil War for ‘having adhered to the Forces raised against the Parliament’.

‘That then I may bee wholly attentive to the good of my soule’: the last will and testament of Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger

Thomas Hawkins 1641 will

The opening lines of the will of Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger

In the previous post I wrote about the recusant poet and translator Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger of Nash Court, Boughton under Blean, Kent, who died in 1640. In this post I’m sharing my transcription of his will, and in the next post I’ll discuss what we can learn from it about Hawkins’ family and associates. (I’ve highlighted key names on their first appearance.) 

In the name of God Amen the nyne and twentieth day of october one thousand sixe hundred thirty nyne And in the fyfteenth yeare of the Reygne of our most gracious Sovereigne Lord Kinge Charles of England I Sr Thomas Hawkins of Nash in the parish of Boughton under the Bleane in the County of Kent knight beinge not well in health but yet of perfect mynd & memorie for which I doe give most humble thanks to Almighty God) And well considering of the uncerteynty of mans life and especially to free my selfe in my last sickness from all worldly care that then I may bee wholly attentive to the good of my soule, do therefore make and ordayne this my last will and testamt in manner followeing & first I bequeath my soule into the hands of Allmighty God my Creator redeemer and sanctifier and my bodie to bee decently buried in the parish church of Boughton aforesd and neere as may bee to the burial places of the bodies of Sr Thomas Hawkins knight and dame Ann his wife my deceased deare & ever honord parents which I leave to the discretion of my executr hereafter named Imprimis I give to the poore people of the sayd parish of Boughton eight pounds in money to bee distributed amongst them ymmediately after my death at the discretion of myne executor. Item I give to the poore people of the parish of Heurnehill in the sayd countie three pounds to bee likewise distributed Item I hgive to the poore of the parish of Sr Sepulchre in London fower pounds Item I give & devise to my lovinge nephew John Kirton doctor of phisicke all those eleven closes bee the same more or lesse or severall grounds in closes of agrable [?] lands medows & pasture ground conteyninge together in the whole by estimacon one hundred and tenne acres or thereabouts situate lyeing or beinge within the severall parishes of Boughton under the bleane aforesd and Feaversham and Heurnehill or some or one of them in the countie of Kent three of which closes before menconed or more now are or late weare commonly called or known by the name of Knockemors and the residue of the same nowe are or late weare called or knowen by the severall names of Hockleton Hashfeild Bendleffeild the fower neare ould Bouldsy mead longe mead water mead and lillydowne meadowe or by what other name or names the same or any of them are otherwise called or knowen by with all the proffitts commodities and appurtenances to the sayd severall closes or enclosed grounds belonginge or appurtenayng unto the sayd John Kirton his Executors and assignes ymedtiatly from after my decease for the tearme of three score years thence next ensewinge upon condicon followeing, vizt Provided allwayes and my full intended meaning is that If my wellbeloved brother Richard Hawkins or his heirs shall within sixe months next after my decease pay unto the sayd John Kirton or to his Executor or Assignes the some of three hundred pounds of lawfull money of England Then and in such case my sayd wish[?] and desire of the sayd closes lands and tenemets unto the sayd John Kirton his Exeuctors and assignes shall cause determine and bee payd and that then my will and meaning is that the same closes lands and tenemets shall remayne and bee and I doe hereby devise bequeath and appoynt the same unto my sayd brother Richard Hawkins his heirs and assignes forever for the better performance of this my last will and testament. I give and bequeath to my neece Katherine Hawkins my diamond ringe of fower stones and a scarfe [?] Item I give and bequeath to Ann Breadstreet my Aunts daughter the yearely some of fifty two shillings & p Annm to bee weekly paid new [?] by twelve pence a weeke during her natural life Item I give and bequeath to my ould servant John Kennett fower pounds yearly and everie yeare duringe his natural life to bee yssueinge out of certeyne closes or grounds called the blacke marshes Johnson Croft and Crearneffeild [?] lyeinge in the parishes of Boughton and Seasalter or some of them in the sayd countie of Kent to bee payd at the twoe usuall feast dayes vizt the annuntiacon of the blessed virgin Marie And St Michaell th’archangell by twoe equall porcons the first payment thereof to begin at the first of the sayd feast dayes as shall next happen And ensewe After my death If the sayd John Kennett bee then living and for non payment thereof by the space of twentie dayes next after either of the sayd dayes of payment it shall be lawfull for the say(d) John Kennett or his assignes to enter into the sayd closes and grounds last menconed and to dystreyne for the same and to deteyne such dystresses as shall bee taken untill the sayd yearely payment of such part thereof as shall bee then due and all the arrearages thereof any bee shall be fully satisfied and payd Item I give unto John Rookes [?] my kinseman twentie pounds and to my cosen Ann Pettitt three pounds Item I give unto my nephew John Hawkins all my books in my studdy at London And at my house at Nash except the bookes hereafter particularly given Item I give unto my nephew Charles Hawkins all my musicke Bookes at London And at my house at Nash together with my viols Item I give unto my nephew Charles Hawkins my sister Finch five pounds to be bestowed in a peece of plate And to my sister Hildesley five poundes to be bestowed in a peece of plate Item I give twenty shillings a peece to each of my sister Finches children And to each of my syster Hildesleys children Item I give my mercator booke of mapps to my deare friend Mr Thomas Chester Item I give to everie one of my servants that shall bee dwelling with mee at the tyme of my death the sayd John Kennett excepted to each of them yxt [?] a peece over and above their wages I give to my cosen William Pettitt twentie shillings to bee bestowed in a ringe Item I give to my god sonne Thomas Crompton Item I give to William Blayne And his wife duringe their natural lives and the life of the longer liver of them three pounds yearely and everie yeare to bee yssueinge out of the foresaid chloses and grounds called the black marshes Johnsons Croft and bearnefields to bee payd at such dayes and with power to dystreyne for non payment of the same in such manner as is before limitted and appointed to and for John Kennett as aforesaid And I doe heerby make and ordayne my sayd wellbeloved brother Richard Hawkins sole executor of this my last will and testament desireinge him out of his love and affection to mee to see all things fully performed according to my will intent and meaning herein expressed. And I doe heerby revoke all former wills by mee heretofore made And I doe heerby make and desier my loving brother William Hildesley of Littlestocke in the county of Oxford Esquier and Clemment Finch of Grovehurst in the countie of Kent my nephew to bee overseers hereof and I doe give to either of them fourtie shillings in witness whereof I have to this my last will and testament beinge fower sheets to everie one of the same sheets subscribed my name And to the last sheete hereof have putt my seale the day and yere [?] first above written Thomas Hawkins Sealed subscribed and published by the sayd Sr Thomas Hawkins as his last will and testament in the presence of us William Forrest William Linsey John Ruck [?] John Comberford


Sir Thomas Hawkins the younger, poet and translator (1575 – 1640)

Henry Hawkins, SJ, was not the only son of Sir Thomas Hawkins of Nash Court with literary accomplishments to his name. Henry’s older brother, another Sir Thomas Hawkins, was a poet and translator who moved in London literary circles. Thomas Hawkins the younger was baptised in the parish church of Boughton under Blean, Kent, on 20th July 1575. He was the eldest son and heir of Sir Thomas Hawkins the elder and his wife Ann Pettit (I’m aware that in an earlier post I described this Thomas Hawkins as ‘the younger’ to distinguish him from his father, the first Sir Thomas Hawkins. Apologies for any confusion. Perhaps I should have labelled them Thomas Hawkins I, II and III.)

Churchyard, Ashby Folville (via woodforde.co.uk)

Churchyard, Ashby Folville (via woodforde.co.uk)

Like his brother Henry, Thomas Hawkins was probably educated at home by the recusant schoolmaster Mr Greene, before going up to Gloucester Hall, Oxford, where he matriculated on 15th October 1591, though he left Oxford without taking his degree. The precise date of Thomas’ marriage is unknown. His wife was Elizabeth Smith, daughter of George Smith of Ashby Folville; the Smiths were another noted Catholic family. Thomas and Elizabeth Hawkins had two sons, John and Thomas, but both died at a young age.

When Sir Thomas Hawkins senior died in 1617, the younger Thomas inherited Nash Court and extensive property in Boughton, Faversham, Herne Hill, Seasalter and elsewhere in Kent. Thomas’ recusancy seems to have been no barrier to finding favour at court, and on 4th May 1618 he was knighted by King James at Whitehall. However, this does not mean that his religious loyalties escaped censure. In 1626 he and Elizabeth were indicted for recusancy and in December 1633 the Privy Council ordered a search of Nash Court, describing Thomas as ‘a great papist and harbourer of priests’. However, Elizabeth Hawkins refused entry to the officers without a warrant, on the grounds that her husband had the great seal in his trunk to protect the house, and the matter seems to have been dropped. This appears to be another example of the Hawkins family escaping the worst effects of the penal laws due to their social status. On the other hand, members of the family continued to be pursued for nonconformity, with a number of indictments being issued in the years following.

Ben Jonson, by Abraham van Blyenberch, circa 1617 (via wikimedia.org)

Ben Jonson, by Abraham van Blyenberch, circa 1617 (via wikimedia.org)

In 1624 Thomas Hawkins was one of the nominees for Edmund Bolton’s proposed Royal Academy (Bolton had been brought up as a Catholic). He was also a friend and correspondent of the author and traveller James Howell, as well as the Catholic poet Sir John Beaumont, for whom he wrote an elegy in 1629. It is also apparent that Thomas Hawkins was connected with Ben Jonson’s circle. In April 1636 a letter from Howell began by noting that Hawkins had been ‘deeply remember’d’ at a dinner with the poet. Hawkins knew Jonson’s patron, Sir Kenelm Digby (another Catholic), and Hawkins composed this elegy on Jonson for the commemorative collection Jonsonus virbius (1638):

To the Memory of Master Benjamin Jonson

To press into the throng, where wits thus strive

To make thy laurels fading tombs survive,

Argues thy worth, their love, my bold desire,

Somewhat to sing, though but to fill the quire:

But (truth to speak) what muse can silent be,

Or little say, that hath for subject, thee?

Whose poems such, that as the sphere of fire,

They warm insensibly, and force inspire,

Knowledge, and wit infuse, mute tongues unloose,

And ways not track’d to write, and speak disclose.

But when thou put’st thy tragic buskin on,

Or comic sock of mirthful action,

Actors, as if inspired from thy hand,

Speak, beyond what they think, less, understand;

And thirsty hearers, wonder-stricken, say,

Thy words make that a truth, was meant a play.

Folly, and brain-sick humours of the time,

Distemper’d passion, and audacious crime,

Thy pen so on the stage doth personate,

That ere men scarce begin to know, they hate

The vice presented, and there lessons learn,

Virtue, from vicious habits to discern.

Oft have I seen thee in a sprightly strain,

To lash a vice, and yet no one complain;

Thou threw’st the ink of malice from thy pen,

Whose aim was evil manners, not ill men.

Let then frail parts repose, where solemn care

Of pious friends their Pyramids prepare;

And take thou, BEN, from verse a second breath,

Which shall create Thee new, and conquer death.

Hawkins was described by the antiquary Anthony Wood as an ‘ingenious man … as excellent in the fac[ulty] of music as in poetry’. However, it is as a translator that he is mainly remembered. In 1625 he published a translation of Horace, The Odes of Horace the Best of Lyrick Poets, which was republished in 1631, 1635, and 1638. Hawkins also translated works by Giovanni Botero (The Cause of the Greatnesse of Cities, 1635), Giovanni Battista Manzini (Political Observations upon the Fall of Sejanus, 1634) and three works by Pierre Matthieu (including another on Sejanus) and the translation A Saxon Historie, of the Admirable Adventures of Clodaldus and his Three Children (1634).

Thomas Hawkins’ skills as a translator were employed by the Jesuits. The following extract from Thomas’ entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography provides the details:

In addition to this literary and historical work his translating skills were used extensively by the Jesuits, presumably through his brother Henry, to produce pious works aimed at the English market. Between 1626 and 1638 came Hawkins’s translation, with the assistance of Sir Basil Brooke, of the massive four-volume work, Holy Court, by the French Jesuit Nicholas Caussin. Published in France these volumes were dedicated to Queen Henrietta Maria, the earl of Dorset, the countess of Portland, and the duchess of Buckingham respectively. The work, which included biographies and portraits of Mary, queen of Scots, and Cardinal Pole, proved immensely popular among Catholics; at least three editions of the work were published in London between 1650 and 1678. Hawkins also translated Caussin’s Christian Diurnal (Paris, 1632), dedicated to Viscountess Savage (this edition differs from the Cambridge edition of 1648 which was aimed at protestant readers), and Étienne Binet’s The Lives and Singular Vertues of Saint Elzear (Rouen, 1638), dedicated to the earl and countess of Shrewsbury. Hawkins has also been plausibly identified as the translator of The Angel-Guardian’s Clock (Rouen, 1630) by the Jesuit Jeremias Drexelius; Hawkins’s brother Henry had already produced a translation of another of Drexelius’s works.

Thomas Hawkins died at some point between the drawing up of his will on 29th October 1639 and its proving on 13th April 1641, probably towards the end of 1640. He would have been about sixty-five years old. Thomas is said to have died in the parish of St Sepulchre, London, where he must have kept a house. Although he asked to be buried in Boughton parish church, as close to his parents as possible, his burial is not recorded in the parish registers.

The will of Sir Thomas Hawkins’ the younger is a useful source of information about his family and associates, and I’ll reproduce a transcription of it in the next post.

Henry Hawkins, Jesuit priest and author (1577 – 1646)

A page from Henry Hawkins' 'Partheneia sacra'

The frontispiece to Henry Hawkins’ ‘Partheneia sacra’ (1632)

Henry Hawkins, the Jesuit priest and author, is probably the best-known of the children of Sir Thomas Hawkins of Boughton under Blean. The Boughton parish register for the year 1577 includes the following entry:

The 8th of Octobr was bapt. Henrie Haukyns the sonne of Thomas Haukyns the younger.

It seems likely that Henry was privately educated at home; we know that his father employed a certain Mr Greene, a recusant schoolmaster, at the family home at Nash Hall, Boughton. Following the example of his older brother Thomas, Henry then attended Gloucester Hall, Oxford (the predecessor of Worcester College), matriculating on 3rd November 1592 at the age of fourteen. In a report to the government about recusancy at the University in 1577, the year of Henry Hawkins’ birth, it was stated that Gloucester Hall was ‘greatly suspected’ of being a refuge for recusants. A number of future Catholic priests, including some who were martyred, had studied there.

It’s unclear how Henry Hawkins spent the years immediately after his graduation from Oxford, though since he was said to be ‘intelligent in affairs of government, very learned in the English laws’, perhaps he attended the Inns of Court and was destined for public office. On 9th February 1604, when he was twenty-seven years old, Henry married the twenty-year-old Aphra Norton, daughter of Thomas Norton, at the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, a few miles to the east of Canterbury. The Norton family lived at Tancrey Island in Fordwich. Some commentators mistakenly suggest that Henry abandoned his wife to pursue his vocation as a priest: the source quoted above (a manuscript ‘status’ of the English College at Rome for 1613) claims that he had ‘left a wife, office, and many other commodities and expectations, to become a priest in the seminaries.’

The tomb of Aphra Hawkins in Fordwich church

The tomb of Aphra Hawkins in Fordwich church (via findagrave.com)

However, the truth is rather more poignant. On 16th January 1605, less than a year after their marriage, Aphra Hawkins died and was buried in the church where they had been married. Her tomb is adorned with a female figure, and a plate with this touching inscription:

Here lyeth buryed the body of Aphra Hawkins, wife of Henry Hawkins, gent. and daughter of Thomas Norton, Esqr. who scarcely having arrived to 21 years of age, yet fully attained perfection in many virtues, departed this frayle life the 16th of January, 1605.

Henry Hawkins must have made his decision to join the Jesuits shortly after his young wife’s untimely death. When he entered the English College of Rome on 19th March 1609, using the pseudonym ‘Brooke’, he had already spent some time studying the classics at the college of the English Jesuits at St Omer. Henry received minor orders in 1613, was ordained priest soon afterwards, and, after spending two years in the study of scholastic theology, left for Belgium and entered the Society of Jesus in about 1615.

Some time in the next two years, either just before or shortly after his father’s death, Henry Hawkins joined the mission to England, a move that might easily have ended in a trial for treason and execution by being hanged, drawn and quartered. We know that Henry was captured in 1618, but for some reason (perhaps his family’s status and connections?) he escaped execution and instead was sent into exile, together with eleven other Jesuits.

Jesuit priest, 17th century

Jesuit priest, 17th century

The secrecy of Henry Hawkins’ mission means that details about his life as a priest are difficult to come by. However, it is known that he returned from exile and was able to remain in England, working mainly in London, for twenty-five years without being detected. He is named among the ‘veterani missionarii’ in the list of Jesuits found among papers seized in 1628 at the Society’s residence in Clerkenwell. He was also said to be resident in London in 1641, just before the outbreak of the Civil War.

As well as being a mission priest, Henry Hawkins was also a writer and translator. Seven of the eight works attributed to him appeared between 1630 and 1634, most of them being translations of saints’ lives and devotional works, from Latin, French and Italian. As I mentioned in the previous post, his History of St. Elizabeth (1632) was dedicated to the recusant Lady Mary Teynham (or Roper) of Lynsted Lodge, near Sittingbourne. Henry was also responsible for producing two of the three extant recusant emblem books in English, and he translated Stephen Luzvic’s The Devout Heart (1634), the object of which was to combine the functions of an emblem book with those of a devotional manual.

A page from Henry Hawkins' 'Partheneia sacra'

A page from Henry Hawkins’ ‘Partheneia sacra’

Among Henry’s own compositions was Partheneia sacra (1633), subtitled ‘the mysterious and delicious garden of the sacred Parthenes’. In this work the image of the garden offers a framework for devotion and twenty-four symbols associated with the Virgin Mary provide its main themes. There is a detailed analysis of this work, and its likely use by the recusant community, by Karl Josef Höltgen, in the edited collection The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540 – 1773.

In old age Henry Hawkins retired to the house of the English Tertian Fathers at Ghent, which had been established in 1622 under the patronage of Lady Anne, countess of Arundel and Surrey. He died there on 18th August 1646.