Roger Tirrell baptized 1620—the final chapter

by Nancy Tyrrel Theodore and Conrad Terrill, 23 Apr. 2012

Almost a year and a half ago we presented a promising new possibility for the origins of our Roger1 Terrill (see Roger Tirrell, baptized 9 Nov. 1620, St Magnus The Martyr, London). This Roger Tirrell was the son of a Roger Tirrell bapt. 1592, citizen and haberdasher of London, and wife Ellen, who lived in St Magnus The Martyr parish at the north end of London Bridge until sometime between the summer of 1623 and the fall of 1624, when they moved to a part of Smithfield which was located in the parish of St Mary Whitechapel. We don't know exactly when Abigail Ufford (the wife of our Roger1 Terrill) was born, but we imagine that it was around 1621, in which case this Roger Tirrell bapt. 1620 was the first possible Roger1 we had been able to find who was (we imagine) about the same age as Abigail. The main problem with our theoretical identification was that either Roger bapt. 1620, or his father Roger bapt. 1592, was buried in St Mary Whitechapel on 14 July 1625, and we were not able to say which of two it was. We now believe we know, to the detriment of our theory.

London Bridge, 1616, by Claes J. Visscher [1]
A week ago Nancy decided to search again through the database "London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812," for "Hellen Layton" (the name of the widow whom Roger Tirrell bapt. 1592 married, in December of 1618). Far down on the list of search hits she noticed "Hellen Lawton," daughter of John, bapt. 30 Nov. 1617 at St Magnus The Martyr. Nancy then decided to check the British National Archives for John Lawton's will, and found it. Since it was probated at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (P.C.C.) it was available online. John Lawton, citizen and haberdasher of London, wrote his will on 4 July 1618; it was proved 23 Sep. 1618; and it mentions wife Helen, children John, Stephen, Helen and a child not yet born, mother-in-law Dorothy Calverley, and some others. (Click here if you would like to read a transcript of John Lawton's will, and see the original as recorded in the P.C.C. register.) The mention of the name Dorothy Calverley turned out to be very important. We looked for and found a will for her, too, also available online from the National Archives because it was probated at the P.C.C. (All estates of above a certain value in southern England were probated at the P.C.C.) But let's not turn to that right away. Let's fill in the story of Roger and Ellen Tirrell, of St Magnus The Martyr and then St Mary Whitechapel, with what we've learned by following up on the new information provided to us in the wills. (If you would like to skip to the upshot, click here.)

Helen, who was more often called Ellen, was the eldest daughter of Richard Calverley, householder and upholsterer in the parish of St Michael, Cornhill, London (a quarter mile to the north of St Magnus The Martyr), and his wife Dorothy (nee Okes). Ellen was one of thirteen children born to the couple over a span of eighteen years, some of which children died young. Here are the family records, all from the pages of the St Michael, Cornhill parish registers (with links to christening (c), marriage (m) and burial (b) page images—there are two copies of the register: 1) with marginal headings (a Bishop's transcript?); and 2) without such headings—sometimes one contains slightly more information than the other, or is easier to read):

Marriage: Richard Calverleye and Dorithie Okes, 19 Jan. 1588/9 (m1, m2)
Baptisms of children:
John Calverley, 5 Apr. 1590 (c1 c2)
Ellyn Calverley, 7 Feb. 1590/1 (c1 c2)
Edmond Calverley, 28 Feb. 1591/2, bur. 13 Aug. 1594 (c1 c2 b1 b2)
Elizabethe Calverley, 10 Jun. 1593 (c1 c2)
Anne Calverleye, 4 Aug. 1594 (c1 c2)
Joyce Calverley, 25 Jul. 1596 (c1 c2)
Dorythye Calverlye, 16 Oct. 1597, bur. 15 Oct. 1609 (c1 c2 b1 b2)
Richarde Calverley, 22 Jun. 1599, must have d. before 6 Jun. 1602 (c1 c2)
Katherin Cauerley, 2 Nov. 1600, bur. 19 Jul. 1605 (c1 c2 b1 b2)
Richard Caluerly, 6 Jun 1602, must have d. before 15 Sep. 1605 (c1 c2)
Marie Caverlie, 25 Mar. 1604 (c1 c2)
Richard Cauerley, 15 Sep. 1605, bur 25 Sep. 1609 (c1 c2 b1 b2)
Katherine Caluerley, 1 Mar. 1606/7 (c1 c2)
Parents' burials:
Richard Calverley, 2 Jan. 1608/9 (b1 b2)
Dorothy Calverley, 29 Mar. 1627 (b1 b2)

Incidentally, we have noticed that the indexes contains numerous transcription errors. This is true of FamilySearch indexes too. An impressively accurate transcription of the St Michael, Cornhill, registers may be found in ref. 2 (Harleian Society, vol VII, 1882).

At the time of his death Richard was a parish churchwarden. From another burial record we learn that James Cooke, bachelor, (bur. 22 Jan. 1615/6), was "sometime servant to Mr. Cawverlie." (Richard Calverley was the only Mr. Calverley in this parish at that time.) The name "Richard" was apparently an unlucky one for children of this family. The first Richard, baptized in 1599, was baptized at home, perhaps because his death was imminent. None of the three Richards reached age five. Daughter Katherine, who died in 1605 at age four, died of smallpox. The family survived the dreadful plague year of 1603 unscathed; however, children Dorothy and Richard succumbed to plague in the off-year 1609, at ages twelve and four, respectively.

On 23 Nov. 1612, at age 21, Ellen married John Lawton/Laughton, who too was of St Michael, Cornhill. They were married at St Magnus The Martyr, by license (not by Banns), and all of their children were baptized there. The following records are all from the St Magnus The Martyr parish registers:

Marriage: John Lawton and Hellen Caverly, 23 Nov. 1612 (marr, JPEG)
Baptisms of children:
John Laughton, 9 Apr. 1615 (chr)
Stephen Laughton, 21 Sep. 1616 (chr)
Hellen Lawton, 30 Nov. 1617 (chr)
Dorothy Laughton, 6 Nov. 1618 (chr)
Burial: John Laughton, haberdasher, 20 Jul. 1618 (bur)

John Lawton, citizen and haberdasher of London, wrote his will on 4 Jul. 1618. He didn't mention that he was feeling weak in body, but he must have been since he died about two weeks later. The fact that his will was probated by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury testifies to the worth of his estate—his estate was actually considerably over the P.C.C. threshold. So John and family were very well off by the standards of the time. John named Helen (Ellen) his executrix. Following the custom of the city of London he willed that his goods and chattels be divided into three equal portions: one part to be divided among his children, including the fourth not-yet-born one; the second part to go to his wife; and the third part reserved for legacies, etc., including upgrading the bequests to the children to £100 apiece if the first part did not manage this. Other legacies from the third part included a mourning gown and forty shillings in gold for John's mother-in-law, Dorothy Calverley, £50 to be divided among William, George, Judith and Sara, children of his brother William Lawton, 20 nobles apiece to his brother Richard's two sons, 20 nobles to his brother Stephen's daughter, £5 apiece to his Ellen's siblings (John, Elizabeth, Joyce, Mary, Katherine and possibly Anne), and whatever remained was to go to Ellen. As overseers he appointed his brother William and his friend William Bodington. Witnesses were Nicholas Reve (scrivener), John Kyng, William Deathe and Elizabeth Bodington.

Ellen managed to execute the will and complete probation by 23 Sep. 1618, about two months after John died. As well provided as the family was, it appears that Ellen decided not to sell the haberdashery, but to continue its operation, perhaps supported by a journeyman and/or an apprentice. However, sometime within four and a half months after John's death, Roger Tirrell, vintner, stepped into her life, probably to Ellen's great relief. The fact that Roger was a citizen of London (which came automatically upon being made free of the Vinters two years previously) allowed him to take over the haberdashery. (It's of course possible that we do not have this part of the story quite right—it may be that Roger was already part of the haberdashery, or the story could be still more complicated.) As we know from before, Roger, haberdasher of London, married Ellen at St Botolph Bishopsgate on 7 Dec. 1618, and so began married life with an instant family of four very young children. He and Ellen continued to live in St Magnus The Martyr, and soon increased the size of their family:

Marriage: Roger Tirrel & Hellen Layton, at SBB, 7 Dec. 1618 (marr)
Baptisms of children:
Ann Tyrrey (dau. of Roger & Ellen), 21 Nov. 1619 (old)
Roger Tirrell, 9 Nov. 1620 (old)
John Terrell, 11 Apr. 1622 (old)
Joyce Terrell, 23 Jul. 1623 (old)
Mary Terrell, 31 Oct. 1624 (old)

The last baptism was at St Mary Whitechapel, while the first four were at St Magnus The Martyr. Sometime between July of 1623 and October of 1624 Roger moved his family to Smithfield, a few hundred yards northeast of the Tower of London property. Everything went fine for the family, from what we can tell, until the plague devastated London in the summer of 1625. The burial records for that year go on for pages in almost every parish, while in other years they comprise a small fraction of a page. The plague of 1625 was considerably worse than that of 1603. The toll in the Roger Tirrell household was;

Burials in St Mary Whitechapel:
John Terrill (age 3), 13 Jul. 1624 (old)
Roger Terrill (age 4), 14 Jul. 1625 (old)
Stephen Lawton (age 8) , 4 Aug. 1625 (bur)
Ellen Lawton (age 7), 4 Aug. 1625 (bur)
Joyce Terrall (age 2) , 8 Aug. 1625 (old)
Anna Tirrill, 17 Jun. 1627 (at Wapping)

We've given Roger's age at death as four, since we'll now be showing that it was Roger Jr., and not Roger Sr., who died. All the deaths occurred within one month. The survivors were John Lawton (age 10), Dorothy Lawton (6), Ann Tirrell (5, who lived just two years more) and Mary Tirrell (not yet 1), along with the parents. All the relatives, by the way, would surely have known who survived and who did not. Dorothy Calverley's household in St Michael, Cornhill, was not untouched—lodger and grandchild Alice Gibson, daughter of Christopher and Joyce, fell victim to the plague and was buried 10 Aug. 1625.

We now return to the subject of Dorothy Calverley's will, which is what tells us, indirectly, that it was Roger Jr, and not Roger Sr. who died in 1625. (Click here if you would like to read a transcript of Dorothy Calverley's will, and see the original, as recorded in the P.C.C. register.) Dorothy Calverley, widow of London, wrote her will on 28 Apr. 1626. She mentioned, first of all, that she owed £50 to son-in-law Christopher Gibson, husband of her daughter Joyce. She bequeathed to son John a nominal legacy of five shillings. She bequeathed "to my daughter Ellen the wife of Roger Tirrell my two dozen of laid worke napkins two laid worke towells and a table cloth." To daughter Katherine she bequeathed £10. Her debts and legacies were to be paid by leasing her present dwelling house in St Michael Cornhill, and what was left from that was to be divided between "fower of my daughters, namely my said daughter Ellen Tirrell, Elizabeth Wilkinson Widow Mary Calverley and the before named Katherine Calverley, part and part like." The residue of her goods and chattels, etc., were to be equally divided among her five daughters (the four just mentioned plus Joyce Gibson). And Ellen Tirrel and Joyce Gibson were named executrices. Dorothy signed with her mark.

Laid-work sampler [3]
Note: Laid-work is a type of embroidery where you lay threads on top the base cloth, or on appliqués laid on top, and then secure them. Napkins at this time were quite large, about 35 by 45 inches (a third the breadth of a tablecloth).

It is clear to us, because Dorothy wrote "Ellen the wife of Roger Tirrell," and not "Ellen Tirrell widow," and because she also specifically mentioned that daughter Elizabeth Wilkinson was a widow, that Roger Tirrell was alive when she wrote the will, over nine months after the burial of a Roger Tirrell in St Mary Whitechapel who had to be either him or his son Roger Jr. So of course it was Roger Jr. who was buried. To our distress, this disproves our theory that Roger Tirrell bapt. 1620 at St Magnus The Martyr could have been our Roger1. It also eliminates the possibility of extending our paternal line another three generations back to Roger Tirrell of East Meon, Hampshire, who died in 1576. This is of course a letdown, but it is now time to accept the outcome and to look elsewhere for our Roger1's English origins.

We do not know what became of Roger and Ellen Tirrell after the mid-1620's, except that they seem to have been still living in St Mary Whitechapel as late as August of 1627, when daughter Anne died and was buried there. We have not been able to find records other than what we have presented, (including one for John Lawton below), so it could be that the family moved outside of London sometime soon after 1627.

Let us finish by pointing out that a new database is now available at—"London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921." (A marriage allegation, in case you might not know, is the document in which a couple declared their intent to marry, and asserted that there were no legal obstacles, when applying to marry by license.) One item of interest (but not quite so much now) is a photocopy of the Diocese of London register copy of the 26 June 1624 marriage allegation of Peter Drapier and Barbara Tirrell, mentioning and witnessed by Barbara's older brother Roger Tirrell bapt. 1592 (marriage allegation). A second item of interest (again, not so much now) is the 13 Nov. 1637 marriage allegation of John Lawton/Layton, 22, of St Stevens Coleman Street, London, and Jane Bacon, 22, of St Giles, London (marriage allegation). This John Lawton was of the right age to have been the older half-brother of Roger Tirrell bapt. 1620. Had it been Roger Jr. who survived, it would be extremely interesting if his half-brother in 1637 had been of St Stevens Coleman Street parish, a hotbed of Puritanism where John Davenport (spiritual head of the New Haven Colony) had served as pastor not many years before.


1. A quarter part from "View of London," by Claes Janszoon Visscher, 1616, from Altea Gallery, at which you can purchase a Victorian era etching of the whole, on four sheets, for £4,000.

2. "The Parish Registers of St. Michael, Cornhill, containing the Marriages, Baptisms, and Burials from 1546 to 1754," partly edited by Joseph Lemuel Chester, in The Publications of the Harleian Society, Registers.—Volume VII (London: 1882). (online via Internet Archive)

3. Art in Needle Work, a Book about Embroidery, by Lewis F. Day & Mary Buckle (London: 1900), chapter on laid-work, pp. 112-121. (available online via Internet Archive)