Early Brinkworth Henlys

The earliest records examined so far for the manor of Brinkworth show John and Thomas Henley living there with their families. Whether they were brothers we do not yet know. It is possible that John was Thomas' father.

In the 1578 manorial survey of Brinkworth both men are shown as farming there:

Johannes Henley holds by copy dated 28th day of May in the fifth year of the reign of King Edward 6th [1551] one messuage called Churchemans, and one close adjacent containing by estimation 10 acres, with one close in the Windmill Field not enclosed containing by estimation 10 acres, the aforesaid messuages and meadow with all and singular its meadows, to have and to hold the aforesaid premises with their meadows to the said John Henley and Agnes his daughter for the term of their lives.

Thomas Henley holds by copy dated 20th day of October in the 28th year of the reign of King Henry 8th [1536], one messuage with a meadow named Wysedomes, also one other messuage with its meadow called Waterholdes, to hold during his life.
The reversion of these premises is granted to William Henley son of the said Thomas and Johanna his sister by copy presented in this court dated 28th day of March in the fourth and fifth years of the reign of Philip and Mary, King and Queen of England [1558].

On the original documents, as shown above, the word mort can be seen above both Thomas' and John's names, which would suggest that both men died between the date of this survey (1578) and the next (1587). Court rolls are extant for the period 1570-1580, and Thomas' death is recorded in the roll for March 1580, at which point his son William was granted use of the messauges previously run by his father. Churchemans, previously held by John Henley, had passed to his widow Margaret, with a reversion of the premises being granted to her son-in-law Walter Clarke. We discover in the following survey (1603) that Margaret was then 88 years of age, giving us a birth date of around 1515. William is given as being 48 years of age, giving for him a birth date of around 1555.

William's will, written in September 1617 and proved 14th April 1618, is the first document for our family where the surname is spelt HENLY, and from that date it has rarely been spelt differently. He left goods and money to various members of his family - wife Alice; sons Thomas, William and Jeffery; daughters Joyce Henly, Agnes Henly, and Katherine Panting; grandchildren William Taylor, Nicholas Panting, Anthony Taylor, Mary Henly and Alice Henly; Sons in law Anthony Taylor and Robert Panting. The inventory of his 'goodes and chattells' gives us an insight of his work, listing 26 cows, 2 mares, 33 sheep amd 2 pigs.

William's son, Jeffery, born around 1599, died in 1638 leaving no will. He was mainly a sheep farmer (100 sheep were listed in his inventory, with the 'two mylch kyne' presumably kept for family supplies only. The value of his estate, which amounted to £114, was overshadowed by a string of debts (£81) outstanding to various neighbours, leaving his widow, Elizabeth (died 1657), an estate worth just £33 and five sons aged under 12 years. Alexander, Jeffery's third son, fared little better, running up debts of £261 by the time of his death in 1676, barely covered by his estate value of £295.

Uncle Alexander Finmore's Legacy


In order to understand fully the complexities of the way in which the family fortunes were turned around, it helps to see the family tree at this point in time:


William BARNES = Elizabeth
of Childrey, |
Berks, d.1578 |
| |
Adam FINMORE = Alice Alexander
of Kingston | 1565-1648 of Childrey,
Lisle, Berks | Berks, d.1638
d.1604 |
| |
Jeffery HENLY = Elizabeth Alexander
of Brinkworth | 1602-1657 of Childrey, Berks
1599-1638 | 1598-1668
| | | | |
William Thomas | Jeffery Adam
| 1637-1681
Alexander = Margaret EDWARDS
of Brinkworth| d.1712
1629-1676 |
| |
| Elizabeth
John = Joane PONTING
of Brinkworth | d.1716
1649-1685 |
| | | | | |
John Alexander and others
1674-1764 1680-1685

When Alexander Barnes died in 1638 he was in possession of a leasehold parsonage at Uffington and a leasehold tenement in Childrey, both in Berkshire. It has not yet been discovered how he came to be in possession of this property, since there is no mention of it in his father's will of 1578.

After providing for his widow with a life-interest in the Uffington property, he left the bulk of his estate to his nephew Alexander Finmore, son of his sister, Alice, since he had no children of his own (he bequeathed a token ten pounds per annum to a 'reputed' son in his will). Alexander Finmore also died childless, in 1668, so the estate then passed, under the terms of his will, to Adam Henly, the youngest of the five sons of his late sister Elizabeth.

Adam Henly was only 44 years of age at his death in 1681, and was unmarried. Whether he 'enjoyed' his inherited estate or not we do not know but, in his will, he described himself as a carpenter, still living in Brinkworth. He chose his youngest great-nephew to be the recipient of the property - Alexander Henly was then only one year of age. However, the child was not to survive past his fifth birthday, passing away just three weeks after the tragic death of his father, John, at the age of 36.

Thus, after just eleven years of marriage, Joanne Henly was left with a small copyhold farm in Brinkworth to run, and eight young children to support. John had left no will, so the estate in Berkshire was held in trust, presumably supplying a steady income for the unfortunate widow. The land in Brinkworth was put into the joint names of herself and her mother-in-law, Margaret Henly, but the burden of work must have fallen more and more on the shoulders of the young John Henly, just eleven years old at the time of his father's death. John, as will be seen later, was to become a well-respected figure in the locality, and the patriarch of a large family. He lived for over 90 years, being married for 57 years - both quite unusual for his time.