John Bland: founding a family

When John Bland of Long Buckby came courting Lettice Miller of West Haddon her parents, Richard and Elizabeth Miller, approved the match and settled a house and some land on the happy couple when they tied the knot in the summer of 1656. The first baby arrived promptly the following January. She was a little …

William Ringrose and the cottage that grew

William was a child at the time of the fire. He had an elder brother, Richard (named after his father) and a younger brother, John. His youngest brother, Thomas, born in 1655, had died before he was six months old. He also had two sisters: Susanna (named after her mother) and baby Mary, born just …

Edward Burnham: the ‘trusty friend’

Edward Burnham was a gentleman and landowner, as well as the ‘trusty friend’ of Joan Elmes. Like Joan, he died unmarried, leaving property and cash bequests to members of his extended family and also mentioning the Apprenticing Fund in his will. Like Richard Wills, he had siblings who had made their homes in London: his …

Joane Elmes: making connections

There was something about Joane… Her father’s will left her £200 – twice as much as her sister Sarah, but the money was to be invested by her brother and the interest paid yearly for her maintenance as long as she remained single. If she married she was to have £150. But, if Joan shall die …

Mary Elmes: widow, mother and will-maker

Almost all that we know about Mary Elmes comes from her will. Her late husband, Thomas, had died in January, 1657, leaving her with four grown-up children: John, Joane, Sarah and William. He had also left a will, bequeathing various parcels of land and a couple of houses to his sons, large dowries to his …

Richard Wills: Hooray Henry?

Richard Wills appeared on a number of occasions before the Justices of the Peace during the winter of 1657/8. There was the assault on Thomas Cawcutt, the carpenter from Church Brampton, the late night drinking with Samuel Brabson and the pigeon shooting with an unlicensed gun and finally (perhaps in revenge for the Constable’s accusations), …

William Worcester: parish constable

There was no police force in the 17th century. In those days a constable was the senior local government officer at parish level – roughly equivalent to today’s Parish Council Chairman – but law and order was part of his remit and he was responsible for organising the ‘hue and cry’, a posse of able …

Mary Clarke: a woman who left no trace

All of the men who lost their homes in the fire have left some scrap of historical record behind them. The only woman named in the report left nothing at all – except for her appearance in that list. That is the only evidence we have that she ever lived. She was probably a widow …

Mark and Thomas Bonner: a tailor and son

Mark Bonner was a tailor. What his son Thomas did for a living is unclear – he’s quite a shadowy figure. In 1649 Mark had bought a house or cottage from his neighbour, John Warde, along with a little yard and one bay, or section, of John’s barn, with a right of way over the …