And then there’s Frisweth

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March 26, 2017 by auntkatefirmin

While still working on piecing together the relationships of the Bath, Horsell, Parsons, and related families I was distracted by Friseth or Friswid Maslin/Maskelyne (1591-?) who I believe was the sister of Ann (Maslin) Parsons (1596-?). I will call her Frisweth although it’s very uncertain how exactly her name might have been said by her family.

My first question was why would anyone name their child Frisweth (or some variation)? I don’t see anything that indicates that it was a family name or that it honored some wealthy godparent – however, given how far back in time she lived even if there were earlier Frisweths in the family the records are probably lost. Frisweth turns out to be much more common name than I would have guessed and Frideswide was a well known saint in the Tudor era.


St Frideswide as depicted in a window at Christ Church Oxford. Part of a larger work by Edward Burne-Jones; via Wikimedia commons.

St Frideswide’s day is the 19th of October; she is the patron saint of Oxford University. The Anglo-Saxon roots of the name appear to be frið “peace” and swiþ “strong” and some alternate versions of the name are Frideswith and Frithuswith. Like many saints’ names, the name fell out of favor in the increasingly Protestant era of the mid-17th century. While the Maslin family would not have made a recent pilgrimage to Oxford, though it was only about 40 miles from Wootton Bassett, because the saint’s shrine (like many others) was destroyed in 1538 under Henry VIII, they might still have felt affection for a local saint.

While the early Wootton Bassett baptismal records did not all survive, in 1842 extracts were copied that included several Maslin baptisms including that of Friseth daughter of Thomas Masling on 6 January 1590/91. Frisweth next appears in the will of John Wheeler, of Greenhill in Wootton Bassett, when in 1611 she was left a legacy as Frisse daughter of Thomas Maslyn. The relationship of the Maskelynes to the Wheelers has yet to be established; several Bath family members appear as witnesses to John Wheeler’s will.

The Wootton Bassett marriage register lists Friswid Maslin’s marriage to Thomas Jacket in 1614, the only reference to a contemporary Jacket family I have found to date in  Wiltshire.

Curiously, the 1623 will of Frisweth’s brother-in-law John Parsons does not mention her at all. This led me to look across the border in Gloucestershire where a Thomas Jackette was buried in Maiseyhampton (or Meysey Hampton) in 1631. I’m not sure of Frisweth’s relationship to the Thomas who died in 1631, as her husband’s will was probated in 1627. The Jacket family of Maiseyhampton appear to have been important locally at the time; there is a Jacobean lectern in the church with the inscription “Christian Jacketts, 1622.” The 1614 will of the widow Christian Jackete mentions her executor and “son-in-law” Thomas Jackete who was to receive the residue of her estate; Thomas appears to be the son of John and Joane Jackete. I will not attempt to sort out the Jacket family as if I am reading Thomas’ will correctly his father was alive in 1627 so I’m unclear on how the widow Christian was using the term son-in-law. Thomas’ will mentions his wife, Frisewith, his eldest daughter Margerie, and his younger daughter Phillipe, his father John Jackette, his wife’s brother Robert Maskeline and various properties in or near Marston.


St Mary’s Church in Meysey Hampton by Sarah Charlesworth (Creative Commons license)

The last mention I have found for Frisweth is her father’s will. The 1635 will of Thomas Maslyne, of Woodshawe (a tithing of Wootton Bassett), mentions several sons and two daughters, Friswith and Anne, but not their married names, only that they have children. Thomas held properties in Wootton Bassett and the surrounding area including a freehold property in Woodshawe and other property in Ashton Keynes so he would have known other property-holders nearby and may have had a business relationship with the Jacket family.

While this doesn’t get me any closer to confirming the identity of Edith Horsell as a member of the Bath family, it does remind us that families of wealth in this era had connections outside their immediate neighbors. The Maskelynes of Purton were a large and important family of landowners and landlords. The Wootton Bassett branch of the family were clearly well-to-do but less visible as they did not hold public offices. The relations between the Horsell, Parsons, and Bath families, and even other Firmin ancestors such as the Blackfords and the Gleeds form an interesting web that may take some time to untangle.

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