The puzzle of Edith


May 4, 2017 by auntkatefirmin

While there is more evidence to sort through, this post will attempt to use the information in the will of John Bathe of Wootton Bassett to see what arguments might be made as to whether Edith Horsell is the Edith referenced in the will and how many siblings might be part of the family.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Silver coin of Queen Elizabeth from 1598 – did Edith ever own a coin like this?


If Christian Bathe, Robert Bathe, and Edith Horsell all have the same parents, the following describes the members of the immediate (presumed) family:

John Bathe (will written in 1598 and proved in 1609) was the spouse of Alice Bath who was buried in 1598 and the father of:
-Christian (?-1636)
-Edith (?-1639) wife of Henry Horsell
-Robert (?-1645)
-a daughter (dates unknown) who was the first wife of John Parsons (?-1623)
-any other heirs who received their inheritance prior to the writing of the will?

In his will John only mentions his daughters Christian and Edith Bathe, who he names as executors, and does not list any real estate, only household goods.

In this scenario, if John Bathe was born in roughly 1550, married about 1570-75, and had children no later than 1590:
-Christian never married and is hard to place in the birth order
-Edith had not married by 1598 when John wrote his will
-Robert married Millicent Jefferies in 1608 and was born not much later than 1585; he is known from other sources as he was not mentioned in John’s will.
-a daughter who married John Parsons prior to 1598, making her born closer to 1575. It tempting to assume she died prior to 1598 since no mention is made of her heirs; on the other hand if she received a generous settlement when she married perhaps she, like her brother Robert, was not given even a token direct mention. Either way, there are no recorded baptisms for a child of John Parsons prior to his marriage to Ann Maslin in 1618 so I will presume that this daughter had no heirs by 1598 – or later for that matter.

TIMELINE (draft)

~1550 John Bathe born
~1571 John Bathe married at 21, possibly to Alice (?-1598)
~1573 Christian born
~1575 a daughter who became Mrs Parsons born
~1577 Robert born (therefore age 31 when married in 1608)
~1579 Edith born (married about 1601 at age 22)
~1597 unnamed daughter married John Parsons at age 22 & may have died soon after*-
-1598, on 30 April, John’s wife, Alice, died
1598, on 15 October John wrote his will
~1601 or 1605 Edith married Henry Horsell
1608 Robert married Millicent Jefferies
1609 John Bathe died at about age 59
1618 John Parsons married (2nd wife) Anne Maslin
1623 John Parsons died, providing for his former sister-in-law, Christian Bathe, in his will
1636 Christian Bathe died at about age 63
1639 Edith (Bathe) Horsell died at about age 60
1645 Robert Bathe died at about age 68

*There was a Joane Parsons, wife of John, who was buried in 1585/6 but that would stretch the timeline back to 1565 so I’d rather think she was the mother of John Parsons (?-1623). There are other Parsons burials but no obvious match for this assumed Bathe daughter.


The dates before 1598 are mostly fairly arbitrary; I simply wanted to have some estimated ages at marriage and death to check for plausibility. Many of the dates could easily vary by five years (though some have more restrictions as noted below).

If Edith was the mother of all the known children of Henry Horsell, including William born in 1593, she was born about 1570 if she married at 23, the average age for her era, and was 43 when her last child was born. That also means that for some reason her father did not use her married name when he mentioned her in the will. If that is the case she was possibly the oldest of the other siblings and her father was a few years older than stated in my theory. On the other hand, if she was the second wife of Henry Horsell she might have married about 1601 (if she was the mother of 6 of Henry’s 10 children), making her birth closer to 1578. There is no direct evidence as to whether Henry Horsell had more than one wife; I have picked 1601 and 1605 as dates where there are gaps in the baptismal record when no children of Henry were recorded (which could happen if one wife died and Henry married again). As only the four Horsell children born after 1607 (and assumed to be children of Edith) were mentioned in the Bathe and Parsons wills, it’s not clear if Ruben Horsell (1597-?) and Nathan Horsell (1599-?) had died earlier or were considered to have sufficient means from other sources. It seems likely that Henry Horsell was still alive when Edith died in February 1638/9, but his death date remains a mystery.

It’s a little curious that John did not mention a son Robert at all but it’s not conclusive evidence that Robert was not part of the family. If John was so ill in 1598 that he wrote a will and Robert was of age, then Robert may have already assumed any leases and/or financial responsibility for the family. It was not necessary to convey real estate or moveable goods in a will, but it was common for children who had received their inheritance to receive a token sum as acknowledgement that they were not omitted by mistake. If Robert had already received his full inheritance by 1598, that would make Robert’s birth no later than 1577 and his age 31 when he married Millicent Jefferies. If Robert and Christian remained at home to care for their father and manage his affairs, that might be a partial explanation as to why Robert married late and Christian never married.

There’s no direct evidence that the John Parsons who wrote a will in 1623 was married twice. If he did marry a Bathe daughter and she had died by 1598, he was born not later than 1577, and was at least 40 when he married again, about 20 years later in 1618.

Another question is their relationship to the Bathes of Purton including William, Margery (Bathe) Hippet, Elizabeth (Bathe) Stevens, and other younger Bathe family members. Slightly more to the point, if Richard Bathe of Wootton Bassett was closely related why did neither Christian nor Robert mention his children – if only to give them a nominal sum, especially since Robert gave a legacy to Anne Glade/Gleed who was (probably) a more distant relative?


This theory explains all the references to sister/brother or in-laws in the wills of John Parsons and Christian Bathe.

The ages and dates seem plausible and there was a widower named John in Wootton Bassett whose wife, Alice, died shortly before this will was written.

Edith, Robert, and Christian were less common names in the Bathe family so it’s not entirely unreasonable to start with an assumption based on name, time, and location alone.

At this point, all I’m willing to conclude is: maybe. It may not be possible to conclusively place everyone in the Bathe and Parsons families, or to be certain there weren’t more individuals out there who have managed not to leave a paper trail. Thanks again to cousin Liz for her recent researches and to Bernard Casimir for starting this train of thought.






One thought on “The puzzle of Edith

  1. Donde Hart Smith says:

    Appears well and thoroughly reasoned! Very impressive.

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