Johane Bathe’s people

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May 28, 2017 by auntkatefirmin

What can we conclude about Johane and her family from her will? She was a widow when she wrote her will on 31 March 1620 – how old was she? Her grandchildren were over 21, so if everyone was 23 at the time they married then the grandchildren were born no later than 1599, the children were married no later than 1597 and if the oldest were born closer to 1568 the youngest were born not much later than 1588, then Johane (mother of at least four children) might have married around 1566 and been born sometime close to 1545. It’s possible that Johane was born as late as 1557. If she was born in 1550, she was seventy when she died – a long life for her era.

The Saltonstall Family c.1636-7 by David Des Granges, via the Tate.

While it would be delightful to think that her last days resembled those of the woman in the painting above, I’m confident that Johane’s family did not own such rich textiles and the no-one in the family had even seen pearl earrings, let alone worn them. It does give a sense of the desire of those in the Stuart era to die peacefully at home amidst their family members and we will hope that Johane’s family were close by her. In a later post I hope to review what kind of textiles she did own, based on her inventory.

For the moment, I will make assumptions based on “best fit” regarding Johane’s descendants. Johane only mentions two grandchildren so it is not clear if there were only two living at the time she wrote the will, or she felt it expedient to make formal legacies only to adult grandchildren or the eldest of each family, or she felt that any other grandchildren had already received appropriate legacies.

I think Johane was the widow of Richard Bath whose probate began in 1615 and continued through 1618. There were a number of men named Richard Bathe and unfortunately the man who died in 1615 did not write a will so we don’t have the luxury of being able to compare two lists of heirs. Johane’s marriage occurred before the parish registers that have survived and currently nothing has turned up to indicate her maiden name. Johane Bath, widow, was buried 11 April in Wootton Bassett, shortly after writing her will.

Richard seems likely to be the oldest child, and named for his father. If he is the Richard who married Anne Skeat, their first known child was born in February 1597/8 so we’ll say they married in early 1597 and he was born about 1574. Richard and Anne are proved to have a son Robert by the 1604 will of Margery Skeat; in 1620 the Robert of Wootton Bassett with a father Richard would have just turned 21. It is not clear to me how many of Richard and Anne’s known children were living in 1620 and thus whether Johane only named the oldest, Robert, in her will. I will need to untangle all the Richards to see if I agree with the conclusions of other researchers but at first glance this Richard appears to be the logical choice.

William might be the William Bath buried in Wooton Bassett on 22 Oct 1640. All we can be certain of is that Johane’s son was alive in 1620 and had a son John who can be presumed to be over 21. There is nothing in the indexes that indicates a William Bathe was the father of children baptized in Wootton Bassett around 1600 – it’s possible he lived in another location at that time or that the children’s baptisms were not recorded. There was a John Bathe who married in Broad Hinton in 1615 and one in Lydiard Tregoze in 1630 who was a widower.

Johane Bath, the daughter, was the wife of Richard Curtis; she was buried 27 August 1624 in Wootton Bassett. Richard is possibly the man buried in Wootton Bassett on 13 Jan 1650. I think they had at least two children: Richard and Susanna (both slightly under 21 in 1620). Given that no children are mentioned in the will it emphasizes the question of whether Johane only named adult grandchildren or whether any Curtis children survived as late as 1620.

Christian, the daughter of Johane, could have been the woman who married Thomas Short in Wootton Bassett in 1621. (There are other candidates for that Christian.) Christian and Thomas Short had at least four children, all born after the death of Johane Bathe. Regardless, I conclude that Christian was very capable, had a good relationship with her mother, and perhaps had remained unmarried to care for her parents. If I estimate that she was forty when her last son was born in 1633, then this Christian was born about 1593 – which is a stretch for the dates I’ve estimated but still possible.

Anne Bathe has been difficult to trace. There are burials in Wootton Bassett in 1647 and 1649 for women named Anne Baath. So far I’ve not found any likely marriages for an Anne Baath/Bate/Bathe. We may never know what became of Anne, her forty shillings, and her kettle.

Even if Christian and Anne were twenty years younger than the oldest child of Johane, they would not have been born much later than 1595, making them slightly older than average for an unmarried woman in 1620. As I search the internet for possible matches in other people’s research I come back to a Christian Bath supposedly of “Copped Hall” – a location within the parish of Wootton Bassett slightly northeast of the town center. This Christian was baptized in 1601 and for the moment I will assume she was yet another Christian. I don’t know how many families lived in the Copped Hall area around 1600 – yet more research!

Andrews & Drury map.

Map showing Wootton Bassett from 1772, and including “Coppid Hall” near the charming direction post.

There’s nothing solid in these individuals to tie Johane with Edith Horsell. Looking at the generations, it’s possible that Johane’s husband Richard had a brother John, and that John was the father of Edith (Bathe?) Horsell, in which case Edith was Johane’s niece. That would explain how Johane knew Henry Horsell who was a witness to her will and also signed off on her inventory. As we don’t yet have a death date or a will for Edith’s husband, we can’t compare signatures



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