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Robert Brice 1764 by Sir Joshua ReynoldsThis picture taken from his wikipedia record shows a member of the Kingsmill family who probably had the most impact on Chewton Mendip and the surrounding area. It is partly for that reason this picture has also been selected as the icon for the Georgian era.  However, he was not a ‘real’ Kingsmill but married into the family and there is no record of him living in the village. Nevertheless, he was  the ‘Kingsmill Esq’ who, along with his friend Richard Jenkins, owned much of the land in Chewton Mendip as shown in the 1794 map.

This page is mainly concerned with the Kingsmills who had a connection with Chewton Mendip. As was common in most families, some first names were very popular. The history of the Kingsmill family is full of Henrys, Johns, Richards and Williams.

The family name was originally Castlemayne but the family received a grant of a royal mill at Basingstoke from which the name is derived. The Kingsmill family were based in Sydmonton, Hampshire for most of their history. There was also an Irish branch and they were involved in North America from an early stage. A town called Kingsmill was set up by a member of the family in 1624. The Kingsmills were also involved in establishing a colony, or ‘plantation’ in Ireland at about the same time but it was easier to recruit people to go to Virginia than Ulster because the locals were considered more friendly.
 The Kingsmills were also lawyers and military men but their connection to Chewton Mendip was through their ownership of some of the church land in Chewton Mendip. They were the lay improprietors or patrons of the incumbents of the church in Chewton Mendip for over 200 years. This page follows the convention of adding Roman numerals to the men in the line of succession even though there are more people with the same name who appear in the family history.
There is a record of a John de Kyngesmalle who was a resident in Barkham Berkshire in 1327.
There is some confusion about the date of birth of Richard Kingsmill I  but he was probably born in Barkham, Berks in the late 1450s or 1460’s. He attended Winchester College between 1470 and 1474 and went on to New College Oxford in 1474. Boys started university in their early teens at the time.  He started a career in politics and law after leaving university. He was an MP and became a Sargent in Law in 1497 and was the Kings Sargeant by 1499. His royal connections were he entertained Catherine of Aragon for the night of 4 Nov 1501 in Basingstoke on her way to be married to Prince Arthur.
Richard Kingsmill I arranged a contract on 1st August 1490 for his son, John, to marry Jane Gifford, the daughter of John Gifford of Ichell, Hampshire.
John Kingsmill I was recognised as having great potential became Justice of the Common Pleas in 1504. The Kingsmills are an example of how the laymen were replacing the clergy as lawyers in the medieval era. He died on 11/5/1509.
John Kingsmill II was the son of John Kingsmill I and Jane Gifford. He was born c1494 and 1497 in Hampshire. He continued in his father’s legal profession and was admitted to Lincolns Inn in 1516. He married Constance Goring on 7th November 1519. He was acting for Thomas Cromwell with Thomas Wriothesley in Hampshire in the 1530’s. He acquired Sydmonton from the crown c1540 which used to belong to Rumsey Abbey. He was appointed commissioner for the dissolution of chantries under Edward VI in 1548 but was pardoned by Mary I in 1553 but he played no further part in politics and died in 1556. He left 17 children which makes the family tree a very complicated forest.
The Giffords, Gorings and Kingsmills were all leading protestants in Hampshire. John Kingsmill II was voicing protestant views in 1538. This was during the time of the dissolution of the monasteries but Henry VIII considered himself the head of the Catholic church of England. Cromwell was later executed and a cousin of Constance Kingsmill, Thomas Bainbridge,  was the only Hampshire protestant to be burned as a heretic by Mary I.  John Kingsmill II needed to be careful about being too vocal in his protestant views but it is claimed he still converted some people to the cause and kept his property and freedom unlike lord of the manor of Chewton Mendip, Sir Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk  who was executed along with his daughter, Lady Jane Grey in 1554.
A slight digression from the Kingsmill  family history is necessary at this point. Mary I awarded the manor and advowson of Chewton Mendip to Sir Edward Waldegrave in 1553 as a reward for supporting her when her younger brother, Edward VI, tied to force her to convert to the protestant faith. Other records suggest that the manor and advowson, or the right to collect tithes, were both split between the Bishop of Bath & Wells and the rector of Chewton Mendip who was previously the Prior of Sheen. It is possible that Sir Henry Grey acquired the property of Sheen Priory and combined all of the lands and rights of Chewton Mendip apart from the parts that belonged to the Bishop of Bath & Wells. Mary refounded Sheen Priory so she may have only given Sir Edward part of the manor and rectory lands.
To return to the Kingsmill story, the eldest son of John Kingsmill II was William Kingsmill I may have been born about 1525. He married Bridget Raleigh, daughter of George Raleigh of Thornboyough. Bridget was born about 1525 and is named as one of the founders of Baliol College Oxford. John Kingsmill II as an MP and sheriff of Hampshire but had a relatively low key career compared with other members of the family. He died on 10th November 1593.
Three sons of John Kingsmill II provides the earliest record of the Kingsmills in Somerset.
 The rectory of Chewton was leased to Henry Kingsmill in 1573 for a 21 year lease to commence at the end of the lease held by homas Horner (possibly the uncle of ‘Little Jack Horner’) but Henry died before he could take advantage of the lease.
 Richard Kingsmill (1528 – 1600), Surveyor of Wards and Liveries, is mentioned with Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries, in connection with a dispute about the Livery of estates of William Yowyns in 1590. The record is held in the Somerset Archive (ref DD\S\BT/21/2/1).
This is also the time when Roger Manners the, 5th Earl of Rutland, was a ward of the Court of Wards and Liveries . The Hampshire Archive contain records that show that his uncle, also called Roger Manners, was awarded the church lands of Chewton Mendip. Elizabeth I was then in power and dissolved Sheen Priory for a second time and imprisoned Sir Edward Waldegrave because he did not renounce Catholicism. She may have confiscated the church lands he may have held and given them to Roger Manners. He had been close to Mary 1 but was more compliant in changing his political and religious alegience.
Richard Kingsmill got his position through the influence of Sir William Cecil, Francis Russel earl of Bedford and James Pilkington who was the bishop of Durham. Henry Kingsmill, another son of  John Kingsmill II accompanied the earl of Bedford into exile during the reign of Mary I.
 George Kingsmill, a brother of Henry and Richard Kingsmill, held the rectory of Chewton Mendip at his death in 1606. He widow, Sarah, was mentioned in a property dispute in nearby Welton in 1610 but they were absentee landlords.
 William Kingsmill II was the son of William Kingsmill I and was born in 1557. He married Ann, the daughter of William Wilks of Hadnell. They had five sons and seven daughters but not all survived. Their eldest son was Henry.
 The Hampshire archives contain records that show that Roger Maners of Uffington sold two thirds of the manor and rectory of Chewton Mendip to George Kingsmill on 15th February 1591/2. What ever deals had been done between Sir Edward Waldegrave and the two queens, the Waldegraves shared one third of Chewton Mendip with the Bishop of Bath & Wells which conflicts with most histories of the  Chewton Mendip area. Some references to ‘Chewton’ in the Hampshire archives refers to Chewton in New Milton and there  are a number village names are common to Hampshire and Somerset.
 The transaction between the Manners and Kingsmills also contains a reference to Priory Grove which was tenanted by John Butcher. This confirms that there was at least a ‘Priory Farm’ in Chewton Mendip with medieval origins.
 Henry Kingsmill I was the son of William Kingsmill II. Henry married Bridget White, the daughter of John White of Hampshire.  They had three children, William who inherited the estates, Daniel and Bridget who married Richard Gorges, 2nd Lord of Dundalk. The ‘White’ and  ‘George’ names appear in subsequent records relating to Chewton Mendip which may be traced back to these people.
 A Hampshire record dated 22nd January 1662/3 is a grant from Dame Bridget Kingsmill of St Martins in the Field in Middlesex, widow to Daniel Kingsmill, her son of an annuity of £200  from the manors of ‘Chuton’ and Crokeham which is also in Somerset.
 The rev Anthoney Eglesfield was appointed as the vicar of Chewton Mendip at the time by the Manners family. He was also a prebend of Wells Cathedral and may have implications for where he lived. A Tudor parsonage house may have been built on the site of the Old Vicarage or the Old Rectory may have been built at this time.
 A record dated 16th July 1647 rehearses a trust deed from Dame Bridget, William and Danield Kingsmill to William Viscount Saye and Seale and Sir Edward Filmer. The names of the witnesses suggest that they were based elsewhere but the Filmer name may have ben transformed into names that our in later records relating to Chewton Mendip.
 William Kingsmill III, was aged ‘iiy9m15d‘ when he inherited his father’s estate so he was made a ward of court. There is some confusion about his date of birth of this William based on part of uncertainty about the date of death of his father and the interpretation of his age.  He eventually married Anne Haselwood and they had a son also called William.
 William Kingsmill III was considered a Royalist during the Civil War but it is not clear how committed he was and how much he was obliged to support the King. Sydmonton is close to Newbury which was the site of two or three battles. Considering the strong protestant history of the Kingsmills they did not have the religious motivation. The Hippisleys provide an example of how many wealthy families supported the parliamentarian cause. It is also possible that the William Kingsmill III was involved in some shady deals with Cornelius Burges that may have included lands confiscated from the Bishop of Bath & Wells.
 William Kingsmill IV was born c 1655 and also inherited as a minor. He was raised by his uncle, Sir William Haselwood, from 1664 but the relationship was not a happy one.
 The first record of a Kingsmill who may have lived in Chewton Mendip is when Anna Kingsmill was named as the patron of the Rev Edmund Quarles  in 1665 but that is unlikely. Preston and Scudumore Hippisley were listed as witnesses of the will of John Kingsmill of Andover who died in 1693 so Chewton Mendip was not completely unknown to the Kingsmills.
The consensus of opinion is that she was Anne  or Anna Kingsmill who was born about 1662 in Andover, Hampshire. She was the daughter of John Kingsmill who died 1694. He and his wife Mary had four daughters so he left his fortune to the eldest, Anna, who was the patron of Edmund Quarles in 1665.
 It is inconceivable to the modern mind that a three-year old girl living in Hampshire could be apointing the vicar of Chewton Mendip but the appointment was made in her name.
The Tazwell  family were linked by marriege to the Kingsmills about the same time and members of that family were later patrons and incumbents.
The legal system was very different at the time which helps to explain why a three year old girl was the ‘rector’ of Chewton Mendip. Other records show that the Kingsmills saw Chewton Mendip as a backwater suitable for junior members of the family or the dowry of a young girl. There was still a strong link between the church and the legal profession at the time so the Rev Quarles could have been appointed by Anna’s parents or guardian.
 The centres of power for the Kingsmills were Hampshire and London where the senior branch of the family was based. William Kingsmill IV was knighted in 1680 which may have made him less tolerant of criticism from his guardian/uncle. He quarreled with his uncle, Sir William Haselwood, on 3rd November 1683 and killed him. Gentlemen were allowed to wear swords in public and although duels were illegal, the charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter if both parties were armed. William Kingsmill got a royal pardon and escaped punishment.
 Hampshire archive record 19M61/1716,  dated 1685, is concerned with a payment of a pension by William Kingsmill (presumably William IV) to the dean and chapter of Wells. It is also believed that William Kingsmill  IV was the ‘William Kingsmill Bart’  listed as the patron of the Rev William Mills on 30th April 1687. Being a patron of the vicar or even paying taxes or poor rates does not imply residency.
 Another Hampshire record dated 1693 is the deed of Elizabeth Tazwell of Baldwins Gardens, widow, charging the manors of Chuton and Crookham interest on loans she had made to them. This record also mentions a Bejamin Wyche who may have held land in Chewton Mendip.
 A Hampshire record dated 24th September 1692 identifies Daniel Kingsmill as the lord of two thirds of the manor of Chewton Mendip. It refers to an agreement to allow John Yorke, Gent, to take over the house then ocupied by Richard Loxton. The Loxton’s estate may have been based on the site on or near what is now Chewton House. The record describes Willim Hinton as the steward. This may be a transcription error for William Hunt but there are other records for the Hinton Family in Chewton Mendip.
William Kingsmill IV married Francis Calwell who was the daughter of A Mr Calwell or Colwell who was an alderman of London. They had a son called Henry and a daughter called Frances or Francis. He married for a second time to somebody called Rebecca with whom he had two daughters. He died 1698.
 The patrons of the rev Nathaniel Till-Adam appointed on 29th July 1697 were Elizabeth Tazwell and Daniel Kingsmill (gent). Nathaniel Till-Adam is commemorated in the Lady Chapel of Chewon Mendip church which is a significant story in itself. It is believed that the Daniel Kingsmill was the second son of Henry and Bridget Kingsmill.
 Another Hampshire record dated 1707 describes how William Kingsmill allowed somebody who used two used two family alternative family names. Other records confirm there was family that used the names Andrews and Wilcox. The record is a copy of the court roll of Chewton rectory manor for the surrender of ‘Farmers Crosse’ by James Wilcox/Andrews and his brother George and the admission of James Wilcox/Andrews, possibly the son of James senior. An estate called Wilcox is later described as being in the West End tithing.
 The next William Kingsmill V, the son of William and Francis Kingsmill was listed the patron of the Rev John Taswell on 14th January 1714 but he was already described as a lunatic at that stage under the care of his brother Henry.
 The next vicar to be appointed was John Culliford in 1764 but his patron was described as George III which suggests that Henry had died and was unable to act for his brother.
 Both the lunatic William and his brother died without issue so the Kingsmill estates passed to the daughter of Francis Kingsmill, the daughter of William and Francis Kingsmill. The younger Francis had married Hugh Corry (or Carry) of Newton Arles? (Newtonards). He committed suicide so the Kingsmill money and estates passed to their daughter, Elizabeth Corry in 1766. She married Robert Brice who is shown in the picture at the top of this page.
 Robert Brice  was born in Donegal, Ireland and found fame in the Royal Navy and to a lesser extent in parliament. The picture  of him was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds just after he had achieved his first success in battle. Perhaps this painting was produced to get him a wife, if so, it worked. He married into the Kingsmill family in 1766 and took the Kingsmill name, money and lands which included a large part of Chewton Mendip.
 Robert Brice Kingsmill had a distinguished naval career, but not such a distinguished political one. He was involved in the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence and the United Irishmen rebellion of the late 1790s.
 He adopted a more ‘hands-on approach’ to the management of his estates which is reflected in the records of the time.
 Chewton Mendip
John Stephens and is officially recorded as the nephew of Robert Kingsmill. However, the consensus of opinion is that John Stephens was the illegitimate son of Robert Kingsmill who made him vicar, then rector of Chewton Mendip in 1793. He also took the Kingsmill name. He married Dorothy Mogg, the daughter of Jacob Mogg of High Littleton which introduced a direct link between the Kingsmills and coal mining.
 William Kingsmill was the eldest son of John Kingsmill (Stephens) born in 1809. He was responsible for selling most of thei properties in Chewton Mendip. Therre was a sale in 1848 when most of the farms were sold but there were subsequent private sales to the Scobells, Thomas Melhuish and others. However, William  remained the absentee lay impropriator of Chewton Mendip until 1890 at least as seen in the list  of contributors to the church tower restoration in 1890.
Henry Kingsmill was the second son of John Kingsmill (Stephens) and  was the vicar from 1836 until 1846.
Charlotte Kingsmill was the daughter of John Kingsmill (Stephens) and may have inherited what is now the Old Vicarage. It was subsequently sold to the Rev David Drakeford.
This article is based on research taken from the internet, particularly the London Library Website, and some original sources by Richard Loxton with valuable contributions from Nigel Gerdes and Dr Atis Antonvich.
  1. m crane permalink

    Anne Kingsmill dob about 1662 Andover, Hants, was the daughter of John Kingsmill who died 1694. His wife was Mary. They had four daughters, Frances, Anne, Mary and Eleanor. In his Will John bequeathed all his manors Tenements and Lands being within the kingdom of Ireland. The Will was subsequently contested by Frances.
    Elizabeth Kingsmill who was the second wife of Anne’s husband, James Tazewell, was Anne’s Aunt, and sister of John Kingsmill

  2. Anne C permalink

    Elizabeth Kingsmill, daughter of the Rev William Kingsmill DD of Co. Donegal, Ireland and Alresford, was actually the second wife of James’ father, also James Tazewell. He was her second husband; the first was Thomas Toking/Token. They married at St Botolph’s Aldergagte, London on 21 May 1671. James Tazewell and Anne Kingsmill did not marry until 30 June 1684 at Newington Butts, London

  3. Mike Bodman permalink

    My article “William Tazewell, Immigrant to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1715: His ancestry and descent from Edward III”, recently published in Foundations Vol. 5 (May 2013), discusses Anne (Kingsmill) Tazewell’s descent from her grandfather, Francis Reade of Faccombe, Hants., and through the families of Windebank/Dymoke/Gascoigne to King Edward III, which is shared by Geo. Washington, 1st President of US.

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