Pettypool Families in the 1500s: The John Puttypole Family of Southeast Essex

extracts from: English Ancestry of the Pettypool Family of Colonial Virginia

©Carolyn Hartsough

For most of the mid-1500s the family of Pettypools we will next consider were associated primarily with the parish of Burnham (today called Burnham-on-Crouch) in southeast Essex. How this family was related to the Pettypools of southwest Essex is unknown although the progenitors and primary subjects of each section, in both cases a John, likely were cousins of some degree.

William of Rayleigh

Although at present there is no documentary evidence directly linking William of Rayleigh with John of Burnham, the proximity in time and place, along with similar economic status and subsequent use of the forename William among John’s children, has prompted my inclusion of this William in the discussion of the Burnham family. We are introduced to this William of southeast Essex as follows:

Easter 6 Henry VIII 1514
William Potypole, pl. [buyer] Geoffrey Warren and Joan his wife, def. [seller] 1 messuage, 1 barn, 4 acres of land and 20 d. rent in Raylegh. Def. quitclaimed to pl. and his heirs.
Cons. 30 [pounds] 1

Likewise, we may surmise from this 1514 transaction that we are not dealing with a poor man. While not indication of great wealth, an estate permitting the expenditure of 30 pounds for a parcel of land and buildings puts William in the ranks of the “husbandman” or small farmer. He could afford to buy land and could farm it as he wished and would have been grouped with manual craftsmen on the social scale of the time, a time when the majority of the rural population had come to survive from wages based on day labor. 2

Because I have found no other references to this first William at this point, nothing much more can be said about him. I speculate that he is related fairly closely to John of Burnham, rather than to the William Pettypool who was charged for 1 pound of goods in the 1524-25 lay subsidy in Shenfeylde or to any of the other Pettypools resident in the southwest part of Essex. Although it cannot be proved, he appears on the scene at the right time and his economic behavior and status is consistent with that observed for many others of the Pettypool family from Burnham.

John of Burnham

I now move on to the primary subject of this section, John of Burnham. John likely was born in the late 1400’s or early 1500’s as he first comes to our attention from his will of 1539. John’s wishes and bequests are detailed in full as follows:

Southeast Essex, the 1500s.

In the name of God, Amen, in the year of our lord God 1539, I John Puttypole, cooper, dwelling in Burnham in the county of Essex and within Dengie hundred, make now my last will and testament after this manner of form following. First I bequeath my soul unto almighty God, the omnipotent father and to our blessed lady St Mary, and to all the celestial court of heaven, and my body to be buried within the churchyard of our blessed lady in Burnham next unto the sepulchre of my first wife and my child, which lately departed, etc.
Item, secondly I bequeath unto the high altar for my tithes necessarily gently forgotten or withheld one sheep price of 20d.
Item, I bequeath unto Margitt my wife my house that I dwell in with all the appurtenances called Kynges thereunto belonging and all my land for the space of 12 years after my decease. And when the twelve years are fully expired, then I will that Edward and William, my two sons, shall have the said house and all my land to be delivered between them, part and part alike equally shifted and indifferent. And if so be it that the said William and Edward do chance to strive for it and the said Edward will not let the said William his brother to have the part thereof according to my bequests, then I will and bequeath that William my son shall have all the whole bequests of all things, the which I have bequeath here afterwards unto the said Edward, and the said Edward to have nothing else but my house and land after the 12 years be fully expired of his mother.
Item, I bequeath unto Edward my son 40s and a featherbed, a bolster, 10 sheep and a cow, to be delivered unto him by the hands of Margitt my wife at the age of 21 years.
Item, I bequeath unto William my son 40s and a featherbed, a bolster, 10 sheep and a cow, to be delivered unto him by the hands of Margitt my wife at the age of 21 years.
Item, I bequeath unto each of my daughters £5 and a mattress, a bolster, a coverlet, a brass pot, two platters, a pewter dish, a candlestick, at the age of 20.
Item, I bequeath to Margitt my wife a house called Dobarnes, lying in the lane, to give and to sell and to do her best therewith for her most profit.
Item, I bequeath to Margitt my wife a tenement over the way called Skottes otherwise Mogardes for term of her life, and after her decease I will that the child that she is with all shall have it, and if it be a man child and if it be a woman child, then I will that Edward and William my sons shall have it between them equally shifted after their mother’s decease, and if it be a woman child, I will that it has as the other of her sisters, afore-rehearsed.
Item, all the residue of my goods, moveable and unmoveable, I bequeath them unto Margitt my wife, whom I ordain and make mine executrix, and John Nele, my brother, mine other executor with Margitt my wife, to help her prove this my last will, and he to have for his labour 6s 8d. And I will that Richard Kynge be mine overseer to see my will fulfilled, and he to have for his labour 6s 8d. In witness hereof Roger Pallmer, John Semy, Robert Wright, John Fowle, Richard Adames, Richard Bynder with other more. Written and delivered the 31st year and reign of our sovereign lord King Henry VIII. 3

When Burnham parish registration does start in 1559, Pettypool family members appear among the very first entries. As predicted, entries for the family are especially plentiful in the decade between 1560 and 1570, the period during which we would expect marriages, baptisms and possibly burials for the families of the children of John, the will-maker.

Anno domini 1559 [1559/60] The xiijth daie of february was Christeaned Augnes the daughtr of Willm puttipoull4
Anno dm 1561 The fifte daie of Maie was maried Thomas Sharpe and Grace Putipoole5
Anno Dom 1562 [1562/3] The xiiijth daie of february was Christeaned Johan putipole the daughter of willm putipolle in the said yeare6
Anno dm 1563 The xxijth daie of Septebr was buried Elizabeth putipol the daughter of Edward putipol7
Anno dm 1564 The eightene Daie of Aprill was Christeaned John Sharpe the sonne of Thomas Sharpe in the said yeare8
anno dm 1565 The iiijth of June was buried Johan the daughter of willm Petypolle9
anno domini 1565 [1565/6] The xvjth Daie of marche was Christeaned Jone Sharpe the daughter of Thomas Sharpe in the said yeare10
Ano 1567 [1567/8] The firste daie of January was Christeaned willm Pudipole the sonne of willm pudipolle in the said yeare11
Anno dm 1568 The xxiiijth daie of October was Christeaned Jane Sharpe the daughter of Thomas Sharpe in the said yeare12
Anno dm 1569 The xiijth of June was Buried John Sharpe the sone of Thomas Sharpe13
Anno dm 1569 The seconde of September was buried Edward pottypoll14
Anno dm 1569 [1569/70] The xvth daie of January was married Alexander Chames and Jone potypoll15

The next decade in Burnham history does produce a few more register entries for John Puttypole’s descendants:

Ano 1571 The xxvjth of aprill was buried Thomas Sharpe16
Anno dm 1573 [1573/4] John Spenser the servant of willm puttypoll & Anne Coxe the servant of willm Bowker was buried the xxijth of January17
Anthony Lewes and Agnes Podeepole were marryed the xxxth day of Aprill Ao 157818
Anno dm 1579 [1579/80] Willm Poodeepoole was buried the second day of January19
Anno dm 1579 [1579/80] Jhon (sic) the son of Willm Podeepoole was buried the eight day of January [in the said year] 20

Aside from one marriage, that of Agnes Podeepole and Anthony Lewes, the remainder of the entries to the Burnham register indicated above are for burials. Grace (Puttypole) Sharpe was widowed early in the decade by the 1571 death of her husband, Thomas. If she soon remarried, it either was not recorded in Burnham or did not happen at all as no record for such a remarriage has been found.

Moving to the other entries, I assume that the 30 April 1578 marriage of Agnes refers to Augnes, the granddaughter of John Puttypole and daughter of William Puttypoole, the female christened in Burnham on 13 February 1559/60. If so, Agnes would have been eighteen years of age at her marriage, somewhat on the young side for betrothal during this era. Relative youth at the time of marriage for women was not unknown, however, particularly among those whose families could afford to assist with setting up the household — yet another piece of evidence supporting the relative wealth of this branch of Pettypools. 21

The other deaths in this decade are associated with William, son of John. If the assumption of William’s birth in the late 1520’s or very early 1530’s is correct, he died sometime at the end of the fifth decade of his life on 2 January 1579/80. The entry for William’s death had been preceded in the register by a 1573 death for William’s “servant,” John Spenser, and would be closely followed in the register by the death of his son, John Podeepoole, just six days after his own. That would leave William’s wife a widow in early 1580, a date to which we will soon return as I discuss a Burnham widow named Matilda Pettypoole.

The exact relationship of Matilda Petypole to other Pettypool families has puzzled those trying to associate Matilda to the American immigrant ancestor, William. A woman with apparent links to Asheldham (a small parish located north of Burnham), Matilda’s provenance has been subject to intense and ongoing speculation.

The bit of data producing this speculation arises from the following entry for a marriage license:

Locke, John of Burnham, Essex, yeoman, and Matilda Petypole, widow, of same — at Asheldon, or Burnham aforesaid. 22 April 158022

Based on my review of all sixteenth century records, I believe that this Matilda is very likely the widowed wife of the William Pettypool who was buried in Burnham on 2 January 1579/80. There may have been other Pettypool widows in Burnham, but the proximity of burial and marriage dates seems more than coincidental.

There exists another marriage from the latter part of the 1500s that I propose also connects to Southeast Essex and the Burnham Pettypools. This latter marriage occurred in London in 1591/2 and involved yet another William, whose appearance will close out this review of the Burnham Pettypool family of the 1500s. This marriage was solemnized at St. Clement, Eastcheap parish church (combined in the late 17th century with St. Martin Orgar parish church) where the entry reads:

1591/2 Feb 8 William Petipoll & Margarett Redman24

As for the pedigree of this William Petipoll, I believe him to be the grandson of John and the son of William, in other words the Burnham child called William who was baptized 1 January 1567/8 .

If William or any other Pettypools from the Burnham branch lived on into the middle 1600s, they have not left evidence that has so far been found. In fact, the Pettypool surname appears to have gone extinct in this branch with this William's death.

For more information...

This page contains excerpts from English Ancestry of the Pettypool Family of Colonial Virginia by Carolyn Hartsough, which contains much more about the southeast Essex Pettypool family. To read the complete document:


[1] P. H. Reaney and Marc Fitch. (Editors). Feet of Fines for Essex, Volume IV (1423 - 1547) (Colchester: Essex Archealogical Society at Museum in the Castle, 1964), 130.

[2] Robert Bucholz and Newton Key. Early Modern England 1485-1714: Narrative History, 2nd Edition. (Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 185.

[3] Commissary of Bishop of London, Archdeaconry records, Document D/ABW 28/48: 8 March 1539 Will of John Puttypole of Burnham copperer [cooper]; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England. At my request an abstract of this same will was transcribed in 1989 and commented upon by Dr. F. G. Emmison, author of the series of 8 compiled volumes of early Essex wills and former County Archivist of Essex from 1939-1969.

[4] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Baptisms: 1559-1598, Image 2, Augnes the daughter of Willm Puttipoull, 13 February 1559; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[5] Percival Boyd. Boyd Marriage Index, Essex, First Series. (Typescript). Brides L-Z 1538-1600, Puttipole, Gra. & Tho. Sharp, Burnham, 1561; FHL microfiche 472,034. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Also, see Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Marriages: 1559-1598, Image 60, Thomas Sharpe and Grace Putipoole, 5 May 1561; accessed 22 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[6] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Baptisms: 1559-1598, Image 4, Johan the daughter of Willm Puttipolle, 14 February 1562; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[7] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Burials: 1559-1598, Image 83, Elizabeth daughter of Edward Putipol, 22 September 1563; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[8] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Baptisms: 1559-1598, Image 4, John son of Thomas Sharpe, 18 April 1564; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[9] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Burials: 1559-1598, Image 84, Johan daughter of willm Petypolle, 4 June 1565; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[10] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Baptisms: 1559-1598, Image 5, Jone Sharpe, 16 March 1565; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[11] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Baptisms: 1559-1598, Image 5, Willm the sonne of Willm Pudipolle, 1 January 1567; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[12] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Baptisms: 1559-1598, Image 6, Jane Sharpe, 24 October 1568; accessed 20 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[13] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Burials: 1559-1598, Image 85, John Sharpe sone of Thomas Sharpe, 14 June 1569; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[14] Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Burials: 1559-1598, Image 85, Edward Pottypoll, 2 September 1569; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[15] Percival Boyd. Boyd Marriage Index, Essex, First Series. (Typescript). Brides L-Z 1538-1600, Potipoll, Joan & Alex Chames, Burnham, 1569; FHL microfiche 472,034. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Also, see Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, "Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials," Mar riages: 1559-1598, Image 61, Alexander Chames and Jone Potypoll, 15 January 1569/70; accessed 22 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[16]Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, “Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials,” Burials: 1559-1598, Image 85, Thomas Sharpe, 26 April 1571; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[17]Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, “Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials,” Burials: 1559-1598, Image 86, John Spenser servant of Willm Puttypoll, 22 January 1573; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[18]Percival Boyd. Boyd Marriage Index, Essex, First Series. (Typescript). Brides L-Z 1538-1600, Podeepole, Agn. & Anth. Lewes, Burnham, 1578; FHL microfiche 472,034. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Also, see Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, “Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials,” Marriages: 1559-1598, Image 62, Anthony Lewes and Agnes Podeepole, 30 April 1578; accessed 22 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[19]Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, “Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials,” Burials: 1559-1598, Image 87, Willm Poodeepoole, 2 January 1579; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, Essex, England.

[20]1Burnham, Essex, St. Mary the Virgin Parish Registers, “Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials,” Burials: 1559-1598, Image 88, Jhon son of Willm Podeepoole, 8 January 1579; accessed 23 December 2013; Essex Recor d Of fice, Chelmsfor d, Essex, England.

[21]Robert Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England 1485-1714: Narrative History, 2nd Edition. (Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 172.

[22]Joseph Foster, editor, London Marriage Licenses, 1521-1869 (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1887), 854.

[23]Amy Licence. “Fertility, Marriage and Motherhood: Women of Elizabethan Burnham” . Blog. his story, her story, accessed 30 December 2012.

[24]A. W. Hughes Clarke, Register of St. Clement, Eastcheap and St. Martin Orgar: Marriages 1539-1839 (London: The Harleian Society, 1937), 81.