This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)
NICHOLAS NICOLLS and ELIZABETH BEERE (11)
NICHOLAS NICOLLS is the first of that surname to appear in the Rose Ash registers, at his marriage in 1665. There is a promising baptism for him in South Molton, five miles away. Nicholas Nichels, son of Thomas Nichels was baptised there on 30 May 1635, in the reign of Charles I. Since Nicholas named his only known son Thomas, this was probably his father’s name. This identification, however, would make him seven years younger than his wife, a not impossible gap, but unusual.
Nicholas’s son and grandson were carpenters. This may well have been his trade too.
ELIZABETH BEERE is from a Rose Ash family.
There is only one baptism in the registers for Elizabeth Beere, the daughter of Richard Beere and Wilmott Fuyan in 1628, and one marriage, to Nicholas Nicolls in 1665, which fall within the relevant period. We must, however, be cautious about assuming these are the same person. As with many parishes whose High Church clergy were turned out of their living as a result of the Civil War, there is a gap in the Rose Ash registers from 1646 to 1660, the period of the Puritan Commonwealth. A second Elizabeth could have been born during that period; the Elizabeth baptised in 1628 could have married or died. And, as always, someone else with that name could have come into the parish from elsewhere.
With or without a second Elizabeth, there are problems. If there was only one, she would have been 37 when she married Nicholas, unusually late. But an Elizabeth born after 1646 would be under 20 when she married, untypically early. There is also the question of whose daughter she could have been. If her father was Richard Beere’s brother Thomas, that would leave a unlikely ten-year gap in the baptisms of his children. In 1640 there is a baptism for the child of Richard Beere Senior, who is probably Wilmott’s husband. This indicates that a Richard Junior, whose baptism has not been found, was also producing a family. He could be the father of a younger Elizabeth.
But the pattern of Elizabeth’s childbearing fits well with her being an older woman. With these reservations, we shall assume that she is Richard and Wilmott’s daughter.
Baptism. Rose Ash. (DCRS transcript)
1628 Beere, Elizabeth d. Richard. 24 May
She was the fourth in a family of at least seven children.
Both Nicholas and Elizabeth lived through the troubled times of the Civil War, coming to adulthood under Cromwell’s Commonwealth. It is possible that Nicholas had come to work in Rose Ash before they married, since they subsequently made their home there.
It was a time of deep division, when communities, and even families, were split in their allegiance. By and large, a sheep-farming parish like Rose Ash would probably have sided with Parliament. The Rector of Rose Ash who baptized Elizabeth, Roger Trosse, was a Royalist. He was expelled from the living and his parsonage looted. John Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy in the Grand Rebellion, 1642-1660 , gives a colourful account of the family’s tribulations. He was succeeded by a man Walker describes as ‘little better than Crackbrained’, which may mean that he was a fanatical Puritan or that he had little learning, unlike Roger Trosse. B.A.
Some ten year into the Commonwealth, around 1655, there was an incident when a Puritan Constable forcibly stopped a game of bowls on the Green, upon which ‘a great contest arose’.
Nicholas and Elizabeth married in Rose Ash on 1 December 1665, five years after the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. Elizabeth was older than usual for a bride at 37. Nicholas, if he is Thomas’s son, was 30.
Only two children have been found for them.
Baptisms. Rose Ash. (DCRS transcripts)
1668(9) Nicolls, Thomas s. of Nicholas 4 ffeb
1672 Nicolls, Elizabeth d. of Nicholas 3 Dec
There may have been children born in a different parish before Thomas, but in the next generation there is no evidence in Rose Ash of anyone with the Nichols surname other than these two. Elizabeth’s age may have been a factor in her slowness to conceive and in the small number of children. They appear to be the only family with this surname in Rose Ash. The next three generations of Nicols can all be traced back to Nicholas and Elizabeth.
A list of the Poor Rate payers in 1684 does not include any Nicolls. Some ratepayers are recorded by the name of their house, rather than the person.
Elizabeth did not live to see her grandchildren. She died in 1694, aged 66.
Burial. Rose Ash
1694 Nicolls, Elizabeth w. Nicholas. 22 Nov
Nicholas survived her, but we do not know for how long. His burial has not yet been found.
Their son Thomas married around 1698 and brought up his family in Rose Ash. In 1704, when she was 32, their daughter Elizabeth, still unmarried, gave birth to a son Henry.
Next Generation: 10. NICOLLS
Previous Generations: 12. NICHOLS