Alan March’s Family History

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 many generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from Alan’s as (1)

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WILLIAM CLIFFE. We find the Cliffe/Clift line in a group of villages in West Essex, between Chelmsford and Bishops Stortford.

The earliest we have found are in the village of Barnston, 9 m NW of Chelmsford and 7 m west of Braintree. Here, William Cliffe and his wife Anne were having children baptised at St Andrew’s church in the late 1620s.

From the date of these baptisms, we should expect William and Anne to have been born in the early 1600s. No suitable baptism has been found for William.

In 1598 there was a baptism in Barnston for Jane, daughter of William Cliffe. It is quite likely that our William Cliffe was her brother, and that his baptism is on a page of the register now illegible.

The earliest record of the surname in Barnston is the marriage of Elizabeth Cliffe in 1596. She may be William’s aunt.

The absence of earlier records leads us to assume that the Cliffe’s had come to Branston from another parish. If William was indeed Jane’s brother, then his father may be the William Cliffe who was baptised in Good Easter on 15 Sep 1577. He was the son of yet another William Cliffe. Good Easter is 5 m south of Barnston. This William Cliffe had married Mary Cosen the previous year. We cannot trace this line any further back.


ANNE. We have not found a record of their marriage, so we do not know Anne’s maiden name, or where she came from.

Anne and William were born at a turning point in British history. The last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I, died in 1603. She was succeeded by the first Stuart king – Mary, Queen of Scots’ son, James VI of Scotland and I of England and Wales. These countries were not yet united, but shared the same king.

Whether they were born there or elsewhere, William and Anne raised their family in Barnston. This small village stands above the River Chelmer.

Brook Farm, Branston [1]

Here they had two children baptised.
Baptisms. St Andrew, Barnston.
1627 Mar 18  Anne
1629 Dec 8  William

 No other baptisms have been found for this couple within a 10-mile radius of Barnston.

William’s son married a yeoman’s daughter. William may have been a farmer himself, but we have no confirmation of this.

We have not found a burial for either Anne or William in Barnston, though there are several possibilities in surrounding villages. It remains a matter of conjecture whether they lived to see the Civil War of 1642, which tore the country apart, but it is likely that William, at least, did not.

There are no Cliffes among the signatories to the Barnston Protestation Return of 1641. There are three possibilities. The Cliffes may have moved. But William junior raised his family in Barnston, so they probably did not. William senior may have been a Roman Catholic, who refused to sign this pledge of loyalty to the Protestant religion. But, given the small number of children, the most likely explanation is that William died early.

William junior would have been only 11 and too young to sign.


[1] https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/barnston/barnstonhome.html




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