14. MARSH-BEGENT

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Fay Sampson’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 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

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 ROBERT MARSH and CHRISTIAN BEGENT (14)

 

ROBERT MARSH was one of the six sons of John and possibly Johan Marsh of East Langdon. He also had two sisters.[1]

He was first married in 1550, giving him a likely birthdate of around 1525, too early for the parish registers.

His father was a wealthy farmer, renting the grange at Marton, now known as Milton, in East Kent parish of East Langdon. In 1535, after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, his father bought the farm he had previously rented.

Robert was born in the reign of Henry VIII, but saw the accession of his young son Edward VI in 1547. Henry had broken with the Church of Rome to obtain a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. But his theology was not very different from that of the Roman Church. Edward was more fiercely Protestant. Robert and his family would have seen a profound change, when church services had now to be conducted in English, instead of Latin, with the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer.

It was this still unfamiliar prayer book that was used for the wedding of Robert and his first wife Elizabeth in 1550.

Marriage. St Augustine, East Langdon.
1550/1 Jan 29  Robert Mersh and Eliz Mersh

This information comes from an index of marriages. We do not yet have access to the original register. Robert may have married someone from the same family, or this may be a case where the early marriage register does not give the bride’s maiden name.

Two years later, the boy king Edward died, and his half-sister Mary took the throne. She swung the country back to Catholicism and married Philip of Spain. Two hundred and eighty-three leading Protestants were executed, mostly by burning, including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who had been largely responsible for the Book of Common Prayer.

The years of Mary’s reign were plagued by wet weather, and the failure of crops led to famine. Robert’s family farm would have suffered along with the others.

Robert’s father died in or soon after 1554. In 1556-8 there was a dispute between his male heirs and two others over a legacy of land and houses that John Marsh had bequeathed.[2]

“Plaintiffs: John, David and Robert Marshe, and Robert, son of Stephen Marshe, deceased.
Defendants: David Forstall and William Blymston.
Subject: Messuages and land at Martin (Merton) in East Langdon and West Cliffe of the bequest of John Marshe, father of the said John, David, Robert the elder, and Stephen. Kent”

John, David and Stephen were Robert’s brothers.

Without seeing the whole document, it is not clear whether the bequest was to the brothers, and David Forstall and William Blympston were impeding its implementation, or whether the brothers thought they had a claim on these land and premises, which the other two men were denying.

We do not have the baptisms of Robert and Elizabeth’s children, but a well-researched website tells us that there were three daughters.[3]

Thomasyn, 1565
Alice 1566, who died as an infant.
Alice 1568, who later married Robert Morgan.

This leaves a gap between the marriage and the first baptism. It may be that there was a later marriage we do not have, or that other children were born and did not survive.

The children would have been baptised in St Augustine’s church, standing high above the village at the south end of the parish. It now has a stone tower, but in Robert’s time it was made of wood.

St Augustine’s, East Langdon[4]

We do not have a burial for Elizabeth, but she seems to have died within eight years of the second Alice’s birth, possibly as a result of that childbirth.

Elizabeth I had begun her reign in 1558 as a Protestant, but was open-minded about her Catholic subjects. Fears about Catholicism grew, as Mary Queen of Scots laid claim to the throne of England. In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth and called upon her subjects to overthrow her. English Catholics were happy for the most part to live under Elizabeth, as long as they could practise their religion, but the papal bull swung opinion against them. Catholicism came to be equated with treason and they were again persecuted.

The Marshes appear to be adherents of the Church of England, established by Henry VIII in 1534.

The year after the excommunication Robert married his second wife Christian.

 

CHRISTIAN BEGENT. JJ Heath-Caldwell’s well-researched website gives her surname tentatively as “nee Kemp?”[5] This probably comes from some websites that have a Robert Marsh married to Christian Kemp, but which seem to confuse East Langdon in Kent with East Langton in Leicestershire.

More plausible is a marriage in Dover, only 3 miles from East Langdon in 1571.

Marriage. St James, Dover.
1571/2 Feb 3  Robt Mersh and Christyan Wappole widow

This is probably the Christian who married Peter Wappell in Dover in 1564. We do not yet have the original register, but this marriage appears in three indices. Two give her maiden name as Lagem and one as Begent. There are many Begents in Dover following Christian’s marriage, but no other Lagems. It is probably a mistranscription.

We do not have the early burials for Dover, to confirm whether Peter Wappole died before 1571, but this seems the most likely scenario.

It was common for a widower like Robert to marry a widow.

Nor do we have the 16th-century Dover baptisms, to know what children Christian had from her first marriage.

 

We know of four children of this second marriage.
Johann 1576-79
Stephen 1579-86?
Francis 1581-1656
Jane 1583-16??. She married George Hodge or Hodgman.

In 1588 Kent stood in great peril. 130 ships of the Spanish Armada set sail with the intention of invading England and overthrowing its Protestant Queen Elizabeth. The intention was to land in Kent, but misinformation led to a metal chain being strung across the Thames in the belief that the landing point would be in Essex.

Drake’s fireships caused some havoc in the Spanish fleet when it was anchored in the Calais Roads. More ships were lost at the Battle of Gravelines, but it was the weather that really defeated the Armada, with gales forcing the fleet into the North Sea. Most of the Spanish vessels were lost in the desperate flight around the British Isles.

Robert and his family would have seen these great fleets from the cliffs near East Langdon. It must have been a terrifying sight. We can feel their great relief when the Armada was swept past Kent.

 

Robert had grown up the farm at Marton/Martin that his father had bought at the dissolution of the monasteries.

In 1599 another John Marsh rebuilt it, making it a substantial house with six hearths. We do not know what relation he was to Robert. Both Robert and Christian are said to be “of Marton/Martin”, so we do not know whether they continued to live at the former grange, or whether they had their own house nearby.

Robert was buried in East Langdon on 7 Apr 1600, three years before Queen Elizabeth died.

Christian died twelve years later. She lived to see Mary Queen of Scots take the throne as Jame VI of Scotland and I of England.

She was buried not in East Langdon, but at St James, Dover, where she had married Robert.

Burial. St James, Dover.
1612 Sep 17  Christian Marsh of Martin. Widdow.

This is how it appears in the register, but a transcript has her as “Mrs Christian Marsh”. In those days, the title “Mrs” was used only for the gentry. It was pronounced “Mistress”.

 

[1] Marshrobert1600 – JJHC. Most of our genealogical information about Robert comes from this site.
[2] National Archives: C 1/1454/27
[3] Marshrobert1600 – JJHC
[4] Flickr: Church of St Augustine, East Langdon, Kent/ The Exterior
[5] Marshrobert1600 – JJHC

 

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