Thomas Mannock of Wormingford and Dennice Roberts of Kent

The church of St Andrew’s, Wormingford.

Morant tells us that in 1528, Henry VIII gave the manor of Church Hall in Wormingford to Cardinal Henry Wolsey. But after Wolsey fell from favour, the king granted the manor to the Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross. But with the suppression of the monasteries, Henry VIII gave the manor to Thomas Mannock and his wife Dionisia (aka Dennice). Why they were so favoured, Morant doesn’t say, but it might have something to do with Dennice’s grandfather, Walter Roberts, supporting the Tudor cause in the Wars of the Roses. And Thomas had a connection with Wormingford as his mother was Catherine Waldegrave – the Waldegraves owned Wormingford Manor for over three hundred years, from the late 1300s to the early 1700s.

There are four entries in Wormingford’s parish register for members of the Mannock family: three burials and a wedding (which is almost the title of a film). The burials are of Francis Mannock buried “on Sainte Georges Daie” 1559, Thomas Mannock senior buried on 10 Dec 1576, and Dennice Mannock buried on 12 Feb 1583/4. Francis might have been a son of Thomas and Dennice, who didn’t appear on the Visitation. Thomas senr is probably Thomas, son of George, and Dennice was his widow. Thomas and Dennice unfortunately didn’t leave any wills.

George, however, did. He wrote his PCC will on 8th August 1540, and mentioned only two relatives, his sons: Thomas (who married Dennice) and Edward. He left money to both Stoke by Nayland and St Gregory’s, Sudbury, where he was living. He doesn’t mention William, and I think that must be because he had already transferred Gifford’s Hall to him on his move to Sudbury. Although it might be doubtful that this is the George Mannock of the Visitations because the will doesn’t mention William, his eldest son and the heir of Gifford’s Hall in Stoke-by-Nayland[1]Not the one in Wickhambrook near Bury St Edmunds! (and vast amounts of other property), there was a stone memorial for George at St Gregory’s in Sudbury – just as he had requested in his will, with his arms on it. Hodson and Sperling’s 1896 book A Short History of the Borough of Sudbury describes the memorial, along with another for the Felton family, which had vanished by their time but had been previously recorded:

“The following monuments have also been noted in this church, but have since disappeared: A stone for George Mannock, Arm[iger], who deceased the 22 Aug 1541. Arms 1: Mannock, sable a cross moline argent, impaling Brakely, chequy ermine and gules. 2. Mannock (as before) impaling Waldegrave, per pale argent and gules, 3. Mannock and Brakely quartered.”

We know that George Mannock had married Catherine Waldegrave – and the arms of Mannock and Waldegrave can be found over the gatehouse at Gifford’s Hall.[2]Anthony Emery’s Greater Mediaeval Houses of England and Wales, vol 2, p.105 So this must be the George Mannock in the Visitations, the father of William and Thomas – and Edward. Perhaps Edward doesn’t appear in the Visitations because he didn’t have children, but then the Wyndham’s visitation in Norfolk mentions that George had three sons – and we can see from George’s will that the missing son was Edward.

The record of the memorial is presumably wrong and George died in 1540, as his will was proved in February 1540/1.

There’s also a burial in the Dedham register (Dedham being about ten miles east of Wormingford) for William, son of Thomas Mannock of Wormingford, on 26 Oct 1574. I think he’s Thomas senior’s son as I think Thomas and Dennice’s son, Thomas, married Anne Tendring in 1578. And also because William doesn’t appear in the Earls Colne manorial records – more on those in a second.

That same year, the Dedham register also yields the marriage of Edmunde Mannock, son of Thomas, and Katheren Lister. There must be a misprint in the Essex Visitation, and one of the two Edwards listed as sons of Thomas Mannock and Dennice Roberts should in fact be Edmund. Edward the son of Edmund Mannock was buried at Holton St Mary in Feb 1586[3]This is from the Suffolk FHS burials CD – I don’t know if they’ve tweaked old style dates to new, so the burial could be 1585-7. – perhaps Edward was his child.

Catherine Lister could be the daughter of William, baptised in Great Horkesley (about 6 miles west of Dedham) in 1569. Her parents were perhaps the William Lyster and Katheryn Harman married in Great Horkesley in 1567. There is a Lister family in the Essex Visitation (1558 and 1612), but the father of that William died in Finchley, Middlesex in about 1547, so it’s not all that likely to be the same family.

Although Thomas senr and Dennice didn’t leave wills, they appear in Earls Colne’s manorial court records, which you can find at Records of an English Village, 1375-1854. Thomas appears in 1560 when he first acquired some property there, then after his death in December 1576, his widow Dionise and four sons Edmund, Thomas, Anthony and Edward appear in documents from March 1576/7. This confirms that the William who was buried at Dedham was likely Thomas senr and Dennice’s son as he doesn’t appear in the manorial record, and that one of the two Edwards in the Essex Visitation should’ve been an Edmund. In fact, he became the eldest son, following William’s death. It also confirms that Dennice survived her husband, so that the Wormingford burials of Thomas and Dennice must be them.

In another Earls Colne manorial record, from 1585, Edmund and his wife Ann, and his brother Edward are mentioned. Presumably Edmund’s wife Catherine had by then passed away, and he had remarried.

The Roberts family in Kent

Meanwhile, Dennice Roberts’ family are worth a look as she’s a relative of the queen of a thousand days, Anne Boleyn. Her grandfather, Walter Roberts of Glassenbury, near Cranbrook in Kent, died in 1522 in his 80s, and had been involved in drama during the Wars of the Roses, losing some of his land until Henry VII triumphed and took the throne.

Dennice was the daughter of Walter’s son John. According to the Roberts monument in Cranbrook’s church, which is conveniently laid out like a family tree, it looks as if John had no sons, and predeceased his father. Certainly, Walter’s PCC will mentions no bequests for John and only mentions a legacy for each of John’s four daughters.

The Kent Visitation tells us that John had married Mary, daughter of Sir Richard Sackville, although her father doesn’t appear to have been a “Sir” of either the knightly or baronetty kind. Her father died in the July of either 1523 or 1524,[4]One source I found gave his date of death as 18 July 1523, the other as 28 July 1524. Richard’s brother John Sackville (c1484-1557) was married twice; his first wife was Margaret Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s aunt.

John and Mary’s four daughters were:

  • Joan/Jane, who married William Fitzwilliam
  • Dennice (or “Dionisian” and other variations) who, as we know, married Thomas Mannock
  • Constance, who married John Tey of Essex[5]Constance appears in the 1558 and 1612 Essex Visitations, which identify her husband as John Tey of Layer-de-la-Haye, the son of Thomas Tey and Joanne or Jane Harleston. Jane’s brother was Sir … Continue reading
  • Alice, who married Arthur Clarke

Dennice would have been in her early sixties at least at her death, and she would’ve been in her early 50s at least when her daughter Bridget married William Littlebury, and when Edmund married Catherine Lister. If she had been born in about 1515, she could’ve been married by 1535, and then had perhaps one child every two or three years. Having had six children, that makes for about twelve to eighteen or even twenty years of childbearing. Her last children would’ve been born in about the 1550s, which ties in with marriages for two of them in the 1570s.

Just as an aside, Dennice’s grandfather, Richard Sackville, had a sister, Mildred, who married Sir William Fitzwilliam of Gaynes Park Hall in Epping (nowadays conveniently near the junction of the M11 and M25!). Dennice’s sister Joan/Jane married a relative of their uncle. I wonder if Dennice’s mother moved to Essex after her husband John died.

First published 14th November 2020
Edited 15th November 2020: added the first paragraph about the manor of Church Hall.

Footnotes

Not the one in Wickhambrook near Bury St Edmunds!
Anthony Emery’s Greater Mediaeval Houses of England and Wales, vol 2, p.105
This is from the Suffolk FHS burials CD – I don’t know if they’ve tweaked old style dates to new, so the burial could be 1585-7.
One source I found gave his date of death as 18 July 1523, the other as 28 July 1524.
Constance appears in the 1558 and 1612 Essex Visitations, which identify her husband as John Tey of Layer-de-la-Haye, the son of Thomas Tey and Joanne or Jane Harleston. Jane’s brother was Sir Clement Harleston. The History of Parliament has an entry for Thomas Tey, giving his year of birth as 1486 or 1488.