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BERRINGTON / BARRINGTON ancestry in Datchet, Buckinghamshire

Barrington descent from Thomas Berrington (before 1538-1663)

The Datchet origins of the Kent Barringtons came to light as a result of the new information described on the update page. The Datchet genealogical data on this page is due to Douglas Richardson's 'The English Ancestry of the Merwin and Tinker families of New England', New England Genealogical Register, 1995, p 425 - 429. This is a thoroughly professional research job which has examined numerous sources, and I am exceptionally grateful for how it illuminates Neil's family history. The commentaries here are my own, as are the genealogical data that do not relate to Datchet.

Neil's earliest confirmed 'Barrington' ancestor was Thomas I in the tree on the right. His existence is known from his marriages, the baptisms of his children and his will, all of which spelt his surname with an E rather than an A, as Berrington rather than Barrington. There is more on this on the pages about Barrington as a given name and Robert who seems to have been the first to use both spellings.

It is worth pausing to ponder on quite how early the Datchet Berrington / Barringtons take Neil's family history back. Thomas I was born in the reign of Henry VIII, and by the time he was 20 he would have seen the reigns of Lady Jane Grey and Mary I, with Elizabeth I set firmly on the throne of England. By the time he was 50, he would have lived through the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada.

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The life and children of Thomas I of Datchet (1538 - 1603)

All the records place Thomas I in Datchet, at that time in Buckinghamshire and now in Berkshire, the other side of the River Thames from Windsor. He was probably born just before 1538, the date when parish records started being kept by law, but he seems not to have been born in Datchet as no other Berringtons of an earlier generation were buried either in Datchet or anywhere in Buckinghamshire.

Thomas I was recorded as a husbandman, i.e. a farmer. He clearly owned land as various deeds of sale exist and he was also regarded as a gentleman in that according to research by Janet Kennish for her book Datchet Past, he was a juror. 

Thomas I married the widow, Dorothy Mathew, on 26 Oct 1563 at Datchet. Her birth surname has not been found. She gave him the following children, all girls:

No unambiguous death record for Dorothy has appeared. However, by 16 Oct 1576, Thomas I was certainly a widower, as on that date he married again in Datchet. This wife was Neil's ancestor, Elizabeth Pitt(e). In 1579 Thomas I was the executor of the will of her father, Roger Pitt(e). Her mother was an Alice.

Elizabeth gave Thomas I the following children, of whom only the eldest was male:

Thomas I was buried at Datchet on 29 March 1603, and his will, somewhat surprisingly, seems to have been signed and dated on the same day. It named "Robert Tynker begotten uppon the bodye of Agnes my daughter" whose descendants emigrated to New England and seem to have stimulated Douglas Richardson's research. Also named were Thomas I's wife, Elizabeth, son Thomas II, daughters Sarah, Luce, Joane, Dorothie, and Sibbel; and the children of Henry Bowrie who married his daughter Alice. "Brother" [brother-in-law in modern teminology] John Pitt(e), was an overseer.

Thomas II's widow, Elizabeth, lived another 20 years. She was buried at Datchet on 23 February 1624 or 5.


The financial status of the Datchet Berringtons

It is interesting to speculate where the Datchet Berringtons got their money from. Judging by the deeds of sale in existence, the surveys of the manor of Datchet and the education in the Middle Temple of Robert, the Berringtons were comfortably off. So did they inherit money? If so, it could say something about their origins before they came to Datchet? Or did they simply benefit from marrying well to women who fortuitously died such that they could again marry well? Thomas I was a recipient in the will of his father-in-law, Roger Pitt(e)s in 1579, and according Janet Kennish the Pitt(e)s were major landowners. There is more about the Berrington lands - albeit at a later date - on her website.

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The origins of the Datchet Berringtons

It is also interesting to speculate on where Thomas I's parents came from. Douglas Richardson notes that although no Berringtons contemporary with Thomas I were in Datchet, they did exist in surrounding parishes. I can take this further.

Thanks to the searchable databases of the Buckinghamshire Family History Society, and the work for the Society by Mike Dewey, I can confirm that Berringtons were in just two other Buckinghamshire parishes at this time, Upton-cum-Chalvey and Eton. As noted by Janet Kennish, there are very many names in common between Datchet & Upton-cum-Chalvey: Woodward, Borrington / Berrington, Pitt, French, Tynker, Hankinson, Perryman, West, i.e. many family or other social connections with the Datchet Berringtons. (e.g. land bought from George Woodward).

There were the following Berrington baptisms in Upton-cum-Chalvey around the time of interest:

Marriage records for Upton-cum-Chalvey were:

Burial records for Upton-cum-Chalvey were:

William's will is in the name of William Berynton [sic] of the "parish of Eaton near Windsor in Buckinghamshire". Since it names his wife as Catherine and spelling was not consistent at the time, this William must have been the William mentioned in the above baptismal records. The will was dated 7 October 1560. It was a short will which made the wish to be buried in the "Yarde at Eaton". (Whether this happened is impossible to tell, as the parish records do not record his burial. The grave could never be located anyway as the original parish church was demolished after the College Chapel was built. The Yard seems to have stood on the south side of it, so that its graveyard may well have been at least partly built over, leaving no grave markers.) The will bequeathed 43 shillings to "my daughter Ann" [or Anne]; his doublet and shoes to "my brother John" and all his [other] goods to "my wife Catherine". Sadly there is no indication at all of what these other goods were or their value. The bequest of a doublet and shoes could imply relatively impoverished circumstances. However it could equally have been promised keepsakes. It is also surprising that no children other than Ann were mentioned. The archivist at Eton College Library which holds the will made various suggestions. Perhaps William's other children had all died; perhaps Joane had already married and been provided for. If there was a surviving son, perhaps land had already been transferred to him, or perhaps he was out of favour. According to Mike Dewey who consulted the land surveys for Upton-cum-Chalvey contemporary with the Datchet Berringtons, no lands held there by the Berringtons. Various records show a William Berrington of Eton a century later.

My belief is that without an enormous piece of luck somewhere, this is the end of the line for my research into Neil's Berrington / Barrington ancestry because there seem no obvious sources left to explore. However, on a positive note, the names of John, Thomas and William are the ones that keep turning up in the medieval Berrington records and the visitations, so there is almost certainly a family link somewhere between the noble and affluent Berrington families documented on the pages about Herefordshire and the medieval Berringtons across England. If so, they were probably supporters of William the Conqueror who came from Barentin in Normandy and were known as the de Barentins.

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