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Origins of the Datchet Berrington family in Hereford?

The earliest confirmed location for Neil's Berrington / Barrington ancestors, is Datchet, which is in Buckinghamshire. The family was among the gentry. Yet there are no Berrington entries in the Visitation of Buckinghamshire of 1634, presumably because the family had moved on by then. However, in view of the proximity of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, a record in the 1566 Herald's Visitation of Berkshire could be significant. It gives a Berington [with one R] ancestral line in Streatley, originating in Herefordshire. The following version of the visitation was translated into modern English for David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History and, unlike the pedigrees in other visitations I have seen, is in narrative rather than tree form:

"Robert Berington of Hereford East in the county of Hereford, gentleman, married Margaret daughter to Thomas Burton of Weobley in the county of Hereford and by her had issue, Thomas Berington, his eldest son and heir; John, second son, and William Berington, third son. William Berington of Reading in the county of Berkshire, gentleman, third son to Robert aforesaid, married Elizabeth daughter to Richard Lane of Cholsey in the county of Berkshire and by her had issue, Thomas Berington, his eldest son and heir; Walter Berington, second son, and Chistopher Berington, third son; Alice married to Richard Bullock of Arborfield in the county of Berkshire, esquire; Mary married to Thomas Buckland of Readinge in the county of Berkshire, yeoman. Thomas Berington of Streatley in the county of Berkshire, gentleman, eldest son and heir of William aforesaid, married Joan daughter to Richard Wyer of Reading in the county of Berkshire, yeoman, and by her hath issue Thomas Berington, his eldest son & heir apparent; Margaret; Alice; Elizabeth; Jane; Anne; Katherine; Mary and Bridget, unmarried."

The visitation gives no dates of births, marriages or deaths dates, but British History Online provides some pointers to dates by way of monumental inscriptions:

"Four other brasses were formerly in the chancel [of the church]. The figure of Elizabeth wife of William Berington, 1570, is now laid with the brass above-named, and its proper inscription is lost. On the east wall of the south aisle is an inscription to Thomas Berington of Streatley (d. 1603) (son and heir of William Berington, third son of Robert Berington of Hereford), his wife Joan Wier, six sons, all of whom predeceased him, and eleven daughters. In the pavement below it are their two figures, and above their heads, in the corners of the slab, are two shields, the first with sable three running greyhounds or, and a molet for difference (Berington of Streatley), the second with a fesse dancetty between three crosslets fitchy."

Another record which provides a helpful date is from the records of Exeter College, Oxford*:

"Berington, Thomas of Berks, pleb. Exeter Coll., matric. entry under date 3 Dec 1575, aged 17" Alumni Oxoniensis - Forster 1500-1714, Page 112.

As it suggests a birth date for Thomas Berington of around 1557. which does not fit any Thomas in the Datchet line of Berringtons, it must refer to one of the Thomas Beringtons in the Visitation of Berkshire whose family originated in Herefordshire.

The Visitation of Herefordshire* plugged some missing gaps but somewhat surprisingly did not give a pedigree for Robert Berington of Hereford East, although his existence was documented there through marriages in the pedigrees of other families.

Thanks to the website of Hereford City Council, the ancestry of Robert can be taken back to a William Berrington (note double R, although spelling was not consistent at the time) who was probably Robert's grandfather. William was 'The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Hereford' in 1442. So he was probably born about 1395. There was also a Thomas Berington [sic] who had three terms in the same position - in 1462, 1465 and 1470. He must have been born about 1425; so it is reasonable to assume that he was William's son. It is inconceivable that the two were not, at the very least, related. Interestingly, in 1467, during a period when Thomas was not holding the mayoral position, it was held by an Oliver Cromwel [sic]. This was too early to be the Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658) who was Lord Protector of England, but the name does suggest a family relationship. As Robert Berington of Hereford East was also a 'The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Hereford', it is reasonable to assume that Thomas was his father. - and in view of their public appointments, it is rather surprising that William and Thomas were not included in the visitation pedigrees.

Male descendants of Robert Berington of Hereford East

Chart showing male descendants of Robert Berington of Hereford East, i.e. children who could have carried on the surname to Thomas of Datchet. Click for full-sized chart

The descendancy chart is based on information from the 1566 Visitation of Berkshire with dates added from other sources. It shows those descendants of Robert Berington of Herefordshire who could seem to have been instrumental in passing on their surname to Thomas of Datchet - ie it does not carry through any female lines. Some information on females has come to light. For example, the Visitation of Herefordshire shows that Thomas (born c1481) had a daughter Anne who married Humfrey Howarth. The IGI fortuitously gives a date, although not necessarily a reliable one: she was married as Anne Buryington on 6 Feb 1558 at Saint Nicholas, Hereford.

With reference to the chart and to anyone in it who might seem a candidate for fathering Thomas of Datchet:

John, the son of Robert of Hereford East (c1455 - ?) does, though, seem unaccounted for, but he was probably the John Berington of Stoke Lacy, Hereford, who has his own entry in the 1634 visitation. However, this line is not stated as going back to Robert of Hereford or anyone else. Tantalisingly it does show a Thomas Berington, youngest son of John. However, the Visitation references him on a later page as Thomas Berington of Cowarne with descendants who are not those of Thomas of Datchet.

So, sadly, this exploration of the Hereford Beringtons / Berringtons has not shown up a family link with Thomas Berrington of Datchet.

This does not, of course mean that a link did not exist. As the Editor of the 1665-6 Visitation of Berkshire pointed out in the Introduction to Volume II: "It is clear that a Visitation was not an official record of the Gentry of a County, but comprised only the Pedigrees of those who were prepared to pay the Fees of Entry."

It may be of interest to other researchers to flag the mentions of the Berington name by marriage in the pedigrees of other families in the Visitation of Herefordshire:

It may also be of interest to include two (contradictory!) pieces of additional information from the Hereford Record Office:

An account by Thomas Blount under the heading of 'Winsley'

Thomas Blount (1618–1679) was an English antiquarian and lexicographer, the son of Myles Blount of Orleton in Herefordshire written in 1677

[I have tried to keep the original archaic spelling, but it was not always possible to read the old writing. Corrections are welcome]

Anciently Beryton of Stokelacy married the daughter and Heyr of Rowland de Windesley, and had by her their Ancient Seat with other Lands, which has continued in their Family ever since but in later times the name has bin changed (Euphoria gratia) to Berington. In the last age William Berington married Elianor daughter of Richard Goodman chief yoman in the Battery to 2 Eliz of whose charity I shall speak elsewhere. John his son marryed Jane daughter of Henry Casey of Whitefield in Com Gls and John married Elizabeth daughter of St Thomas Woolrich of Dudmaston in Com Salop – Baronet – both which Johns Father and Son are now living 1677. – and John. The Son hath Issue. John and Thomas -. This House lyes in the Parish of Hope in Dunsmore – and as a badge of its Antiqity there is carved in Wood in old characters over the Porch a Cross with these words – Per Signum Tau libera Nos Domine -. They bear 3 Greyhounds arg collared – which very armes are also born by Wigmor of Lucton without any difference, save that the one bears the buckle of the Collars above the neck, the other below – Upon one of the Cross Beams of the Hall of this House is carved an ancient Coat of Armes: consisting of Berdee of five Peeces – which haply was the Armes Wyndersley, before the Beringtons were owners of it.

The tythes of Corn and Grain of this place did heretofore belong to Priory of Semster and were granted by 2 Eliz to Ambrose and Henry Smyth and their Heyrs.

Letter from Joseph Morris to the Henry Hawkins, dated 13 March 1858.

Blount’s account of the [Berington] family is certainly erroneous. Alicia Ireland who married Roger Berington was the daughter of John de Ireland, whose father Sir Walter Fitzroy of Ireland is stated to have been an illegitimate Son of Edward I. This probably is the origin of the statement as to a natural son of King John being the ancestor of the Berington family.

Robert Berington was the ancestor of the Shrewsbury family by his second wife Sibella Durant. By his first wife Johanna, daughter of William Harley, he had no issue; nor would the chronology of this period then suit the descent of the Winsley branch as I find it stated, for his son Thomas (by Sibella Durant) was Bailiff of Shrewsbury in 1459 and 1478 and John, son of Thomas, married not Ellen Pontesbury but Elizabeth (Skrimshire) relict of Richard Crispe of Shrewsbury. The said John’s mother was not Isabella Sutton but Isabella Daughter of John Shotton of Shrewsbury, draper, who also served the office of bailiff here, as Thomas Berington don of John did in 1538 and 1555.

The arms of Beringtons of Shrewsbury are Quarterly, 1st and 4th Argent 3 greyhounds Courant in pale Sable, collared gules, all within a bordure of he last. 2nd and 3rd argt Two bars sable over all a bend gules.

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A pedigree chart follows which is too large to reproduce here but is available on request.

As far as the search for the ancestry of Thomas of Datchet is concerned, the search must continue outside Hereford with Berrington families across England.

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* For information in the Visitations and for the Exeter College record, I am grateful to Mike Swift of Adelaide. 

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