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Francis BARRINGTON / BERRINGTON (1685-1762), gentleman of Seal, Kent

There is no shortage of Francis Barringtons - many well-connected. The Francis Barrington who was Neil's ancestor was also born into a well-to-do family. His father Robert was a gentleman (i.e. of independent means) and a member of the Middle Temple; and his mother Anne, born Anne French of Seal in Kent, received a sizable legacy from her French family. Francis was their last child and only son.

Although Robert appears to have spelt his surname as 'Berrington' as often as 'Barrington', Francis was baptised as Francis Barrington on 29 Nov 1685 at St Andrew, Holborn, near the Middle Temple of which his father was a member. The given name of Francis was probably to honour his maternal grandfather and uncle, both of whom were called Francis French and from whom his mother profited financially. The address on the baptismal certificate was Southampton Buildings, Holborn, but Francis probably spent most of his time in the main family home in Stone Street, a hamlet in the village of Seal in the county of Kent.

It was in Seal that Francis found his wife, Rose Porter of the longstanding Porter family of Seal. The marriage allegation, i.e. the promise to marry, was dated 14 January 1715 at St Andrew, Holborn, where Francis was baptised and it gave his age as 'above 28' and hers as 'above 23'. Marriage allegations were valid for three months, but the marriage did not take place during that period. So I initially assumed that the couple changed their minds about the location and were married elsewhere. However, thanks to Sue Paul, a descendant, we now know that the marriage did take place at St Andrew, Holborn, but outside the three month period. The date was 14 June 1715.

Francis and Rose lived in the family home in Stone Street. He was a 'gentleman', i.e. of independent means and he owned considerable property. That and more we know from his will. Furthermore, his family was sufficiently highly regarded for the Best family of Kent to confer Barrington as a given name on generations after him. He and Rose had quite a large family. The following names have been fleshed out from various sources - see the footnote.

All the children of Francis and Rose were baptised as Barringtons rather then Berringtons, and the youngest, Mary, Neil's direct ancestor, also married as Barrington. Her elder brothers lived much of their lives as Barringtons but changed the preferred spelling to Berrington in later life. At some stage, Francis, too, changed the preferred spelling of his surname from Barrington to Berrington.

One cannot help but be struck that none of Francis and Rose's children appear to have been named after Rose or her father William. This is all the more surprising because Rose's Porter family had a long and well-to-do tradition in Seal (if one goes back far enough, although the more recent Porters may have been more humble). One can only speculate as to reasons for the omissions. Rose's given name, though, was carried on through her granddaughter, the daughter of her son Robert.

Also there appears to have been a Mr William Barrington (not Berrington) in Seal. His name was on a list of parishioners for Seal in 1757. There is one 'esq' (the John Pratt who is mentioned in Francis Berrington's will), one 'Mrs' and five 'Mr', then 104 names without any title, so William was high up in the village hierarchy. One possibility is that he was Francis's cousin, the son of John Berrington of Datchet, his father Robert's brother, but this would have made him 87 at the time of the entry. Surprisingly Francis himself was not on the list; so perhaps William (actually written as Wm) was a clerical or transcription error.

Rose was buried in Seal on 1 September 1751. No reliable burial record for Francis has shown up, but he probably died in 1762, as his will was proved on 19 Nov 1762.


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