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JOHN OF HARLOW


John Spilman of Harlow is possibly my earliest traceable ancestor.

He married Martha Hills at St. Mary and St. Clement's Church, Clavering, Essex, in May, 1615. Martha Hills was born in 1602, and baptised at St. Botolph's Church, Colchester, Essex. She was the daughter of Nicholas and Margaret Hills.

At the time of her marriage, Martha was 13 years of age. To us, living in the third millennium, the marriage of a girl at 13 years of age would be out of the question. But it was not an unusual practice in the 1600's. We must remember that the younger a girl was when giving birth, the less chance there was of her dying in childbirth. This practice tended not to continue after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Edward Spilman (brother of Captain Thomas Spilman) told the Heralds Visitation that his Grandfather was Thomas Spilman of Harlow, and that the father of Martha Hills was Robert Hills of Clavering. (See "Visitation of Lincolnshire" by Everard Green. Published in 1917).

It would appear that Edward did not give the correct details to the Heralds.

The IGI states that the parents of Martha Hills are Nicholas and Margaret.

Martha Hills who married John Spilman at Clavering in 1615 was the daughter of Nicholas and Margaret Hills. John and Martha Spilman had a daughter, also named Martha. In her will of 1647, Margaret Hills leaves "forty shillings of lawful English money to Martha Spilman. Daughter to my daughter Martha". Martha Spilman (Junior) was the Granddaughter of Nicholas and Margaret Hills. We can but imagine why Margaret Hills left nothing to her (daughter Martha). We must remember that in England at that time, society was in a state of upheaveal. Brother fighting brother. Father fighting son. You were either on the side of the King, or on the side of Parliament. Many families were split. And as often happens in wills of today, those who thought they might receive something received nothing. It could be that the Hills family were on the side of the King, while John and Martha were on the side of Parliament. The reference to "lawful English money" is due to two currencies being in operation during the Civil War period. The Parliamentarians invented their own currency, which the Royalists did not consider lawful.

What is also possible is that John Spilman who married Martha Hills in 1615, was the son of John Spilman of Manuden, and brother of Edward Spilman, who married Sarah Strange, at Clavering in 1623. If so, then John and Edward are the Grandsons of William and Grace Spilman of Manuden.




Signature of Eric Spilman


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