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Will of Damaris Strong (d.1681)

Widow of Rev. William Strong (d.1654)

Will dated 2nd October 1681 - Proved PCC 11/369 on 7th Sep 1682

Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC Dorchester - June 2013
for Mary J Erwin who has kindly agreed to this being displayed on the OPC website.


Being: weak in body but of good memory do make this my Last Will and Testament

Impremis: I give and bequeath unto my son Nathaniel BRANKER the sum of one hundred pounds to be paid to him when all the debt of three hundred eighty five pounds (due from the Trustees appointed by the last Will of my brother one Richard BURY deceased) is paid

    And: in the meantime the interest to be received by my Executrix to her own use

Item: I give and bequeath All the Rest of my worldly estate to my daughter Damaris GUYLLIM and hereby appoint her my said daughter Executrix of this my Last Will dated the second day of October 1681

Damaris STRONG

Signed and declared by Mrs Damaris STRONG to be her Last Will in the presence of

Critchell WATTS
William KENT
Sarah KENT


Probate: Of the written testament (Will) was proved at London before Thomas Exton 7th Oct 1682 by the oath of Damaris GILLYM

Genealogical Notes:-

(1). Damaris STRONG (d. 1681) From her will it's clear that Damaris married twice. 1st to an unknown BRANKER who may have originated from Dorset and even from Dorchester as families with that surname are evident in the area and town from around this time. A John Branker BA from Dorset for example matriculated at New Colledge Oxford on 12th June 1618 at the age of 17. He seems to have been a schoolmaster at Honiton in Devon in 1630 and may have been in Dorchester circa 1635 (see Municipal Records page 565 ). A Richard Branker ALSO had a son John Branker baptised in St Michael's parish in Barbados on 24th Jan 1649 so it's possible that her son Nathaniel Branker (see genealogical note 2 below) was born or followed other members of the family to settle in the Carribean. I have not so far however managed to locate his baptism here or abroad so have not managed to prove a direct link. Damaris married secondly to the Rev William STRONG (See genealogical note 5 below) and from the following research it appears that this was his second marriage as well. Her burial is recorded at St Giles Church in Cripplegate in the City of London where it states under Burials October 1681 'Damaris STRONG Widow died of a fever; of 'Tindall' was buried on 8th day of the month. [Note:- the year has been incorrectly recorded on ancestry.com as 1685]

(2). Nathaniel BRANCKER (BRANKER) Colonised from 1625, sugar cane was introduced to Barbados in 1640. English smallholder's were then gradually bought out and large parts of the island taken over by African worked plantations. For those with money to invest large fortunes could be made and Damaris's son Nathaniel Branker (who I call the elder) lived or emigrated to Barbados. On 9th September 1678 his wife Mary gave birth to their son Edward whom they had baptised at St Michael's Church in Barbados on 14th November 1678. Edward also became a planter on the island, married an Elizabeth, and his will dated 26th Feb 1706 makes his wife, his brother Nathaniel (senior) and brother in law Robert Osborn executors. His will was proved on 22nd April 1706. His brother Nathaniel (Senior) named, after his father, was baptised in St Michael's church Barbados on 2nd Nov 1682. When the existing owner Mathew Chapman founder of the Sunbury plantation in St Philip's Parish in Barbados died in 1693 it was bought by Nathaniel Branker the elder and it remained in the family descending to his son Nathaniel senior who later married Sibel Bowman in Barbados at St Philip's church on 16th July 1706. They had 3 children Nathaniel (junior) bap St Phillips 1st Jan 1714 with his sister Ann and Sarah baptised later that same year on 11th Oct 1714. Nathaniel junior married Ann Carter in Barbados St Phillip's on 25th May 1732. They also had 3 children Nathaniel the 4th generation of that name bap 20th Apr 1733 who married Ann Adamson at Christchurch Barbados on 3rd Jan 1758; Anne (bap 19 Jan 1734) and Mary Bap 1st Mar 1735. Sunbury Plantation remained in the family until sold in 1763. I have not been able to locate the wills of any of the 4 generations of Nathaniel Brancker in Barbados. The bequest in Damaris Strong's will to her son Nathaniel Branker the elder in 1681 makes sense in as much as he would have had his main inheritance to emigrate and establish himself in Barbados. The £100 left to him is to come out of the remainder of Richard Bury's money still owed (£385) to Damaris at her death with everything else going to her widowed daughter.

(3). Damaris [Dameris] GILLYM [GILLAM or GWILLYM] (d.1687). Her burial is recorded in two parish registers:- 1st that of St Giles Church in Cripplegate in the City of London - Burials 1687 Damaris GILLYM Widow died of consumption (i.e. TB) buried at St Olive Silver Street on the 1st of the month. and 2nd that of St Olave Hart street - Burials 1681 September : 'Mrs Damaris GILLAM widow from St Gyles Cripplegate was buried on the 1st of the month in ye South Isle [aisle] in ye church'. Her will was proved at the National Archives on 15th Sep 1687 recorded under Dameris Gwillyn Widow of Saint Giles Cripplegate London PRO 11/388/295

(4). Sir Thomas Exton (1631-1688) is in the Dictionary of National Biography and can be viewed on Ancestry.com for members

(5) Damaris STRONG was the 2nd wife of the Independent Minister the Rev William STRONG who died suddenly in June 1654. She was granted administration of her husbands estate on 22nd August that year.

    Rev. William STRONG (d. 1654), Her husbands university records shows him to have been a native of Dorset.

      [Note:- There seems to be some debate over his precise ancestry with the account of his life in the Dictionary of National Biography stating that 'he was possibly the son of a Timothy Strong although Abbots Langley Hertfordshire has also been given as his birthplace.' From the research that I have carried out I see no reason to doubt his university record and that he came out of Dorset where there have been members of the Strong family back into the 16th century but I have not been able to identify any firm evidence.

      Family Trees on Ancestry.com give John and Joane Strong of Beaminster to be his parents. When I looked into this the source given is John's will which is dated 8th May 1584 and was proved on 1st July that year. It names three sons John, Robert and William and two living and one deceased daughter:- Jane Balstone and her seven children are all beneficiaries and Margery Stronge, probably the youngest child, still a spinster is made executrix and left most of his estate including grounds at Marshwood. The deceased daughter who is not named married to a Mr Chirke and her two sons are also beneficiaries. I gain the impression from the way his will is written that all his sons were adult and independently provided for by 1584. John is only left the best of his wearing apparel, and Robert the bed and associated furniture. William possibly the youngest son is treated differently being given an annuity out of the estate inherited by his spinster sister Margery and forty shillings. In 1584 Jane already had 7 living children, if we assume for the sake of argument that she was their eldest child and was 18 at marriage and it took ten years to produce 7 living children she would have been born in 1556. This is the latest likely date for her birth. Whilst William may well have been much younger than Jane its difficult to associate this William to our Reverend with any confidence. For now I leave his ancestry open to question in the hope that some additional information will emerge that sheds more light on the situation.]

    He graduated from St Catharine's College Cambridge in 1630/1, when he was also made a Fellow of the University. It was probably around this date that he joined the church but no record of his ordination as a deacon or priest has so far come to light. In 1634 he was awarded his MA degree. According to an entry in William Whiteway's Diary under the date of 30th July 1634 William Strong 'a fellow of Catharine Hall in Cambridge, was accused by one of his companions for scandalous words spoken against the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the late Archbishop of York, Harsnet: for which he resigned up his fellowship to the house, and another was chosen fellow. He shortly after married a rich young widow in Cambridge, being employed by Mr Goodwin to court her for him and in November following, Mr Tutchin (the existing curate) removing to Charminster, he was by Mr Pele settled in the vicarage of Fordington'. The Clergy of the Church of England's database confirms his appointment by the dean of Salisbury as curate of St Georges Church in Fordington on 29th October 1634. Not all St George's Parish registers have survived for his period of tenure but William Strong's signature appears on the register for the year 1638. He continued to serve at Fordington until his appointment as rector of Moor Critchel on 29th August 1639.

    He had at least the following children:-

      (1) William Strong junior baptised at St Georges Church 20th Aug 1635. He was admitted pens. to Emmanuel College Cambridge on July 3, 1652; an exhibitioner from Charterhouse, who matriculated 1653-4; was awarded a B.A. degree by Trinity Hall in 1655. He was ordained a deacon on the strength of a Letter testimonial from Jonathan Francis MA Vicar of the prebendal church of Bigleswade to serve as his curate. He was then appointed Vicar of Chatteris, Cambridge on 20th Nov 1666 a position he retained until 1687. Buried there Nov. 21, 1689. Will (Cons. C. Ely) 1689. (H. I. Longden.
      (2) Elizabeth Strong baptised at St Georges Church Fordington 14th October 1638.
      (3) Mary Strong baptised at Moor Critchel 24th Jan 1641. Probably died in 1644 - see comments below.
      (4) Margaret Strong baptised Moor Critchel 28th Aug 1642.

    Dorchester and the surrounding area was a stronghold for the Protestant Faith and during the Civil War (1642-1651) many clergymen fled to London when Lord Carnarvon arrived with two thousand horse and dragoons. As it happens those that stayed in Dorchester quickly sought honourable terms for surrender and these were agreed in August 1643. Among those that fled persecution was the Rev John White (1575-1648) whose famous library in Dorchester was ransacked by the Royalists. Richard Bury (c1584 - 1661) the grocer and apothecary was another who also fled to London that year.

    In London Strong received a warm reception at the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleet Street, and soon became a lecturer there. On 13 June 1644 the vestry ordered that the churchwarden ‘shall lend Mr Strong £30 to be deducted £6 a quarter from his lecture’ (London, Guildhall Library, MS 3016/1, fol. 241). The parish register for St Dunston in the West is available at Ancestry.com and strangely we have two burials both dated 3rd July 1644 but from two distinct registers? The first states " July 1644 Burials: 3 (rd) Mrs Elizabeth STRONG the Lecturers wife was buryed in the body of the church, from Mr Scot Gent: in Fetter Lane (died of) feaver". This is clearly his wife and for the first time we know her name to be Elizabeth and she was accorded the honour of being buried in the church rather than the churchyard as is shown for most burials there around this date. I have produced an image below:-


    The second entry is in an entirely separate but valid register, to make sure I telephone the Metropolitan Archives who confirmed this to be the case. I can only think that this was such a large parish with so many births marriages and deaths that they employed more than one clerk and they maintained separate registers which according to the Met were compiled later by clerks from rough notebooks. The entry is under' July 1644 Burials' : For the '3rd' of the month and states 'Mary Strong was buryed in ye church Coff '(i.e. Coffin). If this is his daughter she was 3 years old and she was also buried in the church, presumably in the coffin with her mother. This whole register does not record the cause of deaths, but it looks likely to be an infant as the compiler usually omitted the address for children being buried. The Metropolitan Archives could offer no explanation however as to why Elizabeth is in one register and Mary in the other.

    From the Dictionary of national biography:- [additional comments added in italics]
    A year later, on 7 July 1645, the vestry again resolved that ‘care might be taken by the vestrymen to provide soe for Mr Strong that they might not lose the benefit of his ministry’ (ibid., fol. 263). He had a cordial relationship with the vicar, Andrew Perne, and upon Perne's resignation the House of Commons appointed Strong to be the minister of the parish, on 14 October 1647.

    In the meantime Strong had rapidly become a prominent divine at Westminster as well as in the City. He was to preach frequently before the houses of parliament and the civic leaders of London; some of his sermons were separately published. In 1645 he was appointed one of the seven preachers at Westminster Abbey to have morning exercises in place of the traditional daily service. Later in the year, upon the death of Edward Peale of Dorset, Strong was chosen in his stead as a member of the Westminster assembly of divines. He appeared in the assembly on 13 January 1646 and took the protestation, and on 16 January he took the solemn league and covenant and subscribed. In August 1648 he was appointed a trier of ministers for the twelfth classis in the province of London under the new presbyterian church government. He was likewise a weekday lecturer at St Margaret's, Westminster, in 1649. It appears that as late as 1648, when he was appointed a trier and preached before the lord mayor and aldermen at St Paul's a sermon published as The Vengeance of the Temple (1648), there was no sign that Strong had become an Independent. However, in the middle of 1650, he drafted, according to Thomas Bakewell in his A Plea for Mr Strong's Church-Members, eight articles, all of which are clearly the fundamental tenets of Independency or congregationalism, and imposed them upon his parishioners to subscribe; and ‘til they do it, he is resolved to debar them from the Lords Table, if not wholly forsake them’ (Bakewell). Apparently Strong attempted to turn the parochial church into an Independent congregation. It was probably as a result of this conflict that he left St Dunstan-in-the-West and gathered his Independent church at Westminster Abbey; its members elected him their pastor on 9 December 1650. Subsequently, in the early 1650s, Strong became a leading Independent divine in church affairs. On 2 January 1651, at the desire of Oliver Cromwell, Sir Henry Vane conferred with him concerning his going to Scotland, undoubtedly as chaplain to the English army, and on 29 July 1652 he was one of the Independent ministers called to a meeting at Cromwell's house in the Cockpit about sending godly persons to preach the gospel in Ireland. Earlier in the latter year he had joined other Independent divines in presenting to the Rump Parliament their proposals for the propagation of the gospel, which were, in effect, an Independent design for religious settlement; on 20 March 1654, when the Independent church polity had been finally established, he was appointed one of the commissioners for the approbation of public preachers, commonly known as triers, under the Cromwellian protectorate.

    In spite of the fact that Strong eventually embraced the Independent church polity, he was a moderate and perhaps even a conservative man in his religious thought. Unlike his radical Independent brethren such as John Goodwin, he unequivocally upheld the power and authority of the magistracy not only in civil affairs but also in matters of religion. It was the ordinance of God, Strong would argue, that ‘there should be a Magistracie; they are called the shields of the earth’; for as ‘it is not good there should be an Anarchie’, magistrates were necessary ‘to restrain men of giddy spirits, who are like the children of Belial without a Yoke’ (XXXI Select Sermons, 1656, 386). He complained that ‘it is woful liberty, a liberty of sinning’ that some men now ‘call all into question’ and ‘cry down instituted worship’ as ‘but forms’ (ibid., 246, 250); and he maintained that ‘a bounding of mens spirits by the word is not bounding of the spirit’ (ibid., 629). It is true that like many of his puritan brethren Strong was profoundly affected by Christian eschatology and at times of political crisis spoke in apocalyptic language. He even attempted to determine the time of the coming of Christ's kingdom. However, he was not reluctant to denounce the radical claims of the Fifth Monarchy Men. If ‘the Kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdom of the Lord and his Christ’, Strong asked, ‘then what need have you to be disquieted because some of your inferiour injudicious mistaken ends be not brought about’ (ibid., 679)? In early November 1653, when the Fifth Monarchy Men in and out of the Barebones Parliament attempted to destroy what they called the Antichristian national ministry, Strong told the London magistrates in his A Voice from Heaven Calling the People to Perfect Separation (1653) that ‘I do never fear Antichrist more then when he professes to fight under Christ's banner’, and he appealed to the citizens of London: ‘Let all those that fear God unite against this common adversary’ (A Voice from Heaven, foreword and p. 26).

    Strong died suddenly in late June 1654 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 4 July on the south side of the church. His funeral sermon was preached by the presbyterian divine Obadiah Sedgwick. He was survived by his wife, Damaris, to whom was granted administration of his estate on 22 August. After Strong's death his works were published from his notes transcribed by Elizabeth, Lady Carr (afterwards wife of Nathaniel Rich). It was said that Strong had left ‘all his notes under a Character of his own devising’ and that it was impossible for any one to publish anything ‘by his own notes’, but his widow protested that Strong had used the characters of the stenographer John Willis, only adding ‘here and there some of his own, sufficiently known to, and understood by that person of honour … to whom he committed his notes’ (Strong). Following the Restoration his remains were disinterred in 1661 and thrown into a pit in the churchyard of St Margaret's, Westminster. In 1880 a grey fossil marble tablet was erected against the west wall of the south transept of the Abbey. The inscription reads "Near this spot were buried William Twisse DD 1646 proculutor of the Westminster assembly. Thomas May 1650 translator of Lucan and secretary to the Long Parliament, William Strong 1654 - Stephen Marshall 1655 Parliamentary Preachers. these were removed by Royal Warrant 1661".

    Tai Liu


    Source Information:
    (1) Venn, J. A., comp.. Alumni Cantabrigienses. London, England: Cambridge University Press, 1922-1954 ;

    (2) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
      T. Bakewell, A plea for Mr. Strong's church-members (1650) O. Sedgwick, Elisha his lamentation, upon the sudden translation of Elijah (1656) D. Strong, Having seen a paper printed, [1655], BL, E 861/2 [A defence of the authenticity of the posthumous publications of William Strong] vestry minutes, St Dunstan-in-the-West, GL, MS 3016/1 Venn, Alum. Cant. DNB J. Boseley, The ministers of the Abbey Independent Church (1911) A. F. Mitchell and J. Struthers, eds., Minutes of the sessions of the Westminster assembly of divines (1874) J. Twigg, The University of Cambridge and the English Revolution, 16251688 (1990) B. W. Ball, A great expectation: eschatological thought in English protestantism to 1660 (1975) administration, TNA: PRO, PROB 6/28, fol. 118v

    (3) Clergy of England database;

    (4) Parish Registers Metropolitan Archives; St Giles, St Olaves and St Dunstan in the West; also for St George's Church Fordington (CLDS film 1279496 - Image 2115), and Moor Critchel (ancestry.com) both in Dorset;

    (5) William Whiteway of Dorchester His diary 1618 to 1635 Dorset Record Society Volumne 12

    (6) The Marriage, Baptismal and Burial Registers of the Collegiate Church or abbey of St Peter Westminster by Joseph Lemuel Chester Pages 147/8. Disinterment warrant Page 523

    (7) Marble memorial tablet - http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/william-twisse

    (8) Index of Acts of Administration in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1649-1654 (Acts of Administration)Strong, William, clk., Westminster, (Mdx.) 1653-4 1 118

    (9) The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, Emigrants, Religious Exiles ... By John Camden Hotten page 423 for the baptism of Edward son of Nathaniel & Mary Brancker at St Michael Barbados. See also page 446 for list of inhabitants of St Michaels with their children, apprentices, hired servants, bought servants and negroes.

    (10) CLDS Film Barbados Baptisms 1157923; Also Barbados Wills and Administrations Volumne III Edward Branker Ref RB4/18 page 62 - 23rd Feb 1705 with Codicil 26th Feb 1706 Proved 22nd Apr 1706

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