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Where There's A Will There's A Clue
Making Connections Back Beyond 1800

The last will and testament of family members back in the past can reveal a lot of genealogical information. They are signed and dated by the testator and so are first hand evidence. Transcriptions used here were made from copies of wills obtained from Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office at Trowbridge, Wilts, UK.

     King Henry VIII seized the assets of the old established Church during the 1530s, culminating in separation from Rome and formation of the Church of England. This became final with passing of the Act of Supremacy in 1536 and declaration of the monarch as secular head of the church. The population was generally illiterate, and written documents were mostly preserved by those educated in Latin. Church records were kept in a haphazard fashion until an edict late in the reign of Elizabeth I that all baptisms, marriages and burials be recorded in special permanent registers for each parish. 
 There are a few records dating back to the mid 1500s in the records of St Marys Church at Calne which might be relevant to the Vines family history but the evidence is too vague to consider seriously. 

9 February ?1558/9 (exact year uncertain), Robert Vine 
26 February 1563/4, Jelyan Vyne 
18 February 1564/5, Joan Vyne (in the Latin form Joanna) 
18 March 1582/3, Margery Vynar alias Woodrooffe, annotated with the letter B 
(probably means base-born, i.e. illegitimate) 
25 January 1584/5, Nathanall Vyner alias Hancocke, B (see above) 
26 September 1596, John son of John Vynar 
2 October 1602, Joyse daughter of Edward Vinarde alias Phillips 

4 November 1563, William Vyne 
5 June 1585, Thomas Vyner alias Phyllips 
30 October 1586, Nathanaell Vyner alias Hancock 
9 October 1592, Mawtilda wife of Robert Vynar alias Phylips 
7 February 1596/7, John son of John Vynar 
1597 (exact date to be checked), Robert Venar alias Phylips 
18 March 1604/5, Elyzabethe Veynarde 
27 July 1606, Edwarde Vinarde alias Phillipps 
27 June 1610, Joyce Vinarde alias Phillips 
Nearly all church preserved records of births, marriages and deaths for Wiltshire date from 1653, during the political upheaval of the Civil War, and after most of the military action. These were written in ink with a quill, and their legibility depends greatly on the care and skill of the writer, and the storage conditions against weather, fire, pests, aging of the document materials, vandalism etc. Henry VIII had encouraged the use of written English to replace Latin so documents from 1600 onwards are generally in English. 
The last will and testament of various Vines yeomen (yeoman = a farmer of his own or leased land) have been shown as among the most reliable of documents for family history. They are signed and dated personally by the testator and so are first hand evidence. 


The earliest documentary evidence for Vines in the Grittenham area is from the will of Geoffrey Skull of Grittenham dated 25th November 1616. 
     "Also I give unto Agnes Vynes my daughter one cowe. Also I give unto Thomas Vynes my kinsman one bullock of a yere olde."
Later he states: 
     "Also I give more unto Agnes Vynes my daughter my table board and frame in the hall savinge that I will the said Margery my wife shall have the use of the said table board and frame during her naturall life if she remayne unmarried."

A full transcription of this and early wills for other Brinkworth Parish names transcribed by Clive Henly may be seen at: 
Henly's indexes for Brinkworth baptisms, marriages and deaths are also at this address.


In the Nimrod marriage index for Wilts are found the following very early entries: 

DATE: 01 FEB 1608/09 PLACE: Wootton Bassett 
GROOM: VINES           Roger 
BRIDE: HENDLY          Anne 

DATE: 24 JLY 1609    PLACE: Christian Malford 
GROOM: VINES           William 
BRIDE: LIPYETT         Mary 

It would appear likely that both Roger and William were either brothers or cousins of Thomas, and they all married at about the same time. This would make their birth dates very probably in the 1580s. Note that Wootton Bassett is about 2-3 miles or an hours walk from Grittenham while Christian Malford is about 6-7 miles away. 


The earliest Vines will is for Thomas Vines of Tockenham, dated 30th April 1639 and proved 6th July 1653. (Open that page and toggle between that and this with the Back and Forward buttons at top left.)

The Family of Thomas Vines the Weaver  of Tockenham Wick
(From the wills of Thomas1 (1639) and Robert2 (1674), possibly not in correct order
except for the first Robert, and with known or estimated (c) birth & death dates)

Note the recurrence of names "Agnes" twice and "Thomas" twice in Thomas's children and grand children. It is hypothesised as follows, that: 

  • Thomas1 Vines of Tockenham (1639 will) was the Thomas Vynes mentioned in the 1616 will of Geoffrey Skull of Grittenham. Tockenham is only 2 or 3 miles from Grittenham.
  • Agnes1 Skull was his first wife, for whom his eldest daughter Agnes2 was named. His grand daughter, by his son John1, was also named Agnes3.
  • He mentions several grandchildren but none for son Thomas2, so the latter was probably unmarried and the youngest son.
  • His wife in the 1639 will was Elizabeth1 and his youngest daughter was named Elizabeth2 for her. He mentions his "well beloved brother in law John Beckett", so his 2nd wife was Elizabeth Beckett. 
  • It would seem reasonable to assume that Thomas2 and Elizabeth2 were children of the second marriage.
  • He bequeathed his broadlooms to his son William1, so it is likely that this is the "William Vines of Pirton (Purton) in the County of Wilts, broadweaver" who signed his will in 1677
Geoffrey Skull is shown in IGI to have married 1588 which could make Agnes1 born c1590.
Estimating ages, if Thomas1 and Agnes1 were born in 1590, Thomas1 would have been 49 years old at time of the will and 63 at death, consistent with the realities of the time. 

 The hypothesised family in 1639 could have been:                                                                         Will Ref 
Thomas1 Vines c1590-1653 1616, '39
                 & Agnes Skull   | 1616
                                          Robert2 c1610 1639
                                                               Daniel1 c1636 1639
                                                 Thomas3 c1638 1639
                                          William1 c1612-77 1639, '77
                                                 William2 c1633 1639
                                          John1 c1614 1639
                                                 Agnes3 c1634 1639
                                                 Thomas4 c1636 1639
                                                 John2 c1638 1639
                                          Agnes2 c1616 1639
      & Elizabeth1 Beckett   | 1639
                                          Thomas2 c1620 1639
                                          Elizabeth2 c1622 1639
The following analysis of data from the wills, Henlys index of Brinkworth baptisms, and Carter's Nimrod indexes, is based on the above family tree of Thomas Vines and Agnes Skull. Unless otherwise noted dates are estimated from the order of names in wills and are expected to be within 5 years of the actual dates. It is to some extent speculative.

The will of Robert Vines of Grittenham 1674 holds much information. This Robert is almost certainly the eldest son in the 1639 will for Thomas of Tockenham.
He died in 1676.

  • He was a yeoman, the head of a farming family. In 1674 he still had brothers William and Thomas.  All his brothers are mentioned except John though family who had left home and were set up in life were often ignored in wills. A John Vines witnessed the will though this might have been son of his brother William.
  • His brother William was made one of the will overseers. 
  • Brother William also had three sons as did William of Purton, and one of these was named William. In 1653 William inherited his father Thomas's looms. William the broad weaver of Purton didn't die until 1677.
  • He bequeathed "unto Thomas Vines my sonn, my house and grounde lying and being in Tockenham." 

  • His son Daniel was made executor of the will, probably the elder of he and Thomas. 
Thomas Vines c1620 died intestate in 1671. His wife Ellinore died 1680 and her will mentions 3 children Thomas, John and Joane. Their births are estimated at 1645, '47 and '50. This family lived in the Dauntsey area ("Elinore Vines, widow of Thomas Vines the elder, yeoman of Dauntsey", her will). 
The will(1687) of John Vines  her son was short and rather unprofessional as if he was struck down suddenly and he signed on his death bed. He left everything to his sister Joane Vines so he was obviously unmarried. 
On 13th Nov 1673 a son Thomas was born to "Thomas jnr" (Henly) (apparently Thomas6 c1645.) This would be Thomas7, a grandson to Thomas and Ellinore of Dauntsey.

Henly's index shows the birth of "John Vines, son of John", on 24th March 1667. This is apparently John Vines of Grittenham who married Christian. Their wills were signed in 1713 and 1725. John's father must then have been John2 whose birth is estimated about 1638.
John's and Christian's wills both have their son Benjamin appointed as executor, so he was apparently the eldest son, the others named being Daniel, John and Charles. Henly's index doesn't show their baptism dates so this may have occurred in another parish.

Daniel Vines, born about 1636, to Robert Vines, died in 1689. His will named two children, John and Daniel and wife Jane. He made his brother Thomas of Marriage Park near Little Somerford the executor of his will. It appears that Daniel married late in life or that Jane was his second wife. See notes at end of the 1689 will, regarding Jane & her subsequent family.
Thomas, born c1638, prospered as a farmer at Marriage Park, leaving an inventory of 678 pounds. He had a dairy herd of 36 cows, many other cattle, horses and pigs and 168 sheep,. The inventory includes 52 hundreds of cheese, about 2.6 tonnes. He probably employed farm hands to assist him and his sons at times for milking, ploughing, planting crops and harvesting. 

1639, 1671, 1674, 1677, 1680, 1687, 1689, 1697, 1713, 1725, 1763, 1767

Will Reference
Thomas1 Vines c1590-1653 1616, '39
                 & Agnes Skull | 1616
                                           Robert2 c1610-'76of Grittenham
                                                        & Jone -'65 buried at Tockenham '65 (Nimrod)
1639, '74
                                                 Daniel1 c1636 of Dauntsey
                                                                                                 & Jane
                                                         John6 c1685
                                                          Daniel3 c1687
                                                 Thomas3 c1638 of Marriage Park
                                                                 & Margaret
                                                       Marie 1663* & Giles Minchin 
                                                       Robert3 c1665 & Margaret
                                                             Margaret 1687*
                                                       Thomas7 1666*
                                                        Daniel2 1668*& Elizabeth
                                                              Child1 c1690
                                                              Elizabeth 1694*
                                                              Christian 1696*
1639, '89, '97




                                                  William3 c1640 1674
                                             William1 c1612-77 of Purton
                                                                                                  & Aline 
1639, '74, '77
                                                  William2 c1633 
                                                                & Alice Bristowe (m.1656)#
                                                     Thomas5 c1640
                                                     John3  c1642 
                                                                & Mary Looker(m.1665 Purton)#
1639, '74


                                           John1 c1614 1639
                                                 Agnes3 c1634 1639
                                                 Thomas4 c1636 1639
                                                 John2 c1638
                                                      John5 1667*of Grittenham
                                                           & Christian 
                                                           Benjamin 1689* &
                                                                 Eliz. Holliday(m.1717 Lyd. Treg.)#
1713, '25
1763, '67
                                           Agnes2 c1616 1639, '74
      & Elizabeth1 Beckett   | 1639
                                           Thomas2 c1620-'71 & Ellinore
                                                  Thomas6 c1645
                                                        Thomas8 1673*
                                                     Joane c1647- 1721@
                                                     John4 c1650
1639,'71, '80


                                           Elizabeth2 c1622 1639
Robert1 c1592 1639
William1   c1612, son of Thomas1 1639
William2   c1633, son of William1 1639
William3   c1640, son of Robert2 1674
Daniel1   c1636, son of Robert2 1639
Daniel2   1668*, son of Thomas3 1697
Daniel3   c1687, son of Daniel1  1689
John1   c1614, son of Thomas1 & Agnes1 1639
John2   c1638, son of John1 1639
John3   c1642, son of William1 of  Purton 1639
John4   c1650, son of Thomas2 & Ellinore of Dauntsey 1674
John5   1667*, son of John2, m. Christian, yeoman of Grittenham 1713
John6   c1685, son of Daniel & Jane of Dauntsey 1689
Thomas1   c1590, of Tockenham, married Agnes Skull 1639
Thomas2   c1620, son of Thomas1 & Eliza. Beckett, m. Ellinore, Dauntsey 1639
Thomas3   c1638, son of Robert2, Thomas of Marriage Park 1639, '97
Thomas4   c1636, son of John1 1639
Thomas5   c1640, son of William1 broadweaver of Purton 1677
Thomas6   c1645, son of Thomas2 and Ellinore 1680
Thomas7   1666 (Henly), son of Thomas 3 & Margaret of Marriage Park 1697
Thomas8   1673 (Henly), son of Thomas6
* Henly's Brinkworth Bapt. Index
@ Thought to be Joane Vines Alexander of Great Somerford who died 1721: "Wiltshire Notes and Queries" by ?
# Nimrod Marriage Index
Note: Henly's Brinkworth Index of Baptisms shows Ann born 1670 to Jeffrey Vines. No other reference to Jeffrey has been found but he may have been a last child addition to the family of a son of Thomas1 after the 1639 will was written. Agnes1 Skull Vines had a brother named Jeffrey, while her father was Geoffrey.