Sidney Alfred Parsons and his Ancestors

The Complyn Families of Weeke and Headbourne Worthy

The earliest Complyn ancestors of Sidney Parsons who have been identified with certainty were William Complyn and his wife Agnes who lived in the village of Weeke (or Wyke) near Winchester, in central southern England, during the latter part of the 15th century. They were six-times great grandparents of John Complin of Morestead. And John Complyn of Morestead was a four-times great grandfather of Sidney Parsons who was a grandfather of the author of this web page.

The old village of Weeke lay just outside the old city of Winchester to its north west. Its location is shown on this map which dates from the year 1832. Since then the city has expanded and Weeke is now a suburb.

The earliest mention we have of the Complyn family in Weeke is from the old court rolls of St. Swithun’s cathedral priory, Winchester, who owned the land at Weeke. An entry for the court for the hundred of Buddlesgate, held on Tuesday the 29th October in the year 1415, says that “there came the tithing-man of Wyke with his sidemen, who made a presentment of John Hayward for assaulting with a certain bow and a certain arrow, against the peace, a certain WILLIAM COMPLEN; for which he was mulct of four pence”. (In other words, John Hayward was fined four pence for assaulting William Complen with a bow and arrow.)

Nearly eighty three years later the record becomes clearer and we hear of William Complyn of Weeke and his wife Agnes. He may well have been a grandson of the William Complen who was assulted.

There had been a chapel in Weeke since the time of the Norman conquest but during the latter part of the 15th century the nearby church of St Mary in the Valley was used less and less and was eventually abandoned. The chapel at Weeke was then converted into a rectory to replace it. The first rector was Sir Matthew Fox and it was probably he who dedicated the church to St Matthew.

The church is noted for its silver paten dating from the 13th century. (A paten is a small plate used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated.). This was until recently the oldest paten in England which had been in continual use. William Complyn was a senior parishioner who was closely associated with the church and he must have known it well.

The plate, which is shown to the left, is inscribed with an Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and a Latin inscription. It is known as the Wyke Paten and is now on display in the City Museum in Winchester.

William Complyn was a wealthy farmer who held his land by copyhold from St.Swithun’s priory in Winchester. He and his wife Agnes, who were both elderly, made a significant contribution to the new church and, in particular, provided it with bells.

William died on the 21st of May 1498 and his wife Agnes died five years later at the end of the year 1503.

After Agnes’ death the couple’s generosity was commemorated with a brass plaque in the church with an engraving of St. Christopher and an inscription below it. Rubbings of the the engraving and the inscription are shown on the right.

The inscription reads:
Here lieth Willm Complyn & Agnes his wife ye whiche Willm decessid ye xxi day of mayi ye yere of oure lord mcccclxxxxviij. Also this be ye dedis yt ye said Willm hath down to this Church of Wike yt is to say frest dedycacion of ye church xls & to make new bellis to ye sam church xii also gave to ye halloyeng of ye grettest bell vjs viijd & for ye testimonyall of the dedicacion of ye sam church vjs viijd on whos soules Ihü have mercy Amen.

Agnes left two children whom she mentioned in her will: her son Stephen and daughter Isabella. She also mentioned her granddaughter Johanna Kemp and her grandson Thomas Complyn.
Her will was in latin — click here to read the original — but a summary in English was provided by Francis Joseph Baigent in his book “The History and Antiquities of the Parish Church of Wyke, Near Winchester” which he published in 1865. It reads as follows:

By Agnes’ will, dated September 30th 1503, she directed her body to be buried in the parish church of Wyke, near the grave of her husband. She bequeathed to the high altar of the parish church of Wyke a fine linen cloth ; and to the light burning before the image of our crucified Saviour, twenty pence ; to the light of the Blessed Mary, three ewe sheep ; and to St. Christopher's light, six ewe sheep ; to the parish church of Little Somborne, four ewe sheep ; to each of the four orders of friars, four pence ; to the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Westgate, six pence ; to a priest celebrating divine service for her soul on certain days, for four weeks from the day of her burial, 3s. 4d. ; to Sir William Atkynson, rector of Wyke, for his services, 6s. 8d. ; to her daughter Isabella, a feather bed, her best girdle of silver, a mazer silver mounted and gilt, a diaper table-cloth, a large coffer, a gown of "muster-deviles," and a kirtle of a red colour ; to the three men ringing the bells on the day of her burial, six pence ; to each of her grandchildren, two lambs ; to the wife of John Vaune a russet kirtle with red sleeves ; to Edward Goater half a quarter of wheat, and to his wife a red gown ; to each of her household servants a ewe sheep ; to Thomas Daniell a brass pot : to Thomas Complyn, her grandson, a large chest ; to Johanna Kempe, her grandchild, a good linen cloth ; to Elizabeth Balynger a white tunic and a frock ; for a priest to celebrate for her soul's repose, for an entire year, £5:6:8. The residue of all her goods she bequeathed to Stephen Complyn, her son, and appointed him her sole executor.

Interestingly, Agnes gave four ewes to the parish church of Little Somborne which is about five miles west of Weeke in the valley of the river Test. Perhaps she had been born there.

At the time of their deaths William and Agnes had three surving children: their unmarried daughter Isabella, Stephen who remained in Weeke, and William who probably settled in Headbourne Worthy, a neighbouring parish to the north-east of Weeke.

Our line of descent through John Complin of Morestead to Sidney Parsons is from their youngest son William, who was born about the year 1468, and his son William who died in Headbourne Worthy in 1552. Note the spelling of John’s surname, from about this time the family began to sometimes spell Complin with an ‘i’ rather than a ‘y’.

William and Agnes’ son Stephen, who was Agnes’ executor, remained in Weeke where he lived with his wife Jone (née Harfield) until his death in 1543. His will was written in English:

In THE NAME OF GOD. AMEN. The xxv day of Apryll in the yere of our Lorde God m cccc c xliij and in the raygne of our soverayne Kyng Henry the viij. the xxxv. I Stephen Complen of the parysche of Wecke, being secke in my body and of good remembrance of mynde do make my laste wyll and testament in maner and forme folowyng. Fyrst I bequethe my soulle to Allmyghty God and our blessed lady the virgyn Marie and to all the holy company of heven, and my body to be buryed within the churche of Wecke before the Roodde. Item I bequethe to my mother church of Wynchester xijd. Item I bequeth to the hye alter of Saynt Mathy my parysche churche xijd. Item I bequeythe to my parysche churche x yowyne sheppe [ten ewe sheep], to the mayntenance of hyt. Item I bequeyth to my dowghter Alise Complen x yowne sheppe, x wethers, a pan of brasse of a bowssell, a brass pott of ij galons, a fether bedd, a quartere of whette, ij quarters of mawlt, ij platters, ij pottingers and two sawsers. Item I bequeyth to Thomas Complen my son j quarter of barley. I bequeyth to John Complen my son j quarter of barley. Item I bequeyth to my godchildryn every one of them a lambe. Item I wyll that my executoures see that I have dyryge every day from my buryall till my mownyths mynde. Item I bequethe to Jone my wyffe all the beddyng, coffers, with all the stuff that is within the coffres and that is within the chamber that I do lye in, also the chambere to hyre, to occupy for the terme of hyre lyffe. Item I bequeyth to Thomas Batt a lambe, also I make Jone my wyffe and Rychard my son my hoolle executors to dyspose my goodes after my dettes be payed and my wyll fulfylled. The resydew of my goodes I wyll myne executors have to dyspose for the helth of my sowlle as they thyncke most best. Item I wyll that Thomas Complen my son and Anderew Batt to be my overseers for to see that this my last wyll be fulfilled, and to have every one of them halffe a quarter of whette for their labowre. Wytness hereoff, Syr Roger Gambu my gostly father, Rychard Harfelde, Stephan Pagge, John Complyn, with other mo, beryng datte above writtyn. Thomas Compleyne, John Compleyn, and Andrew Barke (sic). Proviso that Jone my wyffe shall have halfe of all my goodes soever they be, and have lyberty to make a testament after her wyll and mynde and to geve hit as hyt shall plese her after my dettes be payd and my wyll fulfyllyd, and the othere halfe parte of my goodes that my son Rychard Complen shall have lyke wyse for to gyve as he thyncke best without any contradyctyon or stryffe. In case thatt [either] off them my executors shall dye one afore another, wytnes hereof within specyfyed.

Stephen’s widow Jone continued to live in Weeke until she died in 1555 leaving a will and appointing her son Richard as her executor.

The Complyns of Headbourne Worthy

Headbourne Worthy is a small scattered settlement situated in the flood plain of the River Itchen about a mile and a half up-river from Winchester. Parts of the parish have, at various times, been known as Worthy Mortimer or Hook Mortimer after the Mortimer family. Ralph Mortimer held the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey which was completed in 1086.

The map on the left shows the location of Headbourne Worthy relative to Winchester.

William Complyn, who died in Headbourne Worthy in 1552, was a grandson of William and Agnes Complyn who were the benefactors of the church at Weeke. His father, also called William, was William and Agnes’ youngest son.

The following tree shows William and his children and grandchildren:

A great-grandson of William’s called John Complyn leased a “Cottage, garden and appurtenances in Worthy Mortimer alias Headbourne Worthy with half an acre of land” from 1613 until 1655 and he had a son, also called John, who was a dyer and lived in Winchester. A tradition was established at this time that the eldest son of the Complyn family would be christened John.

John the dyer must have been born some time around 1620. He married Jane Phillips on the 5th of January 1654 in the old Church of St Maurice which stood in the High Street, Winchester. Between 1647 and 1669 he leased several premises in the city. There was a “tenement with curtilage and garden adjoining on the north side of the High Street”, also “on the south side of the lane between Wongar Street and Tanner Street” (now called Silver Hill), and “city land south of a tenement and garden adjoining in Jewry Street”. John died in 1670.

When John the dyer died in 1670 his son John would have been no more than fifteen years old. He also left a daughter called Elizabeth. Young John became a farmer (he probably learnt the business from an Uncle or other relative) and in 1680 he got married in the church at Headbourne Worthy. This was an unorthodox choice because neither he nor his bride Faith West were living in the village at the time but the payment of a licence fee presumably overcame that difficulty. John and Faith settled in Morestead, a village to the south east of Winchester, where they farmed and raised a family. They were the first of the Complins of Morestead who continued until well into the 19th century.

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You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.

Mike can be contacted at

The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.