Sidney Alfred Parsons and his Ancestors

The Machen family of Gloucestershire

In Gloucester cathedral, at the east end of the north aisle, there is a magnificent memorial to Alderman Thomas Machen and his wife Christian. They are shown kneeling and facing each other with him dressed in his mayoral robes. Underneath, and extending around the sides, are representations of their thirteen children. The monument, by Samuel Baldwin of Stroud, was paid for by a £100 legacy which Christian left for that purpose.

The inscription on the prayer-table between the two figures reads:

 
HERE LIE BVRIED THE BODIES OF THOMAS
MACHEN ESQR LATE ALDERMAN OF THIS
CITY OF GLOUCESTER AND THRICE MAIOR
OF THE SAME, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 18
DAY OF OCTOBER 1614 IN THE 74TH
YEARE OF HIS AGE.
AND
OF CHRISTIAN HIS WIFE WITH WHOME
HEE LIVED IN THE ESTATE OF MARRIAGE 50
YEARES, AND HAD ISSVE 7 SONNES AND 6
DAVGHTERS. SHEE DEPARTED THIS LIFE IVNE
29. 1615 IN THE 70TH YEARE OF HER AGE.
 

The Machen family’s link to the Parsons family, which is the main subject of these web pages, is through Thomas’s great-granddaughter Ann Machin. Ann married the Reverend George Estcourt and their daughter Grace, who married Isaac Gale of Malmesbury in 1679, was a great-great-grandmother of Elizabeth Gale who married George Parsons, a Victorian entrepeneur who founded the Parrett Works near Martock in Somerset.

Anne Machen’s relationship to her great-grandfather Thomas Machen is shown in the following chart:

Thomas Machin of Gloucester

Thomas Machen was born in or near the city of Gloucester in about 1540, towards the end of the reign of King Henry VIII. Gloucester, situated on the river Severn and near the foot of the Cotswold Hills, was an important trading centre and Thomas’s father, Henry Machen, was a wealthy and influential businessman. He was an alderman who served, at times, as sheriff and mayor of the city. Thomas seems to have been his eldest son but he had a brother called Henry.

Thomas also became a trader in Gloucester. He was a mercer (i.e. he dealt in textiles) but he also dealt in wheat and malt. And, like his father, he became involved in local politics. He was sheriff in 1572-3, mayor on three occasions — in 1579-80, 1588-9 and in 1601-2. He was member of parliament for Gloucester from March to June 1614. And he was governor of the Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene in the south of the city. Both Thomas and his father Henry were keen supporters of music and drama and used their influence to promote public performances in the city.

In about 1565 Thomas married Christian Baston who was a daughter of a wealthy sheep farmer called Walter Baston of Nether Swell in Gloucestershire.

Thomas owned a farm, houses and land a few miles south-east of Gloucester in the Crickley, Witcombe and Badgeworth areas and in 1599 he purchased the manor of Condicote, near his wife’s home. Thomas and Christian had 13 children. Those whose names are known are shown on the chart above. In 1612, when he made grants of land to his sons Richard and Edward, it was noted that he owned a “Capital mansion house with appurtenances in Great Wittcombe” and also “2 messuages and lands in Little Wittcombe”, “2 messuages and appurts. in Glouc. city, in the parish of Holy Trinity” and “one messuage in Longsmith St.”.

Thomas was ill when he made his will on the 9th of September 1614. He settled his farm at Crickley on his wife, with remainder of his property to his eldest surviving son and his grandson, but he was able to provide other lands and £2,500 for his two surviving younger sons. He also established a charity which gave 24 shillings a year to twelve poor persons of the parish of St. Katherine in Gloucester and he left £100 to the corporation to be put out at interest every five years to “four poor honest tradesmen that are mercers”. His will mentions his deceased son Henry and a nephew who was also called Henry. Thomas died on the 18th of October 1614. Christian, his wife, died the following June.

Henry Machin the elder

Thomas’s eldest son Henry Machen, who lived at Crickley, died two years before his father. He had married his wife, Ann Walker, at Saint Margaret’s church Westminster, near London, on the 17th of November 1590. (Henry's brother Thomas, who had been educated at Oxford, was a lawyer in London who had entered Lincoln’s Inn the previous year.) Henry and Ann’s whereabouts during the early years of their marriage are not known but by 1603 they were living in or near Great Witcombe, close to his father’s estate at Crickley. They had at least eleven children. When Henry wrote his will in October 1610 he said he was “in health and perfect memorye praise be god” but he died less than two years later. His will mentions “Thomas Machin esquire my welbeloved father” and John Baston of Tewkesbury who was a relative of his mother’s (in 1615 John Baston, gent, was town clerk of Tewkesbury).

Henry Machin the younger

Henry’s eldest son, who was also called Henry, was born in about 1591 and would have been about 20 years old when his father died. He married a woman called Anne and they lived together in Great Witcombe. Ann, who married George Estcourt, was their first child, and she was baptised in Great Witcombe in December 1616. They had two more children, twin girls called Hester and Christian, who were baptised in Badgeworth in 1621, but sadly Henry’s wife Anne died, either in childbirth or soon afterwards.

In 1635 Henry sold the manor of Condicote which his grandfather Thomas had bought in 1599.

On the 26th of April 1638 Henry’s daughter Ann was married, in Badgeworth, to the Reverend George Estcourt. George came from the wealthy Estcourt family of Sherston Pinkney in Gloucestershire; he was a younger brother of Sir Thomas Estcourt and a second cousin of Sir Gyles Estcourt (1601-1668), first Baronet Newnton. George was appointed vicar of Badgeworth with Shurdington and he and Ann lived in Badgeworth until about 1650.

About a year after his daughter’s wedding Henry died. He was buried in Badgeworth on the 7th of May 1639.




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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 parsonspublic@gmail.com

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.