Possible ancestors of Rev. John Beddome

The line of my Beddome ancestors is well documented back to Rev. John Beddome (1675-1757). But what came earlier?

London theory
Stratford theory
(1675-????) John Beddome of Stratford
(1655-1682) Benjamin Beddome of Stratford
(1620-1680) Benjamin Beddome of Stratford
(????-1647) John Beddome of Stratford
3 Sheep Street, Stratford
Story about Rev. John Beddome's ancestors
Compare theories

London theory

The Baptist Annual Register for 1794, 1795, 1796-1797, including Sketches of the State of Religion among Different Denominations of Good Men at Home and Abroad (vol 2)" by John Rippon, D.D. (see extracts) is the earliest account that we have of Rev. John Beddome, and later accounts seem based on it. The writer obviously knew his son, Rev. Benjamin Beddome. The account says that "the Rev. John Beddome, was born in London" and in "1757, he died at the advanced age of eighty-three". That would put the birth year 1674/5, and his birth-place in London.

Stratford theory

However, there is an alternative theory that John Beddome was born in Straford-on-Avon, of a Stratford family. All the following events took place in Stratford, and are on a family tree by Carol Nuttall. I am listing the generations backwards, starting from John Beddome (who is possibly Rev. John Beddome). My (putative) ancestors are in bold.

John Beddome (1675-????) may be Rev. John Beddome, who definitely is my ancestor.

John Beddome and his sister

Their parents were Benjamin Beddome and Mary Tibbits.

Previous generation: Benjamin Beddome (1655-1682) was a shoe-maker. His will was proved in 2 Oct 1683, and he left an estate of 23/18/4 to his wife, Mary.

Will of Benjamin Beddome of Stratford

Benjamin Beddome and his siblings
NameBaptisedBuriedAge at deathComments
John24/5/1646infant death
Benjamin30/11/1650infant death
Charles23/10/1655child deathAn oddly Royalist name! The Commonwealth was 1649-1660.
Benjamin17/9/165520/12/168227Married Mary Tibbits on 16/10/1674

Their parents were Benjamin Beddome and Susanna.

Previous generation: Benjamin Beddome (1620-1680) was a joiner at 3, Sheep Street, Stratford-on-Avon.

Benjamin Beddome and his siblings
? Dorotheamarried Humphrey Woods on 19/5/1636
Benjamin26/3/162022/7/1680married Susanna (?-8/3/1698)

Their parents were John Beddome and Emm.

Previous generation: John Beddome (????-1647) was a well known citizen of Stratford, a schoolmaster, an attorney, Town Clerk, church warden and Clerk of the Peace. He is well documented in the archives and library of the Public Records Office at Stratford.

Signature of John Beddome of Stratford

From "Shakespeare and the Bawdy Court of Stratford" by E.R.C. Brinkworth (1972): John Bedom, 'schoolmaster, to teach boys to write' was called for the Visitation of 24 May 1622; [sounds like an early Osted inpection!] the cleark notes his absence through illness. On 11 May 1624 he appeared, and moreover, the margin tell us, paid.

From "Ancient Manuscripts and Records in the possession of the Corporation of Stratford-on-Avon" by James Halliwell (1836): Thomas Lucas chosen Town-Clerke of Common Clerk - John Beddom chosen Deputy Town Clerke, 8 Oct 1624.

He married Emm who died 1646. He died in 1647.

Documents mentioning John Beddome - click for larger verson

Signature of John Beddome. Document describes him as attorney.

Document featuring John Beddome of Stratford
Written by John Beddome while Town Clerk. It is a draft for a document (now in the British Museum) which is a list of claim by the Corporation and the inhabitants of Stratford for loss and damage by the Parliamentary forces from the beginning of the Civil War to January 1646.
Document featuring John Beddome of Stratford

Previous generation?: The trail peters out in Stratford. However, there are Beddams in Wixford, a village, near Alcester, half way between Straford and Worcester. John Beddam was baptised there 1587, and there may be some sisters. It is not unreasonable that this John Beddome of Wixford was the same as John Beddome of Straford, above. He seems to have been a bright lad, and so migrated to Stratford for advancement.

It is tempting to work out if John Beddome could have met William Shakespeare. Shakespeare died in 1616, in Stratford. (Wixford) John Beddome would have been aged 29. But when did he move to Stratford? If you look at his children here, you will see that there are baptism records starting at 1620, and one infant death in 1618, who may have died before being baptised. So he was in Stratford in 1618, but no evidence beforehand. Perhaps he missed Shakespeare!

John Beddam's father was William Beddam, who died in 1603.

3 Sheep Street

This property was in the property of the Beddome family during the 17th C. Here are the (possibly) relevant documents about it.

DateContentMy comments
17 Nov 1626(Abuttal) on east of No.2, belonging to Richard WalfordThis seems to be describing land by giving its borders.
21 Feb 1643Deed of sale by William Combe of Old Stratford, esq., and Katheryne his wife to Thomas Jackson of Clifford Chambers, co. Glouc., turner, and John Beddom., Gent. for 400 of two yard-lands in Old Stratford, Bishington and Welcome, in the tenures respectively of Richard Ingram and Nathaniel Duppa, being parcel of a farm heretofore in the tenure of Mary Combe, widow, mother of the said William, and purchased by the later from George Whitmore and Thomas Whitmore, esquires, 9 December 9 James I [1611]; to hold to the only use of Thomas Jackson.
Witnesses: John Dighton, Edward Owen, Jo. Beddome, James Ell, Nicholas Riland, Richard Ingrm, James Ingram.
This may not concern 3 Sheep Street. They seem less worried about where this land is than who owned it! Also the land seems to be for the use of Thomas Jackson. Still, it fits that John Beddome, who was probably presperous by now, would have wanted to buy a family house. He died in 1647.
5 Aug 1657(Abuttal) messuage on east of 2 South Street Benj. Beddon3 Sheep Street is now firmly in possession of the Beddome family. This is Benjamin Beddome (1620-1680).
1662-1674Hearth Tax for 3 Sheep St, Stratford
1662 3 hearths 3 shillings
1667 2 hearths Beddam
1668 3 hearths Bedam
1670 2 hearths Beadam
1673 3 hearths Beadam
1674 3 hearths Beadom
This is still Benjamin Beddome (1620-1680). We can admire the way that bureaucracy struggles with the Beddome name!
10 July 1697 Rate for the relief of the poor in the borough of Stratford, at 3d monthy on 1 yearly value, made 10 July 1697...
Sheep Street Ward... Widom Beddom 1
This is Susanna, widow of Benjamin Beddome (1620-1680). She died in 1698
24 November 1788Covenant declaring the uses of a fine between Francis Room of Birmingham, japanner, and Hannah his wife ... of the first part; William Bache of Stratford-upon-Avon soapboiler, and Mary his wife ... of the second part; and William Eaves of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman, of the third part; namely that the said William Eaves shall hold the following property in trust for the said William Bache:
i) messuage in Clifford Chamber, ...
ii) messuage in Welford, ...
iii) messuage in Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, bounded on the east by a messuage formerly of Elizabeth Smith but now of Joseph Hill, on the west by a Corporation tenement foermerly in the tenure of Joseph Hornsby and now of --- Williams, on the north by Sheep Street, and on the south by a yard late of Thomas Taylor, but now of William Bolton; which messuage was purchased by Thomas Grey of Mary Smith, widow of Benjamin Beddome, and Rev. John Beddome, his son.
With the following recitals:
i) ...
ii) 3 November 1764: will of Thomas Grey, whereby he bequeathed his property in Welford and house in Stratford wherein he dewelt to his wife Hannah for life, with reversion to his granddaughters Hannah ward and Mary Bache.
This is an interesting but infuriating document! It is describing a piece of land in Sheep Street, and we assume that it is no.3, because of the connection with the Beddomes. It is the only reference that I can find (apart from modern assumptions) of John Beddome described explicitly as Rev. connected with Stratford, and, moreover, connected with a house that's been in the Beddome family for generations. However, there is no date for the sale of this house by Rev. John Beddome and his mother. Also, while the mother of the Stratford John Beddome (born in 1675) was indeed Mary, she would need to have remarried to become Mary Smith. That would explain, of course, the gloss of her being the widow of Benjamin Beddome. Her maiden name was Tibbits.

These photos of 3 Sheep Street were taken by my parents, before digital cameras! Click on a picture for larger version. The house has been refronted and had the roof raised in the 19C.

3 Sheep Street, Stratford
Black door on right leads down side passage to rear courtyard.
2 Sheep Street, Stratford
Side passage from rear courtyard
2 Sheep Street, Stratford
Interior of building
2 Sheep Street, Stratford
Beamed interior, ground floor
Original cellar below ?16C

Story about Rev. John Beddome's ancestors

"The Baptist Annual Register for 1794, 1795, 1796-1797, including Sketches of the State of Religion among Different Denominations of Good Men at Home and Abroad (vol 2) by John Rippon, D.D." (see extracts) gives the following story: This honoured man [Rev. John Beddome], sixty or seventy years ago, in the circle of his friends, used to speak of two ancestors, it is thought of the name of Barnet, in the civil wars. The father was a colonel in King Charles' army, the son on the opposite side. One day, the father, either on hoseback or on foot, met his son at the head of his company, and transported with anger, caned him; upon which some of the soldiers were going to fire, but the son commanded them to forebear, informing them it was his father, who had a right to treat him so, if he pleased.. The English Civil War was 1642-1645. Unfortunately, there are no Barnets among the names above!

Compare theories

London: The evidence for this comes originally from The Baptist Annual Register for 1794, 1795, 1796-1797 which says, simply, that Rev. John Beddome was born in London. This book was written around 1795, shortly after Rev. Benjamin Beddome died. The author seems to know Rev. Benjamin Beddome well, and I suppose may have got some of the family history from him or those who knew him. Rev. John Beddome was Benjamin's father, after all. But can we say for certain that Benjamin knew where his father was born? It seems well known that Rev. John Beddome was ordained in Horseley Down, Southwark (in London), and went to the Henley-in-Arden area in 1697 when he was about 23 years old. His wife was the daughter of a London silversmith. People may have just assumed that London was his birthplace.

More evidence for the Beddomes originating from London is that the capital seems to have had a great attraction for the family. Rev. Benjamin Beddome visited London a few years before he died to visit his children and friends, and he was someone who spent practically all his adult life in the Bourton-on-the-water area. Certainly Samuel Beddome, despite marrying the daughter of a cleric from Cirencester, actually became a London cloth-merchant, the business partner of his sister's husband. Rev. Benjamin Beddome's will mentions property in Clapham. Of course, Rev. John Beddome's wife was from Lodon, and she was an heiress. And London is always an attractor for many who want to make money, or indeed other reasons. Benjamin Beddome spent a few years there himself for a Baptist education before moving to Bourton-on-the-water for the rest of his life. Perhaps these family connections and educational experiences are enough to explain the large number of Beddomes in London!

Stratford: The Baptist Annual Register, while saying that "the Rev. John Beddome, was born in London", also says in "1757, he died at the advanced age of eighty-three". That would put the birth year 1674/5. If this information was given by Rev. Benjamin Beddome, he may not have known where his father was born, but he would know when he died, and how old he was. This date, therefore, seems reliable. No John Beddome can be found born in London around then, but this is, of course, merely negetive evidence. However, there is a John Beddome baptised in Stratford in 1675. This is a recognisible name (and not too common) and year.

There is one further linking of Rev. John Beddome to the Stratford John Beddome, indeed the only link using the title Rev. This is the final entry in 3 Sheep Street, Stratford, given above. It describes a sale of a house in Sheep Street by "Mary Smith, widow of Benjamin Beddome, and Rev. John Beddome, his son." 3 Sheep Street had been connected with the Beddome family for several generations. The names fit the family exactly (if we assume that Widow Beddome had remarried a Mr. Smith). Annoyingly, no date is given for the sale - the description is embedded in a much later contract of 1788, with another year of 1764, when Rev. John Beddome was long dead. But still, this seems to be a clincher - the Rev. John Beddome is mentioned by name and title as being a member of the Stratford Beddomes.

One point needs to be made. The Stratford Beddomes are very fond of the name Benjamin, and of course Rev. John Beddome's son is Rev. Benjamin Beddome. However, the father of Rev. John Beddome's wife (and so Rev. Benjamin Beddome's mother) is Benjamin Brandon, so I don't think we can make too much of that!

Does the Stratford idea work? Could a lad from Stratford make his way, alone, to London, get educated as a Baptist minister, and make a successful career, while making all kinds of contacts in London, including, possibly, his future wife? His mother presumably stayed in Stratford (since the family home there was sold after John Beddome became Rev. John Beddome). There are no known contacts that the young lad could have relied on - his father was a Stratford shoemaker! However, when you lay out the dates, it begins to make more sense.

YearAge of JohnEvent
16750John Beddome born in Stratford
16827His father, Benjamin Beddome dies in Stratford
168813"The Glorious Revolution"
?-1697?John Beddome in Horsely Down, Southwark
169722John Beddome moves to Alcester, near Henley-in-Arden
171136John Beddome's friend, Mr. Foskett, moves to Henley-in-Arden
171641John Beddome marries and buys house in Henley-in-Arden
171741His son, Benjamin Beddome, is born
171944Mr. Foskett moves to Bristol
172449John Beddome follows Mr. Foskett to Bristol
173964Benjamin Beddome goes to London
174065Benjamin Beddome goes to Bourton-on-the-water
175783John Beddome dies

The main point is that John Beddome's father died young, and left an estate of 23/18/4, which doesn't seem much. John Beddome seems to be the only son, and what's more, all his father's siblings died when young. His mother seems to have remarried at some point, to become Mrs. Smith, but the new step-father may have been reluctant to take on the education of the young boy (or perhaps this marriage happened later). Perhaps John Beddome went to London, quite simply, because there were no opportunities for him in Stratford. As for the connexions - if the young John Beddome was a non-conformist, he would presumably be part of the non-conformist community in London, and if he was a good student and a good speaker, then he would be highly valued.

I have added bits of Rev. Benjamin Beddome's career in the timeline above to high-light the similarities. If this theory is right, then both John and Benjamin went to London to be baptised and become ordained as ministers. Benjamin was only there for a short time - about a year. But he had been educated at the Baptist school in Bristol first, and we have no records of any education of John Beddome in Stratford.

Another date that I have included above is the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. This was the overthrow of James II and the start of the reign of William and Mary. One of the causes of this revolution was the 1687 "Declaration of Indulgence or Declaration for Liberty of Conscience" which granted broad religious freedom in England by suspending penal laws enforcing conformity to the Church of England and allowing persons to worship in their homes or chapels as they saw fit, and it ended the requirement of affirming religious oaths before gaining employment in government office. This benefitted Nonconformists as well as Catholics, so it would have seemed that the Glorious Revolution was a backwards step for them. However, people seemed to think that it was Catholics that were the problem, and the Revolution led to limited tolerance of Nonconformist Protestants, although it would be some time before they had full political rights. This happened when John Beddome was 13. Nine years later, he is a Baptist minister at Henley-in-Arden, having spent some time in London.

There is one interesting fact. When Rev. John Beddome started his ministry, it was at Alcester. This is near Wixford, which is where his great grandfather may have come from! Too much of a stretch perhaps, but Wixford is quite close to Stratford, so perhaps there were relatives around who kept in touch. Alcester church had a history of Nonconformism dating from 1640, with the minister John Willis being fined regularly (see Henley Meeting House).

I started out by being suspicious of this Stratford link, but reviewing the evidence, I think I've convinced myself that there is something in it!