William Newton (1598-1658)

46. The Rivers line

In which we move back in time again to take a very brief look at the Rivers line, parallelling our Newton line, and equally far back in the mists of time.

There are any number of potted histories of the Rivers family, of London and Kent. This post is lifted from an amalgam of them, including a google book entitled The Baronetage of England, Or the History of the English Baronets…Volume 1, by William Betham, in the chapter Rivers Gay of Chafford Kent, starting on p. 217.

The tree chart above begins at the top with Sir John Rivers, died 1584. All the sources say he was the son of Richard Rivers of Penshurst, steward of the lands of Penshurst Place, belonging to Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Sir John was of ‘Chafford’. an estate in Kent. The original house was replaced in the 19th century, no longer owned by any Rivers descendants. It offers posh weddings and accommodation, or camping or glamping in the grounds. Sir John Rivers was Lord Mayor of London during the 15th year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. He married Elizabeth Barne(s), daughter of another Lord Mayor, Sir George Barne(s), Knt, (died 1558) and his wife Alice Brooke.

We pause for a moment to look at the role of the Lord Mayor – a ceremonial position. The extract below is taken from the website of the London Metropolitan Archives. Remember that a ‘citizen’ is a member of one of the livery companies of London, as were several Backlers (apothecaries), and as we shall see, as will be many Pellatts. Of the folk mentioned in this post, we find grocers and haberdashers.

  • The first recorded Mayor of London was Henry Fitz-Ailwyn in 1189. Since then, some 700 men and one woman have over the centuries held the position of chief officer of the City of London. The most famous of them all is Dick Whittington, who held office three times, in 1397, 1406 and 1419. The Lord Mayor has throughout the centuries played a vital role in the life of the City of London and continues to do so today. In the City, the Lord Mayor ranks immediately after the sovereign and acts as the capital’s host in Guildhall and Mansion House, his official residence. On behalf of the City and the nation he carries out numerous engagements at home and abroad. The right of citizens to elect their own Mayor dates from the Charter granted by King John to the City in 1215. The election of Lord Mayor is held at the end of September each year in Guildhall. The assembly, known as Common Hall, consists of all liverymen of at least one year’s standing together with certain high officers of the City. All aldermen who have served the office of sheriff and who have not already been Lord Mayor are eligible.

Tumultuous times. Now let’s look at the career of Sir George Barne (sometimes referred to as Barnes). He was a Citizen and Haberdasher, which means in the City of London he was a member of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers. From the early 16th century, this Guild had two branches – those who traded in hats, and those who traded in small wares, such as ribbons, beads, hats, purses etc. First made Sherriff of London in 1545-46, the last full year of Henry VIII’s reign, Sir George Barne became Lord Mayor of London in the turbulent years of 1552-53. During this period, young Edward VI died and during several months of intrigue, ultimately treason, Barne oversaw the eventual accession of Queen Mary to the throne. This is all too much to narrate here, but a very full account of his life and times can be seen on Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Barne_(died_1558 ).

Another London Lord Mayor: Sir John Rivers, Lord Mayor of London, 1573/4 – I cannot do better than Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rivers

Sir John Rivers (died 27 February 1584) was a Tudor-era businessman who became Lord Mayor of London. He was born to Richard Rivers, steward of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham‘s lands. Alternate spelling includes John Ryvers. He was a grocer and member of the Worshipful Company of Grocers, Sheriff of London in 1566, and Lord Mayor of London in 1573. He was knighted in 1574 and served as President of St. Thomas’ Hospital between 1580 and 1584. He also served as an Alderman for the London wards of Farringdon between 1565 and 1568, Broad Street between 1568 and 1574, and Walbrook between 1574 and 1584. He married Elizabeth Barne, daughter of Sir George Barne (died 1558), and they had Sir George Rivers, who was a Member of Parliament. Rivers was lay rector at St. Mary’s ChurchHadlowKent.

Sir George Rivers (c1554- c1630) was another businessman, and a politician, being returned several times as Member of Parliament for East Grinstead and Lewes in Sussex, to which we will return when further exploring the Pellatt line. Sir George married Frances Bow(y)er (1579-1614), daughter of William Bow(y)er of Sussex. The History of Parliament website summarises Sir George’s career as follows (https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1558-1603/member/rivers-george-1553-1630 )

Rivers’s maternal grandfather and his father were lord mayors of London. Rivers himself, however (though he made an unsuccessful application to succeed William Lambarde at the alienations office in 1601) was a country gentleman and agricultural improver, with estates in Kent and Sussex. Chafford, near Penshurst, had been acquired by his family in Henry VIII’s reign, and Withyham was near an early seat of the Sackvilles. Rivers remained on close terms with this family, being an executor both of Robert, 2nd Earl of Dorset (his ‘faithful and dear friend’) and Richard the 3rd Earl. It was no doubt through the Sackvilles that Rivers came to be returned at East Grinstead to the last two Elizabethan Parliaments, and in 1606 he obtained for himself a share in the borough. Though both Parliaments are comparatively well documented, Rivers left no mark upon the records. He made his will by January 1630, ‘feeling age creeping on’ and died 20 Feb. that year.

Their son, Sir John Rivers (1579- c.1651), was made the first Baronet of Chafford in 1621.

Here it will be useful to pause and look at the two types of ‘Sir’ we find in the Rivers line. The first occurs when a person is knighted by the sovereign. Our previous ‘Sirs’ were all examples of this type, and their names may be suffixed with Knt or similar. The second type, as seen here with Sir John Rivers, Baronet (or Bart) is when a person is accorded a ‘hereditary dignity’, again by the sovereign, but which title can pass down through the (male) generations.. This new title, created by James I of England in May 1611, had an ulterior motive – raising funds for the sovereign! Initially candidates were required to pay a fee, and after acts of union with Scotland (1707) and Ireland (1801), all new baronetcies were just of the United Kingdom. The Rivers baronetcy became extinct on the death of the 11th baronet in 1870.

Sir John Rivers married Dorothy Potter (1570-1627), the daughter of Thomas Potter (died 1611), of Well-Street in Westerham, Kent, and his wife Mary Titchbourne. For copyright reasons I do not replicate it here, but a portrait said to be of Mary Tichborne (sic) features on the website of noted art historian Philip Mould, and can be seen at http://www.historicalportraits.com/Gallery.asp?Page=Item&ItemID=1912&Desc=Mary-Tichborne-%7C-Master-of-the-Countess-of-Warwick Meanwhile, a transcription of the memorial in Westerham Parish Church to Thomas Potter can be seen online as below at https://static.secure.website/wscfus/263661/uploads/Thomas_Potter_info.pdf

Astute readers will note that Thomas Potter’s second wife was Elizabeth [nee Barnes], widow of Sir John Rivers (died 1584), Mayor of London, as described above. This neatly illustrates what a small world it was at that time both socially and geographically, folk seeming to move with ease between Kent, Sussex and London. In addition, the period covered in this post includes the reign of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries. This resulted in lands seized being distributed to loyal servants of the crown, such as many of our ancestors mentioned here. Not members of the aristocracy, they nevertheless were well-to-do property owners, also prosperous merchants and civic worthies – as, we shall soon see, were the Pellatts.

Newton-Rivers: And now at last we can link up the Rivers and Newton lines – The daughter of Sir John Rivers and Dorothy Potter, Dorothy Rivers (died 1642) married William Newton (1598-1658), their son being Apsley Newton. (See post 45) This now prepares us to venture forth to the Pellatt line.