East Anglian Ancestors

Norfolk & Suffolk genealogy

The Bird’s of Claydon & Kettlebaston


Having communicated with other interested Bird researchers, we felt it worth revisiting some of the Claydon & Kettlebaston records and, in some cases, challenging established assumptions.

A number of Bird researchers’  had already published their work when my father John Bird started his research over ten years ago. These researchers had provided a detailed Bird genealogy of Samuel Bird married to Elizabeth Boore in Hitcham but had not developed the tree beyond this point. John managed to find the connection from the Bird’s of Hitcham to the Bird’s of Claydon via Kettlebaston and much of his own research is referred to on the internet in relation to the Edmund Bird family tree . After a ten year gap, we decided to re-visit his original research to see if there was anything that we have missed that might add more to the genealogy of this family.

We started with the parish records in Claydon and noted again that there were some Bird records in the 1600’s that had not featured in the family tree. Although Bird is a common name, Claydon is not a large village and it seemed strange that there were Birds in the village around that time frame that were not related to our Edmund. Furthermore, there was a niggling doubt over one of the Kettlebaston records showing Ann Gosnall daughter of Robert marrying Edmund Bird (born 1656) at the extremely young age of 14.

John re-examined the Kettlebaston records in the Ipswich Records Office and found an entry that changed our minds about the probable wife of Edmund Bird (born 1656) who we had always assumed to be Ann Gosnall daughter of Robert. A record showed the burial of John Gosnall son of Ann Bird.  This record was unusually transcribed and initially seemed to refer to the death of Ann Bird herself. On second sight it became clear that the burial was that of her son. We wondered why her son was called Gosnall when she was called Bird.  A possible rational explanation  was that she had remarried since the birth of her son. John Gosnall could not possibly have been the son of Ann Gosnall daughter of Robert Bird who we had assigned as the wife of Edmund Bird because John Gosnall was born in 1672.  Had this been true, Ann would have only been 10 when the birth occurred! Once we had established who Edmund was not married to it quickly became clear who his wife must have been. Robert Gosnall father of Ann Gosnall had a younger brother John who had been married twice. He married Elizabeth and had two daughters bu tin 1670 he took another wife Ann Aye, with whom he had two sons. Robert Gosnall was born in 1670 and John in 1672. We have not found burial records for John Gosnall senior but it looks likely that he died before 1676 when Edmund Bird married Ann Gosnall. Given the evidence of the death of John Gosnall son of Ann Bird & John Gosnall senior, we are now as certain as we can be that Edmund was married to John Gosnalls’ widow Ann Aye and that Ann Gosnall daughter of Robert Gosnall married William Baker in 1691 in Kettlebaston .

Mindful of the anomalies that we had found  in Claydon we checked our existing records to those that we already had to see if we had failed to take any further Birds into account. Our records showed a marriage between Edmund Bird and Rose Parker in 1685 in Claydon followed by births of three children Robert, Rose and Elizabeth born in 1690, 1692 and 1694 respectively. There were also burials for Edmund Bird and Elizabeth Bird who both died in Claydon in 1718 from smallpox. The only Edmund in our tree who was the correct age to be this Edmund was Edmund Bird (born 1656) married to Ann Gosnall formerly Ann Aye. However, we had already discovered a death for Edmund Bird in Kettlebaston in 1719 and he couldn’t have died twice!  The existence of another Edmund Bird in Claydon in such a close time frame to our existing Birds was too much of a coincidence to ignore so we have formulated a theory as follows:

We believe that Edmund Bird married to Ann Gosnall nee Aye did not die in Kettlebaston in 1719. We know that Edmund lost his daughter Ann in Kettlebaston in 1682 but we think that he may also have lost his wife Ann soon after. We unexpectedly found a will for Edmund’s mother Margaret showing that she died in Claydon in 1686 so we know that he still had close family in Claydon at that point in his life.  We surmise that he returned to Claydon after the death of Ann where he married Rose Parker in 1685. We think that he was the Edmund who died of smallpox at Claydon in 1718. However, if that is the case which Edmund  died in Kettlebaston in 1719? We believe this to be Edmund Bird (born 1708) son of Edmund (born 1677) and Sarah Seagrove. Records have shown no trace of him since his christening in 1708 in Hitcham. We believe that he died in Kettlebaston in 1719 either visiting family there (perhaps the Gosnalls) or at 15 years old he may have been apprenticed there. The main flaw with this theory is that we have not found the burial of Ann Aye which would give more credence to the theory that the second family belongs to Edmund Bird of Kettlebaston. Nevertheless it seems a likely way to explain the existence of this second family in Claydon. As ever, we would be glad to see any evidence that would prove or disprove this theory in order to create a clearer picture.

As mentioned, we did find a will for Margaret Bird nee Brown more by luck than judgement. We decided to look at a selection of Claydon wills for people living there around the time that Edmund Bird senior existed.  We looked in detail at wills belonging to the Howells who were relatives of Edmund’s wife Priscilla. We found several Howell wills which confirmed the existing Howell family tree and added some more relatives. These included wills for Priscilla’s father Richard and her brother John. The Howells owned quite a lot of land in Claydon, Barham & Great Blakenham. Having exhausted the Howell wills, we looked for other Claydon wills existing in the late 1600’s and came across one by Margaret Brett of Claydon dated 1686. Brett turned out to be a variant of Bird and the will of Margaret left silver spoons to her son Edmond and legacies to her daughters Ann and Margaret. She had written the will in 1682. This will does not mention her last son Richard so we must assume that he died before she did although, once again, there are missing burial records.

We hope to spend some more time in the record office to see if there is anything further to progress the genealogy of Edmund Bird of Claydon. We are grateful for any suggestions, assistance, comments or feedback on our research – particularly if it helps to prove or disprove any of our theories.

Jacqui Beard & John Bird Cheltenham, June 2009


  1. Hi Jacqui and John,

    I have been tracing my bird heritage back and came across the above. I found this to be very interesting and thank-you for the research you have been doing.
    I was wondering if you know much about this line of Bird’s prior to Edmund Bird (Berde) born around 1579/1580 in Claydon, Suffolk? Edmund was my 11th great grandfather and I would be grateful to hear of information you may have prior to this Edmund.

    Thanks Very much and I can be contacted via email if you can help me out at all.

    Appreciate your time

    • Hi Danielle

      Many thanks for your kind email. We have looked for Edmund Bird/Berde for many years but have been unable to find him. We have found a Robert Bird born appx 1585 in Claydon which may well be his brother but cannot prove this. Edmund left a will but it did not reveal anything that helped us go further back. There are also several wills from the Howell family (Edmund’s second wife Priscilla Howell) revealing they were a land owning family but again, do not help with Edmund. Unfortunately Suffolk was teeming with Birds from the late 1500’s so there is no obvious starting point. At some stage I hope to go to Ipswich records office & look through manorial records in case there is anything there. Perhaps we’ll track him down one day!

  2. Dear Jacqui,
    thank you so much for your wonderful website information on the Corbens. I am working on my cousin Mark Hamby’s family, descendants of Thomas Keer Hamby. Mark’s father is Corbyn Hamby son of Alexander who came to USA around 1900. I think he will be very interested to learn of the Corben family history.

    Jim Dempsey
    Cincinnati Ohio.
    If you are still in Cheltenham, then you would know of Leckhampton Court. I have spent 50 years researching the Norwood family.

    • Hi Jim
      Many thanks for your email and the information it contains. I did not know the Hamby’s went to USA which probably explains why I have never found any descendants. They are very remote ancestors though, Thomas Hamby being a husband of a 10th cousin 4 times removed! But all genealogy news is interesting so again, many thanks.

      Yes, I am still in Cheltenham and only a few miles from Leckhampton Court. After 50 years you must know everything worth knowing about the Norwood family. Must be very interesting.

      Kind regards