East Anglian Ancestors

Norfolk & Suffolk genealogy

Richard & Nicholas Fairweather


Our aim, for some time now, has been to find the next generation up from Richard and Nicholas Fairweather and failing that, to learn more about them.  Fortunately they both left wills with Richard’s confined to close family however Nicholas’ will is vast and runs to 14 sheets of A3 paper.  Copyright laws prevent inclusion of a transcription within these pages but we have extracted certain details.

What do we know about Nicholas and Richard from the information contained within their wills?

 Parish records tell us that Nicholas died in 1584 at the age of 64 so was born in 1520.  His brother Richard died in Aspall in 1566 at the age of 49 so was born in 1517.  Richard must have married before 1538 when his eldest son John was christened so he married relatively young.  He was married to Helen at the time of his death in 1566 and refers to her throughout his will.  One of his bequests to her was lands and tenements in Wetheringsett in recompense of her Dower.  (Definition: The portion of an estate that a widow is entitled to for her lifetime upon the death of her husband. The portion was traditionally 1/3 of the estate, though this varied by area and time period)(1). Could it be that Helen was Richard’s second wife and had also been married before?  Who was she married to and what was her maiden name?  Richard’s will reveals that he was a husbandman.

Nicholas was married to Alice before 1549 when his son Nicholas was christened.  He had at least three sons and the youngest, George, was still living when Richard died in 1566 as he was left “an angell” in the will.  We have always believed that none of Nicholas’ children were alive in 1584 as he does not mention them in his will but this is only an assumption as the sole burial record found in the Kenton parish records is that of his second son Roger. It is a reasonable assumption though, as it would be unusual to leave a living son out of a will altogether even if he had already received his inheritance. We know from his will that Nicholas was a yeoman farmer and he left many of his animals and farming equipment to his friends and kin. We know he remarried in 1562. The administration of Alice his first wife is dated 1560 and names Nicholas as the beneficiary.

Nicholas revealed in his will that his master was Mr Nicholas Garneys who inherited Kenton Hall in Suffolk.  As Nicholas had means of his own, in what capacity would he have worked for Nicholas Garneys who was High Sheriff of Suffolk?  (Definition: the chief executive officer of the Crown in a county, administering justice, etc.) (2). Perhaps he worked for Garneys as a peace keeper given that one of the bequests that Nicholas Fairweather made to his cousin was that of his bow and a feather of arrows, a scull, a sword, a dagger, a halberd and a gun These may have been army weaponry or perhaps the sort of armaments that would be owned by someone acting as a peacekeeper.   Nicholas and Garneys were clearly friends as well as master and employee because not only was Nicholas Fairweather godfather to Nicholas Garneys son Nicholas, but Nicholas Fairweather also made Garneys supervisor of his will and left bequests to both Nicholas Garneys and his wife. 

The other thing that would be helpful to know is where Nicholas Fairweather was in the 1568 Subsidy Roll (Definition: By Act of Parliament of December 1566 a subsidy of 8d in the £ on moveable goods and 4s in the £ on the annual value of land was raised from the lay (as opposed to clergy) population) (3). As a land owner, I would expect Nicholas to appear on this list but I cannot find him.  Does this mean that he was living outside of Suffolk at the time?  Could he be abroad fighting?  Richard Fairweather was dead by this time but his widow and son John were both named on the subsidy roll so why not Nicholas?

Connection to the Dobbs family

We established that there was a connection to the Dobbs family so decided to examine the will of Nicholas Fairweather more closely to ascertain what other kinsmen were known to us.  The wills of Emma Buxton and Robert Dobbs showed that there were 5 Dobbs children.  Emma further mentioned her son in law Walter Brooke who was the husband of her daughter Anne Dobbs. **  The will of Walter Brooke was available so we translated it and found that it referred to ‘brother Buxton’s son’ which meant that Alice Buxton probably had a brother.  No name was given for this brother and we have been unable to uncover any likely wills relating to him.  Similarly we have not discovered wills for John Palmer son in law of Robert and Emma Dobbs, or their sons Nathanial and Robert Dobbs which may have given more information on the relationship of the Buxton’s and Dobbs to the Fairweathers.

 What can we learn from the kinsmen mentioned in Nicholas’s will?

We took all the details of all people that were named as relatives from Nicholas’ will as follows:

John Fayerweather – cousin                                       )

John Fayerweather of Winston, kinsman                              ) probably the same person

John Durrant of Debenham – kinsman

Margaret Durrant wife of John

Elizabeth Johnson – kinswoman

Thomas Amys – kinsman

Edmund Pope – kinsman

William Drane of Kenton – cousin

William Maryatt of Bradfield – cousin

We have not found any further information on Elizabeth Johnson, Thomas Amys or Edmund Pope.  Nor have we found the will of William Maryatt although tantalisingly he is a witness on another Maryatt will that does not relate to any Fairweathers or known kin.  Nicholas Fairweather specifically calls him a cousin – he may just be loosely referring to the relationship with William Maryatt as the husband of his niece Margaret, or it may be that there is a relationship between Nicholas & Richard Fairweather, and William Maryatt.  Perhaps the most interesting relationship is between Nicholas and William Drane of Kenton who is also named as a cousin.  If this is an interpretation of cousin as we mean it today, it implies that William Drane is either the child of Nicholas mother’s siblings or Nicholas’s father’s sister.   If the former, then William Dranes mother Elizabeth could be a Fairweather.  Unfortunately William’s father George died leaving only an administration mentioning his second wife Ann.  Similarly William Drane also left an administration in which his wife Katherine Lanham (who later married James Grimble), was named so there are no clues to be gleaned from those sources.  Williams’ wife Katherine left a will but it contained no further clues in regard to the Fairweathers.  It is interesting to note that Nicholas left all his weaponry to William Drane which may support there being a close relationship between them. Information can be found family tree relating to the Drane, Durrant and Maryatt families in so far as we have been able to find it.

Other Potential familial names


Other names contained within the will that we thought were probably relatives were:

Faith Punchard

Thomas Punchard of Bedingfield

Thomas Punchard the younger

Thomas Genor

William Genor

Edward Genor

We discovered that Faith Punchard was formerly Faith Genor.  Nicholas’ second wife was Joan Ginnere – so we tried to establish whether Genor was a corruption of Ginnere.  Faith Genor was christened in Eye in 1544 the daughter of Thomas Genor.  He died in 1561 and left a will which we obtained and transcribed.  This confirmed that Faith was indeed his daughter and also that the three Genor sons named in the will were her brothers.  Furthermore it confirmed that his wife was Johan (often written Joan).  Thomas Genor (spelled Jenor in the will) died in 1561 and his wife Joan Genor (Ginnere) married Nicholas Fairweather in June 1562.  Therefore Thomas, William and Edward Genor and Faith Punchard were the step children of Nicholas Fairweather.

Nicholas Fairweathers’ Godchildren

The God children of Nicholas who were left bequests are as follows:

James and Jewell Bardwell children of Thomas Bardwell

Nicholas Garneys the younger son of Nicholas Garneys

Walter Brampton son of Thomas Brampton

Nicholas Daldy son of William Daldy

Margaret Botte

Christopher Mayhew

As described earlier, Nicholas Garneys junior was the son of Nicholas Garneys who was master to Nicholas Fairweather.

Walter Brampton son of Thomas Brampton was also related to the Garneys, being the son of Thomas Brampton and Alice Garneys the sister of Nicholas.

We have yet to find out who James and Jewell Bardwell are but there are wills in the Bardwell name that may reveal more.  Similarly, the will of Christopher Mayhew is available but whether it will give any further clues to the Fairweather clan is yet to be seen.

We have not pursued the relationship between Nicholas Fairweather and Magaret Botte as we think that she is most likely the daughter of his servant Cicely Botte.

The way forward

We have spent a considerable amount of time transcribing wills for the Fairweathers of Hopton/Corton and the surrounding area as there is a strong chance of a connection between our Fairweathers and these.  We have included a pdf of the likely genealogy on this website for discussion.  We feel it is useful to put forward this as a theory as it is only by so doing that it can be proved correct or otherwise.

In the meantime we will continue to examine any local wills which we feel may potentially provide clues to the ancestry of Nicholas and Richard.  We would also ask for help from any researchers specialising in Kenton, Bedingfield, Debenham, Aspall and Wetheringsett in the 1500’s – 1600’s or anybody researching the Drane, Maryatt, Dalby, Genor, Durrant, Amys, Buxton, Dobbs & Pope names in those general areas to contact us.  Any information at all from that time period would be greatly appreciated and of much use to us.

 Jacqui Beard
Jan 2008
** Since this was written several wills have come to light which show that it is more likely that Walter Brooks is a step son  of Emma Dobbes.  He was married to Anne Pleasance not Anne Dobbs – and we will publish information to the site shortly showing the complicated details surrounding his genealogy.


  1. 1.        http://genealogy.about.com/library/glossary/bldef-dower.htm
  2. 2.       http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~dav4is/Sources/Occ.S.htm
  3. 3.       http://www.our-ancestors.com/cgi-bin/search/search


  1. Hi Jacqui,

    I’m trying to research an ancestor mine, who I believe may be connected to your research here.
    Until recently, we believed the name was “Joseph Fairweather”, but some new information suggests that he was born as John in Swainby, North Yorkshire in 1886.
    The 1901 and ’11 census shows that the family were blacksmiths in Darlington (at least 2 generations), though it’s possible that John wasn’t in the trade (though his brother was).
    Have you come across any information on these particular Fairweathers, or would you be interested in chatting about them more and comparing records?

    All the best,


    • Jesse – sorry for the delay in responding to your email. Busy Christmas. I don’t know anything about Joseph off the top of my head, but it sounds interesting & I’d like to look into it further. If you can give me a bit of time, I’ll look into my databases over the next few weeks & get back to you.