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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Pye in PyePlate Part V

To retrace a bit, Walter Pye, b. c. 1170, married a woman named Elizabeth de la Bere. This is the Norman way of presenting this name, but not all records use this. In quite a few instances she was known as Elizabeth Barry.  She and Walter had at least three sons, Thomas, John and Walter. To date, no information for John and Walter has come to light. Thomas, as mentioned in an earlier blog, married Joan (Jane) Bromwich, daughter of Richard Bromwich. They are most likely related to the Bromwiches of The Midlands, but no direct connection has been made yet.

Their son, John, married Elizabeth Scudamore and three of their sons were John, Walter and Jenkin.  The previous blog followed Jenkin; this one will follow John Pye. His wife was Agnes (Anne) Andrews, daughter of Richard Andrew ap Ithell of Brown’s Place.
 

So far, only one male child has been found for John and Agnes Pye. His name is also John and he became known as John Pye O’The Mynde.  In the passage of time, Brown’s Place became The Mynde, located in Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire. The Mynde is considered the ancestral home of the Pye family.

This region of Herefordshire is also called Ergyng and Archenfield. Located within this area is a place called Wormelow Tump, near Much Dewchurch, and it’s believed to be the ancient location of ‘Licat Amr.’ The 9th century historian, Nennius, wrote that ‘Licat Amr’ is the place where King Arthur executed his traitorous son, Mordred and buried him there.  There are many strong legends connecting King Arthur to Much Dewchurch. Although some are folklore, there is strong evidence that a definite historical person, perhaps a Celtic leader or Chieftain fought against the Saxons in the 6th century. Arthur’s mother, Igraine (Ygema) is said to be the daughter of Amlawdd Wledig, a member of the Royal House of Dumnonia. Ergyng was an ancient British Kingdom known as Ariconium by the Romans, later called Archenfield and today is known as South Herefordshire.

Now to get back to John Pye O’ the Mynde and his very interesting history. All accounts that have any records of him agree that he was married three times. His three wives were Anne de la Bere (Anne Barry), Elizabeth Whitney and Anne Brydges. Having three wives was not all that unusual for the 15th century. So many women died in childbirth, leaving young children to be cared for and perhaps a newborn as well. So multiple marriages were fairly common. What was unusual for this John Pye was the fact that he was b. in 1444 and died in 1550. He lived 106 years in a time when people were doing well if they made it to the age of 50.  The other amazing fact concerning this man was that he had 42 children by his three wives and is said to have fathered an additional 22 children by various other women.

He is said to be buried at Much Dewchurch and the following inscription is said to be his epitaph:

‘1550. “Here lyeth the Body of John Pye of Minde, a travayler in far countryes, his life ended; he left behind him Walter, his son, heire of Minde; a hundred and six yeares he was truly, and had sons and daughters two and forty! John Pye of the mynde, sone of Jon. pye, seconde sone of Jon. pye of Sadlebowe, esq., married 3 wiefes; his first wief was Anne, da. to Sr. Richard Delabyre, knight; his second wief was Anne Brigees; and his third wief was alrothes, da. to Sr. Robert Whitney, lord of Whitney. Hee had bye theme 42 children; And hee had by Concubines 22 Children.’ (Spelling is from the original epitaph.)
 

It is said that during the reign of Queen Victoria, this epitaph was removed from public view. It was considered offensive to the Victorian sensibilities.

It’s difficult to believe that any one person could father that many children. What is even more difficult to deal with is that very few of them have been named. It would seem there has to be some kind of record, somewhere, that listed the children of this man. Granted, there could have been records which have been lost to time, mildew, water damage, fire, what have you. But this enormous family seems to have vanished. John and Anne de la Bere were said to have had three sons, Walter, John and Edmund. No children can be found for Anne Brydges and only one daughter, Elizabeth, has been discovered for Elizabeth Whitney.

In the course of several years, trying to learn more about this family, I have come across so many people researching the Pyes. They come from all over England and all seem to have one thing in common. They all have a brick wall.  All these 40+ children had to go somewhere and I would hazard a guess that they might trace back to John and one of his three wives. The custom of the day was for the eldest son to inherit the estate. Even if there were numerous property holdings, there most likely would not be enough to go around. This family must have dispersed in all directions of the compass.

As luck would have it, my Pye family line descends from two sons of John and Anne (de la Bere) Pye, one who ventured off to Cornwall and the other, who remained at the Mynde.