Robert Swynborne of Little Horkesley, Essex

Swynbornes and their descendants through female lines lived at Little Horkesley, Essex from the 14th century until 1617. Sir Robert Swynborne who died in 1391 and was buried in the church and whose grandfather probably purchased the Manor, had four sons and at least one daughter but it is believed that all the sons died without surviving issue.

Little Horkesley Church, Essex SIR WILLIAM SWINBURNE, born about 1270 Horkesley, Essex (probably the son of Robert de Swinburne of Northumberland (see Ulfchill de Swyneburne) who purchased Little Horkesley, Essex in 1324(1); he married PHILLIPPA GERNON (daughter of RALPH GERNON), born about 1273 Bakewell, Derbyshire

They were parents of:

SIR ROBERT SWYNBORNE, born about 1310; in 1333, on the death of Emma de Horkesley, widow of Sir William de Horkesley who had died the previous year, the patronage of the Priory and of the parish church Little Horkesley went to the Swynborne family. Robert died 6 October 1391 and was buried in the ancient church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Little Horkesley; There is a fine brass in the church of Sir Robert and his son Sir Thomas side by side within a surround of triple canopies on piers supporting six shields set in a slab of grey Purbeck stone with an inscription above which in old French read 'Icy gist Mons. Robert Swynborne (Seig)nour de Horkesley petite Qe morust le jour de seinte ffeys lan du grace mill'ccc quatvintz (unzieme de qy alme... Amen. Icy) gist Mons. Thomas Swynborne, fils du dit Monsr. Robt. S' de Hammys, Mair de Bordeaux et capitaigne de ffronsac. Qe morust en la veile de Seint Laurence l'an du gce mill:ccccxii del alme de qy dieu eyt pitee et mercye. Amen. Amen'. (Here lieth Sir Robert Swynbourne, Lord of Little Horkesley, who died upon the day of St. Faith in the year of grace 1391. Upon whose soul (may God have mercy) Amen. Here also lieth Sir Thomas Swynbourne, son of the said Sir Robert, Lord of Hames, Mayor of Bordeaux and Captain of Fronsac, who died upon the eve of St. Lawrence in the year of grace 1412. Upon whose soul may God have pity and mercy. Amen. Amen). The church was completely destroyed by enemy action in 1940 and the brasses suffered severe damage but they have been carefully restored (see illustrations below of a nineteenth century rubbing of the brass and a photograph of the brasses today after restoration). Robert married JOAN BOTETOURT, (daughter of JOHN BOTETOURT and JOAN GERNON of Lees Manor, Essex), born *1346 or 1352, of Weobley Castle, Worcester (issue - see below)

Brass of Sir Robert and his son Sir Thomas Swynburne at Little Horkesey Church, Essex, from a nineteenth century rubbing

Robert and Joan (Botetourt) were parents of:

  • ALICE SWINBORNE, born about 1368 Little Horkesley*; died young?

  • WILLIAM DE SWYNBOURNE, born about 1370 Little Horkesley; he may have married 12 February 1407 PHILIPPA (PHOEBE?) SERGEAUX (daughter of RICHARD SERGEAUX of Colquite Manor, Saint Mabyn, Cornwall and PHILLIPPA FITZALAN) born 1381, died 1420 (issue - see below); William made a Will with codicils dated 22 May 1422(2) in which he gave detailed instructions for his body to be buried with that of his wife PHOEBE at Little Horkesley, he died in Paris, France in the same year and his body was brought back and buried in Little Horkesley church; two brasses (destroyed in 1940) from the church of a knight and lady authoritatively dated to about 1425 were thought to be them (having previously been attributed to their niece Catherine and her husband Sir William Fynderne who died 1462)

    The brass of Sir Robert and Sir Thomas contained 6 shields along the outer piers. The top shield on each side is the Swinburne arms of 'Gules, semee of crosses crosslet three boars heads argent'. 'Gules, three boars heads argent' is the coat of arms of the Swinburnes of East Swinburn, Northumberland, to which have been added the crosses crosslet argent for difference; the shield on the middle left side is attributed to the GERNON family 'Paly wavy of six argent and gules'; middle right is CALVERLEY (of Calverley, York) 'Sable an escutcheon between eight owls in orle argent; bottom left is the Swinburne shield of 'Per fesse gules and argent three cinquefoils counterchanged, later used by the Capheaton, Northumberland Swinburnes but attributed in the church literature to a Yorkshire branch of the family; finally the bottom right shield is 'A fess between two chevrons' but as the colours are not known it is uncertain to which family these belong, they may be 'Or a fess between two chevrons gules' belonging to the FITZWALTER's, 'Argent a fess between two chevrons gules' for the PECHE family or 'Or a fess between two chevrons sable' of the LISLE family

  • SIR THOMAS SWYNBOURNE, born about 1387; knighted for his service in France, having been Mayor of Bordeaux and Captain of Fronsac in Guienne; died 1412, brass with inscription in Little Horkesley Church as described above; the coat of arms above but with a white label, (the device added by an eldest son for difference), is attributed to Sir Thomas Swynburne of West Mersea(3)

    The restored brasses with cement filling the damaged and missing areas

  • ALICE SWINBORNE, born about 1381 Little Horkesley*; died young?

  • ALICE SWINBORNE, born about 1390 Little Horkesley*; she married c.1414 JOHN HELYON (or HELLION) of Bumpstead, Essex [the IGI lists him as born 1366 or 1399, son of Henry Helyon and Miss Nortoft] (issue - to some of whom the Manor of Little Horkesley passed -see below)

  • ANDREW SWYNBOURNE, died 1418, memorial in Little Horkesley Church with brother John (see below)

  • JOHN SWYNBOURNE, died 1430, in the church are the remains of a Purbeck stone slab inset with brasses which reads 'Hic iacent Johes Swynbourne et Andreas Swynbourne frater eius qui vero Johes obiit in vigilia Sancti Georgii anno domini millmo [ccccxxx et] dict Andreas obiit in vigilia Sancti Gregorii anno domini millmo ccccxviii quor aiabp ppi-[ciet deus Amen]'. (Here lieth John Swynbourne and Andrew Swynbourne his brother, which John died on the eve of St. George in the year of our Lord 1430, and the said Andrew died on the eve of St. Gregory in the year of our Lord 1418; upon whose souls may God have mercy. Amen); on John's death the estate passed to his niece CATHERINE, the wife of SIR WILLIAM FYNDERNE, it later passed in 1523 to ANNE TYRREL, a descendant of John's sister Alice. Anne was married to SIR ROGER WENTWORTH who died in 1534, a few years after the dissolution of the priory of Little Horkesley. In 1617 his great great nephew Sir John Wentworth sold the estate to Sir Humphrey Winch, a wealthy Colchester burgher.

    William and Phoebe/Philippa were parents of:

  • JOHN SWYNBOURNE, born about 1410 Essex; died before 1422

  • Sources: Hodgsons' History of Northumberland, Vol.4
    Little Horkesley, Essex Church and Manor

    (1) Hodgsons' History of Northumberland, Vol.4
    (2) Will - see PCC 54 Marche, in the Public Record Office
    (3) Burkes General Armory
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    Last updated 22 February 2004

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