The Church Records and the Hungerford, Brynd and Cusse families.
South Marston Church Records 1539-1840 list all baptisms, marriages and burials in the village for that period and indicate a population of about 100 in 1550. They are a fantastic resource for family research.
The 1524 Will of John Hungerford of Down Ampney (in the National Archive) refers to the manor of Marston, the first documentary mention of a “manor” in the village since the acquisition by the Priory in 1210, but it is not clear if a manor house existed or if the Hungerford family lived in the village at that time. The pattern of Hungerford ownership elsewhere suggests that their 15th Century sheep-farms were leased to tenant farmers in the 16th Century. Taxation Lists show those taxed in the village in 1545 as Thomas Cusse, John Cusse, Joan Brynde, William Brynde, Elizabeth Brynde, Jane Brynde jnr. and John Bryan[t]. Three Cusses were listed among the eight taxpayers in 1576 but there were no Bryndes. Either both taxes taxed only the rich, for there to be so few taxpayers in a village of 100 people, or there were only a few who were relatively comfortable and many poor barely scraping a living.
The Cusse family was prolific in baptisms and burials from 1540 to 1637 and may have farmed from Priors Farley. The National Archive holds deeds for a farm called Cusse’s Place from 1658 and Cusse’s Meadow is a field in Priors Farley. It might be the case that the Cusses farmed Priors Farley and the Bryndes Merston.
Joan Brind (or Brynd, Brynde etc characteristic of variable spelling) was buried in 1555 and her husband, Edmond Brynd, in 1543. Edmund’s Will of 1540 (National Archive) refers to his children, including William Brynd who succeeded to the family farm, and mentions Anthony Hungerford. William Brynd died in 1577 and is referred to in the burial record as “the farmer of Marston”. The Brynds are likely to have been part of the Brynd family who farmed Wanborough and quite possibly leased the farm in Merston from the Hungerfords or were part of the Hungerford family. The National Archive holds a 1575 deed in Latin made between Brynd and Organ regarding a licence to alienate “a mansion house called Wynnings” which is again referred to 65 years later in the Inquisitions Post Mortem of Richard Organ (1640) and John Organ (1641). It might be a licence by the Hungerfords to allow the Brynds to assign the remainder of a lease on Merston manor and Wynnings, an early 16th Century manor house built by the Hungerfords and leased to the Brynds?
The Church Records first refer to the Hungerford family with the baptisms of four children of Mr Henry Hungerford (snr.) from 1576 to 1581. Henry appears to have taken up residence in the village in the 1570’s, shortly before the death of William Brynd, and died in 1581 but was not buried in the village. Henry’s Will of 1580(National Archive) refers only to “my lower house”, possibly with the manor house called “Wynnings” leased to the Organs?
1550 to 1650 witnessed the Great Rebuilding of houses in England and is likely to have been an era of re-building and re-planning in South Marston, possibly with houses relocated away from the manor estate (to ensure its privacy and reassert its “domain”) and built along new routes of village roads, with the Highworth to Marlborough road running North to South through the village.
Henry Hungerford’s widow, Elizabeth, appears to have married Mr Gyles Danvers in 1581 and had a further five children between 1583 and 1590 before Gyles Danvers was buried in 1615. Mr Henry Hungerford junior (born 1576), had three children baptised from 1605 to 1620 and in the 1619 Inquisition of the estate of Hercules Burrges Henry jnr. was said to own Berton manor (Burton Grove or Bourton?). The National Archive has deeds for the “Manors of Barton (Beerston) and South Marston from 1615”.
Other family names of the fifteen hundreds in the Church Records include Munday, Tayler, Jenckins, Pinching, Edne, Grundie, Burgis, Lewis, Drue, Stephens, Fowler, Davis, Smarte, Slatter, Thatcher and many more; names which are familiar today.