Update on Benjamin Fenn (1614-1672+), Buckinghamshire, England to Milford, Connecticut

Blogs are an excellent method of cousin bait! It’s been over seven years since I first wrote about Benjamin Fenn, in a two-part series, but readers have contacted me with further discoveries.

Back in 2016, I had many unanswered questions about Benjamin Fenn, particularly his relationship to one Agnes Seare, widow, who died and left a will in Buckinghamshire, England in 1645.

With the discovery of several wills, all written in Buckinghamshire and found on FamilySearch, Benjamin Fenn’s family tree can be widened a bit. His baptismal record has also been found in Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England.

Given that there are no updates concerning Benjamin’s life and family in the colonies, suffice it to say that Benjamin Fenn married Sarah Baldwin, c1643 and they were the parents of seven children. Sarah was baptized 22 April 1621 in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, England, but her death date is unknown. Benjamin was baptized on 26 December 1614; his death date is unknown, but he left a will dated 14 September 1672 in Hartford District, Connecticut and likely died between that date and 1674.

Benjamin Fenn was the son of James Fenn and Joan Turney. It is the wills of his father and Agnes Seare, along with the church records of Stewkley (which extend back to 1545) that enable us to extend Benjamin’s family tree.

James Fenn married Joan Turney on 28 January 1599 in Stewkley; James may be the same James Fenn born in 1573 in nearby Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, England. He was buried on 8 December 1625, also in Stewkley.

Stewkley is about 50 miles northwest of central London. Other parishes named in Benjamin and James Fenn’s and Agnes Seare’s wills include Cheddington and Marsworth. Note, too, that Sarah Baldwin, wife of Benjamin Fenn, was born in Aston Clinton, just down the road from Marsworth.

From the wills, it can be determined that Agnes Seare was born Turney. She was the widow of Edward Seare and the sister of Joan (Turney) Fenn. Agnes apparently had no surviving children as the bequests in her will were to Fenn family members with a couple of unknowns.

Two men appeared in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury to prove this will – Christopher Mayne and James Fenn.

Additional legacies were left to the following children of Thomas Fenn of Stewkley: James, Richard, Samuel, William, Benjamin, Jane/Joan and Sarah. They received legacies of £5 each, which would be fitting for young children.

Agnes also made bequests to Anna Samuel, daughter of John Samuel and Anna Seabrooke, daughter of John Seabrooke. Both Annas are described as “my kinswoman.”

Therefore, the earliest generation known right now is Mr. Turney and his unknown wife, who were the parents of Joan, born say 1578 and Agnes, born say 1580.

Joan Turney who married James Fenn was the mother of eleven children, most of whom lived to adulthood.

Children of James Fenn and Joan Turney (all baptized in Stewkley):

  1. Thomas, baptized 10 October 1600; married Frances Tommes, 5 June 1627, Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England
  2. William, born c1602; buried 25 April 1602
  3. Ann, born 21 March 1603; died 25 March 1603
  4. Agnes, baptized 9 September 1604
  5. Alice, baptized 22 February 1606; married Christopher Mayne, 3 November 1625, Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England
  6. John, born c1608
  7. James, baptized 16 December 1609; buried 30 march 1659, Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, England; married Susan Howes, 8 June 1646, Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, England
  8. Joseph, baptized 19 July 1612; buried 16 June 1629; unmarried
  9. Benjamin, baptized 26 December 1614; died after September 1672, probably Milford, New Haven, Connecticut; married Sarah Baldwin, c1644
  10. Joan, baptized 24 January 1618
  11. Mary, born 1624

From this, we can see that the two men who proved Agnes Seare’s will, were Agnes’s nephew by married and nephew, as Christopher Mayne was the husband of Alice Fenn and James Fenn would have to be the man born in 1609 since James Sr. died in 1625.

As for the two unidentified Annas – Anna Samuel, daughter of John, and Anna Seabrooke, daughter of John, I’d venture a guess that Agnes, born in 1604, married one of those men. In the 1600s, Agnes and Ann were variations of the same given name. As for the second Anna, there is no further information on Joan Fenn, born 1618, and Mary born in 1624. One of those children probably died young and the other married either John Samuel or John Seabrooke.

Perhaps a continued examinations of the Buckinghamshire probate records will sort them out.

In the meantime, my knowledge of the Fenn family has increased tremendously, thanks to my reader, Carol.

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