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BARRINGTON / BERRINGTON ancestry in Kent, UK
This page gives and makes the case for the relationship chart for Neil and his earliest confirmed Barrington ancestor in Kent.
The easy part of unravelling the Best family's Barrington ancestry was tracing the line back to Ann Kemp, because it was in the genealogy documented over the years in the Best family bible. (This Ann Kemp, born 10 Jul 1784 and baptised at Eynsford, is not to be confused with another Ann Kemp in the IGI, born around the same time to different Kemp parents. The two Ann Kemps may have been cousins as both had a Spitalfields connection. The Best family bible gives 'our' Ann Kemp as having been married there, whereas the Ann Kemp in the IGI was baptised there.)
The next part of the detective story was reasonably straightforward too because tracing back to Mary Barrington was based on on help from Susan Pittman on the basis of research notes from Joan Dolman. Joan Dolman later generously provided her own more detailed data which, although focussing on the Kemps, included information on other connections, particularly a Thomas Berrington. (At that time the Berrington rather than Barrington surname seemed likely to be due simply to lack of uniformity in old spelling.) (In view of what is known now about the Datchet Berringtons, it seems reasonable to call this Thomas "Thomas Berrington III".
My starting point for my own research (as distinct from my probing, documenting and synthesising the research of others) was with two wills:
- William Bennett's will was proved in 1781 and it referred to his wife Mary Bennett and his brother-in-law (the executor) Thomas Barrington (not Berrington) of West Wickham.
- Thomas Berrington III's will was proved in 1801. He was a butcher of West Wickham who died without issue. His will is thus a genealogist's wonderland because he spread his considerable wealth around, giving names and relationships. It identified Elizabeth Bennett as his niece and her daughter Ann Kemp as his grandniece.
There could be no doubt from the cross referencing in the wills that Mary Bennett's brother, whose name was written as Thomas Berrington in his own will, was one and the same as the Thomas Barrington identified earlier as brother-in-law in William Bennett's will. So the Barrington apparently spelling pre-dated the Berrington spelling - although time was to tell that the matter was in fact more complex.)
West Wickham in Kent, where Thomas Berrington III lived, was the same village where John and Elizabeth Kemp lived and where their daughter, Ann Kemp, grew up. Thomas made John Kemp a beneficiary in his will, either because the accepted way of providing for a woman (his niece, Elizabeth Bennett) was through her husband or because he genuinely wanted John to inherit. He also left a smaller inheritance directly to John and Elizabeth's daughter, Ann Kemp, ie Neil's great great grandmother, who did not marry until after Thomas's death, when she became Ann Best.
Neither Susan Pittman nor Joan Dolman had information on the ancestry of William Bennett's wife, Mary. So I consulted the IGI, testing out both possible spellings of Mary's birth surname. The only realistic candidate was for the Barrington one. It gave a Francis Barrington and Rose, who baptised a Mary Barrington on 14 January 1731 at Seal in Kent. This seemed worth following up, given the date, the Kent location and, most importantly, the names of Francis and Rose. At that time it was normal practice to perpetuate names in families, and Francis and Rose were indeed names in 'our line' , as confirmed in Thomas's will. (He left bequests to two nephews, both a Francis Berrington, and a niece Rosa Berrington.)
I next requested a search of the original parish records for Seal. I was told that some years were missing or illegible, but that the records did identify further children of Francis and Rose. Their names were in agreement with those anticipated from Thomas's will as well as the standard practice of perpetuating names. All were in terms of the Barrington, not the Berrington surname - including Thomas III himself who was born and baptised a Barrington. To find out more about Francis and Rose, I checked the ancient wills, and was disappointed to find nothing fitting. Then I happened to check Francis Berrington - and there his will was! He too had changed the spelling of his name, since baptising his children! So the name change from Barrington to Berrington seemed a purposeful decision on the part of more than one member of the family. (With regard to the missing parish records, David Williams has since alerted me to a 1925 transcript which has helped to fill numerous gaps - see the page on Francis.)
The will of Francis Berrington, gentleman of Seal, gave even more names and relationships which left no doubt at all that the line was the right one. The will also showed that Francis was a wealthy property owner and that, with the exception of what must have then seemed minor bequests, he had left the bulk of his estate to his first son, French, with legacies split evenly between his three other sons Robert, Francis and Thomas - all with the Berrington surname. (Presumably Thomas, being the youngest brother, had felt that he needed a trade which was why he had become a butcher, perhaps working with animals on his father's land.) Francis also made lesser provisions for his daughters Emmie, Ann and Mary and/or their families.
Having researched thus far, my interest was whetted. I looked for sources of more information, but up to the summer of 2006 met only frustrating dead ends. Then in July 2006 new documents came to my attention, as described on the updates page. They identified an earlier Kent Barrington, Robert Barrington.